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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Molecular Biology Tips

I'm really tied down with labwork these days, so here are some quick tips fresh off the bench. As usual these are my personal opinions only, but I'm quite sure they work:

1. PCR

A blank agarose gel is a depressing (and routine) sight in biological research.

What do you do when you don't get a band?

Newbies in biology may be too familiar with the myriad methods for optimizing your PCR reaction - MgCl2 concentration, annealing temperature, number of cycles, extension time... and so on.

But unless you really enjoy spending time and effort stuck in troubleshooting hell, here's a faster way.

I call it the "50 degree" rule of thumb.

If you don't get any bands, the first thing to do is to drop the annealing temperature way down and increase the number of cycles to an extreme level, for example to 50 degrees and 40 cycles.

You should get a band now. If the desired PCR product is short (<1000 bp) just do a bunch of PCR reactions and send them off for sequence verification. Pick the one with the correct sequence and move on.

If the PCR product is long, it's more important to optimize the annealing temperature back up.

If you still don't get any bands, then it's likely a problem with the primer design.

If it's for PCR screening, order a bunch of different primer pairs by "shifting" the primer position back and forth a few base pairs.

For subcloning work you may not be able to move the primer position. Order primers of different lengths instead.

Wasting primers is much cheaper than wasting your time.

2. Ligation

Ligation is one of the black arts of molecular biology. Sometimes it works right the first time, sometimes it doesn't ever work.

Yes, we know about the 1:3 vector-to-insert molar ratio calculation that you learnt in school. But there's no guarantee that the ligation will be successful.

I prefer a brute force technique - by using an overwhelming amount of insert DNA.

First, set the amount of vector DNA fixed at 100 ng.

Then add as much insert DNA as it can possibly fit in the ligation mix. (In a 10ul reaction you can add up to 6ul of insert which is 1000 ng or more!)

I find that adding 1 ul of 100mM ATP helps too.

3. Plasmid DNA extraction

You spent a whole day to extract plasmid DNA from a huge flask of bacteria. You finally get a tiny, shiny pellet in isopropanol.

Then, during the last purification step in 70% ethanol, you lose the pellet.

Oh the horrors!

Don't risk it. When doing a Maxi/Midiprep, if the pellet is already tiny (<2mm diameter) by the isopropanol step, it will become practically invisible at the 70% ethanol step.

In addition, it will become fragmented, flaky, loose and easily lost when you are trying to remove the ethanol around it.

In such a situation, I prefer to skip the additional centrifugation step. After removing isopropanol, simply rinse the pellet with 70% ethanol, suck away the ethanol and then dissolve the pellet in water/elution buffer.

The yield of DNA is high, the quality (260/280 ratio) is good, and I've used it for downstream subcloning work and sequencing with no problems at all.


That's it for now - back to work I go.

Here at Fresh Brainz, we cry at the bench so you won't have to... cry as much.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bigfoot On Mars?!??

Astronomy buffs have uncovered a mysterious figure on the surface of Mars while examining a panoramic photo taken in November 2007 by NASA's Spirit robot rover.

Check this out:

Why, that immediately reminds me of this guy!

So is the Martian photo fake? Huh? Is it? Is it?

Oddly enough... the photo is authentic!

The original source is PIA10214 from NASA's JPL website.

Our object of contention is in the bottom left hand corner of the image. Here, let me point it out for you with a big white arrow.

Still not convinced?

I'll just zoom in a little bit more for all you incorrigible skeptics.

AHA! There it is.

Some people say that it looks like a woman.

Bollocks I say.

Here at Fresh Brainz, we are intimately familiar with the female physique of numerous alien species in the Galaxy. Over six million forms of life, in fact.

That is NOT a woman.

On closer inspection - based on the image caption, and the comparative size of rover components, this Martian appears to be rather small, maybe only a few centimetres tall.

What an incredible discovery.

Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself!

P.S. By the way, if anybody finds Waldo in any of these photos, please do humanity a favour and ask NASA to just shoot that deranged bastard once and for all.

(Pipette tip to

Monday, January 21, 2008

Kissed By The Bell

Everyone knows that pain is awful. Pain sucks.

Do you know what else sucks?


It sucks in a weird and disturbing way.

Ever since my last bout with a particularly nasty cold, I've had this pukey throbbing pain at the right back of my head that didn't go away.

Four days ago my tongue suddenly went numb. Everything I ate had a strangely smooth texture and tasted rather bland. I thought at that time that I somehow burnt my tongue real bad. In addition, my hearing felt unbalanced - the volume level of both ears don't seem to match up, especially for loud sounds.

Then yesterday, things took a turn for the worse. While working in the lab, I noticed that my right eye felt dry and blurry. When I checked it out in the toilet mirror, I discovered to my horror that my smile/grimace was not symmetrical!

I couldn't pull the right corner of my mouth any higher. Something is affecting a whole bunch of facial functions.

Time to see a doctor.

It turns out that I've caught Bell's Palsy.

Something has caused my facial nerve (cranial nerve VII) to become inflamed, probably viruses from the cold last month.

Due to the fact that the facial nerve runs along a narrow bony canal in the skull, inflammation can cause the nerve to become compressed against the bone, resulting in impaired function of downstream targets such as facial and eyelid muscles.

It is also responsible for carrying sensory signals from part of the tongue and ear to the brain, so those systems are affected as well.

Symptoms of Bell's Palsy include the classic "Bell's smile" (shown above). Other diagnostic features include...

...asymmetrical eyebrow lift. Notice my left eyebrow can lift higher and has deeper wrinkles than my weakened right eyebrow.

This feature helps to differentiate Bell's Palsy from stroke, which doesn't display this asymmetry since stroke injury is in the brain and forehead muscles are innervated by both sides of the brain. In a stroke scenario, eyebrow lifts are usually balanced...

...and inability to close the right side of my mouth fully.

It feels really bizarre to leak water from the right part of my lip when brushing my teeth.


The good news is that Bell's Palsy usually goes away by itself, but it can take weeks or even months to recover. Anti-viral and anti-inflammatory drugs may help a little, but doesn't speed up the process by much.

Well that sucks.

Now not only do I have to live with a twisted mind, I have to endure a twisted face too.

But to make the best out of my misery, Fresh Brainz is happy to bring you this public service announcement about Bell's Palsy:

1. If your tongue feels numb for no obvious reason, go see a doctor immediately.

2. If your facial expressions suddenly become asymmetrical or paralysed, go see a doctor immediately.

Early detection enhances recovery.

P.S. While studying in Canada, my friends and I often do funny impressions of then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien because of his distinctive twisted mouth. I didn't know at that time that he once suffered from Bell's Palsy. Apparently years later the bad karma has caught up with me, tsk tsk...

Guess who else had Bell's Palsy before?

Pierce Brosnan.

Would you like to know more?
- Detailed article about Bell's Palsy from the University of Texas

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Run Run Run

Fresh Brainz posts will be less frequent as I try to finish up the bench work. Have a good one!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fresh Science 15 January 2008

The juiciest posts from the science 'o sphere!

MESSENGER update (Bad Astronomy - USA)
Mercury, oh how I long to see (the other side of) your face!

MIT scientists test the effectiveness of aluminium foil helmets (Bayblab - Canada)
An old classic...

Ice cream and insects (Bug Girls' Blog - USA)
Fleas will help keep your ice cream tasty and smooth?

Paying homage to Tesla (Entertaining Research - India)
Not all geniuses live happily ever after...

Higher price makes cheap wine taste better (Mind Hacks - USA)
Value is in the eye of the wallet-holder...

Monday, January 14, 2008

I Was Never That Young

James T. Kirk: Congratulations, Ensign. It wouldn't be the Enterprise without a Sulu at the helm.

Demora Sulu: Thank you, sir.

Pavel Chekov: I'm sure Hikaru must be very proud of you.

Demora Sulu: I hope so.

Pavel Chekov: [wistful] I was never that young.

James T. Kirk: [smiling] No... you were younger.

from Star Trek: Generations (1994)

Some things in life are just kinda assumed to be true.

You know, stuff like: kids are brash and idealistic, the older you are the wiser you get, absence makes the heart grow fonder, you should drink 8 glasses of water a day...

The idealism of youth? Now that's an idealism in itself.

Some people do start off as enthusiastic little nerds, and after years of hard knocks and reality checks, gradually transform into disillusioned old fucks.

It's true.

But what disturbs me are people who were never "that young".

People who, right from the start, already understood how the world works; how the table tilts, how the cookie crumbles.

I've met quite a few such individuals before.

While doing my undergrad in neuroscience, there was this guy who was a model student - President of the Neuroscience Students' Association, superb grades, active in sports and an eloquent speaker.

In Singapore, he would be called an "all-rounder".

His ambition was to become a consultant neurosurgeon, a dream that he broadcast to everyone through his personal website.

Then one day, he suddenly realized how long and how much effort it would take to become a neurosurgeon. More than a decade of training! Less than a year before graduation, he decided to switch into another programme... guess which one...

Business. Yes, rake me the dollars baby!

We met in a corridor once and he passed me his new namecard - he had become a part-time financial analyst and had new ambitions in big money.

I remember that I was so disgusted I threw his namecard away immediately after he walked off. Of course I was a naïve, ignorant, self-absorbed twerp then. And a wee bit idealistic, not save-the-world idealistic but gobs more than he was.

When I review his decision today, I realize that it is a brilliant move. I have no doubt that he has become a successful financial consultant today. In contrast I have sentenced myself to years of constant struggle and likely more such years in the future.

He seemed like quite an exemplar of materialistic pragmatism at that time, but since then I've met people who are so accomplished in this regard as to make him look like a grade-school dinosaur geek.

For example, there's this guy who said that his dream was to become a TCM physician. He firmly believes that science is a fraud but keeps doing research because it pays much better.

Another person claims that his "passion" is in science, but he never talks about science and has been spending practically all his time doing business-related activities.

How about the ex-engineer who said that his "passion" is in investment? What the hell does that mean? I didn't know that "investment" is a subject that you can be passionate about. Especially if the investment fails to make money.

Dude, just say you love money, it's perfectly normal.

All these guys still pale in comparison to certain 17-year-olds who join the political establishment as junior members.

Maybe administrators are born, not made.

They were never that young.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Photo Gallery Seven

In this first photo gallery of 2008, Fresh Brainz shoots for a touch of the abstract.

Pictures of subjects taken from weird angles to make them that much harder to identify at first glance.

Alien landscape
(2007) Fuji S6500fd

Crystal spray
(2007) Fuji S6500fd

Glass facets
(2007) Nikon L5

Helical grooves
(2007) Fuji S6500fd

Rusty link
(2007) Fuji S6500fd

Sparkly glowy
(2007) Fuji S6500fd

Yellow base
(2007) Fuji S6500fd

Would you like to know more?
Photo Gallery Six

Fact vs Theory

Just installed a new, easy-to-use Chinese input tool from Google. I haven't written a Chinese article for a long time, so here's a bilingual post for your reading pleasure. My apologies for awkward or inaccurate technical terms in Chinese; feel free to correct them in the comments section.

Fact versus Theory

Most people are too busy making a living to care about science. For them, science is a subject they learnt in secondary school that made them do gobs of meaningless calculations and memorize a ton of facts. Thus it is hardly surprising that they consider "fact" as the central essence of science. Facts appear to be solid, concrete things - permanent and dependable.

In contrast, the term "theory" is commonly used to describe a hunch, or at best an educated guess. Speculative and full of uncertainty. It isn't helpful that academic scientists use "theory" for something totally different - a highly-ranked class of solidly supported ideas that is far from speculative. This schism in semantics has been shrewdly capitalized during the Creation vs Evolution culture wars in the USA to portray evolutionary theory as an iffy conjecture.

Some people have proposed changing the term "theory" to "fact" to emphasize the certainty of biological evolution. While there are many facts that support it, evolutionary theory itself is not a fact, it is an explanation of facts. Thus I feel that switching these terms will simply cause more confusion.

Besides, by doing this they are reinforcing the public perception that facts are somehow more important than theories in science.

Are facts important? Of course! Without facts, the scientific endeavour would not be rooted in reality. Facts on their own constitute a significant compendium of human knowledge. In addition, you need accurate facts to help test and build a flourishing theory, or to help dismantle a failing theory.

Are theories important? Without a doubt! If not for theories, science would simply drown in an ocean of unconnected, isolated facts. Theories provide explanations for natural phenomena, and demonstrate meaningful relationships between the plethora of discovered facts. This allows us to apply our knowledge to other relevant scenarios and create new technologies. In addition, you need dependable theories to help check the reliability of the facts and guard against exaggeration or deliberate fraud.

So which one is the most important concept in science?

Actually, it is neither.

To me, the most important concept in science is the testable prediction.

Equipped with supporting evidence from facts and a explanatory framework from theories, we can then proceed to make precise, daring predictions.

Will there be an annular solar eclipse on the 7th of February, 2008 at 0355hrs Universal Time, most clearly visible from 67.6S latitude and 150.5W longitude? Will it last exactly 2 minutes and 12 seconds?

Will average density of the planetary bodies in our solar system decrease as their distances from the Sun increase? Will all the major bodies revolve around the Sun in the same direction?

Will there be a fossil that looks like a transition between a fish and an amphibian buried in a sedimentary rock layer that is 375 million years old?

Will homologous organisms, determined by comparative anatomy, also have highly similar genomic DNA sequences? Will closely-related species share evidence of viral infections that afflicted their last common ancestor?

The ability to generate precise, testable predictions and then trump them is the most impressive achievement of science. Toward this purpose, facts and theories are of equal weight - neither should be considered as mere conjecture or permanently cast in stone.

Thus, creationist and intelligent design "theories" that seek to deny many previously accumulated facts, do not provide a better explanation than existing theories, and do not or cannot in principle have any testable predictions - have no ability to generate any new knowledge. They are not scientific theories at all, not even hypotheses.

They are superstitions.


处在忙碌的生活里,多数人对于科学的兴趣不大。 对他们来说,科学是当年在中小学时读的一项科目,挤满了毫无意义的算术和堆积如山的事实资料。应此,人们难免会把“资料”当成科学的中心点。资料是固定的,可靠的。



对于科学来说, 到底是资料还是理论扮演比较重要的角色?

资料很重要吗? 当然! 没有资料的科学是不踏实的。玲琅满目的资料是人类整体智慧不可缺少的一部分。有了准确的资料,才能建立或反驳各种科学理论。

理论很重要吗? 毫无疑问! 没有理论的科学只能淹没在林玲种种的个例当中。理论把这些资料拼凑成一幅有意义的画。 有了明确的理论,科技才能迅速发展,而新发现的资料也能受到严格的评估,以防诈骗。


下一次的日食会不会在2008年2月7日,UT凌晨3点55分发生? 日食会不会持续2分钟12秒?

太阳系里的行星平均浓度是不是越远离太阳越低? 该物体的轨道有没有一致的方向?

一个体型在于鱼类跟两栖动物之间的化石会不会出土? 它是不是埋在3亿7千5百万年前的石层里面?


准确的推测,是科学最令人叹为观止的成就。资料和理论的贡献不相上下, 也不容忽视。

相比之下,神创“论” 不理会大量的事实资料, 不比现有的演化论含有更高的解说价值,而且不能提供有意义的推测。一个不能测试的“理论”,连假定都不是。


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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fresh Science 10 January 2008

The juiciest posts from the science 'o sphere!

Ask Sydney Brenner: Should We Fund More Scientists? (Bayblab - Canada)
Science will likely go back into the cottage...

'Stress': from buildings to the battlefield (Mind Hacks - USA)
The recent history of the term "stress" in psychological context...

The Secret (moonflake - South Africa)
No secret really, just bullshit - artificially sweetened for mass consumption...

Happy Birthday, Alfred Russel Wallace. (The Questionable Authority - USA)
Happy 185th, A.R. (via Science Avenger)

CABS Invertebrate Diversity Initiative (The Other 95% - USA)
Appreciate the spineless dudeskis!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lab Safety Tips

Most labs require new staff and attachment students to attend basic safety training before starting work, so they are usually instilled with a fairly good safety sense right from day one.

However, not all safety issues are covered by the training. Some of these are highly specific to the nature of the task - for example biohazards and radioactivity.

Others are generally applicable in most research settings. Fresh Brainz would like to draw your attention to a few safety tips that will help safeguard against less obvious dangers in the lab (Note: These are my personal opinions only!) -

1. Gloves Are Not Invincible

An obvious way to know whether a person is a real researcher or just somebody who plays one on TV is to watch how she handles gloves.

There are two main reasons for wearing gloves - to protect the sample against contamination, or to protect your hands from hazardous materials.

In the first case, the gloves should be kept clean and sterile using regular sprays of ethanol. One should only handle the relevant samples with your gloves. Pay attention to where your hands are going. You should not scratch your face or receive a phone call while wearing gloves. When in doubt, change gloves often to avoid cross-contamination.

In the second scenario, it must be emphasized that gloves are protective but not invincible. If corrosive chemicals spill onto the gloves, they will slowly permeate through it. Thus, you should discard your contaminated gloves and replace them with fresh ones promptly.

There is a method for removing contaminated gloves safely. First, use a gloved hand to slide off a contaminated glove and drop it into the appropriate waste container. Next, slide a bare finger into the inside of the other glove and quickly turn it inside out while dropping it into the waste container.

Never use your bare hands to contact the outside of a contaminated glove. That utterly defeats the purpose of wearing gloves.

2. Keep Your Hazards Low

To reduce the impact of accidental spills, keep only small quantities of hazardous material enough for your protocol at the bench.

In addition, handle these reagents as close to the work surface as possible. If you keep them low, in the case of an accident the spills will usually be in a small area and easily decontaminated.

If you handle them high above the work surface, in the case of an accident the container will drop onto the bench/floor, splashing everywhere and causing a big mess that can be a pain in the ass to clean up.

3. A Sealed Container Is A Potential Bomb

New lab personnel are instinctively careful about chemicals and flammables. They are usually cautious about mixing chemicals and working with flammables, because they know that these can cause explosions if not handled properly.

However, it should be emphasized this does not apply only to reactive chemicals - any sealed container can become an explosive risk.

All you need to do is to add heat.

Thus, it is a good practice to check that containers to be heated in microwaves or hot plates have a way to vent their expanding gases.

A loosened cap on a glass bottle or flask is usually not enough, because the rapid gas expansion inside can set the cap tightly against the screw threads, blocking the escape of hot gases. A better method is to plug the opening loosely with soft material that can pop out harmlessly.


Finally, here's another tip for non-lab personnel who are visiting research labs as part of an guided tour or "open day" exhibition.

Unless instructed, avoid touching anything in the lab with your bare hands.

In particular, stay away from the sinks, which may have traces of bleach that can ruin your clothing. A long time ago, an admin personnel had her expensive blouse damaged by a few drops of bleach when she leaned against a lab sink.

And after your visit, don't forget to wash your hands before going home - you wouldn't want to bring a Crankémon home to your kids!


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Fresh Science 8 January 2008

The juiciest posts from the science 'o sphere!

Asteroid to miss Earth January 29 (Bad Astronomy - USA)
Duck! Heh, there's no need to duck really...

A New Kind of Conduction in DNA? (Biocurious - USA)
*ZAP* Oww! Somehow that felt strangely therapeutic...

17th century brain surgery, digitally recreated (Mind Hacks - USA)
Superb animation - though it makes me a little pukey...

Free journal-ranking tool enters citation market (Ontogeny - USA)
New metrics for bragging rights. My SJR is bigger than your impact factor...

The Pig-Nosed Turtle (The Lord Geekington - USA)
Rare, relict species with a piggish nose...

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Futility Of It All

Mondays are like the "reverse beer-goggles" of life.

On these days, the stark reality appears in high definition detail. Everything is laid bare in glorious repulsiveness. No blemish is edited away and nothing is swept under the carpet.

As I drag myself to work with a heavy computer (yes it's old) and heavy feet, I always ask myself - what if everything I do is merely a pointless exercise in tedium?

Last weekend I watched a National Geographic documentary about a Japanese man who wanted to become a cowboy. Despite family and societal pressures for him to conform to the lifestyle of a salaryman, he dropped out of college and worked odd jobs in order to finance his trips to Texas.

His dream was to become a professional bullrider. To make the grade he needed to hang on to a raging bull for 8 full seconds. And so he trained and trained during the off-season, working long hours in manual jobs in order to make ends meet. He endured the criticisms of others and the drudgery of life in Japan with the sole purpose of fulfilling his dream - those 8 victorious seconds.

Alas, as they often say, "life" got in the way. His long suffering girlfriend wanted him to choose between bullriding and her.

He got married.

And thus he hung up his cowboy boots for years, but deep inside he yearned for just one more try. Finally his wife agreed, and he went back to Texas to chase the last opportunity to prove himself.

He found himself on the bull again. The gate was opened - and off he went!

After what seemed like an eternity struggling with the bull, he was thrown off its back. The bull came storming back and nearly gored him with its horns. He escaped by inches.

The results?

He came up half-a-second short. Disappointed, he walked off the arena and back into the arms of his anxious wife.

After watching the documentary I found his story curious, but also hilarious. A stubborn, pig-headed, idealistic man pursued his dream - and failed. Ha ha ha!

But I suddenly realized that I have no dream at all.

I think I used to have dreams, but I don't remember them now. Maybe I never had dreams. Funny how much difference a few years make.

To live is to put one foot ahead of another, one foot at a time.

Do you remember the time when your dreams died?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Human Tetris

The best stuff are made in Japan.

Japanese Human Tetris - Watch more free videos

Sex Videos And Hidden Cameras

The latest scandal to hit the region is the resignation of Malaysian Health Minister Chua Soi Lek, who quit after admitting that he was the man in a sex video that became widely circulated in public.

Fresh Brainz is not so interested in the private activities of powerful people, or the fairy-tale expectations of their conduct by the public.

However, we are fascinated by one detail of this debacle: hidden cameras in hotel rooms.

The reason why we think that hidden cameras are involved is because there are actually two DVDs in this scandal. According to the news report, the first one is 56 minutes long, showing the viewpoint of 4 cameras in the hotel room, followed by the sex video itself, which is 44 minutes long.

This clearly suggests that the Mr. Chua had been set-up.

Of course, most of us will never become a victim of such an elaborate plot, by simple virtue of our rankless, powerless anonymity.

If a sex video involving me and a "personal friend" were to be released in public tomorrow, everyone will be asking: "Leeeng-who?"

Besides, what's so interesting about 44 minutes of vigorous feet-tickling?


Still, we realize that many Fresh Brainz readers are on the fast track to success, and some of you may face an evil conspiracy like this one in the near future.

Thus, as a form of public service, we are happy to present some tips on how to defend yourself against hidden cameras:

1. Know Your Enemy

Modern hidden cameras are so tiny that they can be concealed in just about anything.

Just check out the mind-boggling variety of disguises...

Very black-hearted.

They come in two main types: hardwired and wireless. Hardwired cameras are directly cabled to a video recorder outside the room. If you find a regular household object sprouting suspicious-looking wires, it may be rigged with a hidden camera.

Wireless cameras depend on a transmitter to send the video over radiowave to a recorder outside the room, so they won't have wires sticking out. However, they contain a battery-powered transmitter (usually operated by 9V batteries), which will add a little more weight to the object. If you find something that feels suspiciously heavier than it normally is, or a soft object that seems to include something hard inside, it could be a wireless camera.

2. Know Your Friends

It's difficult to detect all hidden cameras with the unaided eye. Luckily for you, there are 21st century tools to help hunt them down.

Wireless camera detectors search for the radio frequencies used by camera transmitters to reveal their presence. Some models have a vibration function, so that you can discreetly scan the room without taking it out of your purse or pocket. One model is powerful enough to detect hardwired cameras and camcorders as well.

Reflection detectors use powerful LED lights to capture the glint from a camera lens and can be used to find all types of cameras. However, you'll need to physically check the room by shining the device all over the place, which may make you appear really paranoid to the other guests.

3. Trust No One

Is the hotel room full of conveniently placed accessories? Does it have heavy cabinets, mirrors or other furnishings that are permanently fixed onto the wall?

To avoid getting pwned by hidden cameras, microphone bugs or other forms of survelliance, always keep your guard up.

Don't frequent a particular room, which will give the bad guys a chance to rig up the room. Pick your own room and exercise a touch of randomness.

If the room contains movable furniture, turn them 180 degrees around.

If there are many glassy surfaces, cover them up or tape them down.

It may look paranoid, but if you do it well it can actually make the evening more exciting.

One more word of advice?

Don't make any "personal friends".

Would you like to know more?
Safety Guide: Hidden Cameras And How To Find Them (a free PDF guide by Main Street Safety)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Fresh Science 3 January 2008

The juiciest posts from the science 'o sphere!

Superstition in Hollywood (Anders Rasmussen Blog - Sweden)
In Tinseltown, scientists are portrayed as dogmatic fools who deny basic reality...

Challenging the banality of evil (Mind Hacks - USA)
No doubt the environment plays a big role in incubating evil, but are individuals merely passive players?

Nanotechnology - how to get into it, and where it's going (nanoscale views - USA)
A quick overview of the field...

ESA's take on invasive species (Ontogeny - USA)
Taking over an ecosystem near you today!

Religious thought vs Scientific Thought: a Flowchart (Science Avenger - USA)
Testable predictions mean that we will always be improving, but lack of absolute truths mean that we will never win...