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Dan Brickley
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I work on Web standards, mostly. SemWeb, W3C, FOAF, Schema.org, NoTube.
I work on Web standards, mostly. SemWeb, W3C, FOAF, Schema.org, NoTube.

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Synthetic biology

I met some cool people this week, and here's one: Kate Adamala. She's a postdoc at the University of Minnesota. She creates artificial cells in the lab.

These aren't full-fledged cells that can reproduce and metabolize on their own. They're much simpler - but they're made from scratch, not from existing cells. She calls them protocells.

A typical protocell has some RNA inside a little membrane made of fatty acids. She can get the RNA to copy itself, and she can get different protocells to fuse, building more complicated systems from smaller parts.

My own career as a postdoc was much more boring! Kids these days are amazing. :-)

Here's a paper of hers:

• Kate Adamala and J.W. Szostak, Non-enzymatic template-directed RNA synthesis inside model protocells, Science 342 (2013) 1098-1100. Available at http://www.protobiology.org/reprints/Adamala_Szostak_Science_2013.pdf

Abstract. Efforts to recreate a prebiotically plausible protocell, in which RNA replication occurs within a fatty acid vesicle, have been stalled by the destabilizing effect of Mg2+ [magnesium ions] on fatty acid membranes. Here we report that the presence of citrate protects fatty acid membranes from the disruptive effects of high Mg2+ ion concentrations while allowing RNA copying to proceed, while also protecting single-stranded RNA from Mg2+-catalyzed degradation. This combination of properties has allowed us to demonstrate the chemical copying of RNA templates inside fatty acid vesicles,
which in turn allows for an increase in copying efficiency by bathing the vesicles in a continuously refreshed solution of activated nucleotides.

Though it's one of the most recent on her website, this paper is not so new; she's doing even cooler stuff these days. Check out her work here:

http://www.protobiology.org/index.php

and in her talk.


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Gyroscopic Stabilization in Space

A gyroscope is a spinning wheel or disc in which the axis of rotation is free to assume any orientation by itself. This means that when the disc is rotating, the axis is unaffected by tilting or rotation of the mounting because of the conservation of angular momentum.

A CD player contains a rapidly spinning compact disc (200-500rpm) that acts as a gyroscope in the microgravity of the International Space Station. The first CD player touched by the astronaut is off, so it readily tumbles in the direction of the applied force. However, the second CD player is on, so the spinning disc acts as a gyroscope that stabilizes the CD player and prevents it from tumbling. If you watch the full video, you'll see experiments conducted with two and three CD players taped together to achieve a higher dimension of stability.

Source: https://youtu.be/aXgGQuaOOt4

#ScienceGIF #Science #GIF #Physics #Gyroscope #Stabilization #Space #OuterSpace #Microgravity #ISS #NASA #CD #Astronaut #Rotation #Momentum 
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