Principia: cine y ciencia

Qué mejor que acabar el año compartiendo algo que me hace muchísima ilusión. Y no, no me refiero a haber terminado la tesis. Eso pronto, estoy en ello. Gracias por preguntar. Sí, de verdad, ahora sí que sí, recta final. No, no lloro… es la alergia. Si, en diciembre. Está el mundo muy raro, que queréis que os diga. Bueno, que me liáis. Me refiero a algo muchísimo mas entretenido que una tesis. Y más divertido de leer. Y con unas ilustraciones de esas que te apetecería colgar en la pared. Me refiero nada más y nada menos que al último número de Principia.

Portadón de Principia. Temporada 7. Episodio 2.
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A thesis template in Word

It’s been *checks calendar* over four years since I started my PhD, which means it is time for me to start writing up my thesis. Don’t get me wrong, I really like this part. I had a great time writing and putting the figures together for my MSc thesis. And one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most besides getting beautiful recordings from tiny midbrain neurons has been to write, edit, and revise abstracts and manuscripts before publication.

But here’s the thing. I am the kind of person that keeps pointing out how that figure is not *perfectly* aligned. I’m also the kind of person that takes courses on “Designing Academic Presentations” and “Writing Compelling Abstracts” and takes notes on how great and effective the slides and figures of that seminar were. So one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted my thesis to look good. To have a nice-looking typographical style. And this inevitably took me to LaTeX. So yes, I ended up taking a course on “Using LaTeX for Academic Writing” too.

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Dormir com un peix

Dormir com un peix
sintagma verbal – dormir profundament
sinònims – dormir pla, dormir com una marmota
antònims – dormir com les llebres, dormir amb un ull obert

Ja són moltes les vegades que m’heu preguntat a què em dedico exactament. Què és, ben bé, el que faig tantes hores al laboratori, o de què serveix que un neurocientífic investigui com dormen els peixos o les mosques del vinagre. Una de les coses que em fascinen de la ciència és que tota pregunta, a part de respostes, porta més preguntes. Així que abans de respondre, us torno la pilota: us heu plantejat mai perquè dormim? O què és, exactament, el que ens fa estar cansats al final d’una llarga jornada? O fins i tot com és que hi ha nits en les que no podem aclucar l’ull de la calor que fa o dels nervis de la reunió de l’endemà, i en canvi altres nits dormim plans fins l’hora de dinar? Les respostes a aquestes preguntes no són d’interès exclusiu als humans. De fet, la majoria d’animals acaben fent una capcinada en un moment o altre del dia. Tant se val si ets un gat, un gos, o un peresós, dormir és igual d’important. Per què? De teories no en falten, però el cert és que encara no n’estem del tot segurs.

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20 long reads to #StayAtHome

A while ago I wrote a post with 10 long reads to make you think, some on the perks of having curiosity, freedom, and ignorance as the pillars of science, some on the scientific publishing industry and the reproducibility crisis, and others on gender bias, career progression, and other topics we don’t openly talk about enough. Since then I’ve continued to slowly populate a bookmark folder with several more articles of this sort. Some I’ve come across on twitter, others I’ve been sent by friends and colleagues, and none of them talk about Covid-19 nor exponentials. All the pieces that end up in this particular bookmark folder tend to be longer than usual, tend to make me think harder than usual, and tend to be thoroughly enjoyable. After finishing them I find myself having learned something new, changed my mind on something I thought I knew, or simply had a great time reading and thinking about something I usually don’t read or think about much. Given that they’ve been sitting in the online void of a bookmark folder for longer than I can remember, I thought now was as good time as any to share them with you. As last time, skip to the end for the list of titles and links. Stay safe everyone!

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Fantastic creatures III: masters of escape

What would you do if someone (or something) came at you with the unashamedly obvious intention of eating you? Would you try to outwit it by dressing up and becoming part of the scenery? Would you make use of your ninja skills and kick it in the face before running away? Or would you keep it cool and wait until this someone (or something) suddenly realised it doesn’t actually have the guts to digest you? Whatever imaginary stratagem your mind is plotting right now has the potential to be vastly overshadowed by what you are about to read. Welcome to the 2019 edition of Fantastic Creatures.

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Preparing for PhD interviews

Your name is up. You are nearly the last one to be called. For the last four hours you have been sitting in a seminar room with a dozen other applicants that all seem much more confident and much less nerve-racked than you feel. The excitement of getting offered an interview has long past, and you attempt to go over everything you have prepared during the last two weeks in a split of a second. You take one last sip of water, dry your hands on your trousers, and make sure you still remember your opening sentence. You turn your head, take a deep breath, and swallow your nerves. “That’s me”, you reply, standing up and shaking the hand of Professor Interviewer #1. You smile. “It is nice to meet you”. PI#1 smiles back – “Let’s do this” – and starts walking towards the room where the interviews are being held. 

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Letters from my PhD (II)

It’s funny how ideas work. Sometimes a bunch of them come to you at once, and although you may manage to write some down, you usually end up forgetting most of them. Once in a while you are able to turn one of these ideas into a post, and sometimes you even think it might become something regular, like a series. Then two years later you read that post again and you smile at how naively optimist you were. But then you decide to give it a second chance. One and a half months into my PhD at UCL I wrote what I thought would “start a new section in my blog: a place where once a month(ish) I’ll try to write about how this PhD thingy is going”. Two years later, it is time for part two.

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