Archive for the ‘Don’t know, really…’ Category

Laboratory of Waste Management

Laboratory of Waste Management Diagram

The Laboratory of Waste Management - How it Works

If you think about it, all manners of failures and waste can be recycled. If you think about it really carefully, you’ll also notice that this waste is full of potential energy that can be harnessed for… recycling projects and new experiments. Here, we have a diagram describing how such a set-up can be constructed.

Description follows:

Failure (1) and Success (2) are connected, as we have already proven that you cannot have one without the other. Here, we harness the energy produced by the water flowing between the communicating vessels, using a turbine (3). The energy produced is used to power up the distillation (heat) (4). The distillation uses a solution of sticky failures(5) collected in the lab during the day. Due to their high content in carbohydrates, they ferment easily and can be transformed into a strong distillat(6) fit for consumption or for powering up an engine. The electricity produced by the communicating vessels can also be harnessed to power the magnetic stirrer (7) essential to the saponification of oily waste. The soap (8) thus produced can be used to clean the lab coat used during the experimentation. Finally, the electricity can also be used to power up artificial light (9) that will help experimental plants grow (10).

This set-up can easily be installed in a bathroom, as is demonstrated here

Categories: Don't know, really...

Celebrating Failures!

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

As I have seen in my own work of collecting stories of failures and debris from scientists, it is much easier to deal with other people’s failures than your own. Part of it is that you are not as emotionally involved of course, but also, you have a different perspective. Through time and interviews, I find that when you ask people to talk about their failures and they agree to share (and a certain amount of trust must be present between the two parties or else you shouldn’t expect an answer), the stories will often have a happy ending, such as “and then I decided to do this”…). Now, I have compiled the list of my own failures – much harder but also fun to do, especially if there is a bit of time since that last failure. And do you know what? I feel I haven’t failed enough lately… not done enough and not taken enough risks. So, here’s my lastest risk-taking venture:

I have come across a man who claims he will hire people who fail. I am sending him my CV (see for yourself below) and let’s see what he says…

1. He hires me.  I win.

2. He doesn’t reply. I add this to my list of failures. I win

3. He replies he doesn’t want to hire me. I add this too… I won’t be so hopeful that we could start a discussion on the topic… but you never know. I win

In the meantime, this CV is a work in progress. I would love it if you had ideas on how to improve it…

Oh, and it seems I am not the only one suggesting one’s failures should be neatly compiled. Melanie Stefan says it too in Nature no less.

* Update: 3 weeks have passed and still no response from Jeff Stibel. Oh well, I’ll file that failure. Time to move on to the next one.

Faster than the speed of light… Could scientists be wrong (again)?

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment

The world is a-buzz with the latest news coming from CERN, Switzerland. “What? Particles going faster than light?”

What I like about this is several things:

1. Most of us would be incapable of explaining why this puts into question Einstein’s theory of relativity. There’s this thing about the theory of relativity, which states that no particle can travel faster then light… but what does it really mean?

2. Most of us are excited at the prospect of something so complicated and unintelligible in the first place being called “WRONG”. Of course it’s not “Wrong” per se… it’s just true somewhere else. The same hoo-ha was created when the theory of relativity was shown to be incompatible with Newton’s Physics. It’s not like apples started falling the other way.

3. The scientists are acting the way we romantically wish all scientists would work: they find something weird; they doubt it but they don’t dismiss it; they put their results and calculations out there for all to see, criticise and tell them where they might have gone wrong.

4. In my view, science always corroborate old wives tales… remember when they (finally) scientifically proved that having wet feet might give you a cold? Now, we’ve all moaned about life going faster and faster, and about how hard it is to keep up with changes that appear too fast for us to follow. Now we know why: since Einstein last measured, it seems that particles have been going faster… vindicated!

Making the invisible visible

There is an exhibition at Le Laboratoire in Paris, which you MUST go and see if you are in Paris between now and the end of June. In fact, it  might well be worth going to Paris just for that.

The exhibition, entitled “La Négation du Temps”, pairs up Artist William Kentridge with Scientist /Science Historian Peter Galison and Musician Philip Miller.

In a video where Kentridge explains his notion of our relationship to time, he mentions that an artist “is someone who makes visible something that we know but can’t really see”. Of course, here, he is speaking about time and how he makes it visible through his work, machines, videos, music.

However, I cannot stop thinking that this is exactly what many scientists do nowadays. Open an issue of Science magazine and what you see are “proofs” through diagrams, photographs and other visual stimulations, of events happening deep into the cells. The difference here is maybe that the scientist wants to “see in order to know”, even though for his article he has to “show what he now knows”…

And nowhere is this more important than for bacteria. We all know that we are covered in them but we don’t see them – I still remember the figures my lecturer, P-H Gouyon gave us, over 20 years ago: “You are made of 10 to the power of 12 cells of your own DNA, but also contain 10 to the power of 14 bacteria”. And unless new soaps are really different from what we used back then, that number is still valid…

And with this I want to ask you: Belly Button Biodiversity, art or science?

Hypotesizing about hypotheses

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

There is a new journal out there that sounds just right for publishing the kind of findings uncovered here: it’s the online journal called Hypotheses in the Life Sciences. Since it’s about how biology works, the editor makes the hypothesis that Hypotheses in the Life Science will grow […] to be part of the scientific process.

It might not be peer reviewed but it promises new kinds of discussion. We’re following.

Categories: Don't know, really...

TEDx Biopolis

September 7, 2010 1 comment

This Saturday, 11th of September 2010, I will be one of the speakers at the TEDx Biopolis event

I will be presenting an update on my research on failures, with the following topic:

Failomics: using failures to predict the future

This is a public (and free!) event. Due to an overwhelming response, registration was closed within days of being open.  However, there are still some seats available, so if you would like to attend, please leave a comment below and I will get back to you.

Program for TEDx Biopolis

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