The CRISPR-Cas System

It’s about time I covered CRISPR, don’t you think? It’s the hottest topic in science since space-tardigrades! Once again, no, water bears can’t live in space naked, they have to be in a dry tun. Back to CRISPR though, this new gene editing technology isn’t actually new at all. Bacteria have been using it as an adaptive immune system to remember past viral infections. Some History and Terminology CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. They are exactly what their name says they are… In 1987, scientists noticed these repeating sequences in E. Coli and eventually, other scientists…

sugar alcohols

Sugar Alcohols

=O to -OH While there are many types of sugar substitutes out there, this post will focus on the sugar alcohols. First, what are sugar alcohols? Molecularly, sugar alcohols are sugars (glucose, fructose, etc.) that have their double-bonded oxygen hydrogenated. If you can’t picture that, it’s okay, here’s what it looks like: =O becomes -OHNow, this may not seem like a significant change to us, but it makes quite a difference in the sweetness and the fermentability of the sugar. Sugar alcohols are less sweet and the bacteria in your mouth are incapable of fermenting them; plus, they also don’t…

virus parasite

Parasite Evie

Obligate Intracellular Parasite When you think of a parasite, do you think of a tapeworm living in the small intestine? A guinea worm erupting from a hand or foot? Or perhaps fleas or head lice jumping from dog to dog, kid to kid? While those are all terrifyingly fantastic, there is another type of parasite that exists, unseen, all around us. I’m talking about an obligate intracellular parasite, also known as a virus. Structure Not quite alive, but also not completely inanimate, viruses need a host to grow and reproduce. Their structures are simple: some DNA or RNA encased in…

sour milk

Lumps, Chunks, and Curds

Sour Milk When I was 7 years old and still living in Taiwan, I went with my mother to buy milk on a Sunday morning. It was September and the temperature rose from a soothing 25 degrees Celsius to a sultry 40 degrees Celsius in just a few hours. For reference, the human body tries to stay at a constant 37 degrees Celsius, so 40 degrees felt unbearable. Because my mom was a busy yet forgetful woman, she continued to add errands to our list of errands. The milk run turned into a grocery trip, turned into a quick visit…