Monday, March 25, 2013

apps with inverted helices

After my recent blog post on DNA double helices that twist the wrong way (inverted helices), a reader (who prefers to remain anonymous) submitted a few examples of apps featuring such mirror-world DNA. Following the example set in that previous post, I'm showing the corrected versions here:

I'm sure you can still read the text to work out who the culprits were ...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

digging deep

The Deep Carbon Observatory is an international interdisciplinary project studying the hidden carbon fluxes deep within the earth, along with implications for life in the subsurface and on planet formation and development.

I've written a feature about this work which is out in Chemistry & Industry:

Carbon deep

Chemistry & Industry March 2013, pp 32-35

The full text is freely accessible here.

The article is also featured on the cover of the issue:

In the same issue, I also have a review of the book "Synthetic biology: a primer", which appears on page 50.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

how to design new enzymes

Scientists are now able to design new enzymes to catalyse reactions for which a natural enzyme doesn't exist. I've rounded up some of the first success stories in enzyme design for my latest feature which is out now:

Evolving new types of enzymes

Current Biology, Volume 23, Issue 6, R214-R217, 18 March 2013


Free access to

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Beethoven rondo

Moving on from first movement of the Beethoven Duo no. 1, we're now trying to play the third movement of the same piece, which is actually a little bit easier.

Here's the score:

This is mainly adapted from the Kalmus edition for violin and viola. A slightly different version is included in the duets for violin and cello from Editio Musica Budapest.

PS: Note that I added the first bar just to count me in and allow me time to get my hand back to the flute after pressing start.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

the curse of the inverted helix

I've now figured out what to do with DNA double helices of the wrong chirality, which I frequently see in print and online. Earlier I started compiling a hall of shame, but that might reinforce the wrong image (eg by adding to the already considerable proportion of wrong helices that show up in google searches for double helix).

Instead, I'm now going to flip the images that also contain text, such that the DNA will be the right way round and the text will be mirrored. This way, I can signal-boost the correct structure while also exposing the error.

So, for example, a poster I received yesterday now looks like this:

much better, huh?

The same treatment for the historic blunders of Nature and Science yields:

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

oxidation and procrastination

Ooops, now it's March and I haven't done the roundup of the German pieces published in February yet. Time, you're moving too fast.

So in Feb, we had quantum procrastination, reduction and oxidation at the sea floor, and cycloaddition with triple bonds:

Organische Synthese: Drei mal drei
Chemie in unserer Zeit 47, 6

Neuartige Redox-Biochemie im Meeresboden
Nachrichten aus der Chemie 61, 134-135

Nachrichten aus der Chemie 61, 111

And talking of which, a late arrival: a short piece on addiction biochemistry that is nominally in the issue for the 4th quarter of 2012 of the magazine:

Trillium Report 10, 200-201
Die Biochemie der Sucht

Monday, March 04, 2013

hearts and minds

My latest feature in Current Biology juxtaposes a highly acclaimed project to simulate the function of the heart and a somewhat controversial, but well-funded one to do the same for the brain.

Simulating hearts and minds

Current Biology, Volume 23, Issue 5, R177-R180, 4 March 2013


Free access to the full text in HTML and in PDF format.

Here is a video about the Alya Red project featured in my article:

Alya Red: A Computational heart

This video recently won Science magazine's prize for science communication.

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