i was hoping we’d have a cyborg future in 2017 with cryosleep and making babies out of stem cells in test tubes but all we have is furry dance videos and white people putting kale on toast and calling it a meal
What science is headed to the International
Space Station with Orbital ATK’s cargo resupply launch? From investigations
that study magnetic cell culturing to crystal growth, let’s take a look…
Orbital ATK is targeted to launch its Cygnus
spacecraft into orbit on April 18, delivering tons of cargo, supplies and
experiments to the crew onboard.
Efficacy and Metabolism of Azonafide Antibody-Drug Conjugates in
In microgravity, cancer cells grow in 3-D.
Structures that closely resemble their form in the human body, which allows us
to better test the efficacy of a drug. This
experiment tests new antibody drug conjugates.
These conjugates combine an immune-activating
drug with antibodies and target only cancer cells, which could potentially
increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and potentially reduce the
associated side-effects. Results from this investigation could help inform drug
design for cancer patients, as well as more insight into how microgravity
effects a drug’s performance.
Genes in Space
The Genes in Space-2 experiment aims to understand how the regulation of telomeres (protective caps on the tips of chromosomes) can change during spaceflight. Julian Rubinfien, 16-year-old DNA scientist and now space researcher, is sending his experiment to space as part of this investigation.
3-D Cell Culturing in Space
Cells cultured in space spontaneously grow in
3-D, as opposed to cells cultured on Earth which grow in 2-D, resulting in
characteristics more representative of how cells grow and function in living
organisms. The Magnetic
3-D Cell Culture for Biological Research in Microgravity investigation will
test magnetized cells and tools that may make it easier to handle cells and
This could help investigators improve the
ability to reproduce similar investigations on Earth.
The Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed
Ampoules (SUBSA) investigation was originally operated successfully aboard the
space station in 2002.
Although it has been updated with modernized software,
data acquisition, high definition video and communications interfaces, its
objective remains the same: advance our understanding of the processes involved
in semiconductor crystal growth.
Out-of-function satellites, spent rocket
stages and other debris frequently reenter Earth’s atmosphere, where most of it
breaks up and disintegrates before hitting the ground. However, some larger
objects can survive. The Thermal
Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data2)
investigation will study a new type of recording device that rides alongside of
a spacecraft reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. Along the way, it will record
data about the extreme conditions it encounters, something scientists have been
unable to test on a large scale thus afar.
Understanding what happens to a spacecraft as
it reenters the atmosphere could lead to increased accuracy of spacecraft
breakup predictions, an improved design of future spacecraft and the development
of materials that can resist the extreme heat and pressure of returning to Earth.
a small satellite known as a CubeSat, will measure cloud ice using an
883-Gigahertz radiometer. Used to predict weather and climate models, IceCube
will collect the first global map of cloud-induced radiances.
The key objective
for this investigation is to raise the technology readiness level, a NASA
assessment that measures a technology’s maturity level.
Advanced Plant Habitat
Joining the space station’s growing list of
facilities is the Advanced
Plant Habitat, a fully enclosed, environmentally controlled plant habitat
used to conduct plant bioscience research. This habitat integrates proven
microgravity plant growth processes with newly-developed technologies to
increase overall efficiency and reliability.
The ability to cultivate plants
for food and oxygen generation aboard the space station is a key step in the
planning of longer-duration, deep space missions where frequent resupply
missions may not be a possibility.
Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance (ULA)
are targeting Tuesday, April 18 for launch of the Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the
International Space Station. Liftoff is currently slated for 11 a.m. EST.
- you remember material better if you physically interact with it as opposed to just scanning it over with your eyes
instead of merely reading a page of notes, go through it with a pen/highlighter in your hand. underline/circle/annotate things as you review the material
- make a study schedule. include which days you want to study for each subject, deadlines (e.g. “finish essay by tuesday”, “study guide for physics should be done today”), any study sessions you might have with others, and time for sleep
finals season often overwhelms students because of the sheer amount of work facing them. by breaking things down into a schedule and focusing on smaller portions of work day-by-day, things appear much more manageable
- use mnemonic devices to help you remember things (when applicable)
i like to use them for memorizing groups/orders of things - for example, when i took a class on dinosaurs, i had a lot of trouble keeping the paleozoic/mesozoic/cenozoic and triassic/jurassic/cretaceous orders straight until i realized that both were in reverse-alphabetical order
- different study methods work better for different classes
flashcards are best for classes where you have to memorize lots of information (without providing further explanation), e.g. introductory psychology
mind maps are good for organizing thoughts and seeing how ideas fit together, e.g. english and literature classes
practice problems/practice tests are usually the best way to prepare for STEM classes, e.g. math and chemistry
optimizing your performance/productivity
- try to get some sleep. try.
you probably won’t be getting your full 7-8 hours during finals season. fine. completely understandable. but a couple hours here and there throughout the day will do wonders. your brain doesn’t work at optimum levels when you’re sleep-deprived, so while you may not have time for solid 8-hour blocks of sleep, it’s in your best interests to get 1-2 hour powers naps in when you can. aim for at least 4-6 hours of total sleep time per day
- finals week is not the time for junk food. if you’re going to push your body to its physical and mental limit (as so many of us do), you’d better make damn sure you’re at least giving it the best possible fuel to run on
- you should be aware of your study habits by finals season. take them into account and use them to your advantage
more productive in the morning? set an early alarm and get yo ass up
procrastinate a lot? bitch me too!! it’s not necessarily a bad thing - some people do their best work under time pressure. try this thing i like to call “productive procrastination”: if you wanna procrastinate on something, do so by working on another assignment/studying for another class. this way, you fulfill your desire to procrastinate but you’re still being productive and not completely fucking yourself over
more productive when working with others? try to organize study sessions (or you’re the opposite like me and prefer to study alone, don’t feel guilty about declining requests to work with friends/classmates)
- there’s an app called “self control” that blacklists or whitelists websites for a given amount of time (that you set yourself). it forces you to stay focused if you can’t help but peek on social media sites every so often when working on your laptop
- prioritize! know which finals will require the most effort on your part and plan accordingly
give more priority to finals that are worth a higher percentage of your overall grade
calculate the minimum score you need on the final that’ll still get you the overall grade you’re aiming for - generally, you should be spending more study time on finals that you’ll need a higher grade on
test taking tips
- if you finish with extra time, go through your test again and attempt to answer every question you left blank (unless you’re penalized for guessing, of course). the potential for partial credit is better than definitely receiving no credit
for multiple choice, use process of elimination and then make your best guess
if you don’t know the answer to a short answer/essay-style question, then answer around it. for example, if you don’t know the significance of caliban’s soliloquy in shakespeare’s the tempest, talk about the character of caliban in general and/or the role soliloquies are meant to play in shakespeare’s works
if you’re stuck on a math problem and have no clue how to even begin, just start manipulating numbers and applying formulas
- dress in layers so you’re comfortable no matter the room temperature
- always answer the questions you’re sure of first
- don’t be afraid to ask the proctor if you’re unsure of what something on the test is asking of you (i.e. questions for clarification)
- pay attention to the questions on the exam - sometimes one question may hint at the answer to a different question
e.g. 2) what year was x fossil discovered? and 31) who discovered x fossil in the early 1930s?
try to get everything you need (calculator batteries, scantrons, blue books, writing utensils, etc.) the weekend before exams start. this way, you’re not freaking out right before a test because you’re missing something
try to time your coffee/lack of sleep crashes such that they don’t happen during a final exam (see tip about scheduling above)
if you’re pulling an all-nighter, set alarms periodically throughout the night (e.g. every hour and a half) so that if you accidentally fall asleep, you won’t sleep through the whole night
also set an alarm 20-30 minutes before each final. just in case ;)
bring an extension cord to the library if your school always seems to be short on outlets during finals week
always use the bathroom right before sitting an exam (even if you don’t feel like you really need to) to avoid getting up and wasting time during the test itself
turn off your motherfucking cell phone before your tests omfg
a note on adderall, a popular “study drug” students take during finals season:
i personally advise against the use of any study drugs that are not prescribed by a medical professional, but the fact of the matter is that students are going to use them regardless of what i say. when they don’t know what they’re getting into, they put themselves into very dangerous positions - often ending in trips to the emergency room or rehab. so in the interest of promoting safety (well, as much safety as is possible given the circumstances) and knowledge, here are a few things you should know about adderall if you decide you want to use it:
addy is very addictive and can make the user dependent on it
if you take it, you’ll start to sweat. a lot. dress accordingly
addy will make you lose your appetite. don’t listen to your body when it says it’s not hungry. you gotta force yourself to eat bruh
it’s also really easy to get dehydrated on addy - not only do you sweat a lot, but lots of people tend to pee a fuck ton while they’re on it. stay hydrated
addy is a stimulant. you won’t be able to sleep until its effects wear off
and just like other stimulants (e.g. caffeine, ecstasy), you will experience a “crash” afterwards. the crash is more pronounced than one you would get from coffee or even caffeine pills
there are two “kinds” of addy: IR and XR
IR means “immediate/instant release” - whatever dose you take will be released into your system all at once
XR means “extended release” - there will be an initial release of the drug into your system and then small amounts thereafter over an extended period of time
always err on the side of caution with dangerous drugs - when in doubt, start with a lower dose
as a parting note, i would just like to remind you all to keep in mind the importance of self-care and finding balance. there is a fine line between making temporary sacrifices and being self-destructive. sometimes it’s good to push yourself - “no pain, no gain” as they always say. but analogously, you also gotta recognize when it’s time to dial it back a bit - allow yourself a nap or an hour break to grab dinner with some friends every once in a while. trust me, you deserve it. good luck!
The Genes and Neural Circuits Behind Autism’s Impaired Sociability
Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have gained
new insight into the genetic and neuronal circuit mechanisms that may
contribute to impaired sociability in some forms of Autism Spectrum
Disorder. Led by Matthew P. Anderson,
MD, PhD, Director of Neuropathology at BIDMC, the scientists determined
how a gene linked to one common form of autism works in a specific
population of brain cells to impair sociability. The research, published
in the journal Nature, reveals the neurobiological control of
sociability and could represent important first steps toward
interventions for patients with autism.
Anderson and colleagues focused on the gene UBE3A, multiple copies of
which causes a form of autism in humans (called isodicentric chromosome
15q). Conversely, the lack of this same gene in
humans leads to a developmental disorder called Angelman’s syndrome,
characterized by increased sociability. In previous work, Anderson’s
team demonstrated that mice engineered with extra copies of the UBE3A
gene show impaired sociability, as well as heightened repetitive
self-grooming and reduced vocalizations with other mice.
“In this study, we wanted to determine where in the brain this social
behavior deficit arises and where and how increases of the UBE3A gene
repress it,” said Anderson, who is also an Associate Professor in the
Program in Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and Director of Autism
BrainNET Boston Node. “We had tools in hand that we built ourselves. We
not only introduced the gene into specific brain regions of the mouse,
but we could also direct it to specific cell types to test which ones
played a role in regulating sociability.”
When Anderson and colleagues compared the brains of the mice
engineered to model autism to those of normal – or wild type (WT) –
mice, they observed that the increased UBE3A gene copies interacted with
nearly 600 other genes. After analyzing and comparing protein
interactions between the UBE3A regulated gene and genes altered in human
autism, the researchers noticed that increased doses of UBE3A repressed
Cerebellin is a family of genes that physically interact with other
autism genes to form glutamatergic synapses, the junctions where neurons
communicate with each other via the neurotransmitter glutamate. The
researchers chose to focus on one of them, Cerebellin 1 (CBLN1), as the
potential mediator of UBE3A’s effects. When they deleted CBLN1 in
glutamate neurons, they recreated the same impaired sociability produced
by increased UBE3A.
“Selecting Cerebellin 1 out of hundreds of other potential targets was
something of a leap of faith,” Anderson said. “When we deleted the gene
and were able to reconstitute the social deficits, that was the moment
we realized we’d hit the right target. Cerebellin 1 was the gene
repressed by UBE3A that seemed to mediate its effects.”
In another series of experiments, Anderson and colleagues
demonstrated an even more definitive link between UBE3A and CBLN1.
Seizures are a common symptom among people with autism including this
genetic form. Seizures themselves when sufficiently severe, also
impaired sociability. Anderson’s team suspected this seizure-induced
impairment of sociability was the result of repressing the Cerebellin
genes. Indeed, the researchers found that deleting UBE3A, upstream from
Cerebellin genes, prevented the seizure-induced social impairments and
blocked seizures ability to repress CBLN1.
“If you take away UBE3A, seizures can’t repress sociability or
Cerebellin,” said Anderson. “The flip side is, if you have just a little
extra UBE3A – as a subset of people with autism do – and you combine
that with less severe seizures - you can get a full-blown loss of social
The researchers next conducted a variety of brain mapping experiments
to locate where in the brain these crucial seizure-gene interactions
“We mapped this seat of sociability to a surprising location,“
Anderson explained. Most scientists would have thought they take place
in the cortex – the area of the brain where sensory processing and motor
commands take place – but, in fact, these interactions take place in
the brain stem, in the reward system.”
Then the researchers used their engineered mouse model to confirm the
precise location, the ventral tegmental area (VTA), part of the
midbrain that plays a role in the reward system and addiction. Anderson
and colleagues used chemogenetics – an approach that makes use of
modified receptors introduced into neurons that responds to drugs, but
not to naturally-occurring neurotransmitters – to switch this specific
group of neurons on or off. Turning these neurons on could magnify
sociability and rescue seizure and UBE3A-induced sociability deficits.
“We were able to abolish sociability by inhibiting these neurons and
we could magnify and prolong sociability by turning them on,” said
Anderson. “So we have a toggle switch for sociability. It has a
therapeutic flavor; someday, we might be able to translate this into a
treatment that will helps patients.”
So, wait. If cauliflower never develops fertile flowers, how do we get cauliflower seeds to plant the next generation? Inquiring minds want to know.
there are a few different ways that plants can produce offspring in cultivation, because unlink us, plant cells are a lot more chill when it comes to cell differentiation.
so like in us, your arm cells become arm cells very young and work very hard to do their job as an arm cell. if you were to take a severed arm and treat it like a baby, it wouldn’t become a baby; it’s still an arm, and our cells can’t change that.
plants, however, are a lot better at this. so you can do things like
-bulb divisions (how a majority of commercial bulb plants are made!)
in cuttings, you essentially cut off a part of a plant, like a branch or something, treat it specially depending on what it is, and plant it like you would a normal plant. if it works, the plant cells will be like ‘well i guess we’re doing this now’ and will develop roots and leaves and stuff just like it was a normal plant. with
when a plant gets really big- and by ‘plant’ i mean ‘root system/growth points/basically everything’- you can split it into divisions and cut the entire thing in half and treat it as two plants instead of one.
many plants make bulbs to store food and stuff in; we have fat, and plants have bulbs and other storage pockets (thats why plants don’t have a whole lot of fat. like, they do, but just not as much as we’re evolved to have). so after a few years of living life happily photosynthesising, one bulb may grow several other bulbs off of it; you can actually break these apart, and bam, you got two plants.
grafting is a really cool feature of this differentiation phenomenon! if you’ve ever seen someone with one tree with multiple different types of fruit growing on it, it’s because of grafting. you can graft a lot of things, but trees are the best for this; you basically chop off one branch of a donor tree, chop off a branch on the tree you want to attach it to, and then stick the donor branch onto the severed stump of the tree. if you attach it correctly, the cells will fuse, and the plant will grow the branch just like it was its own, with the donor branch’s fruit and everything. its super weird and cool.
tissue culture is a fast but not very accessible way of growing plants. basically, you take a special, sterile cell sample from a plant, put the cells in a test tube with a special solution, seal the test tube, and put it in an incubator under special lights and conditions; bam, it grows a teeny science plant. this is super fast, but another challenge is that you have to wean the plant from being in an aquatic environment to an terrestrial environment. this is done by slowly moving the plants through several greenhouses at different humidities (1 week at 90% humidity, 1 week at 75% humidity, ect) until the plant is grown up and accustomed to the normal humidity. a lot of carnivorous plant growers will do this, but theres debate on the long term affects on the donor– some people claim that taking a ton of tissue samples from one mother plant warps the mother’s DNA (personally, I can’t really see how this would work, but there is a trend of tissue samples from a single plant giving more mutated offspring as more samples are taken, so who knows). This is why growers are hesitant to just take a ton of tissue samples from a rare mother plant.
but back to cauliflower. another possible way to do this is by breeding the last fertile population over and over. so, like, the parent plants are fertile, but the plants that grow from their seeds are infertile.
Every spring semester the University Library System,
in collaboration with Pitt’s Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR), award ten
students with the Archival Scholars Research Award (ASRA). This semester, seven
of those students are working in Special Collections. Each month, we ask the
scholars to submit blog posts demonstrating the discoveries they are making.
Black Panther Black Community News Service was
hardly a static publication. Its design changed throughout its issuance, not
unlike the changes undertaken by the Party itself.
most visual iteration is in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. This period was
marked, in particular, by the colorful multimedia collages and
photomanipulations often seen on the front cover, and corresponding artwork on
the back covers. Minister of Culture Emory Douglas was most frequently
responsible for the original artwork on the back covers, and his work was also
frequently seen on the inner pages of The
Left: The front cover of The
Black Panther (4/3/1971). Right: The back cover of The Black Panther (6/18/1972)
Other artists in the Party contributed many of the smaller
pieces on the innermost pages, and the paper often ran comics from more
widely-known professional cartoonists, such as the following:
From The Black Panther (10/4/1969), a
reprint of a cartoon by Harlem Renaissance political artist Oliver Harrington
From The Black Panther (12/26/1970),
a drawing by Brad Brewer about the trial of the New York 21.
As the years progressed, the paper included fewer and fewer
pieces in its inner pages. There continued to be photographs accompanying many
pieces, though fewer of the earlier multimedia collages. When there was additional artwork, it was almost
always an Emory Douglas contribution, but even he was seen less frequently: by
1977, the back covers that were once devoted to his work were more often than
not spaces that featured photographs of community events or advertised official
content itself also pivoted. The early days of The Black Panther focused on housing themes, police brutality, and
the exposure of legal and social injustices. These issues continued to be
covered, but as the 1970’s progressed, there was a notable shift in tone, and
the paper contained more along the lines of community uplift. There was
frequent coverage of the programs the Party facilitated, including the
children’s breakfast programs, as well as free clinics for sickle cell anemia
testing, the Oakland Community School, and conferences. By 1976, each
publication included a section entitled ‘This Week In Black History,’ which
documented significant events such as Union victories, Civil Rights Protests,
and the births and deaths of black leaders and artists. Additionally, while
continuing to advertise official Panthers merchandise, the paper regularly featured
small black-owned businesses and products.
Left: An advertisement for the Oakland Community School,
printed on August 7, 1976. Right: From 2-7-1976, an advertisement for Elaine
Brown’s album and a black history film series.
Archival Scholars Research Awardee ‘17
Scully wasn’t with Mulder and Skinner while they were investigating the death of the postal worker in “Zero Sum” (which I believe is the first time we’re introduced to those damn bees?) Anyway, here’s what was going on with her during that time. Some references to “Memento Mori” because I can’t help myself. This hurts a little bit, just a heads up.
Also, I’m taking an English class this semester with a heavy emphasis on etymology, so I’m a bit partial everything Latin these days. The title translates to “overcome.”
When you arrive at the doctor’s office Monday morning, you go into it with the mindset that this is just a routine check-up. Examine your glands, draw some blood, a quick biopsy to test your cells and check the progress of the tumor, and go through the same list of questions, where your answers, although not always vocalized, almost feel conditioned: “How are you feeling, Dana? Any soreness? Exhaustion?” “I’m fine.” “Anything happen out of the ordinary recently?” Clearly, you’re not familiar with my line of work. But health wise, “No.” “Do you have any concerns you would like to address?” Yes, how do you plan to stop me from dying?
And you have been feeling relatively fine lately. Some headaches here and there, an occasional nosebleed. Nothing you can’t manage. You notice that you’re maybe a bit more fatigued than usual, but you attribute that to the heavy case load you’ve been keeping. I’ve got things to finish, to prove to myself. It’s what you told Mulder in the hallway of a different hospital, after you made the decision to fight back. What you neglected to reveal to him was that if you didn’t busy yourself with the work, your disease would consume you. You’d give up, your body would shut down, and you would never get the chance to make the difference in the world that you so desperately desire.