New Articles: Water Treatment, Protein Mistakes and Scaling

Five articles (plus some photos from the recent Researchers' Night activities) are now online in the fall issue of Interface magazine (the Weizmann Institute's "friendly" science magazine).

Researchers night 1_2011.jpg

â¢Read about a new kind of water treatment system - one that breaks down such complex, man-made chemicals in water as cleaning fluids, flame retardants and pesticide residues, turning them into simpler compounds that can then degrade naturally into harmless substances. Today, there is little that can be done about these pollutants, which are considered dangerous even in tiny amounts when they get into the water supply.

â¢A second article describes a mechanism that could play a role in the formation of protein aggregates such as those seen in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Unfortunately, the error that leads the protein to clump together - the accidental substitution of an L-Dopa molecule for an amino acid in the protein chain - seems to be the result of a natural blind spot in the protein assembly process.

â¢Another piece describes ongoing research into scaling - the way that patterns stay in sync with size as organisms grow and develop. Aside from anything else, this research is a beautiful example of synergy between experimental data and mathematical modeling. From lab experiment to mathematical model and back to lab experiment, the scientists have demonstrated how, on the one hand, a general paradigm of scaling seems to apply to all higher organisms and, on the other, that once you have this paradigm, you can use it to find the specific molecular mechanisms involved for a particular species.

â¢The fourth and fifth articles - on a population model for cloud dynamics and a universal donor approach to creating modified T cells for fighting cancer - have already been described in this blog but they are worth a look, if you haven't read them yet.

Coming up: Next week, the Weizmann Institute will be temporarily overrun by the annual Science Festival. The festival includes lots of day-time activities for families and evening lectures, as well as a math quiz in memory of Martin Gardiner (details in Hebrew on the site).

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