Nanoparticles

Tiny UPS… or something You’ve learned about phage therapy, quorum sensing and quorum quenching, which means, hello PhD! I’m just kidding, no grad student has the time to jump from topic to topic like this. But for us curious nerds, the next topic in the fight against antibiotic resistant bacteria is nanoparticles. Specifically, using them to deliver drugs. Sometimes, antibiotics don’t reach the cell because of the biofilm, and this physical problem requires a physical solution: tiny delivery systems. Nanoparticles Nanoparticles are usually some sort of metal or carbon polymer. They have a positive charge so that they can interact…

Quorum Sensing

Chattering Bacteria Ever notice how animals are able to communicate, move, hunt, and travel in large groups? Bacteria are no different. Quorum sensing, in the simplest sense, is bacteria chatter. Instead of using words, they use chemicals. Once these communication chemicals build up to a certain level, they affect gene expression and transcription. Antibiotic Resistance If you’ve been following along, you probably read about phage therapy, one of the novel ways to treat antibiotic resistance bacteria. As promised, I’m introducing another method: quorum sensing. The goal of quorum sensing research is to figure out how bacteria talk to each other….

Phage Therapy

Evolving Bacteria Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem. This shouldn’t be a surprise though, because if you exert pressure on a population, it will evolve. What we are seeing today is the evolution of bacteria from our overuse of antibiotics, from farms to hospitals to personal use. We don’t have any clear answers at the moment, but phage therapy looks quite promising. Using Phages Phages or bacteriophages are viruses that target bacteria. You can find phages on the table, on you, in ponds, etc. Delivery of isolated phages (via injection or inhalation) to the site of infection is what phage…

Correlation, Causation, and the NFL

It’s Football Season… Tom Brady posted about the Madden “curse” the other day and it got me thinking, “Is it really a curse or just clever manipulation of events?” Of course, this reminded me of how often people confuse correlation with causation. My initial example (on my Instagram account) was about vaccines and autism (that’s a link to the retraction), but it drew too much heat. So, let’s try this again with football and the NFL. What is the Curse There are currently 21 Madden covers (1999-2019) and 24 players that have graced the covers. But before I begin my…

sterilization

Sterilization of Milk

Ah! Milk on the Shelf If you’ve ever traveled to Europe, you’ll notice something interesting. In the grocery stores, milk and eggs sit out in the aisles unrefrigerated. What kind of magic is this?! The secret to Europe’s room temperature dairy products is sterilization and vaccinations. Milk Bacteria While pasteurization kills most of the bacteria in milk, sterilization kills all the bacteria. It may not seem like a big difference, but without any living microorganisms in the milk, there‚Äôs no chance of it spoiling at room temperature. Milk can be stored at room temperature as long as the container is…

oral grooves

Carbon Neutral

Carbon In, Carbon Out What does it mean when an energy source is carbon neutral? Does using it still emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere? What are some examples of carbon neutral sources of energy? Are all renewable sources carbon neutral? You’ve already learned about molten-salt reactors as a possible new source of energy. In this post, we’ll take a look at some new developments in the renewable energy sector. Biomass Biomass is a by-product of the agricultural industry. Let’s say you are a corn farmer and you’ve just harvested your crop. Selling the kernels is how you make money,…

not lagers

The Lager Story

The German Lager Compared to the Belgians, German beers are rather monotonous. Instead of using ale yeast, lager yeast (a more chilled out yeast) is used in the brewing process. There are two historical events to thank for all this: a beer purity law and a duke. The law was called the Reinheitsgebot and it said that beer could only be made from barley, water, and hops. As for the duke, well, he really liked predictable beer flavors, so he insisted people only brew between September 29th and April 23rd. Lagering If you’re a baker, you’ll know that keeping ingredients…

the lambic

The Lambic: Belgian Microbe Magic

Cantillon Tucked away in a small alley in Brussels, there’s a brewery that still practices open fermentation. Hundreds of yeast and bacteria in the air (the “open” part) are responsible for brewing (the “fermentation” part) a very special kind of beer called the lambic. Unlike other breweries you may have visited, this one has no sterile steel tanks, no shiny floors, and no smell of disinfecting compounds. Spiderwebs cover the barrels, the ceiling, and all the other nooks and crannies. The arachnids are well fed by gnats and fruit flies swarming around the barrels of fermenting beer. Bungholes ooze with…

Vocal Cords and Fry

Violin, Vocal Cords There’s a theory that the violin was made to sound like the human voice. As a violin player, I can attest to the degree of precision one needs in order to coax out that sound. So what makes the human voice so special? Why, the muscles of the vocal cords! With practice, humans can make some pretty incredible sounds, from falsettos to vocal fry to whistle notes. Larynx Anatomy There are a total of 6 muscles that open and close when you breathe and talk. They control pitch, tone, volume, and air flow. Since they all have…