Tuesday, May 20, 2008


The first proper grant application* I worked on after switching jobs just got recommended for funding! It's excellent timing as last week's submission went to the same funding body, who apparently have decided that they like us. Yes, even though we're Canadian.

(Insert victory dance and beverage of your choice in this space)

Well, no rest for the wicked. I've just set up a meeting about the next probable submission, so I have to parse the application instructions (2 cm thick when printed on both sides) to pull out the actual required components. Oh, and read the relevant papers that one of the PIs just sent me (4 reviews and 4 research articles). They contain as much physics as biology, and I dropped physics at the earliest possible opportunity (age 16). My chances of getting all of the above done by 1 pm tomorrow are slim to none. I should probably stop blogging now.

*as opposed to postgrad and postdoctoral fellowships


  1. Thanks! You don't happen to know what an annihilation photon is, do you?

  2. Whatever it is, it sounds like an oxymoron.

  3. I think I'm a physicsmoron

  4. Oh no wait. I thought you wrote annihilation proton and I was like proton=positive, annihilation=negative, ha ha I will make a good joke about how an annihilation proton is an oxymoron.

    Turns out I'm the moron. This is why I dropped my science major my second quarter of college. And why I switched to drama. (Yes, every parent's dream come true.)

  5. Positron and electron collide and form an annihilation photon, which is similar to gamma rays (go through matter without interacting with it much). That's about all you can get from me, I am no nuclear physicist, just work with them from time to time :)

    Congrats on the grant - and good luck with the stack of stuff to read!

  6. Yay for you! Congratulations and much hope that this is the beginning of many funded applications!

  7. Yay! Congratulations!!!

    Okay, I'm going to be the moron now...what the heck's a positron? All I remember from college are protons, neutrons, and electrons.

  8. "Annihilation proton" ? I am no particle physicist but, maybe if you provided the full sentence it might be easier...

  9. Okay, I'm going to be the moron now...what the heck's a positron? All I remember from college are protons, neutrons, and electrons.

    Ah, but that is because of the biased and rigidly controlled education that you have received. I am sure that even mentioning anti-matter would have been severely punished...

  10. Arduous: the scary thing is that I got the original joke. At least I thought I did!

    SG: thanks! Is it a photon that can be either a particle or a wave? Does it depend on the observer or some such thing that makes me glad I'm a biologist?

    Post-doc: thanks! The best thing is that we really didn't expect to get this one. My boss greeted the news with an expletive. So it wouldn't have mattered too much if this first one was a bust, but getting it is a huge bonus!

    MadHatter: I think a positron is something with the same mass and characteristics as an electron, but with a positive charge. (I only know this because I read New Scientist, I didn't learn about them in school either).

    Okham: I thought antimatter was still hypothetical... Or is that dark matter? Or are they the same? I told you I was a physicsmoron. I can't give too much context without giving away what I'm working on, but here's a bigger snippet: "annihilation photons produced by the disintegration of positron-emitting isotopes". It's nucular, as GWB would say.

    Amanda: thanks! Back to the reading!

  11. Okham: I thought antimatter was still hypothetical...

    Oh no, it's very real, discovered 76 years ago (you may read about it here). No, it has nothing to do with Dark Matter which is still hypothetical.

    annihilation photons produced by the disintegration of positron-emitting isotopes

    OK, I am sorry, CAE, I obviously need to go and see an optometrist again: annihilation photons makes perfect sense (for some reason I kept reading "protons"). So, I think it goes more or less like this: disintegrating isotopes emit positrons, which in turn annihilate with electrons, in the process producing gamma-ray photons...
    and if this is not right... well, as GWB would have say "fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice... can't fool me again !".

  12. A photon has properties of both particles and waves, but I am pretty sure it is considered a particle :) It has zero mass and a momentum, travels at the speed of light, can be refracted (like a wave), and transfers a predictable amount of energy to matter it is interacting with (not quite like a wave).

    Gotta love the GWB quotes :)

  13. I think a photon is defined as having a "wave-particle duality" and not being a 'only' a particle - in my native Swedish it would be described as "not a real particle but having energy in a package like a particle although not having any mass therefore not a particle" ;)

    (Can you tell that I am not a physicist?)

    I think the major thing with physics for me is that chemistry/biology/physics are very different when approaching it from perspective high shool and from university level. And the higher the level the more it turns to be more of "difference in approach" as in biology focusing on a larger scale, whereas physicists would look at the quark and super strings and chemists are in the middle...

    I am quite sure we talked more about quarks in chemistry as well as DNA although elementar particles in general (like photons and gamma rays...) were discussed in physics, and DNA could be looked at in biology. Now, being in the field of molecular biotechnology/microbiology/"white biology" I feel like anything can happen - especially when talking about protein-protein interactions :)

    Okham describes the annhilation process as I would have, postitrons and electrons collide -> photons emitted...

    And yes, I should have started with saying Congrats!! Happy for you! And holding my thumbs for the next grant.

  14. See, this is why I love blogging. I could probably have wandered around my building talking to biologists for hours without finding out this much information about photons, antimatter, dark matter and other physicsy things. And that "fool me once" quote is my favourite all-time Bushism! And thanks again for all the good wishes! You're all awesome.

    Now, back to checking on that champions league final. I hate both teams but I'm reluctantly supporting Man U. As my Dad reported his friend saying: "I don't want Man U to win, but I also really want Chelsea to lose".

  15. I don't want Man U to win, but I also really want Chelsea to lose

    Well, they both tried really hard to lose the game, didn't they...

  16. I didn't get to see the game, I just updated it regularly on the BBC website (sad, I know). Maybe I'll see some highlights tonight. I take it it wasn't exactly a classic?

  17. I take it it wasn't exactly a classic?

    Well... it was entertaining all right, but a bit on the scrappy side. Some Chelsea players will have nightmares about this evening for a long time...

  18. Congratulations on your successful grant. You will have to tell me all the details over coffee. Nice that your very first grant has already provided evidence as to how valuable you are!

  19. EGF and Mermaid: thanks! Mermaid, I will tell all tomorrow...

    Okham, I saw the highlights yesterday and I agree! Not just John Terry (although you could blame that on the weather and dodgy pitch) but everyone who hit the woodwork. And Anelka too of course.


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