Weekend Music Video

In case you wondered (like me) who is doing that awesome tune used in the M$-IE-TV-ad: It’s ALEX CLARE with “TOO CLOSE”.

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Engineering Connections in an Invisible World – a Crash Course

For several years I’ve been a big fan of  Top Gear – the guys have been entertaining my inner child. Seen rationally, the petrol-based internal combustion engine is a dead end,  but getting from A to B is hardly the point, or is it? I like the irreverent, playful and fun approach to how things actually work – by taking them apart, blowing them up or whatever else seems suitable – they have an immense imagination in that department. You know, what distinguishes the men from the boys is the size of their toys. In this regard, the top gear presenters are the real grown-ups, thinking big and out of the box. Some of their projects on science and engineering are among my all-time favourites, so I am happy to see Richard “Hamster” Hammond back on the screen again.

First, there’s the recently launched “Crash Course” :  

And then I have to mention his series “Engineering Connections” on the National Geographic Channel where Hammond

looks at how engineers and designers use historic inventions and clues from the natural world in ingenious ways to develop new buildings and machines.

And if you still can take some more, there is some really stunning footage in the “Invisible worlds” –  series (2010). Definitely something to go into my DVD collection, here’s a teaser:

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Nobel Prize in Technology

The 2012 Millennium Technology Prize (Technology Academy Finland) will be awarded to Linus Torvalds and Dr Shinya Yamanaka.

Linus Torvalds initiated LINUX about 20 years ago (as mentioned previously, see here).


Dr. Yamanaka pioneered work on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells or iPSCs), using a combination of c-MycKlf4Oct-3/4, and Sox2.

As a bioinformatician, I cannot help but point out that ComputerScience and stem-cell research are sharing such a prestigious award. Somewhat a confirmation of the idea that combining the two in a fruitful way is a very good idea, indeed. And in this context I’d like to mention Hans Schöler, whom I had the pleasure to listen to recently. In his excellent work he demonstrated that Oct4 plays a key-role in reprogramming. The structural underpinnings he presented were simply brilliant – see the PDB molecule-of-the-month article on “Oct and Sox Transcription Factors” as a substitute.

(found via heise.de and zdnet.com)

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Play more …


The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Learning Technologies Program (pre-)launched the Science Game Centerto demonstrate to teachers, scientists, museums, and parents the myriad ways games can be used to improve education in math and science“. Next to Phylo and Fold.it (which I mentioned around here before) are several entries listed I haven’t seen yet. It may be due to the movie “Fantastic Voyage” that made a lasting impression on me as a kid that “Immune attack” immediately caught my attention. After all, I’d rather kick some pathogenic butt than blowing up poor aliens in space. Good hunting!

P.S.: Reminds me of this quote by 137th Gebirg on battlestarforum.com

“I may appear unoccupied to you, but at the molecular level, I’m really quite busy.”

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Happy StarWars Day!

For fairly obvious reasons, today is StarWars Day. (Much to learn you still have, my young apprentice!) So polish that lightsaber and fearlessly face the Dark Side of the Fourth – you know “Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.”

A separate initiative for observing Geek Pride Day on May 25, is based on the Star Wars connection along with ties to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Discworld.

(video (re-)found via SchockWellenReiter, pic via g+)

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Bioinformatics Utopia


While checking out the new InterPRO (in beta stage) I came across the latest version of Utopia (available for all major OSs) :

Utopia is a collection of interactive tools for analysing protein sequence and structure. Up front are user-friendly and responsive visualisation applications, behind the scenes a sophisticated model that allows these to work together and hides much of the tedious work of dealing with file formats and web services.

The installation package (provided by the AdvancedInterfacesGroup AIG) includes

  • CINEMA – multiple sequence alignment editor
  • Ambrosia – molecular structure viewer
  • UTOPIA – support libraries and plugins

After a quick & painless installation, it seems to work out of the box. More in-depth info when I get to grips with more of the functionality.

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3D Modelling of Proteins and DNA


Judging from the gallery and videos, the Graphite – LifeExplorer is a great tool to model protein and DNA :

The Graphite-LifeExplorer modeling tool to build 3D molecular assemblies of proteins and DNA from Protein Database (PDB) files. Atomic DNA can be modeled from scratch or reconstructed from simulation.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the Mac-Version to work on my machine (Mac OS X 10.6.8) it works only for OS X 10.7.+ (got it running on 10.7.3) – it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on:

shared by Damien Larivière via LinkedIn/Molecular Modeling in Life Sciences.

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