albalark (albalark) wrote,

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Random Natterings and an Art Rec

 Well, my mid-term seminar/review went well, so it appears that I should continue to remain employed for another 2 years.  In fact, my chair has told me to start submitting names to write promotion letters for me.  If all goes well, I will finally make it to full staff (the equivalent of full professor, if I were in a real academic institution, and not a private research institute with pretensions ::g::).  Now, if only I can get that MCB paper through the review process and get my NIH grant renewed!

Speaking of science, I don't know how much any of you pay attention to science news, but there was a real paradigm shifter published in the week's Science; so much so that it made the regular news.  It's such a cool thing, that I'm going to geek out on you a little here, so just skip this bit if science bores you.  :-)  

It's always been assumed that there were certain elements that were essential to life - carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, nitrogen and phosphorus - and it's always been assumed that there can be no substitutes for these because no other elements could do the jobs they do.  Phosphorus has two very critical roles to play in life here on earth: it forms the structural backbone of the genetic material (DNA/RNA) and it carries energy needed for sustaining the chemical reactions of life in the form of a nucleic acid called ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate).  It's the breakage of the phosphodiester bonds in ATP that provides the power that drives every function that defines life.  So, no phosphorus, no life - right?  Well, maybe that's not true.  A group of NASA exobiologists found a bacterium that they were able to drive into using arsenic to substitute for phosphorus, something that's never been demonstrated before.  This is important in the search for microbial life on other planets and the design of instruments to detect same, but also because we may have missed a number of living things on our own planet, which might exist only under extreme conditions.  There are many questions raised by this finding, and a lot of stringent work which needs to be done to show that this is more than a novelty, but, if this pans out, it will be as exciting as finding the bacteria which can survive the high temperature/ high pressure environment  and sunless economy of the deep oceanic thermal vents.  And that was *very* exciting.  Really!  OK, you can stop snoring now.  :-)

One last thing you *will* be interested in, and then I'm shutting up and going off to the big art fair to do some holiday shopping.  Most of the the holiday fests have started up now, and already there have been some wonderful fics.  But my favorite thing so far is a comic panel (I recognize the artist, but I can't say who she is yet) that went up yesterday on Snupin Santa called The Stupendous Snupin Film Club.  Ye gods, it's funny, but it's the details which make it  extraordinary.  Even if you aren't a Snupin fan, I think you'll like it.  Some of the films 'reviewed' are Star Wars, The Sound of Music, Indiana Jones, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Little Shop of Horrors, Shaun of the DeadThe Care Bears Movie (yes, you read that right) and several others.  Go check it out and have yourself a good lol!

Have a wonderful Saturday, my dears!
Tags: geekiness, good news, life, recs
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