February 28th, 2001

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It's been a pretty unproductive day - went into work to get my final two time sheets signed. I get paid tomorrow (for 2 weeks ago) and next Thursday for last week and this (half) week. Then that's it till the last Friday in April! Meep! Not a problem in the grand scheme of things - we can easily live on J's salary for a month, and I've been completely solvent since December, so I shouldn't get _too_ low in the remainder of the time. Still I should probably start being careful right about now ;)

Other than that highly useful occurence, I had a meeting with both my supervisors (Vera was back in Norwich partly to speak with someone else). Vera and I went through the stuff that confused me so much last week. I'd not got it wrong, and I was right both about the definition of specific activity (ug collagen cleaved per minute per nmol collagenase, in this case) and about how to calculate it on Excel. The problem was actually due to the set-up of my experiment - which I'd designed to do a different collection of calculations on. For calculating the kcat and KM directly it didn't matter what the substrate concentration was, as when you do a Lineweaver-Burke plot (1/v against 1/[S]) it'll be linear whatever the [S] is. However when calculating the specific activity, if you want to compare it between experiments, and between assay systems, you need to have the concentration of substrate at levels where it saturates the enzyme, and then the rate approaches Vmax. So it doesn't change with differing [S], so you get a single value for the specific activity. We've decided for the paper to go with quoting comparative specific activities, determined at [S]=1uM. Which ought to be ok. Now all I have to do is alter the text of the paper to reflect all of that and mail it back round to people. Then hopefully after that Gill'll have a minmum to add (I know there's a paper she thinks we ought to reference more that we missed before). Then we can send it back to JBC and hopefully it'll be accepted this time. If not, then we have a list of experiments to do to try and get it in again, but I'll do them if and when I have to - which won't be till after I'm back in the lab full time.

Well, I get the feeling that'll've lost everybody, but I rarely actually talk about what I'm actually doing in my work, and I was all pleased to have got that sorted. And I wasn't wrong, or confused - simple arithmetic conversions of things have a tendancy to trip me up, I can easily reason myself into a circle and end up not know what the hell I'm doing! But if I can turn it into algebra, then I'm fine. I work out how much enzyme to put into experiments (given stock concentration, total volume and concentration I want) by turning it into a simple algebraic equation and solving for x. I no longer have to do that every time, but if I do get confused then I know why I'm doing what I'm doing and how to sort it out. Being like that really annoys me sometimes though.

Getting home again was tedious - it took over 3 hours rather than the 2 it should, just coz I screwed up the connections, I thought there was a 1440 train, but it still doesn't exist (one of the final 4 relics of the great hoo-ha we've had with the railways). So I spent just under an hour on Norwich station. Looked in the WHSMiths for the magazines we wanted, but no new PS2 mag, no new Linux mags, no new BBC music mag :( SO I bought a Dick Francis book instead as a piece of cheap fluff!

Random thought of the day - why do I have to restrain myself from starting every paragraph with the word 'Well'. Weird.

PS Yeah ok, so the mood and the music don't seem to fit, but both are true :)
  • Current Music
    Rage Against the Machine "Rage Against the Machine"
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"Gravity Dreams" by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

In this book we follow Tyndel from his position as a junior Master of 'Dzin' in a sleepy backward seeming village, to a life as a 'demon' in a much more high technology culture. The book is written with flashbacks and flashforwards interspersed with the ongoing storyline, making it essential to check the date on each chapter. Like most of Modesitt's heroes Tyndel is very much a reluctant participant in the major events of the world he lives in. He would much rather have stayed in his familiar and safe world, learning to be a better Dzin master (which seems to be much like Zen). But he becomes infected with nanites and becomes a demon in the eyes of his erstwhile countrymen. He has to escape to the neighbouring country of Rykasha or be killed by the mob chasing after him. It soon becomes clear to both Tyndel and ourselves that his previous country is just one of a few enclaves of primitivity in a world and galaxy dominated by the Rykashan culture. We follow Tyndel through the initial culture shock, and through his development in this culture, and the part that his desire to be completely honest with himself and with others plays in bigger events than just his personal life.

This is a post-apocalypse story, which is a scenario I particularly like, partly as it often drops hints so you can work out what famous landmarks have become, or what a culture has become. For instance in this book I'm pretty sure one of the enclaves is what the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints are in this vision of many thousands of years in our future.

I also like post-apocalypse stories because they can give you a good idea of what the author thinks are the disasters waiting to happen in our current society. This story, in common with some other recent books I've read, postulates nano-tech as being involved in the destruction of society as we know it. If you look back at other times other concerns are apparent - most new books that I read in the late eighties and early/mid nineties postulated some version of the greenhouse effect, or other runaway changes in the ecosystem of the earth, as being the doom that faces us. Looking further back, earlier in teh eighties and also in the late forties and early fifties it was nuclear war and resulting aftermath that would finish off civilisation. Those two eras seem to differ in the level of knowledge of the problems to be faced, although I've read 'mutants everywhere' stories from the eighties, and 'dying of radiation' stories from the late forties. This is all based on my 'feel' of the things I've read. Some day I'd like to sit down and systematically go through, reading post-apocalypse stories and correlate year/era with disaster faced. It'd be interesting :)