Zubbles – Get Your Colored Bubbles
Posted on December 3, 2009 Comments (0)
I first posted on this in 2005: Colored Bubbles. Now you can order your own via Zubbles. Colored Bubbles Have Landed (and Popped and Vanished)
The complexities of the chemistry resembled a pharmaceutical more than a toy. So I enlisted the help of Gary Willingham, and the Belgium development team, at Fisher Scientific. Fisher is a pharmaceutical chemical manufacturer with the equipment and expertise needed to manufacture tons of our dyes.
Due to the complexities of the chemistry, Jamm decided to stay close to the production process and manufacture Zubbles in the US. The first bottles rolled off the line this week. Jamm presented me with the very first case of Zubbles. And it was a very strange feeling to finally hold the product in my hand—15 years after I mixed my first batch of dishwashing detergent and food coloring.
Being an entrepreneur is a challenge any time. When your product requires complex science and engineering that adds additional challenges. It is great to see this product is now available.
Related: Making Magnificent Mirrors with Math – 1979 “iPod-like” Music Player – The Glove – Engineering Coolness – science and engineering gadgets and gifts – Build Your Own Tabletop Interactive Multi-touch Computer – Awesome Cat Cam
Protein Synthesis: 1971 Video
Posted on December 2, 2009 Comments (2)
The above webcast shows protein synthesis, from a 1971 Stanford University video with Paul Berg (Nobel Laureate – 1980 Nobel Prize for Chemistry and National Medal of Science in 1983). The film does not exactly present the traditional scientist stereotype. It does pretty much present the typical California 1970′s hippie stereotype though.
Feynman “is a second Dirac, only this time human”
Posted on December 1, 2009 Comments (1)
Great quotes from Oppenheimer’s recommendation of Richard Feynman
“He is by all odds the most brilliant young physicist here, and everyone knows this. He is a man of thoroughly engaging character and personality, extremely clear, extremely normal in all respects, and an excellent teacher with a warm feeling for physics in all its aspects. He has the best possible relations both with the theoretical people of whom he is one, and with the experimental people with whom he works in very close harmony.”
Images of letter from Oppenheimer to the University of California – Berkeley Recommending Richard Feynman for a position, November 4, 1943 (from Big Science at Berkeley).
Ants Counting Their Step
Posted on November 30, 2009 Comments (6)
That works in the forest, but it doesn’t work in a desert. Deserts are sandy and when the wind blows, smells scatter.
It’s already known that ants use celestial clues to establish the general direction home, but how do they know exactly the number of steps to take that will lead them right to the entrance of their nest?
Wolf and Whittlinger trained a bunch of ants to walk across a patch of desert to some food. When the ants began eating, the scientists trapped them and divided them into three groups. They left the first group alone. With the second group, they used superglue to attach pre-cut pig bristles to each of their six legs, essentially putting them on stilts.
The regular ants walked right to the nest and went inside. The ants on stilts walked right past the nest, stopped and looked around for their home…
I posted about this back in 2006: Ants on Stilts for Science, but the webcast by NPR is worth a new post.
Disrupting Bacterial Communication to Thwart Them
Posted on November 29, 2009 Comments (0)
Bassler and her colleagues disrupted these lines of communication by interfering with molecules called acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL) autoinducers, which drive quorum sensing among a kind of bacteria known as Gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria include Pseudomonas, E. coli and Salmonella, and other disease-causing microbes. In the study, the team focused on Chromobacterium violaceum, which rarely infects human, but can be lethal to other organisms. C. violaceum lends itself to studies of quorum sensing because it produces a readily detected, bright purple dye when it detects that its population has reached a critical mass.
The experiment shows that interfering with quorum sensing may provide an alternative to traditional antibiotics, Bassler says, and circumvent the problem of resistance that antibiotics foster by killing off susceptible bacteria but allowing resistant ones to survive and propagate.
Related: Bacteria Communicate Using a Chemical Language (quorum sensing) – Disrupting Bacteria Communication (2007) – Electrolyzed Water Replacing Toxic Cleaning Substances – Gram-negative Bacteria Defy Drug Solutions
Friday Fun: Bird Mimics Other Birds and More
Posted on November 27, 2009 Comments (3)
The lyre bird, not only mimics the calls of other birds, buy also man made noises such as cameras, saws and chainsaws, in an attempt to impress potential mates. David Attenborough narrates the above clip.
Jetman Jumps from Plane Then Into the Ocean
Posted on November 25, 2009 Comments (5)
Yves Rossy’s attempt to fly 28 km across the the Strait of Gibraltar from Tangier in Morocco to Atlanterra in southern Spain fell short. He did make it about 15 km flying his jetwing before he ditched into the Atlantic. I posted about him before: Jetson Jetplane Over English Channel and Jetson Jetplane.
President Obama Speaks on Getting Students Excited About Science and Engineering
Posted on November 23, 2009 Comments (6)
The President announces the “Educate to Innovate” initiative, a campaign to get students excited about pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Quotes from President Obama from his speech – (see webcast above):
“As President, I believe that robotics can inspire young people to pursue science and engineering.”
“Now the hard truth is that for decades we’ve been losing ground. One assessment shows American 15-year-olds now rank 21st in science and 25th in math when compared to their peers around the world.”
“And today, I’m announcing that we’re going to have an annual science fair at the White House with the winners of national competitions in science and technology. If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you’ve produced the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too. Scientists and engineers ought to stand side by side with athletes and entertainers as role models, and here at the White House we’re going to lead by example. We’re going to show young people how cool science can be.”
“improving education in math and science is about producing engineers and researchers and scientists and innovators who are going to help transform our economy and our lives for the better.”
Related: 2008 Intel Science Talent Search – Report on K-12 Science Education in USA – Fun k-12 Science and Engineering Learning – Science Education in the 21st Century – High School Inventor Teams @ MIT – Engineering Education Program for k-12 – 76 Nobel Laureates in Science Endorse Obama – Lego Learning
Re-engineering the Food System for Better Health
Posted on November 22, 2009 Comments (6)
Obesity is widespread due to our national-scale system of food production and distribution, which surrounds children – especially lower-income children – with high-calorie products…
90 percent of American food is processed – according to the United States Department of Agriculture – meaning it has been mixed with ingredients, often acting as preservatives, that can make food fattening.
Now, in another report finished this October after meetings with food-industry leaders, the MIT and Columbia researchers propose a solution: America should increase its regional food consumption.
Only 1 to 2 percent of all food consumed in the United States today is locally produced. But the MIT and Columbia team, which includes urban planners and architects, believes widespread adoption of some modest projects could change that, by increasing regional food production and distribution.
To help production, the group advocates widespread adoption of small-scale innovations such as “lawn to farm” conversions in urban and suburban areas, and the “10 x 10 project,” an effort to develop vegetable plots in schools and community centers. Lawns require more equipment, labor and fuel than industrial farming nationwide, yet produce no goods. But many vegetables, including lettuce, cucumbers and peppers, can be grown efficiently in small plots.
As Albright sees it, the effort to produce healthier foods “fits right in with the health-care reform effort right now because chronic diseases are so costly for the nation.” America currently spends $14 billion annually treating childhood obesity, and $147 billion treating all forms of obesity.
Good stuff. We need to improve health in the USA. The current system is unhealthy and needs to be improved. The public good from improving the health of society is huge (both in terms of individual happiness and economic benefits).
Related: Rethinking the Food Production System – Study Finds Obesity as Teen as Deadly as Smoking – Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. – Active Amish Avoid Obesity – Obesity Epidemic Explained – Another Strike Against Cola
Florence Nightingale: The passionate statistician
Posted on November 21, 2009 Comments (0)
he statistics changed Nightingale’s understanding of the problems in Turkey. Lack of sanitation, she realized, had been the principal reason for most of the deaths, not inadequate food and supplies as she had previously thought.
As impressive as her statistics were, Nightingale worried that Queen Victoria’s eyes would glaze over as she scanned the tables. So Nightingale devised clever ways of presenting the information in charts. Statistics had been presented using graphics only a few times previously, and perhaps never to persuade people of the need for social change.
Applied statistics is a tool available to all to achieve great improvement. Unfortunately it is still very underused. As George Box says: applied statistics is not about proving a theorem, it’s about being curious about things. The goal of design of experiments is to learn and refine your experiment based on the knowledge you gain and experiment again. It is a process of discovery.
Web Gadget to View Cell Sizes to Scale
Posted on November 19, 2009 Comments (0)
The Genetic Science Learning Center, University of Utah has a nice web gadget that lets you zoom in on various cells to see how large they are compared to each other. Above see a red blood cell, x chromosome, baker’s yeast and (small) e-coli bacterium.
A red blood cell is 8 micron (micro-meter 1/1,000,000 of a meter). E coli is 1.8 microns. Influenza virus is 130 nanometers (1/1,000,000,000 a billionth of a meter). Hemoglobin is 6.5 nanometers. A water molecule is 275 picometers (1 trillionth of a meter).