Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 19th, 2011

Gamers solve decade-old protein-folding puzzle

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Good scientific work by gamers. Thanks to The Eldest for the pointer. The article begins:

Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or Dungeons and Dragons: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.

The exploit is published on Sunday in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, where — exceptionally in scientific publishing — both gamers and researchers are honoured as co-authors.

Their target was a monomeric protease enzyme, a cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses, a family that includes HIV.

Figuring out the structure of proteins is vital for understanding the causes of many diseases and developing drugs to block them.

But a microscope gives only a flat image of what to the outsider looks like a plate of one-dimensional scrunched-up spaghetti. Pharmacologists, though, need a 3-D picture that “unfolds” the molecule and rotates it in order to reveal potential targets for drugs.

This is where Foldit comes in.

Developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, it is a fun-for-purpose video game in which gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — using a set of online tools.

To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks. . .

Continue reading. And here’s the story (with much more technical detail) in The Scientist.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 September 2011 at 8:32 am

Overcast sunrise over the Bay

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Yesterday morning the sky was completely overcast save for a narrow band of clear sky just on the horizon. The sunlight streamed through this flat, low window to glimmer toward me across the bay, the sun totally hidden in the gray (tinted with rouge) clouds above. In the photo you can see the sun behind the clouds, but to the eye, the sky was this rose-grey flatness with a golden bar lying across the Bay.

The picture is just to give you a rough idea. The view is from my balcony.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 September 2011 at 8:13 am

Posted in Daily life

Fine shave to kick off shaving-cream week

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This week I’ll be using shaving creams each day, and I begin with one that’s quite good but no longer available: an artisanal shaving cream offered by Giovanni Arbate at Razor and Brush when that was still active.

But I began with a pre-shave prep. I’ve not yet found anything that much improves over a simple wash at the sink with MR GLO (Musgo Real Glyce Lime Oil soap), but I ordered bunch of sample aftershaves from The Shave Den store and a small sample of their pre-shave balm was included. I liked the list of ingredients, so I gave it a go this morning.

I wet my beard at the sink, squeezed out some of the balm (which is quite thick), and smeared it over my (two-day) stubble and worked it in with my fingers. I then left it in place while I showered.

Once back at the sink, I washed my beard with MR GLO, worked up the lather with my new Frank Shaving brush in Finest, custom-selected for me by a Frank Shaving aficionado. I got a fine lather, and the brush held plenty—but for the real test, I must use it with soap (though a trial lathering right after I got it indicated no problems in that area).

This is the first outing of my Merkur “sledgehammer” Slant, with the heavy handle having fine spiral engravings. I took the precaution of brushing my fingertips over the alum bar before picking up the razor, and that gave me a grip that eliminated any tendency to slip—but I still don’t like the spiral engraving. Chequering, IMO, would have been better.

Still, with the previously used Iridium Super blade, I got a smooth shave: three passes with no problems, nicks, or cuts. A final rinse, and a good splash of The Shave Den Victorian Rose aftershave—feels good, smells great. I bought the aftershaves in the travel/sampler bottles so I could try a lot.

It was a very smooth and nice shave, but I’m not sure how much of that is the pre-shave balm. I will say that this balm seems as though it might actually help. I’ll use it again tomorrow, with a regular shave, then save the rest for use with shaving soap shaves: shaving-soap lather seems more delicate than shaving-cream lather: hard water, for example, has little effect on robust shaving-cream lather but can make shaving-soap lather difficult.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 September 2011 at 8:09 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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