Some interesting, science-related news                   

Women in Computational Sciences

As a follow-up to the entry on "Women in Chemistry", I would like to highlight here the work of women pioneers in Computational Sciences:

- Countess Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer;

- Admiral Grace Hopper, who wrote the first compiler and popularized the term "debugging";

- Prof. Joyce Jacobson Kaufman, who carried out the first all-valence-electron, three-dimensional quantum-chemical calculations;

- Prof. Alberte Pullman, one of the pioneers in the field of quantum biochemistry.

- Prof. Margaret Oakley Dayhoff, the inventor of the one-letter code for amino acids and one of the first substitution matrices;

- Margaret Hamilton, who helped to make the Apollo 11 moon landing happen.

- (more to be added ...)

Women in Chemistry

A very interesting PBS documentary, presented by the Chemical Heritage Foundation (Philadelphia, USA). 

Sadly, this documentary came to mind due to the passing of Dr Stephanie L. Kwolek, inventor of the bulletproof fiber Kevlar (Summer 2014).

Update: For more information about women pioneers in Chemistry, check this article by the American Chemical Society.

Update (2): Check out the graphics series from Compound Interest highlighting women in Chemistry in this link.

Say it with proteins

Prof. Mark Howarth (Oxford University) has compiled an alphabet of protein crystal structures, from A (DNA gyrase) to Z (collagen prolyl hydroxylase). 

Check the image of the protein alphabet in the original publication or watch the alphabet unfold on Youtube.


The chemistry of food

The American Chemical Society produces the YouTube channel Reactions, which showcases the chemistry around us, in particular the chemistry of food.

Check some of their videos in the links below:


The sixth sense (of taste)

Scientists at Oregon State University have proposed a new taste, called "starchy" or the taste of carb-rich foods.

For more information, check the article in the New Scientist or the scientific paper in Chemical Senses.


What's for dinner?

IBM's most famous supercomputer, Watson, not only can play Jeopardy!, but now it can also be your personal chef.

IBM has partnered up with the cooking magazine Bon Appétit to create the recipe app Chef Watson.

Just select your ingredients, type of dish and cooking style, and Chef Watson will generate a recipe for you.

The (yummy) science of chocolate

Have you ever been grossed out by the white layer appearing on chocolate when it gets old or has been stored in a warm place?

Researchers at the Hamburg University of Technology and the DESY research center have been able to watch the process at the atomic level.

This information can now be used to develop a method to avoid this "fat blooming". 

You can check the full news (and pictures) here.

Peanut butter test for Alzheimer's

How far away can you smell a tablespoon of peanut butter? 

Researchers at University of Florida have proposed to use this test to diagnose early stage Alzheimer's disease. 

You can check the full story here.

Coffee and neutrons

Thanks to the researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (LNS), we can now look inside a moka (stove-top coffee maker) as it brews coffee.

You can check the movie (made with cold neutron imaging) here.

Cancer sniffing dogs

Some preliminary studies suggest that dogs may be able to smell certain substances produced by tumors in urine and breath.

This paves the way for future K-9 (canine) units in hospitals, similar to the police dogs used to search for drugs, explosives or missing people.

For more information, you can check this wikipedia page (and links therein).

Update: Dogs can also help to develop new cancer drugs, as explained here (thanks to C&EN).

Drug discovery in medieval books

Besides rainforests and oceans, medieval books seem to be a novel source of new drugs.

Researchers at University of Nottingham have shown that a medieval garlic and bile potion can kill an antibiotic-resistant bacteria responsible for hospital infections. 

You can learn more about these AncientBiotics here.

Best of two worlds

That is, free energy calculations (Prof. Chris Chipot) and state-of-the-art cuisine (Ferran Adrià).

You can check the J. Phys. Chem. B paper here.

Update: Prof. Martin Karplus is both a Nobel Prize laureate and a good cook (sorry, only in Spanish).

Easter eggs in scientific publications

People in academia also have a comical side (after all, one needs to blow off some steam after countless hours in the lab).

This post in the Academia Obscura blog compiles some of the most popular jokes hidden in journal papers, e.g. Visca el Barça!

Update: Marriage proposal in the acknowledgments of a recent Current Biology paper (thanks to the Retraction Watch blog).

Funny TOCs

Most scientific papers have a "Table of Contents" or TOC image that summarizes the contents of the paper in a catchy, graphical way. 

Some of the funniest and craziest TOC images published to date are collected in the TOC ROFL page (i.e. Table Of Contents Rolling On Floor Laughing).

Update: If you want some more laughs, check out this post in the ChemBark blog about "papers that got off to a good start".

Update (2): The unsuccessful self-treatment of a case of “writer's block” (Link)

Seriously, Science?

Formerly known as NCBI ROFL, this blog "highlights the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond", according to their authors.

Check the silly, yet serious, articles here.

Congrats Dr Rapoport!

Ingeborg Rapoport has just been awarded her PhD degree, 77 years after she submitted her doctoral dissertation. 

In 1938 she was unjustly denied the right to defend her thesis on the basis of a Nazi racial law. 

You can check her amazing story here (thanks to NPR).

2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

As a user of the Quantum Mechanics / Molecular Mechanics (QM/MM) methodology, I was happily surprised by the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The prize was awarded jointly to Profs. Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel, "for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems".

Three-in-one: chemistry, history ... and awesomeness.

Through the American Chemical Society newsletter, I found out about the work of George de Hevesy, discoverer of the radioactive tracers. 

Incidentally, he was also very good at outsmarting his landlady and even the Nazis, as shown here.

This video is part of the ACS series "Reactions", which shows how chemistry is involved in many aspects of our everyday life.

Update: This "Chemical Party" video by the Marie Curie Actions (European Commission) is not bad either ;)

Chemistry-themed smiley faces

Do you love chemistry? And do you often use emojis or virtual stickers?

If you answered 'yes' to (any of) those two questions, you are in luck.

Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), published by the American Chemical Society, has designed these awesome chemojis, including smiley faces with goggles, a gloved thumbs-up, and, of course, the chemistry cat.

You can download the ACS Chemoji app here.

Dancing for the cure

Great initiative by the Biomedical Research Institute of Barcelona to raise money for research into Alzheimer's disease, cancer and diabetes.

You can check the YouTube dance video here.

Protein  rebus

Guess  who? 

(Thanks to the ChemBark blog for the idea)