Divide and Conquer

I have a post rattling around in my mind, about the joys and frustrations of studying a complex science over a tenuous internet connection. This is not that post.

Sometimes I lay awake at night, staring at the ceiling and marveling at the complexity of life. It’s a big, crazy world out there, how can a person sleep in that sort of cacophony?

One thing that constantly amazes me is that every cell in your body has the same genetic code. Each cell in your liver, in your bone marrow, in your eye, in your skin is all spun from the same cloth. Vastly different functions, same “programming”, if you will.
So how do you take one genome and get literally thousands of different kinds of cells? This is the cool part- we don’t exactly know. Savor those words- we don’t know. Of course, we have some idea- it all comes down to so-called stem cells, generic undecided cells that can go on to become many different sorts of cells depending on which cytokines they are marinated in. Scientists are still untangling the specifics but stem cells are ever-present in the public conscience due to manufactured political squabbles over research on embryonic tissues, despite the fact that adult stem cells are showing far more promise.

When I was growing up, “stem cells” were the new miracle drug; with the promise to cure all diseases, heal all disabilities, and royally tick off the religious right all at the same time. As you might imagine, that never quite materialized but new advances are still being made and it’s a very interesting field.

The production of blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets) is through a process of proliferation and differentiation called hematopoiesis. All blood cells are descended from a pluripotent stem cell in the bone marrow, which goes through a series of cell divisions, maturing and changing along the way to become the mature circulating cells we recognize.

hematopoiesis
This is a chart I made for my hematology class which shows the maturation of blood cells. I found that different sources organized their hematopoiesis charts a little different, I chose the method that made the most sense to me. However, not until I scanned it did I notice I missed a cell- can you spot which one?

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Obligatory Geeky Linux Post

ubuntu

remember when this was not nearly so corporate looking?

I picked up Ubuntu 12.04 over the weekend. I’ve been a staunch Arch Linux/Openbox user for the last couple of years but they made some major backend changes and I was going to have to reinstall anyway so I thought I’d try something else for a change. Rolling release was only fun until I actually needed to use my computer for Grown Up Stuff.

I really liked the idea of Arch Linux (I still do) and still rather think Ubuntu is Linux for Stupid People™ but I just don’t have the time to administrate an Arch desktop in the midst of my classes and I was looking for something a little more stable. Mostly all the fanboys have been crying over Unity and anything that gets people so riled up I get curious about. I went with 12.04 LTS because for some reasons 13.04 doesn’t run on my computer.

Overall, I like it. I think it’s mostly an improvement on Ubuntu, which I haven’t used since Jaunty Jackalope (which was, what, version 9?). I seem to remember it as some Canonical employee telling me they wanted to phase out the command line and I stormed off in a rage of self-righteous fury. I guess that was when I decided it’s Linux for Stupid People. However, here I am at 12.04 and the command line is still there so I suppose I was being a little melodramatic.

Things I Like

  • Whatever this thing that pops up when I push my Ubuntu key and start typing (yeah, that’s right, I have an UBUNTU KEY)
  • With Ubuntu Tweak, relatively easy to configure themes/fonts/icons
  • Rhythmbox integrates with the volume control. I can’t explain why I think that’s cool but it is
  • Still looks lightyears better than anything Apple or Microsoft has ever come up with

Things I Don’t Like

  • Canonical’s obvious attempt to monetize the OS. There are PAID apps in the Ubuntu Software “Center”. Ick times a million
  • Plus dropbox gives you more free storage than Ubuntu One, so suck it Mark Shuttleworth
  • How it puts the software name in the title bar. If I wanted that I would use OSX, seriously
  • I have to go back and add words like myelophthisis and rubriblast to my Chrome dictionary

Things About Which I am Ambivalent

  • Unity overall. I don’t really see what everyone is screaming about, there’s barely any difference from Gnome other than the launcher is different

So my recommendation is try Ubuntu. Or don’t, it’s pretty much whatever works for you. If you think Ubuntu is too dumbed down for you and you have no life whatsoever, you could definitely give Arch Linux a try and you might like it. If you have given up on life entirely, then it’s time to try Gentoo (am I right, or am I right?).

And if you use Windows XP and don’t understand any of what I just wrote about, then stay tuned because I promise my next post will definitely probably make sense.