Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

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Ixtellor
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Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby Ixtellor » Thu May 21, 2009 1:35 pm UTC

Yesterday I learned about a computer program called "DS9"
It has something to do with anazlying data from the Chandra X-Ray observatory.

It turns out the guy who wrote it called it that for:

Deep Space Nine - an homage to Star Trek.

So if anyone else cool insider science/slightly nerdy info like that, I think you should add to the list and increased the collective knowledge base of XKCDers.


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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby Sungura » Thu May 21, 2009 8:58 pm UTC

Uh...like this?
TWAIN = Technology Without An Interesting Name
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby qetzal » Thu May 21, 2009 9:47 pm UTC

I can't think of any cool molecular biology lingo, but I can think of a nerdy example.

The existence of stop codons in protein coding sequences in DNA was first determined in genetic experiments performed by Harris Bernstein. He found so-called nonsense mutations. The first ones were called "amber" mutations because Bernstein means amber in German. Later, it was found the that amber mutation corresponds to one of the three stop codons, TAG (or UAG in RNA). When the other two stop codons were discovered, they were named ochre (TAA) and opal (TGA) to maintain the color theme.

Fruit fly genetics is famous for bizarre nomenclature, but that's not my area. Maybe someone else can offer some of the more interesting examples.

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu May 21, 2009 11:04 pm UTC

Gene variants were being named after species of hedgehogs. They ran out of hedgehogs. Thus, there exists the "sonic hedgehog" gene.

And, to follow up on your example, the first (well, test) space shuttle is named Enterprise. In Star Trek canon, the Enterprise is named after one of Earth's first spaceships. So, when it came time to name the first space shuttle...
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby JonBanes » Thu May 28, 2009 8:50 pm UTC

Gene variants were being named after species of hedgehogs. They ran out of hedgehogs. Thus, there exists the "sonic hedgehog" gene


this isn't even the full extent of the weird names Molec. Biologists give to proteins. Genes are often named by the person who found them and usually carry a story about how they were found, some examples off the top of my head: Frazzled, Dazzled, Sevenless (named so b/c flies without this gene lack the 7th photo-receptor in their eyes), SOS or Son of Sevenless and BOS or Bride of Sevenless, both of which interact with sevenless.

go here to see a good list: http://jpetrie.myweb.uga.edu/genes.html

there is also FIONA and SHREK Microscopy (FIONA stands for Fluorescence Imaging with One Nanometer Accuracy, I forgot SHREK, but it's not used much)

Species names are also a common way to pay homage to or poke fun at someone. Darwin's name makes the most appearances, obviously, but there is a speceis of spider Bilbobagginsi (i think) named after Bilbo Baggins b/c the spider has furry feet. there are countless examples of this but i'm no zoologist so that's all i know off the top of my head.

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby bigglesworth » Thu May 28, 2009 9:05 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:The existence of stop codons in protein coding sequences in DNA was first determined in genetic experiments performed by Harris Bernstein. He found so-called nonsense mutations. The first ones were called "amber" mutations because Bernstein means amber in German. Later, it was found the that amber mutation corresponds to one of the three stop codons, TAG (or UAG in RNA). When the other two stop codons were discovered, they were named ochre (TAA) and opal (TGA) to maintain the color theme.


I had always wondered that.
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby Diadem » Thu May 28, 2009 11:42 pm UTC

A famous example from astronomy are of course the MACHO (massive compact halo object) and the WIMP (weakly interacting massive particle). Two alternative explanations for so called 'dark matter' (matter that we know is there because of its gravitational effect, but we can't see).

And of course in particle physics they have some strange names as well. The first two quarks (a strange name already) are 'up' and 'down'. Pretty random names already. Then they found another, which came as a surprise, so they called it 'strange. After that they went all out with 'charm', 'top' and 'bottom'. Then it turned out each quark can comes in three subtle different types. They decided to call these 'flavours' for no apparant reason, then proceeded to name them red, green and blue. Of course there are also anti-quarks, which have anti-flavour: anti-red, anti-green and anti-blue. Awesome.

The theory of Supersymmetry proposes that every particle has a supersymmetric partner. That means lots of new fundamental particles. How to name them? Well, just add an 's'. Enter particles such as the selectron and the smuon.
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby ATCG » Fri May 29, 2009 12:11 am UTC

Diadem wrote:The first two quarks (a strange name already) are 'up' and 'down'. Pretty random names already. Then they found another, which came as a surprise, so they called it 'strange'. After that they went all out with 'charm', 'top' and 'bottom'. They decided to call these 'flavors' for no apparent reason. It turned out each quark has a property that has come to be known as color charge with three possible values fancifully named red, green and blue. Of course there are also antiquarks, which have anticolors: antired, antigreen and antiblue. Awesome.
Fix'd

Diadem wrote:The theory of Supersymmetry proposes that every particle has a supersymmetric partner. That means lots of new fundamental particles. How to name them? Well, just add an 's'. Enter particles such as the selectron and the smuon.

This covers half the story, the names of the supersymmetric partners of the fermions ("sfermions", which are actually bosons). The partners of the bosons are named by tacking "ino" onto the name of the partnered particle (stripping the terminal "on", if present). The postulated bosinos (which are actually fermions) partnered to gluons, gravitons, and W and Z bosons are respectively gluinos, gravitinos, and - my favorites - winos and zinos.
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby ThinkerEmeritus » Fri May 29, 2009 1:07 am UTC

Diadem wrote:And of course in particle physics they have some strange names as well. The first two quarks (a strange name already) are 'up' and 'down'. Pretty random names already. Then they found another, which came as a surprise, so they called it 'strange. After that they went all out with 'charm', 'top' and 'bottom'. Then it turned out each quark can comes in three subtle different types. They decided to call these 'flavours' for no apparant reason, then proceeded to name them red, green and blue. Of course there are also anti-quarks, which have anti-flavour: anti-red, anti-green and anti-blue. Awesome.


Um, actually "up," "down," "charm," etc. are the flavors, and if I remember such a distant past correctly the term "flavors" came into use after need for "colors" became apparent.

It gets better, however. Before charmed particles were discovered, it was surmised that there were two types of charge -2e/3 quarks to go with the then-known two types of negatively-charged leptons: e- and mu-. Then you actually needed the charm quark so that the +e/3 quarks would match the known number of neutrinos. So the then recently-discovered charm quark made sense. Unfortunately the tau lepton came along, presumably with its own neutrino, and suddenly you would need two more, unknown, quarks. Bjorken jokingly named them after entertainment establishments in San Francisco, the "topless" and "bottomless" quarks. When the bottomless quark showed up, the name had to be expurgated a bit to meet Physical Review editorial standards, and we got the "top" and "bottom" quarks. When the "top" quark was a long time coming, some theorists invented "topless" models, which eventually had to be arrested because experiments proved them wrong.

We aren't through yet. The first top and bottom quarks were produced as (top, anti-top) and (bottom, anti-bottom) mesons. The top quantum and bottom quantum numbers of the antiquarks are opposite those of the quarks, so these mesons had top=0 and bottom=0. The mesons were spoken of as having hidden top or hidden bottom, and the corresponding meson involving (charm, anti-charm) had hidden charm. Eventually the (bottom, anti-up) meson was found, and was said to have "naked bottom." So there were searches for "naked tops." It was also realized that we already had mesons with naked charm, which isn't so bad either.

I think I have told this story before, but it is good enough to be worth mentioning again.
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby Username4242 » Fri May 29, 2009 1:11 am UTC

If I ever discover a new species of Dromeosaur, I'm going to name it Sollerpuella--'Clever Girl'.

Would be the best Jurassic Park reference ever.

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri May 29, 2009 11:41 am UTC

I've also seen the top & bottom quarks refered to as truth & beauty, especially in older books.

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby sgt york » Fri May 29, 2009 4:44 pm UTC

Fly guys are famous for this.

wnt : A class of kitchen sink genes (they do just about everything). First found in Drosophila, in which it caused flies to have no wings, hence wingless. In mice, there was a gene that caused neural tube defects, hence int. Put it all together and you get wnt. Not very funny, but I always thought it was interesting. I had always wondered where the name 'wnt' came from

sonic hedgehog was mentioned above

tinman is so called because it's required for the formation of the heart. tinman mutants have no heart.

The original name of amnesiac was cheap date, because the flies were more susceptible to ethanol vapor.

A gene I worked on years ago was a dopamine receptor found in a certain part of a structure of the Drosophila brain called the mushroom body. We spent a loooooong time trying to knock it out/knock it down, identify lines, map the p-element, characterize it, and it was a huge pain in the ass. One guy noticed that the Mushroom Body Dopamine Receptor (MBDA) would be much better named Dopamine Receptor, Mushroom Body to fit the lab's attitude about the gene.

"How's the DAMB research coming?"
"Have you got a DAMB knockout yet?"
"I've got to go sort the DAMB flies."
"What's the DAMB phenotype?"
"Still looking for that DAMB gene."

The B is silent.

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby medlii » Fri May 29, 2009 9:04 pm UTC

I am not a biologist, this is just what I remember from a college biochem class that I took:

A biologist named Edwin Southern developed a technique for DNA detection, and it was appropriately named the "Southern Blot." Somewhat similar techniques were developed and played off of the name: The Western blot detects specific proteins, the Northern blot detects RNA, and modified protein detection is called Eastern blotting.

I also took an NMR course and learned some different NMR techniques with rather unusual names:

NOESY- Nuclear Overhauser Effect Spectroscopy
HOHAHA- Homonuclear Hartmann-Hahn spectroscopy
CAMELSPIN- Cross-relaxation Appropriate for Minimolecules Emulated by Locked Spins
INADEQUATE- Incredible Natural Abundance Double Quantum Transfer Experiment

I like "INADEQUATE" because the name actually relates to the experiment... to keep things basic, this technique looks at 13C-13C connections. Similar experiments didn't work in the past because the number of 13C-13C bonds in a single sample is very low, or too inadequate to obtain useful data.

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby scienceandreason » Fri May 29, 2009 9:26 pm UTC

There are two codes used to do computations for nuclear reactors called "Dungeon" and "Dragon".

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby tommclaughlan » Sat May 30, 2009 12:29 am UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:I've also seen the top & bottom quarks refered to as truth & beauty, especially in older books.


Those books were probably written around the time of the discovery/postulation of the top and bottom. There was an active effort to get them named truth and beauty which didn't catch on.
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby qetzal » Sat May 30, 2009 1:14 am UTC

@ medlii -

Good call on the blotting techniques. Although, to be pedantic, only Southern blots are capitalized. :wink:

Also, FWIW, I believe the northern blot was invented next after the Southern blot. There's also a mixed technique called a southwestern.

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby Sungura » Sun May 31, 2009 2:13 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:@ medlii -

Good call on the blotting techniques. Although, to be pedantic, only Southern blots are capitalized. :wink:

Also, FWIW, I believe the northern blot was invented next after the Southern blot. There's also a mixed technique called a southwestern.
Really....I was taught as specific techniques (hence proper name) they are to all be capitalized. In all the literature we wrote at the biotech company I worked at we always capitalized Western blot. I've never run the others and don't come across them in what I do, but I still do a lot of Westerns. Everyone I know capitalizes it. :|

Oh for the NMR, there is also COSY: COrrelation SpectroscopY
Cosy sounds like cozy.
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby ChibiPez » Sun May 31, 2009 8:45 pm UTC

Barn
The etymology is clearly whimsical and jocular. During wartime research on the atomic bomb, American physicists who were deflecting neutrons off uranium nuclei, (similar to Rutherford scattering) described the uranium nucleus as "big as a barn". Physicists working on the project adopted the name "barn" for a unit equal to 10-24 square centimetres, about the size of a uranium nucleus. Initially they hoped the American slang name would obscure any reference to the study of nuclear structure; eventually, the word became a standard unit in particle physics.


Shed:

The "shed" was devised to describe incredibly small areas, far tinier than a barn. One shed is 10−52 m2, or 10−24 b.


I found this funny when I was taking my digital class some time ago.

Similarly to the terms bit, byte, and nibble, other terms of bit groups of varying sizes have been used over time. All of these are jargon, are obsolete, or are not very common.

* 1 bit: sniff
* 2 bits: lick, crumb, quad, quarter, tayste, tydbit
* 4 bits: nibble, nybble
* 5 bits: nickel, nyckle
* 10 bits: deckle, dyme bag
* 16 bits: plate, playte, chomp, chawmp (on a 32-bit machine)
* 18 bits: chomp, chawmp (on a 36-bit machine)
* 32 bits: dinner, dynner, gawble (on a 32-bit machine)
* 48 bits: gobble, gawble (under circumstances that remain obscure)

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby ATCG » Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:16 am UTC

ChibiPez wrote:Barn . . . Shed . . .

Another unit of similar origin is the "shake", defined as 10-8 seconds (10 nanoseconds). Its inspiration is the expression "two shakes of a lamb's tail", a very brief period of time.
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby qetzal » Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:48 am UTC

@ Sungura,

Yeah, I think Northern and Western blots have been capitalized for so long that it's become entrenched. But if they were really proper nouns, wouldn't we write "Northern Blot?" After all, "blot" is part of the technique name.

Also, think of all the other specifically-named techniques that aren't capitalized: enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay isn't usually capitalized (except when it's abbreviated as ELISA). Same with, e.g., ion-exchange chromatography, or polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, or iso-electric focusing, or any of a hundred others.

I really do think the only reason we habitually capitalize Northern and Western is because of their similarity to the properly-capitalized Southern blot.

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby DNA » Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:55 am UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:Gene variants were being named after species of hedgehogs. They ran out of hedgehogs. Thus, there exists the "sonic hedgehog" gene.

This is the only one that came to mind when I read the first post. However, I had always thought they had named the gene Sonic Hedgehog because it plays an important role in early development and spreads around the fetus very quickly. Whichever reason was really behind the name, it's still hilarious :lol:
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby Omegaton » Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:28 am UTC

JonBanes wrote:Species names are also a common way to pay homage to or poke fun at someone. Darwin's name makes the most appearances, obviously, but there is a speceis of spider Bilbobagginsi (i think) named after Bilbo Baggins b/c the spider has furry feet. there are countless examples of this but i'm no zoologist so that's all i know off the top of my head.

Try these on for size:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_named_after_celebrities

I don't know as many named after fictional characters, but I know of a fish called Otocinclus batmani due to the marking on its tail. Incidentally, I'm having trouble finding information about the spider you have mentioned...

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby idobox » Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:57 pm UTC

The element number 31 is Gallium and was discovered by Frenchman Lecoq.
Gallia is the Latin name of Gaul, which is essentially ancient France, but there are also rumors about the name being a reference to Lecoq ("Le coq" is the French for "the rooster", "Gallium" in Latin)
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby Zhatt » Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:10 pm UTC

There's one naming convention I can think of, but it's more history than science.

In WWI when the British started making "landships", they didn't want word getting out what they were doing so they called them "water carriers" or "water tanks" on the drawings. The name stuck and they were just called tanks from there on out.

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Science jokes

Postby svans » Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:52 pm UTC

Since I'm a bit of a nerd I like science jokes! So does anybody have any good ones?
I'll go first with these two:

An atom says to another atom
"I think I've lost an electron"
"You sure?"
"Yeah I'm positive"

A neutron walks in to a bar and says to the bartender
"How much for a beer?"
"For you? No charge"

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Re: Science jokes

Postby sgt york » Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:12 pm UTC

Ah, lucky you....I'm a bit of a collector....

Classics: What happens when you cross a mountain climber and a mosquito?
Spoiler:
Nothing! You can't cross a scalar and a vector!


Why do programmers always confuse Halloween and Christmas?
Spoiler:
Because OCT 31 = DEC 25

Rene Descartes walks into a bar and ordered a brandy, which he tossed down immediately. The barman asked him "Would you like another?" and Rene answered "I think not", and promptly disappeared.

Why was Heisenberg's wife unhappy?
Spoiler:
Because when he had the time, he didn't have the energy and when he had the position he didn't have the momentum.

And there's the DNA personals ad....just google it, I don't have it handy for copy/paste.

============
And one of my favorites....

Once upon a time, there were three kingdoms, all bordering on the same lake. For centuries, these kingdoms had fought over an island in the middle of that lake. One day, they decided to have it out, once and for all.

The first kingdom was quite rich, and sent an army of 25 knights, each with three squires. The night before the battle, the knights jousted and cavorted as their squires polished armor, cooked food, and sharpened weapons. The second kingdom was not so wealthy, and sent only 10 knights, each with 2 squires. The night before the battle, the knights cavorted and sharpened their weapons as the squires polished armor and prepared dinner. The third kingdom was very poor, and only sent one elderly knight with his sole squire. The night before the battle, the knight sharpened his weapon, while the squire, using a looped rope, slung a pot high over the fire to cook while he prepared the knight's armor.

The next day, the battle began. All the knights of the first two kingdoms had cavorted a bit too much (one should never cavort while sharpening weapons and jousting) and could not fight. The squire of the third kingdom could not rouse the elderly knight in time for combat. So, in the absence of the knights, the squires fought.

The battle raged well into the late hours, but when the dust finally settled, a solitary figure limped from the carnage. The lone squire from the third kingdom dragged himself away, beaten, bloodied, but victorious.


Click the spoiler if you dare.....

It's bad.



Really bad.



OK, you've been warned...


Spoiler:
And it just goes to prove, the squire of the high pot and noose is equal to the sum of the squires of the other two sides.

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Re: Science jokes

Postby Nintendon't » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:18 am UTC

sgt york wrote:It's bad.


Really bad.


It actually made me sad.


Also, an English major at a university was taking an astronomy course to satisfy the science requirement. During the last lecture of the semester, the professor spoke about some of the more exotic objects in the universe including black holes. Despite his teacher's enthusiasm, the student showed no interest, as was the case for all his astronomy classes during the semester. When the bell rang, the student turned to his friend and said, "The prof says that black holes are interesting, but I think they suck."

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Re: Science jokes

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:16 am UTC

Also, an English major at a university was taking an astronomy course to satisfy the science requirement.

The funniest part of this joke is that Feynman once took astronomy to satisfy a humanities requirement.
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Re: Science jokes

Postby brodieboy255 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:17 am UTC

My favourite, courtesy of fallout 3:

"Photons have mass? I wasn't even aware they were Catholic"

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby run.dll » Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:56 pm UTC

Introductory physics courses usually assume constant acceleration in order to avoid calculus, but of course there are many practical instances in which acceleration is not constant (the slingshot, to name one). The rate of change of acceleration is often called "jerk", for obvious reasons.

One author (in a footnote in a book I read years ago, the title of which I have forgotten), has proposed that the unit of jerk be the Martin, Mn (presumably after Steve Martin, who starred in the popular movie "The Jerk"). This footnote was delivered deadpan, without reference to the actor or movie. I was halfway through the next page before I got the joke.
Spoiler:
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby Charlie! » Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:31 am UTC

Which reminds me, the fourth through sixth derivatives of position are often referred to as snap, crackle and pop.
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby You, sir, name? » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:42 am UTC

I edit my posts a lot and sometimes the words wrong order words appear in sentences get messed up.

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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby Mother Superior » Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:19 pm UTC

There's the quite famous coincidence between the computer in 2001, HAL 9000, where if you push the letters forward one step in the alphabet it becomes IBM 9000. In actuality, it stood for Heuristic ALgorithmic.
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby Blokey » Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:37 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:The existence of stop codons in protein coding sequences in DNA was first determined in genetic experiments performed by Harris Bernstein. He found so-called nonsense mutations. The first ones were called "amber" mutations because Bernstein means amber in German. Later, it was found the that amber mutation corresponds to one of the three stop codons, TAG (or UAG in RNA). When the other two stop codons were discovered, they were named ochre (TAA) and opal (TGA) to maintain the color theme.

For years I've been wanting to discover a hammer time codon.
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby sgt york » Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:10 pm UTC

Blokey wrote:For years I've been wanting to discover a hammer time codon.

UAA...CAUGCUAUGAUGGAACGAACAAUUAUGGAA

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oxoiron
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby oxoiron » Tue Jun 30, 2009 7:28 pm UTC

Can you touch it?
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sgt york
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby sgt york » Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:50 pm UTC

oxoiron wrote:Can you touch it?

It's predicted to be just over 1.5e-27 m3, so I'd say no.

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oxoiron
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby oxoiron » Tue Jun 30, 2009 9:22 pm UTC

Then it really is the hammer time codon...
"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect)."-- Mark Twain
"There is not more dedicated criminal than a group of children."--addams

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MHD
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby MHD » Wed Jul 01, 2009 1:32 pm UTC

sgt york wrote:
Blokey wrote:For years I've been wanting to discover a hammer time codon.

UAA...CAUGCUAUGAUGGAACGAACAAUUAUGGAA
sgt york wrote:
oxoiron wrote:Can you touch it?

It's predicted to be just over 1.5e-27 m3, so I'd say no.

oxoiron wrote:Then it really is the hammer time codon...


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bigglesworth
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Re: Insider Science Jokes/Lingo

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:00 pm UTC

Wait, I just translate that as some random sequence, and it's not divisible by 3, the reading frame's odd.

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