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July 05, 2008


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Thanks to Tim O'Reilly for pointing me to an odd and fascinating biological time waster called BioNumbers. It's a database of mathematical values related to the living world.

The best way to explain it is with some typical random values spit out by the site...

Water locked up in ice worldwide3e+7 cubic kilometer
Number of African clawed frog eggs
laid per spawning
Number of alveoli in human lung274 to 790 million
Length of E. coli flagella15 microns

This site is no doubt useful to biologists who sometimes have to put their finger on a number related to their work, in much the same way that a chemist sometimes really needs to know the melting point of Tungsten. But me, I just like viewing the quirky disjointed parade of values as yet another way to appreciate the extraordinary range and wonder of the living world.


Posted by Chris Spurgeon at 09:08 PM | Comments (0)

The perils of perfectionism

photo of baby available via a Creative Commons license at http://www.flickr.com/photos/photosydney/2286946531/

There's a good article in Psychology Today about all the ways that being a perfectionist screws you up. In addition to the more obvious things the article discusses... such as how perfectionists are filled with anxiety and low self-esteem... the thing that caught my attention was how being a perfectionist can actually make you less likely to achieve perfection...

The truly subversive aspect of perfectionism, however, is that it leads people to conceal their mistakes. Unfortunately, that strategy prevents a person from getting crucial feedback—feedback that both confirms the value of mistakes and affirms self-worth—leaving no way to counter the belief that worth hinges on performing perfectly. The desire to conceal mistakes eventually forces people to avoid situations in which they are mistake-prone—often seen in athletes who reach a certain level of performance and then abandon the sport altogether.

See the article on PT's website.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)