Friday, September 27, 2013

Seeking Out New Antibiotics

 We have all heard about how the body contains more microorganisms than it does cells. The vast majority of these are friendly bacteria that help our body in its processes. However, less than 1% are bad bacteria that cause illness. For these, we use antibiotics to stomp them into submission (i.e., kill them). But since bacteria replicate so quickly, they often develop a genetic change that helps them avoid or fight off an antibiotic's effects. 

So, microbiologists and immunologists have to constantly be on the look out for potential new drugs to fight off illness caused by bad microorganisms.

Check out this video where Professor Naowarat (Ann) Cheeptham, at Thompson Rivers University, talks about her research of exploring caves in the search for new species of "good" bacteria and fungi to produce new antibiotics. Who says scientists only stay in their labs? Go science! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

World's Thinnest Glass

For a long time scientists have modeled the structure of glass, but recently the two dimensional structure was seen clearly in an electron microscope. Eureka! It matched the projected model. (The image at left shows the model in yellow/red and the electron microscope actual image in gray.)

At just a molecule thick, the world’s thinnest sheet of glass, discovered by scientists at Cornell and Germany’s University of Ulm, was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The “pane” of glass was made up of individual silicon and oxygen atoms seen via electron microscopy, and identified in the lab of David A. Muller, professor of applied and engineering physics and director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science.

At two atoms thick, the glass was an accidental discovery. Scientists had been making graphene (a two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms) when they spotted some goop on the sample. Upon analysis, it was silicon and oxygen (i.e., glass).

I don't know about you, but I get a deep sense of gratification when theories are proved right. I'm not sure if it is a juvenile response like "Take that you doubters!" Or if I can feel more confident about seeing even more key theories explained and proven with solid data and new technology. Perhaps a bit of both. Go Science!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Kinematics - The Science of Football

I'll bet you never thought to see a post about football on a science blog. Actually, there is huge amount of math, physics, and materials science in most sports including football. There have even been books written about the subject.

Today I watched a National Science Foundation video on the Science of Football: Kinematics

Give it a look. The breakdown of speed, velocity, direction and how they all work together is explained simply and is easy to understand. A running back was videotaped so trainers and scientists could see how top velocity might be reached faster. Successful running backs study acceleration, velocity, size, and other parameters to compete more successfully and reach the end zone ahead of the competition.  

You might also like to check out Carla McClafferty's new book on football, head injuries, and all the research going into the health aspects of the sport for young athletes and adults.

There is a lot more to playing football than stadium dogs, snow cones and peanuts. Go science!