The Fair Labor Standards Act: A Movie

It’s December 1.  You may have heard the FLSA was going to take effect today.  Or not.  But for a lucky few your pay may still change.  Mine won’t.  Keep on workin’ hard fellow postdocs, I understand your commitment.  Here’s something I made to commemorate all of you who spend long hours in lab during the week and on the weekends and holidays!




Nobel Prize: A Poem

This week is Nobel Prize week!  On Monday, the prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi of the Tokyo Institute for Technology (Here’s his website.  I’s in Japanese).  More than 25 years ago, Dr. Ohsumi and his lab took the yeast cultures they were growing, starved them of nutrients, and noticed the starved yeast accumulated small spherical structures inside.  Through their experiments they determined that the starved yeast were recycling parts of themselves.  This process, never-before described in yeast or animal cells, is “autophagy”.  Or self-eating (ooooo, sounds “Halloween-y doesn’t it?).

It’s a hot topic in science, so I thought I would educate myself by reading Ohsumi’s original publication.  A couple of things:  When I first went searching for the paper, I didn’t realize that 25 years ago meant 1992.  I was expecting it to be dated 1975 or something.  I may have had a bit of a panic attack when I fully realized it’s 2016.  Almost 2017.   Second, if you want to read the paper yourself, here’s the link .  It’s free.

And last, here’s a blackout poem for you made from the abstract.  I don’t know why I did this.  I guess I’m a weirdo.  Or, maybe it’s just hard to just sit down and read an article all the way through sometimes–so think of it less as a “poem” and more like a post-doc attention span simulator.



Reality meets sci-fi

I made a video.

In part, it’s because I was home with a head cold and didn’t want to do real work.  So I listened to a local classical music station and curled up on the couch in the fetal position. Then I heard a piece by Beethoven that reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Which is an awesome movie.

It was released in 1968–a whole year before the first moon landing–and yet watching the movie you feel like mankind was (is) ready to travel to Jupiter.  My favorite scenes are those that make space travel appear totally natural.  Eating meals on a shuttle, landing at a moon base as if it’s another trip to the airport, jogging around a spaceship.  And so, in that vein, I used video from NASA space shuttle and International Space Station missions to create my own Kubrick-esque short movie.  It’s a silly thing, but a reminder that in science fiction there are great ideas.  And, sometimes, those ideas can become reality.  And that’s a pretty exciting thought for this scientist…

This work was created using both audio and video from the Internet Archive ( The videos were from NASA images.  Specifically, I used scenes from STS-6 (1984), STS-9 (1984), STS-66 (1994), and Expedition 8 (2003).   There are images of real experiments conducted in space including:  a cylinder filled with silicon oil to model fuel storage, a water droplet forming a perfect sphere, a recording of an eye during a visual-vestibular test where the participant stared at a moving pattern and eye motion was tracked using a special contact lens.  There a pictures of the Earth from space, of lightning storms at night, of the moon setting on the horizon of the planet.  There’s a clip of a Russian resupply module approaching the ISS, shuttle launches and landings.  I would urge you to check out the archives because the full length videos are mesmerizing and the bravery, professionalism, and humor of the astronauts they feature is truly inspiring.

The audio is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, in B-flat major, Op. 60 and was recorded by the Cleveland Orchestra with George Szell conducting and was released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial ShareAlike license.

Everything in this video is either licensed for remix/reuse or is in the public domain.  This video is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial ShareAlike license.