PAH column

We need CHANGE!

  As you can see, the project pretty much stalled. I was hoping to make the 100th post special, but at times it seems like I'm overly obsessed with numbers. And with being special.

  Is it November already? Really? Believe it or not, grad school takes up a lot of time. Not that I'm not having any fun, I might actually be having too much, both inside and outside of the lab.

  For instance, someone came in today with a statement about another labmate who recently dyed her hair: "As I was lying naked in my bed this morning, I thought about your hair." Now, isn't it wonderful to work in the environment where you can say that and nothing happens? As it turned out, his thoughts were about using our dye on her hair. The dye happens to be a turn-on thiol-reactive compound, and hair is famous for it's high sulfur content. Of course, instead of dying the hair on her I reached down my pants and pulled out some test subjects we cut a small lock. Pretreated with DTT to break down disulfides it worked beautifully, giving off strong green(ish) light under 365 nm lamp. It appears to be quite stable, too. DIY Dye FTW, and you're all next!

Left—pretreated with DTT, right—uhm, make a guess.
The Eppendorfs look kinda... phallic.

And just for the fun of it, here's an assignment I had. Azadirachtin, baby.

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PAH column

The Quass.

  Making quick updates without illustrative material is hard. Drawing chemical schemes takes long. Writing without illustrations takes talent. [Insert circle-closing statements here] Keeping a blog up and running takes quick updates. Thus, I can has a camera?
  Meanwhile, go read what other people are writing about. Ψ*Ψ was deeply touched by chemophilic junk-sucking foot pads for chemophobes. Here's also something from someone she's citing:
  If you can see it, touch it, taste it, smell it, or otherwise collect alittle of it in a jar, IT'S CHEMICAL! That includes water, snake venom, aspirin, farts, wood, steel, plutonium, blood, orange juice from concentrate, orange juice not from concentrate,[...] etc., etc. Pretty much anything but unicorns, hugs, and sunshine.
  There is a pretty successful brand of kvass in Russia that... oh, wait: kvass (aka quass) is a beverage made of bread. Go read it if you've never heard of it. Anyway, although it is not intended to be preserved for prolonged periods of time, people can't make it themselves but want to drink it. So here comes mass production and bottling, resulting in something pretty far from the original, but still quite decent and tasting like nothing else. Now, some wise-ass came up with a name "Nikola", and launched a campaign with the advertising slogan "Kvass is not Cola, drink Nikola", expressing the opposition to Cola drinks. Ni is a form of negation in Russian, and Nikola (Никола) is a male name. The opposition is further underlined by the website name: transliteration rules, as vague as they are, prescribe to transliterate the letter к as k, not c. Both Russian к and Latin k, unlike Latin c, are always pronounced [k] (if pronounced, opening digraph kn does not count). But, see, they're not Cola.

  Well, I was fine with that, and bought the stuff every now and then, even in a Russian store in the US for some ridiculous money. And what do I see when I come back? A new slogan. "YES for kvass, NO for chemistry." I don't even care that the word chemistry is in quotation marks. The message is clear.

(no, not all ads in Russia are that lousy)

  Well, fuck you then. I will later write them to explain how they lost a customer and advise on the way to kill themselves.

  The three-in-the-morning-way of communicating ideas looks somewhat... strange on re-reading. Or is it just as usual?..

PAH column

Go ponies!

  I was looking for this article that had something to do with drowning ponies — for some obscure scientific purpose. I think it was Chembark who brought it up about a year ago, but I don't remember exactly, and his search is down. If anyone can direct my attention to that talk it would be cool. I couldn't google my way through either. I even went to ISI — apparently, ponies are featured in some 1400 studies. Such as this one.

  The effect of X-radiation upon the quality and fertility of stallion semen. "These findings indicate that the exposure of stallion spermatozoa to x-radiation up to doses of 10 μSv does not have deleterious effects upon spermatozoal motility, morphology, longevity or fertility. The exposure received during examination using an x-ray security screening system is likely to be lower than this dose."

  We all learned something today (and some of us even yesterdayz). We learned that we are safe, because terrorists won't be able to put bombs in ponies. At the same time, ponies can still happily reproduce. Also wey learned a new sciencey word: theriogenology. What we did not learn, simply because wey don't want to know that, is the way they obtained their samples.

   z: I mean myself.
   y: I mean myself again.

PAH column

At the entrance to the tunnel.

  First week of graduate school was spent on settling down, drinking, retrieving a lost bag from Delta, drinking more, sleeping and learning to play Wii while drinking. The latter activity made me think I'm too old for the modern games. They're too damn complicated and require massive investments of time and effort to reach some proficiency. Otherwise it's not fun to lose all the time. Can anyone see parallels with science?

  As I'm approaching the 100th post, I'd like to make some conslusions and/or resolutions. Well, to start with, I do not regret at all I started the blog. It used to take me hours to write several lines in the beginning. Even though there's still a lot to work on in this respect, lack of English can't be an excuse for not writing anymore. Now it's about being focused. During rare short periods of active blogging and lab work, I would often write something before heading to the bench. Hitting 'post' after a fifth revision gives feeling of some achievement and force to proceed.

  But to make the blogging really worth it, in other words, to reach the level of our giants, it at least needs to be more regular. I am thinking about teaming up with someone. Expect changes soon. Hopefully, to the best.

PAH column

The true look of glycoproteins.

  In search for the cover image of the issue 5148 of Science (1994), in which the expression of GFP in E. Coli and C. elegans was reported, I downloaded the front matter (36 MB). Along with the funny ads of the latest software for Windoze 3.11 and DOS, dorky pictures of scientists seeking more viable cell cultures while staring in the general direction of the sky at dawn through their Petri dishes, there was something absolutely mind-blowing.

  Well, could I possibly resist?

  The article mentioned above was cited over 2700 times by now. This is another illustration of the GFP impact, which now brought to us this forgotten piece of... of... ART.

  I will be glad to see more examples of funny scientific ads. Anyone? :)

PAH column

OMFFSM BODIPYs in water!

  Here's what showed up in GoogleAds on my Clustrmaps page.

  Reminds of Chicago with their perverted but amusing relationships with the Chicago river, such as reversing the flow (so much crap, it all goes in our lake, let's send it to Mississippi!) or dying the river on St. Patrick's day. It used to be fluorescein, now they wouldn't tell what the dye is. It is claimed to be safe for the fish. The process takes 5 minutes (hooray for strong absorption) and the color disappears by the end of day.