Author Archives: Peter

Video on the Authority of Science, Stuff I’ve enjoyed

A few weeks ago, I made a video about hydra, the little freshwater creatures, not the mythical beast or the Marvel villains. I got people up in my comments talking about a conspiracy theory I’d never heard of. According to this theory, “THEY” are adding HYDRA to the vaccines (along with NANOCHIPS with NANO-ONIONS)! My cat is more wise than i am with regard to YouTube comments (in that he has no idea they exist).

So, I started reading about what the best practices are for talking with conspiracy theory believers and science deniers. And that led to the video I uploaded last weekend.

I was inspired by this talk by Naomi Oreskes called “Why Trust Science?” Dr. Oreskes wrote a book about that topic that was published before COVID-19. It is especially relevant now, thanks to all of the anti-science talk on social media. She asks a simple but important question: why should we trust science, and more practically, why should people trust scientists?

Ultimately, scientists are people. Science is a human endeavor. There will be problems. But scientists are accountable to reality. Scientists are accountable to experiment. Scientists are accountable to observation and data. That’s the final, highest authority.

On a mostly unrelated note, here are two terrible aquatic creature jokes I made up:

  • What do you call a baby frog caught in a storm? A SQUALL-iwog.
  • What’s a jellyfish’s favorite exercise? Pull Ups (polyps).

Continue reading

Cocktail Inspired by Frank Herbert’s Dune

I posted a video with some thoughts on Dune and Nootropics. I also came up with a cocktail inspired by the book. I am in love with this cocktail. The 2021 film is coming out soon on HBO(!) so if you want to make this for your screening, here’s the recipe:

Spiced Tequila Sour Of Shai Hulud (May His Passing Cleanse the World):

Assemble in a shaker with ice:

1.5 oz Corzo Silver Tequila (for the memory of the desert sands of Dune)
0.75 oz ginger syrup* (to stimulate the mind)
0.75 oz fresh lemon juice (it gives its body’s water that the tribe may survive)
Two dashes cinnamon bitters (for the Spice must flow)

Shake

Place a large, clear ice cube in a glass. Add one bar spoon of blue curacao (for the blue within blue eyes of the fremen). Strain the drink over the cube and serve.

*To make ginger syrup: Assemble 0.5 cup sugar, 0.5 cup water and ~4 ounces of sliced fresh ginger in a pot, heat over medium heat while stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture just starts to bubble. Strain into a bottle for storage.

Continue reading

Hydra Video! Links and comic, too

I just posted a Video about Hydra and Humanized Organisms. A long, strange train of thought resulted in this comic, too. Art credit goes to Snowman – I love it.

I got to thinking about humanized organisms while I was reading about hydra. Hydra make good models to study the biology of aging because they seem to be immortal: they don’t seem to age at all. If we knew how they accomplished it, it might help us understand how to slow aging. How do we know that they don’t age?

Prof. Daniel Martinez observed groups of hydra for years. He carefully fed them and kept them in separate tubes. Each one was observed making buds – little baby hydra – but the old hydra was put into a fresh tube alone every time. The researchers waited for any of them to get old and die… and none did. Well, maybe they didn’t wait long enough? We can only compare them to other creatures in the same weight class.

Longevity tracks body size and time to first offspring. So orcas (weight 1 million grams, first offspring at 25 years) live far longer than voles (weight 10 grams, first offspring within a few weeks of birth). Hydra weigh in at a fraction of a gram and have their first offspring a few days after being born. But they are still alive and reproducing for years, thousands of times longer than the trend would predict.

What allows hydra to accomplish this? How do they regenerate? What’s special about their stem cells that they don’t deplete? Can we study hydra in a way that’s relevant to human longevity?

Continue reading

Crows, Zoey Ashe, and other Novels

I’ve been making friends with the crows at work. This week, one of them did the clicky rattle call at me. I think it might be a friendly sound? I think most of their communication is body language, but it’s cool when they vocalize at me.

I just finished the second in Jason “David Wong” Pargin’s Zoey Ashe series. I put off reading it because of the title, Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick. It’s embarrassing to even talk about the book thanks to the title. I’m just going to call it Zoey Ashe 2. I aksi made a video review about it. It’s my second Sci-Fi and Mixology video.

Something in Zoey Ashe 2 stood out to me: Zoey is serious about the responsibility that comes with wealth. She inherited a huge fortune in Book 1. At one point in Book 2, Zoey gets her people to fix a squeak in her air conditioning system. It costs twenty-six thousand dollars. She freaks out. She knows that, before she was rich, that much money would have changed her life. And she just spent it to fix a squeak. And the money didn’t come from reputable businesses, either. Twenty six thousand dollars represents a few percent profit on a lot of human misery. She is struggling to come up with something to do about it.

Continue reading

Video, Photos, Links, Reading

Video and Photography:

I posted a new video last Monday about Air batteries. I had planned on exploring them more but left my lab in Idaho before I could get into it. It’s an interesting concept, even though it’s clearly very hard to make it work well. I’m very grateful to Dipak Koirala (co-author on several papers) who previewed it and caught a few mistakes.

This week I put one up about silicone earbuds. I’m starting to get back into the swing of it. I put it in my Beeminder, so I’m committed.

I’ve been taking more photos lately. The top photo was a strange thing. I was working in the lab when I looked out the window and saw this guy floating by in his balloon. It was a totally random rainy Thursday. Maybe he was trying out an unconventional commute.

Continue reading