Making science (part XVI): The perfect abstract

It can be considerably frustrating to have to summarize many years of work in just 150 words, but that is what scientists often have to do at the time of writing the Abstract section of their research papers. However, a well written Abstract is crucially important, as it is the first thing (sometimes the only thing!) that readers will read, including the journal Editors that will decide about its publication. It can really be a make-it-or-break-it for the success of the article. However, many young and budding scientists often struggle with this section, usually because of an inability to distill the single most important and essential part of the discovery in a clear and simple way. Read more...

Boarding Completed

All aboard the pedalboard… it’s boarding completed. No more space in our pedalboard after the addition of Meris ENZO synthesizer, Morning Star MC6 MkII MIDI controller and Mision Engineering EXPRESSIONATOR expression pedal controller. From the previous version, a few pedals had to be relocated and other squeezed closer together to make room. There are a total of 52 switches and 60 knobs on this pedalboard.

ENZO is an incredible sound machine, with four engines for mono synthesis, polyphonic synthesis, arpeggiator and a dry mode with tons of effects. With delay onboard, portamento, sustain and incredible filtering capabilities, the ENZO is an endless source of possibilities and inspiration. All reviews have ranked ENZO as the number one pedal of 2018. Here is a looped little tune that we did recently using all four ENZO machines: Read more...

Making science (part XV): Professional Editors

Once upon a time, science journals were run by scientific societies and their editors were active scientists. Very few of these remain today. Instead, nowadays most journals are own by private, usually very large, publishing companies and their editors are “professional”. That is, their only job is to be journal editors, they are not active scientists. Most of them were active scientists earlier in their career, but left academia to become “professional” editors, usually, shortly after their postdoctoral studies. Because of this, most professional editors are much younger (no problem there) and considerably more inexperienced (hmmm… ) than the principal investigators from whom they receive manuscripts for consideration. Typically, these “youngish” editors can get advice and (one would hope) guidance from more senior editors within the same journal or publishing organization, but they are pretty much in charge of the main decisions of the manuscripts assigned to them. Read more...

Interview with Singapore’s Straits Times

Today in The Straits Times:

NUS team develops man-made molecule that can ‘kill’ skin cancer cells

Professor Carlos Ibanez says the use of the molecule to activate the “death receptor” of melanoma skin cancer cells presents an option for a new treatment method for the remaining 45 per cent of melanoma skin cancer patients for whom current treatment fails. Photo: NUS Yong Loo Lin School Of Medicine.

Read the full article HERE.

Power Board

Here is an update to the electric guitar pedal board that we started one and half year ago. Click on the image below to enlarge. (And go to the full post for a pic of the cable jungle underneath!).

In the top view, we can see some new additions: a Wampler EGO compressor (top right) replaces the mini EGO, and a Strymon BigSky reverb machine replaces the BlueSky. Also, the Neunaber Iconoclast speaker emulator, previously featured outside the board, is now on it (left).

There is also a some news about connectivity (arrows). Instrument inputs remain the same, with the switch that toggles between guitar #1 and #2 in between them. Above them, there are 4 outputs. Normal unbalanced outputs (left and right stereo channels) come right after the effects chain (minus Iconoclast). Below them, balanced outputs coming after the Iconoclast. Read more...

Chromatographies vol. 2 out in Bandcamp

Volume 2 of the Chromatographies project is out in the  Bandcamp website for download or streaming. The free download includes a digital booklet. There are also CDs available upon request.

Chromatographies is the jazz and ambient guitar project of Carlos Ibanez.

The Chromatographies project consists of solo guitar performances that alternate improvised guitar meditations with jazz guitar pieces. As in a live performance, each volume is arranged as a continuous suite with all sounds and effects made in real-time using stomp boxes.

The second volume follows the structure of the first one, with  improvised compositions by Carlos Ibanez intermixed with renderings of pieces by Maurice Ravel (from an arrangement by Larry Coryell), John McLaughlin, Horace Silver and Ralph Towner.

B&W magic (part II): African wildlife

This is Part II of the series on Black & White (B&W) photography, here showing a few images of African wildlife taken during a trip through the Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa, in November 2015. It is really amazing how well some images of large animals in the wild lend themselves to B&W conversions, adding drama and a sense of intimacy at the same time. As before, these are all monochromatic renderings of digital photography files rendered in Lightroom applying the Silver Efex Pro 2 plugin from the Nik collection.

Circadian rhythms

Presentation Speech by Professor Carlos Ibáñez, Member of the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute, Member of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine, 10 December 2017

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Esteemed Nobel Laureates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Phileas Fogg, the main character in Jules Verne’s acclaimed novel Around the World in Eighty Days, could not have suffered from jet-lag during his trip, despite crossing multiple time zones. His body had plenty of time – more than 3 days per time zone – to get adjusted to the time differences encountered along his journey. Today, in the era of jet travel, we can cross several time zones in only a few hours; but our bodies suffer, as they struggle to adapt to the new time at our destination. Many of our foreign guests this evening are surely experiencing this now. Why can’t our physiology adapt more rapidly? What keeps it behind?

Our physiology is regulated by an internal clock that generates daily rhythms known as “circadian”, from the Latin circadiem, meaning “around one day”. Circadian rhythms are ancient and exist in all forms of life. Life on Earth is adapted to the rotation of our planet, and the internal clock anticipates day/night cycles, helping organisms optimize their physiology and behavior. Although the existence of a biological clock has been known for nearly a century, only recently have we begun to understand what it is made of and how it keeps ticking.

Our story begins in 1729, when French astronomer Jean-Jacques de Mairan took a mimosa plant, which leaves are open during the day but close at night, and placed it in constant darkness. He observed that the leaves still opened and closed rhythmically at the appropriate time, suggesting an endogenous origin of the daily rhythm. Physiology is controlled by genes, and the biological clock is no exception. In 1971, Seymour Benzer and Ron Konopka isolated mutant flies that had alterations in their normal 24h cycle of activity. Fifteen years later, Jeffrey Hall and Michael Rosbash, working together at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, and Michael Young, at Rockefeller University in New York, isolated the mutated gene, called period.

As instrumental as this was, however, the isolation of the period gene did not tell very much about the mechanism of the biological clock. It was a remarkable series of discoveries made during the 1990s by this year’s Nobel Laureates that finally elucidated how our biological clock ticks. The basic principle, first proposed by Jeffrey Hall and Michael Rosbash, is deceptively simple. The period gene produces a protein that accumulates in the cell and, after reaching a certain level, blocks the gene and hence its own production. As protein levels subside, the gene becomes active again and the cycle resumes. As many things in biology, however, the devil is in the details; as it was still unclear how the period protein can be stabilized long enough and then enter the cell nucleus to inhibit its own production. Michael Young discovered two additional genes, he named them timeless and doubletime, that partner with period and together contribute to the generation of robust oscillations of approximately 24hs.

The discomfort of jetlag is evidence of the strength of our biological clock, as it takes time for the machinery to readjust to a sudden change in environmental conditions. Although sunlight is scarce this time of year in Stockholm, the good news is that food is also a strong resetting stimulus, so the banquet that follows after this ceremony will surely help towards adjusting our internal clocks.

The 2017 Nobel Laureates have uncovered a mechanism controlling a truly fundamental process in physiology, how our cells and bodies keep time. Such time-keeping is essential for our adaptation, and has important implications for human health; not just jetlag, but also the incidence of chronic syndromes, such as cancer, metabolic and sleep disorders, and several neurological conditions.

Professors Hall, Rosbash and Young:
Your brilliant studies have solved one of the great puzzles in physiology. Your discoveries have unraveled the cogs and wheels of the biological clock, an essential mechanism for the survival of life on our planet.

On behalf of the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute, I wish to convey to you our warmest congratulations. May I now ask that you step forward to receive the Nobel Prize from the hands of His Majesty the King.

Science, Jazz, Photography