Tag Archives: science

Why Science Nerds Wear Glasses.

24 Oct

Ever wonder why science nerds wear glasses?
Recently, a contact lens wearing lass was infected by an amoeba which was infected by a virus which was infected by a virophage which was infected by a parasitic piece of DNA called a transpoviron. It’s like a microbial inception. (This article originally appeared on io9.com)

Woman with eye infection had an entire microbial ecosystem in her contact lens solution


by George Dvorsky

There’s a reason why optometrists say you should regularly replenish your contact lens solution and throw out your lenses after the expiry date. Last year, a young woman contracted an eye infection after using tap water to dilute her cleaning solution, and while wearing contact lenses that were two months past their expiry date. Subsequent analysis of her lens solution revealed an entire cornucopia of microorganisms that were spawned from a single amoeba, including a giant virus that was also infected with a virus — and a piece of DNA that was capable of infecting both of them.

Thankfully, the woman’s condition, keratitis, was not serious and was easily treatable — but the subsequent analysis of her contaminated lens solution was quite revealing, if not disturbing.

The research, which was conducted by Bernard La Scola and Christelle Desnues, was initially concerned with an amoeba they found in the fluid. But after looking at the amoeba more carefully, the researchers discovered that it hosted two different microorganisms, including a giant virus that had never been seen before (what is now called the Lentille virus).

This Lentille virus, after infecting the amoeba, created a kind of “virus factory” where its genetic material was copied, thus spawning new viruses that were architected from its genetic script.

Now, if this wasn’t surprising enough, the researchers also discovered that the Lentille virus was also infected with a virus, what’s called a virophage. This virus-within-a-virus, named Sputnik 2, is only capable of reproducing in cells infected by other viruses (in this case, the infected amoeba). Amoebas that are infected with this virus continue to release virophage particles, which means the virus can continue to infect other amoebas on their own.

But there’s still more: Both the giant Lentille virus and Sputnik 2 virophage contained even smaller parasites called transpovirons — highly mobile chunks of DNA that can relocate themselves into the genomes of viruses and tuck themselves away inside of virophages.

So, in summary, the researchers discovered that a transmissible DNA sequence managed to find its way into a virophage (and potentially the giant virus itself), which in turn latched onto a giant virus, which then infected an amoeba — an amoeba that eventually found its way into the eye of a 17-year old girl.
You can read the entire study at PNAS.

Sagan Quote

2 Jun

Why We Become Scientists

31 May

 

The Difference Between Normal People and Scientists

30 May

Oh, XKCD, you make me so giggly.

Atomic Trolling

27 May

 Fun fact: heat is actually caused by nuclei getting angry.

Peer Review

23 May

Just When You Thought It Was Safe…

22 May

Lego Stephen Hawking

20 May

I want to build a lego Stephen Hawking.
He will ride on my shoulder and lovingly whisper the secrets of the universe.
And it will be wonderful.

Tiny Brain Is Tiny

18 May

 Tiny spare brains in a jar, for all those times when yours just won’t work.
Or an actual sized brain of a creationist.
You decide.

Periodic Table. Literally.

14 May

Keep Calm

12 May

Adorable!
Sold by PosterPop on Etsy.

3…2…1…

5 May

Meme!

23 Apr

Microbe Painting

20 Apr

While in college, I spent a few years working at an art gallery. I absolutely loved it. It was an excuse to get out of the lab and meet people, and many artists appreciated my insatiable passion and constant pursuit of what I loved, even if they didn’t know what the hell a Gram’s stain was. Either they appreciated it, or lovingly put up with it. Either way, it rocked.
Right before one of my coworkers left to pursue greener pastures in another state, he painted me this incredibly adorable microbe painting.

I want to hug it forever!
^_^

Coffee Pun

19 Apr

I saw this on my coffee today. It took me 15 minutes before I could start actually drinking the coffee because of all the giggling it induced, because all I could think about is how Sir Cumference probably had an epically dapper mustache and would do mathematical measurements on the circumference of boobs.
Yay for 2 days without sleep and unexpected science puns!

D’awww

18 Apr

Your unfounded, religiously-driven belief in a 6000 year old earth makes Science Kitty sad.

Has The Star Trek Tricorder Finally Arrived?

16 Apr
*SQUEEEEE*
OMG OMG OMG OMG
I want it.
I want it now.
Live long and prosper, fellow nerds

By Frank SimonsPosted 2012/04/13 at 4:56 pm EDT

LOS ANGELES, Apr. 13, 2012 (Reuters) — Starships, warp speed, transporters, phasers. Think “Star Trek” technology is only the stuff of fiction? Think again.

Dr. Peter Jansen, a PhD graduate of the Cognitive Science Laboratory at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, has developed a scientific measurement device based on the tricorders used by Captain Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy and other space adventurers on the classic TV series that has spawned numerous spin-offs in more than 45 years.

“Star Trek inspired me to be a scientist” said Jansen, who has been formally working on his tricorder prototypes since 2007, but toying with the idea of making a functioning device since he was “a kid in high school.” The 29-year-old Jansen’s school days spanned the late 1990s when “Star Trek: Voyager” was on the air. It featured his favorite tricorder, a model with screens on top and bottom. The first tricorder appeared on the original show’s initial episode in 1966, when Capt. Kirk swaggered toward audiences with his phaser weapon holstered to his side but a tricorder in his hand. The hand-held devices for data sensing, analysis and recording, have been a part of “Star Trek” ever since. But if Jansen, a self-confessed “addicted maker” of things, is successful at developing, testing and bringing his instrument into the public, the tricorder may not be just the stuff of “Star Trek” prop rooms. It may be used for real. Jansen said his tricorder can take atmospheric measurements, or ambient temperature, pressure or humidity. It can take electromagnetic measurements to test magnetic fields, and it can make spatial measurements of distance, location, or motion.

 Fascinating, as Spock might say.

Jansen thinks of his tricorder as a “general tool” — a kind of “Swiss Army Knife” — with practical uses in building inspection, for instance, where it might help taking temperature and humidity readings or be a distance sensor to measure rooms. It resembles the device carried by countless “Away Team” members in “Star Trek – The Next Generation” – his favorite of the “Star Trek” shows, he notes.

NO SCIENCE FICTION

No independent group has yet verified his claims for the device which, he said, is one reason for placing his designs on a public website as an “open source” that technology makers can utilize to test and tinker. Jansen has posted schematics and designs of his first and second prototypes, the Mark 1 and Mark 2, for anyone to see and build. Jansen expects to have his latest version, the Mark 4, produced for “about $200.”

Everything you need to build one is online at www.tricorderproject.org, according Jansen. He hopes others will follow his lead.

While it may sound like the stuff of science fiction, Jansen isn’t the only one to take notice of just how useful a real functioning tricorder would be – especially as a medical tool. Telecommunications giant Qualcomm Inc this year launched the “Tricorder X-Prize Contest” with the slogan “Healthcare in the palm of your hand.” Qualcomm hopes to motivate developers with a $10 million prize to make medical tricorders a reality.  Wanda Moebus of the Advanced Medical Technology Association, who is not affiliated with Jansen or Qualcomm, told Reuters the X-Prize “is really cool,” but cautioned that making a real medical tricorder device “would have to be measured on its safety and effect, like all other medical technologies.” Jansen said he has been approached by “a couple of teams” about the X Prize, but added that his prototypes are more for science research than medical tools.

Besides, he said he already is on to his next frontier, making a sort of “replicator,” another “Star Trek” device that will create 3D objects and foods that are dimensional copies of real items. Jansen’s “replicator” is a 3D printer, which in itself is not really new, but the scientist thinks about it in terms reminiscent of “Star Trek’s” famous prologue. It’s “like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” Jansen said.

More Science Mom

15 Apr


Who knew that pee could be so mathematically beautiful?

Find more at Gods Of The Moon 

Science Last Supper

14 Apr

Continental Cuddling

11 Apr