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Mittwoch, 12. Oktober 2016

The Nobel prize for a green-coloured protein

The 2008 Nobel prize package for chemistry (1.4 million Euros including the trip to Stockholm) went to Roger Tsien, Osamu Shimomura and Marty Chalfie for their work on a protein called GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein), a protein that glows green in the dark.

Osamu Shimomura had a lifetime work collecting and studying the crystal jellyfish (Aequorea Victoria) where this protein can be found (that’s why these animals are bioluminescent). Shimomura was the first one to isolate the pure GFP protein (1962)

Douglas Prasher had in the 80’s and early 90’s seminal papers reporting the isolation of the DNA that encodes for GFP. Without this work it wouldn’t have been possible to use this protein in organisms other than the Jellyfish. (GFP has nowadays several applications, many animals are glowing green right now...for medical investigation).



shine on blue
http://www.conncoll.edu/ccacad/zimmer/GFP-ww/images/shine0.jpg

Chalfie, who already by then made important discoveries on the neurologic architecture of worms (his papers were published in top class journals in the 80’s), got very interested in GFP after he heard a talk on bioluminiscence. He wanted to make their worms glow green using this protein and for this he contacted Prasher.

Unfortunately for Prasher, his money run out and couldn’t continue with his research on GFP, but as any other good-hearted scientist, he provided the material he created to many other scientists including Tsien and Chalfie. Chalfie, with this material, managed to make bacteria and his worms glow green (a paper published in “Science” 1994 where still Prasher was co-author).

Tsien, on the other hand, managed to improve the fluorescence of GFP by creating several mutant proteins (“Nature” paper in 1995).

To make a long story short, Shimomura, Tsien and Chalfie got the Nobel prize for GFP, while Prasher end up as a shuttle driver for a car dealership (for 10 dollar/hour).

As good gesture, Prasher was offered to assist to the Nobel Prize ceremony (it must had been something like going to the wedding of your ex-girlfriend) where he was acknowledged for his contribution to Chalfie and Tsien work.

In june 2010 Prasher was finally able to return to science with a small contract with a research firm. Later he was able to work in Tsien's lab (2012-2015)

Its not only important to know what you are doing, but also to be in the right place and the right time to have Nobel prize winning papers (or at least papers)

All the best to Prasher and those anonymous heroes who pave the way for the very few to the top. (Someone knows who or where are the guys that worked on those papers? And what are they doing now?)

Unluckily Roger Tsien passed away at the age of 64. It seems unexpected and he will be for sure missed by colleages, friends and all the community that got to know him (even through only his papers)

Sonntag, 16. September 2012

No crisis for the weapon industry


According to different sources, the world economy crisis did not stop the weapon industry to keep growing. More than 300 billion Euros of profit made the most important weapon industries only in 2010.

One can equivocally think that the weapon industry is to blame for the increasing world violence, and that the profit that they made could much better be invested in more loyal causes, but in reality are those that are buying  weapons the real entities to blame.  

Each country has its priorities and when a government  decides to invest much more in weapons than in education, then the weapon industries are not really to blame about it, but rather the people and organizations that keep flowing cash into their arcs for the acquisition of men-killing items

For one end, the weapon industries should pay higher taxes and should actively be engaged in the reconstruction of cities that were severely damaged by confrontations that are indirectly endorsed by the weapon industry.  This kind of measurements would try to balance the unfair profit that weapon industries made with the loss of human lives and destruction of entire countries.

Sonntag, 9. September 2012

The Pleasures of life

It is so easy to write about this topic. One only needs a 5 minute break to think about what really we like to do and what makes us happy.
We people are in many ways different, so what I write today is my personal opinion but I am quite sure that other people will agree with me in different points because what makes us happy is often common to different cultures and personalities.

I start with the most beloved activities:

1. Eating, especially when one is hungry and waited very long time for that dinner that probably is not the healthiest one. For example that oily cheese burger with fries and a Coke. Many times is rather quantity than quality what brings satisfaction because I know that eight tacos are better than two, and with eight ingested Tacos I will have the extra joy of the next day when they have to leave my body again. Ok... you can call me gross but its true and no matter what especially the female readers think, I know that returning them to the environment can be as pleasant as eating itself (I think men will agree with me).

2. None of us would be here if our papas and mamas wouldn’t have made out. And now we understand why we are like 7 billion people leaving right now. That is a lot of “loving” in only the past 100 years. An extra to this point is that different “loving” positions bring more joy than others during the, what can be described as, one of the most pleasant activities in the world.

3. Waking up every morning would not be the same without that bitter coffee that is washed off my tongue with a sip of water. 15 Minutes later I can feel my heart beating faster and I am ready for the day (This fabulous invention works also perfectly after lunch).

4. About chemical dependencies: In my case I got hooked up by the endorphins that are released in my body during sports. Especially when I exaggerate and I am about to pass out. It is like a „trip” and you can make it even better by jumping into mildly cold water (a pool, river, ocean, lake, etc.) and feel how your body is being again cooled down. That is simply an extraterrestrial feeling (Maybe that is one of the reasons why some people think I am a masoquist).

5. After an intensive week at work, music and even better with a cold beer, is the perfect remedy against all.

6. Meeting with good friends brings in any case joy, and when that is combined with point No. 5, because of an old arithmetic rule, it ends up being a double joy.

7. Sleeping, especially when is cold and rainy outside, bring not only joy but inner peace. So much that one thinks that our longest sleep, death, cannot be so bad after all. Maybe that is why we say when someone travels to the other side “rest in peace”.

Maybe these are some of the main joy bringers that one can wish for him/herself (at least for me). An extra point that married people or people in a relationship should mention (not only because it is true but also to avoid conflicts) is the romantic time one spends with the partner. Quality time that makes the road of life easier to travel (Additional information to be found in point 2)

I forgot that for many the perfect job or a promotion at work is a joy bringer, but one must remember that these moments might not come that often in comparison to points 1 to 7. However, we would still regard them as moments that bring happiness to our lives.

Extra joy bringers:

Drink a half litter of soda and burp as loud as possible
First fart of the day (Ladies… please…. You know it’s true)
To take a piss when you just can’t hold it anymore
Find money (doesn’t happen often)
Accomplish a goal, e. g. loose xx kilos, be champion of something, establish a new record,  save a determined quantity of money, run xx Km, lift xx kilos, complete a course, etc. In all these cases one needs a lot of motivation and hard work, but the reward is usually very high.

Sonntag, 2. September 2012

An unemployed returns to work


So, it is time. Today was my last day as unemployed.  After an 8 months break I finally found a job and that in a very attractive company. Happier than me can only be my mother, as she probably was more worried than me during this time. From the last day in my previous job until now I have collected a bunch of experiences and learned a lot. Today I will not write about why I changed my job (maybe some other time) but I will write about my experience in the last months as unemployed. 

I can say that right from the beginning as an unemployed I felt so relieved and comfortable, probably because I was overworked and burned out of all the duties and pressure I had in my previous jobs.  Right from the beginning as unemployed I tried to use my free time (that is my whole time) as effective as possible in learning new things like….THE GERMAN LANGUAGE! I had this desire very long time but because of the working hours I could not actively learn it as one would do with an intensive language course. I kept me busy for four months in different german courses with the goal of at least reaching the level B2 (with which one can theoretically assist to the university, which at some point was again in my plans). 

At the same time I promised myself to try to keep fit, since I neglected all about doing sports or at least doing some sort of physical activity. That is why I am going to the gym now at least 2 times per week and this motivation had also a positive effect in my wife’s attitude towards training, who although does not have the time because of her work, tries to go to the gym as well.

In the past months I met many interesting people and made new very good friends from who I will probably be writing about another time

But not everything was a blue sky, since the unemployed must actively look for a new job, and that is exactly what I was also doing. From 64 applications I received only 5 invitations for interviews. I received on a weekly basis the „No thanks, but wish you all the best in your future endeavours“ email and I had days where I could only seat in front of the computer  waiting for the next declining.

This sort of stress was a little bit increased by the fact that I was feeling “a bit” guilty for receiving the very generous allowance of the state for being unemployed, and that as a foreigner. This was in fact more than I monthly received during my doctoral studies when I used to have the 60 hours/week .
I knew that I deserved this assistance from the state, since I paid my unemployement insurance, but I wanted to return to the productive side of the society and pay my taxes again.
I knew also that a very long break can be a carrier killer so I pushed me harder in looking for a new job. However I still kept myself busy swimming in the Danube, training in the gym, cleaning the house and cooking new recipes, things that I did not do before and I really enjoyed doing them.

After seven months, my wife and I had a good feeling about one of my applications in a company in which I pictured myself pretty well working in, and that in a field that was relatively new and very interesting to me.
And one day the offer was glowing in my email. I did not think too long to sign the contract, because to me looked like a dream job. Some days later I signed the contract and I have now only 36 hours until I can start my new job. To this job I will bring loads of experience and I will try to avoid those mistakes that I made in the past. I can already mention that a work is nothing more than an occupation, one likes very much to do and this should not be intoxicated with superfluous and needless expectations imposed by oneself or by the boss (about that I would also be writing later)