Category: Blog Posts

ASAPbio: The Dusk of Peer-Reviewed Glamour (a report from a virtual attendance)

The issue of publications of science manuscripts is reaching breaking point. Breaking in the sense of tearing down the enthusiasm of young investigators, the patience of seasoned ones and generating a lot of debate at institutional level. A few days ago, a survey by Nature News showed that more than 35% report taking 1-2 years to publish a manuscript and 20% 2-5 years (http://www.nature.com/news/does-it-take-too-long-to-publish-research-1.19320). What the bottom line of the article hid is that the time does not mean time sitting in the same journal –though some times it does- but time from submission to the first journal. For a […]

Continue reading

Season’s Greetings from the AMA Lab

With Christmas just around the corner, we have been adding a touch of festive cheer to the lab with a decorations competition. Novel uses were found for Falcon tubes, polystyrene packaging and Eppendorfs – in the end the prize went to the bay with the snowman! We also gathered for our annual Christmas lunch, which was a great chance to get out of the lab and to share a meal together. From all of us in the lab, have a very merry Christmas/happy Hanukkah and all the best for 2016!

Continue reading

The case of the Irish Elk, a parable for the weight of the glamour journals

The case of the Irish Elk, a parable for the weight of the glamour journals In one of his wonderful and educational essays, SJ Gould discusses the story of the Irish Elk, a spectacular species of elk that became extinct because……well, it is unclear why but the late specimens did have a very visible trait: enormous –and I mean enormous- antlers; the elk was over 3 meters tall and had antlers 3.3 m across. There have been many theories to explain the mysterious extinction of this magnificent animal but the one Gould discusses and the one I like to think […]

Continue reading

Good bye to a hut and to all that

“On a summer day in the late fifties a delegation from the Soviet Union appeared in Cambridge demanding to see the “Institute of Molecular Biology”. When I took them to our shabby prefabricated hut in front of the University Physics Department, called Cavendish Laboratory after its nineteenth century benefactor, they went into a huddle until finally one of them asked me: “And where do you work in winter?” They wanted to know how I had planned our successful Research Unit, imagining that I had recruited an interdisciplinary team as Noah had chosen the animals for his ark: two mathematicians, two […]

Continue reading

Boltzmann, Darwin and THE current challenge of the life sciences

The XIX century will be called the century of Darwin (L. Boltzmann) While most people have heard of Einstein and Newton and Feynman, Boltzmann is not a household name when thinking about famous physicists. Ludwig Boltzmann was a theoretical physicist extraordinaire who at the end of the XIX century, in that Vienna that was going to give so much to the world in the ensuing years, taught us a most interesting way of thinking in material terms about the structure of matter and abstract concepts like heat and energy. Spurred by his philosophical inclinations, in his latter years he wanted […]

Continue reading

A new sort of engineering: II. Organizing self organization in Space and Time

Note: This is the second part of the last post and is not its final form. It will be updated and cleaned up in the New Year but wanted to share these thoughts with those of you who cared to read them before the treadmill catches up with me in the New Year.   The vis essentialis of Wolff, the Entelechia of Driesch, the new physical laws promised to Delbruck by Bohr, all found echoes in the famous book “What is life” by E. Schroedinger. This book, that meant so much to a few who went on to change Biology, […]

Continue reading

A new sort of engineering: I. Of inner forces, programmes and duality in living systems

Biology is a young science and this is easy to forget. For all the hype and glamour of modern conferences and publications, we still are in the midst of empirical data gathering. A bit what astronomers and tinkerers were doing in the XVII century. We have changed collecting and classifying beetles and butterflies for genes and regulatory regions, but the method has not changed that much: systematics. This aside, there are, let us say, three issue in Biology: how a system builds itself, how it works and how it evolves, We know a lot about the second, have a good […]

Continue reading