Neal Stephenson published the Diamond Age in 1996. I read it while I was in high school (about 1997). I was hooked on the ideas of nanotechnology and post-scarcity presented in the novel. I earned my PhD in bioanalytical chemistry in 2008. I went into my field in some ways because of this science fiction novel. I wanted to learn how to analyze and then build the kinds of nano-machines that life is made of.
I made a vlog today about how I address the Sad Gap. If you’re not a part of the nerdfighteria youtube sphere, I will explain. The Vlogbrothers have both talked about it recently (see Hank’s video or John’s video). The sad gap is the place between finding out about a problem and being in a position to do something – anything – about it. It’s possible to fall right into the sad gap and end up not actually doing anything at all.
Whelp, my wife has COVID and I’m isolating to see whether I show symptoms. We relaxed the distancing/masking in my region and, predictably, cases are going up. We’re vaccinated and boosted, but Mrs. Allen still feels very sick. I’m fine so far, and I hope we can go back to being a happy couple of pigeons soon.
I posted a video about chromatography, but first I want to talk about focus and cell phones. The comic is almost a verbatim conversation I had with my wife. It’s hard to escape my phone even for the time it takes to use the restroom. That can’t be good for my psyche.
I was thinking about doing a deeper dive on that, but it just doesn’t fit the theme of the blog/vlog any more. It fits better over at my other site, Student Pro Tips, but I have not updated that for a long time. Then I thought, maybe I SHOULD update that site and maybe add a video, too! Because I need more projects. I have not done that yet… we will see. [EDIT: I posted the video and blog post about this whole thing]
Research summary on the subject:
- There have been several meta-analyses and reviews on smartphone addiction and smartphone effects on cognition and learning.
- There’s a thing called Nomophobia now: “The term NOMOPHOBIA or NO MObile PHone PhoBIA is used to describe a psychological condition when people have a fear of being detached from mobile phone connectivity.”
All that from a comic.
Ok, about chromatography. Here’s the video.
I made a video about the bio-engineered pig heart transplant. When my wife and I were talking about it a month ago, the patient was still alive and we were really rooting for him, and that inspired the comic (thanks to Cygnus Design for the artwork). It’s too bad the poor guy died in the mean time, but he made a real gift to science by participating in the experiment.
In case you didn’t know, people used to use pigs to hunt truffles in the wild (the fungi, not the chocolates). But the pigs badly want to eat the truffles, so you have to fight the pig every time you find some. People have moved on to using dogs.