Friday, April 29, 2011

Cortical Reaction

Fertilisation, no it is not a typo for fertilization, which is more so directed towards humans. Fertilisation identifies the fusion of gametes to produce a new organism. Fertilisation can be used in reference to anything from flowering plants to humans. In humans the process involves the fusion of a sperm to an ovum, which is the first step in initiating the cortical reaction.

The cortical reaction begins when the sperm unites with the eggs plasma membrane, leading to an influx of intracellular calcium, resulting to the exocytosis of cortical granules. The cortical granules are secretory vesicles, composed of contents that vary with species and are released into the extracellular space. The exact roll in the excretion of these vesicles containing varying contents is not quite fully understood. Upon the release of the cortical granules the vitelline layer is then altered. In mammals that layer is identified as the zona pellucida. The zona pellucida, or vitelline layer, is an external membrane to the plasma membrane of an egg cell. The alteration of the vitelline layer is an effect of an increase of osmotic pressure causing water to fill the space between the layer and the plasma membrane. This single event is responsible for the successful fertilization of an egg, because it raises all of the other non-fertilizing sperm from the plasma membrane. This is so important because it prevents polyspermic fertilisation, a lethal fate to an oocyte.

The reaction is represented in the shown diagram. A sort of signal transduction cascade is initiated upon uniting the sperm to the egg. Evidence supports the theory that the PIP2 cascade mediates the cortical reaction. The PIP2 cascade generates two second messengers, IP3 and DAG. DAG is responsible for inducing the release of intracellular Ca2+ from the sarcolemma and various storage organelles. This sudden influx in calcium leads to the exocytosis of the cortical granules. The granules then induce the alteration of the zona pellucida, which prevents polyspermic fertilisation and allowing only one sperm to fertilize the egg leading to the completion of the cortical reaction.

Skeletal Muscle Contraction

A muscle fiber contraction is a complex interaction of organelles and molecules in which myosin binds to actin and exerts a pulling action. This results in a movement within the myofibrils in which the filaments of actin and myosin slide past one another. This action shortens the muscle fiber so that it pulls on its attachments.
A skeletal muscle fiber normally does not contract until a neurotransmitter stimulates it. Acetylcholine is the neutrotransmitter that causes muscle contraction. This neurotransmitter is synthesized in the cytoplasm of the motor neuron and stored in vesicles at the distal end of the motor neuron axons.

When a nerve impulse reaches the end of a motor neuron axon, some of the vesicles release their acetylcholine into the space between the motor neuron axon and the motor end plate. Acetylcholine diffuses rapidly across the synaptic cleft and binds to specific protein receptors in the muscle fiber membrane. The binding allows for increased membrane permeability to sodium ions. These charged particles stimulate a muscle impulse.

The sarcoplasmic reticulum contains a high concentration of calcium ions. In response to a muscle impulse, the membranes of the cisterne become more permeable to these ions, and the calcium ions diffuse into the sarcoplasm of the muscle fiber. When there is a high concentration of calcium ions in the sarcoplasm, troponin and tropomycin interact. This interaction causes the binding site on actin to become exposed. As a result, linkages form between the actin and myosin filaments, and the muscle fiber contracts. ATP is also required for the muscle contraction as long as nerve impulses release acetylcholine.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review by Powerpoint

Through the endless pursuit of research, some of the best stories are the result of approaching a topic through multiple expertise. For instance, there was a study our of Pittsburgh that attempted to tackle the understanding of why teenagers seem to be "impulsive." This has an impact on society since EVERYONE has experienced this impulsiveness, and it would be beneficial to understand this moment in life.

I will let you first take a gander at the power point real quick, since I intended you to do so. Don't feel guilty and just do it.

O.K., now that you have looked over these few slides, I just want to expound upon a little bit. The value of this study was that it took an apparent observation -teenagers seem to act more recklessly than adults- and then explored whether there was a biological explanation for this observation. An experiment using mice resulted in significant results showing that indeed there must be some biological explanation, and that under stressful conditions further exacerbates this impulsiveness.

The ironic thing is that in the end the most likely explanation of this impulsiveness is that it is a maturity thing...but of the brain. It is likely that there are some changes that the brain undergoes in its development that makes people and animals to be more cautious and less impulsive. Now the next step is to verify this hypothesis with some continual studies, and then we will truly know why teenagers are impulsive.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ecology: Just in case you forgot...

 Since it has literally been eight years since I have taken basic biology, my ecological knowledge has gone from so-so to oh-no! Judging by the questions regarding ecology, I could use a basic refresher, and I would imagine that others could benefit as well. I really wanted to stick with the suggestions for my powerpoint layout and truly attempt to "keep it simple" and resist the urge to fill in all of the negative space. I tried to allow the slides to enhance my presentation material with a simple visual aid, and very minimal text. I also tried to use complimentary color contrasts of warm and cool colors for my background and font, as suggested.

My first slide is intended as an intro, or title slide to aid in the delivery of some basic general information about ecology as a science, as well as some general terminology. I would have discussed and defined terms such as "ecosystem", "deme", "population", "subpopulation", "aggregation", and "metapopulation".

Moving on to the second slide, my intention was to discuss some aspects of energy exchange and trophic levels using a food web as an example. Discussion of the different trophic levels such as primary producers, primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary consumers. Discussion of the concepts of niche and biomass would have worked well here. Also, the discussion and description of keystone species would have been necessary.  

Next, on the third slide, I felt discussion of biomes, and the variety of populations existing within would have been an interesting supplement. Specific examples of biomes, and potential organisms within would have served well here. This also would have transitioned well into my fourth slide.

For the final slide, I chose to discuss certain aspects of adaptation and natural selection with regard to the different biomes. Discussion of evolutionary adaptations such as those seen in different species of birds, which hail from a common ancestor, would have worked well to discuss the relationship between form and function due to certain environmental influences.

With so much to know about such a diverse science, this seems to be a good foundational start. My intention, as stated, was to recall some of the basic concepts of ecology, so if nothing else, at least the jargon would make sense whenever it arises again.

Friday, April 1, 2011


So you might ask yourself what is the difference between a virus and a retrovirus? The answer is the function of how each replicates its genetic material. A virus has a single strand of genetic material-either DNA or RNA. A retrovirus consists of a single strand of RNA. Once a retrovirus enters a cell, it collects nucleotides and assembles itself as a double strand of DNA that splices itself into the host's genetic material.Retroviruses contain RNA as the hereditary material in place of the more common DNA. In addition to RNA, retrovirus particles also contain the enzyme reverse transcriptase (or RTase), which causes synthesis of a complementary DNA molecule (cDNA) using virus RNA as a template.

When a retrovirus infects a cell, it injects its RNA into the cytoplasm of that cell along with the reverse transcriptase enzyme. This enzyme copies the viral RNA genome into a single minus strand of DNA. The resulting double stranded DNA is integrated into the chromosomal DNA of the infected cell. The proviral DNA is then transcribed by the cell’s own machinery into RNA, which will be either translated into viral proteins or is packaged into other proteins. Because most retroviruses do not kill their host cells, infected cells can replicate, producing daughter cells with integrated proviral DNA. These daughter cells continue to transcribe the proviral DNA and bud progeny virions.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

If Nothing Else...Remember This

Being tested on biology topics after my four years at this school taught me that I know little about plants and have forgotten a handful of details. At first I thought these details are useless, but then I considered this...those details are far from useless they are broad ideas centralized in one word. In fact these details are really important, because they enhance communication and give an opportunity to talk to people that may not know a lot about biology.

So as an example of this whole detail thing I'm talking about...let's talk about BIOTIC POTENTIAL. I thought this was about metabolically efficient organisms that produce little waste in comparison to how they obtain nutrients from their food. So large herbivores like cows should fit the definition right, since they eat vegetation and have a complex digestive system. Wrong. Rodents was the right answer.

So what is biotic potential. It turns out that biotic potential is defined as the maximum reproductive potential of a population. So in short I was about as wrong as I could because those large herbivores are lucky to have one calf or offspring a year.
On the other hand rodents have offspring like crazy...I mean when you say rabbit what do you think of? But with this lesson in what this detail means, you can now say instead, "those rabbits -do you know- what like crazy," you can say, "they just have a high biotic potential."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Six Legs vs. No Legs

Worms, more specifically earthworms. Those long slimy segmented squirmy organisms that live in the dirt. At first glance the may possibly seem like the most simple organism there could be. So, there is no possible way their could be a single similarity in earthworms with grasshoppers. Right?

Earthworms are a part of the Annelid phylum. Annelid came from the french word anneles which translates to "ringed ones", due to earthworms segmentation. You would believe the anatomy of an earthworm to be fairly simple; howe
ver, they were the first to show evidence of a complete digestive system. Of course its not extremely complex, still pretty impressive for such a simple looking organism. Basically the worm is made up of a through system starting with the mouth, crop, gizzard, intestinal tract and ending with the anus. The segmentations on the worms outer surface internally designate a closed area of organs, such as the nephridia. The nephridia works like waste management, excreting it from the body (nephdria). Typically the worm will have two of these bad boys, to keep things under control.
The worm has quite a bit of other unique anatomical characteristics about it, such that it has a vascular system, it breaths through its skin, and they are typically hermaphrodites so they reproduce asexually!

BUT, what I am getting at is what the heck do they have in common with a grasshopper? Grasshoppers are in the phylum Anthropoda. Anthropods have segments similar to the earthworms; however, each segment posses a set of appendages. Grasshoppers have an open circulatory system unlike the worm. They have three primary regions of their body, the head, thorax and the abdomen. Located in the thorax are malpighian tubules, which has a waste management type of function (MT). Sound familiar? THATS RIGHT, worms have something like this too, the nephridia.

There are so many differences in between these two organism, it is neat to see something that is conserved in both of their internal anatomy. It is even more interesting to think that we have a vary similar organ, our kidneys, that possesses a similar function as the nephridia and the malpighian tubules. It all goes back to evolution. Both the annelids and the anthropoda are both protosomes, a clade of invertebrate animals, making sense as why they would have some similarities in their anatomical make up.

First Hand Instructions to making Beer

I know it is long and quite a lot of information; however, listen until the end and you will not be disappointed :).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Getting Freaky in the Plant Kingdom...

I have heard on occasion (usually after my wife spends the day cleaning, washing clothes, doing laundry, and caring for our son!) that if women could figure out how to fertilize themselves, the male sex would be obsolete due to natural selection against worthlessness. Not only do plants reproduce sexually, but some also have a neat little trick up their stalks. Certain species of plants have the ability to reproduce asexually, without the genetic contribution of a neighbor. Great trick. Just don't tell my wife. Lets face it, plant reproduction isn't necessarily the most pressing issue on most of our minds right? I mean, how many of us realize on those gorgeous spring days when we can barely breathe due to our bodies reacting against the massive plant sperm overdose we have been subjected to. Uh, gross... 

Sexual reproduction in all land plants involves alternation of generations. This means that their life cycle is split into two distinct phases; one in which the genetic information is haploid, and the other in which the genetic information is diploid. There are differing details for different organisms, but the main idea is the same. Alternation of generations begins when two haploid gametes fuse to form a diploid zygote, which will divide by mitosis to form a viable diploid organism called a sporophyte. After maturation, the sporophyte develops one or more sporangia, which are the sexual organs that develop the haploid spore cells through meiosis. The spore cells then are able to divide by mitosis into a gametophyte that divides by mitosis, and thus gives rise to the haploid gametes capable of fusing together into another diploid cell, and thus repeating the cycle. A very complex cycle, and one that is necessary in order for plants to exchange genetic information.

Asexual reproduction skips the awkward movie and dinner approach to plant reproduction, and skips right to the good stuff... making progeny. Some plants such as the Kalanchoe, are able to form little plantlets from their leaves, while others such as silverweed, uses stolons, or horizontal connections between organisms to spread viable offspring. Plants such as Euphorbia and Ginger use rhizomes, which originate from the main stem of the organisms, and crawl laterally in order to shoot roots from the nodes, and effectively spread itself. Two other methods of asexual reproduction are through the use of bulbs and tubers, like tulips, and potatoes respectively. Another form is called apomixis, which essentially replaces normal sexual reproduction with asexual reproduction. In other words, sporophytes are able to be formed without fertilization This form is particularly important in ferns and flowering plants. The catch here is that plants who produce asexually these ways form clonal colonies, which contain essentially the same genetic information within the group.

It is truly remarkable how many adaptive ways of reproduction are displayed in the plant kingdom. So, think again if you were under the impression that you were a sexually talented being, and realize that you have been outdone for millions of years. Plants are truly the overachievers who are well beyond the constraints of gender specified reproduction. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

CSI: Friend or Foe?

Is the television show CSI spreading a positive or negative message about science?? Interesting cases for both sides of the story are presented in this special audio presentation by Shane Bemiller and Phillip Wages.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's Solar Powered!!

A recently studied species of hornet has been found to be able to produce electricity. You may ask yourself, “How does this work?” Well it is in the pigment found in the Oriental hornet’s (Vespa orientalis) exoskeleton. Groups of scientist from Tel-Aviv University have been studying the species for some time now and were unable to determine how this electricity was being produced. They concluded that the pigment in the hornet’s yellow tissues trap light, while its brown tissue generated the electricity.

The majority of wasps and hornets that you commonly see are most active in the early morning. But entomologists have long known that Oriental hornets get most of their work done in the middle of the day when the sun is brightest. A typical day for an Oriental hornet involves digging out and expanding their nest. Scientists believe that the extra energy produced by the electricity may be used for the grueling labor.

The hornet’s brown tissues contain melanin, which is the pigment that protects human skin by absorbing ultraviolet light and ultimately changing it to heat. Further investigation of the brown tissue shows tiny groove that are able to capture light by channeling damaging rays into the tissue. The yellow tissue that is trapping the light contains a pigment called xanothopterin, which is crystalline solid that is found in the wings of butterflies and in the urine of mammals. Scientists were able to isolate the crystalline solid and were able to place it into a solid cell electrode. When light was shed on it, the pigment generated electricity!

Plotkin, M., Hod, I., Zaban, A., Boden, S., Bagnall, D., Galushko, D., & Bergman, D. (2010). Solar energy harvesting in the epicuticle of the oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis) Naturwissenschaften, 97 (12), 1067-1076 DOI: 10.1007/s00114-010-0728-1

Dosen't Take a Rocket Scientist to Light a Cigarette

That’s right! In fact most scientist know better than to light up. Of course, everyone knows that smoking has a negative reputation. It turns your teeth yellow, makes your breath smell terrible (your clothes too), makes you look old, oh yeah and it causes cancer. I think it would be safe to say that the general population is aware that these cancer-causing sticks have something in them that does not belong in a human beings body. Yet 24.8 million men and 21.1 million women continue to ignore the risks and burn one (NHIS, 2008). It is shocking to me that with the proven side effects that cigarettes cause people continue to use them. Maybe its because people want to know the specifics? They don’t care that it is the cause of at least 18 types of cancer, or that lung cancer takes a global toll of at least 3,000 lives each day. Maybe they want to know how.

Well researchers are well on their way to giving the people what they want (or what I think they want?). A sir Stephen S. Hechet and a bunch of his scientific sidekicks were able to pinpoint one of cigarettes dirty little culprits that weasels its way into your blood stream, latching on to your DNA and wreaking havoc. Science News.

DNA yeah, yeah, everyone has heard of THAT before, something about it being the genetic code and making us who we are. That’s right! It is pretty key to sustaining life, in fact all living animals have some and its what distinguishes the way we look from the way the star nosed mole looks (and trust me those aren’t pretty). DNA is not only good for our looks; it is also important to our health. There are tons of diseases that are a result of a mishap in DNA. You know how when you go to zip a zipper and one of the zipper teeth is broken or ‘mutated’ and your hand flies off cause it gets stuck and you have to go back and yank it, to get it all the way zipped? Well a genetic disease is a lot like that. One little mutation can throw the whole system off,causing major problems. This is why we do not want tomess with our DNA because isn’t a broken zipper the biggest pain?

Any way,what I’m getting at here is this team of scientists found a villain to our DNA, in cigarette smoke. It goes by the name polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, PAH for short. This evil chemical has the ability to transform into an even eviler version of itself, PAH diol epoxide. PAH transforms almost immediately in the blood of smokers and its target is DNA. It can cause mutations in DNA that cause cancer. The effects of PAH diol has been shown to take place fast, as little as 15-30 minutes after inhaling cigarette smoke.

This is the first time researchers have been able to pinpoint a cancer-causing substance found in cigarette smoke, with out other factors such as exposure to air pollution or the smokers diet. PAH is found in the smoke of cigarettes, harmless until it reaches your blood where its evil plans to attack your DNA begin to unfold, when it transforms into PAH diol epoxide and becomes a toxic chemical. Now that its identity has been uncovered, there is no denying its involvement in causing cancer, your best bet to dodge this villain is to avoid setting it free from its cigarette encasement. DON’T SMOKE.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bacterial Assassins: From trying not to die to nanotechnology...

So, what seems to be the problem?? Cholera? Staph infection? E. coli infection? ... Ok. Take two of these once a day, and call me if they don't work in a week. Nothing you say? Ok. Take three of these today, two of these tomorrow, four of the blue ones, six of the red ones, and wait a week. If that doesn't work, drink this, inject that, and take five more of these. As a last resort we may have to operate and remove the infected limb, or worst case scenario, you may want to get right with God...

This dialogue can't seem too far fetched can it? We have all been victims of the medical guessing games that are required to effectively treat harmful bacterial infections. You may start with a one week prescription of a mild antibiotic only to find that it didn't work to clear up the infection, which ultimately could end in hospitalization, or even death. So, the problem is, how do we treat a bacterial infection effectively, especially one such as the recently rampant MRSA, which has developed numerous antibiotic resistances. The answer is, we send in the big guns...

Except that the biggest of the "big guns", the T4 bacteriophage, is only about 200 nm long and 100 nm wide. But, don't let their size fool you. These viruses are microscopic powerhouses that are able to infect, inject, and destroy very specific host bacterial cells by adsorbing to receptor proteins surrounding the cellular membrane and inserting, or injecting their genetic information into the cell. The phage then rely on the cellular energy of the host to make and process new proteins and genetic information that will be packaged into new phage progeny. The final step to infection is the lysis, or "popping" of the host cell, in order for the progeny to be released and infect more cells. There is potentially endless variety of naturally occurring strains, as well as the possibilities to engineer designer strains with modified receptors which would allow for more diverse host ranges. The bottom line, so it seems, is that if there is a cell, it can be infected by something, and it has become very clear that we are getting closer to being able to selectively infect cells for a variety of purposes.

The medical advantages of these delicate little killers are immense, aside from a few minor setbacks. The biggest is the idea of trying to convince the general public to "dose" themselves with a biological organism, i.e. a virus, and also to convince governmental agencies of the tremendous benefits and scientific progressions that could be achieved if these organisms were brought to the forefront of scientific research, and to ultimately provide adequate funding for their research. Bacteriophage have already proven to be effective against Cholera, E. coli, K. pnemoniae, acne, staph infection, and many other medical annoyances which are constantly developing resistances to the methods and medications we are using. Now, calm down if you are getting too excited about this news because the worlds largest proponent of phage therapy is located in Tbilisi, Georgia. Not exactly next to Atlanta, but a bit closer to Russia!!! So, travel may be a bit of a hurdle when seeking therapy of this sort...

Oh, and did I mention that after the proteins are processed inside the cell, they assemble automatically in a very exacting, ordered structure, and we are able to genetically modify these proteins with insertions and deletions? Now, I don't want to give away all of the surprises, but can you say nanotechnology and gene therapy???

Bigger is Always Better Right???

As the years roll by science is explained not from the macrosystem, but rather the microsystem...and recently the "nano-system." One of the most interesting topics in science is that of nanoparticles. These tiny, extremely tiny particles, have been used in many ways such as antimicrobrials in food and specifically silver nanoparticles have been used as antimicrobials in clothes. There is even discussion about using nanoparticles as a way to deliver pharmaceuticals with the possibility of enhancing cancer therapy. With such an interesting and potentially useful method to combat many issues driving today's world, nothing could go wrong...right???

Well, I want to say that nanoparticle research is needed, especially within research and development, but I just want to remind everyone that these small particles may in fact have some toxic effects as well. In fact these tiny particles have been shown to have a much different toxicity than other toxicants because their size allows them to cross membranes that other toxicants are unable to cross. Even more alarming is that most of these nanoparticles do not show a toxic effect until much later than the individual has been exposed. So end story is nanoparticles are dangerous...right??? Well the answer in my opinion is NO and yes. Nanoparticles are just a topic that needs more research both in regards with developing beneficial uses as well as understanding the possible negative drawbacks. Luckily both sides are being dealt with, and it just comes down to the general public being aware of the research. Another big benefit is that there is no scarcity of information available to everyone if you look on the Internet.

So what is the take home message of this whole nanoparticle rant besides me hopefully wanting you to get interested in it? Well I hope whenever you read a news or scientific article you look at in two different ways: the microsystem level and the big picture level. How does this small piece of the puzzle fit into the big picture of it all? What is that little detail that I see? Those are the questions you should be asking, and many times I feel like they get lost in the discussion sometimes. So these nanoparticles, sure they may cure cancer, but is there a possibility that these may cause cancer too?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Link to the glorious google doc

Hey Troops. Here is the link to the google doc we are supposed to make, just in case the e-mail notification didn't work. See you Wednesday.

Google doc

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I'm about to diffuse the situation...

AAAAHHHHH!!! You just had an action potential.The concept of membrane transport is one of the fundamental concepts of cell biology, and is the foundation for human physiology. Our cells are responsible for setting up and maintaining the concentration gradients of ions and molecules, which in turn provide the resting membrane potential that is essentially a charge differential from the inside of a cell, to the outside. All of this is done while maintaining osmotic equilibrium. So, how do all of these molecules and ions pass through the phospholipid bi-layer? There are several different mechanisms for transport, that can be broken up into active processes, and passive processes. The active processes require some sort of cellular energy (i.e. ATP), and move substances against their concentration gradients, while the passive processes move substances along the concentration gradient, and do not require the input of energy.

Passive transport can be further subdivided into simple diffusion, osmosis, facilitated diffusion, and filtration. Simple diffusion is the passing of substances through the lipid bi layer along the concentration gradient without the use of a membrane protein. Facilitated diffusion differs in that a trans-membrane protein acts to "carry" the substance through the lipid bi layer via conformational changes protein. Osmosis is the movement of water through fluid filled channels, or aquaporins from an area of lower relative solute concentration to an area of higher solute concentration, until osmotic equilibrium is reached, where the relative concentration of solutes is equal on each side of the membrane. Filtration  makes use of a pressure gradient, which acts to allow for selective passage by allowing only some particles through the channel. This especially useful in organs like the kidneys, which are responsible for filtering waste from our bodies.

Active transport is the movement of a substance against the concentration gradient, and makes use of specific transport proteins. Active transport may be primary, as with the sodium-potassium-ATPase "pump", of secondary, like the SGLT transporter, which relies on the energy created by diffusion of sodium to allow the passage of glucose as sort of a hitchhiker.

Both of these types of transport combine to provide antagonistic, and cooperative effects that are essential to sustaining life. One must remember, that sometimes the smallest things are responsible for the most amazing processes.

In this blog, I attempted to "arouse and fulfil" by using a creative subject heading, and first line. I wanted to try to also speak to a more broad audience by eliminating a great deal of jargon, while still explaining an important concept. Lastly, I attempted to read my writing aloud, which when I was working in the lab didn't make me look the most sane, but I digress.

Hogwarts enrollment soon opened up to scientists?

Watch out Harry Potter you may be "the most powerful wizard of this time" however, some of the "most powerful scientists of this time" are right on your tail. They have created a cloak of invisibility of their own!

Okay, okay, okay. So, This team of scientist weren’t able to make Daniel Ratcliff disappear for real, but they can make things such as a grain of sand and even an ant disappear. Those things aren’t people but hey, that is pretty darn impressive for the average human being to accomplish! (Average meaning muggles or non-wizards). I'd say they’re on the right track to creating a life size invisibility cloak that we could all use.

Obviously they did not create these "carpet cloaks" using wizardry, so how did they? This team gathered calcite prisms, which are a type of naturally occurring crystals to build the carpet cloaks. Understandably, the carpet cloaks don't truly make things vanish in thin air, but what it does is manipulates the optical properties of the calcite prisms, with the help of a small mirror notched into the base of the device. Anything at the bottom of the carpet cloak, hiding behind the bent notched mirror 'disappears'. It appears to ‘disappear’ because at the right angle the bent mirror can look like a flat plane.

The chance that all of us will be tip-toeing around invisible any time soon, is not high considering the carpet cloaks only work on objects as big as 1-2 millimeters, and it is definitely not made of magical cloth. Someday though, maybe we'll uncover another secret to the world of wizardry, turning science into a kind of magic itself.

"Carpet Cloak"

Analysis of post:
In attempts to arouse and fulfill, I used a title where people would have to wonder what on earth I was talking about, and want to read my blog. To fulfill the arousal I made sure the title had to do with my blog was composed of, in a sense. I used pictures to show what I was trying to explain so that the reader could visualize exactly what I was describing.

Monday, January 31, 2011

My Biggest Fear

I am a person that relies on knowing, some call me a control freak, but I'm not...I just love to know, and am deathly afraid of a day that I may forget everything. In my exploration from the world of online science I went from blogs last week to the news this week, and the story that caught my attention the most was one from CNN highlighting a story about Alzheimer's. In short researchers are turning Early On-set Alzheimer's into a possible method to cure this debilitating disorder. Apparently there is a large number of those with this disorder in Colombia, and using possible treatments over a two year period they are able to identify working treatment. I honestly think this is amazing. Science is literally turning something bad into something good which I give a resounding applause and a shout of an "Encore."

I also want to bring your attention to one of the last quotes in the article: "I don't want to be negative, and I continue to participate in research, but do I have a lot of hope? No, because I keep watching my loved ones go away." I don't know what to think of this quote comparing the idea of hope along with participation in research. Hope is surrounded by the idea of possibly getting an answer (in my opinion), which coincides with an idea behind research. I will have to continue thinking about this, but just wanted to get that out there before I forget.
In regards to the stylistic part of writing of this blog I attempted to use the hook and engaging the audience. I sincerely attempted to have a conversation with the reader, which I feel I did by sharing something many can relate with me as well as posing a statement that will hopefully require further thought. I also used the hyperlink and added an image for matters of style as well.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Scientists can be fun too!

If there is one thing most people know about me, it is that I am very rarely serious. However, when the time calls to be serious, I am capable of that too (even if on the inside I am giggling at something, most likely immature). So when searching for a blog that I would consider "gem worthy", I look for bloggers with personalities as bright as my own (not to toot my own horn of course). I gave many bloggers a fair chance, skimming them, looking for words that would grab my attention, even words that would grab the "scientific side" of me (most of the blogs I came across that grabbed my "scientific side" had too much depth and jargon, felt like I was reading another journal article). After a good while of searching for something I could relate too I finally came across some! (I stopped at 3). The first discovery I made was We, Beasties, shamefully enough it was their latest blog that snagged my attention "Is that a hypothalamus or are you just happy to see me?", my immaturity really shone through on that one... Once I dug a little deeper I found We,Beasties had a lot to offer, scientifically. Not to mention some posts that also please my sense of humor. The second discovery I made was On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess, this caught my attention when I read her information, she noted how her blog was the balance between being a mother and an awesome scientists, and how SOMETIMES she likes to throw in a little about shoes (what girl doesn't love shoes). I continued my search because I wasn't really impressed with how sciency the last one got. The Loom, my final discovery before I threw in the towel for the night. The Looms most recent post..."The ultimate case of TMI: Behold my bellybutton's microbiome". Microbiology was one of my favorite courses through out my college years, which is why this caught my eyeball, not to mention it was hilar! See for yourself:

S is for Scientist

Upon looking up science blogs on the information highway I stumbled upon two interesting blogs. The first blog I found interesting as called Wired Science. What caught my eye and interest in this blog is the fact that most of the blog posts consisted of pictures and/or movies to explain the information being provided. A lot of the blogs that I visited had pages and pages of information. I myself tend to stray away from these blogs due to the fact that most of the information is borrrrrinngggg. However, this particular blog kept my interest and was straight to the point on what the author is trying to explain. The second blog that I decided to follow was entitled 80beats. This blog talked about everything science, from the aerospace to marine ecology.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Too Long...Too Nothing...Too Scientific

Upon my first journey through the various blogs available on-line I stumbled (another great invention to be used on the internet) upon the three things that made me turn away from blogs almost instantly. No surprise that these three things are in my title. Some were just too long with no pictures. Some just had nothing written in them (it was harder to stay awake reading some of the posts than making it through some lectures). The best of the worst had to be the too scientific making the posts seem oxymoronic. Blogs, in my opinion should be readable by any one, but some of the ones I came across would have been better written in a different (possibly original) language. However, I did come across a few great ones such as the The Digital Cuttlefish...which posts poetic verses normally with science themes...and Thoughtomics...which is written wonderfully with a good story (however it would be better if the posts were shorter). Check them out at the following links.
Post ya after awhile.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Knock, knock, who cares?...

So far, in my very short quest into the blogoverse, (I must recommend not to use that word in scrabble!) I have found a few real gems, that I found are not only quite well written and organized, but also... OK, well they are quite well written and organized. I tried so hard to find blogs that incorporated a good mix of business and pleasure, i.e. humor, but my search really ended up being fruitless. I did find a microbiology blog that had a "jokes" page, which I thought was a step in the right direction, but it was lacking in content overall. Is it too much to ask for an assembly of like-minded scientists who still value the ancient art of fun? Must everyone B. cereus?! Alas, I stumble upon Mike the Mad Biologist, and nature has once again been balanced. Cheers! 

-Small Things Considered
-Mike the Mad Biologist

Feel free to disagree, but you will be wrong!