Saturday, December 24, 2011

Science Saturday: Christmas Edition

Merry Christmas from this science nerd to you!!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Science Saturday 1.8: Higgs Boson, Tiny Frogs, & More

*Disclaimer: I am in NO WAY a science writer/journalist.  I will most likely get some facts wrong (hopefully not).  I simply want to share news that I find interesting.  Knowing that my blog readers are most likely not science people, I will try to explain what I can in the simplest way possible so that anyone can learn something about science today.*

A very common procedure in biological research is western blotting, a technique used to transfer samples to a membrane and use antibodies to detect specific proteins from the sample.  Well a couple weeks ago, I successfully completed my very own western blot from some of our research samples.  The dark bands show detected protein in each of the 4 sample lanes.  It may not be a textbook image, but I'm happy that I was actually able to see something (after a couple failed attempts).
My very first western blot!
A couple days ago, researchers at CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) announced that two ongoing experiments independently observed what could be hints of the Higgs boson, a hypothetical particle predicted by physicists to be the basis for the Standard Model of particle physics.  If discovered, the Higgs boson would complete this model, confirming how particles obtain their mass.  If never found, it would completely change the way we understand physics.  This infographic sums it up quite well:
Physicists have searched for it for years, but what is the Higgs boson supposed to do, exactly? A LiveScience infographic explains.

Meet Paedophryne dekot (A,B) and Paedophryne verrucosa (C,D).  At 8-9 millimeters in length, they are the world's tiniest frogs found in Papua New Guinea.
Featured microbe: Aspergillus flavus
This fungus is a common problem with stored grains.  It produces aflatoxin, a dangerous toxic compound that when accumulated after ingestion can cause liver cancer.  It is also associated with aspergillosis, a severe lung infection.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Shout Out to LvB!

Today marks the presumed birthday of one a composer near and dear to my heart - Ludwig van Beethoven.  Just like every young pianist, 10 year old me loved Fur Elise.  Just like every piano performance major, I became familiar with all of the 32 piano sonatas and their impact on shaping the romantic era from the classical era (your music history lesson for the day).  Just like every music lover, I believe Beethoven's music is passionate, emotional, and transcendental.

I thought I would share one of the pieces I performed for my senior recital - Fantasia on an Ostinato by John Corigliano, a well known contemporary composer.  This particular piece explores the famous rhythmic motive of the 2nd movement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony in a minimalist style.  It starts off with one driving note, builds to a harmonic wash of sound in the middle, and ends with a quote of the symphonic theme near the end.  It's about 12 minutes long, so grab a cup of tea, snuggle by the fire, and enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I survived another semester of graduate school!!  Final exams are over and I checked my grades today - this is by far the best semester I've ever had.  I was 1 point away from getting an A in one of my classes, which means I could've made a 4.0 for the first time in history!  But I'm very happy with my achievements this semester, and I am motivated to try and make a 4.0 in the spring for my last and final semester!

I did a little blog makeover - the right sidebar now contains image links to my shop, as well as an archive of all Science Saturday posts (I know, I know...I haven't posted one in a while.  There will be one this Saturday, so stay tuned!).

Speaking of my shop, have you checked it out yet?  If you have some last minute Christmas shopping to do, consider buying handmade!  If you place your order by this weekend, I will throw in a bonus gift for FREE - cool, huh?!  I won't tell you what it have to order to find out ;)

2 out of 5 grad school applications are submitted, and hopefully I will be done with the others before Christmas.  My future is in God's hands and I can't wait to find out what is going to happen with my academic endeavors!  I need to not stress about it and know that the Lord will reveal his plan for me in HIS timing.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11

Our church Christmas concert is this Sunday night, and I'm quite excited.  Matt has worked so hard with the choir, and I think the program is really well done.  I'm so proud of my hubby for using his musical talents to serve in ministry.  I think he has really inspired the choir members and built their confidence to use their talent to praise the Lord.

Christmas is almost here, and we get to go HOME!!  After church on Christmas Day, we will hop into our rental car and make the lovely 900 mile drive to WI so we can spend a couple weeks with family and friends.  I miss the Midwest so much.

Matt and I have spent the day crocheting (yes, my husband crochets, too) and watching movies (so far we've watched Apocalypse Now (he had never seen it!) and Star Trek...and it's time to pick out what's next.  Have a great evening!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Happy birthday to me! I don't know why, but 27 feels a LOT older than 26 did...maybe because it is that much closer to 30? Eek! Honestly, I don't really mind the increasing number of my age because I still act like I am a five-year old :) I'm just happy to be living my life and thankful for all God has blessed me with. Let's see if I can come up with some random facts from each of my years on this Earth...

1 - Enjoying the simple life - eat. sleep. poop.
2 - First fell in love with music while watching Pavarotti sing on PBS.
3 - Being an only child is great! So much attention.
4 - Manika was born and I am loving being a big sister!
5 - Love modeling and want to grow up to be Miss America.
6 - Being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle would be cooler than being a model.
7 - Nathan was born and I love having a baby brother!
8 - Cried tears of joy upon watching the opening scene in Beauty and the Beast - soooo excited to see that movie!
9 - Overachieving "Chum" in AWANA at our new church. (I still know all the songs and pledges by heart!!)
10 - My love of science begins after dissecting a cow's eye and a worm in school. Not to mention our teacher was a real life Ms. Frizzle.
11 - Excelling in piano lessons - not loving having to "perform" at family gatherings.
12 - My love for Star Wars blossoms.
13 - My favorite musicals are Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables.
14 - I want to be an Egyptologist and mummified an old Barbie doll with toilet paper and "buried" her in a "tomb" in the crawl space in the basement.
15 - Cast in the first of many musicals.
16 - I play a mean game of Mario Party on N64. (Ballon Burst, Crazy Cutter, and Face Lift are the best mini-games)
17 - Kopp's Custard, Taco Bell, or McDonalds are consumed daily.
18 - High school is over, off to Lawrence University!
19 - Finally get my drivers license.
20 - I fall in love with Brahms.
21 - I unknowingly meet my future husband, Matthew James Mohns :)
22 - Jack Bauer is my hero.
23 - Depressed and stressed but blessed.
24 - A Bachelors degree in Music AND a Bachelors degree in Biology = unemployed college graduate
25 - Love being a wife!
26 - I'm moving to Mississippi?!
27 - I want to be a scientist when I grow up...let's make that happen.

Yeps...I've lived a quirky blessed life!! Here's for many more fun years to come!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Makin' a list...

Ah, December!  In a couple weeks we celebrate my 27th birthday and a couple weeks after that and we celebrate Christmas.  Which means I get to fawn over neat stuff that I don't really need but like to look at in hopes that someone will bequeath these items to me.

2011 has been the year of geeky T-shirts for me.  So what a way to end the year than to get some of the awesome apparel offered at (Isn't Ashley Eckstein aka Ahsoka Tano super cute?)

It has also been a year of new beginnings for what is hopefully going to be a wonderful journey towards a science career.  So how about some science books by one of my favorite science writers, Carl Zimmer?

November brought forth a bunch of new video games, which Matt and I WILL possess by the end of the year...

Or how about some gift cards for some craftypants stores?

But truly, my most favorite gift this December will be getting to go home to WI for a couple weeks to spend time with family!!  I miss them so!!!

What is on your wish list this Christmas?