Written by Alex Tang
November 11, 20187:02 pm 0 Comments
Is this Mars or Utah?
We’re back with Science Fair, Bwog’s weekly curated list of interesting STEM-related talks, symposiums, and events happening on campus. For science and non-science majors alike, our list will bring you events that will satisfy your scientific curiosity for everything from astronomy to zoology, and everything in between.
mars landscape via nasa
Tags: bwog science, how trippy would it be if there were other civilizations out there?, how trippy would it be if we were the only civilization?, obligatory katy perry allusion, science fair, we love a free event
October 21, 20185:02 pm 0 Comments
I’m uncertain if STEM midterms season will ever end
For anyone, related-majors and non-majors alike:
Click for seminars on physics and neuroscience
Tags: bwog science, heisenberg, how many columbia students embrace uncertainty, if there are hor d'oeuvres im there, it's hard being off the meal plan, science fair, when is fall break
October 14, 20184:54 pm 0 Comments
home sweet home
Click here for Columbia Astronomy Public Outreach and more!
Tags: bwog science, bwog stans columbia astronomy public outreach, did you know that plastic surgery is one of the most competitive fields in medicine?, ok but what is venus retrograde, science fair, we love interdisciplinariness
October 12, 20185:25 pm 0 Comments
here’s a relaxing photo. it’s going to be okay :)
Now that the first series of STEM midterms are safely behind us, it’s a good time to think about ways in which we can improve our test-taking skills for the next batch of exams. In this week’s edition of Science 101, Bwog Science Editor, Intro Bio TA, and science intro-sequence veteran Alex Tang brings you his advice on what to do if you didn’t do so hot on your first midterm.
Most of us know that feeling – you log onto Canvas to check that grade from last week’s gen chem or astrophysics or immunology midterm. You’re expecting a B+, a B maybe… you know you definitely missed two questions, but everything else seemed okay. You click to see your grade, a feeling akin to ripping out a bandaid. Your heart sinks – you flunked. What went wrong?
Click here for additional tips
Tags: bwog science, everything is going to be okay, from all of us at bwog: you've got this!, go to office hours!, i'd rather be on a tropical island right now, science 101
October 07, 20182:58 pm 0 Comments
rip uracil never made it to the big leagues
Click here for events in data science and physics
Tags: bwog science, ok but what is a praxis (asking as a biologist), science fair, tag yourself im the beauty quark, the film festival description is so dramatic, the postgenome talk looks really important
October 02, 20184:35 pm 0 Comments
Black holes are the astrophysics equivalent of spooky season
Fun question for all you scientists out there: is it possible for the skills and strategies used in astrophysics to translate into biology? Yesterday, Bwog Science Editor Alex Tang attended the Department of Biological Sciences seminar given by Columbia Physics Professor Szabolcs Marka (yes, you read that right – physics). Here, he discusses the insights that Professor Marka shared from his multidisciplinary research experiences. The talk was titled “On the Beauty and Impact of Astrophysics: From Gravitational Waves to Biology.”
Professor Marka calls himself someone who practices “Renaissance Science.” In an allusion to the “Renaissance Man,” Marka is referring to his passion in all aspects of scientific research, starting from the inception of an idea, followed by the theoretical aspects and finally the experimental aspects. Also relevant is his interest in a variety of incredibly different fields in science. While Marka is a physicist by title, his research interests have spanned topics as diverse as gravitational waves and insect physiology. Seminar host Dr. John Hunt made the joke that in order to give this seminar, Dr. Marka had to make the arduous, exceedingly difficult journey from Pupin to Fairchild – a rare journey if you think about it.
In his seminar, Dr. Marka began by giving the biologists in the room a quick primer on gravitational waves. Whenever two massive, dense objects (ie black holes and neutron stars) collide in astrophysics, they create black holes. Black holes are the densest entities known in astrophysics, with a gravitational pull so heavy that not even light can escape. The density of a black hole is equivalent to 60 times the mass of the solar system roughly occupying the size of Long Island. The collision of two dense objects creates a ripple in spacetime, which is propagated outwards. Think about throwing a pebble into a lake. The impact of the pebble with the lake represents the collision of the two dense astronomical objects, and the ripples you see in the water represent the gravitational waves that are equidistantly propagated outwards from the collision.
Gravitational waves (created by massive collisions) were actually predicted by Einstein about a century ago. However, they have been incredibly hard to prove. Once these gravitational waves reach Earth, they are insanely tiny. The effect that a gravitational wave has in pushing or pulling an object on Earth compared to the object’s mass is equivalent to the proportion of a millionth of a cent in the US national debt (17.7 trillion dollars).
In 2015, LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) sensed a blip in spacetime, proving the existence of gravitational waves for the first time. LIGO is an incredibly sensitive instrument that can monitor discrepancies in spacetime differences via tiny changes in the patterns of intersecting light. Read more here from a LectureHop we did two years ago if you’re interested in learning more. The sensing of gravitational waves has remained the most sensitive measurement done by mankind.
Click here to see how all of the above relates to biology
Tags: bwog science, frosci but way cooler, gravitationally wavy, i want to use the term renaissance scientist all the time now, leggo LIGO
September 30, 20185:00 pm 0 Comments
learn how your brain processes britney spears in the narrative medicine talk on wednesday!
Click here for dark matter and more!
Tags: a gold star for you if you understood the event abstract for the upcoming chemistry seminar, bwog science, my anthem when studying for orgo is "work b**ch" by britney, science fair, tag yourself i'm slooh, the narrative medicine event will be worth the schlep to 168th street
September 23, 20183:01 pm 0 Comments
protect these tallbois; in other news, i miss nature (and central park doesn’t count sorry)
Click here for events on climate change, RNA imaging, and the expansion of the universe
Tags: bwog science, i love redwood trees, i miss northern california – can you tell?, if i were an enzyme i'd be helicase because... wait that one's so old, science fair, the abstract for the armstrong memorial lecture is such a hoot
September 20, 201812:04 pm 2 Comments
me studying for my first freshman year gen chem midterm the night before (WHAT NOT TO DO)
Science 101 is Bwog’s weekly advice column for Columbia and Barnard students studying STEM. In this week’s edition, Bwog Science Editor and junior-year biology/pre-med major Alex Tang brings you advice he wish he knew as a freshman.
Class of 2022, welcome to Columbia! You’re currently confused, excited, nervous (and probably way too cool to admit it)… we’ve all been there. There’s a huge learning curve at any college, but especially so at Columbia, where students seem especially independent and campus just so happens to be in the biggest (and probably most stressful) city in the nation. Here are some things I wish I knew as a freshman, in my experience as a STEM student.
1. Take care of yourself first. Your friends might have your back, but the only person who knows how you’re truly doing is you. These next few years, you’re going to experience sleepless nights, stressful exams, and personal/social/professional challenges. While it never seems like it at the moment, everything always just happens to turn out okay. Get enough sleep, eat regularly, and go out once in a while. Try not to talk about schoolwork too much at dinner. Call home once in a while! Always remember that Columbia provides 24/7 support if things don’t seem to get better.
2. Make friends in your classes. As a STEM student, you’ll tend to see the same faces in your lectures, recitations, and office hours. You’ll soon recognize the same classmates in whatever it is you study – in other words, your fellow pre-meds, civil engineers, physicists, etc. It’s always good to have a few trustworthy friends with whom you can study, get notes from, ask to turn in your homework when you’re sick, gripe about exams with, etc. These classes are always easier with a friend.
3. Do all the problems. In my experience, the best way to guarantee a good score on a science exam is to simply do all the assigned problems. Doing this is way more important than reading the textbook and (in my opinion) even going to lecture. This piece of advice has helped me through a whole variety of STEM classes at Columbia, in math, chemistry, physics, and biology. [edit: you should still go to lecture, nice try]
4. Start research early, if possible. I started lab research during my last month of freshman year. Since then, research has become one of the richest, most rewarding activities I’ve been involved in. If research sounds like something you’d be interested in doing, don’t hesitate to reach out to professors early on, even during your first semester! While you’re definitely busy acclimating to college life during your first semester, it’s always possible to start with a lower time commitment in lab, just to get a feel for it. Science professors actually love it when undergraduates start research early, as an earlier start means more time to grow as a researcher. If you start during freshman fall (as opposed to late freshman spring as I did), it will also give you more time to collect great recommendation letters and open up more summer research opportunities. Check out our tips for getting into science research here. If you’re really busy your first semester, you can also start in the spring, or even sophomore year. It does tend to get tougher (but is still not impossible) to get started with research your junior and senior years.
Summer programs, choosing professors, and more advice!
Tags: bwog science, on wednesdays we wear sweat pants because i have 8:40 physics fml, raise your hand if you've been personally victimized by mowsh bio, science 101, the limit (to our suffering) does not exist, whatever im getting cheese fries
September 16, 20184:15 pm 0 Comments
coming soon to broadway! (ok not that soon)
Click here for more science!
Tags: bwog science, did someone say pizza lunch?, if there's a time to go to queens – it's to visit the maker faire, science fair, we love columbia astronomy public outreach!, what's a neutrino? find out this week!
September 11, 201811:47 am 2 Comments
gel electrophoresis schmood
Like many other science students at Columbia, this Bwogger spent his summer working in a research lab (immunology). Here, he shares his summer experiences, based on (mostly) true events. If you did SURF, SRI, or any type of research this summer, you might be able to relate!
Lab rat (noun): An undergraduate who spends their days holed up in a research lab, due to a genuine interest in science, a sense of nihilism, a pre-med agenda, or a combination of the above.
Day 1: New lab, new me! I’m going to learn so much about XYZ! My PI is so smart and sooo chill, the grad students seem happy, and I got my own white lab coat! Maybe I’ll even publish a paper by the end of the summer (fingers crossed)??? [edit: you won’t]
Day 2: Where is everything?
Day 3: Where is everything?
Day 4: (spends 5 minutes trying to calculate a 1:1000 dilution while my mentor silently watches/judges)
Day 7: Summer in New York is supposed to be hot and humid, but not for me! I bring a sweater to lab everyday to weather the constant labroom chill plus regular trips to the cold-room AKA Antarctica.
Day 10: Contaminated samples! Go back to start!
Day 11: Where is everything again?
Day 15: I’m now an expert at beginning and finishing a round of Subway Surfers during a 10-minute Miniprep centrifugation.
Day 17: It’s 1pm, but I totally have time to start this ELISA! Three 1.5 hour incubations, so I should be out by 6pm at the latest!
Day 17 (9pm): Why am I like this
Click here for the rest of the summer!
Tags: always running on lab time (aka thirty minutes late!), bwog science, elisa is bae, if you dont listen to britney while pipetting what are you even doing, is statistics black magic, where is everything, wot in titration
April 29, 20182:25 pm 0 Comments
“california physics” features nonlinear optical properties – “new york physics” probably features the mechanics of dodging taxicabs on the way to pupin
Intended for students of the given subject, but still open to anyone interested:
image of California via wikipedia
Tags: keeping it short and sweet this week, leave some time to study for those stem finals!, the bio lecture looks dope, this science editor seriously misses mission-style burritos, this science editor seriously seriously misses driving, this science editor's repping his home state
April 22, 20185:00 pm 0 Comments
a brain – something that many of us have at columbia
Click here for talks on biology!
Tags: bwog science, i just want to go home, of mice and men, science fair, this bitch loves bio, thus this week's events bend towards the life sciences
April 15, 20184:00 pm 0 Comments
don’t miss out on the physics colloquium – Dr. Kip Thorne was executive producer of the movie Interstellar (as well as a Nobel Prize winner in physics!!!)
The learning doesn’t stop here!
Tags: bwog science, dr breslow was a true inspiration – we encourage you to learn more about him, is it med school app season already??, my favorite week of science events tbh, science fair, your excuse to visit pupin
April 13, 20186:00 pm 1 Comments
check out columbia’s MD/PhD program here
Bwog Science is back with Science 101, our semi-regular advice column for all things science! Last week, Bwog Science Editor (and potential MD/PhD applicant (?)) Alex Tang attended an MD/PhD discussion panel, which included MD/PhD representatives from Columbia, NYU, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Here, he brings you the advice and information he gleaned from the session.
Are you currently pre-med, but absolutely love the work you do in your lab? Or are you torn between clinical practice or science research as a career? Are you interested in creating and implementing solutions to biomedical problems? If so, read on!
To the eyes of an undergraduate student, the MD/PhD path is a long, mystical path – one that is often misunderstood. Attending the panel discussion gave me a more grounded understanding of the MD/PhD degree, which I’ll talk about in this post. I’ll first begin to describe what an MD/PhD path entails, the outcomes of this dual degree, as well as what it takes to prepare oneself for an MD/PhD program.
Our country is in great need of future biomedical researchers, people who can power the greatest medical discoveries of the twenty-first century. MD/PhD programs around the country strive to address this fact, graduating cohorts of students each year who have undergone both the training required in medical school (for an MD) as well as intensive hypothesis-driven laboratory work (PhD).
The MD/PhD, the panel described, is designed as the interface between medicine and science. Medical doctors often know which big medical questions to ask, but don’t usually have the research tools to find out the answers. Medical schools focus on teaching existing material, on getting across the information a physician needs to diagnose and treat disease, but not how to design and conduct experiments that will create new scientific knowledge. On the other hand, PhD-only science researchers have the means to design and conduct experiments, but are oftentimes far from the applications of their projects. The MD/PhD, however, combines skills from both medical and scientific training. Essentially, after a long training (and the process is long – consisting of the 7-8 year MD/PhD program itself followed by additional years of residency/fellowship training), the individual will be able to practice medicine, and to use those clinical experiences to drive their own research projects. The good news is that MD/PhD programs are almost always fully-funded (NIH-funded MSTPs, or Medical Science Training Programs, waive tuition and grant stipends and health insurance to all students).
What do MD/PhDs do, and how does one get into an MD/PhD program?
Tags: apply early!!!, bwog science, bwog will write you your recommendation letter, i have mad respect for all md/phds, ready to spend your first 30 years of life in school?, science 101
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