It’s hard not to think about the Coronavirus. The first links are relevant to that. At the end, there’s more funny stuff. I want more people to be scientists and doctors. It’s important. Economically, our society can afford more doctors and scientists (as well as musicians, artists, etc.). We can afford to maintain a reserve army of competent people in case of a crisis. I wish we were thinking of things in terms of cost-benefit to society.
We are not doing well in this fight so far. Based on the fact that they are using primers, the test is still based on the virus’s genome (rather than on the coat proteins). They say that one of the three primer sets is not performing as well as they want. The NEJM article I read only lists two primer sets. With a long infectious incubation, a good diagnostic test is important.
Solving the structure of a virus and its proteins is the first step to doing lots of drug development. A structure lets medicinal chemists try to design small-molecule drugs to interfere with its function. Right now the cutting edge is to design antibodies in software to interfere with the virus, but that needs a structure to work with, too. It’s great that scientists can get to a structure so quickly.
One of the relatively new methods for solving this kind of structures is to use electron tomography. The idea is to take images from a bunch of different angles and then use software to put all of the images together into a 3D picture. This link has some great animations of the image stack and how it looks three-dimensional to our brains.
Taste in Music
— LOLNEIN (@LOLNEIN) February 24, 2020
This was clever. I think it’s very natural to treat technology like it has personality. I hadn’t thought of comparing that to animism, but the idea appeals to me.
This is gruesome but worth knowing about. Dichloromethane is a pretty common solvent. I have used it for stripping paint. I also use it to weld acrylic plastic together. Clearly, if it gets under your skin, it’s a bad thing. It’s not good to get on your skin, either, and it eats through many kinds of gloves.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A dinosaur. One with big teeth.”
“Sweetheart, that’s not realistic. Why don’t you become something useful, like a scientist?”
Fortunately, Genevieve had not inherited her father’s withered imagination.
She found a way to do both.
— Micro Flash Fiction (@MicroFlashFic) February 27, 2020
In the interview in this article, one scientist makes an interesting point: the optics in microscopes have been optimized and tweaked in every conceivable way. But the slides are still just pieces of glass, optically (putting aside microfluidics which is not an optical thing). There’s room for interesting stuff there.