Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Poem of the week - "Face to face" by Transtromer

I blogged about the genius that is Tomas Tronstromer once before. My classmate has lent me a collection of his poems and I have been gorging on some good TT. Here's one that caught my eye.

Face to face

In February living stood still.
The birds flew unwillingly and the soul
chafed against the landscape as a boat
chafes against the pier it lies moored to.

The trees stood with their backs turned towards me.
The deep snow was measured with dead straws.
The footprints grew old out on the crust.
Under a tarpaulin language pined.

One day something came to the window.
Work was dropped, I looked up.
The colors flared. Everything turned round.
The earth and I sprang towards each other.

So simple and beautiful. Love the line "Under a tarpaulin language pined".

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Havings some fun with immunology

Immunology was easily the most interesting class this block. Granted the material wasn't all that new to me (I took it in undergrad), but there is something about the complexity, scale and harmony of the immune system that makes me a mellow romantic each time I encounter it. The immuno department at WashU is top-notch, stacked with all-star talent, and that played a role in making the class fun as well. Plus, the coursemaster very generously pitched in to host a giant superbowl party (see what I did there?) in the main lecture hall.

True to form, the immuno final exam (the last one in a long week), which was last Friday, offered us a golden opportunity to be creative and have some fun. The very last question on the test was: you are designing a video game marketed to pre-med and med students whose goal is to teach immunology and make it seem fun. Explain why immunology is so important to the curriculum and professional careers of med students. Give your game a name.

As soon as I saw this question, the creative juices started flowing as if a million myoepithelial cells were squeezing the juice out through the duct. Here are some snippets of what I wrote:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Crossword solving: a frontier that computers still cannot 'cross'

That computers are good at beating humans at certain games has been known for a while. Ever since IBM's proud brainchild 'Deep Blue' defeated chess maestro Kasparov in the mid-1990s, there has been a sustained interest in developing meaner and better machines. IBM hogged the limelight once again last year by unveiling trivia-playing beast, 'Watson' and making it compete against Jeopardy! contestants. Watson did very well for itself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A gleeful farewell to the land of pink and purple blobs

Join me today in gathering on this festive occasion to say a definitive goodbye to histology, the dark and murky realm of pink and purple blobs. Studying histology was like being adrift in a stormy ocean in a tiny rubber lifeboat with barely a day's supply of food. After staring at epithelia and glandular stroma for a couple hours, everything blends in and pretty soon, it's like being on a bad acid trip, or so I am told.

Here are some things that I was made aware of in the last few months:

Monday, March 19, 2012

I want to be ambidextrous

Why not? I have two hands, barely use one of them. The instances where I use both hands are ones I can count on my fingers (which, incidentally, is one of those instances): holding a plate/tray, tying my shoelaces (which a friend here insists I am doing all wrong), typing, riding my bike, flipping open an eppendorf tube in lab while pipetting stuff in or out.

My poor little left hand must surely be resentful of all the work the right hand gets to do. After all, it has the same muscles and is fully capable of the same sort of work the rightie does. The idea is to start slow and gentle - brushing teeth, opening doors, turning knobs - before graduating to attempt writing with the left. Practice, of course, is the key.