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 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 Rao2012-04-08 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 Rao2012-04-30 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 Rao2012-04-08 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 Rao2012-04-30 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 Rao2012-04-08 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 Rao2012-04-30 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 Rao2012-04-08 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 Rao2013-01-14 23:50:29
    Panspermia: Hoax or Hope?

    Fire in the Sky: On December 29, 2012 a fireball exploded in the skies above Sri Lanka, followed by a meteorite that fell near the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. A sample was sent to the Buckingham Institute of Astrobiology and Cardiff University. Researchers now report in the Journal of Cosmology of finding fossils of diatoms enmeshed within the meteorite. Because of the way the microfossils were distributed within the rock, they rule out surface contamination.

    Panspermia (from the Greek "all" and "sperm") is the idea that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids. So, is this compelling evidence of Panspermia or life in outer space?

    Red Rain: The researchers claim that the mysterious red rain that fell in the area within days of the meteorite, reported by our own +Siromi Samarasinghe (http://goo.gl/dq7Jq), was seeded from the meteorite. Reports of red rain were first made in Homer's Iliad and may simply be from airborne algal spores. Is this red rain a red herring?

    Earthly Origin? Could it be that this rock was initially blasted off from earth, by the Mesozoic-ending impact on the Yucatan Peninsula, and is now falling back to earth after a grand journey? The article does mention that similar fossils have been found that date back to the time of the dinosaurs.

    Hasty Science? The meteorite only just landed, less than 3 weeks ago! How much of a review did this paper get? The authors make the grand statement that "identification of fossilised diatoms in the Polonnaruwa meteorite is firmly established and unimpeachable" and with several self-citations, that "the idea of microbial life carried within comets and the theory of cometary panspermia is thus vindicated". Their final sentence is a WIN, in my opinion: The universe, not humans, must have the final say to declare what the world is really like. What do you think?

    Reference (with pictures!): http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Polonnaruwa-meteorite.pdf

    #ScienceEveryday  
  • 347 plusses - 198 comments - 113 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-12-27 00:33:07
    The Venial Vegetarian: Apologies to Asians

    • I’ve never been able to get past the mental block of eating meat. I like to think that I’m logical enough that should I be stranded on a desert island with nothing to eat but cadavers, the will to live would rule supreme. I once proffered this opinion to an evangelistic vegetarian convert and she never spoke to me again. This pragmatism served me well on a recent trip to South Korea where the concept of vegetarianism is not exactly clear. “It’s just soybean”, +Thomas Kang assured me, as I spread the homogenized paste on a cabbage leaf and took a bite, “with only a bit of shrimp”. Oops, sorry! He was all apologies as he guided me to fried and battered zucchini rounds. I savored the humble vegetable with relief and reached for a second one. Too bad it was battered fish.

    • What’s a vegetarian to do, but cook up decidedly unauthentic alternatives guaranteed to have no fish sauce (shakes fist at Thai restaurants ) or errant morsels of meat that find their way into the wok? I know I’ve looked down my sharpish nose at those generic “curries” while guiltily making my own transgressions into a foreign cuisine.  So I offer abject apologies to authentic Asian cooks everywhere, while serving up my favorite non-denominational “Asian” dinner…fast, flavorful and free of flesh.

    No Recipe Tofu: The tofu is delicate, not deep fried, in this dish. Perfect for soaking up the complex flavors in the spicy sauce.

    Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry: This is a recipe adapted from +David Crowley 's blog Cooking Chat. A feast for the eye, it combines the fresh crunch of stir fried vegetables with the roasted richness of cashew.

    Ginger Noodle Salad: From +Shinae Choi Robinson 's recipe, tossed with baby greens, sesame oil and juliened ginger. I didn't have sushi ginger ("gari") on hand so she suggested I make my own.

    For Recipes, vegetarian anecdotes and pictures of my trip to S. Korea:
    http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/the-venial-vegetarian-with-apologies-to-asians/
  • 188 plusses - 198 comments - 16 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-14 23:50:29
    Panspermia: Hoax or Hope?

    Fire in the Sky: On December 29, 2012 a fireball exploded in the skies above Sri Lanka, followed by a meteorite that fell near the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. A sample was sent to the Buckingham Institute of Astrobiology and Cardiff University. Researchers now report in the Journal of Cosmology of finding fossils of diatoms enmeshed within the meteorite. Because of the way the microfossils were distributed within the rock, they rule out surface contamination.

    Panspermia (from the Greek "all" and "sperm") is the idea that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids. So, is this compelling evidence of Panspermia or life in outer space?

    Red Rain: The researchers claim that the mysterious red rain that fell in the area within days of the meteorite, reported by our own +Siromi Samarasinghe (http://goo.gl/dq7Jq), was seeded from the meteorite. Reports of red rain were first made in Homer's Iliad and may simply be from airborne algal spores. Is this red rain a red herring?

    Earthly Origin? Could it be that this rock was initially blasted off from earth, by the Mesozoic-ending impact on the Yucatan Peninsula, and is now falling back to earth after a grand journey? The article does mention that similar fossils have been found that date back to the time of the dinosaurs.

    Hasty Science? The meteorite only just landed, less than 3 weeks ago! How much of a review did this paper get? The authors make the grand statement that "identification of fossilised diatoms in the Polonnaruwa meteorite is firmly established and unimpeachable" and with several self-citations, that "the idea of microbial life carried within comets and the theory of cometary panspermia is thus vindicated". Their final sentence is a WIN, in my opinion: The universe, not humans, must have the final say to declare what the world is really like. What do you think?

    Reference (with pictures!): http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Polonnaruwa-meteorite.pdf

    #ScienceEveryday  
  • 347 plusses - 198 comments - 113 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-12-27 00:33:07
    The Venial Vegetarian: Apologies to Asians

    • I’ve never been able to get past the mental block of eating meat. I like to think that I’m logical enough that should I be stranded on a desert island with nothing to eat but cadavers, the will to live would rule supreme. I once proffered this opinion to an evangelistic vegetarian convert and she never spoke to me again. This pragmatism served me well on a recent trip to South Korea where the concept of vegetarianism is not exactly clear. “It’s just soybean”, +Thomas Kang assured me, as I spread the homogenized paste on a cabbage leaf and took a bite, “with only a bit of shrimp”. Oops, sorry! He was all apologies as he guided me to fried and battered zucchini rounds. I savored the humble vegetable with relief and reached for a second one. Too bad it was battered fish.

    • What’s a vegetarian to do, but cook up decidedly unauthentic alternatives guaranteed to have no fish sauce (shakes fist at Thai restaurants ) or errant morsels of meat that find their way into the wok? I know I’ve looked down my sharpish nose at those generic “curries” while guiltily making my own transgressions into a foreign cuisine.  So I offer abject apologies to authentic Asian cooks everywhere, while serving up my favorite non-denominational “Asian” dinner…fast, flavorful and free of flesh.

    No Recipe Tofu: The tofu is delicate, not deep fried, in this dish. Perfect for soaking up the complex flavors in the spicy sauce.

    Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry: This is a recipe adapted from +David Crowley 's blog Cooking Chat. A feast for the eye, it combines the fresh crunch of stir fried vegetables with the roasted richness of cashew.

    Ginger Noodle Salad: From +Shinae Choi Robinson 's recipe, tossed with baby greens, sesame oil and juliened ginger. I didn't have sushi ginger ("gari") on hand so she suggested I make my own.

    For Recipes, vegetarian anecdotes and pictures of my trip to S. Korea:
    http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/the-venial-vegetarian-with-apologies-to-asians/
  • 188 plusses - 198 comments - 16 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-14 23:50:29
    Panspermia: Hoax or Hope?

    Fire in the Sky: On December 29, 2012 a fireball exploded in the skies above Sri Lanka, followed by a meteorite that fell near the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. A sample was sent to the Buckingham Institute of Astrobiology and Cardiff University. Researchers now report in the Journal of Cosmology of finding fossils of diatoms enmeshed within the meteorite. Because of the way the microfossils were distributed within the rock, they rule out surface contamination.

    Panspermia (from the Greek "all" and "sperm") is the idea that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids. So, is this compelling evidence of Panspermia or life in outer space?

    Red Rain: The researchers claim that the mysterious red rain that fell in the area within days of the meteorite, reported by our own +Siromi Samarasinghe (http://goo.gl/dq7Jq), was seeded from the meteorite. Reports of red rain were first made in Homer's Iliad and may simply be from airborne algal spores. Is this red rain a red herring?

    Earthly Origin? Could it be that this rock was initially blasted off from earth, by the Mesozoic-ending impact on the Yucatan Peninsula, and is now falling back to earth after a grand journey? The article does mention that similar fossils have been found that date back to the time of the dinosaurs.

    Hasty Science? The meteorite only just landed, less than 3 weeks ago! How much of a review did this paper get? The authors make the grand statement that "identification of fossilised diatoms in the Polonnaruwa meteorite is firmly established and unimpeachable" and with several self-citations, that "the idea of microbial life carried within comets and the theory of cometary panspermia is thus vindicated". Their final sentence is a WIN, in my opinion: The universe, not humans, must have the final say to declare what the world is really like. What do you think?

    Reference (with pictures!): http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Polonnaruwa-meteorite.pdf

    #ScienceEveryday  
  • 347 plusses - 198 comments - 113 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-12-27 00:33:07
    The Venial Vegetarian: Apologies to Asians

    • I’ve never been able to get past the mental block of eating meat. I like to think that I’m logical enough that should I be stranded on a desert island with nothing to eat but cadavers, the will to live would rule supreme. I once proffered this opinion to an evangelistic vegetarian convert and she never spoke to me again. This pragmatism served me well on a recent trip to South Korea where the concept of vegetarianism is not exactly clear. “It’s just soybean”, +Thomas Kang assured me, as I spread the homogenized paste on a cabbage leaf and took a bite, “with only a bit of shrimp”. Oops, sorry! He was all apologies as he guided me to fried and battered zucchini rounds. I savored the humble vegetable with relief and reached for a second one. Too bad it was battered fish.

    • What’s a vegetarian to do, but cook up decidedly unauthentic alternatives guaranteed to have no fish sauce (shakes fist at Thai restaurants ) or errant morsels of meat that find their way into the wok? I know I’ve looked down my sharpish nose at those generic “curries” while guiltily making my own transgressions into a foreign cuisine.  So I offer abject apologies to authentic Asian cooks everywhere, while serving up my favorite non-denominational “Asian” dinner…fast, flavorful and free of flesh.

    No Recipe Tofu: The tofu is delicate, not deep fried, in this dish. Perfect for soaking up the complex flavors in the spicy sauce.

    Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry: This is a recipe adapted from +David Crowley 's blog Cooking Chat. A feast for the eye, it combines the fresh crunch of stir fried vegetables with the roasted richness of cashew.

    Ginger Noodle Salad: From +Shinae Choi Robinson 's recipe, tossed with baby greens, sesame oil and juliened ginger. I didn't have sushi ginger ("gari") on hand so she suggested I make my own.

    For Recipes, vegetarian anecdotes and pictures of my trip to S. Korea:
    http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/the-venial-vegetarian-with-apologies-to-asians/
  • 188 plusses - 198 comments - 16 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-14 23:50:29
    Panspermia: Hoax or Hope?

    Fire in the Sky: On December 29, 2012 a fireball exploded in the skies above Sri Lanka, followed by a meteorite that fell near the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. A sample was sent to the Buckingham Institute of Astrobiology and Cardiff University. Researchers now report in the Journal of Cosmology of finding fossils of diatoms enmeshed within the meteorite. Because of the way the microfossils were distributed within the rock, they rule out surface contamination.

    Panspermia (from the Greek "all" and "sperm") is the idea that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids. So, is this compelling evidence of Panspermia or life in outer space?

    Red Rain: The researchers claim that the mysterious red rain that fell in the area within days of the meteorite, reported by our own +Siromi Samarasinghe (http://goo.gl/dq7Jq), was seeded from the meteorite. Reports of red rain were first made in Homer's Iliad and may simply be from airborne algal spores. Is this red rain a red herring?

    Earthly Origin? Could it be that this rock was initially blasted off from earth, by the Mesozoic-ending impact on the Yucatan Peninsula, and is now falling back to earth after a grand journey? The article does mention that similar fossils have been found that date back to the time of the dinosaurs.

    Hasty Science? The meteorite only just landed, less than 3 weeks ago! How much of a review did this paper get? The authors make the grand statement that "identification of fossilised diatoms in the Polonnaruwa meteorite is firmly established and unimpeachable" and with several self-citations, that "the idea of microbial life carried within comets and the theory of cometary panspermia is thus vindicated". Their final sentence is a WIN, in my opinion: The universe, not humans, must have the final say to declare what the world is really like. What do you think?

    Reference (with pictures!): http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Polonnaruwa-meteorite.pdf

    #ScienceEveryday  
  • 347 plusses - 198 comments - 113 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-12-27 00:33:07
    The Venial Vegetarian: Apologies to Asians

    • I’ve never been able to get past the mental block of eating meat. I like to think that I’m logical enough that should I be stranded on a desert island with nothing to eat but cadavers, the will to live would rule supreme. I once proffered this opinion to an evangelistic vegetarian convert and she never spoke to me again. This pragmatism served me well on a recent trip to South Korea where the concept of vegetarianism is not exactly clear. “It’s just soybean”, +Thomas Kang assured me, as I spread the homogenized paste on a cabbage leaf and took a bite, “with only a bit of shrimp”. Oops, sorry! He was all apologies as he guided me to fried and battered zucchini rounds. I savored the humble vegetable with relief and reached for a second one. Too bad it was battered fish.

    • What’s a vegetarian to do, but cook up decidedly unauthentic alternatives guaranteed to have no fish sauce (shakes fist at Thai restaurants ) or errant morsels of meat that find their way into the wok? I know I’ve looked down my sharpish nose at those generic “curries” while guiltily making my own transgressions into a foreign cuisine.  So I offer abject apologies to authentic Asian cooks everywhere, while serving up my favorite non-denominational “Asian” dinner…fast, flavorful and free of flesh.

    No Recipe Tofu: The tofu is delicate, not deep fried, in this dish. Perfect for soaking up the complex flavors in the spicy sauce.

    Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry: This is a recipe adapted from +David Crowley 's blog Cooking Chat. A feast for the eye, it combines the fresh crunch of stir fried vegetables with the roasted richness of cashew.

    Ginger Noodle Salad: From +Shinae Choi Robinson 's recipe, tossed with baby greens, sesame oil and juliened ginger. I didn't have sushi ginger ("gari") on hand so she suggested I make my own.

    For Recipes, vegetarian anecdotes and pictures of my trip to S. Korea:
    http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/the-venial-vegetarian-with-apologies-to-asians/
  • 188 plusses - 198 comments - 16 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-14 23:50:29
    Panspermia: Hoax or Hope?

    Fire in the Sky: On December 29, 2012 a fireball exploded in the skies above Sri Lanka, followed by a meteorite that fell near the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. A sample was sent to the Buckingham Institute of Astrobiology and Cardiff University. Researchers now report in the Journal of Cosmology of finding fossils of diatoms enmeshed within the meteorite. Because of the way the microfossils were distributed within the rock, they rule out surface contamination.

    Panspermia (from the Greek "all" and "sperm") is the idea that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids. So, is this compelling evidence of Panspermia or life in outer space?

    Red Rain: The researchers claim that the mysterious red rain that fell in the area within days of the meteorite, reported by our own +Siromi Samarasinghe (http://goo.gl/dq7Jq), was seeded from the meteorite. Reports of red rain were first made in Homer's Iliad and may simply be from airborne algal spores. Is this red rain a red herring?

    Earthly Origin? Could it be that this rock was initially blasted off from earth, by the Mesozoic-ending impact on the Yucatan Peninsula, and is now falling back to earth after a grand journey? The article does mention that similar fossils have been found that date back to the time of the dinosaurs.

    Hasty Science? The meteorite only just landed, less than 3 weeks ago! How much of a review did this paper get? The authors make the grand statement that "identification of fossilised diatoms in the Polonnaruwa meteorite is firmly established and unimpeachable" and with several self-citations, that "the idea of microbial life carried within comets and the theory of cometary panspermia is thus vindicated". Their final sentence is a WIN, in my opinion: The universe, not humans, must have the final say to declare what the world is really like. What do you think?

    Reference (with pictures!): http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Polonnaruwa-meteorite.pdf

    #ScienceEveryday  
  • 347 plusses - 198 comments - 113 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-12-27 00:33:07
    The Venial Vegetarian: Apologies to Asians

    • I’ve never been able to get past the mental block of eating meat. I like to think that I’m logical enough that should I be stranded on a desert island with nothing to eat but cadavers, the will to live would rule supreme. I once proffered this opinion to an evangelistic vegetarian convert and she never spoke to me again. This pragmatism served me well on a recent trip to South Korea where the concept of vegetarianism is not exactly clear. “It’s just soybean”, +Thomas Kang assured me, as I spread the homogenized paste on a cabbage leaf and took a bite, “with only a bit of shrimp”. Oops, sorry! He was all apologies as he guided me to fried and battered zucchini rounds. I savored the humble vegetable with relief and reached for a second one. Too bad it was battered fish.

    • What’s a vegetarian to do, but cook up decidedly unauthentic alternatives guaranteed to have no fish sauce (shakes fist at Thai restaurants ) or errant morsels of meat that find their way into the wok? I know I’ve looked down my sharpish nose at those generic “curries” while guiltily making my own transgressions into a foreign cuisine.  So I offer abject apologies to authentic Asian cooks everywhere, while serving up my favorite non-denominational “Asian” dinner…fast, flavorful and free of flesh.

    No Recipe Tofu: The tofu is delicate, not deep fried, in this dish. Perfect for soaking up the complex flavors in the spicy sauce.

    Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry: This is a recipe adapted from +David Crowley 's blog Cooking Chat. A feast for the eye, it combines the fresh crunch of stir fried vegetables with the roasted richness of cashew.

    Ginger Noodle Salad: From +Shinae Choi Robinson 's recipe, tossed with baby greens, sesame oil and juliened ginger. I didn't have sushi ginger ("gari") on hand so she suggested I make my own.

    For Recipes, vegetarian anecdotes and pictures of my trip to S. Korea:
    http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/the-venial-vegetarian-with-apologies-to-asians/
  • 188 plusses - 198 comments - 16 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 Rao2012-02-28 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 Rao2012-03-08 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 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 Rao2012-12-15 19:41:25
    From Protein Folding to Punjabi Pea Paneer

    ✿ Making fresh Indian cheese, or paneer, used to be a bit of a production in my home. My mother would start with not-so-fresh milk (why “waste” good milk, was her reasoning), bring it to a boil and then add lemon juice. In fascination, I watched the rapid separation of flocculant white curd from transparently greenish whey. That was my first encounter with the biochemistry of protein denaturation, although I would go on to ruin perfectly good batches of enzymes during my graduate career.

    Proteins must be folded properly – into elegant ribbons, twisted helices, graceful loops and tight turns – not only to function properly but also to stay in solution (image 2). Too much heat, salt, acid or any number of adverse conditions cause proteins to unfold just enough to get their sticky inside parts to glom together. In a concerted show of protest, they leave the solution as a precipitate. Which brings us back to cheese. The curd is gathered into cheesecloth and suspended over a bowl to drain, before being packed into a brick under some heavy pots and pans. These days, one just reaches into the freezer of the local Patel Brothers for a perfectly rectangular brick of paneer.

    ✿ This quintessential Punjabi dish of peas and paneer is called Mattar Paneer. The gravy is vegan, with richness of cashew nuts in place of dairy cream. You can make this dish entirely vegan by replacing the paneer with baby potatoes boiled in their jackets (Alu Mattar..mmm!) or a cheese substitute of your choice.

    ✿ Recipe, a memorium to a lost G+ friend, and a harrowing tale of protein denaturation from my graduate student days at: http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/from-protein-folding-to-punjabi-pea-paneer/

    #ScienceEveryday  
  • 227 plusses - 158 comments - 28 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-12-15 19:41:25
    From Protein Folding to Punjabi Pea Paneer

    ✿ Making fresh Indian cheese, or paneer, used to be a bit of a production in my home. My mother would start with not-so-fresh milk (why “waste” good milk, was her reasoning), bring it to a boil and then add lemon juice. In fascination, I watched the rapid separation of flocculant white curd from transparently greenish whey. That was my first encounter with the biochemistry of protein denaturation, although I would go on to ruin perfectly good batches of enzymes during my graduate career.

    Proteins must be folded properly – into elegant ribbons, twisted helices, graceful loops and tight turns – not only to function properly but also to stay in solution (image 2). Too much heat, salt, acid or any number of adverse conditions cause proteins to unfold just enough to get their sticky inside parts to glom together. In a concerted show of protest, they leave the solution as a precipitate. Which brings us back to cheese. The curd is gathered into cheesecloth and suspended over a bowl to drain, before being packed into a brick under some heavy pots and pans. These days, one just reaches into the freezer of the local Patel Brothers for a perfectly rectangular brick of paneer.

    ✿ This quintessential Punjabi dish of peas and paneer is called Mattar Paneer. The gravy is vegan, with richness of cashew nuts in place of dairy cream. You can make this dish entirely vegan by replacing the paneer with baby potatoes boiled in their jackets (Alu Mattar..mmm!) or a cheese substitute of your choice.

    ✿ Recipe, a memorium to a lost G+ friend, and a harrowing tale of protein denaturation from my graduate student days at: http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/from-protein-folding-to-punjabi-pea-paneer/

    #ScienceEveryday  
  • 227 plusses - 158 comments - 28 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-12-15 19:41:25
    From Protein Folding to Punjabi Pea Paneer

    ✿ Making fresh Indian cheese, or paneer, used to be a bit of a production in my home. My mother would start with not-so-fresh milk (why “waste” good milk, was her reasoning), bring it to a boil and then add lemon juice. In fascination, I watched the rapid separation of flocculant white curd from transparently greenish whey. That was my first encounter with the biochemistry of protein denaturation, although I would go on to ruin perfectly good batches of enzymes during my graduate career.

    Proteins must be folded properly – into elegant ribbons, twisted helices, graceful loops and tight turns – not only to function properly but also to stay in solution (image 2). Too much heat, salt, acid or any number of adverse conditions cause proteins to unfold just enough to get their sticky inside parts to glom together. In a concerted show of protest, they leave the solution as a precipitate. Which brings us back to cheese. The curd is gathered into cheesecloth and suspended over a bowl to drain, before being packed into a brick under some heavy pots and pans. These days, one just reaches into the freezer of the local Patel Brothers for a perfectly rectangular brick of paneer.

    ✿ This quintessential Punjabi dish of peas and paneer is called Mattar Paneer. The gravy is vegan, with richness of cashew nuts in place of dairy cream. You can make this dish entirely vegan by replacing the paneer with baby potatoes boiled in their jackets (Alu Mattar..mmm!) or a cheese substitute of your choice.

    ✿ Recipe, a memorium to a lost G+ friend, and a harrowing tale of protein denaturation from my graduate student days at: http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/from-protein-folding-to-punjabi-pea-paneer/

    #ScienceEveryday  
  • 227 plusses - 158 comments - 28 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-12-15 19:41:25
    From Protein Folding to Punjabi Pea Paneer

    ✿ Making fresh Indian cheese, or paneer, used to be a bit of a production in my home. My mother would start with not-so-fresh milk (why “waste” good milk, was her reasoning), bring it to a boil and then add lemon juice. In fascination, I watched the rapid separation of flocculant white curd from transparently greenish whey. That was my first encounter with the biochemistry of protein denaturation, although I would go on to ruin perfectly good batches of enzymes during my graduate career.

    Proteins must be folded properly – into elegant ribbons, twisted helices, graceful loops and tight turns – not only to function properly but also to stay in solution (image 2). Too much heat, salt, acid or any number of adverse conditions cause proteins to unfold just enough to get their sticky inside parts to glom together. In a concerted show of protest, they leave the solution as a precipitate. Which brings us back to cheese. The curd is gathered into cheesecloth and suspended over a bowl to drain, before being packed into a brick under some heavy pots and pans. These days, one just reaches into the freezer of the local Patel Brothers for a perfectly rectangular brick of paneer.

    ✿ This quintessential Punjabi dish of peas and paneer is called Mattar Paneer. The gravy is vegan, with richness of cashew nuts in place of dairy cream. You can make this dish entirely vegan by replacing the paneer with baby potatoes boiled in their jackets (Alu Mattar..mmm!) or a cheese substitute of your choice.

    ✿ Recipe, a memorium to a lost G+ friend, and a harrowing tale of protein denaturation from my graduate student days at: http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/from-protein-folding-to-punjabi-pea-paneer/

    #ScienceEveryday  
  • 227 plusses - 158 comments - 28 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-12-15 19:41:25
    From Protein Folding to Punjabi Pea Paneer

    ✿ Making fresh Indian cheese, or paneer, used to be a bit of a production in my home. My mother would start with not-so-fresh milk (why “waste” good milk, was her reasoning), bring it to a boil and then add lemon juice. In fascination, I watched the rapid separation of flocculant white curd from transparently greenish whey. That was my first encounter with the biochemistry of protein denaturation, although I would go on to ruin perfectly good batches of enzymes during my graduate career.

    Proteins must be folded properly – into elegant ribbons, twisted helices, graceful loops and tight turns – not only to function properly but also to stay in solution (image 2). Too much heat, salt, acid or any number of adverse conditions cause proteins to unfold just enough to get their sticky inside parts to glom together. In a concerted show of protest, they leave the solution as a precipitate. Which brings us back to cheese. The curd is gathered into cheesecloth and suspended over a bowl to drain, before being packed into a brick under some heavy pots and pans. These days, one just reaches into the freezer of the local Patel Brothers for a perfectly rectangular brick of paneer.

    ✿ This quintessential Punjabi dish of peas and paneer is called Mattar Paneer. The gravy is vegan, with richness of cashew nuts in place of dairy cream. You can make this dish entirely vegan by replacing the paneer with baby potatoes boiled in their jackets (Alu Mattar..mmm!) or a cheese substitute of your choice.

    ✿ Recipe, a memorium to a lost G+ friend, and a harrowing tale of protein denaturation from my graduate student days at: http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/from-protein-folding-to-punjabi-pea-paneer/

    #ScienceEveryday  
  • 227 plusses - 158 comments - 28 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 Rao2013-08-11 17:57:23
    See Me

    Are you ready to solve this week's science mystery picture and pick up the latest in research along the way? If you know the identity of this object, don't give it away , but share some interesting (or obscure!) fact about it. Don't be shy, let your imagination fly. 

    Hint: This object has the fastest response to light in the biological world.

    Why is this cool? A recent study revealed the unexpected finding that the initial response to light was mechanical: light triggered tiny (less than one micrometer) synchronized contractions in this array that then opened mechano-sensitive ion channels to change distribution of electric charge across the surface. This form of signaling is known as mechanotransduction and is faster than more conventional chemical signaling. Do you know of a human sense that uses mechanical signaling? 

    Image Detail: False colored scanning electron micrograph that is magnified 2,500 times if printed at 10 cm. 

    Inspiration for Title: THE WHO - See Me, Feel Me - Listening to You (1975)

    #ISeeTheWorldWithScience     #ScienceSunday  

    [Answer: http://goo.gl/JgMl3o ]
  • 184 plusses - 155 comments - 37 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-08-11 17:57:23
    See Me

    Are you ready to solve this week's science mystery picture and pick up the latest in research along the way? If you know the identity of this object, don't give it away , but share some interesting (or obscure!) fact about it. Don't be shy, let your imagination fly. 

    Hint: This object has the fastest response to light in the biological world.

    Why is this cool? A recent study revealed the unexpected finding that the initial response to light was mechanical: light triggered tiny (less than one micrometer) synchronized contractions in this array that then opened mechano-sensitive ion channels to change distribution of electric charge across the surface. This form of signaling is known as mechanotransduction and is faster than more conventional chemical signaling. Do you know of a human sense that uses mechanical signaling? 

    Image Detail: False colored scanning electron micrograph that is magnified 2,500 times if printed at 10 cm. 

    Inspiration for Title: THE WHO - See Me, Feel Me - Listening to You (1975)

    #ISeeTheWorldWithScience     #ScienceSunday  

    [Answer: http://goo.gl/JgMl3o ]
  • 184 plusses - 155 comments - 37 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-08-11 17:57:23
    See Me

    Are you ready to solve this week's science mystery picture and pick up the latest in research along the way? If you know the identity of this object, don't give it away , but share some interesting (or obscure!) fact about it. Don't be shy, let your imagination fly. 

    Hint: This object has the fastest response to light in the biological world.

    Why is this cool? A recent study revealed the unexpected finding that the initial response to light was mechanical: light triggered tiny (less than one micrometer) synchronized contractions in this array that then opened mechano-sensitive ion channels to change distribution of electric charge across the surface. This form of signaling is known as mechanotransduction and is faster than more conventional chemical signaling. Do you know of a human sense that uses mechanical signaling? 

    Image Detail: False colored scanning electron micrograph that is magnified 2,500 times if printed at 10 cm. 

    Inspiration for Title: THE WHO - See Me, Feel Me - Listening to You (1975)

    #ISeeTheWorldWithScience     #ScienceSunday  

    [Answer: http://goo.gl/JgMl3o ]
  • 184 plusses - 155 comments - 37 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-08-11 17:57:23
    See Me

    Are you ready to solve this week's science mystery picture and pick up the latest in research along the way? If you know the identity of this object, don't give it away , but share some interesting (or obscure!) fact about it. Don't be shy, let your imagination fly. 

    Hint: This object has the fastest response to light in the biological world.

    Why is this cool? A recent study revealed the unexpected finding that the initial response to light was mechanical: light triggered tiny (less than one micrometer) synchronized contractions in this array that then opened mechano-sensitive ion channels to change distribution of electric charge across the surface. This form of signaling is known as mechanotransduction and is faster than more conventional chemical signaling. Do you know of a human sense that uses mechanical signaling? 

    Image Detail: False colored scanning electron micrograph that is magnified 2,500 times if printed at 10 cm. 

    Inspiration for Title: THE WHO - See Me, Feel Me - Listening to You (1975)

    #ISeeTheWorldWithScience     #ScienceSunday  

    [Answer: http://goo.gl/JgMl3o ]
  • 184 plusses - 155 comments - 37 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-08-11 17:57:23
    See Me

    Are you ready to solve this week's science mystery picture and pick up the latest in research along the way? If you know the identity of this object, don't give it away , but share some interesting (or obscure!) fact about it. Don't be shy, let your imagination fly. 

    Hint: This object has the fastest response to light in the biological world.

    Why is this cool? A recent study revealed the unexpected finding that the initial response to light was mechanical: light triggered tiny (less than one micrometer) synchronized contractions in this array that then opened mechano-sensitive ion channels to change distribution of electric charge across the surface. This form of signaling is known as mechanotransduction and is faster than more conventional chemical signaling. Do you know of a human sense that uses mechanical signaling? 

    Image Detail: False colored scanning electron micrograph that is magnified 2,500 times if printed at 10 cm. 

    Inspiration for Title: THE WHO - See Me, Feel Me - Listening to You (1975)

    #ISeeTheWorldWithScience     #ScienceSunday  

    [Answer: http://goo.gl/JgMl3o ]
  • 184 plusses - 155 comments - 37 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 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 Rao2012-07-25 00:41:28
    Would you give up sex for eternal life? This little invertebrate, a bdelloid rotifer, has lived a celibate life for ~80 million years. The males have disappeared and the females reproduce by parthenogenesis. A drawback to this convenient scheme is that our DNA is usually repaired during meiosis, when we form gametes or germ cells.

    • Scientists bombarded these little creatures with gamma rays that would typically shatter DNA into little bits. To their astonishment, the rotifers kept reproducing even at levels of radiation five times more than other animals can endure. Their secret lies in genetic redundancy: their genomes have duplicated, so that each gene is in 4 copies. When one is damaged, the others serve as template to copy off a new version (gene conversion).

    • How did this resistance to radiation damage evolve? These animals live in fresh water pools that can dry up at any time. The rotifers can go dormant for weeks to years, springing back to life with water. Dessication has the same effect on DNA as radiation so the rotifers must have evolved to survive in their ephemeral habitats. "There could be some benefit to millions of years without sex after all", says Dr. Alan Tunnacliffe, University of Cambridge :)

    Live image of Philodina roseola , details at http://www.cellimagelibrary.org/images/41670

    Refs: (1) Gladyshev, E., and M. Meselson. 2008. Extreme Resistance of Bdelloid Rotifers to Ionizing Radiation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105 (13): 5139-5144.

    (2) Mark Welch, D.B., J.L. Mark Welch and M. Meselson. 2008. Evidence for degenerate tetraploidy in bdelloid rotifers. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105 (13): 5145-5149.
  • 162 plusses - 150 comments - 68 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-07-25 00:41:28
    Would you give up sex for eternal life? This little invertebrate, a bdelloid rotifer, has lived a celibate life for ~80 million years. The males have disappeared and the females reproduce by parthenogenesis. A drawback to this convenient scheme is that our DNA is usually repaired during meiosis, when we form gametes or germ cells.

    • Scientists bombarded these little creatures with gamma rays that would typically shatter DNA into little bits. To their astonishment, the rotifers kept reproducing even at levels of radiation five times more than other animals can endure. Their secret lies in genetic redundancy: their genomes have duplicated, so that each gene is in 4 copies. When one is damaged, the others serve as template to copy off a new version (gene conversion).

    • How did this resistance to radiation damage evolve? These animals live in fresh water pools that can dry up at any time. The rotifers can go dormant for weeks to years, springing back to life with water. Dessication has the same effect on DNA as radiation so the rotifers must have evolved to survive in their ephemeral habitats. "There could be some benefit to millions of years without sex after all", says Dr. Alan Tunnacliffe, University of Cambridge :)

    Live image of Philodina roseola , details at http://www.cellimagelibrary.org/images/41670

    Refs: (1) Gladyshev, E., and M. Meselson. 2008. Extreme Resistance of Bdelloid Rotifers to Ionizing Radiation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105 (13): 5139-5144.

    (2) Mark Welch, D.B., J.L. Mark Welch and M. Meselson. 2008. Evidence for degenerate tetraploidy in bdelloid rotifers. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105 (13): 5145-5149.
  • 162 plusses - 150 comments - 68 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-07-25 00:41:28
    Would you give up sex for eternal life? This little invertebrate, a bdelloid rotifer, has lived a celibate life for ~80 million years. The males have disappeared and the females reproduce by parthenogenesis. A drawback to this convenient scheme is that our DNA is usually repaired during meiosis, when we form gametes or germ cells.

    • Scientists bombarded these little creatures with gamma rays that would typically shatter DNA into little bits. To their astonishment, the rotifers kept reproducing even at levels of radiation five times more than other animals can endure. Their secret lies in genetic redundancy: their genomes have duplicated, so that each gene is in 4 copies. When one is damaged, the others serve as template to copy off a new version (gene conversion).

    • How did this resistance to radiation damage evolve? These animals live in fresh water pools that can dry up at any time. The rotifers can go dormant for weeks to years, springing back to life with water. Dessication has the same effect on DNA as radiation so the rotifers must have evolved to survive in their ephemeral habitats. "There could be some benefit to millions of years without sex after all", says Dr. Alan Tunnacliffe, University of Cambridge :)

    Live image of Philodina roseola , details at http://www.cellimagelibrary.org/images/41670

    Refs: (1) Gladyshev, E., and M. Meselson. 2008. Extreme Resistance of Bdelloid Rotifers to Ionizing Radiation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105 (13): 5139-5144.

    (2) Mark Welch, D.B., J.L. Mark Welch and M. Meselson. 2008. Evidence for degenerate tetraploidy in bdelloid rotifers. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105 (13): 5145-5149.
  • 162 plusses - 150 comments - 68 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-07-25 00:41:28
    Would you give up sex for eternal life? This little invertebrate, a bdelloid rotifer, has lived a celibate life for ~80 million years. The males have disappeared and the females reproduce by parthenogenesis. A drawback to this convenient scheme is that our DNA is usually repaired during meiosis, when we form gametes or germ cells.

    • Scientists bombarded these little creatures with gamma rays that would typically shatter DNA into little bits. To their astonishment, the rotifers kept reproducing even at levels of radiation five times more than other animals can endure. Their secret lies in genetic redundancy: their genomes have duplicated, so that each gene is in 4 copies. When one is damaged, the others serve as template to copy off a new version (gene conversion).

    • How did this resistance to radiation damage evolve? These animals live in fresh water pools that can dry up at any time. The rotifers can go dormant for weeks to years, springing back to life with water. Dessication has the same effect on DNA as radiation so the rotifers must have evolved to survive in their ephemeral habitats. "There could be some benefit to millions of years without sex after all", says Dr. Alan Tunnacliffe, University of Cambridge :)

    Live image of Philodina roseola , details at http://www.cellimagelibrary.org/images/41670

    Refs: (1) Gladyshev, E., and M. Meselson. 2008. Extreme Resistance of Bdelloid Rotifers to Ionizing Radiation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105 (13): 5139-5144.

    (2) Mark Welch, D.B., J.L. Mark Welch and M. Meselson. 2008. Evidence for degenerate tetraploidy in bdelloid rotifers. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105 (13): 5145-5149.
  • 162 plusses - 150 comments - 68 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-07-25 00:41:28
    Would you give up sex for eternal life? This little invertebrate, a bdelloid rotifer, has lived a celibate life for ~80 million years. The males have disappeared and the females reproduce by parthenogenesis. A drawback to this convenient scheme is that our DNA is usually repaired during meiosis, when we form gametes or germ cells.

    • Scientists bombarded these little creatures with gamma rays that would typically shatter DNA into little bits. To their astonishment, the rotifers kept reproducing even at levels of radiation five times more than other animals can endure. Their secret lies in genetic redundancy: their genomes have duplicated, so that each gene is in 4 copies. When one is damaged, the others serve as template to copy off a new version (gene conversion).

    • How did this resistance to radiation damage evolve? These animals live in fresh water pools that can dry up at any time. The rotifers can go dormant for weeks to years, springing back to life with water. Dessication has the same effect on DNA as radiation so the rotifers must have evolved to survive in their ephemeral habitats. "There could be some benefit to millions of years without sex after all", says Dr. Alan Tunnacliffe, University of Cambridge :)

    Live image of Philodina roseola , details at http://www.cellimagelibrary.org/images/41670

    Refs: (1) Gladyshev, E., and M. Meselson. 2008. Extreme Resistance of Bdelloid Rotifers to Ionizing Radiation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105 (13): 5139-5144.

    (2) Mark Welch, D.B., J.L. Mark Welch and M. Meselson. 2008. Evidence for degenerate tetraploidy in bdelloid rotifers. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105 (13): 5145-5149.
  • 162 plusses - 150 comments - 68 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 Rao2013-01-06 17:18:27
    The Genetics of Autism

    Contrary to popular belief (and Jenny McCarthy), autism is the most genetic and inheritable of all neurodevelopmental disorders. Identical twins have >80% chance of shared diagnosis, versus a much lower ~10% chance in fraternal twins, a classic indication of underlying common genetic cause. 

    What is autism? Classical autism is part of a broader group of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) characterized by (i) impaired social communication and interaction, (ii) absence or delay in language and (iii) restricted, repetitive behavior. These features vary hugely, from severe intellectual disability to mild personality traits. Intellectual delays occur in 30-60%, and 30% also suffer seizures. Current rates of diagnosis are 1 in 88 children. This is partly due to a broadening of the diagnosis but could also reflect impact of changing environment on genetic susceptibility. 

    Monogenic cases of autism are known as syndromes. About 10% of children diagnosed with ASD have mutations in a single gene. The most common is Fragile X syndrome (FXS), which accounts for 5% of autism cases with as many as 50% of individuals with FXS meeting criteria for autistic disorder. Other syndromes that present with ASD are Tuberous Sclerosis, Retts, and Neurofibromatosis. Although the primary diagnosis is not ASD, the symptoms include ASD. 

    Polygenic disorders are caused by additive effects of multiple genes. Because inheritance patterns of autism are not Mendelian, it was initially thought to be polygenic, like traits of hypertension, height or skin color. Austism superficially fits this definition because of the continuous spectrum of characteristics. But, it’s a lot more complex because no single gene appears to account for more than 1% of the non-syndromic cases. 

    Heterogenic disorders occur when mutations at any of a number of different genes can give rise to the same phenotype. In autism, many of the mutations are unique, rare and arise de novo, not being found in parents or recent ancestry. Most mutations occur on only one allele (one of two copies of the gene). Many are copy number variations, affecting gene dosage, caused by insertions and deletions in the chromosome. The emerging theory is that many different mutations converge on a common function: synaptic transmission

    The synapse: Information transfer occurs at the synapse or junction between neurons. The first synapses in human cortex appear 40 days after conception. The most dramatic change takes place around birth. During the first three years of life, more synaptic contacts are formed, but only some will be stabilized. Many genes implicated in autism (image) function at the synapse, and the timing of appearance of autistic characteristics coincides with synapse maturation.

    REF: Autism and Brain Development. Walsh et al., Cell (free read) http://goo.gl/hkbsC

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 294 plusses - 148 comments - 178 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-06 17:18:27
    The Genetics of Autism

    Contrary to popular belief (and Jenny McCarthy), autism is the most genetic and inheritable of all neurodevelopmental disorders. Identical twins have >80% chance of shared diagnosis, versus a much lower ~10% chance in fraternal twins, a classic indication of underlying common genetic cause. 

    What is autism? Classical autism is part of a broader group of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) characterized by (i) impaired social communication and interaction, (ii) absence or delay in language and (iii) restricted, repetitive behavior. These features vary hugely, from severe intellectual disability to mild personality traits. Intellectual delays occur in 30-60%, and 30% also suffer seizures. Current rates of diagnosis are 1 in 88 children. This is partly due to a broadening of the diagnosis but could also reflect impact of changing environment on genetic susceptibility. 

    Monogenic cases of autism are known as syndromes. About 10% of children diagnosed with ASD have mutations in a single gene. The most common is Fragile X syndrome (FXS), which accounts for 5% of autism cases with as many as 50% of individuals with FXS meeting criteria for autistic disorder. Other syndromes that present with ASD are Tuberous Sclerosis, Retts, and Neurofibromatosis. Although the primary diagnosis is not ASD, the symptoms include ASD. 

    Polygenic disorders are caused by additive effects of multiple genes. Because inheritance patterns of autism are not Mendelian, it was initially thought to be polygenic, like traits of hypertension, height or skin color. Austism superficially fits this definition because of the continuous spectrum of characteristics. But, it’s a lot more complex because no single gene appears to account for more than 1% of the non-syndromic cases. 

    Heterogenic disorders occur when mutations at any of a number of different genes can give rise to the same phenotype. In autism, many of the mutations are unique, rare and arise de novo, not being found in parents or recent ancestry. Most mutations occur on only one allele (one of two copies of the gene). Many are copy number variations, affecting gene dosage, caused by insertions and deletions in the chromosome. The emerging theory is that many different mutations converge on a common function: synaptic transmission

    The synapse: Information transfer occurs at the synapse or junction between neurons. The first synapses in human cortex appear 40 days after conception. The most dramatic change takes place around birth. During the first three years of life, more synaptic contacts are formed, but only some will be stabilized. Many genes implicated in autism (image) function at the synapse, and the timing of appearance of autistic characteristics coincides with synapse maturation.

    REF: Autism and Brain Development. Walsh et al., Cell (free read) http://goo.gl/hkbsC

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 294 plusses - 148 comments - 178 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-06 17:18:27
    The Genetics of Autism

    Contrary to popular belief (and Jenny McCarthy), autism is the most genetic and inheritable of all neurodevelopmental disorders. Identical twins have >80% chance of shared diagnosis, versus a much lower ~10% chance in fraternal twins, a classic indication of underlying common genetic cause. 

    What is autism? Classical autism is part of a broader group of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) characterized by (i) impaired social communication and interaction, (ii) absence or delay in language and (iii) restricted, repetitive behavior. These features vary hugely, from severe intellectual disability to mild personality traits. Intellectual delays occur in 30-60%, and 30% also suffer seizures. Current rates of diagnosis are 1 in 88 children. This is partly due to a broadening of the diagnosis but could also reflect impact of changing environment on genetic susceptibility. 

    Monogenic cases of autism are known as syndromes. About 10% of children diagnosed with ASD have mutations in a single gene. The most common is Fragile X syndrome (FXS), which accounts for 5% of autism cases with as many as 50% of individuals with FXS meeting criteria for autistic disorder. Other syndromes that present with ASD are Tuberous Sclerosis, Retts, and Neurofibromatosis. Although the primary diagnosis is not ASD, the symptoms include ASD. 

    Polygenic disorders are caused by additive effects of multiple genes. Because inheritance patterns of autism are not Mendelian, it was initially thought to be polygenic, like traits of hypertension, height or skin color. Austism superficially fits this definition because of the continuous spectrum of characteristics. But, it’s a lot more complex because no single gene appears to account for more than 1% of the non-syndromic cases. 

    Heterogenic disorders occur when mutations at any of a number of different genes can give rise to the same phenotype. In autism, many of the mutations are unique, rare and arise de novo, not being found in parents or recent ancestry. Most mutations occur on only one allele (one of two copies of the gene). Many are copy number variations, affecting gene dosage, caused by insertions and deletions in the chromosome. The emerging theory is that many different mutations converge on a common function: synaptic transmission

    The synapse: Information transfer occurs at the synapse or junction between neurons. The first synapses in human cortex appear 40 days after conception. The most dramatic change takes place around birth. During the first three years of life, more synaptic contacts are formed, but only some will be stabilized. Many genes implicated in autism (image) function at the synapse, and the timing of appearance of autistic characteristics coincides with synapse maturation.

    REF: Autism and Brain Development. Walsh et al., Cell (free read) http://goo.gl/hkbsC

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 294 plusses - 148 comments - 178 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-06 17:18:27
    The Genetics of Autism

    Contrary to popular belief (and Jenny McCarthy), autism is the most genetic and inheritable of all neurodevelopmental disorders. Identical twins have >80% chance of shared diagnosis, versus a much lower ~10% chance in fraternal twins, a classic indication of underlying common genetic cause. 

    What is autism? Classical autism is part of a broader group of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) characterized by (i) impaired social communication and interaction, (ii) absence or delay in language and (iii) restricted, repetitive behavior. These features vary hugely, from severe intellectual disability to mild personality traits. Intellectual delays occur in 30-60%, and 30% also suffer seizures. Current rates of diagnosis are 1 in 88 children. This is partly due to a broadening of the diagnosis but could also reflect impact of changing environment on genetic susceptibility. 

    Monogenic cases of autism are known as syndromes. About 10% of children diagnosed with ASD have mutations in a single gene. The most common is Fragile X syndrome (FXS), which accounts for 5% of autism cases with as many as 50% of individuals with FXS meeting criteria for autistic disorder. Other syndromes that present with ASD are Tuberous Sclerosis, Retts, and Neurofibromatosis. Although the primary diagnosis is not ASD, the symptoms include ASD. 

    Polygenic disorders are caused by additive effects of multiple genes. Because inheritance patterns of autism are not Mendelian, it was initially thought to be polygenic, like traits of hypertension, height or skin color. Austism superficially fits this definition because of the continuous spectrum of characteristics. But, it’s a lot more complex because no single gene appears to account for more than 1% of the non-syndromic cases. 

    Heterogenic disorders occur when mutations at any of a number of different genes can give rise to the same phenotype. In autism, many of the mutations are unique, rare and arise de novo, not being found in parents or recent ancestry. Most mutations occur on only one allele (one of two copies of the gene). Many are copy number variations, affecting gene dosage, caused by insertions and deletions in the chromosome. The emerging theory is that many different mutations converge on a common function: synaptic transmission

    The synapse: Information transfer occurs at the synapse or junction between neurons. The first synapses in human cortex appear 40 days after conception. The most dramatic change takes place around birth. During the first three years of life, more synaptic contacts are formed, but only some will be stabilized. Many genes implicated in autism (image) function at the synapse, and the timing of appearance of autistic characteristics coincides with synapse maturation.

    REF: Autism and Brain Development. Walsh et al., Cell (free read) http://goo.gl/hkbsC

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 294 plusses - 148 comments - 178 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-06 17:18:27
    The Genetics of Autism

    Contrary to popular belief (and Jenny McCarthy), autism is the most genetic and inheritable of all neurodevelopmental disorders. Identical twins have >80% chance of shared diagnosis, versus a much lower ~10% chance in fraternal twins, a classic indication of underlying common genetic cause. 

    What is autism? Classical autism is part of a broader group of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) characterized by (i) impaired social communication and interaction, (ii) absence or delay in language and (iii) restricted, repetitive behavior. These features vary hugely, from severe intellectual disability to mild personality traits. Intellectual delays occur in 30-60%, and 30% also suffer seizures. Current rates of diagnosis are 1 in 88 children. This is partly due to a broadening of the diagnosis but could also reflect impact of changing environment on genetic susceptibility. 

    Monogenic cases of autism are known as syndromes. About 10% of children diagnosed with ASD have mutations in a single gene. The most common is Fragile X syndrome (FXS), which accounts for 5% of autism cases with as many as 50% of individuals with FXS meeting criteria for autistic disorder. Other syndromes that present with ASD are Tuberous Sclerosis, Retts, and Neurofibromatosis. Although the primary diagnosis is not ASD, the symptoms include ASD. 

    Polygenic disorders are caused by additive effects of multiple genes. Because inheritance patterns of autism are not Mendelian, it was initially thought to be polygenic, like traits of hypertension, height or skin color. Austism superficially fits this definition because of the continuous spectrum of characteristics. But, it’s a lot more complex because no single gene appears to account for more than 1% of the non-syndromic cases. 

    Heterogenic disorders occur when mutations at any of a number of different genes can give rise to the same phenotype. In autism, many of the mutations are unique, rare and arise de novo, not being found in parents or recent ancestry. Most mutations occur on only one allele (one of two copies of the gene). Many are copy number variations, affecting gene dosage, caused by insertions and deletions in the chromosome. The emerging theory is that many different mutations converge on a common function: synaptic transmission

    The synapse: Information transfer occurs at the synapse or junction between neurons. The first synapses in human cortex appear 40 days after conception. The most dramatic change takes place around birth. During the first three years of life, more synaptic contacts are formed, but only some will be stabilized. Many genes implicated in autism (image) function at the synapse, and the timing of appearance of autistic characteristics coincides with synapse maturation.

    REF: Autism and Brain Development. Walsh et al., Cell (free read) http://goo.gl/hkbsC

    #ScienceSunday  
  • 294 plusses - 148 comments - 178 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-12 19:00:45
    Gluten Be Gone: Synthetic Biology Solution for Celiac Disease

    What is Celiac Disease? Celiac disease or gluten allergy comes from eating wheat, rye or barley. Most common in people of N. European descent, the symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss and an increased risk of cancer. 

    Why is gluten allergenic? Gluten contains an unusual protein called alpha gliadin, which has many repeats of the amino acids Proline and Glutamine (PQ motifs) that are resistant to the digestive enzymes in our stomach. In some people, these PQ-rich fragments cause severe allergy and inflammation.  

    Clinical trials: A natural bacterial enzyme from Sphingomonas capsulata that can break down PQ motifs is in clinical trials as an Oral Enzyme Therapeutic. But it works poorly in the acidic compartment of our stomach, and attempts to engineer it to become acid tolerant have not worked. 

    Trial by Acid: Univ. Washington undergraduates tackled the problem from the opposite direction. They found an enzyme called Kumamolysin-AS in a heat and acid loving bacterium Alicyclobacillus sendaiensis that was already acid tolerant. They tinkered with it, using the Fold-It protein folding game, until they found variants predicted to change the enzyme’s preference from Proline Arginine (PR) to Proline Glutamine (PQ). When they made and tested ~260 engineered enzymes, they found one that had a 116-fold increase in ability to digest the gluten peptide in acidic conditions, with a switch in preference of 800-fold! The new enzyme, KumaMAX, could be used in oral therapy or engineered into common bacteria found in yogurt to make probiotics.

    So Much Win!: This work (1) could help millions of gluten allergy sufferers world wide, (2) was done by undergraduates competing in iGEM, an annual synthetic biology competition originally founded at MIT, (3) using gaming software, (4) built on basic research done on an obscure bacterial enzyme, and (5) published with student authors in a peer-reviewed journal. 

    Images: Normal catalytic triad of protease enyzmes (left) and acid tolerant substitution (right) found in bacteria growing in acid, hot springs (middle).

    Paper: Computational Design of an α‑Gliadin Peptidase; Gordon et al., (2012) JACS 134, 20513−20520

    Team UW iGEMhttp://goo.gl/vgvTX

    #ScienceSunday   #syntheticbiology   
  • 180 plusses - 147 comments - 165 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-12 19:00:45
    Gluten Be Gone: Synthetic Biology Solution for Celiac Disease

    What is Celiac Disease? Celiac disease or gluten allergy comes from eating wheat, rye or barley. Most common in people of N. European descent, the symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss and an increased risk of cancer. 

    Why is gluten allergenic? Gluten contains an unusual protein called alpha gliadin, which has many repeats of the amino acids Proline and Glutamine (PQ motifs) that are resistant to the digestive enzymes in our stomach. In some people, these PQ-rich fragments cause severe allergy and inflammation.  

    Clinical trials: A natural bacterial enzyme from Sphingomonas capsulata that can break down PQ motifs is in clinical trials as an Oral Enzyme Therapeutic. But it works poorly in the acidic compartment of our stomach, and attempts to engineer it to become acid tolerant have not worked. 

    Trial by Acid: Univ. Washington undergraduates tackled the problem from the opposite direction. They found an enzyme called Kumamolysin-AS in a heat and acid loving bacterium Alicyclobacillus sendaiensis that was already acid tolerant. They tinkered with it, using the Fold-It protein folding game, until they found variants predicted to change the enzyme’s preference from Proline Arginine (PR) to Proline Glutamine (PQ). When they made and tested ~260 engineered enzymes, they found one that had a 116-fold increase in ability to digest the gluten peptide in acidic conditions, with a switch in preference of 800-fold! The new enzyme, KumaMAX, could be used in oral therapy or engineered into common bacteria found in yogurt to make probiotics.

    So Much Win!: This work (1) could help millions of gluten allergy sufferers world wide, (2) was done by undergraduates competing in iGEM, an annual synthetic biology competition originally founded at MIT, (3) using gaming software, (4) built on basic research done on an obscure bacterial enzyme, and (5) published with student authors in a peer-reviewed journal. 

    Images: Normal catalytic triad of protease enyzmes (left) and acid tolerant substitution (right) found in bacteria growing in acid, hot springs (middle).

    Paper: Computational Design of an α‑Gliadin Peptidase; Gordon et al., (2012) JACS 134, 20513−20520

    Team UW iGEMhttp://goo.gl/vgvTX

    #ScienceSunday   #syntheticbiology   
  • 180 plusses - 147 comments - 165 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-12 19:00:45
    Gluten Be Gone: Synthetic Biology Solution for Celiac Disease

    What is Celiac Disease? Celiac disease or gluten allergy comes from eating wheat, rye or barley. Most common in people of N. European descent, the symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss and an increased risk of cancer. 

    Why is gluten allergenic? Gluten contains an unusual protein called alpha gliadin, which has many repeats of the amino acids Proline and Glutamine (PQ motifs) that are resistant to the digestive enzymes in our stomach. In some people, these PQ-rich fragments cause severe allergy and inflammation.  

    Clinical trials: A natural bacterial enzyme from Sphingomonas capsulata that can break down PQ motifs is in clinical trials as an Oral Enzyme Therapeutic. But it works poorly in the acidic compartment of our stomach, and attempts to engineer it to become acid tolerant have not worked. 

    Trial by Acid: Univ. Washington undergraduates tackled the problem from the opposite direction. They found an enzyme called Kumamolysin-AS in a heat and acid loving bacterium Alicyclobacillus sendaiensis that was already acid tolerant. They tinkered with it, using the Fold-It protein folding game, until they found variants predicted to change the enzyme’s preference from Proline Arginine (PR) to Proline Glutamine (PQ). When they made and tested ~260 engineered enzymes, they found one that had a 116-fold increase in ability to digest the gluten peptide in acidic conditions, with a switch in preference of 800-fold! The new enzyme, KumaMAX, could be used in oral therapy or engineered into common bacteria found in yogurt to make probiotics.

    So Much Win!: This work (1) could help millions of gluten allergy sufferers world wide, (2) was done by undergraduates competing in iGEM, an annual synthetic biology competition originally founded at MIT, (3) using gaming software, (4) built on basic research done on an obscure bacterial enzyme, and (5) published with student authors in a peer-reviewed journal. 

    Images: Normal catalytic triad of protease enyzmes (left) and acid tolerant substitution (right) found in bacteria growing in acid, hot springs (middle).

    Paper: Computational Design of an α‑Gliadin Peptidase; Gordon et al., (2012) JACS 134, 20513−20520

    Team UW iGEMhttp://goo.gl/vgvTX

    #ScienceSunday   #syntheticbiology   
  • 180 plusses - 147 comments - 165 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-12 19:00:45
    Gluten Be Gone: Synthetic Biology Solution for Celiac Disease

    What is Celiac Disease? Celiac disease or gluten allergy comes from eating wheat, rye or barley. Most common in people of N. European descent, the symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss and an increased risk of cancer. 

    Why is gluten allergenic? Gluten contains an unusual protein called alpha gliadin, which has many repeats of the amino acids Proline and Glutamine (PQ motifs) that are resistant to the digestive enzymes in our stomach. In some people, these PQ-rich fragments cause severe allergy and inflammation.  

    Clinical trials: A natural bacterial enzyme from Sphingomonas capsulata that can break down PQ motifs is in clinical trials as an Oral Enzyme Therapeutic. But it works poorly in the acidic compartment of our stomach, and attempts to engineer it to become acid tolerant have not worked. 

    Trial by Acid: Univ. Washington undergraduates tackled the problem from the opposite direction. They found an enzyme called Kumamolysin-AS in a heat and acid loving bacterium Alicyclobacillus sendaiensis that was already acid tolerant. They tinkered with it, using the Fold-It protein folding game, until they found variants predicted to change the enzyme’s preference from Proline Arginine (PR) to Proline Glutamine (PQ). When they made and tested ~260 engineered enzymes, they found one that had a 116-fold increase in ability to digest the gluten peptide in acidic conditions, with a switch in preference of 800-fold! The new enzyme, KumaMAX, could be used in oral therapy or engineered into common bacteria found in yogurt to make probiotics.

    So Much Win!: This work (1) could help millions of gluten allergy sufferers world wide, (2) was done by undergraduates competing in iGEM, an annual synthetic biology competition originally founded at MIT, (3) using gaming software, (4) built on basic research done on an obscure bacterial enzyme, and (5) published with student authors in a peer-reviewed journal. 

    Images: Normal catalytic triad of protease enyzmes (left) and acid tolerant substitution (right) found in bacteria growing in acid, hot springs (middle).

    Paper: Computational Design of an α‑Gliadin Peptidase; Gordon et al., (2012) JACS 134, 20513−20520

    Team UW iGEMhttp://goo.gl/vgvTX

    #ScienceSunday   #syntheticbiology   
  • 180 plusses - 147 comments - 165 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2013-01-12 19:00:45
    Gluten Be Gone: Synthetic Biology Solution for Celiac Disease

    What is Celiac Disease? Celiac disease or gluten allergy comes from eating wheat, rye or barley. Most common in people of N. European descent, the symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss and an increased risk of cancer. 

    Why is gluten allergenic? Gluten contains an unusual protein called alpha gliadin, which has many repeats of the amino acids Proline and Glutamine (PQ motifs) that are resistant to the digestive enzymes in our stomach. In some people, these PQ-rich fragments cause severe allergy and inflammation.  

    Clinical trials: A natural bacterial enzyme from Sphingomonas capsulata that can break down PQ motifs is in clinical trials as an Oral Enzyme Therapeutic. But it works poorly in the acidic compartment of our stomach, and attempts to engineer it to become acid tolerant have not worked. 

    Trial by Acid: Univ. Washington undergraduates tackled the problem from the opposite direction. They found an enzyme called Kumamolysin-AS in a heat and acid loving bacterium Alicyclobacillus sendaiensis that was already acid tolerant. They tinkered with it, using the Fold-It protein folding game, until they found variants predicted to change the enzyme’s preference from Proline Arginine (PR) to Proline Glutamine (PQ). When they made and tested ~260 engineered enzymes, they found one that had a 116-fold increase in ability to digest the gluten peptide in acidic conditions, with a switch in preference of 800-fold! The new enzyme, KumaMAX, could be used in oral therapy or engineered into common bacteria found in yogurt to make probiotics.

    So Much Win!: This work (1) could help millions of gluten allergy sufferers world wide, (2) was done by undergraduates competing in iGEM, an annual synthetic biology competition originally founded at MIT, (3) using gaming software, (4) built on basic research done on an obscure bacterial enzyme, and (5) published with student authors in a peer-reviewed journal. 

    Images: Normal catalytic triad of protease enyzmes (left) and acid tolerant substitution (right) found in bacteria growing in acid, hot springs (middle).

    Paper: Computational Design of an α‑Gliadin Peptidase; Gordon et al., (2012) JACS 134, 20513−20520

    Team UW iGEMhttp://goo.gl/vgvTX

    #ScienceSunday   #syntheticbiology   
  • 180 plusses - 147 comments - 165 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+
  • 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+
  • 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 Rao2012-06-16 22:11:46
    THE KING OF FRUITS: Making Green Mango Rice. It has been said that India has only two seasons: Monsoon season and Mango season. While the monsoon replenishes Indian soil, mangoes are food for the soul.  Did you know that India holds 40% share of the world mango production?

    • Having to forgo Indian mangoes was definitely a downside of emigration to the US. I don’t count Mexican mangoes: sorry Bobby Flay, I’m sure your mango salsas are nicely fibrous and vaguely sweet ;) but these mangoes are unfit for consumption unless cooked. I brightened momentarily when President GW visited India, fell in love with the most regal of mangoes, the Alphonso, and granted special import permit for this variety, only to be foiled by the competitive Indian shopper who snaps up crates of mangoes at the going rate for gold. I recall a friend attempting to smuggle import a crate of mangoes from Toronto. At being stopped at the border and asked to throw them away, she refused indignantly. Instead, the family pulled over for an impromptu mango feast with the Customs officers joining in with gusto.

    My green mango rice was inspired by a photograph shared by +Feisal Kamil taken in his mother-in-law’s garden in Terengganu. The rice tastes even better after the flavors have had time to blend: delicately tangy and slightly sweet, sharply astringent with mustard, balanced out by creamy richness of coconut, all topped with crunchy peanuts and little pops of roasted mustard seeds. Enjoy!

    Recipe: http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/the-king-of-fruits-making-green-mango-rice/
    #foodporn #food
  • 108 plusses - 144 comments - 32 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-06-16 22:11:46
    THE KING OF FRUITS: Making Green Mango Rice. It has been said that India has only two seasons: Monsoon season and Mango season. While the monsoon replenishes Indian soil, mangoes are food for the soul.  Did you know that India holds 40% share of the world mango production?

    • Having to forgo Indian mangoes was definitely a downside of emigration to the US. I don’t count Mexican mangoes: sorry Bobby Flay, I’m sure your mango salsas are nicely fibrous and vaguely sweet ;) but these mangoes are unfit for consumption unless cooked. I brightened momentarily when President GW visited India, fell in love with the most regal of mangoes, the Alphonso, and granted special import permit for this variety, only to be foiled by the competitive Indian shopper who snaps up crates of mangoes at the going rate for gold. I recall a friend attempting to smuggle import a crate of mangoes from Toronto. At being stopped at the border and asked to throw them away, she refused indignantly. Instead, the family pulled over for an impromptu mango feast with the Customs officers joining in with gusto.

    My green mango rice was inspired by a photograph shared by +Feisal Kamil taken in his mother-in-law’s garden in Terengganu. The rice tastes even better after the flavors have had time to blend: delicately tangy and slightly sweet, sharply astringent with mustard, balanced out by creamy richness of coconut, all topped with crunchy peanuts and little pops of roasted mustard seeds. Enjoy!

    Recipe: http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/the-king-of-fruits-making-green-mango-rice/
    #foodporn #food
  • 108 plusses - 144 comments - 32 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-06-16 22:11:46
    THE KING OF FRUITS: Making Green Mango Rice. It has been said that India has only two seasons: Monsoon season and Mango season. While the monsoon replenishes Indian soil, mangoes are food for the soul.  Did you know that India holds 40% share of the world mango production?

    • Having to forgo Indian mangoes was definitely a downside of emigration to the US. I don’t count Mexican mangoes: sorry Bobby Flay, I’m sure your mango salsas are nicely fibrous and vaguely sweet ;) but these mangoes are unfit for consumption unless cooked. I brightened momentarily when President GW visited India, fell in love with the most regal of mangoes, the Alphonso, and granted special import permit for this variety, only to be foiled by the competitive Indian shopper who snaps up crates of mangoes at the going rate for gold. I recall a friend attempting to smuggle import a crate of mangoes from Toronto. At being stopped at the border and asked to throw them away, she refused indignantly. Instead, the family pulled over for an impromptu mango feast with the Customs officers joining in with gusto.

    My green mango rice was inspired by a photograph shared by +Feisal Kamil taken in his mother-in-law’s garden in Terengganu. The rice tastes even better after the flavors have had time to blend: delicately tangy and slightly sweet, sharply astringent with mustard, balanced out by creamy richness of coconut, all topped with crunchy peanuts and little pops of roasted mustard seeds. Enjoy!

    Recipe: http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/the-king-of-fruits-making-green-mango-rice/
    #foodporn #food
  • 108 plusses - 144 comments - 32 shares | Read in G+
  • Rajini Rao2012-06-16 22:11:46
    THE KING OF FRUITS: Making Green Mango Rice. It has been said that India has only two seasons: Monsoon season and Mango season. While the monsoon replenishes Indian soil, mangoes are food for the soul.  Did you know that India holds 40% share of the world mango production?

    • Having to forgo Indian mangoes was definitely a downside of emigration to the US. I don’t count Mexican mangoes: sorry Bobby Flay, I’m sure your mango salsas are nicely fibrous and vaguely sweet ;) but these mangoes are unfit for consumption unless cooked. I brightened momentarily when President GW visited India, fell in love with the most regal of mangoes, the Alphonso, and granted special import permit for this variety, only to be foiled by the competitive Indian shopper who snaps up crates of mangoes at the going rate for gold. I recall a friend attempting to smuggle import a crate of mangoes from Toronto. At being stopped at the border and asked to throw them away, she refused indignantly. Instead, the family pulled over for an impromptu mango feast with the Customs officers joining in with gusto.

    My green mango rice was inspired by a photograph shared by +Feisal Kamil taken in his mother-in-law’s garden in Terengganu. The rice tastes even better after the flavors have had time to blend: delicately tangy and slightly sweet, sharply astringent with mustard, balanced out by creamy richness of coconut, all topped with crunchy peanuts and little pops of roasted mustard seeds. Enjoy!

    Recipe: http://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/the-king-of-fruits-making-green-mango-rice/
    #foodporn #food
  • 108 plusses - 144 comments - 32 shares | Read in G+