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.


1 comment:

  1. Interesting! And congratulations on your successful western banding.

    Thank you for bringing back Science Saturday.