June 19, 2011

Sunday at the Lab with Uri Alon

Ah Sunday, a day of rest, recuperation and roasted food

Unless you’re a scientist, that is, in which case you might be working. If that’s you, this one goes out to all you committed high-calibre, driven scientists [1,2,3] who are spending this Sunday working at the laboratory bench. The amusing little ditty below is written by biologists Michael Elowitz and Uri Alon, and performed here by Uri Alon.

I kissed my wife and kissed farewell
I must go down to run my gel
I’m going to spend another Sunday at the lab

My wife said “Uri, you’ve got to promise,
you love me more than doing Science”
I said “Honey, can we discuss this another day?”
I’m going to spend another Sunday at the lab

My mum said “Son, don’t waste your life,
go home and spend time with the wife
you must have heard this from your father
why can’t you be more like your brother?
No son of mine spends Sundays at the lab.”

My dad said “Son, you need a shrink”
The shrink said son “you need a drink”
Those Rorschach spots reminded me of blots
He said “Oh God, you obviously have an obsessive compulsion
to spend all your Sundays at the lab”

My wife she left me
My mum disowned me
The shrink pretends he doesn’t know me
Because I can’t be myself
Without some buffer on the shelf

So if you need me, you can phone me at the lab
I’m going to spend another Sunday
I’m going to spend another Sunday
I’m going to spend another Sunday at the lab


  1. Elowe J (2010). Workaholism: between illusion and addiction. L’Encephale, 36 (4), 285-93 [Boulomanie : entre illusion et addiction] PMID: 20850599 DOI: 10.1016/j.encep.2009.12.002
  2. Overbaugh, J. (2011). 24/7 isn’t the only way: A healthy work–life balance can enhance research Nature, 477 (7362), 27-28 DOI: 10.1038/477027a
  3. Anon (2011). The 24/7 lab: Nature’s readers comment online Nature, 477 (7364), 280-280 DOI: 10.1038/477280c

July 8, 2009

California Googlin’

The Googlin' Gate BridgeSo, I’m going to San Francisco and on to the Googleplex in the heart of Silly Valley, California for Science Foo Camp (scifoo) 2009. As I put the Flowers In My Hair (what’s left of it) and confirm my booking at the Hotel California I’m not just California Dreamin’ but California Googlin’. Just how many American and Californian musical clichés it is possible to cram into one blog post and accompanying iPod playlist? Now there’s no shortage of lyrics to choose from, which is handy because it is a long journey from the UK to California and I’m extremely bored waiting for a flight westwards. So with a little help from a well known search engine and just like in the novel High Fidelity by Nick Hornby here is a (personal) top twenty-ish all time greatest hits:

  • Let’s start with The Beatles since they played their last ever gig in San Francisco (at Candlestick Park), so it seems appropriate. On Get Back Paul McCartney sings

    Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner

    But he knew it couldn’t last

    Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona

    For some California grass

    Get back, get back, back to where you once belonged

  • And what better to follow with than some Beatles-inspired rivalry in the shape of The Beach Boys who when they’re not Surfin’ USA they are singing about California Girls

    I wish they all could be California

    Girls, girls, girls yeah I dig the…

    I wish they all could be California Girls

    Are The Beach Boys possibly the band with the most cliches-per-album in the history of mankind?


June 2, 2009

Who Are You? Digital Identity in Science

The Who by The WhoThe organisers of the Science Online London 2009 conference are asking people to propose their own session ideas (see some examples here), so here is a proposal:

Title: Who Are You? Digital Identity in Science

Many important decisions in Science are based on identifying scientists and their contributions. From selecting reviewers for grants and publications, to attributing published data and deciding who is funded, hired or promoted, digital identity is at the heart of Science on the Web.

Despite the importance of digital identity, identifying scientists online is an unsolved problem [1]. Consequently, a significant amount of scientific and scholarly work is not easily cited or credited, especially digital contributions: from blogs and wikis, to source code, databases and traditional peer-reviewed publications on the Web. This (proposed) session will look at current mechanisms for identifying scientists digitally including contributor-id (CrossRef), researcher-id (Thomson), Scopus Author ID (Elsevier), OpenID, Google Scholar [2], Single Sign On, PubMed, Google Scholar [2], FOAF+SSL, LinkedIn, Shared Identifiers (URIs) and the rest. We will introduce and discuss each via a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). Is digital identity even possible and ethical? Beside the obvious benefits of persistent, reliable and unique identifiers, what are the privacy and security issues with personal digital identity?

If this is a successful proposal, I’ll need some help. Any offers? If you are interested in joining in the fun, more details are at scienceonlinelondon.org


  1. Bourne, P., & Fink, J. (2008). I Am Not a Scientist, I Am a Number PLoS Computational Biology, 4 (12) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000247
  2. Various Publications about unique author identifiers bookmarked in citeulike
  3. Yours Truly (2009) Google thinks I’m Maurice Wilkins
  4. The Who (1978) Who Are You? Who, who, who, who? (Thanks to Jan Aerts for the reference!)

October 9, 2008

While My Keyboard Gently Weeps

Filed under: lyrical — Duncan Hull @ 9:13 pm
Tags: ,

While My Keyboard Gently WeepsI look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my keyboard gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my keyboard gently weeps

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
oh oh, oh oh, oh oh
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
yeah yeah yeah yeah.

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