If you walked into my atomic physics lab at the University of California Berkeley two weeks ago, you would have found me in a pensive pose. Left hand nestled inside my right elbow, right hand clasping my chin, with an intensely furrowed brow, I was staring off into space while leaning up against the counter. I spend a lot of time like this these days. I spend a lot of time in the dark. I mean that proverbially, but the lab I was standing in was also rather dimly lit to avoid disturbing my light-sensitive sample. I was standing in the shadow of my experiment, an SUV-sized mess of cables and lasers and mysterious boxes. There was a problem somewhere in there. The machine wasn’t working as it should — something in that morass of cables and sensors was different than it was the day before. And I had to find it.
We really wish we could be writing about science right now. But this week, we can’t.
By now, you’ve probably heard of — and formed an opinion on — the tax bill that was just passed by House Republicans. Maybe you’ve read about how it scraps the medical expense deduction, lowers corporate tax rates, or eliminates state and local tax deductions. But buried in this bill is a change that is keeping us awake at night, and should alarm anyone who cares the tiniest bit about science. Continue reading “How the change in grad student taxation will impact everyone in America”
Scientists at Yale use gene-editing technology to understand the remarkable regenerative abilities of an adorable amphibian.
In 1864, a small shipment arrived in Paris from French colonialists in Mexico. It consisted of six fairly unremarkable animals — three female deer and three small dogs — and thirty-four monumentally strange animals that were like nothing to have set foot in France before. These aquatic organisms had buggy eyes and bizarre, lacy gills, and carried with them a strange name from the New World: axolotl.
You are roughly half bacteria. In terms of cell number, that is. It’s a disorienting reality to swallow, but the body that allows you to dance and digest is utterly dependent on the work of millions of bacterial collaborators. They colonize your gut, pulling off complicated chemical reactions to produce nutrients necessary for your survival (biotin and vitamin K, to name a few). They patrol your skin, forming complex communities that ward off dangerous disease-causing interlopers. And, research published last week shows that they may also affect brain development and the efficacy of cancer drugs. Continue reading “The Frenemy Inside You: tales of bacterial cooperation and collusion”
Some cool science that was published in the last two weeks (blame the start of the semester for tardiness): a virtual map of the fly embryo, using molecular sledgehammers to smash cells, and test-tube brains!
A few days ago, I met a friend for a beer, and he asked me (as politely as possible) what scientists actually do on an average day. Ask and you shall receive! In a series called Day in the Life, we and our peers will share what we do to fill our time. Find them compiled here.
Here’s what I did today: