Because it’s been far too sciencey around here lately

The best Rube Goldberg device I’ve ever seen on the Best of YouTube podcast (and there have been a few):

and, inspired by a Twitter conversation with Richard Wintle yesterday about gnus (inspired in turn by someone at work asking me how to “do a gnat chart”), some classic Flanders and Swann (but not the gnu song, because that would be too logical)

Happy Friday!

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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10 Responses to Because it’s been far too sciencey around here lately

  1. Ha ha ha…. I actually don’t know that “Ill Wind” song – it wasn’t on my parents’ LP of At the Drop of a Hat. I think it’s been re-issued with various different set lists over the years, but always keeping some of the core pieces (The Reluctant Cannibal being a personal favourite). So thanks for that. 🙂

  2. Robyn says:

    A great creative inspiration for a Monday morning. I hope they had animal certificate for the guinea pig (and good house insurance).

  3. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    You’re welcome, Heather!

    Richard, I hadn’t heard it either until CBC radio played it one day as we were driving down Broadway. Cue much hilarity!

    Robyn, the thought had occurred… live rodents and open flames, oh my! Maybe that’s what it takes to stand out on YouTube these days. Things can only escalate; no doubt we’ll see Rube Goldberg devices featuring elephants and flame throwers by the end of the year.

  4. Urrrgh. Don’t mention the Gnat Chart.

    Some genius in our Command Hierarchy has now decided all our final year undergrad lab project students should have to do one of these – and this for projects that last a maximum of eight weeks, and usually only 2-3 days/wk.

    As ever, it feels like the molecular biological tail wagging the dog:

    Wk 1: grow bugs, design and order primers
    Wk 2: isolate plasmid DNA and send for sequencing
    Wk 3: prepare DNA for ligation and subcloning

    – etc. etc.

    My next door neighbour, a splendidly unworldly ecobiologist, tells me that when he tells the students now:

    ‘Well, for your project, why don’t you have a go at changing X, or maybe Y, and see if anything happens?”

    – they look so stressed that they practically spontaneously combust.

  5. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Well, to be fair it’s a useful thing to know how to do. I lobby to include one in every grant now, if there’s enough space – and a flow chart, too, if I have enough time between seeing the final proposal and the deadline!

    You should make them do flow charts for their plasmid preps too 😀

    • I can see the point of putting them in grants, especially large multi-lab ones, where nowadays it is quite complicated as to who does what and when.

      But for 16-24 days of one person’s time in one lab??! And a learner??!

      I am vaguely reminded of a friend of mine who went in the 90s from our lab to working in a research institute run by a large consumer product and food multinational, but then quit after a few years to re-train to do radiation safety. When I asked him why, he said:

      “Well, we did some interesting stuff at that institute, but when it got to the point that four managers had to have a meeting just to decide what one technician would be doing on one afternoon each week, I decided things were way too far out of control”.

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