Category: Uncategorized


I had to teach myself a bit of Python recently, so decided to do it by implementing this thing (it’s uploaded here as a text file). It takes a nice intuitive mark-down for phylogenetic trees (below) and spits out a Newick file (-f nwk), or a Wikipedia clade format (-f wp). It’s not amazing …

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Recursion [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook, Andreas Thomson, Frank Vinzent]


Bark [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

A queen’s Christmas message

Well, at least 2:8 is plausible. 2:1 And it came to pass 10 years after the death of Herod the Great, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world – except those irrelevant bits that the Romans hadn’t conquered – should be taxed. 2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Quirinius …

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Half a life


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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Youth of today

Earth [public domain, NASA]

One consequence of being an evolutionary dead-end is that I do not get exposed to new cultural touchstones through watching crap children’s telly with offspring I haven’t produced. As an alternative, monitoring the dwindling intersection of history I share with my incoming undergraduates serves the same salutary purpose of reminding me how out-of-touch I am. The …

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The wisdom of crowds

I tried this about five years ago, with more or less the inverse of these results. The nerdy grammar fascist bit of me is pleasantly surprised by the improvement, but poor Karl Albert still has some way to go… Fischer projection: About 38,800 results Fisher projection: [sic] About 8,090 results Lineweaver Burk: About 234,000 results Lineweaver …

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Lacklustre butterworts

Pinguicula agnata [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

I’d like to be more excited about this than I am, but Pinguicula agnata is not the most crowd-pleasing of my butterworts, even whilst in flower (as it currently is). Ho hum. Strange specific epithet though. No idea why Casper (whoever s/he might have been) thought it appropriate. Could be worse though, I guess.

The kraken wakes

Pinguicula cv. Tina (awakening) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

My butterworts have been waiting with unbated breath for the long, slow arrival of the spring. In winter, they cut their losses and produce small non-carnivorous leaves as there’s not enough prey around to justify investment in glue. In spring, they awaken and start making larger, insecticidal leaves again. Tina has already captured a fungus …

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Dalek chromatic t-shirt [by J. William Grantham]

Love my new Dalek t-shirt: This is also relevant to my interests.

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