22 September 2006

I wish I was surprised...

...When I ran into my colleague Anita on the walkway, fuming. As I've mentioned previously, she was lead on a successful equipment grant we received earlier this year for a DNA sequencer. The agency gave the university the money, the university set up the account, and then didn't give Anita the right to spend it.

She was on her way to about the third consecutive office that morning, trying to get permission she needed to spend her grant money. Yup. They created an account for her but didn't give her access to it. Unfortunately, incidents like this don't surprise me any more.

I gave her a hug. Unfortunately, that was about all I could do at the moment. Later, she told me that the problem would be fixed by the end of today. We'll see if the DNA sequencer shows up next Friday as it ought.


Meanwhile, something that really did surprise me... My student Veronica won the award for best poster for next week's HESTEC Science Symposium. I was slightly nervous about sending out the announcement to our department, because I was also the departmental representative for the symposium, and I was worried about someone giving me a bad time about fixing the result. Not that I think anyone would say that in anything other than a joke. Because if I'd wanted to fix things, my students would have won last year's competition, too.

So now Veronica has the weekend to dust off a talk she gave at the end of summer for her HHMI symposium, hopefully improve it, and give it on Monday.


I was lecturing today about Otto Loewi, the Nobel laureate who first proved that neurons communicated by releasing chemicals from their synapses. The idea for the Nobel winning experiment came to him in the middle of the night on Easter Sunday. He wrote it down, got up in the morning, but couldn't read his own handwriting. He spent the day trying to remember, but couldn't. The next night, he woke up again and remembered, rushed to the lab and did the experiment in about two hours.

Great story.

I, on the other hand, spent last night dreaming about the best chess scenes in science fiction movies and television. The three that come to mind: the 3-D chessboard from the original Star Trek TV series, one of the astronauts playing chess with HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Professor Xavier and Magneto playing chess at the end of X-Men.

Hm. Don't think I'm going to get a Nobel prize out of that dream.

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