Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Beyond the Procedure

Most people consider science to be a systematic and logical method of study. This makes sense given the strict idea of experimental design, but really breaks down when looking at any individual scientist or experiment. There is a step by step formula in the progression of any given experiment, but how the scientist goes about each step may be completely different. Society characterises scientists as mere thought factories, they are inputted questions and output answers. Science is not so uninvolved. How are procedural barriers solved? How come results can be argued over on what they mean? Shouldn't there only one output for each input if this system is truly functional? Also where do you think questions come from in the first place. All of this is generated by passion, and genuine interest. Science is truly an art, that is merely contained by this manageable system known as experimental design. This can be proved. If science is supposed to be systematic, and logical, why are the best minds known to science, so abstract, creative, and removed from the norms of logic? When thinking of this description, two names come to mind immediately: Michael Faraday, and Albert Einstein. These two are some of the greatest scientists know today, but thought far out of the known box of accepted reality.
Michael Faraday grew up as a son of a blacksmith in a poor family. Sometimes he would have to live off of just one loaf of bread a week.(5) This same man just happens to be the one who discovered electromagnetism. How did such a man succeed? He was passionate about electrochemistry. He read nonstop trying to educate himself as much as possible, on the side of being an apprentice for a printing company just to scrape by. Not only was he driven, but extremely imaginative as well. It is said that he thought in pictures. When posed the question of why a compass changed when next to an electric current, he reorganised the set up and saw a magnetic field in his mind. At the time no one had a clue that magnetism and electricity were related, but he was able to picture the relationship.(4) This was a laughable assumption at the time, but he fought to prove what he saw for years until concluded by ornsted and amiere. He was a scientific genius. His genius was a product of passion and abstract thought though, outside the most notable contemporary requirements of a scientist.
Albert Einstein is also a very well know scientist, and for good reasons too. He created the theory of relativity, and really developed what we know today as quantum physics. His work gained him the title of most influential physicist of the twentieth century(1). He did not get there randomly, he used his great mind to get there. His mind worked similarly to Faraday's in that he also thought in pictures. His greatest progressions in science came from visualizing something and then trying to prove it(2). The reason he was capable of this higher state of thought was due to the development of the connective tissues between his lobe. He required both hemispheres to think the way he did.(3) His mind worked so abstractly, but became one of the most important scientists of all time. He did not follow every rule and step by step instruction of science, and he still came to the right answer. That is art. That is beautiful.
Experimental design represents science at the most basic level. This is something every highschooler understands and can hopefully replicate. The next level science, is where it become more of an art. In order to further science, scientists must be intuitive and creative. They must be involved and passionate. They must be able to think beyond the simple step by step procedure.

Works cited
1 "Albert Einstein." Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.
2 @Designntrend. "Einstein's Ingenuity Explained By More Connections Between Brain's Hemispheres." Design & Trend. N.p., 05 Oct. 2013. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.
3 Isaacson, Walter. "20 Things You Need to Know About Einstein." Time. Time Inc., 05 Apr. 2007. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.
4 Joesam91. "Michael Faraday | A Documentary." YouTube. YouTube, 29 Apr. 2016. Web.
5 "Michael Faraday." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Man made plant tech

Hmm, what do I remember about photosynthesis? I'm going to say not enough. Plants take in carbon dioxide and water and use light as energy to produce oxygen and glucose. This is carried out by the Calvin benson cycle and phosphorylation. Photosynthesis in general will yield minimal amounts of ATP.
From what I can tell, this isn't exactly photosynthesis that they replicated. It is simmilar in a way, but does not yield glucose. Instead various alcohols are produced. This whole concept interests me to be honest, I think it is so cool to see some of the massive steps people are taking right now in science. One thing I remember saying freshman year was what if we could wear skin that would give us energy through photosynthesis and have energy from cellular respiration. It was just one of my random thoughts, but now I'm getting thinking again, maybe it could work. Anyways, this seemed like a fairly basic general concept that was very interresting.
I do have a few questions though, especially involving real applications of this new technology. It is said to be 10 times more efficient than photosynthesis at producing energy, but photosynthesis isn't really that efficient in the first place I didn't think. The article states that it would take 1000 watts to produce 60 grams of alcohol. My question is how many watts is 60 of alcohol capable of producing. It would have to be over 1000 in order to have any application in the power industry. And As far as I can tell it would not have a "go green" application either because the alcohol will be most likely burned for fuel, which will just turn the carbons in the alcohol back into carbon dioxide. This was over all a really cool and interresting topic, but I wish more was covered in how this could apply to power usage.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chinese Rish into Clinical Trials of Potentialy Deadly Cancer Treatment

This new CRISPR treatment is to me very biologically interresting. It does however have a scary factor to it when you think of the possible negative effects of it. It could cause the body to attack itself, particularly the gut and adrenaline glands. That sounds like one step forward to steps back to me. I guess if they are only trying it on people that are no responsive to chemo and other treatments, the possibility of living trumps dying for certain. Before they try this on anyone else besides those doomed to this last resort rushed test trial, they better get some pretty convincing evidence that the treatment can be successful without short or long term repercussions in the majority of people.
Anyways, let's get back to the science part(super awesome cool part). From what I understand, this gene PD-1, more or less is in charge of  preventing the body from attacking its self. In the case of cancer, the body needs to attack its own cells. This understanding has lead to many treatments including this one, revolving around blocking or getting rid of PD-1. CRISPR is the process of editing out that gene from the T cells, therefore allowing the cells to attack the cancer cells without hesitation. This process reminds me of the p-glo lab we did. Only we inserted a gene into the ecoli's DNA ring thing. They focused on the extraction part. This all connects to the concepts we were learning about in genetics. we learned about how enzymes can cut off specific sections of a chromosome based on nucleotide order. That section of DNA could then be introduced into another foreign cell's DNA. This having already been done, but mostly to plansts and animals to enhance their production capabilities. Now all that had to be done was six months of research and we are almost ready to GMO human subjects.
Yes this article also forces me to ask a few questions. The article mostly talks about blocking PD-1, but it does also mention extracting a second and inserting a third. What does that mean? Why are those other genes not mentioned? Also PD-1 seems to be pretty important in the protection of healthy cells, is this edit only evident  in the T cells of the blood, or will the rest of the rest of the body, as cells duplicate and die, phase this gene out all together? I guess I'm not totally understanding. Would this genetic change be passed on to future generations? The article said that all T cells would be active. Last big question, is 6 months a reasonable time frame? Is it safe for the Chinese to get politically involved to push forward the dates of clinical trial. I'm honestly I bit concerned for the mindset of the people developing this drug.the patient should come first, not China.
I would say I would like to learn more about the bodies immune response in general. What are T cells? What makes them special? How do they work. I guess that if I want to know how the body protects itself, I would want to know what against and how things like tumors form.
I understand the concepts of the article pretty well, I believe that most people could, but what I want to know now, is the details.

Friday, July 15, 2016

New Research provides distinct evidence of the evolutionary similarities between Birds, Mammals and Reptiles

I found the  and hair on mammals.article Reptile scales share evolutionary origin with hair, feathers to be pretty interesting. researchers were able to make the connection between scales on reptiles, feathers on birds,and hairs on mammals. Each of these form during the development of the embryo. They start out as little bumps of skin cells, which in the case of scales, quickly disappear. These bumps of skin cells each contain similar proteins that allow this to occur. I think that it is super cool to think that three completely different types of animals can have such similar developmental features. Also another thing that I found interesting and did not know was that birds and mammals did not evolve from reptiles. In fact all three had evolved from a similar ancestor. Reptiles just evolved from the predecessor much earlier on. Mammals and birds evolved later on.
Although this research is super super cool, these findings make sense and don't really surprised me too much. This is not just some coincidence, it is science. I believe we will start to find more and more small similarities between different phylums and classifications of animals. This is because all animals share the same method of genetic inheritance: DNA. If every animal has DNA as its genetic material and it was inherited only from its predecessor, then it would be a reasonable hypothesis that all animals evolved from the same origin. As animals evolve, their DNA changes, but there will still be similarities. It's just up to us to find them.
Okay so this only leads my brain into a rollercoaster of exciting and confusing thoughts and questions (not that it doesn't already do that on its own). Okay, so first of all when i read this, it was cool, reptiles and all, but for me it painted a much bigger picture: the picture of DNA. When the article mentioned possibly describing the creature that reptiles, birds and mammals evolved from, I was thinking, heck, that's a big goal, but let's think bigger. Could it be possible to map out genetic similarities between all animals and describe the traits of the first animal. Now that would be really cool! Also another question, What about plants, bacteria, fungi and our other fellow DNA dependent things.Where do they come from? Could we possibly find clear physical developmental similarities between plants and animals? What genetic differences and similarities are there between different kingdoms, phylums, classes, you get the point? When did these species diversify and why. Could we link a possible spike in the relative abundance of O2 to plants deciding to reverse photosynthesis to become animals haha?
Okay ya so you get the point, lots of big longshot questions no one can answer. I hope I left enough crazy questions, so that it's not too hard for commenters to pick apart my response(part C of homework). I know i'm going to hunt for an unrealistic post to shut down. First set of articles was a blast. Looking forward to the next and eventually class. I hope everyone else is as excited as I am.