Friday, 13 November 2009

you scream, i scream OMG ICE CREAM

before my nerd mood expires (summer holidays, aw yeah boi), here's the 2009 nobel prizes in a nutshell:

nothing particularly mind-blowing here. ever done cell biology 101? then you might remember ribosomes. basically every cell in your body makes rna, and ribosomes translate rna into proteins. it's not as interesting, exciting and shiny as jellyfish science, but it's probably one of the more applicable discoveries in recent decades.

got a sore throat? taking antibiotics for it? half the time those antibiotics are designed to attack bacterial ribosomes, but not yours. see. science works. like magic. in your face, harry potter.

physiology and medicine

now, this is interesting stuff. you never really think about it, but every time your cells divide, it loses a bit of its dna. just like how i lose a bit of my soul every time i watch a harry potter movie. really, sometimes the pain is physical. but then, emma watson appears and makes it all better. i digress.

so, without going into the intricacies of how cells divide, let's just take for granted that your chromosomes (the bits of dna in your cells) have to copy themselves each time your cells divide. if every time they divided, they lost a bit at their ends, that effectively gives a form of mortality to the dna, right? you could divide only so many times before you ran out of dna. well, it's kind of like that - at the ends of each chromosome, you have these dna fragments which don't really code for anything (remember that dna is a template for loads of things, from proteins to regulatory cues to trna... yeah let's not go there). but you can't really keep cutting off the ends and losing information...

so you have these telomeres, which are non-coding dna repeats, that your cell can afford to lose each time it divides. still, that just means you've got a head start for division, but these telomeres are gonna run out at some point, right? yes and no. most cells in your body do have this limitation, about 50 divisions and it's done. throw in the towel. long kiss goodnight. wipe yourself off, you dead.

but some special cells have the enzyme telomerase, which just makes new telomeres. pretty neat, huh. well, i hope i didn't bore anyone too much. here, have a picture of emma watson. or daniel radcliffe, if you prefer.

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