Molecule World

by Sandra Porter

In 1925, dog sledders raced through the frozen Alaskan bush to bring antiserum to the isolated village of Nome. The antiserum arrived in time, saved the lives of many villagers from the horrors of diphtheria, and inspired the Iditarod, a famous race in celebration of the dog sledders' heroic feat. West Africa could use a similar effort today.

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In 1925, dogsledders raced through the frozen Alaskan bush to bring antiserum to the isolated village of Nome.  The antiserum arrived in time, saved the lives of many villagers from the horrors of diphtheria, and inspired the Iditarod, a famous race in celebration of the dog sledders' heroic feat. West Africa could use a similar effort today.  Richard Harris's blog at NPR has a good story about doctors' efforts to develop and use antiserum to treat Ebola.  According ... Read more
What’s the first you think about when you see a spider?  Running away?  Danger?  Fairies? Spiderman? spider and webDo you wonder if spider silk is really strong enough to stop a train, like they showed in Spiderman 2? Whatever your thoughts, you’re probably not thinking about 3D printing in space ... Read more

by Sandra Porter

Exploring a spider silk protein in Molecule World to learn more about the molecular switch. Read more

Todd M. Smith and Sandra G. Porter, Digital World Biology®, Seattle, WA 

Modern data collection technologies are creating enormous data resources that are underutilized in science education and research. We often present graphs showing exponential growth of one kind of database or another, but how often do we stop to ask the questions: how many people are using these data? And how are they using it? Without efforts toward improving general use, data resources will not be valued, which can negatively impact the value of future data collection endeavors.

New approaches ... Read more

by Todd Smith

A key concept in science is molecular scale. DNA is a fascinating molecule in this regard.

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A key concept in science is molecular scale. DNA is a fascinating molecule in this regard. While we cannot "see" DNA molecules without the aid of advanced technology, a full length DNA molecule can be very long. In human cells, other than sperm and eggs, six billion base pairs of DNA are packaged into 22 pairs of chromosomes, plus two sex chromosomes. Each base pair is 34 angstroms in length (.34 nanometers, or ~0.3 billionths of a meter), so six billion base pairs (all chromosomes laid out head to toe) form a chain that's two-meters long. If we could hang this DNA chain from a hook, it ... Read more

by Todd Smith

Linear chromosomes are hard to maintain.

Replication fork - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telomere .

Every time their DNA gets replicated, it gets shorter. This is due to the fact that DNA polymerase can only add bases to the terminal 3'-OH of a DNA chain. The DNA replication initiation complex uses RNA primers to provide the initial 3'-OH and to initiate "lagging" strand synthesis. While one strand can be copied all the way to the ... Read more

Organisms with linear chromosomes have to solve the problem that DNA replication makes them shorter. This is due to the fact that DNA polymerase can only add bases to the terminal 3'-OH of a DNA chain. The DNA replication initiation complex uses RNA primers to provide the initial 3'-OH and ... Read more

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