iPad apps

When finding a female scientists' data turns into an archeological treasure hunt. A few months ago, I decided it would be interesting to celebrate various scientific contributions by making images of chemical / molecular structures in the Molecule World iPad app and posting them on Twitter  (@MoleculeWorld).  Whenever I can, I like to ... Read more

To have an effect, a molecule must bind to a receptor and trigger a signal.  Studying a receptor's structure can give us insights about the way this triggering process works.

Capsaicin is a fascinating molecule that puts the "pep" into peppers.  Curiously, the amount of capsaicin in a pepper is measured with a test devised in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville.  Dried peppers are dissolved in alcohol, this liquid extract is diluted in water, and trained people determine the pepper's Scoville value by "tasting" the heat.

I really wonder how these people are recruited.   I like hot ... Read more

Pull a spaghetti noodle out of a box of pasta and take a look.  It's long and stiff.  Try to bend it and it breaks.  But fresh pasta is pliable.  It can fold just like cooked noodles. When students first look at an amino acid sequence, a long string of confusing letters, they often think those letters are part of a chain like an uncooked spaghetti noodle.  Stiff and unbending, with one end far from the other. Molecular modeling apps let us demonstrate that proteins are a bit more like fresh pasta. If we apply rainbow colors (Red Orange Yellow Blue Indigo Violet) to a protein chain, we can ... Read more

On pinene and inhibiting enzymes. People of a certain age may remember a series of really funny commercials featuring Euell Gibbons and his famous question about whether you've ever eaten a pine tree.  "Some parts are edible" said Euell. Perhaps some parts are, but other pine tree products aren't so nourishing.  Crystallography365, aka @Crystal_in_city  had a couple of fun blog posts about pinene, ... Read more

In 1925, dogsledders raced through the frozen Alaskan bush to bring antiserum to the isolated village of Nome.  The antiserum arrived in time, saved the lives of many villagers from the horrors of diphtheria, and inspired the Iditarod, a famous race in celebration of the dog sledders' heroic feat. West Africa could use a similar effort today.  Richard Harris's blog at NPR has a good story about doctors' efforts to develop and use antiserum to treat Ebola.  According ... Read more
What’s the first you think about when you see a spider?  Running away?  Danger?  Fairies? Spiderman? spider and webDo you wonder if spider silk is really strong enough to stop a train, like they showed in Spiderman 2? Whatever your thoughts, you’re probably not thinking about 3D printing in space ... Read more
A key concept in science is molecular scale. DNA is a fascinating molecule in this regard. While we cannot "see" DNA molecules without the aid of advanced technology, a full length DNA molecule can be very long. In human cells, other than sperm and eggs, six billion base pairs of DNA are packaged into 22 pairs of chromosomes, plus two sex chromosomes. Each base pair is 34 angstroms in length (.34 nanometers, or ~0.3 billionths of a meter), so six billion base pairs (all chromosomes laid out head to toe) form a chain that's two-meters long. If we could hang this DNA chain from a hook, it ... Read more
Organisms with linear chromosomes have to solve the problem that DNA replication makes them shorter. This is due to the fact that DNA polymerase can only add bases to the terminal 3'-OH of a DNA chain. The DNA replication initiation complex uses RNA primers to provide the initial 3'-OH and ... Read more
Today (4/25) is national DNA day.  Digital World Biology™ is celebrating by sharing some of our favorite structures of DNA. We created these photos with Molecule World™ a new iPad app for viewing molecular structures. As we are taught in school, the double stranded DNA molecule is a right-handed helix as determined by Watson and Crick using Franklin's x-ray diffraction images [1]. This B- ... Read more

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