DonorsChoose update

Y’all may have read about this on one of the other participating blogs, but just in case, I’ll recap here:

First, what is it? My initial post on it is here; essentially, several of us here at Scienceblogs have put together a wish list of projects at, a non-profit that matches donors with teacher-submitted projects in need of funding. My challenge is here; so far, I’ve had 7 donations for a total of $269.82. An excellent start, but I’m hoping a few more of you will kick in–even a $10 donation, if submitted by 10 of you, would make a huge difference.

Second, SEED has announced that they’re donating $10,000 to the effort. Collectively, all of us here have raised a bit over $13,000, so with SEED’s 10K, that’s over $23,000 so far to go to teachers’ projects. Very, very cool.

Third, a few of you have written me or left comments noting that foreign donors are ineligible. Believe it or not, that’s a Homeland Security measure. For those of you who aren’t in the US, there’s a way to get around that–simply use your credit card and choose a state at random. They can’t, however, send their “feedback packages” (the letters and photographs) overseas.

Thanks again to everyone who donated so far, either to my challenge or on another blog. For the rest of you, you still have about a week to donate–no amount is too small, and it’s all appreciated.

Scienceblogger question: how do you do it?

Figures. I’m even mentioned in last week’s “Ask a Scienceblogger” question, and I’m not around to answer it!

How is it that all the PIs (Tara, PZ, Orac et al.), various grad students, post-docs, etc. find time to fulfill their primary objectives (day jobs) and blog so prolifically?…

Looking at the responses, I think Mark already nailed it: insanity. But I suppose I’ll ramble a bit below the fold, anyway…
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7 days, over 2000 miles, and 32+ hours on the road (half of it with 2 kids and a dog). I need a vacation from my vacation. Thanks to most of you for your patience; I see I’ve already been accused of “censorship” for not being around to approve some comments that got stuck in the junk filter, but everything has now been published and I’m working my way through the rest of the comments (and catching up on emails, reading, lab work, etc.) Have a few posts in the works for today and tomorrow but they’ll likely be without any heavy science; I’ll get back into that again next week.

Of dragons and microbes

[From the archives; originally posted November 22, 2005]

Carl Zimmer has a post today about the work of Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry on the evolution of snake venom. If that name sounds familiar to those of you who aren’t reptile specialists, you may have run across Dr. Fry’s homepage, or you may have seen his research profiled previously on Panda’s Thumb here, or you may have read comments by the good doc in this thread. Zimmer, as always, has an excellent overview of Fry et al‘s new paper in Nature (link ), but he didn’t emphasize the one sneak peek I received from Bryan.
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Measles vaccine doesn’t cause SSPE

[From the archives; originally posted October 20, 2005]

Measles is one of those diseases that we don’t give much thought to in the United States anymore. Following an incubation period of about 10 days, flu-like symptoms appear: fever, malaise, cough, congestion, conjunctivitis. Soon, the rash appears, first near the ears, then the forehead, the face, and over the rest of the body. Complications were common. These could include a seconary bacterial pneumonia, encephalitis, myocarditis, miscarriage, and a condition called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE).

(Continued below…)
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Animalcules 1.9

Welcome to the June edition of Animalcules! Apologies for the lateness; I only had a few minutes to get online yesterday, and that was mainly devoted to checking email and making sure there were no crises that needed my attention. So, without further ado…

From the Scientific Creative Quarterly comes a humorous entry: Prokaryotes of America Unite. Almost makes me feel bad. (You also may want to check out Scientific Creative Quarterly editor David Ng’s new blog here at Scienceblogs: The World’s Fair.

Jennifer over at Science Matters has a nice post discussing background information on something that’s always a hot topic here at Aetiology: HIV. Specifically, she discusses HIV emergence and treatment.

A newcomer to Animalcules, at The neurophilosopher’s blog brings us a post on newly discovered bacteriophage, discussing a paper in the journal Cell. Even better about the story is that several authors on the paper are high school students.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacterium of the month over at Viva la evolucion!. Specifically, he sends along a post discussing the evolution of M. tuberculosis and M. leprae–the latter of which is another example of gene loss during evolution.

afarensis sends us a post from, describing effots to save rare cave paintings from a fungal infection. It’s a nice–and sad–example of how the changes we make in an ecosystem can have unexpected consequences.

Scienceblogs newcomer Mike the Mad Biologist writes about an antibiotic we may have lost before it even got off the ground.

Ruth at the Biotech Weblog sends along two submissions. First, she highlights an emphasis at last month’s American Society for Microbiology meeting: energy-producing bacteria. Check it out for a bit on electricity-producing, ethanol-producing, and even detergent-producing bacteria. Next, she writes about a novel way to take care of your pearly whites: a vaccine against Streptococcus mutans, a major agent of dental caries.

Over at Complex Medium, Ewen sends us “The Irony of RNA Interference”. This is yet another way pathogens work to subvert host defenses, and a topic I’ve been meaning to write on (and research a bit, as I’ve not kept up on the literature in that field)–Ewen’s excellent post has saved me some work.

I also want to point everyone–and especially those who aren’t in the infectious disease field–to a post over at Effect Measure (also new to Scienceblogs). Revere has an overview of some terminology: Pathogenicity, virulence, and transmission–a nice primer for those who’ve always been a bit fuzzy on what the terms mean.

Finally, for my own submission, I want to re-emphasize Scienceblog’s science funding challenge. (My post about the challenge is here). As of yesterday, Janet notes that Scienceblogs readers have already raised $3000 for the cause–an incredible start, and proof that readers here simply rock. The challenge runs through July 1st, so if you’re able, check out everyone’s challenges and kick in a few dollars.

Help teachers–nurture budding scientists–win prizes!

As Janet has surely mentioned by now, we’re kicking off a The ScienceBlogs/DonorsChoose raise-money-to-help-science-classrooms-a-thon!

I write a lot on here about science education. Indeed, that’s a big motivator for having this site at all. Science is endlessly fascinating, and it’s a pleasure to have the means to share some of my own love of the area with y’all. But of course, appreciation for science can–and should–start long before adulthood. I know I had some great teachers in elementary, junior high, and high school who made math and science interesting, but it’s a tough job, made even more difficult when budgets are stretched thin. And make no mistake–in many of these schools, things are bad. A friend of mine who did Teach for America had to make her own textbooks. My 11-year-old brother-in-law uses the same science textbooks I used–20 years ago!

This is where DonorsChoose comes in. For those of you unfamiliar with DonorsChoose, it’s a non-profit site that connects teachers directly with folks who want to support them (which they term “Citizen Philanthropists”). Teachers submit project proposals and budgets, and ordinary folks can kick in a few bucks toward the teacher’s goal. (You can find all the details here).

As far as our challenge, I and others (Janet has an entire list of all participants) each picked out some projects for our own challenge. (Mine is here). This wasn’t easy, as there are literally thousands of projects looking for funding. I chose 20 for your perusal. You’re reading this site, so I know you support good science education. If you’re able, check out my challenge (link) and kick in a few bucks. Every little bit helps. If I have even 800 visitors who’ve read this post kick in just $10 each, right there that puts me almost at my goal, and will pay for books, aquariums, kits, projectors, microscopes, and so much else that brings science to life for these kids.

Additionally, we’ve gotten some sponsors to kick in some incentives for those of you who donate. Again, Janet has all the details, so please check it out–there are a number of nice prizes for y’all. (Not listed are copies of the book Viruses vs. Superbugs that I reviewed here.)

So, I hope you’ll donate, and please spread the word. And while we have this set up as a “blogger’s challenge,” I’ll still urge you to check out the other blogs who are participating. After all, for something like this, everyone wins.

(Again, my challenge is here).