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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tortoises, Putnisite, John Cleese, and Better Creativity Tools, According to SCIENCE!


     This week I'd like to start with an article about creativity and writing which is, according to the Fast Company title, backed up by science! It includes tortoises and John Cleese video (With this Monty Python crowd, I imagine "according to Cleese!" may have the same effect as according to Science!)



Here's the link to the full article based on SCIENCE:

          Creativity according to SCIENCE

     Science was the top word Googled, ahem, researched, on the Merriam Webster website last year:

             Top word of 2013 is science

       I imagine editors are happy to see science thrown into a title whenever possible. A quick scan of the Fast Company homepage shows 4 articles containing "according to Science" on the main page. Do not get me wrong, I am happy to see science getting so much press. Although, at times, it seems thrown in a bit gratuitously.(Gratuitous throwing is a real thing in Ultimate Frisbee, a favorite sport for my son, his friends, and dogs):


[The frisbee player and dog in the photo are not related to me though;-)]

      Back to the article...The usual things that help creativity like exercise, sleep, moving on to something else and coming back after a percolation period are well-known, even not according to science. Writing with pen and paper has always been a creative juicer for me...There is something about the physical act of making the letters that a keyboard does not do. And now, I know, according to science, it works. . .

      Mr. Cleese notes that creativity is like a tortoise in that it pokes its head out gingerly to see if it is safe to stay out.




      He speaks of writing a funny sketch, losing the paper it was written on, and then recreating it from memory. When Mr. Cleese found the old sketch, he realized the newer one was much funnier.




      I am going to set this post aside for awhile and see how that percolating works.

      Percolating results:

     Popular Science is an oxymoron these days.

     Gilda Radnor's quote about creativity percolated through: "I can always be distracted by love, but eventually I get horny for my creativity."




      Hope you are having a wonderful Earth Day enjoying science and creativity.

Scientifically!,

Word Woman (Scientific Steph)

Newsflash: Putnisite, a new, soft mineral with an interesting composition has been discovered in Western Australia


Here's the source article from Science News:

                        PUTNISITE
     


34 comments:

  1. John Marwood Cleese, Writer, Actor, and Tall Person has this fun website:

    http://www.thejohncleese.com/ipad.htm

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  2. SS,

    Fittingly, many advances in science have been the result of those creative “Aha” moments, right? Correct be if I am wrong, all you who are well-versed in the history of science.

    If I am correct, give some examples. (The one that I hazily recollect is the vulcanization process.)

    Lego…

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    1. Right you are, Lego. Velcro, Post-it Notes, and AC current came to mind (despite my current distain for people named Nikolas [Tesla]).

      From Archimedes onward, here are 10 aha science moments:

      http://www.sciencechannel.com/famous-scientists-discoveries/10-eureka-moments.htm

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    2. More on "aha" versus "that's funny. . ." moments:

      http://wordwomanpartialellipsisofthesun.blogspot.com/2013/11/not-eureka-but-thats-funny.html?m=1

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  3. Not to take anything away from"Aha!" Creativity, but I side less with Tesla and more with Edison: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."

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    1. Always liked that quote from Edison from inspiration (breathing) to perspiration (breathing through). The through portion is that hard work. . .

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  4. I have kept the "mitochondria as living fossils" question in mind, jan. These possible fossil embryos, from this April 2014 publication, are getting closer...

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410122205.htm

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  5. My daughter clued me in to Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) which the students performed in her genetics class last semester. Clever way to make more copies of DNA (Do you use this, jan?):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KoLnIwoZKU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    She was comparing the sophisticated research technology in the U. S. to Costa Rica where her only tools are a meter stick, thermometer, and barometer.

    She says the Costa Rican ways of observing and studying the biology and environment are a lot more fun. The warmth doesn't hurt either. ;-)

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  6. PCR may be the coolest technology of the 20th Century, but I've never used it, My son and his classmates used it in high school bio, but when I went to school, being a genetic engineer meant that you, your father, and his father all drove trains.

    Sadly, I didn't make that up. It's from Kary Mullis, the surfing, acid-dropping, Nobel Prize winning way cool inventor of the process.

    For the short version of a fascinating how-real-science-gets-done story, read his 1990, Scientific American paper, "The unusual origin of the polymerase chain reaction", April, 56-65. There are PDF copies online, but I think they're all copyright violations.

    For the long version, read his autobiography, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, 1998, Vintage Books. He's wrong about the HIV virus, but still well worth reading.

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  7. Everyone I've asked who is not in the medical field has not heard of PCR. What a fascinating story of how real science gets done in unusual places and at unusual times. I am looking forward to reading Mullis's book. The AIDS denialism, climate change denialism, and astrology parts of his story are a bit shocking... but I will take a look. I missed the whole LSD thing but a friend told me of eating mushrooms at Arches National Park and experiencing the earth breathing. . .

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  8. Yeah, Mullis is clearly different from most people. The glowing green raccoon he saw at his cabin in the woods testifies to that, along with the 4 ex-wives. But, just imagining PCR like that: Wow!

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  9. Found the Scientific American article. Took awhile to slog through but it seems relatively elegant in the simplicity of using oligonucleotides to create 100 billion copies of DNA in an afternoon. . .with common reagents!

    The scent of the buckeyes was a nice touch...No whiff of a green racoon in that article ;-). He does seem to be a funky, quirky, interesting person who makes his scientific process come alive.

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  10. I should clarify my earlier claim: while I have never done PCR in a lab myself, I routinely draw blood and send it out for testing that involves PCR. E.g., if I'm treating a patient with hepatitis B or C, and want to know what strain of the virus is involved, or quantify the level of virus in the blood, I'll order a test that uses PCR. We often regard clinical lab testing as a black box, never considering how the test is actually performed. There is actually a huge variety of interesting technologies involved.

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    1. Somewhat on topic: Have you heard of giving a dog the Hepatitis vaccination? My pup and I are thinking of volunteering at a local hospital visiting patients on the weekends and the Paws for a Cause program requires it. My vet had never heard of giving it to canines. She also needs a flu shot. None for me, just for her.

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    2. There is a vaccine for dogs against canine hepatitis, but that's caused by a different virus than the ones that affect people, I think. Human Hep A is spread via the fecal-oral route, so if dogs were susceptible, I could see that vaccine being useful, given their propensity for drinking from toilets. Hep B and C are spread sexually or through contact with blood, so unless your dog is licking patients wounds to make them all better, or badly misbehaving otherwise, that doesn't seem like much of a risk. There are human vaccines for Hep A and B; the Hep B vaccine is the one that usually recommended for healthcare workers.

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    3. Thanks for your thoughts. I have an e-mail out to the program director asking more about why it's needed. . .

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  11. Re: Putnisite: If I ever discover a new mineral, I'm changing my name to Outtas before announcing it. You got anything named for you, WW?

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    1. I think Outtasite is a great name, jan. None yet, but what do you think of Whimsicalite?

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    2. P.S. A friend named his duck after me once but I suspect that's not what you were thinking ;-).

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    3. Just remembered: while on my GI rotation in PA school, I was watching the attending do an EGD, endoscopy of the upper GI tract. He pointed out the Ampulla of Vater, the little nipple in the duodenum where the contents of the common bile duct and the pancreatic duct are dumped into the gut, along with the minor ampulla, where an accessory pancreatic duct that some people have, comes in. The accessory duct is sometimes called the Duct of Santorini, but the minor ampulla is always called just the minor ampulla. How come no one's claimed it, I asked. He didn't know. Can I? Sure, he said. OK, from now on, that's the Ampulla of Wolitzky.

      Years later, we had a PA student come through our practice. While talking about the rotations she'd already had, it turned out she'd done GI with the same doc. And when I told her the story of my ampulla, she said, oh yeah, he still calls it that.

      Hasn't turned up in any anatomy books yet...

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    4. Re: your friend's duck: I can only imagine Daffy lisping "Thientific Thteph".

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    5. Great story, jan! Enjoy your ongoing fame.

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    6. Another case of amusing (to each other anyway) geologists' humor. Daffy pegs it well.

      The duck is long gone but Ampulla of Wolitzky lives on. . .

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    7. What I'd really like to be remembered for is a urological procedure: an autologous vibrissal transplant for treatment of minor urinary incontinence associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia. You see, as many men age, the prostate enlarges, making it difficult to fully empty the bladder, and sometimes resulting in dribbling, which causes odor, embarrassment, and laundry expense. The corrective surgery is straightforward: a single follicle is harvested from the patient's nares, and sutured onto the tip of the penis. After healing, the patient voids normally. But, just as the last drop is about to drip into his pants, the little nose hair goes SCHNORRRTTT, and sniffs it right back in.

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    8. I recommend sticking with Ampulla.

      But, I did laugh.

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    9. I've forgotten -- what did the elephant say to the naked man?

      I've never had a body part named after me, but I've had the names of body parts used to refer to me on occasion. Not quite the same.

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    10. Paul, not quite the same...but, the heart surely?

      You needn't answer that. ;-)

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    11. And, frankly, breathing or anything else seems a valid question from here.

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    12. I'd have to advise consulting your mushroom friend.

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    13. Paul, I am hoping you are not saying what I think you are saying 'cos that would be a bit disarming.

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    14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    15. (guess it wasn't the just right time....)

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    16. Welcome, HairSoGold! Hoping you are just refining your comment. "The oily bird gets the worm" is not so funny any more or I might add that.

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  12. Diversity in Creativity: ask someone very different to join your group:

    http://creativityseminar.blogspot.com/2012/07/choose-someone-whos-different-diverse.html?m=1

    HairSoGold, could this be you? Or. . .

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