Category Archives: Science

All things scientific

TEM Video of Rhenium atoms and pygmy owls (two different links)

Walking with atoms — chemical bond making and breaking recorded in action 

The video on this page is truly astounding. From the main author: “We trapped a pair of rhenium (Re) atoms bonded together to form Re2. Because rhenium has a high atomic number it is easier to see in TEM than lighter elements… we observed the atomic-scale dynamics of Re2 adsorbed on the graphitic lattice of the nanotube and discovered that the bond length changes in Re2 in a series of discrete steps.”


Classification and practical approach to the diagnosis and management of hypersensitivity to nonsteroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs – Kowalski – 2013 – Allergy – Wiley Online Library

Here are several documented cases of angioedema from NSAIDs (like when I had my eye swell shut due to aspirin). I made a vlog about it.


The medications that change who we are – BBC Future

Mood, Personality, and Behavior Changes During Treatment with Statins: A Case Series.

Statins may be linked to mood changes in rare cases.




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How we feel ourselves and other mysteries

The quest to decipher how the body’s cells sense touch

If you close your eyes and hold out your hand, you know where your hand is. Without visual feedback, you can feel where your own hand is. This is called proprioception. Finding genes specifically associated with proprioception turned out to be hard. Some of the first were discovered in 2009. The proprioception protein called PIEZO1 looks really cool.

CDC flu data shows child deaths from influenza B – The Washington Post

Unfortunately, the flu shot only reduces risk and severity. It’s not a silver bullet. I think that’s a really hard thing to communicate to the public. It defies simple answers to simple questions like “does it work or not?”

Chuck Palahniuk on the Importance of Not Boring Your Reader | Literary Hub

Chuck imparted some good advice for writing. “Use cinematic transitions, not whitespace transitions,” he said. Then he swiped transparency off the projector and onto the floor. “And do not. talk. about. Fight. Club.”

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Fatigue, creativity, and absinthe

Welcome to Week 1 of 2020. Happy new year! Here are some of the things I loved reading this week. The science stuff is below the fold. I’m excited that miRNA seems to be turning up everywhere. I am also a little glad that the holidays are over. They may be fun, but they exhaust me.

Why We Have Our Best Ideas in the Shower: The Science of Creativity

The Inspiration Paradox: Your Best Creative Time Is Not When You Think

Why We’re More Creative When We’re Tired, And 9 Other Surprising Thing

I have noticed that when I’m very tired, I find it easier to single-task on writing. Of course, that’s partially due to the lack of distractions late at night, but I think that there’s something else at work. Maybe I’m less tolerant of distractions? Maybe it’s the deadline pressure of wanting to go to bed? Or maybe it’s just easier to be creative. According to Cindi May, “… being at your best may be over-rated, at least for people seeking innovative ideas or creative solutions.  To be sure, if your task requires strong focus and careful concentration – like balancing spreadsheets or reading a textbook – you are better off scheduling that task for your peak time of day. However, if you need to open your mind to alternative approaches and consider diverse options, it may be wise to do so when your filter is not so functional. You just may be able to see what you’ve been missing.”

The bear, he is so tired. Happy new year.

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Virus Batteries and other links for 2019 week 52

Viruses breathe new life into batteries – Physics World

Better batteries through biology – YouTube

Biologically enhanced cathode design for improved capacity and cycle life for lithium-oxygen batteries – Nature Communications

About 10 years ago, this virus battery made some headlines. It didn’t die, the paper has been cited a hundred times in the intervening time. But it’s not something you’re going to find in your next cell phone or next year’s electric vehicle. So what would make this kind of battery so awesome, and why are viruses even relevant? It’s not the biological properties of the virus, it’s the chemical properties. It has the right surface to grow the Manganese oxide, and it has the right dimensions to make nanorods.

Synthesis of manganese oxide nanorods and its application for potassium ion sensing in water

Probably a chemical method could be developed to synthesize things with the right surface and dimensions in bulk. Non-templated growth is possible though I imagine it would be very hard to get the exact properties right.

Bacteriophage Production Models: An Overview

But if you did need to develop a ton of bacteriophage to use as a battery material, how would you do it? That reminds me of bacteriophage therapeutics. Medicine faces the same problem: how to grow a ton of phage without bacterial garbage contamination. A recent review talked about the production of phage. The biggest reactor they found was 8L (about 2 gallons).

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Favorite Links for Week 50 2019

‘Clerks’ added to National Film Registry, bringing N.J. stoners to Library of Congress

The film “Clerks” has a bit about “the perfect dozen” that still cracks me up after 25 years. It reminds me of David Graeber’s STRIKE! Magazine – On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.

Electric Vehicle Powered by Homemade Rechargeable Iron/Carbon Battery – YouTube

Cool! Here’s an all iron rechargeable battery that is simpler than mine and can run a small toy car. I love to see this kind of thing.

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