Mary Chernyshenko


Self-study ideas for micro-projects in "abstract" subjects?

I guess one can make soap, as an applied project. Some paper chromatography can be done without a hood, outdoors (but then one still needs to dispose of the materials safely). Gall-based inks are, in a way, on the fence between organic and inorganic (also, playing around with homemade dyes is cool, e.g. from avocado seeds, alder bark or walnut skins - the colours fade, but you can stain paper so it looks old and then draw maps of treasure on it). Cooking is instructive (although people often underestimate the dangers of vinegar "because everybody has it in their kitchen".) Also, blacklight might be fun here.

But my most engaged instructors told us a real chemist develops a "sense of substance", like they often can tell things apart by their physical appearance and not even their chemical properties (given a set of familiar chemicals). There are different shades of colour, different granularities, different translucencies... it's just not something you can show at home. And separately, my botany instructors said they always make a student identify at least three species of a genus, whenever possible. For triangulation. If you give students only one species, that's how they will think of the genus as a whole. Give them two, and they will think about the differences between them, but not about the genus. But give them three, and they see the common features. Again, I don't think it's possible to show sufficient variety of chemical substances at home.

Self-study ideas for micro-projects in "abstract" subjects?

See here for an example of microscopy,

(you might have a problem obtaining chloral hydrate, which is a shame because it's often used for preparations)

although the pictures I remember were probably from this one or thereabouts (but it references the first one anyway); very beautiful, but I've never done it myself

Self-study ideas for micro-projects in "abstract" subjects?

One source is societies popularizing the subjects. They often have some editions, printed or electronic, covering the more fashionable topics.

As for chemistry, don't go for the interesting stuff at home. It's possible to use household items to demonstrate the general principles at like high school level, but quantitative experiments are much more expensive and often hazardous. Even just storing some things is hazardous, never mind opening the bottles - especially if it's something organic which can have peroxides without you noticing. (And then, explode at some random point in time.) I'd like a chemist to chime in here.

I've heard of people doing glasswork at home, which definitely can help with some experiments in biology, for example. Actually, in case of botany, try the C-fern - it's available commercially, should grow easily (especially if you know how to operate a terrarium), you can even try obtaining mutations in the offspring. (Also, the subject of pheromone communication in ferns is rapidly developing and kind of cutting edge, so who knows what this will grow into :) this is one way to enter science faster :) ) Also in botany, another "easy" (well, easy) model is Capsella bursa-pastoris with her crazy leaves - IIRC, there are four main shapes controlled by two genes, but the plant is a tetraploid. Here, it's actually an open question which leaf shape is more suited to which climatic conditions etc. (so, population genetics). If you can rig a DIC-like lighting on your microscope (you do have a microscope?), it's possible to study the venation of the plant, I remember Fisher sold the medium for the preparations... (if I don't forget to, I'll post a link to the article I have in mind; but even if I do, DIC is a great thing to have, check out the amateur microscopy groups on social media for advice.) Capsella is a (relatively close) relative of Arabidopsis thaliana, the workhorse of plant biotech, so you can have some fun with the ample literature on that one.

Self-study ideas for micro-projects in "abstract" subjects?

Could you make the question more specific? It's not hard to think of an exercise when studying microbiology (or even a sequence of exercises), it's hard to think of one that has some non-trivial connection to modern science. I'd say, once you find one, it becomes a research question.

To like, or not to like?

There's a scholar who becomes best buddies with the Devil... and then, in the second half of the book, they kill some elderly couple...

Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 1

Notice how this Moody can still be Crouch Jr.

"Are you here to take me back?" "Not yet. Not today."

Why don't long running conversations happen on LessWrong?

I think long-running conversations IRL that they are unencumbered not just by UI. They have asides, dead ends, really long re-introductions, the hope that the other person will value the topic years later to remember it, much less comment. Not months, years. LRCs are big-stakes stuff, not necessarily deep or polished or shareable or even productive. They have the freedom to fail.

Why don't long running conversations happen on LessWrong?

I am only speaking for myself, but on LW I'd be afraid of growing a reputation of "always wants the last word". So I just stop commenting when I find it convenient. (I know it's not always the right thing to do, but it's better to be talked to, like, at all.)

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4

I wonder about that "or your money back" part. Was it added because the causal charm did not always work or "in order to" make it not always work? What if a wizard found himself very thirsty in a desert, incapable of Apparating and having only the tea to support him? It would be torture.

Core Pathways of Aging

Must be a local thing, then. (Or it's opposite is a local thing, and I'm just used to systems crawling leisurely to some equilibrium, like seed banks, and to systems where the equilibrium is hard to define for a given moment, like internal parasite loads.)

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