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Posts tagged with "Uncategorized"

  • Architecture and Productivity: Four Theses

    I certainly enjoyed this review of a new book, Laboratory Lifestyles, in Nature. This is a look at research buildings and the behavior of scientists in them, and will for many reopen a lot of arguments. Open offices? Open-plan lab space? Where do the break areas go, and the conference rooms? What do they look… Read More
  • Biological News

    Engineering Biology, For Real?

    Any article titled “How to Engineer Biology” is going to get a look from me – and when I’m referenced in the opening paragraphs, especially so. This is a piece by Vijay Pande in Scientific American, and I get called out for my naming of the “Andy Grove Fallacy” (found in this post and the… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Hail to the Ribbon

    A correspondent sent along this item, celebrating the inventor of something that’s so ubiquitous in molecular biology and protein chemistry that you have to think for a moment to realize that it had an inventor: the ribbon diagram. That’s Jane Richardson of Duke, who started there in 1969, back when there were only about 20… Read More
  • Optimism as a Function of Time

    I’m traveling, so there’s a bit less time for blogging than usual. But I wanted to mention something that’s come up several times over the years, especially when new technologies are coming along. People ask me “Do you think that (such-and-such) is going to be important?” or “Can (technology X) really be as big a… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    Seeing Ethylene

    Plenty of people know that there’s a gas given off by ripe fruit that can itself accelerate ripening in others – the “banana in a bag” technique. That gas is of course ethylene, identified as such in plants in the early 20th century, and the more chemistry you know, the odder it seems that it… Read More
  • Biological News

    Rewiring Bacteria

    Earth is basically a bacteria planet, despite humankind’s naked-eye-level profile. They’ve been here unfathomably longer than we have, they live in plenty of places where we can’t survive, and their biomass far outranks ours. This paper will show you just how adaptable the little creatures are. Wild-type E. coli (like many other… Read More
  • Chemical Biology

    Watching Protein Degradation Happen

    You know that a technique has attained wide currency when the vendors start selling reagents and tools around it. Here’s an example in the protein degradation field: a team at Promega (well-known vendors of assay reagents and kits) report a new system to evaluate the extent and time course of protein degradation compounds. For those… Read More
  • Life in the Drug Labs

    Med-Chem Labs: What’s Changed?

    Traveling today, so not much time for a full-scale post. But I wanted to toss out a question to my fellow medicinal chemists instead. I was talking with some colleagues the other day, including a couple of people who’d been around for a while, and we were discussing what things med-chemists used to spend more… Read More
  • An Update on Vibrational Theories of Smell

    I’ve written a few times over the years about the vibrational theory of olfaction (VTO), the hypothesis that (at least some) olfactory receptors work by sensing vibrational levels of various functional groups, rather than using traditional stereoelectronic interactions. At a deeper level, this could involve electron tunneling at the receptors… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    Cooling Crystals is Great. Except When It Isn’t.

    If you’ve ever been around an X-ray crystallography setup, one of the constants is a tube directing a blast of chilly vapor at the crystal that’s mounted for analysis. It’s usually a stream of cold nitrogen gas, often set up as a blast of the cold stuff surrounded by a second concentric layer of dry… Read More
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