The Happiness List

a smile, a hug, a simple thing

90% spazzing about KPOP
10% spazzing about other things
100% my life



Balls and Sticks
Biology is applied chemistry, chemistry is applied physics, and physics is applied maths. But nature cares little for the traditional lines separating the disciplines. And cutting-edge laboratories reflect this increasingly by encouraging researchers to work in interdisciplinary teams. For example, biophysicists discovered that by mutating four genes associated with an enzyme found in all our cells (CGI of the protein, in red and blue, pictured), they disturbed the finely-tuned electrostatic field (represented by white lines) that surrounds the molecule and controls its shape, and how it attracts vital chemicals. Because even mild defects in the enzyme can cause a rare mental disability called Snyder-Robinson syndrome, it’s critical that biologists explain how complex molecules work in as much detail as possible. For that, they need to understand physics and even quantum mechanics. Ball-and-stick models won’t do anymore.
Written by Tristan Farrow

Yoshihiko Ikeguchi, Josai University, Japan 
Emil Alexov, Clemson University, USA
Originally published under a Creative Commons Attribution license
Published in PLoS Computational Biology 9(2): e1002924

Delivering drugs right to the heart of cancerous tumours is a challenging task. They must reach their dangerous target – which may be deep within tissues – without alerting immune cells that police the body for foreign invaders. Scientists are now tackling this predicament by camouflaging drugs in nanoparticles coated with membranes from leukocytes [white blood cells]. Unlike naked nanoparticles, these tiny disguised pouches raise no suspicion. And what’s more they behave like white blood cells, using their borrowed membranes en route to wriggle through barriers, such as blood vessels, as they home in on their target. Such coated particles, known as ‘leukolike vectors’ bring the prospect of more effective treatment for previously inaccessible cancers.
Written by Georgina Askeland

UK Scientists Print Human Stem Cells with a 3D Printer

A group of scientists in the UK and Scotland have successfully printed human stem cells using a “valve-based cell printer” which utilizes bio-inks to fabricate clusters of viable stem cells that can become any type of cell in your body.

New Prime Number Discovered!

Dr. Curtis Cooper of the University of Central Missouri has found the new largest prime number, which has 17,425,170 digits. This is the third record-breaking prime number Dr. Cooper has discovered through software provided by the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search project, which was established in 1996 to find new numbers that can only be divided by 1 and itself. The mathematician will receive a grant of $3000 for his latest discovery.

Beautiful, ominous, and surprising, these are the winners of the 2012 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. For 10 years, the competition — sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the journal Science — has celebrated the creators of visually striking, informative, and original art. The 2012 winners were just announced. From glowing corals to spiky seeds to neural networks on a chip, these images speak more clearly — and louder — than any report ever could.
See the rest of the winners over @ Wired Science.

Half a Million DVDs of Data Stored in Gram of DNA

Paleontologists routinely resurrect and sequence DNA from woolly mammoths and other long-extinct species. Future paleontologists, or librarians, may do much the same to pull up Shakespeare’s sonnets, listen to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, or view photos. Researchers in the United Kingdom report today that they’ve encoded these works and others in DNA and later sequenced the genetic material to reconstruct the written, audio, and visual information.
The new work isn’t the first example of large-scale storage of digital information in DNA. Last year, researchers led by bioengineers Sriram Kosuri and George Church of Harvard Medical School reported that they stored a copy of one of Church’s books in DNA, among other things, at a density of about 700 terabits per gram, more than six orders of magnitude more dense than conventional data storage on a computer hard disk. Now, researchers led by molecular biologists Nick Goldman and Ewan Birney of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Hinxton, U.K., report online today in Nature that they’ve improved the DNA encoding scheme to raise that storage density to a staggering 2.2 petabytes per gram, three times the previous effort.
To do so, the team first translated written words or other data into a standard binary code of 0s and 1s, and then converted this to a trinary code of 0s, 1s, and 2s—a step needed to help prevent the introduction of errors. The researchers then rewrote that data as strings of DNA’s chemical bases: As, Gs, Cs, and Ts. At the storage density achieved, a single gram of DNA would hold 2.2 million gigabits of information, or about what you can store in 468,000 DVDs. What’s more, the researchers also added an error correction scheme, encoding the information multiple times, among other tricks, to ensure that it could be read back with 100% accuracy.

Tube Breakdown
By Dr. Peijun Zhang, Structural Biology, University of Pittsburgh
Depicted is an electron tomography image of degenerating neurons from ion regulatory protein (IRP) knockout mice, which develop progressive neurodegenerative symptoms that resemble human movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. The 3D tomogram was reconstructed from a series of TEM projection images tilted from -70° to +70° with an interval of 2°, and then segmented based on structural features, and presented with volume rendering.
Image: The artwork illustrates a volume-rendered representation of an axonal section in the IRP knockout mouse brain, displaying the axonal membrane (purple), the oligodendrocyte membrane and myelin sheath (blue), neurofilaments (pink), and invaginated double-walled vesicles containing the oligodendrocytic cytoplasm and ferritin molecules (red dots).

Stem cell differentiation is an important part of the body’s development and repair. Through complex genetic regulation and epigenetic reprogramming, pluripotent or totipotent stem cells will receive signals that cause them to differentiate into a particular cell type. There are many lineages leading to the many different cell types that make up complex organisms, and some are highly implicated in novel disease treatment.
Recently, scientists in the Neuroregeneration Laboratory at McLean Hospital (an affiliate of Harvard Medical School) have found that different types of neurons can be grown from human stem cells, including patient-specific induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. This has profound clinical consequences in the treatment of neurodegenerative synucleopathies, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s - particularly because the types of neurons that can be grown from stem cells are relevant to those diseases. New research has also shown that dissociated primordial neurons and stem cells implanted into the adult central nervous system can grow to reconnect neuronal pathways, forming physiological and molecular links with pre-existing tissue. Stem cells have also recently been reprogrammed in another landmark breakthrough - it seems whatever way you look at it, stem cells are the future!
Image Source: McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

You know, I could’ve waited a week before I tried coding solutions to all 403 problems in this site.

I’ve only solved about 5 and I keep wanting to code more. Sigh.