Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This week is Finals week at Purdue, so I will not be writing anything in depth this week.  I have already finished two exams but have two more before the week's end.  If you really need to get your science fix, try Io9.com.  And enjoy the new Big Ten Logo and Division names, I know I will (that is sarcasm for those who can't tell)!

I can't wait until we crown a Leaders and Legends Division Champions!  Really, that's the best we can do?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Fragments

Last week I published a post on "Quick Random Thoughts."  I liked the idea of weekly putting together a bunch of little stories that I like.  So I introduce to the world my...Friday Fragments!

1) Movies!  The new Aliens prequel title was released (Paradise) and it was announced that it will being shooting next March.  I would like to see a new Aliens movie since Alien vs. Predator 2:Requiem was soooo good!  Next, the first trailer for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and it features the famous Purdue astronaut, Neil Armstrong.  Check it out!

Lastly, I found a viral movie called The Tunnel.  It looks a bit like a crossed between Blair Witch and Cloverfield.  And it's only going to be released on torrents (which I despise).  However, I'm intrigued and will decide whether to get the movie once more trailers are out.  Oh and Inception is out on DVD!

2) Private Space Flight took some major steps forward as of late.  The Dragon Spacecraft became the first privately operated ship to reach orbit AND return to earth safely.  Owned by SpaceX, this is the future of space exploration since the Space Shuttle is retiring.  I will be working on a full write up with my opinions on the subject over the Holidays.

3) I believe there is a Boilermaker curse upon us.  Even the invincible Chris Kramer has suffered a knee injury in his first season with the NBA D-league Ft. Wayne Mad Ants.  This whole knee injury stuff is just getting annoying now!

4) And lastly...an 11-year old who can dunk.

I hope everyone enjoys the first Friday Fragments.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Update - NASA's New Life?!

This evening I took a break from wrapping Christmas Presents and learning 2D NMR theory to just check the basic Yahoo news.  And to my surprise, NASA's new life form which I previously wrote about is in the news again.  This time, scientists are finding major holes into their research findings.  A really good, scientific review of the paper published by NASA researchers was posted on a blog by Dr. Rosemary J. Redfield.  It is an excellent analysis of NASA's work and it claims that NASA was sloppy.  There are many outlined flaws (such as execution of assays, to the starving of the organisms from phosphorous but leaving traces of phosphate salt within the experiment).

The most interesting comment by Dr. Redfield was, "If this data was presented by a PhD student at their committee meeting, I'd send them back to the bench to do more cleanup and controls."  To say this about our most famous research and scientific organization in the country and probably the world, is shocking but true.  I have asked for advice from professors and graduate students alike, and they all have one thing to say in common..."Make sure your controls are sound!"  I am a little disappointed that NASA's astrobiologists failed at such a simple research philosophy.

Check out the NASA report here.

My New Lab Office!

I have finally been given an office space in the lab at the Pharmacy Building.  Until now I have been in temporary office space in the building.  Honestly, my new space is not that much better than my permanent space, but hey, I'll take it.  I took a few pictures on my phone, which means they are a little blurry.  The space is new for Taylor's lab group and I will be sharing the space with at least one other person (probably a visiting professor).
 Door into office...across from the Dean's Office!

The space needs to be rearranged...

I believe that is a chalkboard, I'll have my own chalkboard (kinda)!

There is a little lab bench but I believe it may end up holding a fridge and microwave, LOL.

My favorite part, the door has an actual sign on it for Research in IPPH.

So there are a few things I like about this new space.  First, it is on the 1st floor of the Pharmacy building.  Now the lab and the rest of Taylor's lab group offices on in the basement, but I will have air conditioning (shhh, don't let them know that).  Second, I am more of an independent worker, so having a space that only houses 2 or 3 people total will be best for me in the long run.  One negative is that it does not have a window but most labs in the building do not have windows, that's just the design of the building.  I will post new pictures once I am moved into the lab and have my desk set-up.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Google Chrome OS: One Step Closer to World Domination.

A little over 14 years ago, two graduate students at Stanford working on a project for the University Library came up with the idea for a new search engine based on their work within their studies.  The ability to find things most relevant to what you want was directly associated with how many other "items" that thing is associated with.  Applying this to websites, a search engine was created which has revolutionized the world.  Google was born and immediately became popular around the world for it's simplistic yet powerful tool to find what you want fast. Below is the original Beta test of Google, very similar to the Google of today.

Since that first Beta test, the "Google Machine," as it is sometimes referred, has developed a rapport with the public of unveiling current technologies better.  For example, Google Maps as most definitely overtaken Mapquest as the perferred online and mobile atlas.  Also, Gmail is one of the most common email providers in the world and most people even choose to link their other accounts into their Gmail account.

In 2005, Google started partnering (buying) with other major technological groups.  NASA and AOL/Time Warner partner with Google for an assortment of projects including the NORAD Tracks Santa Project.  In 2006, Google bought YouTube.com and partnered with Sony and Warner Brothers, making Google the epicenter of all things entertainment related.  Just recently Google has unveiled Google Phones which springboard off of Google's simple design and deliver a seamless interface for users.

But now the time has come for Google to take on the computer giants (Microsoft and Apple).  Google Chromium OS, named and based on the Chrome web browser, was released today for all the world to see.  It is exactly what you would expect from Google.  The OS itself is essentially a web browser that is your entire operating system.  It can run within your current OS or on an independent machine.  I have not had the opportunity to try it out nor will I get to anytime soon, but it looks and sounds simple, fast, and secure.  They claim it is ideal for those who spend most of their time on the internet while using their computer.

All these advances lead me to believe that Google's ultimate goal is to rule the technology realm..  Don't get me wrong, I use Google Chrome and Gmail and Google Maps and Google but I'm just sure the world will convert to Google OS like they did everything else.  I mean Windows is still by far the most preferred OS by businesses and universities alike.  There are some conversions to MAC out there, but MAC OS remains primarily a personal OS.  But, we must wait and see!  Check out a review of the OS here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

E. Coli - Friend or Foe?

As a kid and teenager, it was drilled into our minds that E. coli was bad.  It infects food and makes people sick and thus should be deemed an enemy for all eternity.  However, if that microbiology class taught me anything it's that all things have purpose.  Now, E. coli has many good uses, the best probable being a good host for DNA vectors and genomic research.  Two recent newsworthy breakthroughs have got me intrigued about our little friends who keep the Imodium flying off the shelves at the local pharmacy. 

First off, E. coli is being used to produce medicine.  Not just any medicine but antibiotics, most specifically erythromycin A.  This antibiotic very similar to penicillin, is used in patients who usually have an allergic reaction to penicillin.  But erythromycin A has 10 chiral, stereospecific carbons which makes this molecule really, really, REALLY, difficult to make synthetically.  Researchers at Tufts University have successfully produced erythromycin A and two other variants using E. coli.  The species which produced them is naturally found in soil and if this can be utilized, it can drastically cut cost, time, and energy to make such a vital antibiotic.  (BTW, the ability to more efficiently produce medicine, physically and financially, is essentially what I will be focusing my career on...so this is kind of a big deal!)

Next and probably way more interesting to the rest of the world is the new found storage capacity of E. coli.  Yes, I'm talking about storing your computer files, like pictures, movies, and files, in bacteria.  The DNA of the bacteria can be encoded using the for DNA bases to transform anything into a base-4 code.  What's better?  The "headers" and "footers" needed to incorporate the DNA into the bacteria can also act as the coded key for the data.  Thus, without the code for the key, the data remains almost un-crackable.  Bacteria offers almost the ultimate safe as it is the most resilient "thing" on the earth.  And it can reproduce to make countless copies of the data.  But the best advantage of the data storage is the amount.   900 terabytes can be stored on 1 gram of E. coli.  For perspective, a current 1.5 terabyte external hard drive weighs 1 kilogram.  That would be the equivalent of 900,000 terabytes of information or about 180,000,000,000 songs!  DAMN!  Even Xzibit cannot fit that many songs into a car on "Pimp My Ride." 

All in all, our little enemy is actually one of our biggest allies in both medicine and technology.  Every day, thousands of researchers are pouring countless hours on time into this one species.  So next time you hear someone badmouthing E. coli, think twice before disrespecting the little guys.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quick Random Thoughts

My mind is scattered today so I have a few short tidbits for you all today...

1) NASA found "new" life.  It is actually a really, really, REALLY big deal.  NASA announced it today at a press conference that had people buzzing about alien life.  Basically these new microbes use arsenic instead of phosphorous.  This includes their DNA and ATP (or it should now be renamed ATA I guess).  They are found in the Mono Lake, California and it is quite the discovery.  Get a quick run-down here.

2) I finalized my class schedule for next semester and I will be taking three classes along with beginning lab research.  The classes include Physical Chemistry, Particle Design and Process, and Computational Chemistry.  Currently I am taking Statistical Models, Organic Spectroscopy, and Linear Algebra/Differential Equations.  I believe whatever my research is specifically it will have a much larger emphasis on mathematical modeling of solid systems, as that is something the Taylor Lab group wants to pursue.

3) I played Wallyball last night and as I was watching some NBA highlights earlier today I wondered what it would be like if instead of professional basketball, we watched, cheered for, and celebrated Wallyball teams.  That stuff is exciting and I think people would watch it.  Kind of like Slam Ball, where the heck did that sport go?

I hope this is enough to occupy your time for at least five minutes today.  I know it did for me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Weather Proof Matches

I found this link and video to weather proof matches.  When I first read it, I thought they meant you could get the matches wet and they would still work.  Not the case, click to watch the video and see for yourself.

At one point he actually cleans off the wet dirt from the match and then it reignites.  I feel like that disrupts some law of physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, or something.  This could also be a disaster waiting to happen at a drunken college party or redneck wedding.