Friday, March 27, 2009

Economic Stimulus Job Opportunities in Academia

The money is getting out. If you want to do research in your dream school, now it's the best time to grab the opportunity.

From my department's Secretary for Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Scholars:

Subject: Economic Stimulus Postdoctoral Job Opportunities at Duke

Duke University anticipates receipt of award funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the Economic Stimulus Act. Postdoctoral positions may be available as a result of this funding. If you would like to express interest in a potential postdoctoral appointment at Duke, please visit:

Postdoctoral position listings may also be found at

If you are interested in applying for the positions and meet the
eligibility requirements, please activate your application soon. If you know of other colleagues who might be interested in this Economic Stimulus opportunity, please forward this email to them.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tales from the Lab III

Someone stuck this bumper sticker to the lab door's window:

Biodiversity is Nature's way of telling us it's OK to be different.


My lab has an Aldrich bottle labelled "Synthetic Sea Water". I am more familiar with seeing "Distilled water" or "Deionized water" bottles lying around.


A couple of grad students and postdocs in my department and allied ones are starting an "Organic Reaction Mechanisms" club.

Dear colleagues,

In order to keep our synthetic chemistry skills sharp, Dr. X is going to start a mechanism club. The point is to broaden our synthesis knowledge through mechanisms. It will be an informal thing, and we will try to make it fun. If necessary, we may even lure you with beer.

Several of you have already expressed interest, and I would like to invite all of you to join. It seems that Wednesday evening would be a good day/time, but I encourage input from all of you. Please let me know if you are interested, and if Wed. evening would work for you (of course I'm not talking about tomorrow). I know that there are people that I forgot to include, so feel free to tell your coworkers.


Imagine that. A group of students and postdocs starting a club that attempts to make understanding reaction mechanisms fun. Talk about having geeky fun.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Happy Square Root Day!

Happy Square root day, to all of my engineering/math friends! :-)

Granted, it's not as much fun as mole day, but it's more rare (only 9 a century).

Just so you know, Square Root Day isn't the only humorous holiday celebrated in the math world. Pi Day is observed each March 14 (3.14), while Pi Approximation Day falls on July 22 (roughly equal to 22/7). The first Pi Day was observed in 1988 by staff at the San Francisco Exploratorium, who walked around in circles.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Some thoughts on the current economic crisis and science

1. I get a little miffed whenever I hear people say that solar energy is a renewable energy resource. It isn't. Our sun will go out one day like a blown light bulb, in the far distant future.

2. I wish politicians had taken a course in thermodynamics (or at least remembered the subject matter).The current global (capitalist) economic system builds on the "permagrowth" model - one that requires endless growth — in demand, in consumption, in population. Given the finite resources on earth, this is a physical impossibility. Much like the perpetual motion machine question I saw in one of the A levels physics 'S' paper.

3. For economics students a similar concept is 'scarcity'.

4. I like hellasiou's blog because I can relate to his views from a scientific viewpoint.