panel3 copy

Of Artificial Radiation and Natural Genius: The Chemistry of Irène Joliot-Curie (Women In Science 29)

  Radioactivity is a great thing. Terrible, but great. The medical applications of radioactively tagged molecules, as Rosalyn Yalow proved, are legion, and have saved millions of lives since their introduction. Tricky thing, though – the big atoms that tend to be radioactive also tend to be achingly rare and …

panel1 copy

Queen of Carbon: The Ongoing Materials Science Legacy Of Mildred Dresselhaus (Women In Science 27)

  Carbon. Its astounding versatility is matched only by our total and historic complacency in the face of its wonders. “Carbon? Whatever – it’s, like, all over the place. Now, protactinium, there’s an element…” Working on the logic that exotic elements must breed exotic properties, and intoxicated by the trans-Uranium …

panel1 copy

The Secret Life of Hormones: Rosalyn Yalow and the Discovery of Radioimmunoassaying

There’s an unsung immensity in the craft of Measuring Things Better. Within our twisting cleverness for developing better and better measurement tools there lies the secret of our advancement not only as science-doers, but as a species generally. The dramatic potential for improving human life through better measurement has no …


Molecular Gastronomy: Play with your food!

This post is based on a Sandbox interactive session I ran as a part of the SkepchickCON track at CONvergence 2014. There were so many people excited to try their hand at molecular gastronomy that we couldn’t fit everybody in. I also performed this demo at Science, Neat: CHOMP in …

Bubble Universe Cocktail

The Science of Bubbles + Bubble Universe Cocktail

This post is based on a demonstration I gave in the Skepchick Space Lab at CONvergence 2014 on the science of bubbles. If you saw the demo and came to check out the blog, welcome! (My post about the molecular gastronomy Sandbox will be up next week!) Below is a …

BiologyChemistryGeekeryMetaScienceScience & Nature

Life is not a ladder. Or, really, a tree.

I’m going to stand on a soapbox for a second and talk about life. In particular, I’m going to talk about evolution. In a lot of common parlance, and a lot of media, we refer to evolution as something like a ladder — think the terrible image I used as …

BiologyChemistryScienceScience & NatureVisual Art

Biological Units: The Strength of A Single Cell

Several recent papers have proposed methods of seeing huge numbers of individual RNA molecules within a cell. I suspect that half the appeal of these methods is the beautiful images they generate. But they’re significant largely because they allow us to pick apart biology at an increasingly tiny scale — …

BiologyChemistryPhilosophyScienceScience & Nature

Stem Cells, Stressed Cells, Healing, and the Lure of Rejuvenation

A recent study in Nature, entitled “Stimulus-triggered fate conversion of somatic cells into pluripotency“, suggests that subjecting cells to dangerous but non-lethal conditions (such as a bath in acid, or a mechanical squeeze) can turn them into stem cells. Unsurprisingly, this publication set off a bit of a media blitz, …