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Comment Re:You should never stop learning (Score 1) 260

> what does a doctorate in Organic Chemistry actually qualify you to do for a job, besides teach at a university in a self-perpetuating cycle? (I'm randomly guessing maybe something in pharma? I honestly don't know.)

Ten years ago a PhD in Organic Chemistry was one of the surest employment routes at many Pharmaceutical companies, big and small. Organic chemists synthesize molecules, which is critical in the long and expensive drug discovery process. However, since then pharma has moved to the creation of randomized synthetic methods using robots and extremely simple reactions to make libraries of millions of molecules (combinatorial chemistry), and discovered that India has an extremely well-trained chemistry work force, and so the US job market has imploded. Along with that, the biotech stock bubble popped and there are a lot fewer small companies and start-ups around now to hire these people.

Comment Re:You should never stop learning (Score 1) 260

Yes, this.

I would add, though, only go back if you know exactly what kind of research you want to get into. A PhD is not just a line on a resume that will get you a job. It's committing yourself to several years of very hard work, with little or no pay. You don't get a PhD for time served, either. You have to accomplish something important, and share it with the world. It will also deeply specialize you in an area of your choosing, for good or ill.

If the purpose of seeking a PhD is to get a job at a specific place, choose who you work with and where you get that degree from extremely carefully. Like it or not, academic circles are not egalitarian, and a PhD from a top-ten school opens dramatically more doors than one that is not. Don't just plan on going to the school with a CS PhD 10 minutes away from your house (unless you live in Boston or something!). Choosing a Professor is just as important. Don't apply to a school with ideas about the kind of research you want to do and find out that nobody there is doing it. Know exactly who you want to work with, and become intimately familiar with their work (as well as their competitors, and the people THEY worked for). Maybe try and find someone to work with who collaborates with the places you want to go, if possible, or who has graduates who have gone there. Contact the Professor, expressing your interest (and state clearly WHY it interests you personally), being mindful of the fact that academic researchers typically get many, many solicitations per day from foreign students (I get 2-5, and I'm relatively unpublished, so far). If your letter starts "Dear sir or madam" it will be deleted on sight.

It's astonishing to me how many students go into a PhD program without knowing what they're getting into, or why, or even what area they want to do research in.

Comment Re:Are people still playing this? (Score 1) 135

Contrary to what everyone is posting, endgame content is not the only problem with SWTOR. (Though it is a problem.) It lost people early on, not months in when people are lacking endgame content. It failed because (IMO):
-- It wasn't Star Wars-y enough. The aesthetics of the Old Republic are different than what most people are looking for in a Star Wars game, and there's (by design) no connection to the characters or game world we know.
-- You're not supposed to be able to shrug off 800 blaster rounds, or cut sliced with a lightsaber and not be very dead. I've got a lightsaber - deflect that shit all the time or I'm supposed to be dead. The whole health-bar concept was wrong for Star Wars to begin with. At least fake it and call it stamina or shields or something. Took me right out of the game.
-- Mid-game leveling is extraordinarily dull, mostly because I've fought almost everything there is to see by level 10. Granted, there's only so many ways to skin a humanoid, but there has to be some variety in terms of animations by race. Even the way they organized mob packs became extremely predictable. Even most flashpoint bosses were non-unique. Mid-game area scenery was also dull. Show me something I haven't seen already.
-- No macros or add-ons. If you've played a very customizable game like WoW, little annoyances with the UI added up, and there was no hope that you were ever going to be able to fix them. I tried playing a healer, and without the ability to mouseover, the archaic way the UI forces you to heal was just too irritating.
-- Very little assurance from BW that anything was going to change with any rapidity. It was hard to tell where their priorities were (and I read the forums with frequency). It's almost like it was a secret what was going to get fixed, and no acknowledgement that there were bugs or problems.

Comment Re:Standard connectors? LOL you wish! (Score 1) 427

Isn't the Apple connector based on firewire, held over from the original iPod days? From what I've read, going to a real USB connector would make adapters much more complicated, and would hinder the I/O capabilities that the current connector has, making a lot of docks with remotes and such not work right. Instead, they're supposedly dropping from 30-pins to 19 in a smaller form factor, dumping some unused legacy pins. So, adapters should be very simple and (hopefully) cheap. As in, maybe even packaged with the new iPhones/iPods.

Comment Tiny Titans (Score 2) 372

I've gone through this with my kids (two girls, nearly 3 and 5). You're going to see lots of suggestions for golden age comics, but they don't work. Golden Age stuff had some seriously tedious dialog boxes and genuine weirdness that kids can't comprehend. Not to mention a tendency for some odd 50s-60s-era sexism. They just don't hold up well.

Tiny Titans has been the Superhero stuff that my kids have latched onto. It's the DC comics heroes as elementary school kids. There's no fighting. Lots of genuinely funny, goofy stuff. Tons of in-jokes for a comics-aware parent. Multi-Eisner award winning. They're genuinely great.

Another thought is to just avoid stories. My older girl at 3 happened into my office when my back was turned, and just happened to pick up and start looking through an Alex Ross art book. Probably the one "safe" book in the place. Art books tend to lack any graphic violence or intensity. We spent hours just talking about who the superheroes were and what they're powers are. At three, kids' brains don't really retain story chronology, so looking at and discussing pictures is just as rewarding and interesting to them. A DC or Marvel Encyclopedia would probably be a lot of fun.


Submission + - Beetle 3D mapped from the inside with microtomography (

An anonymous reader writes: If your doctor ever sends you to the hospital for a CT Scan, you might get the chance to have a glimpse of your insides digitally mapped in 3D. That same technology can be employed on a much smaller scale (microtomography) for other living things, and it’s just such a technique that has won Professor Javier Alba Tercedor from the University of Granada a movie award.

The prof has managed to create a 3D map of a Droyops water beetle, and it's good enough that the beetle can be studied in great detail without ever having to cut it open to take a look. More importantly, this could be done for all beetles allowing them to easily be compared. The same is true of other living things, making microtomography an indispensible tool in the quest to better understand the life around us. But just importantly, it makes for some very cool nature videos.

Comment Re:Bush did what? (Score 1) 351

>When did we lose personal responsibility for saving for a rainy day (including health emergencies) ?

We effectively lost it when health emergencies became unaffordable to any but the super-wealthy. My wife's car accident would have cost us $200k+, if the insurance hadn't covered it. (Through a billing error I saw the dollar amount.) If that's your rainy day fund, congrats, man.

Comment Re:Costs of education? (Score 1) 551

>Paying professors high salaries [] working for 9 months of work (most professors do not teach during the summer, like teachers)

I am one of these professors you're talking about. We are paid for nine months of work. If I want to get paid for the summer months I have to bring in grant money or contract work. (And the University skims off 52% of whatever I bring in.)

>massive [re]construction

Construction work at a public University is almost never paid for from the University's budget. New buildings are capital investments paid for by the state, typically through a bond initiative.

>every state school blows their budget at the end of the fiscal year

Do you understand how government contracting works? No state budget is going to let you hold onto money left in your allocation. You have to use it or you lose it. And risk having your budget cut in the future because you don't "need" it. This is perhaps something that could be changed, but it would be a massive change to the way every government budgeting process works.

Comment Re:Costs of education? (Score 1) 551

Exactly correct. I teach at a state University, and the amount of money that we receive from the state is being cut every year by 10s of millions of dollars. Those costs have to recovered somewhere, and tuition is the fastest stopgap, along with incentives for early retirements and a some staff layoffs. It's at the point where our University is making rumblings about going private, since state bureaucracy is inhibits all kinds of initiatives - like the ability to invest in research resources that should grow the University's income through federal grants in the long term.

Classic Games (Games)

Bethesda Releases Daggerfall For Free 80

On Thursday, Bethesda announced that for the 15th anniversary of the Elder Scrolls series, they were releasing The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall for free. They aren't providing support for the game anymore, but they posted a detailed description of how to get the game running in DOSBox. Fans of the series can now easily relive the experience of getting completely lost in those enormous dungeons. Save often.

Comment Re:Hmm. (Score 2, Informative) 245

Actually, this is technology several years out of date. This is how we would have done it when I was in grad school, ten or so years ago. Nowadays, it would be amazingly trivial, *IF* the biosynthetic pathway has been elucidated, which is the first step above. A quick search on PubMed says it either hasn't been done (complex plant biosynthetic pathways is a tricky subject for study), or else it hasn't been reputably published. Or it's been repressed through regulatory mechanisms I'm not familiar with.

Personally, I'd probably just go ahead a sequence the cannabis genome. Today, you could probably do this for less then $150,000. Which sounds like a lot, but a few years ago this was a magnitude more expensive. A few more years and who knows? If you're able to do a $1000 human genome at some point in the next few years, you could do a plant for a similar price. Then you conduct bioinformatic analysis of the sequence to find the right genes. Difficult, but FAR easier and less expensive than protein purification.

If the pathway genes were known, it would only take a few thousand dollars to synthesize DNA that encodes the pathway, which could be tailored to whatever organism you want to express the pathway in. I'd try baker's yeast first. The organism is well understood, and you could make beer or bread.

All of this could be done today with a computer if you had the bioinformatics knowledge to do the analysis, and the sequencing and synthesis through commercial companies with a credit card. How do I know? I do this with antibiotic pathways.


How To See In 3D On Your iPhone 94

waderoush writes "Some of the coolest media technologies predate the Web and the PC — in fact, they predate the 20th century. My column in Xconomy explores the world of 19th-century stereoscopes and stereo views, which are the all-but-forgotten forerunners to anaglyphic 3D, VR goggles, and other modern stereo vision systems. As it turns out, it's pretty easy to 'free-view' vintage stereo images on an iPhone or other small screen, getting the full 3-D effect without any other viewing aids. The article has instructions for accessing a collection of old stereo images using the new Seadragon Mobile iPhone app from Microsoft Live Labs." The stereoscope, that killer technology of the last century but one, was invented in 1859 by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., who gave it away and never made a dime off it. If you don't have an iPhone and want to get the feel of free viewing on a computer monitor, start here at Roush's Flickr photostream.

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