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Archive for the ‘Pure Science’ Category

A Trip to the La Jolla Tide Pools of San Diego

January 25th, 2009
La Jolla Tidepools at Sunset

La Jolla tide pools at sunset in January 2009. Photo by Dave Oei.

2 year Old Curiosity at the Tide Pool. Photo by Dave Oei.

2 year old curiosity at the tide pool. Photo by Dave Oei.

Nestled along the shores of La Jolla, California lie some of the best tide pools offered in San Diego.  While these can’t compete with the likes of what is found in Monterey Bay, the La Jolla tide pools are no more than a few minutes drive for most San Diegans, and their ease of accessibility makes visiting them well worth the while.  There’s an abundance of wildlife, including starfish, a variety of crustaceans, mollusks, and octopus.  And usually, without trying to hard, you’ll be able to spot seals and dolphins.

Did I mention that it’s gorgeous?

A Clump of Different Colored Starfish in La Jolla.  Photo by Dave Oei.

A clump of different colored starfish in La Jolla. Photo by Dave Oei.

My family and I visited the pools a few weeks ago.  We arrived late in the afternoon when the tides were predicted to be quite low and we found ourselves shedding off the sweaters in the 70 degree weather.  That’s right: 70 degrees, by the beach, in January.  It really does happen in San Diego.

To go tide pooling, you’ll need to see to two pieces of logistics: Planning and Parking.

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Biology, Featured Articles, Travel

Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy: The Nobel Story

January 22nd, 2009
Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu

Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu. Source: Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l. Lab

If you were like me, you spent most of Tuesday working, only to return home and sit glued to your TV watching the inauguration  on your DVR.  Yes, Obama is president.  Which also means, yes, we again have people in government who put their faith in Science.

One of those people is Steven Chu, the just affirmed Secretary of Energy.  He’s got his work cut out for him.  Not only has Obama charged him with reducing our dependence on foreign oil, but he has to figure out how to curb greenhouse gasses while making our country more energy efficient.  And if he can turn every car into a plug-in, call it icing on the cake.

Of course, like everyone else on Obama’s cabinet, Chu has serious street cred.

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Business and Politics, Physics

Sugar Deal: Great for Everglades, Bad on Pocketbook?

June 24th, 2008

In what’s billed to be the largest land restoration and buyback in US History, Florida is purchasing 187,000 acres from US Sugar Corp which will eventually be rehabilitated to it’s natural Everglades habitat.  Doing so will help mitigate against future flooding and remove the need for some existing dams.  While making for some nice alligator, fish, and great egret homes.  Overall, it’s great news for the ecology of the Everglades and all the wildlife that exist in the region.

But, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.  With corn and corn-related products at an all time high due to soaring food demand and the likes of ethanol, this Everglades deal will no doubt exasperate the corn pricing problem.  You see, US Sugar is currently producing about 10% of our current consumption of sugar.  Which means that either current surgar consumers will have to find other sources of sugar or switch to an alternative.

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Biology

Coaxing HIV Out of Hiding with Clever Engineering

May 8th, 2008

When it comes to combating HIV, doctors and scientists have an arsenal of drugs and regimens to choose from. Unfortunately, none are 100% effective because of the one sinister trait of HIV – it’s ability to hide and lay dormant in T-cells for years or decades.

Which is why flushing HIV out of T-cells has been on the forefront of medical science for years. Through experimentation it’s been shown that two naturally occurring plant compounds, Prostratin and DPP, in combination with other drugs are able to push HIV out of T-cells with about 80% efficacy. Sure, it’s not 100%, but experimentation had been hampered by the availability of these compounds.

They come from scarcely found plants from far away places and produce variable yet meager quantities of these valuable compounds. In other words, they must be extremely expensive and hard to come by.

Fortunately, there are real people out there who actually performed very well in Organic Chemistry. And it is they who come to this story’s rescue.

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Biology, Chemistry, Medicine

Melting Microchips May Mean Meatier Machines

May 6th, 2008

Stephen Chou of Princeton recently introduced a simple, cheap method to drastically improve the straightness of line structures and roundness of dots on a microchip. While this may sound somewhat mundane it may allow for dramatic improvements in chip scalability, as current fabrication methods mandate a size-imposed limit which prevents the further improvements in density and energy usage.

But an excimer laser and a quartz guide plate may change everything.

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Physics

There’s Singing in the Brain

May 5th, 2008

Just like babies, juvenile birds babble incessantly and practice their songs before getting it just right.  But how does that transition happen?  Are there two pathways to song (and, possibly speech) development, or just one that matures over time?

The folks at Fee lab at MIT were on the case.

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Biology

Alzheimer’s Reversed in Mice?

May 4th, 2008

The bad guy?  In this case, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-oxidase, or NADPH for short.  We have it, and so do mice.  For a living, it resides in neutrophils (bacteria/fungi eating white blood cells)  and creates superoxides that destroy foreign pathogens.  That is, unless they go out of wack, in which case they apparently feast on something a bit closer to home: Your brain.

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Biology

SnoreCraft: NASA’s MMO?!

April 21st, 2008

Oh, say it ain’t so.

At TinySci, we pride ourselves in our deep skepticism of practically everything. Some say this leads only to apathy while others wonder how we can then be passionate about anything. Well if you’ve had a chance to read a few of our posts, you’ll realize that neither is the case. Rather, the skepticism helps bring about a solid case of objectivity.

Which is what I’m thinking is lacking for those NASA administrators who believe they can create a viable, let alone interesting, massively multiplayer online (MMO) game targeted to the teens of tomorrow.

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Internet, Space

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