Archiv für Oktober 2005

Reference styles

Oktober 28, 2005 - Markus Hoenicka
A large part of the complexity of RefDB and other bibliography software can be attributed to the fact that there are about twice as many reference styles as there are journals out there. I am strictly convinced that the key issue when founding a new journal is to develop a reference style that no other journal is using so far. This issue has now been discussed in a letter to Nature. I absolutely agree with the opinion laid out in this letter that agreeing on one format would help just about everyone.

RefDB user interfaces

Oktober 24, 2005 - Markus Hoenicka
One of the major obstacles that prevented RefDB's world domination :-) was the lack of a graphical user interface (GUI). While command-line tools clearly have an edge in terms of automating tasks or in terms of doing really snazzy tricks, a simple GUI is considered the hallmark of a user-friendly program. This is considered the way to attract new users, but how to get there?

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Software documentation

Oktober 19, 2005 - Markus Hoenicka
Maintaining software documentation is a burden that many a programmer is all too ready to shy away from - if there are any questions, read the source code. I think it shows respect for the users if you maintain good documentation, even if it takes coding time away from your budget. When I picked up the maintainership of the libdbi project, I did not release the completely revised sources without updating the almost two year old manuals.

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Glowing in the dark

Oktober 18, 2005 - Markus Hoenicka
You've seen this before - moon and stars on your kids bedroom ceiling that glow in the dark, or t-shirts with fancy images that glow greenish at night. But you haven't seen this before, and I'm sure this will be on the christmas wishlist of many adult men than never really grew up - glowing sperm. Imagine her stunned look when she realizes that glow after you did it the first time...priceless.
Now seriously, this does work, but so far only in Anopheles, a mosquito species infamous for transmitting diseases. Needless to say this was not invented by perverts, but by researchers in pest control. The goal is to release sterile males, as they do not transmit diseases and keep fertile males from mating, thus reducing the offspring. Genetically modified mosquito larvae can be easily sorted by sex in early stages of breeding by the greenish glow of the male gonads, caused by the expression of Green Fluorescent Protein in the spermatozoa and in the spermatogenic tissue.

Towards the killer perfume

Oktober 14, 2005 - Markus Hoenicka
The neuropeptide oxytocin has been shown to increase trust in humans if applied as a nasal spray. After administration, the test persons were more willing to bear risks that were under control of other persons (as in giving someone your money and let him trade stocks to make a profit) compared to a control group. I wouldn't be too surprised to see this substance as a new ingredient in perfumes. Smell me, trust me, be mine...

Believe it or not - praying does not help cardiac patients

Oktober 13, 2005 - Markus Hoenicka
Interestingly our healthcare systems still have sufficient resources to prove the obvious. It has now been shown in a randomized, double-blinded multicenter study that prayer (and other "esoteric" interventions) does not improve the outcome of percutaneous cardiac treatments. Needless to say that this result was independent of the religion applied to the procedure. Christian, Buddhist, Muslimic, and Jewish prayer groups did their best to no avail. It was not reported whether this procedure helped the praying persons in any respect

Is male homosexuality an immunological disorder?

Oktober 13, 2005 - Markus Hoenicka
Male homosexuality is more likely to occur if you have several older brothers. The reason is most likely the progressive immunization of some mothers against male-specific antigens in the maternal circulation. A similar mechanism which would explain female homosexuality is apparently not known.