Archive for April 23rd, 2011

April 23, 2011

Bacon Mania

bacon

Bacon mania refers to passionate bacon enthusiasm in the US, Canada, and the UK. The movement (sometimes called ‘Bacon Nation’) has been traced to the 1980s and 1990s when high-protein foods became a more prominent diet focus due in part to the Atkins diet. Bacon possesses six ingredient types of umami, which elicits an addictive neurochemical response. Newer bacon creations have joined more traditional foods like the BLT and Cobb salad, including bacon bubble gum, bacon band-aids, sizzling bacon flavored rolling papers, and bacon air freshener.

The growing popularity of bacon has also encouraged product introductions such as bacon salt, maple bacon donuts, and baconnaise. Other bacon food oddities include the bacon explosion (a bacon-wrapped loaf of pork sausage), chicken fried bacon, bacon ice cream, and chocolate covered bacon, all popularized over the internet. A bacon alarm clock that wakes people up with the smell of cooking bacon has also been announced. The increased interest in bacon has led to Bacon-of-the-month clubs, bacon recipe contests, blogs, and even ‘bacon camps.’

April 23, 2011

Prion

prion

Prions [prahy-on] are infectious, misfolded proteins (large molecules built from small units known as amino acids). They are known to cause many forms of encephalitis, or brain disease, such as scrapie, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, kuru, and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, also known as Mad Cow Disease.

Prions work by changing the shape of proteins in the living things it causes disease in. While normal proteins have lots of alpha helices, or twisted parts, changed proteins have lots of beta sheets, or flat parts. The word ‘prion,’ coined in 1982 by American neurologist, Stanley B. Prusiner, is a portmanteau derived from the words ‘protein’ and ‘infection.’

read more »

April 23, 2011

Proteomics

protein folding

Proteomics [proh-tee-om-iks] is the large-scale study of proteins, particularly their structures and functions. Proteins are vital parts of living organisms, as they are the main components of the physiological metabolic pathways of cells. The term ‘proteomics’ was first coined in 1997 to make an analogy with genomics, the study of the genes. The word ‘proteome’ is a blend of ‘protein’ and ‘genome,’ and was coined by Australian geneticist, Marc Wilkins, in 1994. The proteome is the entire complement of proteins, including the modifications made to a particular set of proteins, produced by an organism or system. This will vary with time and distinct requirements, or stresses, that a cell or organism undergoes.

After genomics, proteomics is considered the next step in the study of biological systems. It is much more complicated than genomics mostly because while an organism’s genome is more or less constant, the proteome differs from cell to cell and from time to time. This is because distinct genes are expressed in distinct cell types. This means that even the basic set of proteins which are produced in a cell needs to be determined.

April 23, 2011

Ribbon diagram

richardson ribbon diagram

Ribbon diagrams, also known as Richardson Diagrams, are 3D schematic representations of protein structure and are one of the most common methods of protein depiction used today. Ribbon diagrams are generated by interpolating a smooth curve through the polypeptide backbone. Ribbon diagrams are simple, yet powerful, in expressing the visual basics of a molecular structure (twist, fold and unfold). This method has successfully portrayed the overall organization of the protein structure, reflecting its 3-dimensional information, and allowing for better understanding of a complex object both by the expert structural biologists and also by other scientists, students, and the general public.

Originally conceived by Jane S. Richardson in 1980, her hand-drawn ribbon diagrams were the first schematics of 3D protein structure to be produced systematically. They are generated by interpolating a smooth curve through the polypeptide backbone. Alpha-helices are shown as coiled ribbons or thick tubes, Beta-strands as arrows, and lines or thin tubes for random coils. The direction of the polypeptide chain may be indicated by a color ramp along the length of the ribbon.

April 23, 2011

Protein

protein molecule size comparison

enzyme

Proteins are large molecules built from peptides: chains of amino acids held together with peptide bonds. A polypeptide is a single linear chain of two or more amino acids. Protein molecules consist of one or more polypeptides put together typically in a biologically functional way. The shortest peptides are dipeptides, consisting of two amino acids joined by a single peptide bond. There can also be tripeptides, tetrapeptides, pentapeptides, etc.

Proteins are used to make new tissue and cells, as enzymes (catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions in the body), hormones (chemical messengers), or antibodies (immunological agents).

read more »

April 23, 2011

Adrian Hill

garden trowels by adrian hill

Adrian Hill (1895–1977) was a British artist and pioneering Art Therapist. He wrote many best-selling books about painting and drawing, and in the 1950s and early 1960s presented a BBC children’s television program called ‘Sketch Club.’

His own work combined elements of impressionism and surrealism as well as more conventional representations, and was widely displayed at major art galleries during his lifetime, both in Britain and abroad.

read more »