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Allicat



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
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Location: Back in the Shire.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:24 am    Post subject: SCIENCE! Reply with quote

...or, you know, cool stuff you learned today ^_^

Just had my second meeting with my supervisor and the other two scientists working on this toxic algae project with us. For the moment we're going to do some cultures on non-toxic algae that we already have in the lab to work out any bugs in the system (both figuratively and literally!) but things are looking good finance-wise so we should be able to get the toxic algae we need shipped from abroad.

My part will be to set up and calibrate the HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography) machine for analysing the pigments and run cultures under different light conditions. I get a lab pretty much to myself ^_^

For now, I'm intrigued by a paper we discussed today. It's looking at classifying haptophytes by what pigments they contain (so pretty much what I'd like to do, but I'd be doing it on a different group). Thing is, the categories they have are extremely fuzzy. They've used three types of description for the pigments they found; "dominant pigment", "minor or variable", "significant, but not always present" and "trace". Now, to me that sounds wooly par example: Where is the barrier between "minor or variable" and "trace"? Some values they're calling "significant" are so small as to be lost in error. I'd like to examine the statistics they did and the methodology and see why the pigments are so variable.
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Tenshi



Joined: 18 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just found the Science thread, and I am so happy I could squee! Seriously, I love science.

Okay! That paper does sound interesting, but how would they quantify the pigment? You could evaluate them based on a chromatic scale, possibly. I don't know if there would be a way to test the absorption of the samples without damaging them (it depends on size, and if you're willing to grind them up). I'm not terribly sure though, since I haven't dealt with objects much larger than cells in the lab. (That said, not having an easily definable set of values for your judgments is squicky science.)

I spent some time in the lab last week as well. The labwork (which was a carry-over from my course last semester) was to use RNA Transcriptase (RT), as well as right and left primers to create DNA. The reason we were doing it again (and in a less "teach the students" setting) was to test and contemplate the differences in gene expression in our samples (Mouse-Ear Cress plants). We were trying to infer what one gene (ACS5) altered about the plant, in regards to our four samples (One control, two 'overproducers', and one that had an overly effective feedback inhibition loop - the opposite of the overproducers).

In theory, since we didn't break out the electron microscopes on this one, the overproducers actually have smaller/less receptors in the feedback system. This would mean that as the plant is trying to send signals that say "No more, that's enough, we've produced plenty!" the receivers fill up very quickly, but don't actually transfer a lot of that information back into the production cycle. Neat stuff. Also, electrophoresis machines are wild. You're essentially electrocuting your sample (now lodged in a gel plate), and because the DNA is negatively charged it gets drawn toward the positive terminal in your little water box. (Well, it's not water, but anyway..)

We also worked on some ideas for how to combine various fields of study (in Biology) for one larger project, which would help illuminate various aspects of the three fields while also facilitating communication and deepening understanding. That's the tag line, anyway, and about all I can say until she's gone forward with her project. However, it is massively cool, and she's keeping me in the loop on it. I'm pretty excited.

(There was also a donation of baby Mantises, despite it being mid-winter. Fortunately one of the Genetics Profs had a bunch of spare fruit flies, and so we got to watch baby Mantises have a fruit fly snack. It was wild.)
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Allicat



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quick science-related question. When I say Van der Waals forces, what do you understand by that?
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Maeniel



Joined: 22 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I learned this in o chem; it's basically what that branch of chemistry is founded on, and it has to do with dipoles and weak bonds between atoms. I can probably remember more if I tried harder.
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Nem



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is an interesting little thing: Prince Rupert's Drops

http://youtu.be/--5plelrMl8

http://youtu.be/6V2eCFsDkK0

The rapid cooling creates different tensions on the surface as compared to the centre. You can smack the large end of it with a hammer - but if you smack the tail end of it, it explodes rather violently.
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Asa



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool!
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Allicat



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-03/27/perpetual-ocean

The mobile ocean in action. The most impressive depiction I've seen yet.
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Tinu.



Joined: 23 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is awesome. @____@

It reminds me of Starry Night.
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Asa



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now that is cool.
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Self-styled Forum Grandmother, because I hand out nicknames and hugs whether you want them or not. ^_^

Keeper of the Library and the Gateway to Haven

Nem: "It's the sort of face you just know is getting ready to poke you with something sharp."
BS: "...then insist you eat a brownie."
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Think but this and all is mended...
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Tenshi



Joined: 18 Apr 2008
Posts: 2594
Location: Star Stuff

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...that's just amazing... o_o That's just flat gorgeous.

Reminds me of the audio I found of solar winds. It was.. odd, but almost soothing. To think that these forces move with such strength, yet so slowly, it's simultaneously humbling and empowering. Like I'm a part of something THAT massive, that amazing. I'm a piece of a universal Rube Goldberg machine, you know? ...maybe it's just me. ^^;
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. Dubbed "Usagi" by AsA .
Keeper of the Siderean Swords

"If by chance some day you're not feeling well, and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done, and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled."
Red Skelton
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