ACS: Good to the last drop

Man, those physical chemists sure can throw a good chemical biology meeting. I finally got a chance to join in the ‘Functional Motions in Enzyme Catalysis’ session, and it was well worth the wait. Though each of the three talks was excellent, what was particularly interesting were some of the commonalities that emerged in the lectures and the subsequent panel discussion.  Read more

ACS: How much do you want?

Today I unexpectedly ventured far from my comfort zone to learn about ketosamines and 2-deoxyglucose in cancer treatment on one hand, and boronic acid-based sensors on the other, so I will not attempt to explain the details here as I would undoubtedly get many things wrong. Instead, I have an important question for you.  Read more

ACS: Cells are weird

So as part of my efforts to ‘seek out people I don’t know’, I went to a session yesterday in the colloid division about membranes and membrane proteins. Two talks by a grad student (Niña Hartman) and postdoc (Cheng-Han Yu) (see here for pictures) from Jay Groves’ lab were particularly outstanding. They are trying to figure out how TCR channels and other proteins at the immunological synapse are sorted into patterns. The general idea seems to be that clustering controls trafficking, with all kinds of fancy techniques used to provide evidence. The weirder thing to me is, how does the cell know where the synapse is supposed to be?? Something to ponder.  Read more

ACS: How sweet it is…

Today’s carbohydrate session was in honor of Peter Seeberger winning the Hudson Award, with the panel of speakers reflecting Seeberger’s interests in oligosaccharide synthesis, antigens and adjuvants, and the complexities of glycosylation as a post-translational modification.  Read more

A chemistry prescription

Many moons ago, I had a few thoughts about how scientific words are pronounced, and particularly wondered if different pronunciations might reflect where scientists were trained, either in a certain field or a specific country. The precursor to this question, though, is where do the words originate?  Read more

Sugar Daddy: Not so boron after all

Posted on behalf of Sugar Daddy With the changing of the guard in Washington, late-night night television hasn’t quite been the same. I guess the new guy in charge is a harder target for comics. Anyway, to a certain extent, the late-night hosts have been turning their attention elsewhere, and eventually chemistry was bound to make it. In this clip, Conan O’Brien draws attention to, among other things, the discovery of a fourth form of pure elemental boron. The humor in the clip originates from a recent New York Times article that had mistakenly counted the number of pure forms  … Read more

Science in trouble

I just discovered that it looks like a major Canadian funding institute has lost its place in the recent Canadian federal budget (see here and here for coverage). I’m wary of saying more than is supported by the limited information that I have, but it seems like a troubling turn for scientific research if this trend continues?! Anyone know more?  Read more

My little black book

My sister recently gave me ‘a mini guide to the periodic table’. The interesting fact for today is: Neodymium is magnetic, and in fact NIB (neodymium, iron, boron) magnets are so strong that you can put them on either side of your hand and they will stick. That’s kind of creepy.  Read more