Skip to Content
  • Birth of an Idea

    Good News, Backing Slowly Through the Door?

    It’s a good time to give a brief update about the experiments that I’m running at work. (The last time I spoke about them was here.) For those who haven’t seen one of these posts, I’ve been chasing an odd idea for months now, on and off. So far, the tests that I’ve put it… Read More
  • Birth of an Idea

    Waiting for the Metaphorical Phone to Ring

    This week I should be getting the results from a crucial experiment I set up recently. Actually, the experiment is a whole set of them, a good thirty-two of the little things, and the whole lot has been in a freezer for about ten days now. But they’re soon to be thawed out and examined. Read More
  • Birth of an Idea

    Per Fits and Starts, Ad Astra

    Last summer I was working on an interesting chemistry idea. I posted about it on and off, in what was likely an irritating fashion – irritating because I could never quite go into just what the idea was. There were two reasons behind that: for one, my employer gets the rights to chemistry ideas that… Read More
  • Who Discovers and Why

    Easy Parts and Hard Parts

    I’ve been reading George Dyson’s interesting history of Project Orion, the late-1950s attempt to design a spacecraft powered by sequential nuclear explosions. (A borderline crazy idea, it very likely would have worked. The big question became whether it should be allowed to work at all.) He quotes his father, Freeman Dyson, about the ea… Read More
  • The Scientific Literature

    Back in the Stacks

    I don’t want to give the impression that there are hundreds of gems buried among the papers that no one references. Sometimes no one references them because they’re not worth very much, or because no one can get ahold of the actual article. I had a old reference turn up the other day from the… Read More
  • Chem/Bio Warfare

    More Ricin

    I’ve had some interesting e-mail on the subject, which I thought I’d address here for the curious. One person mentioned the possibility of ricin dissolved in DMSO. I have to say that that’s a nasty thought, because DMSO certainly does increase skin permeability. But I don’t know how soluble a large peptide like this would… Read More
  • The Scientific Literature

    The Library of Babel

    Spent some quality time in the library at work today, digging into another aspect of a project that I’m working on. As you get deeper into the literature on a given scientific subject, some things happen over and over. There will be articles that everyone refers to, the standards that are like showing a form… Read More
  • Chem/Bio Warfare


    There’s a report today that British authorities have rounded up several terrorist suspects in London – and that they had small quantities of ricin. So, what is the stuff, how bad is it, where did they get it, and what did they plan to do with it? Ricin’s a protein from castor beans – yep… Read More
  • Current Events

    And Another Thing. . .

    I’ve been staying away from all the Clonaid / Raelian hoo-hah. As soon as I realized who was behind this, I rolled my eyes and braced for the worst. I first read about the Raelians in Donna Kossy’s extraordinary book Kooks (which I see is now in a second edition, which I must purchase very… Read More
  • Autism

    Compare and Contrast

    Dwight Meredith over at PLA pointed out to me that the UC-Davis study on the prevalence of autism in California is online. It hasn’t been published in a journal yet, and the JAMA paper I mentioned last week doesn’t reference it. But the editorial comment in the same issue does. As it should, since there’s… Read More