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Archives for October, 2007

When purified, it glows with an unearthly light. You can’t go “chemical free” and try to escape it. It’s part of our bones and it forms the backbone of our DNA. A tool for good, a tool of war, essential for gardening, and infamous as a pesticide; phosphorus is truly an amazing element. Amazing too,…

I missed my chance to get my own DonorsChoose challenge together, but that doesn’t mean that you have to miss your chance to contribute and, of course:   WIN FABULOUS PRIZES!!!!   WIN FABULOUS PRIZES!!!! WIN FABULOUS PRIZES!!!! It’s easy.  Just head on over to one of these pages On Being a Scientist and a…

One of the greatest shocks when I started working in industry was the realization that the peer-reviewed paper, the most valuable form of currency in the academic world, was valued so little.

Metagenomics is a field where people interrogate the living world by isolating and sequencing nucleic acids. Since all living things have DNA, and viruses have either DNA or RNA, we can identify who’s around by looking at bits of their genome. Researchers are using this approach to find the culprit that’s killing the honeybees. We’re…

The simple fact is this: some DNA sequences are more believable than others. The problem is, that many students and researchers never see any of the metrics that we use for evaluating whether a sequence is “good” and whether a sequence is “bad.” All they see are the base calls and sequences: ATAGATAGACGAGTAG, without any…

We have lots of DNA samples from bacteria that were isolated from dirt. Now it’s time to our own metagenomics project and figure out what they are. Our class project is on a much smaller scale than the honeybee metagenomics project that I wrote about yesterday, but we’re using many of the same principles.

The next time you bite into a crisp juicy apple and the tart juices spill out around your tongue, remember the honeybee. Our fall harvest depends heavily on honeybees carrying pollen from plant to plant. Luscious fruits and vegetables wouldn’t grace our table, were it not for the honeybees and other pollinators.

Would you like to have some fun playing with chromatograms and helping our class identify bacteria in the dirt?

California Burning!

The NASA Earth observatory has some amazing photos of the wildfires in California. I’ve put a small version of one image here, but you should go to the NASA site and see the high resolution images. The fires are horrible but the images are fantastic.

It’s hard to teach bioinformatics when schools work so hard to keep us from using computers.