Editors: David Mertz, Zulierys Santana-Rodriguez, and Scott Barolo
Proteins do most of the work in your body: Depending on their shape, they can digest your food, fire your neurons, give color to your eyes and allow you to see colors. Proteins follow instructions encoded in your DNA to fold into their shape, but how do they “know” what shape to fold into to perform their biological functions? What happens when they fold incorrectly?
Editors: Theresa Mau, Jimmy Brancho, and Alisha John
In my previous post, I discussed what string theory is, how it has not been experimentally verified, and how the existence of Higgs boson was proved fifty years after it was first proposed. In this post, I will continue to discuss the lengthy process of validating the theory of gravitational waves and where we stand with string theory research.
But what is it about string theory that inspires such vitriol? String theory suffers from a number of problems that inspire strong feelings and entirebooks. Over forty years of research have passed without yielding the promised “Theory of Everything,” with many scientists questioning whether it is even possible to confirm the theory. But before we write off string theory entirely, it might help to think about other long-shot theories such as the Higgs boson and gravity waves, and more generally about string theory itself.
Off the Danish coast in Copenhagen, Don Siegel, an associate professor in the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering, is on sabbatical. He said the ocean is speckled with tall, white windmills. At some sites, they stand in great curving rows; at others, they’re arrayed in a geometrical pattern.
“Denmark’s very windy,” he said over the phone.
He’s right. The country, according to Energinet, receives 42 percent of its electrical power from wind alone. In fact, Siegel said sometimes there are “emergency situations” where the turbines are pumping out electricity faster than it can be used.
Editors: Alex Taylor, Christina Vallianatos, and Bryan Moyers
In 2001 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three scientists, Leland Hartwell, Tim Hunt and Paul Nurse, for their discoveries of key regulators of the cell cycle. Normally, before a cell can divide, it must undergo several phases of the cell cycle in a precise order. First, a cell grows in size, then duplicates its DNA, and finally distributes its DNA evenly between two daughter cells. The three researchers played seminal roles in identifying the mechanisms by which cells transition from one cell cycle phase to the next.
These fundamental discoveries are not only crucial to our understanding of biology, but have applications in human disease. Many types of cancer are linked to mutations that cause cells to move quickly through or even skip some parts of the cell cycle, making cell cycle regulation a hot area of biological research. Given the implications this research has for human health, it might surprise you that many cell cycle regulators were not first discovered in humans. Instead, these cell cycle regulators were identified and characterized in model organisms including yeast and sea urchins.
“But what do I have in common with the yeast I use to bake bread?” you might ask. As it turns out, a lot more than you’d think.
Editors: Whit Froehlich, Nayiri Kaissarian, and Irene Park
In my last post, I wrote about the social differences between introverts and extroverts and the misconceptions surrounding the two personalities. This post will focus on the underlying brain biology that contributes to whether a person is an extrovert or an introvert.
The more I read about these personalities, the more I wondered—are there ways in which the biology can explain the social differences? It turns out that there are several known, key differences in the brain biology between introverts and extroverts.