Molecular Biology Stuff

First off, major accomplishment of the semester is the Starbucks Madison State St. baristas now know me by name.

Richard was teaching one of the undergrads how to use SerialCloner this morning.  Serial Cloner is an in-silica (in the computer) molecular biology tool.  We use it before we actually perform an experiment in wet lab.  SerialCloner simulates PCR and ligation so you can make sure all your primers and genetic tools work.  Richard says, “Ah, Kai.  You’ve used SerialCloner before.  What do you think the most fiddly part of it is?”  I responded, “Oh you mean besides all of it?”  Just kidding.  SerialCloner itself isn’t difficult to use as a piece of software, it’s just that molecular biology itself is difficult.  I’ve spent hours trying to figure out why my gene would not ligate in SerialCloner.  It’s always operator error.

Richard is taking a bunch of molecular biology undergraduates over to Microbial Sciences next tuesday where we will learn about Golden Gate cloning.  I don’t quite understand it yet, but I’ll be sure to fill y’all in when I find out next tuesday.

astrobotany tikhov and tsiolkovsky

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and G.A. Tikhov

I’m updating the Timeline of Astrobotany section of the website with some fun cartoon images.  Hopefully this will make the page more aesthetic…

2 VEGGIES on the ISS

Simon has informed me that there are now 2 VEGGIE plant growth systems on the ISS.  Apparently NASA is concerned about running 2 experiments at a time because of the light gradient between both units, so when the Gilroy Lab runs their next experiment, the other VEGGIE unit will be shut off.  This is to ensure there is no phototropic response from plants being worked with.

Tsiolkovsky says “Show me the Money”

As I updated the Timeline page, Simon, Richard and I discussed Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.  He is supposedly the father of spaceflight.  Simon says he has 3 famous quotes attributed to him: “Show me the money.“, “What’s the beef?” and “The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.”  He was kidding about the first two, but the third has aged well.

Let’s grow plants in space. – Kai