Journal Entry

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Things Unknown To Science

At the day job, I am researching arcane and subtle printing errors, the sort that happens when people throw millions of different PDF files made on hundreds of kinds of software at NSF, who must do sick PDFy thigns to them, convert them all to PostScript and throw them all at various looming, cavernous, vaguely reptillian printers reminiscent of set design from The Matrix (particularly the way the completed proposals have to be told to sort of slide out of the printer, gates opening to let them through, on eeriely swooshing hydraulic beds). Indeed, the NSF print room might be Ground Zero for the Matrix, where the AIs first break loose into the physical world.

Anyway, what this means is I have to print lots of proposals and look at just what is wrong with them. For instance, some of the proposals have all the letters "b" and "u" bolded. Others have left one otherwise unremarkable page out of a long document. (You see why I feel like these may be the first intimations of the Singularity? Surely these are fumbling attempts to tell us something....)

The most amusing part of this not always perfectly amusing task is that I am skimming a representative sample of all the science done in America, and often cannot help reading a paragraph or two.

Today I learned this:


V8 juice is commonly used as a mating medium for C. neoformans, but it is still unknown what ingredients in this medium induce the mating and filamentation.

There's something beautiful about that... postmodern symbiosis. You find it where you can, C. neoformans. You find it where you can.

Posted by benrosen at June 23, 2005 02:43 PM | Up to blog
Comments

I also like the last line of that same proposal:

Biolog Phenotypic Array Robot

I want one of those.

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at June 23, 2005 03:07 PM

Yeah, wife Nancy edits for various scientific journals, so she's forever telling me about the process of rust in cement-to-iron joints, or the bioadhesives used by barnacles.

Posted by: Matt Hulan at June 23, 2005 04:05 PM

Imagine the catastrophic consequences if they'd stopped at V6 or V7.

Posted by: David Moles at June 24, 2005 11:30 AM
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