Difficult start

Success rates of different applications to the Academy of Finland

UPDATE: I asked the Academy for the funding rates for the Academy Professor positions, but there are so few of these positions that you don't get any usable statistics out of that data. I received a very transparent answer from the Academy (including the numbers I was asking for). The decision to preferentially cut funding from postdoctoral researchers was a conscious one by the Academy to preserve the means to do competitive research for projects and Academy Research Fellows. However, the trend to move funding from younger to older researchers seems to be general and has been going on already for half a century in the US (see e.g. here: http://metamodern.com/2009/11/27/great-science-great-scientists-and-icons/ or here: http://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2012/02/13/age-distribution-of-nih-principal...). Our future depends on new ideas and innovations. I am not sure, whether it is true that younger investigators come up with more new ideas and innovations as claimed in the blog post above (http://metamodern.com/2009/11/27/great-science-great-scientists-and-icons/), but if that is the case, moving money away from them would a bad idea in the long run.


Erkrankungen des Lymphgefäßsystems (Diseases of the Lymphatic System)

Erkrankungen des Lymphgefäßsystems

The 6th edition of the the book Erkrankungen des Lymphgefäßsystems (Diseases of the Lymphatic System) is out. It's a German language textbook, for which Kenny Mattonet, Jörg Wilting and myself wrote the fifth chapter (Genetic causes of primary lymphedema). Get it from here, since Amazon still sells the old, 5th edition. If you have a really good excuse why you should get one for free, mail me! I have a few copies.


Neon electroporation device chickens out

Neon electroporation device chickens out (and it can't do grammar either)

The Neon transfection device from Life Technologies (oops, Thermo Fischer nowadays and former Invitrogen) was introduced about five years ago to the market. It is designed for easy electroporation of mammalian cells. We have had the device available since 2011, but it was not much in use. I don't know whether the low adoption rate is due to the user-unfriendliness (I still don't know how to put the electrode tip to the pipettor despite having done this hundreds of times, it's just really finicky mechanics), expensive running costs (for its desposible gold-plated electrodes and the proprietary transfection buffer) or something else I cannot figure out...


Strawberry fields forever

Wild stawberries
Measuring strawberry volume

Seldom does one find wild strawberries in amounts that allow you to pick liters, but this summer we did. I hope that genetic engineering will sooner or later bring back this amazing taste into the cultivated varieties, which have lost most of it over the centuries of breeding for size and appearance. When that happens, I suspect that GMO opponents will continue eating the conventional, GMO- and taste-free, but pestidicide-surcharged breeds (read more about GMO plants).

For now, we have to make do with the cultivated varieties. Cultivated strawberries are sold at the grocery store by weight, whereas on the market they are sold by the liter. Being frugal by nature, I never liked this as it makes comparing prices difficult.

Assuming that strawberries can be approximated by equally sized spheres, the maximum theoretical packing density could be 0.74 kg per liter (using regular packing) and 0.63 kg per liter (using random packing). Assuming that strawberries can be squeezed a bit, these number could be slightly higher. However, this is again offset by the measuring jar’s small size, which leaves lots of slack space between the walls and the strawberries.

I bought a few times 1 liter of strawberries and measured their weight, which averaged at 0.517 kg. Now my thumb rule is that if the liter price it equal or less than half of the kilogram price, you should buy by the liter.


The new Finnish government cuts university funding by around 500 million € (or not?)

500 Mio. Euros cut for universities

The text below is a translation of an article from the Acatiimi magazine: http://www.acatiimi.fi/5_2015/05_15_05.php
UPDATE: It appears though, that some of the party representatives that were the source of the information in this article have not been reflecting the official positions of their respective parties (in other words: they were talking BS without having any authorization to do so). In reality, the coming cuts and their sizes are going to be determined only during this coming fall season.


Helkama Jääkäri - everything but the frame broke within the first 3 years

Broken bicycle saddle of my Helkama Jääkäri
For the last time, I have to write about the Finnish bicycle company Helkama.


Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.