Monday, July 16, 2012


After going to Prague surrounded by great great people, I left early to go to work. Not only do I not get to have the night that'll probably end up being the best of the bunch, but now I'm slumping into a sad bubble again.

The trip even made me question becoming a scientist...

Monday, June 18, 2012


Apfel. So that's the German word I decided to learn for today. Tune in in 7 months and I might be able to give you a full sentence.

So what is it about this fruit? 
  • A lot of fruit "juices" contain apple juice
  • The seeds of apples contain very detectable amounts of arsenic
  • The forbidden fruit from genesis tends to be depicted as an apple
  • Snow white. 
I feel that between apple juice and grape juice, you have the basis of most fruit dranks out there. Which leads to the occasional problem of detectable amounts of arsenic in your drank. Now that I've started work in inorganic chemistry, carbons usually found bonded to carbon, and not hydrogen, and the top 2 rows basically don't exist for me, life based off of arsenic is not actually too hard to believe. I mean, especially with things like this. It might be weird to be thinking about something that is a toxin being the basis of life, but I feel like we're just missing the big picture. I mean, we take breathing for granted; oxygen is one of the best example of life-sustaining toxins.

Of course, the inspirational toxin behind this post was not arsenic, but cyanide, but that can wait. 

I have recently listened to a podcast (insert plug for radiolab here) regarding Alan Turing. Mathematician, Computer Scientist, War Hero, Gay. A bright mind who has been called the father of computer science, who likely led the British to ending the war by about 2 years earlier than they would have otherwise, who was then convicted of gross indecency (by having implicated himself for having gay sex).

It's hard for me to understand, growing up as I have, just exactly what intolerance really means. Here is a guy who should be heralded as a hero of the nation, who probably had more claim to fame and glory than any gunslinging soldier, but instead was stripped of his manhood (by chemical castration with estrogen). This isn't being bullied and abused; this is having the law saying you can't practice being who you are. That scares me a bit.

The next two year of his life was filled with depression, until he was found dead of cyanide poisoning, with a bitten apple lying nearby, similar to his favourite scene in Snow White where the witch dipped the apple in the poison brew. This scares me a lot.

I would like to think it was a mistake (as laboratory chemicals are notorious for being unlabeled and lying around for no good reason), but I think that is a bit of a far stretch for someone like Mr. Turing (Here I am not ignoring the title granted to him by his PhD, but rather honouring the title granted to him by being a man).  Then there is the possibility of a framed murder. This is also a little unlikely, but it is a much easier to swallow situation than the actual thought of someone who has contributed so much to humanity, and who has the potential to do so much more, deciding that life is no longer worth living. That the rules inflicted on him by society are ones that contradicted with his rules of self. Who is John Galt indeed.

Our world was, and still is, a scary place.