Saturday, June 14, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Who ever thought that my spider plant could be cancel out the effects of the formaldehyde potentially found in my clothes?
Or that a gerbera daisy could protect me from the benzene in inks?
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
On a side note, when I first read the article and saw the words "parsimony analysis," I had to laugh, because my brain could only think of the Parselmouths (the characters in the Harry Potter books that can speak the language of snakes). In reality, parsimony refers to the idea that "less is more," or that the simplest explanation for something is generally the best. In this paper, maximum parsimony analysis was carried out to create phylogenetic trees demonstrating the relationship between the new hairspray bacteria and other strains of Microbacterium.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Anyways, when my husband sent me a link to ARJ last week, I was intrigued. It seems as if the journal is an offshoot of the website AnswersinGenesis.org. According to their website, "ARJ is a professional, peer-reviewed technical journal for the publication of interdisciplinary scientific and other relevant research from the perspective of the recent Creation and the global Flood within a biblical framework." At first I had high hopes (I mean, it is "peer-reviewed and everything, that must count for something, right?) and was really hoping for some cool science or interesting theories on how (Christian) religion and science can really go hand in hand. Andrew Snelling, the editor, certainly has the scientific credentials (a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Sydney) necessary for making informed scientific decisions.
So what did I find? Well, I only looked at the current issue, but I wasn't very impressed. Of the five articles, two were written by scientists from "Answers in Genesis" and one was written by a guy whose only credentials are his (home?) address. Two are also written in the first person (which in my opinion just doesn't work for scientific publications), and sound like sermons rather than peer-reviewed scientific research. I do have to admit, the article on Louis Pasteur is pretty interesting, and while I would classify this article on granite formation as opinion rather than research, it was entertaining (I hesitate to say informative) as well. Although I had high hopes and an open mind, I was really left a little disappointed at the end of it all.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Apparently not. In order to design the perfect cooling systems for the food industry, it is important to know the heat capacity of the food you are dealing with. For cheese it seems like moisture content is key in heat capacity calculations. Formulas to calculate heat capacity for cheese tend to be more accurate for those cheeses with higher water content (soft cheeses). Who would have known?
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Earlier today I read an article entitled "How many traditional Chinese medicine components have been recognized by modern western medicine?..." in ChemMedChem. Actually, the title is what attracted me to this article. I've always been interested in alternative and/or natural medicine (maybe that comes with being a vegetarian?*), and really try to avoid taking unnecessary medicines (other than the occasional necessities like ibuprofen and when I was really sick this summer, I ended up taking hydrocodone and paracetamol--a.k.a. vicodin--followed by trimethobenzamide, both of which I resisted initially). In my kitchen I also have a tea for just about any ailment--lemon balm (melissenblaetter in German) tea will cure just about anything. While I've never actually tried any traditional Chinese medicines, a comparison of the components found in these traditionally used herbs and minerals seemed like it might be an interesting read.
Traditional Chinese medicine has been around for more than 4000 years and currently there are over 10,000 chemical components that have been extracted from almost 5,000 traditionally used Chinese herbs/minteals/animals found in the database of traditional Chinese medicines. Compared to Western medicine, this is pretty amazing. Synthetic drugs have only been around for about 100 years, and in one comprehensive medicinal chemistry database you can find about 8000 different molecules that have been approved for use as approved drugs. About 50% of these approved drugs are actually derived from natural products, so a logical conclusion is that there might be some striking similarities between the chemical components of traditional Chinese medicines and modern Western drugs.
According to the Zhang group, there are 327 compounds found in both the traditional Chinese and Western drug databases, and approximately 900 chemicals that are structurally similar (>85% similarity) between the two. Not surprisingly, more than a hundred of the traditionally used Chinese remedies display the same pharmacological effects as their corresponding Western drug. The pharmacological effects of many of the natural herbs were recorded in ancient Chinese texts dating back to the Eastern Han dynasty (~25 AD to 220 AD). For instance, among the 12 chemical components of the herb Coptidis rhizoma (used to treat gastric conditions in traditional Chinese remedies) are berberine, columbamine, coptisine, jatrorrhizine and palmatine. Today calystigine/palmatine is known as an antibiotic, and a structurally similar compound called berberine is believed to be an inhibitor of Helicobacter pylori.
The article also stresses the potential that traditional Chinese medicines could have in drug discovery efforts, in particular in finding multicomponent therapeutics that combine two or more active ingredients into one single dose to hit several targets at once. The herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine can easily have over 50 chemical components. Although each single component might not be active, in combination they might be able to potentiate the effects of other chemical components, or they might work in combination to produce unexpected results. Additionally, traditional Chinese medicines are often prescribed in combinations. Would it be possible to combine the well established formulae of traditional Chinese medicines with Western medicine to produce combinations of drugs with lower risks of adverse drug-drug interactions? Now that we know traditional Chinese medicine has somewhat of a scientific basis, hopefully more work will be completed in this area. Acupuncture has already gained acceptance in many Western societies, so maybe this is the wave of the future.
*My cat on the other hand, certainly isn't a vegetarian. In addition to lounging in the sun on his new window seat, he enjoys his dinner of duck and peas very much.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
(thanks to Mirth)
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Hexabenzocoronene (HBC) with alkyl and triethylene glycol substituents can self assemble into nanotubes; appending norbornene groups at the end of the triethylene glycol chains leads to the formation of both right- and left-handed helical nanocoils upon self assembly (1). While these nanocoils can be stabilized by subsequent ring-opening methathesis polymerization (ROMP) of the norbornene groups, they are actually only the kinetic product of self assembly. Without the ROMP stabilization, they are eventually converted into the more thermodynamically stable nanotubes. This all seems fascinating enough, but members of the Aida lab were able to take things a step further using what they call the "sergeant and soldier effect" to control the formation of left- or right-handed nanocoils. Doping the original HBC/norbornene construct (1) with as little as 20% of HBC with a shortened linker containing a chiral handle (either R or S) produced single-handed coils (S enantiomer --> left-handed coils, R-enantiomer --> right-handed coils). After doping with I2, the coils are also conductive. It only takes a few sergeants to control an army!
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Monday, January 7, 2008
An average graduate student in the chemical sciences earns per year before taxes: $22,000 (wow, do i really get paid that much? it doesn't feel like it.)
Tuition paid per year on behalf of the graduate student: $12,000
Facilities and overhead paid per year on behalf of the graduate student: $13,000
Misc. expenses paid on behalf of the graduate student ("fringe"): $1,000
Being told that an average Ph.D. (assuming a full five year service) costs more than a quarter of a million dollars: PRICELESS