Monthly Archives: February 2013

60th anniversary of the discovery of the DNA double-helix

Sixty years ago today, Watson and Crick announced “their” discovery of the structure of DNA.

I put “their” in quotes, because we know that in reality, Watson and Crick had only postulated it was a double helix, while it was Rosalind Franklin that conclusively, definitively, and elegantly proved the structure was a double-helix.  Her data were surreptitiously removed from her lab by a colleague and shown to Watson and Crick without her knowledge or permission.

Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins produce sharp X-ray crystallographic images that prove crucial to solving the puzzle of the molecular structure of DNA.  Photo 51 is the best of the lot. In his best-selling book on the episode, Jim Watson admits to examining the photographs without Franklin’s permission.  Source.

Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins produce sharp X-ray crystallographic images that prove crucial to solving the puzzle of the molecular structure of DNA. Photo 51 is the best of the lot. In his best-selling book on the episode, Jim Watson admits to examining the photographs without Franklin’s permission. Source.

On Monday I stumbled upon this article about a letter that Him Watson wrote to his son Michael about the discovery (it’s being auctioned off in April).  Michael was only 12 at the time, so the description of the structure was interesting to me.

Our structure is very beautiful.  DNA can be thought roughly as a very long chain with flat bits sticking out.  The flat bits are called the “bases”.  The formula is rather like this… Source

So, for an explanation of DNA that a 12 year old could understand (complete with hand drawn diagrams), check out the letter in the New York Times.  To see the letter and read a full transcript, see here.  For more reporting on the story of how it came to be, when it was sent, and such, see here.

And for a quirky and British look at all that our understanding of DNA allows us to do (from identifying kings in car parks to horse meat hamburgers) check out this article.

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Tea Collection deals on Zulily today!

I’ve been sitting on some store credits from Zulily*, so I was super excited to see Tea Collection on sale today!  The sale amounted to about 50% off the regular prices, but with my credit, were even cheaper.

I love their girl’s clothes- patterns, (non-pink) colors, etc.

So these are what I picked up:

Two of them I got in a size 4 so they’ll be a little big right now, but Mabel will hopefully be able to wear them next year too.  The other I got in a size 3.

However, Mabel routinely wears dresses for a long time because this year’s dress is next year’s tunic with leggings!

*Full disclosure:  If you use the links in this email to join Zulily (you have to be a member to shop) and you purchase something, I will get a referral credit.  I’m pretty sure you can join without a referral if you want- or you can see if a friend has an account and use their referral link so they get the credit!

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Wordless Wednesday: Find that element


A Periodic Table including a picture of what you would find that element in. Source:  Anneka Tran

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Really? Breast Cancer Awareness had to go there?

This ad was in my inbox a while ago. Is this really going to sell pipets?PinkPage2

Needless to say, this ad didn’t prompt me to buy a pink pipet.

I was wondering if this kind of ‘awareness’ really helped anything, so I read this.

I was wondering how genuine the concern was for women’s health with all this ‘pink’ stuff, so I read this and this.

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The Sequester: Will it set science back far enough that the treatment that could save your life won’t be discovered in time?

I want to block out the constant barrage of news about “The Sequester.” It seems it’s all over the radio (or at least NPR) and TV (or at least Rachel Maddow), but I still didn’t feel like I had the whole story, so I turned to the internet.

I’m particularly concerned about this because it has the potential to decimate science.  My friends who are scientists at universities and other publicly funded research centers are taking to Facebook with pleas like “Sequester or not. Just let us know. We have real work to do and need to know if we have budget Plan A or Plan B.”

For researchers who rely on the NIH (National Institutes of Health), the NSF (National Science Foundation), DoD (Department of Defense), and other public funding sources, the mandatory, across the board cuts that The Sequester would impose will have direct impacts on their ability to conduct research.

In addition to fewer air traffic controllers (FAA, Federal Aviation Administration), meat inspectors (Food and Drug Administration), and less money for FEMA, it means less funding for research that could save your life.

It may seem abstract, or not critical to your daily life, but ask yourself:  Will The Sequester set science back far enough that the treatment that could save my life won’t be discovered in time?

If the answer (or the question) concerns you, contact your representatives in Congress and tell them to get their act together.

You can also speak up for science by signing the AAAS petition “Speak up for Science” by clicking here.

Wondering what The Sequester actually is?  Check here and here.

Want another opinion on what it could mean for science?  Check here and here.

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How a family grows

This is somewhat belated, but inspired by Kelly’s Show Us Your Life topic this week, I decided to post it.

Perhaps it’s the scientist in me, but I like to document things, particularly with photos.  I love to see the changes over time.  I love to look back and remember- recording things as we go.

I posted last year about Mac and I taking an annual anniversary photo, here.

We did it again this year, over Columbus Day weekend, so here is the updated version!

Our family, 2008 to 2012

Our family, 2008 to 2012

The largest photo was taken on our property in the Catskills on our wedding day in late September 2008.  We’ve taken a picture in that same spot each year since to document our growing family.

In 2009, I was pregnant with Mabel on our first anniversary.  In 2010 Mabel was in the picture with us.  In 2011, I was just a few weeks pregnant with Nemo.  This year, our fourth anniversary, we had Mabel and Nemo with us!

I love looking back.  Wonder what next year’s photo will capture!

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Babies: documenting their first year

I’ve written before, here,  about the monthly onsies that I used to document Mabel’s first year and the rapid changes she made.

Even though she just turned 3 YEARS old last month, I STILL haven’t gotten the pictures into the frame I registered for before she was born.  Now that Nemo is almost 9 months old, I’m figuring I might as well wait until he’s a year and I have all his photos, then I can do both at the same time!

I’m so glad that I took the time and expended the effort to take the pictures of Mabel.  I look back at the arrayed photos and just smile at how she was and how she’s changed.

Mabel's first year.

Mabel’s first year.

I don’t want to be accused of neglecting my second child, so I have kept up the effort with Nemo.

Nemo's first year (so far!)

Nemo’s first year (so far!)

When I was putting these two collages together, it was amazing how similar they look at the various ages.  What’s really funny is that Mabel was super cranky and uncooperative for her 7 month photo, so the best shot I got was her fussing.  Guess who did the same thing for his 7 month photos?  Nemo.  I considered putting in the picture of him crying, but since I did manage to catch him smiling, I used that one instead.

I’m so glad the picture frame with the slots for all the photos was still available (I have two of these Pearhead Time Frames) so that I can have both kids’ pictures matching.  Soon we plan to have Nemo and Mabel share a room, and I think it will be sweet to have both frames hanging in their room.

In addition to taking these photos every month, I took (am taking) both kids for pictures at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months at either JC Penney or Sears Portrait Studio.  After 12 months, I’ve just been going each year for a birthday portrait.  I ALWAYS use coupons, and am usually good about not spending more than $20 (which is totally feasible with the coupons!  See JCP coupons here, and Sears coupons here).

I’m not sure how long I’ll keep up the birthday portraits, since once the kids start school, we will get a picture each year, plus we go as a family for a Christmas portrait each year.  In the meantime, I cherish these!


This post was inspired by Kelly’s Korner: Show Us Your Life link-up.

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Out of the mouths of babes: Dinosaurs don’t make beds

The other day Mabel picked out a book from the library about Tyrannosaurus Rex.  It’s a little old for her:  too long, non-fiction, and lots of bloody meat hanging out of gaping jowls over bloody corpses.  She asks a lot of questions about what the dinosaurs are doing, why T. rex is biting the other dinosaurs, etc.

Let’s just say it’s no Brontorina Ballerina.

There was a section in the book about how tiny the T. rex’s arms were in comparison to the rest of its body.  Despite its enormity, T. rex’s arms were about the size of human arms.  Apparently (at least at the time of the writing of that book) scientists were speculating that the arms helped T. rex get up off the ground (since they couldn’t reach its mouth to help it eat).

In any case, Mabel asks to be read the book, and doesn’t seem to be having nightmares, so that’s fine.

Today I saw the following image on my Facebook feed from IFLS:

Source:  IFLS

Source: IFLS

I shared it with Mac, and asked him to show it to Mabel.

Her response:   “That’s silly. Dinosaurs don’t make beds! Is that his home?”

The concise analysis of a 3 year old.  Dinosaurs don’t make beds, but they may live in houses.

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Wordless Wednesday: More Fibonacci

IAcouple of weeks ago I posted some images and info about Fibonacci and the Golden Ratio (see here).

Here are some more images- see the pattern?

Source:  IFLS

Source: IFLS

As I said last time, What does it mean that this spiral is found everywhere, that the math is so elegant?  Not for me to say, but it’s pretty awe inspiring nonetheless.

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Every baby is a scientist.

This topic is panning out to be a favorite of mine.

I’ve posted before about how everyone is a scientist, how kids use the scientific method, how I’m not the only one who thinks this way, etc.

Here’s a great graphic to illustrate just how babies use the scientific method.

Source:  IFLS

Source: IFLS

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