Archive for September 22nd, 2007

Hello world! – Dr Aust goes live

September 22, 2007

Fascinating – have found even blank posts auto-generated by WordPress can attract grumpy comments. Extraordinary.

Anyway, to forestall the accusations that I am a member of the Scientific Global Illuminati Conspiracy hiding behind the cloak of anonymity, some information:

Who is Dr Aust?

A grumpy approaching-middle-aged man (hopelessly watching hairline recede while combing it forward, other hair growing in odd places, spreading waistline etc etc) with a Ph.D. and a job as a biomedical science lecturer at a UK University. I run a small research lab measuring things on cells in dishes that you can only see down a big microscope. Like most scientists in research-intensive Universities, I have published a vaguely respectable number of serious and pretty unreadable papers, absolutely none of which have been in Nature or any of those really fancy journals (I wish). I teach and have taught all sorts of things, from how cells in your kidney or heart do what they do, through pharmacology of various drugs, to very general how-the-body-works stuff (including, once, the entire immune system in one 50 min lecture!) all to science and medical students…not to mention a rag-tag of other student groups (dentists, pharmacists, nurses etc).

In my 20s I used to say this was the fill-in job until I really worked out what I wanted to do, but after over two decades in science I’m clearly a lifer. At least I get a free computer and internet connection.

Dr Aust is married to (logically enough) Mrs Dr Aust, a real gen-u-wine medical doctor. Mrs Dr A (MRCP) spent a decade plus in the NHS trenches, working in general medicine (“Internal medicine” as the Americans would say) and anaesthetics, and ending up as what is technically called a medical registrar (one level below consultant).  She is now working in a less “intense” medical specialty but is still more than able to correct anything really dumb I might be tempted to write about medicine or doctors.

We have one daughter, the rather wonderful Jr Aust, who orders us about mercilessly. Mrs Dr Aust says Jr Aust inherited her never shutting up from Dr Aust.

Summer 08 Update: we are now also the proud if stunned parents of a baby boy, henceforth “Baby Aust”.  Being only a few weeks old, he only eats (a lot), sleeps (a lot, which is good), cries (not as much as his sister did, another plus), and… that other stuff (a lot).

Spring 09 Update: Baby Aust is now mobile and dangerous.! See the Diary entry for Feb 25th.

Why a blog?

The usual. Spent so much time posting on my favourite blogs that I thought I’d try my hand myself. Plus my friends and colleagues kept telling me to (not because they thought I had anything to say – more to stop me boring them with my monologues at the Friday lunchtime lab meeting at the local bar).

What’s it about?

Anything at all, really. Though probably 99% science and how it intersects with the news. And especially scientific nonsense in all forms.

Why “scientific nonsense”?

Because there’s so much about, and it makes us science types variously cross, depressed, or just nervous about what crazy claptrap people believe… almost always about things for which there are perfectly sensible explanations.

More seriously, one reason some doctors and scientists (like me) get rather obsessed with this “rubbish about science” stuff is that it rather defeats the point of doing biomedical research if the public don’t believe any of the results. Or don’t grasp, or believe in, the “scientific method”.

Heroes

Disturbingly, they all seem to be dead. Scientific one: Richard Feynman. It doesn’t do to take yourself too seriously.

And finally… a disclaimer:

As you will noticed if you have read the above, I am NOT a medically-trained doctor, or physician or MD if you prefer. I am a PhD-trained scientist. I know lots of medics, I teach them, I work with them, I publish papers with them on and off, and I’m married to one – but I am NOT one myself. Hope that’s clear enough.

Which leads me to:

THE DISCLAIMER:

None of the content on this blog is intended either as, or as a substitute for, medical advice . If you need medical advice, see your own doctor.

Any information should not be used for diagnosis or treatment.

The author is not a medical doctor, nor has he had any medical training.

(With apologies to Coracle, from whom I borrowed the original version of this statement)