Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Congrats Peggy Whitson!

As you might remember, I worked at NASA-Johnson Space Center for several years and was privileged to know and work alongside incredibly talented and courageous scientists, engineers, computer scientists and astronauts. One of those was Peggy Whitson who now holds the longest total combined time in space of any human. Peggy is a huge supporter of STEM education and all it offers. Check out this video of her talk with the President about all the opportunities in STEM and what her work means to her. Go science!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Virtual Reality is a Reality

Finally back from fuzzy bed-headed winter/spring head cold couch potato land, I wanted to share a fun event coming up April 7 and 8, 2017 in Little Rock, AR. 

The University of Arkansas Little Rock Emerging Analytics Center Virtual Reality lab will be open to the public. Bring friends, family and neighbors.

Check it out! It's free, but tickets are needed in order to make sure everyone gets a chance to see and try everything. Go Science!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Scientific Conferences - Just go!

I just returned from the Photonics West conference in San Francisco, CA and was treated to hundreds of seminars on biomedical methods, advanced imaging, photonics and the latest in optics. It was definitely mind-blowing and exciting at the same time. 

My challenge now is to figure out how to concentrate everything I learned (during talks, posters, new technology, and equipment) offered by the myriad of presenters and exhibitors into usable information for interested researchers at my home institution (academic medical center). Naturally, I have all the product handouts from the various vendors to pass on, but I also want to communicate the energy and enthusiasm of the conference. The sense of excitement at progress being made in many disciplines was infectious and comes at a time when there is lots of uncertainty about the future of research in this country.

To me, conferences are super important to keep up with current advances and equipment, as well as to tag up with colleagues old and new. They remind me of the reasons why I became a scientist and help relegate nagging administrative tasks back home to a mental back burner for a time.

Every time I attend a new conference, I wonder what took me so long to register. Next time, I won't wait. I'll go and enjoy. You should too. Go science!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Genetic Cause for Bad Hair Days

And you thought science only addressed lofty questions like the origin of the Universe and/or dark matter? Well, think again. Now we know that for some people continuous bad hair days are genetic in origin.

According to Regina Betz, PhD, at the Institute of Human Genetics, University of Bonn in Germany and an expert in rare hereditary hair disorders, there are three genes (DNA material) in humans that code for crazy, uncombable hair. In fact, under a microscope the hair strands from people with the identified mutated genes had clumps along the strand compared to those people with normal DNA coding hair that were clump free. 

The results of this work done by Betz and other scientists in Bonn and Toulouse were published in the November 2016 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics. 

Now, at least for some parents, there is a scientific explanation for critics with smooth hair. Go science!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Cyber Countermeasures

Happy New Year! Now that we're back from the holidays, let's talk cyber. It has been a hot topic for a while. Every time we turn around a bank, credit card company, or health care system  (to name a few) gets hacked. Personal and financial information are stolen and we are left feeling violated and helpless. Don't even start on the ongoing incursions by foreign entities (a topic for another time). 

Anyway, I was excited to read about a new way of protecting data code, called Shuffler being done by researchers at Columbia Univ., Brown Univ., and the Univ. of British Columbia. 

Here's how it works. Instead of protecting against a hackers' inserted code (meant to hijack a program's operations and info), Shuffler runs alongside the home team's program and protects it by constantly shuffling or re-randomizing the code as it is running (i.e. making it harder for an intruder to lock on to a constantly moving/changing target.) On top of that, Shuffler shuffles itself! Cool.

So until unhackable quantum computing is used by everyone, Shuffler appears to be a easy-to-use tool in the fight against cyber crime. Go science!