Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In the meantime

I interviewed for dental school this week. While we're waiting to hear about how that went, I have some time on my hands. Luckily a friend pointed me to the Getty Virtual Library. You should spend some time there too:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Treatise on Spinning Tops

Loving the illustrations used to depict the spinning tops we've been talking about in Physics this week. They are just really lovely drawings!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Reuben Heyday Margolin

I'm taking physics now and the DAT in August. To prepare, I think it's pretty inspiring to look at these mechanisms and think about how the equations we're using apply to this work, which is basically just an arrangement of wheels and strings From the TED site: Reuben Margolin is a kinetic sculptor, crafting beautiful pieces that move in the pattern of raindrops falling and waves combining. Take nine minutes and be mesmerized by his meditative art -- inspired in equal parts by math and nature.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

membrane folding

I saw this video on a science website and it depicts something that we're talking about in my cell biology class, the structure of a cell membrane.  I wanted to show some of my classmates and Dr. Schwartzbach, but while I was trying to get their attention one of them asked if I was going to show them something artsy.  I am still not sure.  What do you think?

Folding Flower from Science News on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dentistry From The Heart

I know plenty of artists and students without dental insurance.  I hope that organizations like this can help.

Monday, June 18, 2012

My Awesome Retainer

Fifteen years ago, back when I had a retainer, if I remember correctly, it was a glow-in-the-dark retainer.  I also had some glow-in-the-dark keychains and a glow-in-the-dark bedspread covered with cartoons of glow-in-the-dark cows.

It was with great delight this spring that I learned how to doctor frankenstein up some glow-in-the-dark E. coli.

Here's the abstract from my paper about the experiment:

The DNA in Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria can be transformed using novel DNA from non-bacterial organisms.  This is done by altering the DNA plasmids in the cell.  In this experiment, we will alter E. coli DNA by undertaking a transformation protocol that requires the use of pGLO plasmid.  The pGLO plasmid DNA will confer antibiotic resistance and fluorescence to the bacteria, allowing colonies of E. coli to grow in the presence of the antibiotic ampicillin.  The fluorescent qualities of the pGLO plasmid can only be observed in the presence of arabinose sugar.  We are able to analyze the efficiency of our transformation after counting the number of colonies that fluoresce after being transformed and cultured on an agar plate that contains LB media, ampicillin, and arabinose.  

My pictures aren't as clear as the ones on wikipedia, but I think they're super cool anyway.

Downside: glow-in-the-dark E. coli tarnishes my memories of my awesome retainer.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Art Appreciation: Kara Walker vs. Maya Lin

Starting in July I will be teaching a section of Art Appreciation at Southwest Tennessee Community College.  One of my favorite assignments in this class is to write a comparison essay about the work of two contemporary American artists who have many things in common while seeming to hold absolutely different ideas about what art can and should do for its audience.  These artists are Kara Walker and Maya Lin.  Both artists have been featured in the wildly popular PBS Art21 series.  Both are women.  Both are minorities.  Both use historical narrative in their work.  Both use reductive processes in their creative work and both do amazing things as they cut away at their media and the stories that they tell.

I've given this assignment several times and have seen students craft really interesting comparative essays about Walker and Lin.  So how are these essays useful?  What other contemporary thinkers share as much in common as these two while producing such radically different work?  Is reading about the raging disagreement of E.O. Wilson vs. Richard Dawkins just a more sophisticated version of watching MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch-- of course not.  But in order to understand the conversation we can't just take a side, we have to work to understand the worldview that shapes each side on its own.  We have to participate in the conversation.

There is an anecdote about Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel that describes how Darwin sailed the seas carrying information about Mendel's research without ever opening the envelope in which that research had been sealed.  I think we all wonder what progress could have been made in the early stages of genetic research had the two men been able to fuse the results of their research rather than relying on later scholars to make connections or engage in debate about the meaning and relationship of their ideas.

So here is my question:  which two contemporary monoliths would you throw into the cage together and what would you expect to gain through their discussions?

Special thanks today goes to The University of Memphis Biological Sciences Facebook page for working to make connections among students of biology through a series of gentle nudges toward interesting research material, generally presented via photographs of cute animals (because on the internet cute baby animals are king!).