basic science

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Category archives for basic science

2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: GFP

Earlier today, the Nobel committee announced that the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, and Roger Y. Tsien “for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP.” There’s much to be said for how useful a tool GFP has been in cellular biology, but Alex Palazzo…

The winners of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine have been announced, and the prize has been awarded for early discoveries that have subsequently led to vaccines or treatments of two widespread virus-caused diseases. Half of the prize was awarded to Harald zur Hausen “for his discovery of human papilloma viruses causing cervical…

Do You Work on E. Coli?

If so, you should check out EcoliWiki, which you might find a useful resource, and you might even find yourself compelled to contribute some of your knowledge to it. Since I’m already blogging about E. coli today, I thought I would also bring up an interesting project I found out about earlier this week. I’m…

E. coli, We Hardly Knew You

Microcosm: E. Coli and the New Science of Life by Carl Zimmer Pantheon: 2008, 256 pages. Buy now! (Amazon) I come face-to-face with Escherichia coli every day. In a sense, we all do–as billions of E. coli inhabit every individual’s intestines. But for me, E. coli is a protein factory. I’m a structural biologist, and…

Water on Mars, Part 2

Below is the second part of my interview with planetary geologist Bethany Ehlmann. In the first part, she discussed two of her recent papers on Martian geology (see citations below). In this segment, she discusses water on Mars more generally. Bethany Ehlmann Nick Anthis: Would it be possible to briefly take our readers through the…

Water on Mars, Part 1

Planetary geology is a fascinating area–particularly when it pertains to the search for extraterrestrial life. I wrote about it once during my brief stint as a student science writer, but it’s not an area that I’ve really covered on my blog. However, a former colleague of mine from Oxford, Bethany Ehlmann, was recently involved with…

Science for a Brave New World

On Monday, I attended an interesting lecture sponsored by the 21st Century School here in Oxford entitled “What Is Science For?”. You can see a discussion on the event here and read a pdf summary of it here. The lecture was co-presented by scientist John Sulston and philosopher John Harris, and it was introduced by…

Molecule of the Day has a post up about isotopically-enriched food that caught my eye for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the idea is wildly outrageous, and, secondly, this is something that actually gets joked about quite a bit in an NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) lab. Any given element can come in various isotopes, which…

Why Are Veins Blue?

When someone asks the question “why are veins blue?” a likely response is that they’re blue because the blood in veins is deoxygenated. While it’s true that venous blood vessels carry a lower concentration of oxygen than their arterial counterparts, this isn’t the reason for their blue appearance in your skin. Still, when someone invariably…

The New York Times reported yesterday that “scientists find new receptor for HIV,” referring to a paper published online in Nature Immunology on Sunday by Arthos et al. This is basically correct, although it would be more accurate to call the new receptor a co-receptor, since the infection of a cell with HIV still depends…