Bananas, Plant Pathogens, and the Paleo-Diet

Hug a Local Microbe

This morning I ate a banana for breakfast. This may seem like an incredibly mundane thing; after all, many people all over the world casually eat bananas all the time. However, I couldn’t help but think back to this wonderful TedxOU talk by Christina Warinner called Debunking the Paleo-Diet. The Paleo-Diet is a fad diet where people try to eat like people in the Paleolithic era. While the name may be a misnomer (she never really says that the diet is bad in and of itself), she brings up many fascinating points about the history of human agriculture. Specific to my breakfast this morning, she dissects and debunks the idea that the modern day banana is anything like the food people ate in the Paleolithic.

Modern day bananas that are eaten around the world are sterile. They are all genetic clones of each other. This means that they are incredibly…

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Bananas, Plant Pathogens, and the Paleo-Diet

Generating random numbers

Didn’t really feel like reading about Pokemon. But great read on determinism.

The House Carpenter

Have you ever wondered how deterministic machines like computers are able to make random choices? A computer program has to tell a computer exactly what to do at every stage; the computer cannot make decisions by itself. You can’t just tell the computer, `Do this, or do that, it’s up to you’. But random choices frequently need to be made by computers. For example, in 2048, the computer has to decide whether to spawn blocks of value 2 or 4, and it has to decide where to put them. How does it do this?

First, note that the problem of making random choices can be reduced to the problem of generating random numbers, since the choices can be numbered, a random number from among the numbers given to the choices can be generated, and then the choice numbered by the generated number can be taken. So, how do computers…

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Generating random numbers

What’s In Your Wallet?

I look forward to microwaving sponges.

Tom Reeder's Blog

Never can be too careful. Never can be too careful.

That question is asked in commercials for a credit card company, which probably does not expect you to reply, “Bacteria.”  The truth is, though, that it’s in there.  Lots of it.

You may have heard urban legends that there are traces of illegal drugs on dollar bills, but scientific research over the past year or so isn’t finding nearly as much cocaine on our cash as microbes — most commonly the ones that cause acne.  Others are linked to pneumonia, food poisoning, staph infections, flu and… well, you name it.

A study called The Dirty Money Project, being conducted by scientists at New York University, has found 1.2 billion  DNA segments on a relative handful of dollar bills collected in that city.  Jane Carlton, director of genome sequencing for the study, told the Wall Street Journal, “It was quite amazing to us.  We actually…

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What’s In Your Wallet?

My PhD – An Interview with Eloise O’Donoghue

Nature Box

eloise

Eloise O’Donoghue is a PhD student based in the Krachler Lab at the Institute of Microbiology and Infection, University of Birmingham. She is a scholar of the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP), a BBSRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership between the universities of Warwick, Birmingham and Leicester. The following interview was conducted by her sister, Lydia O’Donoghue.


I know that my sister is a PhD student. And I also know her research is to do with bacteria. But beyond that, I realised I don’t have a clue what it is she actually does. I figured if a PhD takes 3 years, there must be a lot going on there day-to-day. My sister won’t really tell you anything about her research unless you point blank ask her, and her reasoning is that she doesn’t think anyone is interested. I’m of the belief that firstly – all science is fascinating, and secondly – there’s no point…

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My PhD – An Interview with Eloise O’Donoghue