bintlog v2.0
Friday, May 09, 2008
I spend a lot of time on the 'L' or walking, mind wandering. As I reflected on my recent committee meetings and made plans for the next year, it occurred to me that I could conceptualize my whole project as a series of derivatives. For those of you who would like to know what it is that I'm doing (without me giving away any of the interesting results), here's an overview:

First derivative: Biome to forest
In which I go from this:

to this:

Second derivative: Forest to tree
In which I go from the above to this:

Third derivative: Tree to DNA
In which I go from the above to this:

Fourth derivative: DNA to amplicon
In which I go from the above to this:

So, the fourth derivative of the North American temperate forest biome is the little tubes of PCR products in my freezer. At each level, the complexity of the system gets reduced by one dimension and I am left with a simpler substance that describes the essence of the level above it. The information locked in the amplicon's sequence ultimately tells me what I want to know about the tree, the forest, the biome: where did it come from, how did it get here, and who are its relatives? I find the method moving in its elegance and simplicity.

Speaking of which, it's time for me to get back in the lab. There are fourth derivatives to be taken.


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