Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Real Quick

Hey all, I just wanted to get a few quick things out there...

-First, if anyone is at all interested in running the Tough Mudder Indiana in March please let me know and we can get a team together.  I am about 75% sure I want to run it again (left knee and right foot need to heal).  

-Second, Bryan I have started on a post about the "next big thing" in pharmaceuticals and I hope to get to that political question before Christmas.  And Aaron, fire is a little trickery than pudding but I'm working on it.

-Lastly, anyone who wants to do a little shout-out exchange for their blog let me know.  I will gladly give a plug for someone's site in return for a shameless plug towards mine.  Honestly, I see no shame in that!

I'll leave you with a link to the Layover by Mike Posner.  It's a pretty sweet mixtape with some original stuff and some awesome remixes (like Rolling in the Deep and Rocket Man).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Friday Fragments (11/25/11)

Thanksgiving is upon us and I for am thankful for a few days of rest and relaxation.  Here are some interesting links for you to check out on this Black Friday..

-First, I want a pair of these blinds in my office and in our lab, considering neither of them have windows.

I suggest something like this for your
friends that remind you of characters
from "The Big Bang Theory" show.
-If you know someone in your family that is either a science nerd (like myself) or a sci-fi geek check out io9.com's gift guide.  I particular like the books section (hint hint)!

-In France, doctors have successfully bone marrow to create new blood and give a transfusion to another person.  It's a matter of time before blood drives will be obsolete and we can just grow blood for people.

-Chances are that you are reading this from a computer (or phone) that has a dual-core processor. Maybe even a quad-core and six-core machine if you are an avid computer builder.  But now AMD has outdone itself with it's new beast of a processor with 16-cores!  I can't wait to play 16 simultaneous games of Peggle!

-Scientists have put out a new APB for a giant gas planet missing from our solar system.  New calculations suggest that we may have lost a gas giant to the universe early in the development of our solar system.  So anyone with information leading to the safe return of this giant planet please contact NASA for a job so that you may utilize your talents appropriately.

-I've mention spray on skin but this is truly innovative.  Take a healthy sample, give it 20 minutes and presto...new skin to spray on to the patient!

-Lastly, I want a pair of these contacts.  They come with a built in LED "interface."  Sure it's just one light that blinks right now but soon it will be the internet controlled by your brain!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ask a Scientist: Is Pudding a Solid or Liquid?

For the first installment of "Ask a Scientist," I will diving into the world of pudding.  But first...
Pudding takes the shape of it's container so it must be a
liquid, right?

I went back and read my original "Ask a Scientist" post and I wanted to clear something up first.  I never intended for the post to sound arrogant or snobby.  My only intention was to try to find some new interesting subjects to look into and write an informative post on them.  I am not saying that I know all the answers or that I am a genius.  I just enjoy researching all kinds of science and I also love to share fun science (such as quantum locking)!  So without further delay, let's get back to pudding.  Which is an awesome topic to discuss!

So is pudding a solid or liquid?  Short answer, it is a liquid.  Long answer, it is hydrocolloidial gel.  I'll explain...

Milk is another example of a colloid,
because the solid fat molecules are
dispersed in the water of milk.
Short answer; if we look at pudding like we were in grade school again and try and determine it's state of matter we would classify it as a liquid.  It has no definitive shape (it takes the shape of the container it is in) but it will not diffuse out of an open container.  So by all accounts it is a liquid.

Long answer; when making pudding there are essentially two phases that make up the pudding.  The first is the powder mix (or raw ingredients if you happen to be a grandma or Paula Dean) that consists of a starch, sugar, flavorings, colorings, and probably some preservatives.  This comes in the form a of solid powder.  Then we have the liquid phase, usually water or milk (which is essentially water for our purposes here).  Now when these two phases are combined and are not completely miscible they form a colloid.  Miscibility is the ability for two things to coexist as one medium (like when you dissolve sugar in warm tea to make sweet tea).  Colloids are when one phase is dispersed within another phase.

Pudding is the same state of matter as hair gel!
A liquid dispersed within a solid.

Here, the main two ingredients that determine the overall state of matter for pudding is starch and water.  Because starches have variable molecular weights and consist of chains of sugars, they tend to form amorphous solids, solids without a definite crystal structure and have a little liquid like properties.  Once the water is dispersed within the amorphous solid of the starch, this increases the liquid like properties overall.  This type of colliod is called a hydrocolloid because it specifically uses water.  Lastly, this is considered a gel because the water is dispersed within the solid.  So thus the hydrocolloidial gel!  Which is actually more like a solid.

So to answer the question is pudding a solid or liquid, it is both!  I hope that helps and you can impress your friends at your Christmas parties!  Thanks melpels for the question!

PS - Tapioca pudding is the easiest example of this hydrocolloidial gel that is both a solid and liquid, because there are literal chunks in that pudding, ugh.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tough Mudder: Making the most of my Sunday!

How did your weekend go?  I spent Sunday romping through 10 miles of mud, fire, ice, water, rocks, swamps, and obstacles with a few other crazy people at a little event called Tough Mudder.  If you haven't heard of it, click this link to watch a quick video and then come back to reading this entry.

First and foremost I want to say I am so very proud to have the teammates that I had for Tough Mudder.  The Perpetual Motion Squad as we were called really came together to finish the event and I could not have done it without you all.  So congratulations goes out to my fellow teammates; Glenn, Hillary, Beth, Anne, and Jenny! And a special shoutout to our cheering section Hiba and Annie who followed us around and took pictures while we "played" in the mud.  Next, a huge pat of the back goes out to all my fellow Tough Mudders from Indiana this weekend.  That course was grueling and the sportsmanship and camaraderie that was exhibited was the best I'd had ever been a part of!  I definitely can't wait to do this again because of all of you who participated or helped with the Tough Mudder event.

Now, I have been training for this even for a little over 4 months and many of my friends and family knew that I was going to be participating in the TM. I want to thank all of you who supported me through training and you know who you are!  But for all of you who laughed at me or doubted me at all, I want to say a big thanks to you!  Without the motivation to prove you wrong and silence the naysayers, I don't know if I would have completed even the training for the event let alone the TM course itself.  It was the fuel to my fire! It was by far the hardest physical and mental event I have ever been a part of and I so proud of myself that no one can say or do anything to take this feeling of accomplishment away from me.  So again I say thank you to all that both supported me and doubted me because you all helped in one way or another.

As for the course itself, I conquered some of my own fears throughout the duration of the day.  Some of the obstacles included; jumping off a 15 foot platform into a freezing lake and swimming over a 100 yards with all our muddy clothes on, climbing under barbed wire in the mud, scaling 10 foot walls with nothing be my teammates, traipsing through mud that was waist high, a mile of running in a creek, climbing up one side and down the other of a 15 foot cargo net, running through fire, crawling through ice well barbed wire was over top of you and it was set to electrocute you if you touched it, the worst monkeys of your life, and finally running through hundreds of live wires set to hit you with 10,000 volts while you jumped over hay bails.  Now that is only about half of the obstacles not to mention we covered 10 miles throughout the race.  My knees are pretty banged up but otherwise I made it out alright.

All in all, TM was one of the most exhilarating events I have ever been a part of and I really cannot wait to do it again!  And I say to all of you who don't think you could do this to go out there, get off your butt, and do something with your life!  Whether it is a Tough Mudder or finishing that college degree, you can do anything you put your mind to!  I was able to use this event to motivate myself into getting back my confidence in myself and now I know without a doubt that I can achieve anything I set my mind to! 

Can I get a Hoorah?  HOORAH!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hit Me With Your Best Shot!

Recently I haven't had any passionate subjects to discuss on my blog here and today I find myself altering the layout of the blog instead of trying to write something.  I could chime in on the Penn State scandal but I am kind of tired of hearing about it.  And I could talk about how I am glad that college basketball is back or how Purdue beat OSU for the second straight time at home, both resulting in the students rushing the field. For the record, I was not a fan of us rushing the field this time.  Come on people, act you have been there before!  But neither of those would be thought provoking and insightful, which is what I am striving for.

I have recently posted about my friends and about my career, both of which seem to occupy a lot of my spare thoughts. I think that's understandable at this point in my life.  And I have tried to keep up with posting Friday Fragments for those of you who get your science fix from me on Fridays (I have few cool links already for this Friday).  

I figured this was appropriate because it is no-shave
November and my face looks a lot like his does!
But no, I do not own any purple pants like that.
My Under the Hood series is kind of on hold as I was going to write a piece about LLPS, liquid-liquid phase separation, but we are looking at some novel theories in our lab and I don't want to compromise the integrity of that research until I have a better grip on the subject.  And I'm not sure how I feel about my Behind the Bench series at the moment (Jeremy your post was great, I have other reasons).  There are a couple big political topics regarding science that are coming to front, such as the increase in the NSF budget for next year (HELL YEAH).  Or how people here at Purdue tried to allow students to carry concealed weapons, seriously?! But if you know me at all, I am not a fan of politics because of the partisanship that accompanies it.  If we were able to intelligent debates where both sides are open minded and respectful, I'd be first in line to jump into politics but for some reason people allow broad mindsets to dictate all their responses.  

So I am kind of in a low point for the blog.  I have nothing particularly interesting to write about and with the semester coming to a close, we have finals and the holidays which put a damper on research.  And even though when I have opened up this blog to "audience participation" I haven't gotten much of a response, I am going to try something new...

"Ask the (future) Scientist" will be your opportunity to ask me any question regarding pharmaceuticals, physics, chemistry, biology, math, etc.  Even if I am not an expert in a topic, I would love to do a little background learning and put together a few posts regarding anything your heart desires!  These topics can be as simple as What is a neutrino? or Why is blood red? to ask specific and complicated as What do new brand drugs cost so much more than generic? or How does quantum locking work? 

So leave you questions in the comments section or email them to me at pharmjack29@gmail.com and we will see how this goes. If all else fails, I am pretty sure my mom will have some sort question to get us started!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Fragments (11/4/11)

Alright, no screwing around! Here are some fragments to get you through the afternoon...

-A study out of Yale University has mathematically shown that there is such a thing as a "hot hand" in basketball (or as NBA JAM won't put it, "He's on FIRE!!!").  They don't have any proposed mechanisms per say but they have uncovered some statistically significant results from years of NBA data.  Although anyone who has played basketball, or any sport for that matter, can tell you there are times when you are just in the zone. I tend to get that way for table tennis but that's another story.  Here's a summary of the study, rather than the actual research paper.

-1996...I was 9 years old and the internet was still very young too. I remember going to the computer lab to work on bulky PCs and even a few MACs, using programs like Creative Writer and Oregon Trail 2.  I happened to stumble upon this pro/con list of the internet circa 1996.  Sadly, much hasn't changed!

-I really like this footage from the moon taken in 1971 that proves Galileo was right about gravity.  Watch the video below to see a hammer and a feather fall at the same rate.


-Here is a list of 10 common food myths.  I particularly like the one about tryptophan and I cannot wait to challenge this answer in Trivial Pursuit (I'm looking at you, Mom).

-And lastly, stem cell research took a small step forward recently.  Scientists were able to produce stem cells from an unfertilized egg using someone else's DNA.  However (there's always a catch) they had to leave the native DNA in the egg as well which produce essentially worthless stem cells, as the donor would reject the stem cells for having some native properties.  But it is a step in the right direction, and for those who are sensitive about the whole embryonic stem cell debate, this is a good step in the right direction.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"So what do you want to do with your degree?"

I get asked that question a lot. Rightfully so since when all is said and done I will have spent 9+ years at Purdue studying pharmaceutics (I'm on year 6 for those of you keeping score at home).  Well it turns out I have a very specific answer to that question..."I have no frickin' clue!"

Usually I will give a nice overview of my options and explain that during the course of my grad work I hope to be persuaded toward a specific career track.  Let's look at the options, shall we?

-Industry.  This is biggest and most obvious answer. Within Industry there are many paths such as big pharma companies, small pharma companies, consulting, clinical trials, and sales.  Now if I am to go into Industry I believe I would want to work as a Senior Scientist in R&D but honestly at a certain point, any job within the field works for me.

-Academia.  Get a post-doctorate position at a University, then apply to become a professor and continue up the academic chain.  I really enjoy teaching and I believe I will end up here someday.  However, I also believe that the best teachers have some industry/real life experience with pharma companies and I would want that experience as well.

-More school.  Yes, believe it or not I have not ruled out the possibility of more school. Most likely Law School to work on patent law with pharmaceuticals, but I wouldn't rule out Med School either (in order to be the top dog of a pharma company, a Ph.D. and M.D. are almost always required).  This could be in the form of night school while at a job or a mid-life go back to school "crisis."  Regardless, it will be an option for me until I figure out what to do.

All that said, I have really only realized one thing since starting grad school.  That is, I am way to interested in so many other things that I can guarantee that I will not get a position right out of school and keep it forever.  I enjoy trying new things and exploring areas which I may not be the most suited for (example is the comedy scene that I have been following my friend John around in for the last couple months, as I am not really that strong in the Arts...shout out to him, good luck at the Michiana Contest this weekend)!

Moral of the story, you could ask me, "So what do you want to do with your degree?" every time you see me and I will probably give a different answer.