How We Learned About Viruses and What They’ve Taught Us About Life

Viruses have been and continue to be a puzzle to solve, and the more we learn about them the more we learn about fundamentals of life in general. Until the electron microscope and the ultracentrifuge became available from 1935 to 1940, no one could see or chemically analyze a virus. But over 40 years earlier,... Continue Reading →

From Da Vinci to a Constraint Problem

I was going through a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, and the following short passage caught my attention. To heat the water for the stove of the Duchess, take four parts of cold water and 3 parts of hot water. "Cold water" and "hot water" are both vague terms. But given that this was... Continue Reading →

Themes Common to Chemistry, Biology and Society

It does not often occur to us that there are four common themes shared by chemistry, biology and human societies: unity, continuity, diversity and interaction. Unity There is unity in chemistry because all matter consists of atoms subject to nature’s four forces. With the intake of the appropriate energy, the electrons of any substance, and... Continue Reading →

From Star Trek to Diamonds: Carbon Chemistry

The first time I encountered the word “meme” was in a Richard Dawkins book prior to the age of the internet. “Meme” meant an original idea that outlived an individual--- like a gene. Now it’s come to signify a graphic, often propagandistic in nature, spread on cell phones and often without reflection. Having said that,... Continue Reading →

How the Ju|’hoan Make Poison Arrows

When I was a child, my grandmother taught me how to make arrows from the softwood of a poplar, a tree that was abundant in the woods that we could step into from my backyard. Later in adolescence, biased from the movies that I watched,  I perceived arrows to be "primitive". It is another case... Continue Reading →

Icicle Adventures

Despite below freezing temperatures, ice can melt in sunlight. This indicates that ice molecules can easily get agitated to above freezing temperatures even if surrounding air molecules have less energy of motion. If the melt-water runs down an edge, heat can be taken away again from the dripping water. An icicle begins to form. If... Continue Reading →

Economics Vs. Environment: A False Dichotomy

The false dichotomy of economics versus environment has long existed because it is unfortunately too easy to sweep health and environmental costs under the rug or to have government consistently pick up the bill for consequences of short-sighted "growth". Here's a letter sent to the Economist by former World Bank, senior vice president, Vinod Thomas,... Continue Reading →

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