Aaaaaand They’re Off: The 2013 World Cell Race Results
Dec10

Aaaaaand They’re Off: The 2013 World Cell Race Results

Today's post is by Nader Heidari, an associate editor at C&EN who loves watching cells race and paint dry. On Nov. 22, cells raced down ultrathin channels, vying for the position of fastest cell in the 2013 World Cell Race. At speeds of up to 300 micrometers/hour, cells blew down the maze-like track, running into dead ends and occasionally getting confused and turning around. Many cell lines didn't finish, but glory came to those who did. This year's victor (shown in the race video above) was MDA MB 231 s1, a human breast cancer cell line from Alexis Gautreau of the Laboratory of Enzymology & Structural Biochemistry, in France. Gautreau will receive a €400 voucher (that’s about $650) from Ibidi, one of the event's sponsors. The winning cells weren't the fastest, nor were they the smartest, but they prevailed because of their persistence and because they got a good head-start by entering the maze of channels more quickly than their competitors. Slow and steady wins the race! In second place was MFH 152, a sarcoma cell line from Mohamed Jemaà in Ariane Abrieu’s lab at the Research Center for Macromolecular Biochemistry, in France. Although they were fast and accurate, these cells took too long to actually start the race, falling behind MDA MB 231, according to the race organizers. Cell-racing fans don't have to wait until late next year for another dose of mitochondria-pumping action: The organizers are looking to start the first "Dicty World Race," tentatively scheduled for March 21, 2014. The stars of this show would be Dictyostelium, a type of slime mold. So keep an eye out for some pedal-to-the-flagella protist action! Related Stories: Cellular...

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Welcome Food Matters at Scientific American Blogs- Chemistry Represent!
Sep03

Welcome Food Matters at Scientific American Blogs- Chemistry Represent!

Recovered from your Labor Day barbeque? Good. Because something's cooking at the Scientific American blog network, and it is decidedly meaty. I'm talking about the SciAm network's new food blog, Food Matters, which launches today, in time for Scientific American’s Food Week celebration. This group blog features seven authors- three researchers and four journalists, and includes a familiar face (more on that later). According to Bora Zivkovic, who heads the network, at Food Matters "there will be explainers of basics, coverage of new papers, carefully researched pieces of in-depth journalism, pushback against non-science-based activism, posts that provide historical context, and just plain fun stuff from original multimedia to quirky recipes." And chemists, if that's not enough to whet your appetite, consider this: the blog's authors include Julianne Wyrick, who holds a B.A. in biochemistry, and friend of CENtral Science See Arr Oh. I asked them some questions ahead of the launch and here's what they had to say. (Quotes edited for grammar and/or shortened for brevity). Carmen: Why do you think food is a great medium for talking about chemistry and biochemistry? Julianne: Food touches everyone; from biochemists to ballet dancers, we all eat. Discussing the chemistry involved in food and nutrition helps science come alive to scientists and non-scientists alike. See Arr Oh: People are surrounded by food, but they don't always take a second to realize that food is all about chemical processes- from photosynthesis, to preservatives, to digestion. C: Why is it important to have chemistry representin’ on the big blog networks? J: Blogging about the chemistry involved in topics like food is important because chemistry is the foundation for so much of science. Many processes, like how a nutrient affects the body, boil down to chemical reactions. If we know more about the chemistry, we have a better understanding of the process. S: There's a stereotype that may be in some people's minds of chemists holed up in their labs, drumming up massive profits for corporations. I'd like to show that chemists can be relatable and fun and communicate well. Congrats on hitting the bloggy big time, you two. Now, make sure you commission some guest posts from the likes of Matt Hartings and Martin Lersch, and then I'll really be...

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This Week on CENtral Science: Fireworks Disposal, Not-so- Alternative Careers, and More
Mar29

This Week on CENtral Science: Fireworks Disposal, Not-so- Alternative Careers, and More

Tweet of the Week: UC flack to me: Email is best way to contact researcher since many depts ditched phones due to budget cuts. What a world.— Sam Lemonick (@SamLemonick) March 28, 2013 When I read this I thought-- Really?? Then I figured, well, why not? I haven't had a land line since college. But I'm still wondering how big a chunk of change a phone bill really is in the grand scheme of the UC budget. Rachel will be handling this roundup during April. Until May, chem-keteers. To the network: Newscripts: In Print: Europe’s Got A Stink Problem and Fashion Police: Science Shoes and Amusing News Aliquots Terra Sigillata: Saturday Morning Natural Products PharmChem Radio! and Dr. Gina Stewart on Career Flexibility and Entrepreneurship The Safety Zone: Letter on Donaldson Enterprises fatal fireworks incident and Defining chemical safety, health, hygiene, and security The Watchglass: Kevlar Inventor Stephanie Kwolek and Behind that Chess Pic and Protein Folding and Lise Meitner and Carbonyl Attack and Radioimmunoassays take '77...

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Chemistry, Gangnam Style
Dec07

Chemistry, Gangnam Style

Can't get the "Gangnam Style" song out of your head? Well, for some chemistry students at Shaker Heights High School, near Cleveland, Ohio, the song just might come in handy for their next chemistry exam. Check out “Molecules Gone Wild (Bio Style),” chemistry teacher Mr. Hsu's version of Korean pop sensation PSY's viral hit. The link was sent to us by Alex Madonik of the American Chemical Society's California Section, who is an alumni of Shaker Heights. Happy...

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Olympics 2012: Chemistry Is Her Coxswain
Aug07

Olympics 2012: Chemistry Is Her Coxswain

Sure, athletes are representing countries from all over the world during this summer’s Olympic Games, but that doesn’t mean chemistry can’t have its own representative too. Her name is Amanda Polk, a biochemistry major from the University of Notre Dame and an American Chemical Society member. For the 2012 Olympics, Amanda represented chemistry, and the U.S., as an alternate for a number of women’s rowing teams. Since mid-July, Amanda has been in London, training and standing on call to compete in events such as the women’s pair (in which two women compete per boat, and each has only one oar), the women’s quadruple sculls (four women each with two oars, aka sculls), and the women’s eight (eight women each with only one oar). It’s all been pretty mind-boggling for Amanda, who is participating in her first Olympics. “I am very honored to be representing the U.S. in London,” she told Newscripts. “The feeling is surreal.” Although Amanda did not compete in an event at this summer’s games—the rowing events ended on Aug. 4, with the U.S. women’s team taking home bronze in the women’s quadruple sculls and gold in the women’s eight—the level of effort required by Amanda during her time in London was still of Olympic proportions. Prior to leaving for London to watch his daughter compete, Amanda’s father, Kenneth, explained that Amanda would be training “with the team exactly as if she would be in the boat.” This practice was necessary given that Amanda served as a first alternate who might be called on at any moment to replace a teammate who had become injured or violated a rule or code of conduct, he said. Kenneth, who has his own ACS connection (he serves as a special assistant to the ACS executive director as well as chief executive officer for innovation and legal affairs at the society), was thrilled to be among the many in London cheering for the U.S. women’s rowing team. However, as a proud father, he did admit to having “some amount of disappointment” that his daughter had been designated as just an alternate for the women’s eight. According to Kenneth, unlike smaller boats such as the women’s pair in which competitors are chosen on the basis of their performance in preliminary races, members of the women’s eight are chosen through a selection process. The decision to not include his daughter on the final women’s eight roster was a tough one for Kenneth, especially given his daughter’s pedigree: She won gold in the eight at the 2011 World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland; won gold in the eight at the 2011 World Rowing...

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