Monday, February 28, 2011

The Ever-Changing Center of the Cell

"There is little evidence that there are dedicated structural proteins"

             Dr. Tom Mistelia senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute 
             theorizes on the dynamic nature of nuclear architectural proteins.

Digital Public Library of America

Google books, Wikipedia, blogs, and PLoS, among others share the common theme of OPEN ACCESS. Finally we are starting to see a push from the inner cloister of the ivory towers to house all information under one giant universally accessible digital umbrella. The movement is for a digital public library of America. A sort of library at Alexandria in the server cloud. It seems to me this push is a bit late but nonetheless I am glad to see it emerge. In so advocating this epic undertaking there are many worthy questions to ponder the most significant of which are laid out in a lengthy article by by David H. Rothman in the Chronicle Review of Higher Education, freely available to you and me. 

"Will the United States actually construct a genuinely public and democratic national digital-library system to help us, in the president's words, "out-innovate, out-educate, and outbuild the rest of the world?" While the Library of Congress has digitized some of its collection, much remains to be decided and done. Further, Americans have yet to reach a consensus on the characteristics of our own national digital library. Questions abound. Should the system exist mainly to promote literature and culture in general? Or should the library care equally about the promulgation of scientific, technological, mathematical, and medical knowledge—in fact, even business and vocational material, so that it can help millions of jobless Americans and others upgrade their skills? What are the ways to justify the cost of building a national digital-library system? Could the same tablet computers optimized for reading also be used for filing forms electronically and in other ways reduce the costs of paperwork? How can we resolve legal issues surrounding the dread topic, copyright?" 

Read the rest of the article here. I like this idea so much I think I'll ring up my local congress person and ask that they support it. If you feel the same follow this link, plug in your state and zip code and opinionate away!

Form Follows Function

A thought. 

If you don't have pets you can stop reading. 

I was on a walk with my dog this morning when I saw something shiny on the street. It was a piece of a broken pair of sunglasses, the temple piece - silvery, sharp - the metal rod and hinge connecting the ear and the lens. I was trying to think of how to incorporate this piece of garbage into a sculpture when I thought of that old adage "form follows function." This led me to think... if I were to spend the effort making a sculpture wouldn't I want it to be useful? Usable by people? All kinds of people? A vision of cats scratching up the backs of couches and dogs chewing up chair legs popped into my head. Why fight instinct? Why not work with it. Rather than buying fancy furniture only to have it ruined by your pets? Why not build a sculpture that is actually a chair or a couch with some unique design intended to to scratched and chewed revealing new iterations of the sculpture? Maybe a hair-brained idea but as part of a recent resolution to blog more random thoughts requiring more than 140 characters I present it here. I hope to see one of these in my home or somewhere floating in the ether in the near future.  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Evolution of a line

"A Sequence of Lines Consecutively Traced by Five Hundred Individuals is an online drawing tool that lets users do just one thing - trace a line. Each new user only sees the latest line drawn, and can therefore only trace this latest imperfect copy. As the line is reproduced over and over, it changes and evolves - kinks, trembling motions and errors are exaggerated through the process. A Sequence of Lines Consecutively Traced by Five Hundred Individuals was first created as a tool to be used in conjunction with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk - an online labor market. Mechanical Turk workers were paid 2 cents to trace a line."

Second in the Sagan Series

Post with the Most - 2011 Entry #1

Today we have our first entry to the Post with Most competition.  A perspective on the rise of Somali piracy.  Embodying the essence of revolution this post is laid out in two parts; the first historical, the second speculative.  What parrells can be drawn between the Golden Age of Piracy in the US and the current rise of piracy in Somalia?  

Let the "southern fried scientist" walk you through this compelling tale on the high seas.  

"Since the early 1990′s the Somali pirate fleets have grown increasingly sophisticated. Originally acting as defensive pirates protecting their waters from marauding fishing vessels, they soon realized the value of a captured trawler. Companies were willing to pay a high ransom for the safe return of their ships and crew, and captured vessels could be used to extend the range of the pirate fleet, allowing longer patrols and attacks further from their home port. The pirates also benefited from their close proximity to the Gulf of Aden, which sees almost 20% of all international shipping traffic, a rich vein for a resource poor country."

Read the entire piece here. I can already feel the energy of this year's competition mounting as the first entry beautifully integrates both photos AND video!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Post with the Most - 2011

2011 is shaping up to be a year filled with revolution. We all have buried deep inside us a piece of that revolutionary flame burning so brightly along the east coast of Africa today, the same spirit that burned over two hundred years ago here in North America. We all have potential to express our personal epiphanies, our personal revolutions RIGHT NOW!  I am asking - what's yours?

Tom Paine's Ghost is excited to announce 
the second annual POST with the MOST competition.

A $100 cash prize will be awarded for the most powerful blog post freely available out there on the interwebs. 
Post content is limited only by the bounds of imagination.
Keep in mind Tom Paine's Ghost was founded amidst a battle to defend freedom of the press and we hope to echo that theme throughout our pages. 
Check out last year's entries to get an idea of the competition.  

Submissions will be selected and judged on the basis of four criteria:

1. Clarity
2. Originality
3. Integration (at least three forms of media would ideally be utilized, images, text, movies (you tube or vimeo), audio, etc.)
4. Power (the post's ability to motivate readers to action).

Submissions will be accepted until the summer solstice - June 21st, 2011. Please submit a link to your post in the comments section below along with a short note explaining why you feel your post  meets the criteria.  Selected submissions will be linked in a series of submission posts here at TPG and voted on by our panel of citizen judges. The winner will be announced on July 4th, 2011 and will be notified by email. Whether this is your first post or your one thousandth all submissions will be reviewed.

You may also submit your post in an email to

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Heretical Hymn

And so leading into Darwin week we begin with a reminder of common 'descent'cy.

Evolution Made Us All from Ben Hillman on Vimeo.