Scientific breakthroughs reimagined for twitter

A Guardian piece suggests how historic scientific breakthroughs would have been reported were twitter around at the time. Most aren’t really very good, but this one amused me:


Yes, very good.
The rest just seem to be Facebook style insults and arguments. Some of them don’t even stick to 140 characters – rookie error.

Leave a comment | Posted in that's a bit mad

AP ‘crash lands’ missing comma error

Punctuation matters: punctuation, matters.

The official Associated Press twitter account just tweeted this:


to their 3.54 million followers, when what they actually meant was this:

Dutch military plane [comma] carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash [comma] lands in Eindhoven.

Thanks to Jonathan Hitchcock (see comments)

Someone then realised that the missing punctuation gave the sentence a wholly different meaning, and quickly (9 minutes quickly) issued a clarification:


Which itself is hardly an example of perfect punctuation either.

4 Comments | Tagged , , , , | Posted in in the news, that's a bit mad

Sharing is caring

You know that, right?

I was talking about Facebook (and bubonic plague, but that’s not important right now) earlier today, and I feel that it’s important that I bring another positive change to the blog to your attention in this regard: a Facebook share button on blog posts.

Yes readers, your repeated requests have finally been answered.

I had been using the Jetpack plugin for my social media sharing buttons, but astoundingly (to me at least) this otherwise lovely service allows for a Facebook LIKE button, but not a Facebook SHARE button. Googling this glaring omission gave a couple of rather complicated workarounds, but nothing that seemed to work for everyone. Like I have the time (or skill) to be poking the back the blog in this way with no guaranteed positive outcomes.

Forget it.

I’ve plumped instead for the WordPress Social Ring plugin. It’s free and it does the job just fine (see below). I going to see how it goes for a while and if I like it, I’m going to keep it. If I don’t like it, I’m going to get rid of it and try something else. Such is life in our throwaway society.

In the meantime, please feel free to SHARE ALL THE THINGS!!!!


Leave a comment | Tagged , , , , | Posted in admin, positive thoughts

It wasn’t me…

Incoming, this message on the Facebook page:

Thought of you immediately!

Now, usually, I would be flattered to be thought of immediately on many occasions; it’s nice to be at the forefront of people’s minds. However, having said that, I’m not sure that the death of a man from bubonic plague and the subsequent sealing off of a city of 30,000 people in China is one of those occasions.
And I want to make it absolutely clear that I had nothing to do with this incident.

What is interesting is the publicity that this story has got. As I write, it is the most read article in the World News section of the Guardian website in the last 24 hours. And, given the pretty stiff competition (MH17, Israel and Gaza, Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough trying to buy another striker), that’s fairly impressive stuff. Yay microbiology.
The thing is, sporadic cases of bubonic plague are actually fairly regular occurrences all over the world:

Updated Plague Map 2010 with Country lines

With even (as you’ll have noted) a handful of cases in the USA each year:


And yet, no-one has ever – to my knowledge, anyway – thought of me immediately in any of these situations. Perhaps because they haven’t made the international headlines, which makes one wonder why this one has. True, it’s a rather draconian reaction by the Chinese authorities to one death, but then it’s not like they’re not renowned for that sort of behaviour. It does rather leave one wondering if the Guardian journalist in question saw BLACK DEATH! and didn’t do any background reading before breaking the story before anyone else got chance to. But then, I can’t believe that a journalist would put sensationalism before research.

Either way, I’m always happy to hear about microbiology stories in the news (it is, after all, the best Science in the World) and what better place for you to share it with a willing audience than via the Facebook page, which you can like by visiting it (the blog facebook page, that is) here.

Thanks Debra

UPDATE: Sky News finally catches up with the story, add nothing.

1 Comment | Tagged , , , | Posted in from your comments, in the news

Invisible Light

I know – it seems almost implausibly oxymoronic, doesn’t it? It’s the falling tree in a deserted forest conundrum kind of thing. What is light if you can’t see it?

Australian artist/photographer Brendan Fitzpatrick has the answer: X-rays.

Invisible Light showcases unique X-ray art by Australian photographer Brendan Fitzpatrick.
Using both chest X-ray and mammogram machines Brendan explores the extraordinary visual potential of radiography.

Brendan has kindly given me permission to share a couple of his images here at 6000 miles…


You can see many more X-ray images of flowers, creatures and toys at the Invisible Light gallery.

The flowers are fascinating, the toys are wonderful, but it’s the creatures gallery which I think is the most spectacular: the internal geology of the shells is particularly amazing.

For all that these things may be visually appealing from the outside (even the toys, at a stretch), it’s something very different to this otherwise hidden side to them.

And different is good.

Leave a comment | Tagged , , , | Posted in recommended site