sabine: (Must touch shiny!)
Must close down tabs and reboot. Must do quickly before computer explodes or something else goes terribly wrong.

Photos from the colossal squid dissection. Still want tentacles to reanimate and attack. Very much want that.

Blogging by the scientists who did the dissection! See what they really thought of the experience!

The coolest use of E.coli ever. I'm so jealous of these people. So very jealous.

Brain gone. Send...something.
sabine: (Rocks fall)
Oh, ew. Someone must have been heating up their lunch in the kitchen/break room nearest my office. I hope something went horribly wrong with the microwave since the stench of freshly autoclaved LB media and LB-agar plates was filling the whole room.

Wow, that brought back strong memories of pouring plates and growing E. coli. I'm so glad I have a different job now.

Two links

May. 19th, 2007 05:03 pm
sabine: (Ball-cap cartoon)
Awesome logic puzzle - solution available upon request. I love logic puzzles and this one has fabulous interactive controls.

This Week in Evolution is another science blog written by someone with excellent humor. The science is spiffy and the tone of his writing isn't alienating. Fans of Carl Zimmer or the Evilutionary Biologist will like Denison's blog.


Sep. 20th, 2006 05:18 pm
sabine: (Ball-cap cartoon)
Well, now. Isn't this interesting?

Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? Demands? Alternative points of view?


Aug. 28th, 2006 08:01 am
sabine: (Rawk!)
Every morning when I get to work, I open up a new Mozilla browser. In it I always load my flist, the main page of Wikipedia, My LJ, Gmail, and Hotmail. Generally, all but Gmail get closed within a few minutes as I catch up on comments, check for birthdays, read the last couple of entries, and see what the featured article on Wiki is.

Today's featured article made me grin...and then start reading it to make sure that it's accurate. The topic is Sequence Alignment, also known as That Thing I Was Doing For My Doctorate (or, at least, the thing I was basing my thesis on, but that had a lot more work to prove that it was right). It's a pretty good article, and does a decent job of explaining one of the primary techniques in biochemistry and genetics.

And once again I am reminded of how much I miss learning and talking science, but not so much the insane politics and hours of mind-numbing lab work.
sabine: (Wizard's Staff)
Today is the birthday of Erwin Schrodinger. If you've never had the opportunity to study quantum mechanics, you should really give it a try sometime: the sound of your brain recoiling from the warped logic necessary to understand this field is something quite rare and worthy of cherishing.

And, apparently, I'm very wordy after a bowl of oatmeal laced with hot chocolate mix. Whee!

In tribute to Dr Schrodinger, I now present The Ballad of Schrodinger's Cat. I will take questions at the end of the performance. Thank you.
The Ballad of Schrodinger's Cat )
sabine: (Gaiman - cool but weird)
If you don't like biochem or molecular biology, you will not find this video nearly so amusing. If, however, you understand how ATP synthase works, you will be consumed by a gigglefit. At least, that was my reaction.*


* - Yes, I'm also extremely amused by my choice of wording: " reaction" and talking about an enzyme. Get it? *gigglesnort* God, I'm a nerd...
sabine: (Heris Impersonator)
I'm so very glad that The Loom is back in Frequent Posting Mode. One of the things that I miss about graduate school is the constant barrage of new and exciting ideas, developments, experiments, and conclusions that happen in the science world. I had to teach myself Science as almost a foreign language and I miss translating in and out of it. This is why I like The Loom, The ESRC, and I depend on my still-in-grad-school friends for tidbits of amazing science.

I'm going to make a rather shocking confession at this point. Are you sitting down with a cold washcloth at the ready? Here it is: I THINK CREATIONISTS AND "INTELLIGENT" DESIGN PROPONENTS ARE DUMB!!! Yes, this must come as a complete surprise to everyone who's ever met me. I'll give you a moment.

Last night I slipped into Spiffy Science Fangirl mode when I read the article talking about an honest-to-Darwin transitional form from fish to tetrapod in the fossil record. I read that with great glee and had a few happy contemplations of the backpedaling and rhetorical nonsense that was about to be printed to "explain" how these new findings are propaganda or something else easily ignorable.

This article is even cooler. Now, I'm not just saying that because I'm more familiar with the techniques that are used in molecular genetics. Nor am I saying it because the article is written a bit more technically and it pinged all my Science Nerd receptors. No, I think that the concept of tracing a molecular receptor back through the evolutionary history, recreating the ancestral form, and then attempting to figure out the precise chain of random events that have led to what we see today is all sorts of nifty and something that I would love to work on someday.

Yes, it seems like a sketchy sort of scenario. "If this happened in just this way and then this other thing happened, why, then you could see this other thing and by random chance that's what we've ended up with today! See how simple it is?!" But, really, it's something that you don't actually have to take with that much faith. Yes, we're allowed to have both faith and knowledge of science. No, I'm not going to explode for saying "faith" and "science" in the same sentence and speaking positively of both. Just let it go.

The thing about random chance driving evolution is that we can't so much hit the Rewind button and see how it would play out. This is one of the things that ID folks have latched onto with an iron grip. They claim that everything happened so that humans would be created. No. Not true. We want it to be true, but it's not. But I'm seriously digressing.

The point I wanted to make about random chance and this article in particular is that the mutations mentioned in the lock-and-key mechanism started out as random, but are now standard. That's the driving force behind evolution. In many cases, the mutation will result in the death of the organism carrying it. Or that critter won't breed. Or they get buried and become part of the Burgess Shale. Or something. But when you look at a single protein, it becomes much simpler (and by "simple" I mean "requires years of work and lots of computer processing of statistics and more work") to understand how the process of random mutation can drive change.

Proteins are chains of amino acids. Amino acids are encoded by three DNA bases. If you change a single DNA base, the odds are good that you'll change the amino acid at that point. Sometimes, nothing happens - this is called a silent mutation. You have MANY silent mutations in your cells right now. I guarantee it. Sometimes something small gets changed that has a small effect on the protein's function, but it doesn't actively harm or help the organism as a whole.

Sometimes, though, a single base change in the DNA will completely change the activity of the protein. The wrong thing in the wrong place can have HUGE impacts on the function of the protein. Take sickle-cell anemia as an example. A single DNA base is changed. Suddenly, the red blood cells go from looking like jelly donuts to long, thin, flat plates that won't go through capillaries. A single point mutation, something that's utterly random, has sweeping effects.

Or you might have a mutation in the gene that controls alcohol metabolism. A single mutation there will either make it so that you get drunk exceptionally quickly or that your liver processes alcohol about 15 times faster than normal. If you mutate a single amino acid in the enzyme, you can force it to work faster or slower. Again, this is something that will happen randomly in a very small point and have huge effects.

And that's the point of evolution. A single individual will NEVER evolve. That's not how it works. It's a long series of little things that happen in the species as a whole over time. Some of these things are "bad", some are very "good". But just like the researchers in Oregon, we can take the baby steps back and piece together the clues that are still present in our proteins, bones, and physiologies. It's something that we CAN figure out. And that, to me, is the neatest thing of all.

*gets off soapbox*
sabine: ("Intelligent Design")
Those of you who know me know that I am, in fact, just a bit of a science nerd. It might be the tales of grad student drudgery for a troll-in-human-clothing (or would that be skin. ew.). It might be when we're watching a movie or playing a game and I go off on a tirade about poor scientific reasoning.

Or it might be when I have a fangirl SQUEE of pure glee from an article such as the one posted by Carl Zimmer tonight.

True fossil evidence of one of the "missing links" between fish and tetrapods. Keep in mind that the lack of evidence of this transition is one of creationism's biggest claims of legitimacy. Not only is it Really Nifty And Wonderful Science, but it is also a Slap In The Face To "Intelligent" Design.

Yes, it is well worth the squee. Go on, I won't tell anyone if you join in.


Mar. 9th, 2006 08:27 am
sabine: (Hector dies?!)
Researchers at Sandia Natural Laboratories have managed to create a super-heated plasma. They're not sure how they did it, but it's really cool! Yay Science!
sabine: (Must touch shiny!)
Dude! We have Yeti Lobsters! I love this planet!
sabine: (SPQR!)
Happy Birthday, Spyridon Marinatos! Thank you for discovering the city and the paintings that I find so beautiful and so intriguing. Here's a GIS for what I can't describe adequately.

His full bio:
Born 4 Nov 1901; died 1 Oct 1974.
Spyridon Nikolaou Marinatos was a Greek archaeologist whose most notable discovery was the site of an ancient port city on the island of Thera, in the southern Aegean Sea. The city, the name of which was not discovered, apparently had about 20,000 inhabitants when it was destroyed by the great volcanic eruption of 1500 BC. Among the finds made at the site were the finest frescoes discovered in the Mediterranean region to that time, surpassing even those found at Knossos in Crete. The most famous of these murals is the “Two Boys Boxing”. From Today in Science History, of course.

Oct. 27th, 2005 10:32 am
sabine: ("Intelligent Design")

Seriously, wow.

Go read this article about how "Intelligent" Design works. Laugh at them. Point and laugh if you like.

First seen on [ profile] sclerotic_rings, soon to take the scientific community by storm.


Oct. 7th, 2005 07:52 am
sabine: (Coffee)
Happy Birthday, Dr. Bohr!


Oct. 6th, 2005 01:14 pm
sabine: (Corset)
[ profile] jrug sent me this article earlier today. My one word summary: WOW!!!!

Cervical cancer is caused by an infection of human papilloma virus. Now, every single one of us is infected with numerous strains and we're constantly shedding virus from our epithelial cells. Most strains are benign: some are extremely good at causing cancer.

What Merck's done is nothing short of amazing. They've developed a vaccine that will block infection, development of tumors, and development of precancerous lesions in 97% of women after .one. dose!

Now, granted, they haven't extended the study as far as I would like for true comfort, but this is incredibly spiffy research! I am damn impressed, and if the long-term safety concerns are addressed, I'll sign myself up for it when it comes on the market next year.


Oct. 4th, 2005 07:30 am
sabine: (Coffee)
Happy Birthday, Dr. Atanasoff!

And, a moment of silence for Dr. Max Planck would not be amiss.
sabine: (Kestrel coffee)
Happy Birthday, Dr. Faraday!


Aug. 25th, 2005 09:14 am
sabine: (Coffee)
Happy 105th Birthday, Sir Hans Adolf Krebs!  Without you, BB404 students would have less to learn.

And a moment of silence to remember Michael Faraday, who died on this day in 1867.


Aug. 9th, 2005 11:40 am
sabine: ("Intelligent Design")
Happy birthday, Count Amedeo Avogadro!


Aug. 5th, 2005 02:10 pm
sabine: (Angry Kitty)
My faith in humanity is at an all-time low. Well, maybe "all-time" is a bit of hyperbole. It's more of a monthly or weekly low. Yeah, that's closer to accurate. On an individual basis, I can like most people. As a group, however, I intrinsically dislike the species.

Here are three reasons why people suck and three reasons why I haven't done my best to destroy the planet. Maybe I should've stayed in bed longer this morning, after all.

Why people suck
First, he takes a toddler hostage. Then, she gets killed in the shootout with police. At the autopsy, they find out that she had quite a bit of cocaine in her system. Does anyone else see this as a problem?

This may very well be the definition of "overreaction". For the record, I've never been so into a sporting event that I've considered committing violence on anyone other than the truly deserving. Doesn't that reassure you?

As another entry in the dictionary, I would like to propose that this woman be the definition for "dumbass". It's bad enough to do drugs when your children are around, but it's exponentially worse to addict your kids, and then expect leniency from the sentencing judge. I just don't get it.

Why people are cool
This icon is fabulous. It's impressive in its creativity and execution.

Scientists have found a way to harness the Sun's energy to extract zinc metal, which can then be used to produce hydrogen simply by pouring water over it. With improvements, the process may prove a cleaner, more efficient way of producing hydrogen for fuel-cell-powered vehicles, which would emit nothing more polluting than water.

Imagine a cancer drug that can burrow into a tumor, seal the exits and detonate a lethal dose of anti-cancer toxins, all while leaving healthy cells unscathed. MIT researchers have designed a nanoparticle to do just that.


sabine: (Default)

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