Tag Archives: Linkonomicon

The Analytical Engine, Plan 25

"The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage" by Sydney PaduaMy copy of Sydney Padua’s The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage is supposed to arrive next week (21 April 2015). I’m a little excited. As regular patrons of The Finch & Pea know, I’m just a little bit of a fan of her work*.

Until then (or until the copy you just ordered arrives), you contemplate the complexity and beauty of the completed analytical engine (if only in Padua’s imagination) at The Guardian.  You can also read about the development of the illustration and the choice of color palette at Padua’s own site.

*Mutual appreciation society

Mark Ptashne on the “incoherent and counterfactual world” of epigenetics

Ptashne again cuts through epic epigenetic confusion of transcription factors versus histone marks, cause versus effect.

“The Chemistry of Regulation of Genes and Other Things”:

As I have described, where the activated gene encodes the activator itself, we have memory: a self-perpetuating state of gene expression transmitted by regulatory proteins distributed to daughter cells as cells divide.

These now obvious ideas seem to be hard to accept for some. Ignoring the specificity problem and in the search for some alternative solution to the memory problem, they have created an incoherent and counterfactual world, one in which chromatin structure determines the activity of transcription factors (recruiters) rather than the other way around. Chromatin structure is usually meant to imply histone modifications, which somehow have acquired the name epigenetic modifications. The literature is replete with studies of histone modifications presented as studies of “epigenetics,”… Continue reading

Superpurrsition

Diesel Sweeties by Richard Stevens 3 (CC BY-NC 2.5)

Diesel Sweeties by Richard Stevens 3 (CC BY-NC 2.5)

There are comics that are card-carrying “science comics” that teach science (egBoxplot by Maki Naro) and express truths about the experience of being a scientist (egPiled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham). There are those that are super-nerdy all the time, like xkcd by Randall Munroe.

Then there are the comics that occasionally brush up against the scientific world – dropping a punchline that hints at larger concepts, drawing in those who understand and inviting inquiry from those who don’t. This strip from Diesel Sweeties by Richard Stevens 3 is part of that tradition.

The Dress

I was not particularly interested in “The Dress” for I had long ago accepted the fickle nature of both human and technological perception. That, however, does not mean one should dismiss* “The Dress” as trivial, a distraction, or a waste of time. Andrew David Thaler expresses the key point of this social phenomenon extremely well:

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 11.34.35 AM

*One should probably dismiss all the cheap marketing attempts to capitalize on “The Dress”, as well as Time naming the original poster as one of the 30 Most Influential People on the Internet.

Book Punks

Mike was recently interviewed by Book Punks about his series of reviews of post-apocalyptic fiction through history (#apocalypsethen) and how this fiction speaks about our relationship with science.

I love the genre because the apocalypse is a fascinating thought experiment: what happens when all of the science and technology that we use to mediate our interactions with nature and with each other disappears? What happens to human nature when it confronts the raw forces of nature without the intervention of technology? – Mike White

Mike also does not give himself very good odds of survival in a post-apocalyptic scenario, which is a bit depressingly realistic (personally, I think Ben is the most likely of The Finch & Pea staff to survive – dude can make good food out of anything, even cooking over a campfire).