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Exploding Laptops July 31, 2006

Posted by Sacha in Technology.
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As I sit here reading the Sydney Morning Herald on my DELL laptop, I see this article on exploding DELL laptops (although, to be fair, exploding is not limited to DELL brand machines).  If anyone knows any more about the technical details of this problem, feel free to enlighten me in the comments. 

I’d also like to publicly apologize to my husband for not taking him seriously enough on this issue in the past.  🙂

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Twin Prime Conjecture July 29, 2006

Posted by Sacha in Humor, Mathematics.
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You find the funniest things on the web…  The other night I found this recording while snooping around in the in the on-line NPR archives.  It’s a Nova scienceNOW produced song called “The Twin Prime Conjecture” with music by Rob Morsberger.  Well, anyway, I have been cracking up ever since I heard it and it is by far one of the geekiest things out there.  Have a listen

A prime number is a positive whole number which is only divisible by itself and one.  So, what is the twin prime conjecture?  “There are infinitely many primes p such that p + 2 is also prime.” (Quoted from Wikipedia)  In other words, the sets like (3,5) (11,13) (17,19) … continue to happen with infinitely large prime numbers.  This conjecture may have been around from as early as Euclid’s time (300 BCE).  What made such big news last year was that Goldston, Yildirim, and Pintz published papers proving that there will always be pairs of primes a bound distance apart.  This is a big step in the direction of proving the twin prime conjecture.  Read some of Goldston’s papers here

What I have found really cool about a bunch of news sites lately is that they are set up for discussions.  PBS is no exception.  They have a discussion of twin primes and Goldston has even chimed in.

In addition to this, there are a TON of fabulous podcasts on the NPR Health and Science site.  I highly recommend it for causal and serious nerds alike.  

2 3 5 7 11 13 17 19 23 29 31 37 41 43 47 53 59 61 67 71 73 79 83 89…

Genetics of Celiac Disease July 25, 2006

Posted by Sacha in Genetics, Research, Science.
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I was recently diagnosed with gluten intolerance via a blood test.  While my doctor told me this doesn’t necessarily mean I have celiac disease (a disease characterized by intolerance to the proteins of wheat and other cereals), other people have argued with me that all people with gluten intolerance have celiac disease (CD).  Apparently the definition isn’t clear enough.  So, anyway, I decided to research this disease a bit. 

While I’m not sure my original question was answered, what I found that was interesting while reading about CD were the genetic factors.  According to this paper published in Human Immunology, 95% of patients carry the HLA-DQ2 molecule and of the other 5%, most carry HLA-DQ8.  However, CD develops in only a minority of HLA-DQ2 positive people.  In other words, although CD patients have a gene for it, not many with that gene have CD.  Scientists speculate that other genes and environmental factors affect whether or not a person actually develops CD.

If you want to read more about CD, I recommend the above article or this article from Gastroenterology on the prevalence, incidence, and progression of CD if you have access to journals, or this consensus statement from the NIH if you don’t. 

IT Goddesses Heat up the Tech World July 18, 2006

Posted by Sacha in News, Technology.
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Australian techie Sonja Bernhardt has put out a smoking hot calendar, Screen Goddess.  It features female IT professionals posing as popular and classic movie stars.  Sonja stars in the controversial American Beauty shot.  The calendar’s website held up against an attack to take it down over the weekend (Sydney Morning Herald article about attack here).  I think the calendar looks great.  Well done ladies!  All proceeds are going to support organizations promoting careers in IT for women and girls. 

Excerpt from their website:

We’re doing this to:

  • Smash through the perception of the geeky technologist
  • Generate media sensation to put a spotlight in the industry and increase national interest and awareness
  • Raise awareness of the diversity of Women in IT
  • Raise money for non profit groups that run initiatives to encourage females to take up technology studies and to enter technology careers
  • Promote organisations and companies involved in and supporting IT, through sponsorship/promotional opportunities on each page of the calendar.

the BBQ… and something about programming… July 4, 2006

Posted by Sacha in Programming, Social.
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So, umm… it’s been a while, but here I am.  It’s just been too beautiful out to blog lately (and not to mention busy as hell).  I went to Maryam and Robert Scoble’s going away/birthday party yesterday.  (Maryam started our fabulous book/movie club).  It was a great party as usual with Maryam as the host, but I’m going to miss them terribly.  On the bright side, we now have another reason to visit Cali. 🙂

I’ll save you all the gory geeky details of the party, but I just have to say I have a lot more in common with the 5-12 year old crowd than I realized.  We’d all rather be sitting around playing Zuma than socializing.  (Robert’s currently in the top 30 thanks to me).  It was fun being one of the kids for a couple hours.  Only when boys play at the Scoble residence will the Superman and Channel 9 guy toys face off and the Channel 9 guy win.  True story.

Well, I’m off to learn some C#.  My husband’s been bugging me to start writing my code in C# for ages.  Always good to have some flexibility I suppose.  Any programming biologists out there?  What do you use?  Why?