Science Needs Women:
For Women in Science; the L’Oreal Foundation
I’m sharing this video on any platform I can because when I first found it last week it had something like 1,400 views, but it’s the most beautifully produced and succinctly narrated video addressing some of the most complicated issues facing women in STE(A)M fields I’ve found yet.
I’m sharing this for every time I’m called a “feminazi.”
…for every time I’m told that my concerns aren’t valid, our that our issues are imagined.
…for every time I hear “women just don’t like science,” or worse - “women just aren’t good at science.”
…for every time we’re told that we can have a family or a career, but not both - and for every time we feel like we have to decide between the two.
…and because we need more women mentors in these fields to stand up for issues that are not “women’s issues” - these are people issues that affect our collective society as a whole.
The women in this video are my heroes and they should be your heroes, too.
Science needs women.
Your daily dose of Myoviridae TEM images:
Here’s a nice picture of some Myoviridae phage which infect Salmonella. Generally in the phage world, there are three more common families although others have been found:
- Siphoviridae with long flexible tails. (P2 above)
- Myoviridae with long contractile tails (T4 above)
- Podoviridae with short non-contractile tails. (P22 above)
Phage are first classified based on their morphologies, but bioinformatic information shows the relationships between the families. Typically families of phage are grouped on their appearance as a large amount of the phage genome goes into making the structural proteins.
Myoviridae are quite interesting in the sense that when they bind their host, there are large visible structural changes in the tail region. The tail sheath contracts and the DNA is transported from the head into the bacterium. Other less visible mechanisms are present in the other two morphology types too.
Gecko adhesion takes electric turn
by Nsikan Akpan
Clinging upside down to polished surfaces is simple for geckos, but scientists’ grasp of the underlying forces behind this phenomenal adherence just became murkier. Researchers report that the adhesiveness of gecko feet is aided by static electricity, contrary to long-held beliefs.
The misconception over gecko adhesion dates back to 1934, says Yale University chemical engineer and study coauthor Hadi Izadi. A German scientist named W.D. Dellit wondered whether gecko adhesion was explainable by electrostatic forces, the differences in electric charge that build up between any two surfaces. Dellit used X-rays on the air surrounding the reptile’s toes as they stuck to a metal wall. The X-rays ionized the air, neutralizing any charge on the wall’s surface, Izadi explains. Anything attached to the wall via electrostatic forces should have fallen, yet the lizards remained. So researchers ruled out electrostatic forces and moved on to other ideas. But scientists may have been too hasty in ruling out electrostatic forces, Izadi says. The gap between a smooth surface and a gecko’s setae is too small for destabilizing air ions to pass through, which wasn’t known in Dellit’s era. So his X-ray experiment probably didn’t counteract electrostatic forces that may have helped the geckos stick.
As a graduate student at Canada’s University of Waterloo, Izadi compared how the footpads of tokay geckos (Gekko gecko) stuck to two polymer surfaces. One surface consisted of Teflon AF, a material related to the nonstick cookware coating, while the other was made from a silicone rubber dubbed polydimethylsiloxane. Because of their chemical makeup, both substances should have had similar degrees of van der Waals interactions with the geckos’ setae, and therefore the animals should have clung equally to both surfaces. But when the researchers gently pulled a lizard’s foot away, the footpads stuck to Teflon AF with twice as much strength as they did to polydimethylsiloxane, Izadi and his colleagues report July 9 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Because the adhesions were very different, the team concluded that van der Waals forces don’t fully explain how geckos stick to walls.
Next, the researchers examined whether electrostatic forces could account for this discrepancy by measuring the charge between each polymer surface and the gecko’s feet. The geckos’ toe pads and the polymer surfaces were electrically neutral before touching. But when they came in contact, electrons jumped from the gecko foot to the polymers, leaving the foot positively charged and the polymers negatively charged. The team also ruled out water-governed capillary forces, leading to the conclusion: “Electrostatic interactions are the dominant forces, and they are not something that scientists can ignore,” Izadi says.
Purple-throated Sunbird - Leptocoma sperata
This is a male Leptocoma sperata (Passeriformes - Nectariniidae), a species native to Southeast Asia.
In the adult male, the crown of the head is metallic green or golden-green copper. The sides of the neck, scapulars and mantle have a beautiful burgundy color. The lower back, rump and uppertail are metallic green, contrasting with the black tail.
Synonym: Nectarinia sperata.
Photo credit: ©Eddy Lee | Locality: unknown (2008)
I really need to learn how to embed videos from ARKive, because there is an amazing video of a Shoebill hunting Lungfish that really looks like the Lungfish version of Godzilla. Watch it, you won’t be disappointed.
Image by Pat Flanigan
Okay. Here goes.
It’s hard to deny how frivolous and self-indulgent sharing content that isn’t related to Ferguson, South LA, Palestine, Iraq, trolls messing with Zelda Williams, etc. seems today. It’s one of those days where it’s hard to keep your chin out of your hands, shoulders straight, eyes up. It’s hard to stay focused. Everything’s a bit overwhelming.
We tend to think of other species as predictable, with a list of traits that we can depend on them enacting, as observed scientifically. Some are fiercer than others, all are trying to stay alive. However, if we turned the lens on ourselves, on humans, we’d be presented with a species of terrifying, unwieldy brutes prone to unpredictable and violent behavior. We would see a lot of fear. We would see a species for whom continued humanity seems insignificant, despite the fact that humanity is all we’ve got, and all we’ve ever had.
Recent events really suggest we’ve failed ourselves. Why are power and excess money so abundantly desirable? Our fixation with them suggests that they are needs, not wants. Why have we not begun to embed empathy into our value systems and ideologies to make our world an easier, happier place to live, in general? We so often take for granted that kindness and non-violence are not always inherent, that they are something we sometimes need a lot of help to learn. So why not teach them somewhere, institutionally? Why not learn to think about why another human is threatening or weak or sad, before we take action against them?
As humans, despite our many differences, there’s a lot that we have in common: we want love. We want our families and friends to avoid tragedy. We want to be treated with respect and care. Let’s try to avoid this continued power conquest and just be kind and considerate of one another. Please.
Some people don’t get science. They think it is boring. Some people, they think it is boring. They think it’s full of boffins who think they know it all. It’s not like that. Scientists don’t think they know it all. It’s idiots who think they know it all, isn’t it? Scientists are the people who think they don’t know enough. That is why they are scientists because they want to know more at every turn. And every modern scientist, all the greats, they are standing on the shoulders of giants.
What happens is one scientist come up with an idea and all the others go, bloody hell, that’s brilliant. Hey I wonder what would happen if… that’s where their idea comes from.