Author's details

Name: Steve Cook
Date registered: 16/04/2012
URL: http://www.polypompholyx.com


Nerd of this parish.

Latest posts

  1. Phage vs. host — 10/07/2015
  2. Stentorian — 16/12/2014
  3. Organism of the week #22 – Faking it and making it — 02/07/2014
  4. Half a life — 20/06/2014
  5. Organism of the week #21 – Flying machines — 04/06/2014

Most commented posts

  1. Educational RCTs — 17 comments
  2. A brief history of rubbish — 5 comments
  3. Moose objects and roles — 3 comments
  4. Organism of the week #17 – Daughter of Ungoliant — 2 comments
  5. Obfuscated pancakes — 2 comments

Author's posts listings

Jul 10

Phage vs. host

Phage vs. host [CC-BY-SA-4.0 Steve Cook]

For a recent schools’ outreach day, I put together a card-game based around the arms-races that develop between bacterial hosts and their viruses (bacteriophages). It’s mostly just a bit of fun, but if anyone finds it useful or can suggest improvements (or just make them! I release this under a CC-BY-SA-4.0 license) I’d be happy to hear them.

Dec 16


Stentor sp. [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

We had the annual “looking at muck down a microscope” practical last week. As usual, the best thing we saw was a ciliate in some pond water, in this case a little trumpet animalcule: Previous winners: Vorticella and Lacrymaria. The Ciliata really are the phylum that keeps on giving.

Jul 02

Organism of the week #22 – Faking it and making it

Urtica dioica [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

Nettles have a rather unhappy reputation as bringer of painful welts, and – at this time of year – dribbling noses too. The welts are probably caused by histamine, and the pain by oxalic and tartaric acids, which the nettle injects into your skin through the tiny brittle hairs that cover its stems and leaves. If …

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Jun 20

Half a life

Ecology 1996

As of today, I will have spent precisely half of my life at $PLACE_OF_WORK. I first arrived at what would become my workplace as a badly coiffured youth in 1995 to do a biology degree. South Kensington seemed a great improvement over Croydon, where I had endured my previous 18 years: there was a refreshing absence of casual street violence, and a greatly …

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Jun 04

Organism of the week #21 – Flying machines

Milvus milvus [CC-BY-2.0 Alex Lomas]

It is frequently, and largely accurately, said that an area of Amazon rainforest the size of Wales is deforested every year. Horrendous though this statistic is, it’s worth remembering that the UK deforested an area at least the size of Wales (including most of the area commonly known as “Wales”) before anyone started keeping notes. The UK’s track record at maintaining its biodiversity has been – …

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Apr 23

Bagging botanic gardens

Kew gardens temperate house [CC-BY-2.0 Alex Lomas]

I’m not sure whether bagging botanical gardens is better or worse than bagging Munros, Michelin stars or the numbers off of rolling stock, but it keeps me off the streets… London (Kew) Just ten stops down the District Line from $WORK lies the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. The gardens have three enormous glasshouses, a number of smaller …

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Mar 06

Organism of the week #20 – Don’t point that thing at me

Diadema setosum [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

It’s amazing how informative an anus can be. Take this sea urchin. The orange pucker in the middle of the spines is its “around-the-bum”, although zoologists would insist on writing that in Greek as “periproct“. The bright orange ring-piece is characteristic of this species, and marks it out as Diadema setosum, rather than any of …

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Mar 03

Nonlinear regression

Acid phosphatase nonlinear regression model [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

Nonlinear regression is used to see whether one continuous variable is correlated with another continuous variable, but in a nonlinear way, i.e. when a set of x vs. y data you plan to collect do not form a straight line, but do fall on a curve that can be modelled in some sensible way by …

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Feb 24

Analysis of variance: ANOVA (2 way)

Glucose boxplot [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

The technique for a one-way ANOVA can be extended to situations where there is more than one factor, or – indeed – where there are several factors with several levels each, which may have synergistic or antagonistic effects on each other. In the models we have seen so far (linear regression, one-way ANOVA) all we …

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Feb 24

Analysis of variance: ANOVA (1 way)

Venus flytrap boxplot [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

Analysis of variance is the technique to use when you might otherwise be considering a large number of pairwise F and t tests, i.e. where you want to know whether a factor with more than 2 levels is a useful predictor of a dependent variable. For example, cuckoo_eggs.csv contains data on the length of cuckoo eggs laid …

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