Monday, October 5, 2009

Making science "sexy" with Francis Collins

Before I came to work at my job, and before Dr. Francis Collins was executive director of the National Institutes of Health, the then NIH Human Genome Research Institute Director delivered our opening keynote speech.
Collins, far right.

Collins is a rock star of science. He's an extremely dynamic and engaging speaker as illustrated at our 2008 grand opening. Collins spoke of the fictitious "Betty", a woman who experienced two alternate existences - one with the aid of new genomic-based therapeutics and diagnostics and one - decidedly more bleak - one without.

Collins speech inspired our Save Betty campaign, encouraging people to use resources like the NIH family history tool to be aware of your personal health history.

Anyway, Collins recently appeared on The Colbert Report, updating Stephen about advances in personalized medicine and explaining why Colbert might not want crab claws to replace his hands.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Francis Collins
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

Love how Collins isn't afraid to be a little goofy to access audiences who are normally uninterested and unengaged in the sciences. I never considered myself a science type, and I'm still not that way inclined. However, learning about the specifics of the kinds of research that go on in my institute, in my town has been fascinating. I more than likely won't be a scientist any time soon, but continuing a career path of communications and outreach for these guys becomes more attractive by the day.

Get it, Francis.

I Could Have Told You That...

My friend Trav over at An Ocean of Noise just posted about Pitchfork's top 10 best songs of the decade. Sooo... who'd they list at number one?

I have been evangelizing this song for years now. Since freshman year in college, B.O.B. has been the obligatory pre-night out pump up song. I love it because it's pure cardio for those nights when you didn't have time to get a work out in before the debauchery. (Also, for those of you who have seen Zombieland - amazing - you know the importance of cardio in surviving zombie apocalypse...)

The high-minded types over at Pitchfork did go into a little more depth about why B.O.B. is so amazing. Other than the pure, jumping up and down cardio the song affords:
"B.O.B." is not just the song of the decade-- it is the decade. Appropriately, the contemporary hip-hop act most in tune with the Afro-Futurist philosophies of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and Afrika Bambaataa, wound up effectively crafting a fast-forwarded highlight-reel prophecy of what the next 10 years held in store. The title-- aka "Bombs Over Baghdad", a phrase that sounded oddly anachronistic in 2000, sadly ubiquitous two and a half years later-- is only the start of it. In "B.O.B"'s booty-bass blitzkrieg, we hear an obliteration of the boundaries separating hip-hop, metal, and electro, setting the stage for a decade of dance/rock crossovers. We hear a bloodthirsty gospel choir inaugurating a presidential administration of warmongering evangelicals. We hear André 3000 and Big Boi fire off a synapse-bursting stream of ripped-from-the-headlines buzzwords ("Cure for cancer/ Cure for AIDS"), personal anecdotes ("Got a son on the way by the name of Bamboo") and product placements ("Yo quiero Taco Bell") that read like the world's first Twitter feed.
Yeah, I do suppose I like it because of all of those reasons, too. I do recall thinking that the repeating "bombs over baghdad" phrase was catchy, if slightly odd, in 00. And then thinking how oddly relevant it was (again) in 03, with Bush standing on that air force carrier announcing that the war was over. "Mission Accomplished." Right.

Anyway, the others in Pitchfork's top 10?
  • Daft Punk - One More Time
  • BeyoncĂ© - Crazy in Love
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
  • Missy Elliott - Get Ur Freak On
  • M.I.A. - Paper Planes
The others are from indie groups like Radiohead, Animal Collective and Arcade Fire - groups I typically categorize as high-minded and snotty. But with the selection of the top 10 I've listed above, perhaps I should give up my preconceived notions and download the others. Give them a shot. Have a dance party. Yesss.

Power music, electric revival
Power music, electric revival
Power music, electric revival....

Repeat 43 more times while jumping up and down, flailing your hands in the air, in your college dorm room.