Thursday, March 13, 2014

A day at the Science Fair

Yesterday I had the opportunity to judge the local science fair again.   Not only do I get to meet other area professionals, but we get to mingle with the kids and read the posters.   The kids are all neatly dressed, and polite, and silly when they think the judges are not looking.  They range from the sublime to the truly amazing.   The best title yesterday was "Fun with Helium"  which I think was a middle school kid who worked with helium balloons from the party store.   The winner of our group was a kid (10th grader) whose mother got him access to a group of tissue samples with 15 years of metadata, a microtome, some stains for biomarkers, and he turned out a very sophisticated study of markers for prediction of how aggressive ductal carcinomas would be.  I shudder to think of the liability situation for putting a 15 year old in front of a microtome, but there you go.

As you might imagine, silicon valley parenting makes for a very high quality science fair.   Our winners feed into the Intel Science Fair, and those kids get impressive scholarships.

And I got a tee-shirt!  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Poisoner's Handbook

Several months ago I read this most fascinating history of early 20th century forensic science in NYC (OK, I'm a biochemist, but it was still a good read).  I got it from my library.  Deborah Blum is factually correct but picks the best stories to tell about what you could find in the garden shed or the medicine cabinet.  Medical Examiner used to be a political position - this is the story of a medically trained individual who used science to research his cases.  Thus last Sunday I was delighted to find it on TV  Seriously, this is a fun way to spend an hour.