the-chemist

being a biologist working in the chemistry building is weird because everyone knows me on sight and will say that they’ve defs seen me around, but no one knows who i am or who i work for, and people in my own lab don’t know i’m not in the chemistry department and get very confused when i talk about things like committee meetings, but on the other hand, none of the biologists not in my direct cohort know i’m a biologist and get confused when i show up to like, department events, so i’m basically just an unknowable science cryptid haunting the hallowed halls of higher learning with my ice bucket

Dr Maru’s notes, translated

As an Assyriologist-in-training, I was pretty excited about cuneiform’s little cameo in Wonder Woman- there are no films at all about Mesopotamia, so even three seconds of flipping through a notebook of the languages I study was pretty exciting to see on the big screen. Now, I assumed at first that the writing in Dr Maru’s notebook, would simply be gibberish, but one thing about it stuck with me: how well copied the letters were. Now, Cuneiform writing was designed for clay and stylus, and it is BRUTALLY hard to write cuneiform symbols with pen and paper. You’d think you could just draw a bunch of triangles, but nope; the system was so clearly designed to use nuances only possible with stylus and clay, they’re nigh on impossible to accurately reproduce using pen. And whoever wrote that piece of paper did a damn good job of it. So, I remained convinced the text might actually have some meaning, and when I got home I started tinkering with it.

First things first: though the notes were described in the film as “Sumerian and Ottoman”, they’re not Sumerian. Dr Maru’s notes are very clearly written in the quite distinctive script of Neo-Assyrian Cuneiform, which was used on official inscriptions of the Assyrian Empire from around 1000- 700 BC. Sumerian died out as a spoken language in around 2000 BC and though it continued to be used in writing long after that in the same way Latin was in Europe, it was probably never written in the formal Assyrian script.

I’m going to safely assume the man who mistakenly called the page “Sumerian and Ottoman” got it wrong, but the fact that Diana doesn’t correct this, despite her vastly superior knowledge of ancient languages is interesting. Consider this though: historians estimate the destruction of the site of Hissarlik, which is thought MIGHT be the inspiration for the Troy legends to around 1300 BC, around the time of the Bronze Age collapse and dawn of the Greek Dark Ages. If we take this as the end of the Greek Mythic age and the hiding of Themiscyra in the DC Universe, Diana would only have been able to study Cuneiform scripts written before this period so she would know only Old Babylonian Cursive, or possibly even only Old Babylonian Lapidary. Neo-Assyrian script would be just legible with effort, but difficult for her to read.

Now, the way cuneiform works is that any one cuneiform symbol can represent one or more alphabetic sounds, OR syllables, OR entire words. Most stand for a number of those things, but some represent only one. The symbols that represent entire words are called Logograms, and they remained largely consistent through all the changes of the cuneiform writing system. If Dr Maru’s notes were primarily written in Logograms (which they turned out to be), it would make sense for Diana to still be able to read them despite the considerable changes between Old Babylonian Lapidary and Neo-Assyrian script, and also that she wouldn’t have to know Assyrian-era Akkadian to understand the logographic signs (because they represent whole words at once rather than spell them out alphabetically, they can be understood by speakers of multiple languages who know the signs).

So having sorted all that out, I began to translate. Virtually all the symbols were logograms standing for words like mountain, woman, king, builder etc, but a limited few stood for single syllables like “ru” or “ti”. This made no sense, because the signs used were consistent enough with the actual context in the film to make some sense and logically repetitive. Whoever wrote this knew what they were doing. Why intersperse them with random letters? I finally realised: Dr Maru is a chemist. The way her code works is that she uses mostly logograms, but uses signs for syllables when those syllables are our modern symbols for chemical elements. Every sign where a syllable-only translation was my only option, that syllable matched up with the abbreviation for a chemical element in the periodic table.

So, working with the assumption that Dr Poison’s code technique is using Logograms to represent whole words, and the symbols for sole syllables like ka, ga, la etc in their standard transcriptions from cuneiform to represent chemical elements, here it is at last, the first page of Dr Maru’s notebook:


 

To divide the town, one unit of the weapon to the throne of the builder: to please the builder, in the company of the god: lithium, 1 grain/seed of europium. 1 daughter of gold woman -  yours. Country [given?] to god and then [to] lord/god/king. Ruthenium possibility, carbon disulfide*, and then rhenium. May it be pleasing to the country. Animal shoulder** Uunhexium*** . Lord/god and then gallium, and then radium. Weapon, iodine, administrator.


*This sign can mean “tree, wood” or, just stand for the sound “s”. So, i was left with a choice between carbon and sulfur, and settled on the compound

**I have no fricking idea why that’s in there, but it’s definitely that sign. Maybe she wants to make a pot roast and scribbled it down? Someone draw me happy dr maru and her pot roast pls

***This sign was VERY hard to identify, but i finally settled on the Old Babylonian Lapidary sign for “uuh”. Uuh also happens to be the chemical symbol for Ununhexium or Livermorium, a rare earth element not identified until the year 2000. This is strange, because this sign is CLEARLY Lapidary, while all the others are in the Neo-Assyrian script. So my conclusion is that Dr Poison isolated Uunhexium 92 years ahead of the game, it’s her big secret, and decided it needed a unique Logogram of its own, for which she adopted the sign for Uuh.

Chemists: We have a standardized and systematic naming convention overseen by an international body. Sure the names can get long and cumbersome but if you have the full IUPAC name you know exactly what the molecule looks like, including it’s spatial and 3D configuration, so ultimately our system is both helpful and informative

All other scientists: lol wouldn’t it be funny if i worked a pun into the name of this thing?

23 Black Female Scientists Who Changed The Damn World

Okay so prior to Alice, people had known for hundreds of years that a potential treatment to leprosy existed in the form of something called Chaulmoogra oil. It was too thick to effectively circulate through the body, but Alice Ball, science prodigy and chemist extraordinaire, was the one who FINALLY figured how to turn it into a working treatment. It’s thanks to her that a leprosy crisis was avoided in the early 1900s. Bless you, Alice.

Stay with me for a second because this is actual rocket science. Centaur is a second-stage rocket launcher: the workhorse of the rocket world used to propel countless probes and satellites into space. It’s been invaluable to NASA since its creation, first allowing the U.S. to catch up to the Soviet Union during the space race, and eventually propelling spacecrafts to land on the moon and fly by other planets in the solar system.

So yes: Annie Easley helped DO that. She also contributed energy research to power plants and electronic batteries, which enabled the creation of hybrid vehicles. Go ahead and thank Annie for those, too.

Prior to Jeanne, the impact of discrimination and its accompanying stress factors were rarely explored or acknowledged in relationship to health. She also researched the impact of racism on childhood development and ways to approach therapy that addressed the needs of people of color. And Jeanne broke a ton of ground for black psychologists through her roles in academia and her publications.

Jewel researched ways to alter cell growth AND experimented with growing human tumor tissue outside of the human body to use for cancer treatment tests (instead of testing on living people). As if that wasn’t enough, she also helped to form the National Science Foundation’s Committee on Women and Minorities in Science.

The chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission monitors the byproduct of nuclear reactors, so it’s a pretty big deal. Shirley also served on a bunch of advisory boards for international security and energy, AND she was the first black woman to get a Ph.D from MIT.

See the full list:

23 Black Female Scientists Who Changed The Damn World

Why Wonder Woman was so Important to Me

I had the opportunity to see Wonder Woman recently, and I was left awestruck.  Wonder Woman is such a timeless character, and I feel this story and the way the film was made really captured the heart of the original character.  With DC’s track record, it had a high chance of being lazy and bad.  But it wasn’t.  It was original. Refreshing. I cried a lot, and here’s why.

1. Women Are Strong 

I’m not one to loudly complain about the misrepresentation of women in media (though we often are).  We’ve had some really awesome and strong female characters over the past couple years.  But somehow, Wonder Woman took this in a completely new direction.  Watching the Amazons fight the invaders on the beach nearly brought me to tears.  It was so special for me to see women take on roles we rarely see them in.  They were the fighters, the protectors, the providers.  There are many women out in the world right now who are fighting their own battles, much like the Amazons.  They’re providing for their families or serving their countries through the military.  It was a pleasant reminder that while men and women have differences, they are equally strong and skilled.

(Also yay for a female director!)

2. Actions Speak Louder

Many times, Wonder Woman is questioned.  She’s scoffed at for being a women (which would have been very common during that time).  She’s underestimated.  But what’s so amazing here is that she never has to prove herself to the men.  It would’ve been so easy for the movie to fall into that common trope.  She never argues with a man and she focuses her attention on others instead of herself.  She wants to kill Ares and stop the war. And in the end, her actions speak louder then her words ever could.  What I took from this is to rise to action.  Stop talking and start doing.  Ignore what others say, because you know what you can do.  Hold your head high and rise above.

3. Mutual Respect Brings the Most Success

As I said before, it would have been easy for the film to fall into certain tropes.  A trope we often see nowadays is a woman proving that she (or all women) are better then men.  That’s never a point of conflict in this film.  Her love interest, Steve, fights as her equal.  He isn’t clumsy or weak to make Wonder Woman look stronger.  He believes in her and helps her to the best of his ability. When they become interested in each other romantically, they both hold their own.  They love each other but are not dependent on one another.  We see the rest of the men in their gang react the same way later on.  They all eventually come to love and respect Diana.  It’s a great reminder that feminism is about collaboration and equality, not one gender being better then the other.  We each have something to bring to the table and our differences are what makes us stronger. 

4. It’s Okay to not be Okay

There’s a really interesting character in Wonder Woman’s gang named Charlie.  He’s supposed to be the world’s top shooter, but time and time again he fails.  He seen some things that have damaged him pretty heavily.  What’s really interesting about this character is that we never see this issue resolved.  He doesn’t have his big “hero moment” where he is suddenly able to shoot and save the day.  This is so much like real life.  We’ve all been hurt, and it’s ok to be damaged.  You have nothing to prove, but your great efforts will help everything to turn out right in the end.  At one point, Charlie even says to Diana “You don’t need me, you’re better of without me.” To this she replies “No, Charlie, if you’re not here, who will sing?” This implies that Charlie is still a valued member of the group, despite his shortcomings.  His friends are able to recognize his other strengths when he cannot.  


5. There is Much Darkness in the World, But Love Will Save the Day

Not much to say here, as Diana said it all in her own monologue:

“I used to want to save the world, to end war and bring peace to mankind. But then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learnt that inside every one of them there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves - something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know… that only love can truly save the world. So now I stay, I fight, and I give - for the world I know can be. This is my mission now, for ever.”

Often times love is portrayed as a great weakness. But it isn’t.  To love is to truly see beauty in the world.  To love is to be brave and strong.  Love is the greatest power of all.  

Additional Notes:

We must learn to forgive.  Diana had the opportunity to kill the chemist responsible for Steve’s death.  And she chose not too, instead focusing on the larger problem at hand and in turn leaving the past in the past.

There were not gratuitous or sexualized shots of the women in the film.  The framing was based around the action.  The women were all beautiful, but the film relied on it’s story and the strength of it’s lead rather then her beauty. 

There will always be hardship. There isn’t always one bad guy to fight.  We all will have to continue to fight our demons and endure through our trials.  But it’s the light and the love, those precious moments, that we fight for.

Thanks Wonder Woman.  You inspired me, and I’m so grateful.  I don’t think I’ve seen a superhero movie with more heart.  There will be many days ahead where I think “What would Wonder Woman do?” 

*I may edit and add on to more of this at a later time, but I wanted to get my initial thoughts out!

5

I think that everyone should take a look at these gorgeous drawings representing Women and their accomplishements in Science, by Rachel Ignotofksy - a fantastic illustrator and graphic designer. She also has a lil Etsy shop where she sells her prints here!!!

4

( 1 8 . 0 6 . 1 7 ) 🎧 to find you - sing street

june study challenge day 18: today is father’s day in the u.s.! describe your dad or another male role model that has helped you in your academic life. my dad’s a food chemist, so between him and my mother’s microbiology work i literally grew up inside labs and we lived inside the campus itself. he’s a very good teacher and he knows so much, cooking with him is so interesting and yet he’s never pushed me towards science like the rest of my family, he always encouraged me to make my own choices. i look up to him a lot, since he has to deal with being an immigrant and a non native speaker of portuguese, and yet he works so hard and has achieved so much! besides he’s created & published optimized chromatography methods and imo that’s really cool

Unusual but fitting careers for the signs
  • Check Sun, Moon
  • Aries: Writer/ Biologist/ Doctor
  • Taurus: Fashion Designer/ Odontologist/ Artist
  • Gemini: Mthmatician/ Nurse/ Shipwrite
  • Cancer: Forensic Scientist/ Dancer/ Videographer
  • Leo: Poet/ Travel guide/ Conveyancer
  • Virgo: Games Programmer/ Film maker/ Archiologist
  • Libra: Midwife/ Writer/ Police Officer
  • Scorpio: Photographer/ Chemist/ Caregiver (for the elderly)
  • Sagittarius: Lawyer/ Statitian/ Councellor
  • Capricorn: Musician/ Dentist/ Physio-therapist
  • Aquarius: Pharmacist/ Lawyer/ Ballerina
  • Pisces: Surgeon/ Social Worker/ Life Guard
5

The March for Science isn’t just for white lab geeks. It’s about social justice.

  • The March for Science on Saturday is set to be one of the largest interdisciplinary shows of force by biologists, chemists, mathematicians, medical doctors, climatologists and other scientists. 
  • If organizers have done their jobs right, it won’t just be white folks in lab coats.
  • The march will take place in more than 600 locations in the U.S. and around the world on Earth Day. Organizers said it will be “an unprecedented gathering of people standing together to acknowledge and voice the critical role that science plays in each of our lives,” according to an official website. 
  • No doubt, science is at the center of social and racial injustice issues that have sprung up in recent years. Read more. (4/22/17, 10:31 AM)

German Inventions: The Mirror, by Justus von Liebig

The invention of the silvered-glass mirror as we know it and use it today is credited to German chemist Justus von Liebig in 1835. His process involved the deposition of a thin layer of metallic silver onto glass through the chemical reduction of silver nitrate. This silvering process was adapted for mass production and led to the greater availability of affordable mirrors. In the modern age, mirrors are often produced by the wet deposition of silver (or sometimes aluminum) directly onto the glass substrate. Read about the history of mirrors previous to this in source.

5

Sketchdump 3 of Samurai Dad. This one is dubbed the “Dress Up” dump. Ever since the 6th episode with Ashi’s new hairdo and outfit, I was inspired to make nature outfits for all the girls, as well as changing their hair. You will bet that Jack would immediately scrub the “Aku” goo off of the girls. BTW, he’s not mad at them, he’s mad that toddlers were dropped into bubbling goo. Then I got the urge to draw the girls with all their new hairdos and outfits when they’re older. Unfortunately I don’t know whose name is who. Please forgive me, I didn’t have time to assign the listed names, because they never did so.

Neon-Cat-Headphones & grungy green clothes: The main tech and gear head. Tinkerer, inventor. Not a super genius, but still the main tech-head.
Blue Coat with blue eyeshadow: She takes care of all the makeup and beauty needs. Also the experimental chemist who makes dangerous makeup bombs. Her handbag is filled with things from knockout gas & acid, to humble eyeliner & blush.
Chun Li with roller shoes: The tech-head sister made those shoes especially for her. Those shoes are heavier than they look. She likes her snacks & food. 
Pink Sakura Tessen/ first one Jack killed: She loves her books and soaking up knowledge like a sponge. She’s a living encyclopedia.
The Falconer: Nuff said. She loves nature and all of its creatures. Especially birds. Can do almost any bird call.
The rebel graffiti ninja: The artistic graffiti rebel with a cause. The stunts she pulls is baffling, and she’ll get help from her sisters. The people who painted that Soviet star as Patrick Star? She’ll do that s#!t and more.
Ashi, the ladybug warrior: We all know Ashi. But I’d say she’s really dedicated to martial arts and the bushido code studiously. Still loves ladybugs.

The final pic took way long. They’re preparing and gearing up for the final confrontation. And Jack now has his sword back (FINALLY!)

I don’t know if I’ll do another Samurai Jack-based stream next week. It’s pretty much likely that I might just do that. Probably will stop after the hype dies down and the end is near.

To all the viewers who stopped by, thank you so much for putting up with my dry and boring self haha.