Rajini Rao2011-12-11 19:19:00
Smallest rotary motor in biology, the ATP synthase. All the work done in your body is fueled by breaking a chemical bond in ATP, the “currency of energy”. Did you know that you convert your body weight (or an estimated 50 kg) of ATP per day?!

Where does this ATP come from? It is synthesized by an incredibly sophisticated molecular machine, the ATP synthase, embedded in the inner membrane of our mitochondria. Energy from the oxidation of food results in protons being pumped across the membrane to create a proton gradient. The protons drive the rotation of a circular ring of proteins in the membrane that in turn move a central shaft. The shaft interacts sequentially with one of 3 catalytic sites within a hexamer, making ATP (little butterflies in the movie!). The ATP synthase rotates about 150 times/second

To visualize the rotation under a microscope, a very long fluorescent rod (actin filament) was chemically attached to the central shaft. Watch real movies (not animations!) of the enzyme spinning here: http://www.k2.phys.waseda.ac.jp/F1movies/F1long.htm

Notice the rotation is slower with longer rods. The rotor produces a torque of 40 pN nm (40 pico Newtons x nanometer), irrespective of the load. This would be the force you would need to rotate a 500 m long rod while standing at the bottom of a large swimming pool at the rate shown in the movie.

How did this amazing rotor evolve? The hexameric structure is related to DNA helicases that rotate along the DNA double helix, using ATP to unzip the two strands apart. The H+ motor has precedence in flagella motors that use proton gradients to drive rotation of long filaments, allowing bacteria to tumble through their surroundings. At some point, a H+ driven motor came together with a helicase like hexamer to create a rotor driving the hexamer in reverse, to synthesize ATP.

The 1997 Nobel prize in Chemistry was awarded to John Walker and Paul Boyer for solving the structure and cyclical mechanism of the ATP synthase, respectively. This amazing enzyme was also the subject of my own Ph.D. thesis, and my first love!

For #ScienceSunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
  • 3071 plusses - 418 comments - 3760 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2011-12-11 19:19:00
    Smallest rotary motor in biology, the ATP synthase. All the work done in your body is fueled by breaking a chemical bond in ATP, the “currency of energy”. Did you know that you convert your body weight (or an estimated 50 kg) of ATP per day?!

    Where does this ATP come from? It is synthesized by an incredibly sophisticated molecular machine, the ATP synthase, embedded in the inner membrane of our mitochondria. Energy from the oxidation of food results in protons being pumped across the membrane to create a proton gradient. The protons drive the rotation of a circular ring of proteins in the membrane that in turn move a central shaft. The shaft interacts sequentially with one of 3 catalytic sites within a hexamer, making ATP (little butterflies in the movie!). The ATP synthase rotates about 150 times/second

    To visualize the rotation under a microscope, a very long fluorescent rod (actin filament) was chemically attached to the central shaft. Watch real movies (not animations!) of the enzyme spinning here: http://www.k2.phys.waseda.ac.jp/F1movies/F1long.htm

    Notice the rotation is slower with longer rods. The rotor produces a torque of 40 pN nm (40 pico Newtons x nanometer), irrespective of the load. This would be the force you would need to rotate a 500 m long rod while standing at the bottom of a large swimming pool at the rate shown in the movie.

    How did this amazing rotor evolve? The hexameric structure is related to DNA helicases that rotate along the DNA double helix, using ATP to unzip the two strands apart. The H+ motor has precedence in flagella motors that use proton gradients to drive rotation of long filaments, allowing bacteria to tumble through their surroundings. At some point, a H+ driven motor came together with a helicase like hexamer to create a rotor driving the hexamer in reverse, to synthesize ATP.

    The 1997 Nobel prize in Chemistry was awarded to John Walker and Paul Boyer for solving the structure and cyclical mechanism of the ATP synthase, respectively. This amazing enzyme was also the subject of my own Ph.D. thesis, and my first love!

    For #ScienceSunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
  • 3071 plusses - 418 comments - 3760 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2011-12-11 19:19:00
    Smallest rotary motor in biology, the ATP synthase. All the work done in your body is fueled by breaking a chemical bond in ATP, the “currency of energy”. Did you know that you convert your body weight (or an estimated 50 kg) of ATP per day?!

    Where does this ATP come from? It is synthesized by an incredibly sophisticated molecular machine, the ATP synthase, embedded in the inner membrane of our mitochondria. Energy from the oxidation of food results in protons being pumped across the membrane to create a proton gradient. The protons drive the rotation of a circular ring of proteins in the membrane that in turn move a central shaft. The shaft interacts sequentially with one of 3 catalytic sites within a hexamer, making ATP (little butterflies in the movie!). The ATP synthase rotates about 150 times/second

    To visualize the rotation under a microscope, a very long fluorescent rod (actin filament) was chemically attached to the central shaft. Watch real movies (not animations!) of the enzyme spinning here: http://www.k2.phys.waseda.ac.jp/F1movies/F1long.htm

    Notice the rotation is slower with longer rods. The rotor produces a torque of 40 pN nm (40 pico Newtons x nanometer), irrespective of the load. This would be the force you would need to rotate a 500 m long rod while standing at the bottom of a large swimming pool at the rate shown in the movie.

    How did this amazing rotor evolve? The hexameric structure is related to DNA helicases that rotate along the DNA double helix, using ATP to unzip the two strands apart. The H+ motor has precedence in flagella motors that use proton gradients to drive rotation of long filaments, allowing bacteria to tumble through their surroundings. At some point, a H+ driven motor came together with a helicase like hexamer to create a rotor driving the hexamer in reverse, to synthesize ATP.

    The 1997 Nobel prize in Chemistry was awarded to John Walker and Paul Boyer for solving the structure and cyclical mechanism of the ATP synthase, respectively. This amazing enzyme was also the subject of my own Ph.D. thesis, and my first love!

    For #ScienceSunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
  • 3071 plusses - 418 comments - 3760 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2011-12-11 19:19:00
    Smallest rotary motor in biology, the ATP synthase. All the work done in your body is fueled by breaking a chemical bond in ATP, the “currency of energy”. Did you know that you convert your body weight (or an estimated 50 kg) of ATP per day?!

    Where does this ATP come from? It is synthesized by an incredibly sophisticated molecular machine, the ATP synthase, embedded in the inner membrane of our mitochondria. Energy from the oxidation of food results in protons being pumped across the membrane to create a proton gradient. The protons drive the rotation of a circular ring of proteins in the membrane that in turn move a central shaft. The shaft interacts sequentially with one of 3 catalytic sites within a hexamer, making ATP (little butterflies in the movie!). The ATP synthase rotates about 150 times/second

    To visualize the rotation under a microscope, a very long fluorescent rod (actin filament) was chemically attached to the central shaft. Watch real movies (not animations!) of the enzyme spinning here: http://www.k2.phys.waseda.ac.jp/F1movies/F1long.htm

    Notice the rotation is slower with longer rods. The rotor produces a torque of 40 pN nm (40 pico Newtons x nanometer), irrespective of the load. This would be the force you would need to rotate a 500 m long rod while standing at the bottom of a large swimming pool at the rate shown in the movie.

    How did this amazing rotor evolve? The hexameric structure is related to DNA helicases that rotate along the DNA double helix, using ATP to unzip the two strands apart. The H+ motor has precedence in flagella motors that use proton gradients to drive rotation of long filaments, allowing bacteria to tumble through their surroundings. At some point, a H+ driven motor came together with a helicase like hexamer to create a rotor driving the hexamer in reverse, to synthesize ATP.

    The 1997 Nobel prize in Chemistry was awarded to John Walker and Paul Boyer for solving the structure and cyclical mechanism of the ATP synthase, respectively. This amazing enzyme was also the subject of my own Ph.D. thesis, and my first love!

    For #ScienceSunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
  • 3071 plusses - 418 comments - 3760 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-04-30 12:20:27
    SURREAL CIRCLES: In his series Alternative Perspectives, photographer Randy Scott Slavin portrays a 360 degree view of our world by seamlessly stitching together hundreds of shots. The result is surreal art, grounded in reality. He inspires us to "go out and explore the world and take a look at the monuments and reimagine them in a different way".

    Source: http://goo.gl/2Ut69
  • 1189 plusses - 370 comments - 804 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-04-30 12:20:27
    SURREAL CIRCLES: In his series Alternative Perspectives, photographer Randy Scott Slavin portrays a 360 degree view of our world by seamlessly stitching together hundreds of shots. The result is surreal art, grounded in reality. He inspires us to "go out and explore the world and take a look at the monuments and reimagine them in a different way".

    Source: http://goo.gl/2Ut69
  • 1189 plusses - 370 comments - 804 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-04-30 12:20:27
    SURREAL CIRCLES: In his series Alternative Perspectives, photographer Randy Scott Slavin portrays a 360 degree view of our world by seamlessly stitching together hundreds of shots. The result is surreal art, grounded in reality. He inspires us to "go out and explore the world and take a look at the monuments and reimagine them in a different way".

    Source: http://goo.gl/2Ut69
  • 1189 plusses - 370 comments - 804 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-04-30 12:20:27
    SURREAL CIRCLES: In his series Alternative Perspectives, photographer Randy Scott Slavin portrays a 360 degree view of our world by seamlessly stitching together hundreds of shots. The result is surreal art, grounded in reality. He inspires us to "go out and explore the world and take a look at the monuments and reimagine them in a different way".

    Source: http://goo.gl/2Ut69
  • 1189 plusses - 370 comments - 804 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-08-25 10:12:12
    All for a Pail of Water: This touching photograph shows tribal women in India risking their lives in a human chain to reach water from an agricultural well. Did you know that 1 in 6 people on our planet lack access to clean drinking water? New research offers an elegantly simple solution: sun, lime juice and salt . No, it's not the recipe for a margarita! :)

    What is SODIS? When water in a clear plastic bottle is placed in direct sunlight for 6 hours, the heat and ultraviolet light destroys most viruses, bacteria and parasites. This technique of Solar Disinfection reduces diarrhea and cholera by 70-80%, diseases that claim 4000+ childhood deaths per day in Africa. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently showed that adding juice from half a lime per bottle significantly reduced bacterial load and speeded up the process to just 30 minutes, comparable to boiling or other methods of disinfection. Lime juice contains psoralens which form covalent crosslinks between DNA strands in the presence of sunlight, a reaction that prevents DNA replication in the pathogens.

    Lurking in the Murk: When the water drawn from rivers and boreholes is turbid, SODIS does not work well, since the microbes hide out under suspended particles of clay and silt. A study showed that adding a quarter teaspoon of table salt to the water neutralized charges on colloidal clay so that it sedimented out easily. Seeding the water with a little clay (of the type known as bentonite) actually hastens the clarification!

    #scienceeveryday FTW! Simple solutions for #Glia .

    Further (Free) Reading: http://goo.gl/QRNuO
    Photo Credit: G.N.Rao, The Hindu . http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article221561.ece
    
  • 1447 plusses - 460 comments - 584 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-08-25 10:12:12
    All for a Pail of Water: This touching photograph shows tribal women in India risking their lives in a human chain to reach water from an agricultural well. Did you know that 1 in 6 people on our planet lack access to clean drinking water? New research offers an elegantly simple solution: sun, lime juice and salt . No, it's not the recipe for a margarita! :)

    What is SODIS? When water in a clear plastic bottle is placed in direct sunlight for 6 hours, the heat and ultraviolet light destroys most viruses, bacteria and parasites. This technique of Solar Disinfection reduces diarrhea and cholera by 70-80%, diseases that claim 4000+ childhood deaths per day in Africa. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently showed that adding juice from half a lime per bottle significantly reduced bacterial load and speeded up the process to just 30 minutes, comparable to boiling or other methods of disinfection. Lime juice contains psoralens which form covalent crosslinks between DNA strands in the presence of sunlight, a reaction that prevents DNA replication in the pathogens.

    Lurking in the Murk: When the water drawn from rivers and boreholes is turbid, SODIS does not work well, since the microbes hide out under suspended particles of clay and silt. A study showed that adding a quarter teaspoon of table salt to the water neutralized charges on colloidal clay so that it sedimented out easily. Seeding the water with a little clay (of the type known as bentonite) actually hastens the clarification!

    #scienceeveryday FTW! Simple solutions for #Glia .

    Further (Free) Reading: http://goo.gl/QRNuO
    Photo Credit: G.N.Rao, The Hindu . http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article221561.ece
    
  • 1447 plusses - 460 comments - 584 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-08-25 10:12:12
    All for a Pail of Water: This touching photograph shows tribal women in India risking their lives in a human chain to reach water from an agricultural well. Did you know that 1 in 6 people on our planet lack access to clean drinking water? New research offers an elegantly simple solution: sun, lime juice and salt . No, it's not the recipe for a margarita! :)

    What is SODIS? When water in a clear plastic bottle is placed in direct sunlight for 6 hours, the heat and ultraviolet light destroys most viruses, bacteria and parasites. This technique of Solar Disinfection reduces diarrhea and cholera by 70-80%, diseases that claim 4000+ childhood deaths per day in Africa. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently showed that adding juice from half a lime per bottle significantly reduced bacterial load and speeded up the process to just 30 minutes, comparable to boiling or other methods of disinfection. Lime juice contains psoralens which form covalent crosslinks between DNA strands in the presence of sunlight, a reaction that prevents DNA replication in the pathogens.

    Lurking in the Murk: When the water drawn from rivers and boreholes is turbid, SODIS does not work well, since the microbes hide out under suspended particles of clay and silt. A study showed that adding a quarter teaspoon of table salt to the water neutralized charges on colloidal clay so that it sedimented out easily. Seeding the water with a little clay (of the type known as bentonite) actually hastens the clarification!

    #scienceeveryday FTW! Simple solutions for #Glia .

    Further (Free) Reading: http://goo.gl/QRNuO
    Photo Credit: G.N.Rao, The Hindu . http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article221561.ece
    
  • 1447 plusses - 460 comments - 584 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-08-25 10:12:12
    All for a Pail of Water: This touching photograph shows tribal women in India risking their lives in a human chain to reach water from an agricultural well. Did you know that 1 in 6 people on our planet lack access to clean drinking water? New research offers an elegantly simple solution: sun, lime juice and salt . No, it's not the recipe for a margarita! :)

    What is SODIS? When water in a clear plastic bottle is placed in direct sunlight for 6 hours, the heat and ultraviolet light destroys most viruses, bacteria and parasites. This technique of Solar Disinfection reduces diarrhea and cholera by 70-80%, diseases that claim 4000+ childhood deaths per day in Africa. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently showed that adding juice from half a lime per bottle significantly reduced bacterial load and speeded up the process to just 30 minutes, comparable to boiling or other methods of disinfection. Lime juice contains psoralens which form covalent crosslinks between DNA strands in the presence of sunlight, a reaction that prevents DNA replication in the pathogens.

    Lurking in the Murk: When the water drawn from rivers and boreholes is turbid, SODIS does not work well, since the microbes hide out under suspended particles of clay and silt. A study showed that adding a quarter teaspoon of table salt to the water neutralized charges on colloidal clay so that it sedimented out easily. Seeding the water with a little clay (of the type known as bentonite) actually hastens the clarification!

    #scienceeveryday FTW! Simple solutions for #Glia .

    Further (Free) Reading: http://goo.gl/QRNuO
    Photo Credit: G.N.Rao, The Hindu . http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article221561.ece
    
  • 1447 plusses - 460 comments - 584 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-08-25 10:12:12
    All for a Pail of Water: This touching photograph shows tribal women in India risking their lives in a human chain to reach water from an agricultural well. Did you know that 1 in 6 people on our planet lack access to clean drinking water? New research offers an elegantly simple solution: sun, lime juice and salt . No, it's not the recipe for a margarita! :)

    What is SODIS? When water in a clear plastic bottle is placed in direct sunlight for 6 hours, the heat and ultraviolet light destroys most viruses, bacteria and parasites. This technique of Solar Disinfection reduces diarrhea and cholera by 70-80%, diseases that claim 4000+ childhood deaths per day in Africa. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently showed that adding juice from half a lime per bottle significantly reduced bacterial load and speeded up the process to just 30 minutes, comparable to boiling or other methods of disinfection. Lime juice contains psoralens which form covalent crosslinks between DNA strands in the presence of sunlight, a reaction that prevents DNA replication in the pathogens.

    Lurking in the Murk: When the water drawn from rivers and boreholes is turbid, SODIS does not work well, since the microbes hide out under suspended particles of clay and silt. A study showed that adding a quarter teaspoon of table salt to the water neutralized charges on colloidal clay so that it sedimented out easily. Seeding the water with a little clay (of the type known as bentonite) actually hastens the clarification!

    #scienceeveryday FTW! Simple solutions for #Glia .

    Further (Free) Reading: http://goo.gl/QRNuO
    Photo Credit: G.N.Rao, The Hindu . http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article221561.ece
    
  • 1447 plusses - 460 comments - 584 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-04-08 03:36:04
    Destination: Lítla Dímun This cloud covered muffin top is in the Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark. Population: humans (0), European Storm Petrels (5000 pairs) and Atlantic Puffins (10,000 pairs). There are also herds of sheep that are rounded up each fall and lowered using nets to waiting skiffs below.
  • 1126 plusses - 370 comments - 475 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-04-08 03:36:04
    Destination: Lítla Dímun This cloud covered muffin top is in the Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark. Population: humans (0), European Storm Petrels (5000 pairs) and Atlantic Puffins (10,000 pairs). There are also herds of sheep that are rounded up each fall and lowered using nets to waiting skiffs below.
  • 1126 plusses - 370 comments - 475 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-04-08 03:36:04
    Destination: Lítla Dímun This cloud covered muffin top is in the Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark. Population: humans (0), European Storm Petrels (5000 pairs) and Atlantic Puffins (10,000 pairs). There are also herds of sheep that are rounded up each fall and lowered using nets to waiting skiffs below.
  • 1126 plusses - 370 comments - 475 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-04-08 03:36:04
    Destination: Lítla Dímun This cloud covered muffin top is in the Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark. Population: humans (0), European Storm Petrels (5000 pairs) and Atlantic Puffins (10,000 pairs). There are also herds of sheep that are rounded up each fall and lowered using nets to waiting skiffs below.
  • 1126 plusses - 370 comments - 475 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-08-26 16:28:28
    Spiders on Speed: NASA scientists inexplicably investigated web spinning by stoned spiders. Turns out that the geometrical structure of a web provides a good measure of the condition of its central nervous system.

    LSD: Webs took on a minimalist structure.

    Marijuana: Spiders made a reasonable stab at spinning webs but appeared to lose concentration about half-way through.

    Amphetamine ("speed"): Webs retained their size but showed an increase in spiral spacing and radius irregularity, as well as a decrease in building efficiency. Spiders spin their webs "with great gusto, but apparently without much planning leaving large holes", according to New Scientist magazine.

    Caffeine: makes spiders incapable of spinning anything better than a few threads strung together at random.

    Chloral hydrate (an ingredient of sleeping pills): spiders "drop off before they even get started".

    In slightly more relevant work, spiders were shown to spin perfectly good webs in microgravityhttp://goo.gl/0T7lK

    Source: http://www.trinity.edu/jdunn/spiderdrugs.htm
    Pubmed: http://goo.gl/I3U1Q

    Extrapolation to Humans: Stunning "under the influence" self portraits of artist Bryan Lewis Saunders in +Feisal Kamil's post here ▶ http://goo.gl/3xYSy  Warning: Do not try this at home!

    Confession: Since I'm jet lagged and awake since midnight, I've been abusing caffeine. I won't post a picture of my web. 

    Hilarious "mocumentary": Spiders On Drugs

    #sciencesunday +ScienceSunday #spidersunday  
  • 751 plusses - 215 comments - 654 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-08-26 16:28:28
    Spiders on Speed: NASA scientists inexplicably investigated web spinning by stoned spiders. Turns out that the geometrical structure of a web provides a good measure of the condition of its central nervous system.

    LSD: Webs took on a minimalist structure.

    Marijuana: Spiders made a reasonable stab at spinning webs but appeared to lose concentration about half-way through.

    Amphetamine ("speed"): Webs retained their size but showed an increase in spiral spacing and radius irregularity, as well as a decrease in building efficiency. Spiders spin their webs "with great gusto, but apparently without much planning leaving large holes", according to New Scientist magazine.

    Caffeine: makes spiders incapable of spinning anything better than a few threads strung together at random.

    Chloral hydrate (an ingredient of sleeping pills): spiders "drop off before they even get started".

    In slightly more relevant work, spiders were shown to spin perfectly good webs in microgravityhttp://goo.gl/0T7lK

    Source: http://www.trinity.edu/jdunn/spiderdrugs.htm
    Pubmed: http://goo.gl/I3U1Q

    Extrapolation to Humans: Stunning "under the influence" self portraits of artist Bryan Lewis Saunders in +Feisal Kamil's post here ▶ http://goo.gl/3xYSy  Warning: Do not try this at home!

    Confession: Since I'm jet lagged and awake since midnight, I've been abusing caffeine. I won't post a picture of my web. 

    Hilarious "mocumentary": Spiders On Drugs

    #sciencesunday +ScienceSunday #spidersunday  
  • 751 plusses - 215 comments - 654 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-08-26 16:28:28
    Spiders on Speed: NASA scientists inexplicably investigated web spinning by stoned spiders. Turns out that the geometrical structure of a web provides a good measure of the condition of its central nervous system.

    LSD: Webs took on a minimalist structure.

    Marijuana: Spiders made a reasonable stab at spinning webs but appeared to lose concentration about half-way through.

    Amphetamine ("speed"): Webs retained their size but showed an increase in spiral spacing and radius irregularity, as well as a decrease in building efficiency. Spiders spin their webs "with great gusto, but apparently without much planning leaving large holes", according to New Scientist magazine.

    Caffeine: makes spiders incapable of spinning anything better than a few threads strung together at random.

    Chloral hydrate (an ingredient of sleeping pills): spiders "drop off before they even get started".

    In slightly more relevant work, spiders were shown to spin perfectly good webs in microgravityhttp://goo.gl/0T7lK

    Source: http://www.trinity.edu/jdunn/spiderdrugs.htm
    Pubmed: http://goo.gl/I3U1Q

    Extrapolation to Humans: Stunning "under the influence" self portraits of artist Bryan Lewis Saunders in +Feisal Kamil's post here ▶ http://goo.gl/3xYSy  Warning: Do not try this at home!

    Confession: Since I'm jet lagged and awake since midnight, I've been abusing caffeine. I won't post a picture of my web. 

    Hilarious "mocumentary": Spiders On Drugs

    #sciencesunday +ScienceSunday #spidersunday  
  • 751 plusses - 215 comments - 654 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-08-26 16:28:28
    Spiders on Speed: NASA scientists inexplicably investigated web spinning by stoned spiders. Turns out that the geometrical structure of a web provides a good measure of the condition of its central nervous system.

    LSD: Webs took on a minimalist structure.

    Marijuana: Spiders made a reasonable stab at spinning webs but appeared to lose concentration about half-way through.

    Amphetamine ("speed"): Webs retained their size but showed an increase in spiral spacing and radius irregularity, as well as a decrease in building efficiency. Spiders spin their webs "with great gusto, but apparently without much planning leaving large holes", according to New Scientist magazine.

    Caffeine: makes spiders incapable of spinning anything better than a few threads strung together at random.

    Chloral hydrate (an ingredient of sleeping pills): spiders "drop off before they even get started".

    In slightly more relevant work, spiders were shown to spin perfectly good webs in microgravityhttp://goo.gl/0T7lK

    Source: http://www.trinity.edu/jdunn/spiderdrugs.htm
    Pubmed: http://goo.gl/I3U1Q

    Extrapolation to Humans: Stunning "under the influence" self portraits of artist Bryan Lewis Saunders in +Feisal Kamil's post here ▶ http://goo.gl/3xYSy  Warning: Do not try this at home!

    Confession: Since I'm jet lagged and awake since midnight, I've been abusing caffeine. I won't post a picture of my web. 

    Hilarious "mocumentary": Spiders On Drugs

    #sciencesunday +ScienceSunday #spidersunday  
  • 751 plusses - 215 comments - 654 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-08-26 16:28:28
    Spiders on Speed: NASA scientists inexplicably investigated web spinning by stoned spiders. Turns out that the geometrical structure of a web provides a good measure of the condition of its central nervous system.

    LSD: Webs took on a minimalist structure.

    Marijuana: Spiders made a reasonable stab at spinning webs but appeared to lose concentration about half-way through.

    Amphetamine ("speed"): Webs retained their size but showed an increase in spiral spacing and radius irregularity, as well as a decrease in building efficiency. Spiders spin their webs "with great gusto, but apparently without much planning leaving large holes", according to New Scientist magazine.

    Caffeine: makes spiders incapable of spinning anything better than a few threads strung together at random.

    Chloral hydrate (an ingredient of sleeping pills): spiders "drop off before they even get started".

    In slightly more relevant work, spiders were shown to spin perfectly good webs in microgravityhttp://goo.gl/0T7lK

    Source: http://www.trinity.edu/jdunn/spiderdrugs.htm
    Pubmed: http://goo.gl/I3U1Q

    Extrapolation to Humans: Stunning "under the influence" self portraits of artist Bryan Lewis Saunders in +Feisal Kamil's post here ▶ http://goo.gl/3xYSy  Warning: Do not try this at home!

    Confession: Since I'm jet lagged and awake since midnight, I've been abusing caffeine. I won't post a picture of my web. 

    Hilarious "mocumentary": Spiders On Drugs

    #sciencesunday +ScienceSunday #spidersunday  
  • 751 plusses - 215 comments - 654 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-05 16:31:58
    The Double Helix: Top Ten Amazing Facts about DNA!

    • You have an estimated 3 billion DNA bases in your genome.

    • Your genome would occupy about 3 gigabytes of computer storage space or fill 200 1,000-page New York City telephone directories.

    • It would take a person typing 60 words per minute, eight hours a day, around 50 years to type out all the letters of your genome.

    • If unwound and tied together, the strands of DNA in one cell would stretch almost six feet but would be only 50 trillionths of an inch wide.

    • If you unwrap all the DNA you have in all your cells it would reach to the sun and back over 600 times (100 trillion times six feet divided by 92 million miles).

    • You have an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 genes, but they only make up 2-3% of your genome. We are just starting to understand the function of your remaining “junk”.

    • Over 99.9% of your DNA sequence is the same as mine!

    • You have 1-4% Neanderthal DNA; some of you may have more :)

    • The first human genome was patched together over 13 years; today, your genome can be commercially sequenced in 2-3 months.

    • Costs for sequencing the genome are falling exponentially: from USD 3 billion in 2001 to USD1,000 today and may fall by another factor of ten!

    So, what's in your genes?
    ___________________________________________________________
    Awesome enough for you? Want more? Check out: http://www.eyeondna.com/2007/08/20/100-facts-about-dna/
    http://bionumbers.hms.harvard.edu/search.aspx?log=y&task=searchbytrmorg&trm=dna&time=2012%2f01%2f28+16%3a12%3a18.418
    Thanks to +Dunken K Bliths for generating this wonderful gif!
    Thank you +Konstantin Makov , for finding this hypnotic image :)
    #sciencesunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
  • 633 plusses - 152 comments - 660 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-05 16:31:58
    The Double Helix: Top Ten Amazing Facts about DNA!

    • You have an estimated 3 billion DNA bases in your genome.

    • Your genome would occupy about 3 gigabytes of computer storage space or fill 200 1,000-page New York City telephone directories.

    • It would take a person typing 60 words per minute, eight hours a day, around 50 years to type out all the letters of your genome.

    • If unwound and tied together, the strands of DNA in one cell would stretch almost six feet but would be only 50 trillionths of an inch wide.

    • If you unwrap all the DNA you have in all your cells it would reach to the sun and back over 600 times (100 trillion times six feet divided by 92 million miles).

    • You have an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 genes, but they only make up 2-3% of your genome. We are just starting to understand the function of your remaining “junk”.

    • Over 99.9% of your DNA sequence is the same as mine!

    • You have 1-4% Neanderthal DNA; some of you may have more :)

    • The first human genome was patched together over 13 years; today, your genome can be commercially sequenced in 2-3 months.

    • Costs for sequencing the genome are falling exponentially: from USD 3 billion in 2001 to USD1,000 today and may fall by another factor of ten!

    So, what's in your genes?
    ___________________________________________________________
    Awesome enough for you? Want more? Check out: http://www.eyeondna.com/2007/08/20/100-facts-about-dna/
    http://bionumbers.hms.harvard.edu/search.aspx?log=y&task=searchbytrmorg&trm=dna&time=2012%2f01%2f28+16%3a12%3a18.418
    Thanks to +Dunken K Bliths for generating this wonderful gif!
    Thank you +Konstantin Makov , for finding this hypnotic image :)
    #sciencesunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
  • 633 plusses - 152 comments - 660 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-05 16:31:58
    The Double Helix: Top Ten Amazing Facts about DNA!

    • You have an estimated 3 billion DNA bases in your genome.

    • Your genome would occupy about 3 gigabytes of computer storage space or fill 200 1,000-page New York City telephone directories.

    • It would take a person typing 60 words per minute, eight hours a day, around 50 years to type out all the letters of your genome.

    • If unwound and tied together, the strands of DNA in one cell would stretch almost six feet but would be only 50 trillionths of an inch wide.

    • If you unwrap all the DNA you have in all your cells it would reach to the sun and back over 600 times (100 trillion times six feet divided by 92 million miles).

    • You have an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 genes, but they only make up 2-3% of your genome. We are just starting to understand the function of your remaining “junk”.

    • Over 99.9% of your DNA sequence is the same as mine!

    • You have 1-4% Neanderthal DNA; some of you may have more :)

    • The first human genome was patched together over 13 years; today, your genome can be commercially sequenced in 2-3 months.

    • Costs for sequencing the genome are falling exponentially: from USD 3 billion in 2001 to USD1,000 today and may fall by another factor of ten!

    So, what's in your genes?
    ___________________________________________________________
    Awesome enough for you? Want more? Check out: http://www.eyeondna.com/2007/08/20/100-facts-about-dna/
    http://bionumbers.hms.harvard.edu/search.aspx?log=y&task=searchbytrmorg&trm=dna&time=2012%2f01%2f28+16%3a12%3a18.418
    Thanks to +Dunken K Bliths for generating this wonderful gif!
    Thank you +Konstantin Makov , for finding this hypnotic image :)
    #sciencesunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
  • 633 plusses - 152 comments - 660 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-05 16:31:58
    The Double Helix: Top Ten Amazing Facts about DNA!

    • You have an estimated 3 billion DNA bases in your genome.

    • Your genome would occupy about 3 gigabytes of computer storage space or fill 200 1,000-page New York City telephone directories.

    • It would take a person typing 60 words per minute, eight hours a day, around 50 years to type out all the letters of your genome.

    • If unwound and tied together, the strands of DNA in one cell would stretch almost six feet but would be only 50 trillionths of an inch wide.

    • If you unwrap all the DNA you have in all your cells it would reach to the sun and back over 600 times (100 trillion times six feet divided by 92 million miles).

    • You have an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 genes, but they only make up 2-3% of your genome. We are just starting to understand the function of your remaining “junk”.

    • Over 99.9% of your DNA sequence is the same as mine!

    • You have 1-4% Neanderthal DNA; some of you may have more :)

    • The first human genome was patched together over 13 years; today, your genome can be commercially sequenced in 2-3 months.

    • Costs for sequencing the genome are falling exponentially: from USD 3 billion in 2001 to USD1,000 today and may fall by another factor of ten!

    So, what's in your genes?
    ___________________________________________________________
    Awesome enough for you? Want more? Check out: http://www.eyeondna.com/2007/08/20/100-facts-about-dna/
    http://bionumbers.hms.harvard.edu/search.aspx?log=y&task=searchbytrmorg&trm=dna&time=2012%2f01%2f28+16%3a12%3a18.418
    Thanks to +Dunken K Bliths for generating this wonderful gif!
    Thank you +Konstantin Makov , for finding this hypnotic image :)
    #sciencesunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
  • 633 plusses - 152 comments - 660 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-08 13:58:09
    Bug Eyes are Beautiful! If the eyes are a window to our souls, then these gorgeous compound eyes will surely win you over.

    • Each tiny facet (ommatidium) has a lens leading into a crystalline cone with light sensitive cells arranged like the segments of an orange. Individual eyes are insulated from others by a lining of pigment. The final image is a mosaic of light and dark dots, like the halftone illustrations in a newspaper. More ommatidia give a finer pattern of dots and a better resolution. Even so, the resolution of insect eyes is nowhere near that of ours: images we can separate at 60 feet would have to be one foot away to be distinguished by a honey bee.

    • The big advantage to compound eyes is that they pick up movements very well because ommatidia can quickly turn on and off to give a flicker effect. Ever tried to swat a fly? Insects can see ultraviolet too.

    These images were taken by photographer +Thomas Shahan . Checkout more insect macrophotography at: http://thomasshahan.com/photos

    More on compound eyes: http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/C/CompoundEye.html
  • 733 plusses - 137 comments - 451 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-08 13:58:09
    Bug Eyes are Beautiful! If the eyes are a window to our souls, then these gorgeous compound eyes will surely win you over.

    • Each tiny facet (ommatidium) has a lens leading into a crystalline cone with light sensitive cells arranged like the segments of an orange. Individual eyes are insulated from others by a lining of pigment. The final image is a mosaic of light and dark dots, like the halftone illustrations in a newspaper. More ommatidia give a finer pattern of dots and a better resolution. Even so, the resolution of insect eyes is nowhere near that of ours: images we can separate at 60 feet would have to be one foot away to be distinguished by a honey bee.

    • The big advantage to compound eyes is that they pick up movements very well because ommatidia can quickly turn on and off to give a flicker effect. Ever tried to swat a fly? Insects can see ultraviolet too.

    These images were taken by photographer +Thomas Shahan . Checkout more insect macrophotography at: http://thomasshahan.com/photos

    More on compound eyes: http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/C/CompoundEye.html
  • 733 plusses - 137 comments - 451 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-08 13:58:09
    Bug Eyes are Beautiful! If the eyes are a window to our souls, then these gorgeous compound eyes will surely win you over.

    • Each tiny facet (ommatidium) has a lens leading into a crystalline cone with light sensitive cells arranged like the segments of an orange. Individual eyes are insulated from others by a lining of pigment. The final image is a mosaic of light and dark dots, like the halftone illustrations in a newspaper. More ommatidia give a finer pattern of dots and a better resolution. Even so, the resolution of insect eyes is nowhere near that of ours: images we can separate at 60 feet would have to be one foot away to be distinguished by a honey bee.

    • The big advantage to compound eyes is that they pick up movements very well because ommatidia can quickly turn on and off to give a flicker effect. Ever tried to swat a fly? Insects can see ultraviolet too.

    These images were taken by photographer +Thomas Shahan . Checkout more insect macrophotography at: http://thomasshahan.com/photos

    More on compound eyes: http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/C/CompoundEye.html
  • 733 plusses - 137 comments - 451 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-08 13:58:09
    Bug Eyes are Beautiful! If the eyes are a window to our souls, then these gorgeous compound eyes will surely win you over.

    • Each tiny facet (ommatidium) has a lens leading into a crystalline cone with light sensitive cells arranged like the segments of an orange. Individual eyes are insulated from others by a lining of pigment. The final image is a mosaic of light and dark dots, like the halftone illustrations in a newspaper. More ommatidia give a finer pattern of dots and a better resolution. Even so, the resolution of insect eyes is nowhere near that of ours: images we can separate at 60 feet would have to be one foot away to be distinguished by a honey bee.

    • The big advantage to compound eyes is that they pick up movements very well because ommatidia can quickly turn on and off to give a flicker effect. Ever tried to swat a fly? Insects can see ultraviolet too.

    These images were taken by photographer +Thomas Shahan . Checkout more insect macrophotography at: http://thomasshahan.com/photos

    More on compound eyes: http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/C/CompoundEye.html
  • 733 plusses - 137 comments - 451 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-01-23 13:55:06
    Talent and humor, ¡Bravo! Slovakian musician Lukáš Kmit was playing a lovely piece on his viola when he was interrupted by a Nokia ringtone (0:40 into the video). What a charming, humorous response!

    P.S. The Nokia ringtone originated from a classic 1902 piece by Spanish guitarist Francisco Tárrega called “Gran Vals.” It is lovely: Gran Vals - Francisco Tárrega

    Source: http://mashable.com/2012/01/22/nokia-ringtone-interrupts/
  • 636 plusses - 62 comments - 495 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-01-23 13:55:06
    Talent and humor, ¡Bravo! Slovakian musician Lukáš Kmit was playing a lovely piece on his viola when he was interrupted by a Nokia ringtone (0:40 into the video). What a charming, humorous response!

    P.S. The Nokia ringtone originated from a classic 1902 piece by Spanish guitarist Francisco Tárrega called “Gran Vals.” It is lovely: Gran Vals - Francisco Tárrega

    Source: http://mashable.com/2012/01/22/nokia-ringtone-interrupts/
  • 636 plusses - 62 comments - 495 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-01-23 13:55:06
    Talent and humor, ¡Bravo! Slovakian musician Lukáš Kmit was playing a lovely piece on his viola when he was interrupted by a Nokia ringtone (0:40 into the video). What a charming, humorous response!

    P.S. The Nokia ringtone originated from a classic 1902 piece by Spanish guitarist Francisco Tárrega called “Gran Vals.” It is lovely: Gran Vals - Francisco Tárrega

    Source: http://mashable.com/2012/01/22/nokia-ringtone-interrupts/
  • 636 plusses - 62 comments - 495 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-01-23 13:55:06
    Talent and humor, ¡Bravo! Slovakian musician Lukáš Kmit was playing a lovely piece on his viola when he was interrupted by a Nokia ringtone (0:40 into the video). What a charming, humorous response!

    P.S. The Nokia ringtone originated from a classic 1902 piece by Spanish guitarist Francisco Tárrega called “Gran Vals.” It is lovely: Gran Vals - Francisco Tárrega

    Source: http://mashable.com/2012/01/22/nokia-ringtone-interrupts/
  • 636 plusses - 62 comments - 495 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-03-08 13:34:41
    First Women in STEM: A Tribute to International Women’s Day. Here is a celebration of some of the brilliant women who changed the course of history for the better. Women of G+ , do you have stories of your own to share? What personal achievement are you proud of, whether in your family, community or profession?

    Marie Curie: First woman to receive a Nobel Prize, once for Physics (1903) and then again for Chemistry (1911), she pioneered the study of radioactivity. She died of aplastic anemia brought on by lethal exposure to radiation. Despite her two Nobels, she was not elected to the French Academy of Sciences by two votes.

    Mary Kies. Hats off to the First woman granted a US patent (1809) for a process to weave straw with silk or thread in hat making. This was a time when women could not legally own property independent of their husbands. Her patent is credited with boosting American industry at a time when Napoleon imposed a blockade on export of European goods.

    Ada Lovelace: Charles Babbage called her Enchantress of Numbers, History calls her First Programmer. Daughter of Lord Byron, in 1843, her notes on the Analytical Engine are credited as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine.

    Elizabeth Garrett Anderson: physician and feminist, first woman qualified to practice in England (1865), created a medical school for women, first Dean of a medical school, first woman to be elected to a school board and first woman mayor and magistrate in Britain. The day she passed the licensing exam, with highest marks, the Society of Apothecaries immediately amended their rules to prevent other women from obtaining a license.

    Florence Sabin: First woman faculty at Johns Hopkins medical school (MD, 1900 from the first batch of female medical students admitted), she was also first woman to achieve Professorship there (1917), to be elected to the National Academy of Science, and head a department at Rockefeller Institute (she was passed over for Department Head at Hopkins, in favor of her own student, a male).

    Valentina Tereshkova: Russian cosmonaut who was the First woman in space, in 1963, aboard Vostok 6. She completed 48 orbits in 71 hours. Her call sign was Chaika (seagull), a nickname that she carries to this day. She turned 75 two days ago.

    Whom did I leave out of this very short and inadequate list?
  • 677 plusses - 189 comments - 401 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-03-08 13:34:41
    First Women in STEM: A Tribute to International Women’s Day. Here is a celebration of some of the brilliant women who changed the course of history for the better. Women of G+ , do you have stories of your own to share? What personal achievement are you proud of, whether in your family, community or profession?

    Marie Curie: First woman to receive a Nobel Prize, once for Physics (1903) and then again for Chemistry (1911), she pioneered the study of radioactivity. She died of aplastic anemia brought on by lethal exposure to radiation. Despite her two Nobels, she was not elected to the French Academy of Sciences by two votes.

    Mary Kies. Hats off to the First woman granted a US patent (1809) for a process to weave straw with silk or thread in hat making. This was a time when women could not legally own property independent of their husbands. Her patent is credited with boosting American industry at a time when Napoleon imposed a blockade on export of European goods.

    Ada Lovelace: Charles Babbage called her Enchantress of Numbers, History calls her First Programmer. Daughter of Lord Byron, in 1843, her notes on the Analytical Engine are credited as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine.

    Elizabeth Garrett Anderson: physician and feminist, first woman qualified to practice in England (1865), created a medical school for women, first Dean of a medical school, first woman to be elected to a school board and first woman mayor and magistrate in Britain. The day she passed the licensing exam, with highest marks, the Society of Apothecaries immediately amended their rules to prevent other women from obtaining a license.

    Florence Sabin: First woman faculty at Johns Hopkins medical school (MD, 1900 from the first batch of female medical students admitted), she was also first woman to achieve Professorship there (1917), to be elected to the National Academy of Science, and head a department at Rockefeller Institute (she was passed over for Department Head at Hopkins, in favor of her own student, a male).

    Valentina Tereshkova: Russian cosmonaut who was the First woman in space, in 1963, aboard Vostok 6. She completed 48 orbits in 71 hours. Her call sign was Chaika (seagull), a nickname that she carries to this day. She turned 75 two days ago.

    Whom did I leave out of this very short and inadequate list?
  • 677 plusses - 189 comments - 401 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-03-08 13:34:41
    First Women in STEM: A Tribute to International Women’s Day. Here is a celebration of some of the brilliant women who changed the course of history for the better. Women of G+ , do you have stories of your own to share? What personal achievement are you proud of, whether in your family, community or profession?

    Marie Curie: First woman to receive a Nobel Prize, once for Physics (1903) and then again for Chemistry (1911), she pioneered the study of radioactivity. She died of aplastic anemia brought on by lethal exposure to radiation. Despite her two Nobels, she was not elected to the French Academy of Sciences by two votes.

    Mary Kies. Hats off to the First woman granted a US patent (1809) for a process to weave straw with silk or thread in hat making. This was a time when women could not legally own property independent of their husbands. Her patent is credited with boosting American industry at a time when Napoleon imposed a blockade on export of European goods.

    Ada Lovelace: Charles Babbage called her Enchantress of Numbers, History calls her First Programmer. Daughter of Lord Byron, in 1843, her notes on the Analytical Engine are credited as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine.

    Elizabeth Garrett Anderson: physician and feminist, first woman qualified to practice in England (1865), created a medical school for women, first Dean of a medical school, first woman to be elected to a school board and first woman mayor and magistrate in Britain. The day she passed the licensing exam, with highest marks, the Society of Apothecaries immediately amended their rules to prevent other women from obtaining a license.

    Florence Sabin: First woman faculty at Johns Hopkins medical school (MD, 1900 from the first batch of female medical students admitted), she was also first woman to achieve Professorship there (1917), to be elected to the National Academy of Science, and head a department at Rockefeller Institute (she was passed over for Department Head at Hopkins, in favor of her own student, a male).

    Valentina Tereshkova: Russian cosmonaut who was the First woman in space, in 1963, aboard Vostok 6. She completed 48 orbits in 71 hours. Her call sign was Chaika (seagull), a nickname that she carries to this day. She turned 75 two days ago.

    Whom did I leave out of this very short and inadequate list?
  • 677 plusses - 189 comments - 401 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-03-08 13:34:41
    First Women in STEM: A Tribute to International Women’s Day. Here is a celebration of some of the brilliant women who changed the course of history for the better. Women of G+ , do you have stories of your own to share? What personal achievement are you proud of, whether in your family, community or profession?

    Marie Curie: First woman to receive a Nobel Prize, once for Physics (1903) and then again for Chemistry (1911), she pioneered the study of radioactivity. She died of aplastic anemia brought on by lethal exposure to radiation. Despite her two Nobels, she was not elected to the French Academy of Sciences by two votes.

    Mary Kies. Hats off to the First woman granted a US patent (1809) for a process to weave straw with silk or thread in hat making. This was a time when women could not legally own property independent of their husbands. Her patent is credited with boosting American industry at a time when Napoleon imposed a blockade on export of European goods.

    Ada Lovelace: Charles Babbage called her Enchantress of Numbers, History calls her First Programmer. Daughter of Lord Byron, in 1843, her notes on the Analytical Engine are credited as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine.

    Elizabeth Garrett Anderson: physician and feminist, first woman qualified to practice in England (1865), created a medical school for women, first Dean of a medical school, first woman to be elected to a school board and first woman mayor and magistrate in Britain. The day she passed the licensing exam, with highest marks, the Society of Apothecaries immediately amended their rules to prevent other women from obtaining a license.

    Florence Sabin: First woman faculty at Johns Hopkins medical school (MD, 1900 from the first batch of female medical students admitted), she was also first woman to achieve Professorship there (1917), to be elected to the National Academy of Science, and head a department at Rockefeller Institute (she was passed over for Department Head at Hopkins, in favor of her own student, a male).

    Valentina Tereshkova: Russian cosmonaut who was the First woman in space, in 1963, aboard Vostok 6. She completed 48 orbits in 71 hours. Her call sign was Chaika (seagull), a nickname that she carries to this day. She turned 75 two days ago.

    Whom did I leave out of this very short and inadequate list?
  • 677 plusses - 189 comments - 401 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-04-11 21:45:27
    On The Shoulders of Giants

    ♀ A sepia print of an Indian woman, a Japanese woman and a woman from Syria, dated 1885. What do they have in common? Extraordinarily, each was the first licensed female medical doctor in their country of origin. They were trained at the Women's Medical College in Pennsylvania, the first of its kind in the country. This was a time before women had the right to vote. If they did attend college at all, it was at the risk of contracting "neuralgia, uterine disease, hysteria, and other derangements of the nervous system” (according to Harvard gynecologist Edward H. Clarke). 

    An all-woman medical school was first proposed in 1846, supported by the Quakers and the feminist movement. Dr. Ellwood Harvey, one of the early teaching faculty, daringly smuggled out a slave, Ann Maria Weems, dressed as a male buggy driver, from right outside the White House. With his reward money, he bought his students a  papier maché dissection mannequin. Eventually, poverty forced him to quit teaching, but he still helped out with odd jobs. What a magnificent man!  

    Fate and fortune were to buffet Ms. Joshi's life. Married at age 9 to a man 11 years older, her husband turned out to be surprisingly progressive. After she lost her first child at age 14, she vowed to render to her "poor suffering country women the true medical aid they so sadly stand in need of and which they would rather die than accept at the hands of a male physician". She was first offered a scholarship by a missionary on condition that she converted to Christianity. When she demurred, a wealthy socialite from New Jersey stepped in and financed her education. She is believed to be the first Hindu woman to set foot on American soil. I didn't arrive until 1983 ;)

    Times were tough then. The fate of these three intrepid pioneers was a sad one. Joshi died of tuberculosis in India at the age of 21, without ever practicing. Fittingly, her husband sent her ashes back to America. Islambouli was not heard of again, likely because she was never allowed to practice in her home country. Although Okami rose to the position of head of gynecology at a Tokyo hospital, she resigned two years later when the Emperor of Japan refused to meet her because she was a woman. 

    Times have changed. My own mother was married at the age of 13 to a man also 11 years her senior. My father recalls helping my mother with her geography homework in high school. She never did attend college, despite being a charismatic woman with quicksilver wit and efficiency. Little wonder then, when I was accepted into graduate school in the US, unmarried and 21 years young, my parents staunchly stood behind me against the dire predictions of friends and relatives ("She'll come back with a yellow haired American!" "Haven't you read Cosmopolitan magazine? They are all perverts there!"). Happily, I escaped perversion, earned my doctoral degree and even gained a supportive spouse of my own. In 2004, I became only the 103rd woman to be promoted to Professor in the 111-year history of the Johns Hopkins medical school, and the first in my department, the oldest Physiology department in the country. If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants

    #STEMwomen   #ScienceEveryday  

    More reading: http://www.pri.org/stories/2013-07-15/historical-photos-circulating-depict-women-medical-pioneers
  • 603 plusses - 149 comments - 452 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-04-11 21:45:27
    On The Shoulders of Giants

    ♀ A sepia print of an Indian woman, a Japanese woman and a woman from Syria, dated 1885. What do they have in common? Extraordinarily, each was the first licensed female medical doctor in their country of origin. They were trained at the Women's Medical College in Pennsylvania, the first of its kind in the country. This was a time before women had the right to vote. If they did attend college at all, it was at the risk of contracting "neuralgia, uterine disease, hysteria, and other derangements of the nervous system” (according to Harvard gynecologist Edward H. Clarke). 

    An all-woman medical school was first proposed in 1846, supported by the Quakers and the feminist movement. Dr. Ellwood Harvey, one of the early teaching faculty, daringly smuggled out a slave, Ann Maria Weems, dressed as a male buggy driver, from right outside the White House. With his reward money, he bought his students a  papier maché dissection mannequin. Eventually, poverty forced him to quit teaching, but he still helped out with odd jobs. What a magnificent man!  

    Fate and fortune were to buffet Ms. Joshi's life. Married at age 9 to a man 11 years older, her husband turned out to be surprisingly progressive. After she lost her first child at age 14, she vowed to render to her "poor suffering country women the true medical aid they so sadly stand in need of and which they would rather die than accept at the hands of a male physician". She was first offered a scholarship by a missionary on condition that she converted to Christianity. When she demurred, a wealthy socialite from New Jersey stepped in and financed her education. She is believed to be the first Hindu woman to set foot on American soil. I didn't arrive until 1983 ;)

    Times were tough then. The fate of these three intrepid pioneers was a sad one. Joshi died of tuberculosis in India at the age of 21, without ever practicing. Fittingly, her husband sent her ashes back to America. Islambouli was not heard of again, likely because she was never allowed to practice in her home country. Although Okami rose to the position of head of gynecology at a Tokyo hospital, she resigned two years later when the Emperor of Japan refused to meet her because she was a woman. 

    Times have changed. My own mother was married at the age of 13 to a man also 11 years her senior. My father recalls helping my mother with her geography homework in high school. She never did attend college, despite being a charismatic woman with quicksilver wit and efficiency. Little wonder then, when I was accepted into graduate school in the US, unmarried and 21 years young, my parents staunchly stood behind me against the dire predictions of friends and relatives ("She'll come back with a yellow haired American!" "Haven't you read Cosmopolitan magazine? They are all perverts there!"). Happily, I escaped perversion, earned my doctoral degree and even gained a supportive spouse of my own. In 2004, I became only the 103rd woman to be promoted to Professor in the 111-year history of the Johns Hopkins medical school, and the first in my department, the oldest Physiology department in the country. If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants

    #STEMwomen   #ScienceEveryday  

    More reading: http://www.pri.org/stories/2013-07-15/historical-photos-circulating-depict-women-medical-pioneers
  • 603 plusses - 149 comments - 452 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-04-11 21:45:27
    On The Shoulders of Giants

    ♀ A sepia print of an Indian woman, a Japanese woman and a woman from Syria, dated 1885. What do they have in common? Extraordinarily, each was the first licensed female medical doctor in their country of origin. They were trained at the Women's Medical College in Pennsylvania, the first of its kind in the country. This was a time before women had the right to vote. If they did attend college at all, it was at the risk of contracting "neuralgia, uterine disease, hysteria, and other derangements of the nervous system” (according to Harvard gynecologist Edward H. Clarke). 

    An all-woman medical school was first proposed in 1846, supported by the Quakers and the feminist movement. Dr. Ellwood Harvey, one of the early teaching faculty, daringly smuggled out a slave, Ann Maria Weems, dressed as a male buggy driver, from right outside the White House. With his reward money, he bought his students a  papier maché dissection mannequin. Eventually, poverty forced him to quit teaching, but he still helped out with odd jobs. What a magnificent man!  

    Fate and fortune were to buffet Ms. Joshi's life. Married at age 9 to a man 11 years older, her husband turned out to be surprisingly progressive. After she lost her first child at age 14, she vowed to render to her "poor suffering country women the true medical aid they so sadly stand in need of and which they would rather die than accept at the hands of a male physician". She was first offered a scholarship by a missionary on condition that she converted to Christianity. When she demurred, a wealthy socialite from New Jersey stepped in and financed her education. She is believed to be the first Hindu woman to set foot on American soil. I didn't arrive until 1983 ;)

    Times were tough then. The fate of these three intrepid pioneers was a sad one. Joshi died of tuberculosis in India at the age of 21, without ever practicing. Fittingly, her husband sent her ashes back to America. Islambouli was not heard of again, likely because she was never allowed to practice in her home country. Although Okami rose to the position of head of gynecology at a Tokyo hospital, she resigned two years later when the Emperor of Japan refused to meet her because she was a woman. 

    Times have changed. My own mother was married at the age of 13 to a man also 11 years her senior. My father recalls helping my mother with her geography homework in high school. She never did attend college, despite being a charismatic woman with quicksilver wit and efficiency. Little wonder then, when I was accepted into graduate school in the US, unmarried and 21 years young, my parents staunchly stood behind me against the dire predictions of friends and relatives ("She'll come back with a yellow haired American!" "Haven't you read Cosmopolitan magazine? They are all perverts there!"). Happily, I escaped perversion, earned my doctoral degree and even gained a supportive spouse of my own. In 2004, I became only the 103rd woman to be promoted to Professor in the 111-year history of the Johns Hopkins medical school, and the first in my department, the oldest Physiology department in the country. If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants

    #STEMwomen   #ScienceEveryday  

    More reading: http://www.pri.org/stories/2013-07-15/historical-photos-circulating-depict-women-medical-pioneers
  • 603 plusses - 149 comments - 452 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-04-11 21:45:27
    On The Shoulders of Giants

    ♀ A sepia print of an Indian woman, a Japanese woman and a woman from Syria, dated 1885. What do they have in common? Extraordinarily, each was the first licensed female medical doctor in their country of origin. They were trained at the Women's Medical College in Pennsylvania, the first of its kind in the country. This was a time before women had the right to vote. If they did attend college at all, it was at the risk of contracting "neuralgia, uterine disease, hysteria, and other derangements of the nervous system” (according to Harvard gynecologist Edward H. Clarke). 

    An all-woman medical school was first proposed in 1846, supported by the Quakers and the feminist movement. Dr. Ellwood Harvey, one of the early teaching faculty, daringly smuggled out a slave, Ann Maria Weems, dressed as a male buggy driver, from right outside the White House. With his reward money, he bought his students a  papier maché dissection mannequin. Eventually, poverty forced him to quit teaching, but he still helped out with odd jobs. What a magnificent man!  

    Fate and fortune were to buffet Ms. Joshi's life. Married at age 9 to a man 11 years older, her husband turned out to be surprisingly progressive. After she lost her first child at age 14, she vowed to render to her "poor suffering country women the true medical aid they so sadly stand in need of and which they would rather die than accept at the hands of a male physician". She was first offered a scholarship by a missionary on condition that she converted to Christianity. When she demurred, a wealthy socialite from New Jersey stepped in and financed her education. She is believed to be the first Hindu woman to set foot on American soil. I didn't arrive until 1983 ;)

    Times were tough then. The fate of these three intrepid pioneers was a sad one. Joshi died of tuberculosis in India at the age of 21, without ever practicing. Fittingly, her husband sent her ashes back to America. Islambouli was not heard of again, likely because she was never allowed to practice in her home country. Although Okami rose to the position of head of gynecology at a Tokyo hospital, she resigned two years later when the Emperor of Japan refused to meet her because she was a woman. 

    Times have changed. My own mother was married at the age of 13 to a man also 11 years her senior. My father recalls helping my mother with her geography homework in high school. She never did attend college, despite being a charismatic woman with quicksilver wit and efficiency. Little wonder then, when I was accepted into graduate school in the US, unmarried and 21 years young, my parents staunchly stood behind me against the dire predictions of friends and relatives ("She'll come back with a yellow haired American!" "Haven't you read Cosmopolitan magazine? They are all perverts there!"). Happily, I escaped perversion, earned my doctoral degree and even gained a supportive spouse of my own. In 2004, I became only the 103rd woman to be promoted to Professor in the 111-year history of the Johns Hopkins medical school, and the first in my department, the oldest Physiology department in the country. If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants

    #STEMwomen   #ScienceEveryday  

    More reading: http://www.pri.org/stories/2013-07-15/historical-photos-circulating-depict-women-medical-pioneers
  • 603 plusses - 149 comments - 452 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-04-11 21:45:27
    On The Shoulders of Giants

    ♀ A sepia print of an Indian woman, a Japanese woman and a woman from Syria, dated 1885. What do they have in common? Extraordinarily, each was the first licensed female medical doctor in their country of origin. They were trained at the Women's Medical College in Pennsylvania, the first of its kind in the country. This was a time before women had the right to vote. If they did attend college at all, it was at the risk of contracting "neuralgia, uterine disease, hysteria, and other derangements of the nervous system” (according to Harvard gynecologist Edward H. Clarke). 

    An all-woman medical school was first proposed in 1846, supported by the Quakers and the feminist movement. Dr. Ellwood Harvey, one of the early teaching faculty, daringly smuggled out a slave, Ann Maria Weems, dressed as a male buggy driver, from right outside the White House. With his reward money, he bought his students a  papier maché dissection mannequin. Eventually, poverty forced him to quit teaching, but he still helped out with odd jobs. What a magnificent man!  

    Fate and fortune were to buffet Ms. Joshi's life. Married at age 9 to a man 11 years older, her husband turned out to be surprisingly progressive. After she lost her first child at age 14, she vowed to render to her "poor suffering country women the true medical aid they so sadly stand in need of and which they would rather die than accept at the hands of a male physician". She was first offered a scholarship by a missionary on condition that she converted to Christianity. When she demurred, a wealthy socialite from New Jersey stepped in and financed her education. She is believed to be the first Hindu woman to set foot on American soil. I didn't arrive until 1983 ;)

    Times were tough then. The fate of these three intrepid pioneers was a sad one. Joshi died of tuberculosis in India at the age of 21, without ever practicing. Fittingly, her husband sent her ashes back to America. Islambouli was not heard of again, likely because she was never allowed to practice in her home country. Although Okami rose to the position of head of gynecology at a Tokyo hospital, she resigned two years later when the Emperor of Japan refused to meet her because she was a woman. 

    Times have changed. My own mother was married at the age of 13 to a man also 11 years her senior. My father recalls helping my mother with her geography homework in high school. She never did attend college, despite being a charismatic woman with quicksilver wit and efficiency. Little wonder then, when I was accepted into graduate school in the US, unmarried and 21 years young, my parents staunchly stood behind me against the dire predictions of friends and relatives ("She'll come back with a yellow haired American!" "Haven't you read Cosmopolitan magazine? They are all perverts there!"). Happily, I escaped perversion, earned my doctoral degree and even gained a supportive spouse of my own. In 2004, I became only the 103rd woman to be promoted to Professor in the 111-year history of the Johns Hopkins medical school, and the first in my department, the oldest Physiology department in the country. If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants

    #STEMwomen   #ScienceEveryday  

    More reading: http://www.pri.org/stories/2013-07-15/historical-photos-circulating-depict-women-medical-pioneers
  • 603 plusses - 149 comments - 452 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-01-21 13:41:18
    Gutsy school children. School children in Lebak, Indonesia cling perilously to a damaged rope bridge across the Ciberang river to get to school. Hopefully this publicity will mean that the bridge gets repaired quickly.

    Reuters video in the link.
    Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/brave-kids-indonesia-walk-damaged-bridge-river-school-article-1.1009218
  • 537 plusses - 160 comments - 470 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-01-21 13:41:18
    Gutsy school children. School children in Lebak, Indonesia cling perilously to a damaged rope bridge across the Ciberang river to get to school. Hopefully this publicity will mean that the bridge gets repaired quickly.

    Reuters video in the link.
    Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/brave-kids-indonesia-walk-damaged-bridge-river-school-article-1.1009218
  • 537 plusses - 160 comments - 470 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-01-21 13:41:18
    Gutsy school children. School children in Lebak, Indonesia cling perilously to a damaged rope bridge across the Ciberang river to get to school. Hopefully this publicity will mean that the bridge gets repaired quickly.

    Reuters video in the link.
    Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/brave-kids-indonesia-walk-damaged-bridge-river-school-article-1.1009218
  • 537 plusses - 160 comments - 470 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-01-21 13:41:18
    Gutsy school children. School children in Lebak, Indonesia cling perilously to a damaged rope bridge across the Ciberang river to get to school. Hopefully this publicity will mean that the bridge gets repaired quickly.

    Reuters video in the link.
    Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/brave-kids-indonesia-walk-damaged-bridge-river-school-article-1.1009218
  • 537 plusses - 160 comments - 470 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-02-02 22:10:05
    The Cosmos: Macro versus Micro

    ☼ The images on the left are night views of brightly lit metropolitan cities taken from the International Space Station. On the right, are fluorescent images of neurons. Like a neuron, the city seems to have a cell body, branching dendrites and a main axon like highway extending out.

    ☼ The ancient Greeks of the Neo-Platonic school of philosophy saw  the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos, from the largest scale (macrocosm or universe-level) all the way down to the smallest scale (microcosm or sub-sub-atomic or even metaphysical-level). In their philosophy, Man is in the middle.

    ☼ Did you know that the word cosmos (Greek, κόσμος) means "order" and is the conceptual opposite of "chaos"? In Mandarin Chinese, cosmos and universe are both translated as 宇宙 yǔzhòu, which means "space-time".

    “To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.”

    -William Blake

    Source: http://infinity-imagined.tumblr.com/page/6

    #ScienceSunday
  • 696 plusses - 197 comments - 248 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-02-02 22:10:05
    The Cosmos: Macro versus Micro

    ☼ The images on the left are night views of brightly lit metropolitan cities taken from the International Space Station. On the right, are fluorescent images of neurons. Like a neuron, the city seems to have a cell body, branching dendrites and a main axon like highway extending out.

    ☼ The ancient Greeks of the Neo-Platonic school of philosophy saw  the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos, from the largest scale (macrocosm or universe-level) all the way down to the smallest scale (microcosm or sub-sub-atomic or even metaphysical-level). In their philosophy, Man is in the middle.

    ☼ Did you know that the word cosmos (Greek, κόσμος) means "order" and is the conceptual opposite of "chaos"? In Mandarin Chinese, cosmos and universe are both translated as 宇宙 yǔzhòu, which means "space-time".

    “To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.”

    -William Blake

    Source: http://infinity-imagined.tumblr.com/page/6

    #ScienceSunday
  • 696 plusses - 197 comments - 248 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-02-02 22:10:05
    The Cosmos: Macro versus Micro

    ☼ The images on the left are night views of brightly lit metropolitan cities taken from the International Space Station. On the right, are fluorescent images of neurons. Like a neuron, the city seems to have a cell body, branching dendrites and a main axon like highway extending out.

    ☼ The ancient Greeks of the Neo-Platonic school of philosophy saw  the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos, from the largest scale (macrocosm or universe-level) all the way down to the smallest scale (microcosm or sub-sub-atomic or even metaphysical-level). In their philosophy, Man is in the middle.

    ☼ Did you know that the word cosmos (Greek, κόσμος) means "order" and is the conceptual opposite of "chaos"? In Mandarin Chinese, cosmos and universe are both translated as 宇宙 yǔzhòu, which means "space-time".

    “To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.”

    -William Blake

    Source: http://infinity-imagined.tumblr.com/page/6

    #ScienceSunday
  • 696 plusses - 197 comments - 248 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-02-02 22:10:05
    The Cosmos: Macro versus Micro

    ☼ The images on the left are night views of brightly lit metropolitan cities taken from the International Space Station. On the right, are fluorescent images of neurons. Like a neuron, the city seems to have a cell body, branching dendrites and a main axon like highway extending out.

    ☼ The ancient Greeks of the Neo-Platonic school of philosophy saw  the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos, from the largest scale (macrocosm or universe-level) all the way down to the smallest scale (microcosm or sub-sub-atomic or even metaphysical-level). In their philosophy, Man is in the middle.

    ☼ Did you know that the word cosmos (Greek, κόσμος) means "order" and is the conceptual opposite of "chaos"? In Mandarin Chinese, cosmos and universe are both translated as 宇宙 yǔzhòu, which means "space-time".

    “To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.”

    -William Blake

    Source: http://infinity-imagined.tumblr.com/page/6

    #ScienceSunday
  • 696 plusses - 197 comments - 248 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-02-02 22:10:05
    The Cosmos: Macro versus Micro

    ☼ The images on the left are night views of brightly lit metropolitan cities taken from the International Space Station. On the right, are fluorescent images of neurons. Like a neuron, the city seems to have a cell body, branching dendrites and a main axon like highway extending out.

    ☼ The ancient Greeks of the Neo-Platonic school of philosophy saw  the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos, from the largest scale (macrocosm or universe-level) all the way down to the smallest scale (microcosm or sub-sub-atomic or even metaphysical-level). In their philosophy, Man is in the middle.

    ☼ Did you know that the word cosmos (Greek, κόσμος) means "order" and is the conceptual opposite of "chaos"? In Mandarin Chinese, cosmos and universe are both translated as 宇宙 yǔzhòu, which means "space-time".

    “To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.”

    -William Blake

    Source: http://infinity-imagined.tumblr.com/page/6

    #ScienceSunday
  • 696 plusses - 197 comments - 248 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-04-28 02:08:15
    WHEN EINSTEIN MET TAGORE: An attempt to explain Truth and Beauty at the intersection of Science and Spirituality. It was July 14, 1930 when Einstein met Rabindranath Tagore- poet, polymath and first non-European to win the Nobel for Literature (for Gitanjali).

    Regardless of your philosophy, religion or lack thereof, the following conversation will blow your mind. Excerpt:

    EINSTEIN: Truth, then, or Beauty is not independent of Man?
    TAGORE: No.
    EINSTEIN: If there would be no human beings any more, the Apollo of Belvedere would no longer be beautiful.
    TAGORE: No.
    EINSTEIN: I agree with regard to this conception of Beauty, but not with regard to Truth.
    TAGORE: Why not? Truth is realized through man.

    Read more here: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/04/27/when-einstein-met-tagore/

    The conversation goes from the tangibility of a table to Pythagorean geometry, concluding with:

    EINSTEIN: Then I am more religious than you are!
    TAGORE: My religion is in the reconciliation of the Super-personal Man, the universal human spirit, in my own individual being.

    Many Thanks to +Pravin Bhojwani for the original share!
  • 555 plusses - 156 comments - 341 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-04-28 02:08:15
    WHEN EINSTEIN MET TAGORE: An attempt to explain Truth and Beauty at the intersection of Science and Spirituality. It was July 14, 1930 when Einstein met Rabindranath Tagore- poet, polymath and first non-European to win the Nobel for Literature (for Gitanjali).

    Regardless of your philosophy, religion or lack thereof, the following conversation will blow your mind. Excerpt:

    EINSTEIN: Truth, then, or Beauty is not independent of Man?
    TAGORE: No.
    EINSTEIN: If there would be no human beings any more, the Apollo of Belvedere would no longer be beautiful.
    TAGORE: No.
    EINSTEIN: I agree with regard to this conception of Beauty, but not with regard to Truth.
    TAGORE: Why not? Truth is realized through man.

    Read more here: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/04/27/when-einstein-met-tagore/

    The conversation goes from the tangibility of a table to Pythagorean geometry, concluding with:

    EINSTEIN: Then I am more religious than you are!
    TAGORE: My religion is in the reconciliation of the Super-personal Man, the universal human spirit, in my own individual being.

    Many Thanks to +Pravin Bhojwani for the original share!
  • 555 plusses - 156 comments - 341 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-04-28 02:08:15
    WHEN EINSTEIN MET TAGORE: An attempt to explain Truth and Beauty at the intersection of Science and Spirituality. It was July 14, 1930 when Einstein met Rabindranath Tagore- poet, polymath and first non-European to win the Nobel for Literature (for Gitanjali).

    Regardless of your philosophy, religion or lack thereof, the following conversation will blow your mind. Excerpt:

    EINSTEIN: Truth, then, or Beauty is not independent of Man?
    TAGORE: No.
    EINSTEIN: If there would be no human beings any more, the Apollo of Belvedere would no longer be beautiful.
    TAGORE: No.
    EINSTEIN: I agree with regard to this conception of Beauty, but not with regard to Truth.
    TAGORE: Why not? Truth is realized through man.

    Read more here: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/04/27/when-einstein-met-tagore/

    The conversation goes from the tangibility of a table to Pythagorean geometry, concluding with:

    EINSTEIN: Then I am more religious than you are!
    TAGORE: My religion is in the reconciliation of the Super-personal Man, the universal human spirit, in my own individual being.

    Many Thanks to +Pravin Bhojwani for the original share!
  • 555 plusses - 156 comments - 341 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-04-28 02:08:15
    WHEN EINSTEIN MET TAGORE: An attempt to explain Truth and Beauty at the intersection of Science and Spirituality. It was July 14, 1930 when Einstein met Rabindranath Tagore- poet, polymath and first non-European to win the Nobel for Literature (for Gitanjali).

    Regardless of your philosophy, religion or lack thereof, the following conversation will blow your mind. Excerpt:

    EINSTEIN: Truth, then, or Beauty is not independent of Man?
    TAGORE: No.
    EINSTEIN: If there would be no human beings any more, the Apollo of Belvedere would no longer be beautiful.
    TAGORE: No.
    EINSTEIN: I agree with regard to this conception of Beauty, but not with regard to Truth.
    TAGORE: Why not? Truth is realized through man.

    Read more here: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/04/27/when-einstein-met-tagore/

    The conversation goes from the tangibility of a table to Pythagorean geometry, concluding with:

    EINSTEIN: Then I am more religious than you are!
    TAGORE: My religion is in the reconciliation of the Super-personal Man, the universal human spirit, in my own individual being.

    Many Thanks to +Pravin Bhojwani for the original share!
  • 555 plusses - 156 comments - 341 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-12-29 23:38:50
    The Biology of Transparency

    The Invisible Man: Have you ever wished to be invisible? Transparency is quite common in biology, being particularly useful as camouflage in the open ocean where there is nothing to hide behind. There is an astonishing variety of transparent jellyfish, glass squid, worms and this creepy-crawly crustacean from the "twilight zone" of the deep sea seen in the image. 

    How does it work? To be transparent, light must pass through without being absorbed or scattered. Most organic molecules do not absorb light in the visible range, except for the visual pigments of the eyes, which must absorb light to function. Light scattering is caused by changes in refractive index which determines how light is bent as it passes through (see http://goo.gl/7l6zFC). To be perfectly transparent, the refractive index should be the same throughout. This is clearly a challenge in biological tissues, where lipid membranes and protein/DNA rich organelles (like mitochondria or nuclei) are much denser than the surrounding cytoplasm. So transparent animals resort to a number of tricks to avoid light scattering.

    See Right Through Me: One way is to become extremely flat! Since there is an exponential relationship between thickness and light absorption/scattering, a 1 cm thick tissue that is 60% transparent will achieve 95% transparency if it is only 1 mm thick. Some tissues, like the lens of our eyes, undergo drastic reduction of complexity, relying on neighboring cells to feed them. At the ultrastructural level, surfaces can be cloaked in submicroscopic bumps, smaller than half the wavelength of light that average out the differences in refractive indexes. Known as moth eye surfaces, these are responsible for the transparency of the beautiful glasswing butterfly Greta oto (see http://goo.gl/KS85mo).

    I See You!: It's hard to keep the gut transparent, unless one only eats transparent food, like the larvae of the phantom midge that sucks out clear fluids from its prey. Also, transparency can be foiled by predators that have evolved to use UV light or even polarized light to spot their prey, since underwater light is polarized particularly in the horizontal plane. A study with squid showed that they attacked plastic beads with birefringence, preferentially over beads without this optical property. Something to think about before you invest in an invisibility cloak!

    GIF: This 9 cm long amphipod is nearly completely transparent. Via http://goo.gl/bL14Oy from the video below.

    Video: For a short 2:41 minute video of more stunning transparent creatures, watch Deep Sea Creatures - Nature's Microworlds - Episode 11 Preview - BBC Four

    REFhttp://biology.duke.edu/johnsenlab/pdfs/pubs/transparencyreview.pdf

    Musical InspirationQueen - 'The Invisible Man'

    #ScienceSunday   #ScienceEveryday  
  • 581 plusses - 96 comments - 351 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-12-29 23:38:50
    The Biology of Transparency

    The Invisible Man: Have you ever wished to be invisible? Transparency is quite common in biology, being particularly useful as camouflage in the open ocean where there is nothing to hide behind. There is an astonishing variety of transparent jellyfish, glass squid, worms and this creepy-crawly crustacean from the "twilight zone" of the deep sea seen in the image. 

    How does it work? To be transparent, light must pass through without being absorbed or scattered. Most organic molecules do not absorb light in the visible range, except for the visual pigments of the eyes, which must absorb light to function. Light scattering is caused by changes in refractive index which determines how light is bent as it passes through (see http://goo.gl/7l6zFC). To be perfectly transparent, the refractive index should be the same throughout. This is clearly a challenge in biological tissues, where lipid membranes and protein/DNA rich organelles (like mitochondria or nuclei) are much denser than the surrounding cytoplasm. So transparent animals resort to a number of tricks to avoid light scattering.

    See Right Through Me: One way is to become extremely flat! Since there is an exponential relationship between thickness and light absorption/scattering, a 1 cm thick tissue that is 60% transparent will achieve 95% transparency if it is only 1 mm thick. Some tissues, like the lens of our eyes, undergo drastic reduction of complexity, relying on neighboring cells to feed them. At the ultrastructural level, surfaces can be cloaked in submicroscopic bumps, smaller than half the wavelength of light that average out the differences in refractive indexes. Known as moth eye surfaces, these are responsible for the transparency of the beautiful glasswing butterfly Greta oto (see http://goo.gl/KS85mo).

    I See You!: It's hard to keep the gut transparent, unless one only eats transparent food, like the larvae of the phantom midge that sucks out clear fluids from its prey. Also, transparency can be foiled by predators that have evolved to use UV light or even polarized light to spot their prey, since underwater light is polarized particularly in the horizontal plane. A study with squid showed that they attacked plastic beads with birefringence, preferentially over beads without this optical property. Something to think about before you invest in an invisibility cloak!

    GIF: This 9 cm long amphipod is nearly completely transparent. Via http://goo.gl/bL14Oy from the video below.

    Video: For a short 2:41 minute video of more stunning transparent creatures, watch Deep Sea Creatures - Nature's Microworlds - Episode 11 Preview - BBC Four

    REFhttp://biology.duke.edu/johnsenlab/pdfs/pubs/transparencyreview.pdf

    Musical InspirationQueen - 'The Invisible Man'

    #ScienceSunday   #ScienceEveryday  
  • 581 plusses - 96 comments - 351 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-12-29 23:38:50
    The Biology of Transparency

    The Invisible Man: Have you ever wished to be invisible? Transparency is quite common in biology, being particularly useful as camouflage in the open ocean where there is nothing to hide behind. There is an astonishing variety of transparent jellyfish, glass squid, worms and this creepy-crawly crustacean from the "twilight zone" of the deep sea seen in the image. 

    How does it work? To be transparent, light must pass through without being absorbed or scattered. Most organic molecules do not absorb light in the visible range, except for the visual pigments of the eyes, which must absorb light to function. Light scattering is caused by changes in refractive index which determines how light is bent as it passes through (see http://goo.gl/7l6zFC). To be perfectly transparent, the refractive index should be the same throughout. This is clearly a challenge in biological tissues, where lipid membranes and protein/DNA rich organelles (like mitochondria or nuclei) are much denser than the surrounding cytoplasm. So transparent animals resort to a number of tricks to avoid light scattering.

    See Right Through Me: One way is to become extremely flat! Since there is an exponential relationship between thickness and light absorption/scattering, a 1 cm thick tissue that is 60% transparent will achieve 95% transparency if it is only 1 mm thick. Some tissues, like the lens of our eyes, undergo drastic reduction of complexity, relying on neighboring cells to feed them. At the ultrastructural level, surfaces can be cloaked in submicroscopic bumps, smaller than half the wavelength of light that average out the differences in refractive indexes. Known as moth eye surfaces, these are responsible for the transparency of the beautiful glasswing butterfly Greta oto (see http://goo.gl/KS85mo).

    I See You!: It's hard to keep the gut transparent, unless one only eats transparent food, like the larvae of the phantom midge that sucks out clear fluids from its prey. Also, transparency can be foiled by predators that have evolved to use UV light or even polarized light to spot their prey, since underwater light is polarized particularly in the horizontal plane. A study with squid showed that they attacked plastic beads with birefringence, preferentially over beads without this optical property. Something to think about before you invest in an invisibility cloak!

    GIF: This 9 cm long amphipod is nearly completely transparent. Via http://goo.gl/bL14Oy from the video below.

    Video: For a short 2:41 minute video of more stunning transparent creatures, watch Deep Sea Creatures - Nature's Microworlds - Episode 11 Preview - BBC Four

    REFhttp://biology.duke.edu/johnsenlab/pdfs/pubs/transparencyreview.pdf

    Musical InspirationQueen - 'The Invisible Man'

    #ScienceSunday   #ScienceEveryday  
  • 581 plusses - 96 comments - 351 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-12-29 23:38:50
    The Biology of Transparency

    The Invisible Man: Have you ever wished to be invisible? Transparency is quite common in biology, being particularly useful as camouflage in the open ocean where there is nothing to hide behind. There is an astonishing variety of transparent jellyfish, glass squid, worms and this creepy-crawly crustacean from the "twilight zone" of the deep sea seen in the image. 

    How does it work? To be transparent, light must pass through without being absorbed or scattered. Most organic molecules do not absorb light in the visible range, except for the visual pigments of the eyes, which must absorb light to function. Light scattering is caused by changes in refractive index which determines how light is bent as it passes through (see http://goo.gl/7l6zFC). To be perfectly transparent, the refractive index should be the same throughout. This is clearly a challenge in biological tissues, where lipid membranes and protein/DNA rich organelles (like mitochondria or nuclei) are much denser than the surrounding cytoplasm. So transparent animals resort to a number of tricks to avoid light scattering.

    See Right Through Me: One way is to become extremely flat! Since there is an exponential relationship between thickness and light absorption/scattering, a 1 cm thick tissue that is 60% transparent will achieve 95% transparency if it is only 1 mm thick. Some tissues, like the lens of our eyes, undergo drastic reduction of complexity, relying on neighboring cells to feed them. At the ultrastructural level, surfaces can be cloaked in submicroscopic bumps, smaller than half the wavelength of light that average out the differences in refractive indexes. Known as moth eye surfaces, these are responsible for the transparency of the beautiful glasswing butterfly Greta oto (see http://goo.gl/KS85mo).

    I See You!: It's hard to keep the gut transparent, unless one only eats transparent food, like the larvae of the phantom midge that sucks out clear fluids from its prey. Also, transparency can be foiled by predators that have evolved to use UV light or even polarized light to spot their prey, since underwater light is polarized particularly in the horizontal plane. A study with squid showed that they attacked plastic beads with birefringence, preferentially over beads without this optical property. Something to think about before you invest in an invisibility cloak!

    GIF: This 9 cm long amphipod is nearly completely transparent. Via http://goo.gl/bL14Oy from the video below.

    Video: For a short 2:41 minute video of more stunning transparent creatures, watch Deep Sea Creatures - Nature's Microworlds - Episode 11 Preview - BBC Four

    REFhttp://biology.duke.edu/johnsenlab/pdfs/pubs/transparencyreview.pdf

    Musical InspirationQueen - 'The Invisible Man'

    #ScienceSunday   #ScienceEveryday  
  • 581 plusses - 96 comments - 351 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-12-29 23:38:50
    The Biology of Transparency

    The Invisible Man: Have you ever wished to be invisible? Transparency is quite common in biology, being particularly useful as camouflage in the open ocean where there is nothing to hide behind. There is an astonishing variety of transparent jellyfish, glass squid, worms and this creepy-crawly crustacean from the "twilight zone" of the deep sea seen in the image. 

    How does it work? To be transparent, light must pass through without being absorbed or scattered. Most organic molecules do not absorb light in the visible range, except for the visual pigments of the eyes, which must absorb light to function. Light scattering is caused by changes in refractive index which determines how light is bent as it passes through (see http://goo.gl/7l6zFC). To be perfectly transparent, the refractive index should be the same throughout. This is clearly a challenge in biological tissues, where lipid membranes and protein/DNA rich organelles (like mitochondria or nuclei) are much denser than the surrounding cytoplasm. So transparent animals resort to a number of tricks to avoid light scattering.

    See Right Through Me: One way is to become extremely flat! Since there is an exponential relationship between thickness and light absorption/scattering, a 1 cm thick tissue that is 60% transparent will achieve 95% transparency if it is only 1 mm thick. Some tissues, like the lens of our eyes, undergo drastic reduction of complexity, relying on neighboring cells to feed them. At the ultrastructural level, surfaces can be cloaked in submicroscopic bumps, smaller than half the wavelength of light that average out the differences in refractive indexes. Known as moth eye surfaces, these are responsible for the transparency of the beautiful glasswing butterfly Greta oto (see http://goo.gl/KS85mo).

    I See You!: It's hard to keep the gut transparent, unless one only eats transparent food, like the larvae of the phantom midge that sucks out clear fluids from its prey. Also, transparency can be foiled by predators that have evolved to use UV light or even polarized light to spot their prey, since underwater light is polarized particularly in the horizontal plane. A study with squid showed that they attacked plastic beads with birefringence, preferentially over beads without this optical property. Something to think about before you invest in an invisibility cloak!

    GIF: This 9 cm long amphipod is nearly completely transparent. Via http://goo.gl/bL14Oy from the video below.

    Video: For a short 2:41 minute video of more stunning transparent creatures, watch Deep Sea Creatures - Nature's Microworlds - Episode 11 Preview - BBC Four

    REFhttp://biology.duke.edu/johnsenlab/pdfs/pubs/transparencyreview.pdf

    Musical InspirationQueen - 'The Invisible Man'

    #ScienceSunday   #ScienceEveryday  
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  • Rajini Rao2012-02-28 23:09:28
    Art or Alcohol? Scientist Michael Davidson began taking photomicrographs of alcohol in the 1990's to raise funds for his lab. He crystallized samples of beer, tequila, vodka and other liquors on a slide, then imaged them under polarized light to reveal these gorgeous colors. You can purchase them as prints for your wall from bevshots.com.

    Note: I've not been able to post science-y stuff all week as I am carousing (er, conferencing) with 5000+ biophysicists in sunny San Diego. This collection of photographs seems particularly appropriate ;)

    H/T to Huff Post Arts for featuring this story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/artsy-side-of-alcohol_n_1304880.html#s731641
  • 582 plusses - 191 comments - 268 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-28 23:09:28
    Art or Alcohol? Scientist Michael Davidson began taking photomicrographs of alcohol in the 1990's to raise funds for his lab. He crystallized samples of beer, tequila, vodka and other liquors on a slide, then imaged them under polarized light to reveal these gorgeous colors. You can purchase them as prints for your wall from bevshots.com.

    Note: I've not been able to post science-y stuff all week as I am carousing (er, conferencing) with 5000+ biophysicists in sunny San Diego. This collection of photographs seems particularly appropriate ;)

    H/T to Huff Post Arts for featuring this story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/artsy-side-of-alcohol_n_1304880.html#s731641
  • 582 plusses - 191 comments - 268 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-28 23:09:28
    Art or Alcohol? Scientist Michael Davidson began taking photomicrographs of alcohol in the 1990's to raise funds for his lab. He crystallized samples of beer, tequila, vodka and other liquors on a slide, then imaged them under polarized light to reveal these gorgeous colors. You can purchase them as prints for your wall from bevshots.com.

    Note: I've not been able to post science-y stuff all week as I am carousing (er, conferencing) with 5000+ biophysicists in sunny San Diego. This collection of photographs seems particularly appropriate ;)

    H/T to Huff Post Arts for featuring this story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/artsy-side-of-alcohol_n_1304880.html#s731641
  • 582 plusses - 191 comments - 268 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-28 23:09:28
    Art or Alcohol? Scientist Michael Davidson began taking photomicrographs of alcohol in the 1990's to raise funds for his lab. He crystallized samples of beer, tequila, vodka and other liquors on a slide, then imaged them under polarized light to reveal these gorgeous colors. You can purchase them as prints for your wall from bevshots.com.

    Note: I've not been able to post science-y stuff all week as I am carousing (er, conferencing) with 5000+ biophysicists in sunny San Diego. This collection of photographs seems particularly appropriate ;)

    H/T to Huff Post Arts for featuring this story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/artsy-side-of-alcohol_n_1304880.html#s731641
  • 582 plusses - 191 comments - 268 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-26 13:55:17
    WHO declares India polio-free! An incredible feat for a nation once the polio epicenter with 200,000 cases in 1988. As recently as 2009, India accounted for half of all cases in the world, but infections plummeted to 42 in 2010 and none in the last 12 months. The Indian government has spent $2 billion over the last 10-15 years to eradicate this crippling disease, which strikes children under the age of 5. However, 3 other countries (Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan) have reported a massive increase in new polio cases.

    More: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/WHO-takes-off-India-from-polio-list/articleshow/12038508.cms
  • 632 plusses - 153 comments - 212 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-26 13:55:17
    WHO declares India polio-free! An incredible feat for a nation once the polio epicenter with 200,000 cases in 1988. As recently as 2009, India accounted for half of all cases in the world, but infections plummeted to 42 in 2010 and none in the last 12 months. The Indian government has spent $2 billion over the last 10-15 years to eradicate this crippling disease, which strikes children under the age of 5. However, 3 other countries (Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan) have reported a massive increase in new polio cases.

    More: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/WHO-takes-off-India-from-polio-list/articleshow/12038508.cms
  • 632 plusses - 153 comments - 212 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-26 13:55:17
    WHO declares India polio-free! An incredible feat for a nation once the polio epicenter with 200,000 cases in 1988. As recently as 2009, India accounted for half of all cases in the world, but infections plummeted to 42 in 2010 and none in the last 12 months. The Indian government has spent $2 billion over the last 10-15 years to eradicate this crippling disease, which strikes children under the age of 5. However, 3 other countries (Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan) have reported a massive increase in new polio cases.

    More: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/WHO-takes-off-India-from-polio-list/articleshow/12038508.cms
  • 632 plusses - 153 comments - 212 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-02-26 13:55:17
    WHO declares India polio-free! An incredible feat for a nation once the polio epicenter with 200,000 cases in 1988. As recently as 2009, India accounted for half of all cases in the world, but infections plummeted to 42 in 2010 and none in the last 12 months. The Indian government has spent $2 billion over the last 10-15 years to eradicate this crippling disease, which strikes children under the age of 5. However, 3 other countries (Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan) have reported a massive increase in new polio cases.

    More: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/WHO-takes-off-India-from-polio-list/articleshow/12038508.cms
  • 632 plusses - 153 comments - 212 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-02-23 15:02:03
    Dance of the Peacock Spider

    Doing the Y: Only 4 mm in size, the Australian male peacock spider (Maratus volans) puts on an impressive courtship display, rivaling the Village People in Peacock Spider Dances to YMCA . Described by researchers as multi-modal, the dance includes 3rd leg waves, synchronized unfurling of colorful belly flaps, abdominal bobbing and pedipalp flickers. As if these visual displays were not enough, the spider generates bursts of vibrations carried through the ground to signal his passion for his lady love. 

    Darwin's Dilemma: Is there an selective advantage to such complexity? How did it evolve? As the rituals get more elaborate, there may be diminishing returns given the limitations of biological cost and sensory perception. Translation: is it a waste of time? :) But studies show that redundant signals allow our spidery suitor to adapt to varied environments. Too dark to see the colorful fans? The seismic display compensates for lack of light.It is thought that each signal carries a different message for the female to evaluate. It's also an exercise in self preservation: males risk falling prey to the cannibalistic tendency of the female spider. Web building male spiders generate shudder vibrations that measurably calm the female's aggression. Others present a silk-wrapped nuptial gift that distracts the female long enough to get the deed done. An unusual tactic called thanatosis is to is to feign death when the female shows signs of terminating the romantic act. Once the female has dragged off the motionless male, she begins to feed on his nuptial gift upon which the male quickly revives to resume mating!

    So humans, do you see any parallels in strategy? Perhaps, you too met your mate on the web?

    ▶Nuptial gifts: http://goo.gl/VCsbzN
    ▶Spider Shudders: Male courtship vibrations delay predatory behaviour in female spiders. Wignall and Herberstein (2013) http://goo.gl/wT29bD
    ▶Dance Moves: Multi-Modal Courtship in the Peacock Spider, Maratus volans. Girard et al. (2011) http://goo.gl/SlIK1E
    ▶Gifs: via http://biomorphosis.tumblr.com/

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 403 plusses - 105 comments - 372 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-02-23 15:02:03
    Dance of the Peacock Spider

    Doing the Y: Only 4 mm in size, the Australian male peacock spider (Maratus volans) puts on an impressive courtship display, rivaling the Village People in Peacock Spider Dances to YMCA . Described by researchers as multi-modal, the dance includes 3rd leg waves, synchronized unfurling of colorful belly flaps, abdominal bobbing and pedipalp flickers. As if these visual displays were not enough, the spider generates bursts of vibrations carried through the ground to signal his passion for his lady love. 

    Darwin's Dilemma: Is there an selective advantage to such complexity? How did it evolve? As the rituals get more elaborate, there may be diminishing returns given the limitations of biological cost and sensory perception. Translation: is it a waste of time? :) But studies show that redundant signals allow our spidery suitor to adapt to varied environments. Too dark to see the colorful fans? The seismic display compensates for lack of light.It is thought that each signal carries a different message for the female to evaluate. It's also an exercise in self preservation: males risk falling prey to the cannibalistic tendency of the female spider. Web building male spiders generate shudder vibrations that measurably calm the female's aggression. Others present a silk-wrapped nuptial gift that distracts the female long enough to get the deed done. An unusual tactic called thanatosis is to is to feign death when the female shows signs of terminating the romantic act. Once the female has dragged off the motionless male, she begins to feed on his nuptial gift upon which the male quickly revives to resume mating!

    So humans, do you see any parallels in strategy? Perhaps, you too met your mate on the web?

    ▶Nuptial gifts: http://goo.gl/VCsbzN
    ▶Spider Shudders: Male courtship vibrations delay predatory behaviour in female spiders. Wignall and Herberstein (2013) http://goo.gl/wT29bD
    ▶Dance Moves: Multi-Modal Courtship in the Peacock Spider, Maratus volans. Girard et al. (2011) http://goo.gl/SlIK1E
    ▶Gifs: via http://biomorphosis.tumblr.com/

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 403 plusses - 105 comments - 372 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-02-23 15:02:03
    Dance of the Peacock Spider

    Doing the Y: Only 4 mm in size, the Australian male peacock spider (Maratus volans) puts on an impressive courtship display, rivaling the Village People in Peacock Spider Dances to YMCA . Described by researchers as multi-modal, the dance includes 3rd leg waves, synchronized unfurling of colorful belly flaps, abdominal bobbing and pedipalp flickers. As if these visual displays were not enough, the spider generates bursts of vibrations carried through the ground to signal his passion for his lady love. 

    Darwin's Dilemma: Is there an selective advantage to such complexity? How did it evolve? As the rituals get more elaborate, there may be diminishing returns given the limitations of biological cost and sensory perception. Translation: is it a waste of time? :) But studies show that redundant signals allow our spidery suitor to adapt to varied environments. Too dark to see the colorful fans? The seismic display compensates for lack of light.It is thought that each signal carries a different message for the female to evaluate. It's also an exercise in self preservation: males risk falling prey to the cannibalistic tendency of the female spider. Web building male spiders generate shudder vibrations that measurably calm the female's aggression. Others present a silk-wrapped nuptial gift that distracts the female long enough to get the deed done. An unusual tactic called thanatosis is to is to feign death when the female shows signs of terminating the romantic act. Once the female has dragged off the motionless male, she begins to feed on his nuptial gift upon which the male quickly revives to resume mating!

    So humans, do you see any parallels in strategy? Perhaps, you too met your mate on the web?

    ▶Nuptial gifts: http://goo.gl/VCsbzN
    ▶Spider Shudders: Male courtship vibrations delay predatory behaviour in female spiders. Wignall and Herberstein (2013) http://goo.gl/wT29bD
    ▶Dance Moves: Multi-Modal Courtship in the Peacock Spider, Maratus volans. Girard et al. (2011) http://goo.gl/SlIK1E
    ▶Gifs: via http://biomorphosis.tumblr.com/

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 403 plusses - 105 comments - 372 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-02-23 15:02:03
    Dance of the Peacock Spider

    Doing the Y: Only 4 mm in size, the Australian male peacock spider (Maratus volans) puts on an impressive courtship display, rivaling the Village People in Peacock Spider Dances to YMCA . Described by researchers as multi-modal, the dance includes 3rd leg waves, synchronized unfurling of colorful belly flaps, abdominal bobbing and pedipalp flickers. As if these visual displays were not enough, the spider generates bursts of vibrations carried through the ground to signal his passion for his lady love. 

    Darwin's Dilemma: Is there an selective advantage to such complexity? How did it evolve? As the rituals get more elaborate, there may be diminishing returns given the limitations of biological cost and sensory perception. Translation: is it a waste of time? :) But studies show that redundant signals allow our spidery suitor to adapt to varied environments. Too dark to see the colorful fans? The seismic display compensates for lack of light.It is thought that each signal carries a different message for the female to evaluate. It's also an exercise in self preservation: males risk falling prey to the cannibalistic tendency of the female spider. Web building male spiders generate shudder vibrations that measurably calm the female's aggression. Others present a silk-wrapped nuptial gift that distracts the female long enough to get the deed done. An unusual tactic called thanatosis is to is to feign death when the female shows signs of terminating the romantic act. Once the female has dragged off the motionless male, she begins to feed on his nuptial gift upon which the male quickly revives to resume mating!

    So humans, do you see any parallels in strategy? Perhaps, you too met your mate on the web?

    ▶Nuptial gifts: http://goo.gl/VCsbzN
    ▶Spider Shudders: Male courtship vibrations delay predatory behaviour in female spiders. Wignall and Herberstein (2013) http://goo.gl/wT29bD
    ▶Dance Moves: Multi-Modal Courtship in the Peacock Spider, Maratus volans. Girard et al. (2011) http://goo.gl/SlIK1E
    ▶Gifs: via http://biomorphosis.tumblr.com/

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 403 plusses - 105 comments - 372 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-02-23 15:02:03
    Dance of the Peacock Spider

    Doing the Y: Only 4 mm in size, the Australian male peacock spider (Maratus volans) puts on an impressive courtship display, rivaling the Village People in Peacock Spider Dances to YMCA . Described by researchers as multi-modal, the dance includes 3rd leg waves, synchronized unfurling of colorful belly flaps, abdominal bobbing and pedipalp flickers. As if these visual displays were not enough, the spider generates bursts of vibrations carried through the ground to signal his passion for his lady love. 

    Darwin's Dilemma: Is there an selective advantage to such complexity? How did it evolve? As the rituals get more elaborate, there may be diminishing returns given the limitations of biological cost and sensory perception. Translation: is it a waste of time? :) But studies show that redundant signals allow our spidery suitor to adapt to varied environments. Too dark to see the colorful fans? The seismic display compensates for lack of light.It is thought that each signal carries a different message for the female to evaluate. It's also an exercise in self preservation: males risk falling prey to the cannibalistic tendency of the female spider. Web building male spiders generate shudder vibrations that measurably calm the female's aggression. Others present a silk-wrapped nuptial gift that distracts the female long enough to get the deed done. An unusual tactic called thanatosis is to is to feign death when the female shows signs of terminating the romantic act. Once the female has dragged off the motionless male, she begins to feed on his nuptial gift upon which the male quickly revives to resume mating!

    So humans, do you see any parallels in strategy? Perhaps, you too met your mate on the web?

    ▶Nuptial gifts: http://goo.gl/VCsbzN
    ▶Spider Shudders: Male courtship vibrations delay predatory behaviour in female spiders. Wignall and Herberstein (2013) http://goo.gl/wT29bD
    ▶Dance Moves: Multi-Modal Courtship in the Peacock Spider, Maratus volans. Girard et al. (2011) http://goo.gl/SlIK1E
    ▶Gifs: via http://biomorphosis.tumblr.com/

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 403 plusses - 105 comments - 372 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-03-21 23:13:10
    Down Syndrome Day

    Today, 3/21, is World Down Syndrome Day. Also known as Trisomy 21, because it involves three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two (see image), Down syndrome is the most complex of genetic disorders that is compatible with survival (other trisomies are more common, but are lethal). Even Down syndrome is associated with ~50% lethality of embryos. In the US, 1 in 691 babies is born with Down syndrome.

    Too much of a good thing: Anywhere from 300 to 500 genes have altered levels and function, resulting 80 or 90 possible symptoms and an instantly recognizable phenotype (physical appearance). For example, patients have a 1 in 5 chance of developing a hole in the heart, compared to an incidence of 1:10,000 in the normal population. Down syndrome is extraordinarily complex, and my friend and colleague Roger Reeves has dedicated his career to helping patients with his research.

    Cerebellar size: Dr. Reeves showed that the reduced size of the cerebellum in patients was due to defects in the sonic hedgehog signaling pathway. Using a drug that activated this pathway, he was able to restore the number of cerebellar cells to normalcy in a mouse model of Down syndrome, pointing to a therapeutic potential for the central nervous system deficits in patients.

    Tweaking circuits: In the hippocampus—that part of the brain that’s used to navigate landmarks and fix memories, Down syndrome patients show an excess of inhibitory pathways compared to excitatory ones. A drug that is already FDA-approved works wonders on mice with the equivalent of Down syndrome, restoring balance to their brain. This drug is now in clinical trials for  Down syndrome patients.

    It's not all bad: Research on Down syndrome has broad impact. For example, having three copies of a tumor suppressor gene means that patients have a 93% lower incidence of developing certain cancers. This insight could help treat cancers in the general population. Plus, as Roger likes to say, if you know anyone with Down syndrome, they tend to be pretty interesting individuals in their own right.

    For more on Roger's research: http://goo.gl/uSJWm

    #ScienceEveryday #DownSyndrome  
  • 635 plusses - 123 comments - 188 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-03-21 23:13:10
    Down Syndrome Day

    Today, 3/21, is World Down Syndrome Day. Also known as Trisomy 21, because it involves three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two (see image), Down syndrome is the most complex of genetic disorders that is compatible with survival (other trisomies are more common, but are lethal). Even Down syndrome is associated with ~50% lethality of embryos. In the US, 1 in 691 babies is born with Down syndrome.

    Too much of a good thing: Anywhere from 300 to 500 genes have altered levels and function, resulting 80 or 90 possible symptoms and an instantly recognizable phenotype (physical appearance). For example, patients have a 1 in 5 chance of developing a hole in the heart, compared to an incidence of 1:10,000 in the normal population. Down syndrome is extraordinarily complex, and my friend and colleague Roger Reeves has dedicated his career to helping patients with his research.

    Cerebellar size: Dr. Reeves showed that the reduced size of the cerebellum in patients was due to defects in the sonic hedgehog signaling pathway. Using a drug that activated this pathway, he was able to restore the number of cerebellar cells to normalcy in a mouse model of Down syndrome, pointing to a therapeutic potential for the central nervous system deficits in patients.

    Tweaking circuits: In the hippocampus—that part of the brain that’s used to navigate landmarks and fix memories, Down syndrome patients show an excess of inhibitory pathways compared to excitatory ones. A drug that is already FDA-approved works wonders on mice with the equivalent of Down syndrome, restoring balance to their brain. This drug is now in clinical trials for  Down syndrome patients.

    It's not all bad: Research on Down syndrome has broad impact. For example, having three copies of a tumor suppressor gene means that patients have a 93% lower incidence of developing certain cancers. This insight could help treat cancers in the general population. Plus, as Roger likes to say, if you know anyone with Down syndrome, they tend to be pretty interesting individuals in their own right.

    For more on Roger's research: http://goo.gl/uSJWm

    #ScienceEveryday #DownSyndrome  
  • 635 plusses - 123 comments - 188 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-03-21 23:13:10
    Down Syndrome Day

    Today, 3/21, is World Down Syndrome Day. Also known as Trisomy 21, because it involves three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two (see image), Down syndrome is the most complex of genetic disorders that is compatible with survival (other trisomies are more common, but are lethal). Even Down syndrome is associated with ~50% lethality of embryos. In the US, 1 in 691 babies is born with Down syndrome.

    Too much of a good thing: Anywhere from 300 to 500 genes have altered levels and function, resulting 80 or 90 possible symptoms and an instantly recognizable phenotype (physical appearance). For example, patients have a 1 in 5 chance of developing a hole in the heart, compared to an incidence of 1:10,000 in the normal population. Down syndrome is extraordinarily complex, and my friend and colleague Roger Reeves has dedicated his career to helping patients with his research.

    Cerebellar size: Dr. Reeves showed that the reduced size of the cerebellum in patients was due to defects in the sonic hedgehog signaling pathway. Using a drug that activated this pathway, he was able to restore the number of cerebellar cells to normalcy in a mouse model of Down syndrome, pointing to a therapeutic potential for the central nervous system deficits in patients.

    Tweaking circuits: In the hippocampus—that part of the brain that’s used to navigate landmarks and fix memories, Down syndrome patients show an excess of inhibitory pathways compared to excitatory ones. A drug that is already FDA-approved works wonders on mice with the equivalent of Down syndrome, restoring balance to their brain. This drug is now in clinical trials for  Down syndrome patients.

    It's not all bad: Research on Down syndrome has broad impact. For example, having three copies of a tumor suppressor gene means that patients have a 93% lower incidence of developing certain cancers. This insight could help treat cancers in the general population. Plus, as Roger likes to say, if you know anyone with Down syndrome, they tend to be pretty interesting individuals in their own right.

    For more on Roger's research: http://goo.gl/uSJWm

    #ScienceEveryday #DownSyndrome  
  • 635 plusses - 123 comments - 188 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-03-21 23:13:10
    Down Syndrome Day

    Today, 3/21, is World Down Syndrome Day. Also known as Trisomy 21, because it involves three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two (see image), Down syndrome is the most complex of genetic disorders that is compatible with survival (other trisomies are more common, but are lethal). Even Down syndrome is associated with ~50% lethality of embryos. In the US, 1 in 691 babies is born with Down syndrome.

    Too much of a good thing: Anywhere from 300 to 500 genes have altered levels and function, resulting 80 or 90 possible symptoms and an instantly recognizable phenotype (physical appearance). For example, patients have a 1 in 5 chance of developing a hole in the heart, compared to an incidence of 1:10,000 in the normal population. Down syndrome is extraordinarily complex, and my friend and colleague Roger Reeves has dedicated his career to helping patients with his research.

    Cerebellar size: Dr. Reeves showed that the reduced size of the cerebellum in patients was due to defects in the sonic hedgehog signaling pathway. Using a drug that activated this pathway, he was able to restore the number of cerebellar cells to normalcy in a mouse model of Down syndrome, pointing to a therapeutic potential for the central nervous system deficits in patients.

    Tweaking circuits: In the hippocampus—that part of the brain that’s used to navigate landmarks and fix memories, Down syndrome patients show an excess of inhibitory pathways compared to excitatory ones. A drug that is already FDA-approved works wonders on mice with the equivalent of Down syndrome, restoring balance to their brain. This drug is now in clinical trials for  Down syndrome patients.

    It's not all bad: Research on Down syndrome has broad impact. For example, having three copies of a tumor suppressor gene means that patients have a 93% lower incidence of developing certain cancers. This insight could help treat cancers in the general population. Plus, as Roger likes to say, if you know anyone with Down syndrome, they tend to be pretty interesting individuals in their own right.

    For more on Roger's research: http://goo.gl/uSJWm

    #ScienceEveryday #DownSyndrome  
  • 635 plusses - 123 comments - 188 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-03-21 23:13:10
    Down Syndrome Day

    Today, 3/21, is World Down Syndrome Day. Also known as Trisomy 21, because it involves three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two (see image), Down syndrome is the most complex of genetic disorders that is compatible with survival (other trisomies are more common, but are lethal). Even Down syndrome is associated with ~50% lethality of embryos. In the US, 1 in 691 babies is born with Down syndrome.

    Too much of a good thing: Anywhere from 300 to 500 genes have altered levels and function, resulting 80 or 90 possible symptoms and an instantly recognizable phenotype (physical appearance). For example, patients have a 1 in 5 chance of developing a hole in the heart, compared to an incidence of 1:10,000 in the normal population. Down syndrome is extraordinarily complex, and my friend and colleague Roger Reeves has dedicated his career to helping patients with his research.

    Cerebellar size: Dr. Reeves showed that the reduced size of the cerebellum in patients was due to defects in the sonic hedgehog signaling pathway. Using a drug that activated this pathway, he was able to restore the number of cerebellar cells to normalcy in a mouse model of Down syndrome, pointing to a therapeutic potential for the central nervous system deficits in patients.

    Tweaking circuits: In the hippocampus—that part of the brain that’s used to navigate landmarks and fix memories, Down syndrome patients show an excess of inhibitory pathways compared to excitatory ones. A drug that is already FDA-approved works wonders on mice with the equivalent of Down syndrome, restoring balance to their brain. This drug is now in clinical trials for  Down syndrome patients.

    It's not all bad: Research on Down syndrome has broad impact. For example, having three copies of a tumor suppressor gene means that patients have a 93% lower incidence of developing certain cancers. This insight could help treat cancers in the general population. Plus, as Roger likes to say, if you know anyone with Down syndrome, they tend to be pretty interesting individuals in their own right.

    For more on Roger's research: http://goo.gl/uSJWm

    #ScienceEveryday #DownSyndrome  
  • 635 plusses - 123 comments - 188 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-06-01 15:59:26
    The Enemy of My Enemy

    ✇ Nearly 125 years ago, a British bacteriologist observed that the holy waters of the Ganges and Yamuna had curious bactericidal properties, limiting the spread of cholera. It took another 20 years before two microbiologists independently proposed the existence of viruses. Observing small clearings on a lawn of dysentery-causing bacillus on an agar plate, d'Herelle coined the term bacteriophage for the virus that devours bacteria; now affectionately abbreviated to "phage".  

    A Voracious Appetite: Found everywhere bacteria exist- in the soil, deep inside the earth's crust, within the bodies of animals and plants, and densely packed in the oceans, there are an estimated 1×10^8 different types of phages, each infecting only a specific type of bacteria.  Almost comical in appearance, a phage has its genetic material tightly packed into the capsid head, that can be injected through the stalk-like tail into the bacterial cell. Once inside, it can stage a peaceful coup (lysogenic) or burst open the bacterium (lytic) when it multiplies. It is estimated that there are up to 10^32 phages in our biosphere, destroying half the bacterial population every 48 hours! 

    Microbe Hunters: d'Herelle and his fellow scientists were quick to grasp the potential of phages as antibacterials. After consuming a preparation to confirm its safety, he administered the phage to a 12-year old boy with acute dysentery. The boy fully recovered. This set off a golden era in the commercial production and use of phages, centered largely in eastern Europe and Russia. In the 1940's, companies like L'Oreal and Eli Lilly marketed products with catchy names like Bacté-coli-phage and Staphylo-gel! There were set backs (d'Herelle's science partner in Tbilisi was executed by Stalin) and with the discovery of antibiotics in the 1940's, Western scientists lost interest in this line of medical research. Unfortunately, most published studies (written in Russian or Georgian) are not accessible to the western world and clinical trials did not follow current protocols of controls, making them difficult to assess retrospectively. 

    Evolutionary Arms Race: With growing resistance to antibiotics, a resurgence in phage therapy may be warranted. One advantage to phage therapy is that when bacteria develop resistance to a phage, we should be able to rapidly select (in a few days or weeks) for mutant phage versions in a tit-for-tat evolutionary arms race! Phage therapy is already around us in some form:the USDA has approved a phage spray (ListShield) that can be used on cheese, chicken, and processed meat to prevent infection with Listeria. Is this the start of a new phage in the way we treat bacterial infections? :)

    REF: (1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC90351/#B21
    (2) http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/48/8/1096.full

    Image: T-phage infecting E. coli , false-colored EM via http://goo.gl/fmDVCi

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 489 plusses - 112 comments - 272 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-06-01 15:59:26
    The Enemy of My Enemy

    ✇ Nearly 125 years ago, a British bacteriologist observed that the holy waters of the Ganges and Yamuna had curious bactericidal properties, limiting the spread of cholera. It took another 20 years before two microbiologists independently proposed the existence of viruses. Observing small clearings on a lawn of dysentery-causing bacillus on an agar plate, d'Herelle coined the term bacteriophage for the virus that devours bacteria; now affectionately abbreviated to "phage".  

    A Voracious Appetite: Found everywhere bacteria exist- in the soil, deep inside the earth's crust, within the bodies of animals and plants, and densely packed in the oceans, there are an estimated 1×10^8 different types of phages, each infecting only a specific type of bacteria.  Almost comical in appearance, a phage has its genetic material tightly packed into the capsid head, that can be injected through the stalk-like tail into the bacterial cell. Once inside, it can stage a peaceful coup (lysogenic) or burst open the bacterium (lytic) when it multiplies. It is estimated that there are up to 10^32 phages in our biosphere, destroying half the bacterial population every 48 hours! 

    Microbe Hunters: d'Herelle and his fellow scientists were quick to grasp the potential of phages as antibacterials. After consuming a preparation to confirm its safety, he administered the phage to a 12-year old boy with acute dysentery. The boy fully recovered. This set off a golden era in the commercial production and use of phages, centered largely in eastern Europe and Russia. In the 1940's, companies like L'Oreal and Eli Lilly marketed products with catchy names like Bacté-coli-phage and Staphylo-gel! There were set backs (d'Herelle's science partner in Tbilisi was executed by Stalin) and with the discovery of antibiotics in the 1940's, Western scientists lost interest in this line of medical research. Unfortunately, most published studies (written in Russian or Georgian) are not accessible to the western world and clinical trials did not follow current protocols of controls, making them difficult to assess retrospectively. 

    Evolutionary Arms Race: With growing resistance to antibiotics, a resurgence in phage therapy may be warranted. One advantage to phage therapy is that when bacteria develop resistance to a phage, we should be able to rapidly select (in a few days or weeks) for mutant phage versions in a tit-for-tat evolutionary arms race! Phage therapy is already around us in some form:the USDA has approved a phage spray (ListShield) that can be used on cheese, chicken, and processed meat to prevent infection with Listeria. Is this the start of a new phage in the way we treat bacterial infections? :)

    REF: (1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC90351/#B21
    (2) http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/48/8/1096.full

    Image: T-phage infecting E. coli , false-colored EM via http://goo.gl/fmDVCi

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 489 plusses - 112 comments - 272 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-06-01 15:59:26
    The Enemy of My Enemy

    ✇ Nearly 125 years ago, a British bacteriologist observed that the holy waters of the Ganges and Yamuna had curious bactericidal properties, limiting the spread of cholera. It took another 20 years before two microbiologists independently proposed the existence of viruses. Observing small clearings on a lawn of dysentery-causing bacillus on an agar plate, d'Herelle coined the term bacteriophage for the virus that devours bacteria; now affectionately abbreviated to "phage".  

    A Voracious Appetite: Found everywhere bacteria exist- in the soil, deep inside the earth's crust, within the bodies of animals and plants, and densely packed in the oceans, there are an estimated 1×10^8 different types of phages, each infecting only a specific type of bacteria.  Almost comical in appearance, a phage has its genetic material tightly packed into the capsid head, that can be injected through the stalk-like tail into the bacterial cell. Once inside, it can stage a peaceful coup (lysogenic) or burst open the bacterium (lytic) when it multiplies. It is estimated that there are up to 10^32 phages in our biosphere, destroying half the bacterial population every 48 hours! 

    Microbe Hunters: d'Herelle and his fellow scientists were quick to grasp the potential of phages as antibacterials. After consuming a preparation to confirm its safety, he administered the phage to a 12-year old boy with acute dysentery. The boy fully recovered. This set off a golden era in the commercial production and use of phages, centered largely in eastern Europe and Russia. In the 1940's, companies like L'Oreal and Eli Lilly marketed products with catchy names like Bacté-coli-phage and Staphylo-gel! There were set backs (d'Herelle's science partner in Tbilisi was executed by Stalin) and with the discovery of antibiotics in the 1940's, Western scientists lost interest in this line of medical research. Unfortunately, most published studies (written in Russian or Georgian) are not accessible to the western world and clinical trials did not follow current protocols of controls, making them difficult to assess retrospectively. 

    Evolutionary Arms Race: With growing resistance to antibiotics, a resurgence in phage therapy may be warranted. One advantage to phage therapy is that when bacteria develop resistance to a phage, we should be able to rapidly select (in a few days or weeks) for mutant phage versions in a tit-for-tat evolutionary arms race! Phage therapy is already around us in some form:the USDA has approved a phage spray (ListShield) that can be used on cheese, chicken, and processed meat to prevent infection with Listeria. Is this the start of a new phage in the way we treat bacterial infections? :)

    REF: (1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC90351/#B21
    (2) http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/48/8/1096.full

    Image: T-phage infecting E. coli , false-colored EM via http://goo.gl/fmDVCi

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 489 plusses - 112 comments - 272 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-06-01 15:59:26
    The Enemy of My Enemy

    ✇ Nearly 125 years ago, a British bacteriologist observed that the holy waters of the Ganges and Yamuna had curious bactericidal properties, limiting the spread of cholera. It took another 20 years before two microbiologists independently proposed the existence of viruses. Observing small clearings on a lawn of dysentery-causing bacillus on an agar plate, d'Herelle coined the term bacteriophage for the virus that devours bacteria; now affectionately abbreviated to "phage".  

    A Voracious Appetite: Found everywhere bacteria exist- in the soil, deep inside the earth's crust, within the bodies of animals and plants, and densely packed in the oceans, there are an estimated 1×10^8 different types of phages, each infecting only a specific type of bacteria.  Almost comical in appearance, a phage has its genetic material tightly packed into the capsid head, that can be injected through the stalk-like tail into the bacterial cell. Once inside, it can stage a peaceful coup (lysogenic) or burst open the bacterium (lytic) when it multiplies. It is estimated that there are up to 10^32 phages in our biosphere, destroying half the bacterial population every 48 hours! 

    Microbe Hunters: d'Herelle and his fellow scientists were quick to grasp the potential of phages as antibacterials. After consuming a preparation to confirm its safety, he administered the phage to a 12-year old boy with acute dysentery. The boy fully recovered. This set off a golden era in the commercial production and use of phages, centered largely in eastern Europe and Russia. In the 1940's, companies like L'Oreal and Eli Lilly marketed products with catchy names like Bacté-coli-phage and Staphylo-gel! There were set backs (d'Herelle's science partner in Tbilisi was executed by Stalin) and with the discovery of antibiotics in the 1940's, Western scientists lost interest in this line of medical research. Unfortunately, most published studies (written in Russian or Georgian) are not accessible to the western world and clinical trials did not follow current protocols of controls, making them difficult to assess retrospectively. 

    Evolutionary Arms Race: With growing resistance to antibiotics, a resurgence in phage therapy may be warranted. One advantage to phage therapy is that when bacteria develop resistance to a phage, we should be able to rapidly select (in a few days or weeks) for mutant phage versions in a tit-for-tat evolutionary arms race! Phage therapy is already around us in some form:the USDA has approved a phage spray (ListShield) that can be used on cheese, chicken, and processed meat to prevent infection with Listeria. Is this the start of a new phage in the way we treat bacterial infections? :)

    REF: (1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC90351/#B21
    (2) http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/48/8/1096.full

    Image: T-phage infecting E. coli , false-colored EM via http://goo.gl/fmDVCi

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 489 plusses - 112 comments - 272 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-06-01 15:59:26
    The Enemy of My Enemy

    ✇ Nearly 125 years ago, a British bacteriologist observed that the holy waters of the Ganges and Yamuna had curious bactericidal properties, limiting the spread of cholera. It took another 20 years before two microbiologists independently proposed the existence of viruses. Observing small clearings on a lawn of dysentery-causing bacillus on an agar plate, d'Herelle coined the term bacteriophage for the virus that devours bacteria; now affectionately abbreviated to "phage".  

    A Voracious Appetite: Found everywhere bacteria exist- in the soil, deep inside the earth's crust, within the bodies of animals and plants, and densely packed in the oceans, there are an estimated 1×10^8 different types of phages, each infecting only a specific type of bacteria.  Almost comical in appearance, a phage has its genetic material tightly packed into the capsid head, that can be injected through the stalk-like tail into the bacterial cell. Once inside, it can stage a peaceful coup (lysogenic) or burst open the bacterium (lytic) when it multiplies. It is estimated that there are up to 10^32 phages in our biosphere, destroying half the bacterial population every 48 hours! 

    Microbe Hunters: d'Herelle and his fellow scientists were quick to grasp the potential of phages as antibacterials. After consuming a preparation to confirm its safety, he administered the phage to a 12-year old boy with acute dysentery. The boy fully recovered. This set off a golden era in the commercial production and use of phages, centered largely in eastern Europe and Russia. In the 1940's, companies like L'Oreal and Eli Lilly marketed products with catchy names like Bacté-coli-phage and Staphylo-gel! There were set backs (d'Herelle's science partner in Tbilisi was executed by Stalin) and with the discovery of antibiotics in the 1940's, Western scientists lost interest in this line of medical research. Unfortunately, most published studies (written in Russian or Georgian) are not accessible to the western world and clinical trials did not follow current protocols of controls, making them difficult to assess retrospectively. 

    Evolutionary Arms Race: With growing resistance to antibiotics, a resurgence in phage therapy may be warranted. One advantage to phage therapy is that when bacteria develop resistance to a phage, we should be able to rapidly select (in a few days or weeks) for mutant phage versions in a tit-for-tat evolutionary arms race! Phage therapy is already around us in some form:the USDA has approved a phage spray (ListShield) that can be used on cheese, chicken, and processed meat to prevent infection with Listeria. Is this the start of a new phage in the way we treat bacterial infections? :)

    REF: (1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC90351/#B21
    (2) http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/48/8/1096.full

    Image: T-phage infecting E. coli , false-colored EM via http://goo.gl/fmDVCi

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 489 plusses - 112 comments - 272 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-02-23 18:24:34
    Chameleon Catapult

    Chameleons are among the slowest moving reptiles. But their protruding eyes swivel independently for a 360 degree range, so they can look for prey in different directions at the same time. When a hapless insect victim is detected, both eyes focus on it to judge range and distance with superb accuracy. 

    Ballistic Brilliance! The chameleon then launches its tongue, which is 1.5 times its body length, at speeds of 26 body lengths per second. That works out to 13.4 miles per hour or 6 meters per second . The initial acceleration is enormous: 500 m s−2 or 51g. For comparison, the space shuttle launches at 3g and humans pass out at accelerations approaching 10g. It takes less than a tenth of a second for the chameleon to snag its prey!

    Corkscrew Collagen: This impressive performance exceeds the capability of any muscle in biology by an order of magnitude. So what’s the secret behind the ballistics? The chameleon’s tongue has energy stored in concentric layers of a springy fiber, called collagen, wrapped around a stiff cartilage core. The powerful tongue muscle initially primes the spring by compressing it, to the same effect as a bow being pulled taut. When the tongue is launched, the spring uncoils explosively, slipping off the cartilage core. Once the sticky end snares the prey, the muscles work more slowly to reel it back in. This gives chameleons a competitive edge over lizards and other reptiles. Watch ▶ http://goo.gl/EBFty

    Breakfast at Dawn: Another advantage to this strategy is that the chameleon can catch its prey even at chilly temperatures when its muscles slow down drastically: unlike birds and mammals, reptiles are cold blooded and at the mercy of their ambient temperature. Watch how only the retraction of the tongue is slowed at low temperatures ▶ http://goo.gl/gT2hd

    REF ▶ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691657/

    Slo Mo ▶ http://vimeo.com/12068409

    H/T to +Panah Rad for the gif ▶ http://i.imgur.com/XCytc.gif

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 300 plusses - 121 comments - 374 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-02-23 18:24:34
    Chameleon Catapult

    Chameleons are among the slowest moving reptiles. But their protruding eyes swivel independently for a 360 degree range, so they can look for prey in different directions at the same time. When a hapless insect victim is detected, both eyes focus on it to judge range and distance with superb accuracy. 

    Ballistic Brilliance! The chameleon then launches its tongue, which is 1.5 times its body length, at speeds of 26 body lengths per second. That works out to 13.4 miles per hour or 6 meters per second . The initial acceleration is enormous: 500 m s−2 or 51g. For comparison, the space shuttle launches at 3g and humans pass out at accelerations approaching 10g. It takes less than a tenth of a second for the chameleon to snag its prey!

    Corkscrew Collagen: This impressive performance exceeds the capability of any muscle in biology by an order of magnitude. So what’s the secret behind the ballistics? The chameleon’s tongue has energy stored in concentric layers of a springy fiber, called collagen, wrapped around a stiff cartilage core. The powerful tongue muscle initially primes the spring by compressing it, to the same effect as a bow being pulled taut. When the tongue is launched, the spring uncoils explosively, slipping off the cartilage core. Once the sticky end snares the prey, the muscles work more slowly to reel it back in. This gives chameleons a competitive edge over lizards and other reptiles. Watch ▶ http://goo.gl/EBFty

    Breakfast at Dawn: Another advantage to this strategy is that the chameleon can catch its prey even at chilly temperatures when its muscles slow down drastically: unlike birds and mammals, reptiles are cold blooded and at the mercy of their ambient temperature. Watch how only the retraction of the tongue is slowed at low temperatures ▶ http://goo.gl/gT2hd

    REF ▶ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691657/

    Slo Mo ▶ http://vimeo.com/12068409

    H/T to +Panah Rad for the gif ▶ http://i.imgur.com/XCytc.gif

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 300 plusses - 121 comments - 374 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-02-23 18:24:34
    Chameleon Catapult

    Chameleons are among the slowest moving reptiles. But their protruding eyes swivel independently for a 360 degree range, so they can look for prey in different directions at the same time. When a hapless insect victim is detected, both eyes focus on it to judge range and distance with superb accuracy. 

    Ballistic Brilliance! The chameleon then launches its tongue, which is 1.5 times its body length, at speeds of 26 body lengths per second. That works out to 13.4 miles per hour or 6 meters per second . The initial acceleration is enormous: 500 m s−2 or 51g. For comparison, the space shuttle launches at 3g and humans pass out at accelerations approaching 10g. It takes less than a tenth of a second for the chameleon to snag its prey!

    Corkscrew Collagen: This impressive performance exceeds the capability of any muscle in biology by an order of magnitude. So what’s the secret behind the ballistics? The chameleon’s tongue has energy stored in concentric layers of a springy fiber, called collagen, wrapped around a stiff cartilage core. The powerful tongue muscle initially primes the spring by compressing it, to the same effect as a bow being pulled taut. When the tongue is launched, the spring uncoils explosively, slipping off the cartilage core. Once the sticky end snares the prey, the muscles work more slowly to reel it back in. This gives chameleons a competitive edge over lizards and other reptiles. Watch ▶ http://goo.gl/EBFty

    Breakfast at Dawn: Another advantage to this strategy is that the chameleon can catch its prey even at chilly temperatures when its muscles slow down drastically: unlike birds and mammals, reptiles are cold blooded and at the mercy of their ambient temperature. Watch how only the retraction of the tongue is slowed at low temperatures ▶ http://goo.gl/gT2hd

    REF ▶ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691657/

    Slo Mo ▶ http://vimeo.com/12068409

    H/T to +Panah Rad for the gif ▶ http://i.imgur.com/XCytc.gif

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 300 plusses - 121 comments - 374 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-02-23 18:24:34
    Chameleon Catapult

    Chameleons are among the slowest moving reptiles. But their protruding eyes swivel independently for a 360 degree range, so they can look for prey in different directions at the same time. When a hapless insect victim is detected, both eyes focus on it to judge range and distance with superb accuracy. 

    Ballistic Brilliance! The chameleon then launches its tongue, which is 1.5 times its body length, at speeds of 26 body lengths per second. That works out to 13.4 miles per hour or 6 meters per second . The initial acceleration is enormous: 500 m s−2 or 51g. For comparison, the space shuttle launches at 3g and humans pass out at accelerations approaching 10g. It takes less than a tenth of a second for the chameleon to snag its prey!

    Corkscrew Collagen: This impressive performance exceeds the capability of any muscle in biology by an order of magnitude. So what’s the secret behind the ballistics? The chameleon’s tongue has energy stored in concentric layers of a springy fiber, called collagen, wrapped around a stiff cartilage core. The powerful tongue muscle initially primes the spring by compressing it, to the same effect as a bow being pulled taut. When the tongue is launched, the spring uncoils explosively, slipping off the cartilage core. Once the sticky end snares the prey, the muscles work more slowly to reel it back in. This gives chameleons a competitive edge over lizards and other reptiles. Watch ▶ http://goo.gl/EBFty

    Breakfast at Dawn: Another advantage to this strategy is that the chameleon can catch its prey even at chilly temperatures when its muscles slow down drastically: unlike birds and mammals, reptiles are cold blooded and at the mercy of their ambient temperature. Watch how only the retraction of the tongue is slowed at low temperatures ▶ http://goo.gl/gT2hd

    REF ▶ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691657/

    Slo Mo ▶ http://vimeo.com/12068409

    H/T to +Panah Rad for the gif ▶ http://i.imgur.com/XCytc.gif

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 300 plusses - 121 comments - 374 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-02-23 18:24:34
    Chameleon Catapult

    Chameleons are among the slowest moving reptiles. But their protruding eyes swivel independently for a 360 degree range, so they can look for prey in different directions at the same time. When a hapless insect victim is detected, both eyes focus on it to judge range and distance with superb accuracy. 

    Ballistic Brilliance! The chameleon then launches its tongue, which is 1.5 times its body length, at speeds of 26 body lengths per second. That works out to 13.4 miles per hour or 6 meters per second . The initial acceleration is enormous: 500 m s−2 or 51g. For comparison, the space shuttle launches at 3g and humans pass out at accelerations approaching 10g. It takes less than a tenth of a second for the chameleon to snag its prey!

    Corkscrew Collagen: This impressive performance exceeds the capability of any muscle in biology by an order of magnitude. So what’s the secret behind the ballistics? The chameleon’s tongue has energy stored in concentric layers of a springy fiber, called collagen, wrapped around a stiff cartilage core. The powerful tongue muscle initially primes the spring by compressing it, to the same effect as a bow being pulled taut. When the tongue is launched, the spring uncoils explosively, slipping off the cartilage core. Once the sticky end snares the prey, the muscles work more slowly to reel it back in. This gives chameleons a competitive edge over lizards and other reptiles. Watch ▶ http://goo.gl/EBFty

    Breakfast at Dawn: Another advantage to this strategy is that the chameleon can catch its prey even at chilly temperatures when its muscles slow down drastically: unlike birds and mammals, reptiles are cold blooded and at the mercy of their ambient temperature. Watch how only the retraction of the tongue is slowed at low temperatures ▶ http://goo.gl/gT2hd

    REF ▶ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691657/

    Slo Mo ▶ http://vimeo.com/12068409

    H/T to +Panah Rad for the gif ▶ http://i.imgur.com/XCytc.gif

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 300 plusses - 121 comments - 374 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-01-08 19:28:22
    Walking Heads: Kinesin or The Little Engine That Could :)
    Have you wondered how things (like vesicles and mitochondria) move about inside a cell? They don’t just drift aimlessly through the thick cytoplasmic soup-rather they are ferried by kinesin, a hard working molecular motor.

    To watch mitochondria motor down an invisible highway inside a nerve cell see: Mitochondrial Moving in an Axon.mov

    The kinesin highway is made of microtubules : a bundle of 13 filaments that have distinct ends (known as + and – ends). Kinesins move cargo towards the + end (from the center of the cell to the periphery) and dyneins move them in the opposite direction. Watch what happens when fluorescent microtubules are placed on a slide coated with kinesin! Kinesin-1 gliding motility assay, whole casein passivation.avi

    Cargo is tethered to kinesin by a long coil. The two heads of the motor walk along the microtubule in a hand-over-hand mechanism using ATP hydrolysis as a power source. Each ATP moves the motor one 8 nanometer step. Notice that kinesin is a processive motor: once it is attached to the microtubule it takes (on average)100 steps, before it lets go.

    For a narrated 2 min mechanism see:Kinesin Walking Narrated Version for Garland

    Many, many thanks to +Kevin Staff for being such a sport and converting the kinesin video into an animated gif! Special shout out to +Andreas Schou who requested some ‘kinesin love’ and to +Henry K.O. Norman who is working on an animated production on cellular mechanisms.

    For #ScienceSunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
  • 382 plusses - 54 comments - 320 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-01-08 19:28:22
    Walking Heads: Kinesin or The Little Engine That Could :)
    Have you wondered how things (like vesicles and mitochondria) move about inside a cell? They don’t just drift aimlessly through the thick cytoplasmic soup-rather they are ferried by kinesin, a hard working molecular motor.

    To watch mitochondria motor down an invisible highway inside a nerve cell see: Mitochondrial Moving in an Axon.mov

    The kinesin highway is made of microtubules : a bundle of 13 filaments that have distinct ends (known as + and – ends). Kinesins move cargo towards the + end (from the center of the cell to the periphery) and dyneins move them in the opposite direction. Watch what happens when fluorescent microtubules are placed on a slide coated with kinesin! Kinesin-1 gliding motility assay, whole casein passivation.avi

    Cargo is tethered to kinesin by a long coil. The two heads of the motor walk along the microtubule in a hand-over-hand mechanism using ATP hydrolysis as a power source. Each ATP moves the motor one 8 nanometer step. Notice that kinesin is a processive motor: once it is attached to the microtubule it takes (on average)100 steps, before it lets go.

    For a narrated 2 min mechanism see:Kinesin Walking Narrated Version for Garland

    Many, many thanks to +Kevin Staff for being such a sport and converting the kinesin video into an animated gif! Special shout out to +Andreas Schou who requested some ‘kinesin love’ and to +Henry K.O. Norman who is working on an animated production on cellular mechanisms.

    For #ScienceSunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
  • 382 plusses - 54 comments - 320 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-01-08 19:28:22
    Walking Heads: Kinesin or The Little Engine That Could :)
    Have you wondered how things (like vesicles and mitochondria) move about inside a cell? They don’t just drift aimlessly through the thick cytoplasmic soup-rather they are ferried by kinesin, a hard working molecular motor.

    To watch mitochondria motor down an invisible highway inside a nerve cell see: Mitochondrial Moving in an Axon.mov

    The kinesin highway is made of microtubules : a bundle of 13 filaments that have distinct ends (known as + and – ends). Kinesins move cargo towards the + end (from the center of the cell to the periphery) and dyneins move them in the opposite direction. Watch what happens when fluorescent microtubules are placed on a slide coated with kinesin! Kinesin-1 gliding motility assay, whole casein passivation.avi

    Cargo is tethered to kinesin by a long coil. The two heads of the motor walk along the microtubule in a hand-over-hand mechanism using ATP hydrolysis as a power source. Each ATP moves the motor one 8 nanometer step. Notice that kinesin is a processive motor: once it is attached to the microtubule it takes (on average)100 steps, before it lets go.

    For a narrated 2 min mechanism see:Kinesin Walking Narrated Version for Garland

    Many, many thanks to +Kevin Staff for being such a sport and converting the kinesin video into an animated gif! Special shout out to +Andreas Schou who requested some ‘kinesin love’ and to +Henry K.O. Norman who is working on an animated production on cellular mechanisms.

    For #ScienceSunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
  • 382 plusses - 54 comments - 320 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-01-08 19:28:22
    Walking Heads: Kinesin or The Little Engine That Could :)
    Have you wondered how things (like vesicles and mitochondria) move about inside a cell? They don’t just drift aimlessly through the thick cytoplasmic soup-rather they are ferried by kinesin, a hard working molecular motor.

    To watch mitochondria motor down an invisible highway inside a nerve cell see: Mitochondrial Moving in an Axon.mov

    The kinesin highway is made of microtubules : a bundle of 13 filaments that have distinct ends (known as + and – ends). Kinesins move cargo towards the + end (from the center of the cell to the periphery) and dyneins move them in the opposite direction. Watch what happens when fluorescent microtubules are placed on a slide coated with kinesin! Kinesin-1 gliding motility assay, whole casein passivation.avi

    Cargo is tethered to kinesin by a long coil. The two heads of the motor walk along the microtubule in a hand-over-hand mechanism using ATP hydrolysis as a power source. Each ATP moves the motor one 8 nanometer step. Notice that kinesin is a processive motor: once it is attached to the microtubule it takes (on average)100 steps, before it lets go.

    For a narrated 2 min mechanism see:Kinesin Walking Narrated Version for Garland

    Many, many thanks to +Kevin Staff for being such a sport and converting the kinesin video into an animated gif! Special shout out to +Andreas Schou who requested some ‘kinesin love’ and to +Henry K.O. Norman who is working on an animated production on cellular mechanisms.

    For #ScienceSunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
  • 382 plusses - 54 comments - 320 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-02-04 23:00:11
    ///\oo/\\\ Tarantula!

    ▶ All arthropods (insects, spiders and crabs) have a hard exoskeleton, which they must shed at intervals, to catch up on their growth. Known as ecdysis (from the Greek ekduo to strip off), the process is carefully coordinated, risky in the wild, and fraught with difficulties.

    ▶ For several days or even weeks before the molt, a tarantula will appear moody and sluggish, refusing to eat. It spins a cradle, called molting web (seen to the left of the gif), and lays on its back. Its heart rate increases dramatically and hemolymph ("blood") is pumped into the upper body (cephalothorax) so it nearly doubles in size. The pressure cracks the carapace along the sides and front. Wave like muscle contractions in the abdomen push the old exoskeleton, lifting it off like the lid of a can. Now comes the tricky part: the spider must work its legs out of the old shell, with forward facing hairs and bristles keeping it from slipping back inside. 

    One well-placed kick, and the ordeal is over - here, have a cigar! 

    ♺▶ Fun Facts (aka everything you wanted to know about molting but were afraid to ask):

    ● Before the molt, the spider secretes a digesting fluid that loosens and eats away at the old cuticle (yum!).

    ● While spiderlings molt several times a year, mature females, who can live up to 40 years molt every other year. Unfortunately, many males do not survive their last adult molt, because their male sex organs get stuck in the exoskeleton (sorry, guys!). 

    ● The molt lasts from ~20 minutes, in babies, to several days in the adult (ladies, you sympathize, right?). 

    ● During a molt, spiders also shed their fangs, chelicerae (which they use for grasping), their throats and stomach lining, female genital organs (omg!), and the lining of their "book lungs". 

    ● A spider that has lost a leg can regenerate one during a molt.  

    Credit: This has been a fun Google+   #collaboration  with the lovely +Carmelyne Thompson  for   #ScienceEveryday . Carmelyne gif-ed the ecdysis time-lapse for this post, after we discussed another cool spider molt gif on her post (http://goo.gl/fVo5fp). If you don't have Carmelyne in your circles for more science fun, you should! 

    More reading: http://goo.gl/U6w0cV
  • 327 plusses - 135 comments - 271 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-02-04 23:00:11
    ///\oo/\\\ Tarantula!

    ▶ All arthropods (insects, spiders and crabs) have a hard exoskeleton, which they must shed at intervals, to catch up on their growth. Known as ecdysis (from the Greek ekduo to strip off), the process is carefully coordinated, risky in the wild, and fraught with difficulties.

    ▶ For several days or even weeks before the molt, a tarantula will appear moody and sluggish, refusing to eat. It spins a cradle, called molting web (seen to the left of the gif), and lays on its back. Its heart rate increases dramatically and hemolymph ("blood") is pumped into the upper body (cephalothorax) so it nearly doubles in size. The pressure cracks the carapace along the sides and front. Wave like muscle contractions in the abdomen push the old exoskeleton, lifting it off like the lid of a can. Now comes the tricky part: the spider must work its legs out of the old shell, with forward facing hairs and bristles keeping it from slipping back inside. 

    One well-placed kick, and the ordeal is over - here, have a cigar! 

    ♺▶ Fun Facts (aka everything you wanted to know about molting but were afraid to ask):

    ● Before the molt, the spider secretes a digesting fluid that loosens and eats away at the old cuticle (yum!).

    ● While spiderlings molt several times a year, mature females, who can live up to 40 years molt every other year. Unfortunately, many males do not survive their last adult molt, because their male sex organs get stuck in the exoskeleton (sorry, guys!). 

    ● The molt lasts from ~20 minutes, in babies, to several days in the adult (ladies, you sympathize, right?). 

    ● During a molt, spiders also shed their fangs, chelicerae (which they use for grasping), their throats and stomach lining, female genital organs (omg!), and the lining of their "book lungs". 

    ● A spider that has lost a leg can regenerate one during a molt.  

    Credit: This has been a fun Google+   #collaboration  with the lovely +Carmelyne Thompson  for   #ScienceEveryday . Carmelyne gif-ed the ecdysis time-lapse for this post, after we discussed another cool spider molt gif on her post (http://goo.gl/fVo5fp). If you don't have Carmelyne in your circles for more science fun, you should! 

    More reading: http://goo.gl/U6w0cV
  • 327 plusses - 135 comments - 271 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-02-04 23:00:11
    ///\oo/\\\ Tarantula!

    ▶ All arthropods (insects, spiders and crabs) have a hard exoskeleton, which they must shed at intervals, to catch up on their growth. Known as ecdysis (from the Greek ekduo to strip off), the process is carefully coordinated, risky in the wild, and fraught with difficulties.

    ▶ For several days or even weeks before the molt, a tarantula will appear moody and sluggish, refusing to eat. It spins a cradle, called molting web (seen to the left of the gif), and lays on its back. Its heart rate increases dramatically and hemolymph ("blood") is pumped into the upper body (cephalothorax) so it nearly doubles in size. The pressure cracks the carapace along the sides and front. Wave like muscle contractions in the abdomen push the old exoskeleton, lifting it off like the lid of a can. Now comes the tricky part: the spider must work its legs out of the old shell, with forward facing hairs and bristles keeping it from slipping back inside. 

    One well-placed kick, and the ordeal is over - here, have a cigar! 

    ♺▶ Fun Facts (aka everything you wanted to know about molting but were afraid to ask):

    ● Before the molt, the spider secretes a digesting fluid that loosens and eats away at the old cuticle (yum!).

    ● While spiderlings molt several times a year, mature females, who can live up to 40 years molt every other year. Unfortunately, many males do not survive their last adult molt, because their male sex organs get stuck in the exoskeleton (sorry, guys!). 

    ● The molt lasts from ~20 minutes, in babies, to several days in the adult (ladies, you sympathize, right?). 

    ● During a molt, spiders also shed their fangs, chelicerae (which they use for grasping), their throats and stomach lining, female genital organs (omg!), and the lining of their "book lungs". 

    ● A spider that has lost a leg can regenerate one during a molt.  

    Credit: This has been a fun Google+   #collaboration  with the lovely +Carmelyne Thompson  for   #ScienceEveryday . Carmelyne gif-ed the ecdysis time-lapse for this post, after we discussed another cool spider molt gif on her post (http://goo.gl/fVo5fp). If you don't have Carmelyne in your circles for more science fun, you should! 

    More reading: http://goo.gl/U6w0cV
  • 327 plusses - 135 comments - 271 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-02-04 23:00:11
    ///\oo/\\\ Tarantula!

    ▶ All arthropods (insects, spiders and crabs) have a hard exoskeleton, which they must shed at intervals, to catch up on their growth. Known as ecdysis (from the Greek ekduo to strip off), the process is carefully coordinated, risky in the wild, and fraught with difficulties.

    ▶ For several days or even weeks before the molt, a tarantula will appear moody and sluggish, refusing to eat. It spins a cradle, called molting web (seen to the left of the gif), and lays on its back. Its heart rate increases dramatically and hemolymph ("blood") is pumped into the upper body (cephalothorax) so it nearly doubles in size. The pressure cracks the carapace along the sides and front. Wave like muscle contractions in the abdomen push the old exoskeleton, lifting it off like the lid of a can. Now comes the tricky part: the spider must work its legs out of the old shell, with forward facing hairs and bristles keeping it from slipping back inside. 

    One well-placed kick, and the ordeal is over - here, have a cigar! 

    ♺▶ Fun Facts (aka everything you wanted to know about molting but were afraid to ask):

    ● Before the molt, the spider secretes a digesting fluid that loosens and eats away at the old cuticle (yum!).

    ● While spiderlings molt several times a year, mature females, who can live up to 40 years molt every other year. Unfortunately, many males do not survive their last adult molt, because their male sex organs get stuck in the exoskeleton (sorry, guys!). 

    ● The molt lasts from ~20 minutes, in babies, to several days in the adult (ladies, you sympathize, right?). 

    ● During a molt, spiders also shed their fangs, chelicerae (which they use for grasping), their throats and stomach lining, female genital organs (omg!), and the lining of their "book lungs". 

    ● A spider that has lost a leg can regenerate one during a molt.  

    Credit: This has been a fun Google+   #collaboration  with the lovely +Carmelyne Thompson  for   #ScienceEveryday . Carmelyne gif-ed the ecdysis time-lapse for this post, after we discussed another cool spider molt gif on her post (http://goo.gl/fVo5fp). If you don't have Carmelyne in your circles for more science fun, you should! 

    More reading: http://goo.gl/U6w0cV
  • 327 plusses - 135 comments - 271 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2014-02-04 23:00:11
    ///\oo/\\\ Tarantula!

    ▶ All arthropods (insects, spiders and crabs) have a hard exoskeleton, which they must shed at intervals, to catch up on their growth. Known as ecdysis (from the Greek ekduo to strip off), the process is carefully coordinated, risky in the wild, and fraught with difficulties.

    ▶ For several days or even weeks before the molt, a tarantula will appear moody and sluggish, refusing to eat. It spins a cradle, called molting web (seen to the left of the gif), and lays on its back. Its heart rate increases dramatically and hemolymph ("blood") is pumped into the upper body (cephalothorax) so it nearly doubles in size. The pressure cracks the carapace along the sides and front. Wave like muscle contractions in the abdomen push the old exoskeleton, lifting it off like the lid of a can. Now comes the tricky part: the spider must work its legs out of the old shell, with forward facing hairs and bristles keeping it from slipping back inside. 

    One well-placed kick, and the ordeal is over - here, have a cigar! 

    ♺▶ Fun Facts (aka everything you wanted to know about molting but were afraid to ask):

    ● Before the molt, the spider secretes a digesting fluid that loosens and eats away at the old cuticle (yum!).

    ● While spiderlings molt several times a year, mature females, who can live up to 40 years molt every other year. Unfortunately, many males do not survive their last adult molt, because their male sex organs get stuck in the exoskeleton (sorry, guys!). 

    ● The molt lasts from ~20 minutes, in babies, to several days in the adult (ladies, you sympathize, right?). 

    ● During a molt, spiders also shed their fangs, chelicerae (which they use for grasping), their throats and stomach lining, female genital organs (omg!), and the lining of their "book lungs". 

    ● A spider that has lost a leg can regenerate one during a molt.  

    Credit: This has been a fun Google+   #collaboration  with the lovely +Carmelyne Thompson  for   #ScienceEveryday . Carmelyne gif-ed the ecdysis time-lapse for this post, after we discussed another cool spider molt gif on her post (http://goo.gl/fVo5fp). If you don't have Carmelyne in your circles for more science fun, you should! 

    More reading: http://goo.gl/U6w0cV
  • 327 plusses - 135 comments - 271 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-08-18 19:35:31
    Rattler!  Did you know that the western diamondback rattlesnake Crotalus atrox can rattle its tail continuously for hours at frequencies approaching 90 Hz (90 times per sec)? This is twice as fast as a hummingbird's wings

    Nailing the Noise: The tail-end of the rattlesnake has a series of hollow "buttons" linked together, each made of keratin (found in our nails) and modified from the snake's scales. At birth, there is only one pre-button, but each time a snake sheds its skin, another button emerges at the end. It's a myth that one can tell the age of a rattlesnake from the number of buttons, because a snake may molt variably in a year and the buttons do break off with use.  

    Sound production in animals, is energetically expensive. But the rattler is an evolutionary marvel, optimized for minimal cost and maximal efficiency (for the aficionados, only 0.015 micromoles ATP consumed per gram muscle per twitch). Surprisingly, energy use is independent of temperature and rate of rattling. There are six sets of tailshaker muscles, arranged at 45 degree angles to the axis of the tail. All six are active during rattling, with muscles on one side contracting while those on the other side relax. This out of phase contraction generates an oscillating motion seen in the gif image

    Once you've heard a live rattler, you'll never forget it, says +Gnotic Pasta, who has plenty of snake stories to share. Do you have any cool facts or anecdotes about rattlers? Also check out +Buddhini Samarasinghe scary post on Bite Reflex of a Snake here: http://goo.gl/Lz7oBN

    ▶ BBC Video (3:50 min) on high speed filming of the rattle (look behind the rattle for the forked tongue darting out!): Slow motion rattlesnake - Slo Mo #3 - Earth Unplugged

    ▶ Great basin rattlesnake Crotalus viridis lutosus filmed by our intrepid G plusser +Gnotic Pasta  :  http://vimeo.com/64675533

    ▶ REF (old, but free): Structural correlates of speed and endurance in skeletal muscle: the rattlesnake tailshaker muscle. Schaeffer et al. http://jeb.biologists.org/content/199/2/351.long

    H/T to +Amy Robinson  for sharing the gif that inspired this post (http://goo.gl/pzi4Yv). 

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 417 plusses - 145 comments - 200 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-08-18 19:35:31
    Rattler!  Did you know that the western diamondback rattlesnake Crotalus atrox can rattle its tail continuously for hours at frequencies approaching 90 Hz (90 times per sec)? This is twice as fast as a hummingbird's wings

    Nailing the Noise: The tail-end of the rattlesnake has a series of hollow "buttons" linked together, each made of keratin (found in our nails) and modified from the snake's scales. At birth, there is only one pre-button, but each time a snake sheds its skin, another button emerges at the end. It's a myth that one can tell the age of a rattlesnake from the number of buttons, because a snake may molt variably in a year and the buttons do break off with use.  

    Sound production in animals, is energetically expensive. But the rattler is an evolutionary marvel, optimized for minimal cost and maximal efficiency (for the aficionados, only 0.015 micromoles ATP consumed per gram muscle per twitch). Surprisingly, energy use is independent of temperature and rate of rattling. There are six sets of tailshaker muscles, arranged at 45 degree angles to the axis of the tail. All six are active during rattling, with muscles on one side contracting while those on the other side relax. This out of phase contraction generates an oscillating motion seen in the gif image

    Once you've heard a live rattler, you'll never forget it, says +Gnotic Pasta, who has plenty of snake stories to share. Do you have any cool facts or anecdotes about rattlers? Also check out +Buddhini Samarasinghe scary post on Bite Reflex of a Snake here: http://goo.gl/Lz7oBN

    ▶ BBC Video (3:50 min) on high speed filming of the rattle (look behind the rattle for the forked tongue darting out!): Slow motion rattlesnake - Slo Mo #3 - Earth Unplugged

    ▶ Great basin rattlesnake Crotalus viridis lutosus filmed by our intrepid G plusser +Gnotic Pasta  :  http://vimeo.com/64675533

    ▶ REF (old, but free): Structural correlates of speed and endurance in skeletal muscle: the rattlesnake tailshaker muscle. Schaeffer et al. http://jeb.biologists.org/content/199/2/351.long

    H/T to +Amy Robinson  for sharing the gif that inspired this post (http://goo.gl/pzi4Yv). 

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 417 plusses - 145 comments - 200 shares | Read in G+