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wasting time wasting time…

March 31, 2007

Check this out:  http://cad-comic.com/comic.php?d=20070331
That seems to be a very popular opinion.  Can’t wait ’til classes calm down enough that I have a life again and can put linux back on my compy.
In other news.  I’m still at UIUC.  The visit is over, but my plane doesn’t leave for a few hours, so I’ve got nothing much to do.  Well okay, there is the article that one of the profs here gave me.  I could take care of some emails, or see if I can do any of my 463 assignment without the book, which is entirely possible.  We’ll see if any of that gets done.  Between now and then, I plan on wasting a lot of time online.  Hey, I’ve got three hours to kill before we catch a taxi to the airport.  Why aren’t any of you online?  (and by that I mean Katie and Yin, mostly because I want to hear about my guinea pigs)
So Illinois.  It’s a shame I don’t want boring midwestern yet.  This is such a fantastic school.  The research I heard about today was all really neat, the sort of projects I’d absolutely love to work at.  There’s a married couple here, the Schultans, who are doing some awesome stuff.  Some of you may remember me gushing about a group who modeled a whole virus using some pretty intense computer simulations, well that was Klaus Schultan.  What they’re doing is more interdisciplinary than most of the rest of chem, even though the whole science is interdisciplinary now anyway.  They’re taking biological systems and actually explaining them holistically, if I may be permitted to use such a social science type word.  For instance, Zan Luthey-Schultan is working on using an evolutionary approach (her poster definitely had the word “cladistics” on it) to explain the differences between the properties of bacteria and eukarya (why didn’t I get the memo that prokarya don’t exist anymore?) to design better antibiotics.  They look at the folds and active sites of bunches of similar proteins, which involves crazy pchem and computational work, and figure out which sites are important and different.  They track down the sites which are one way in higher organisms and somehow different in bacteria, and label those as good sites for drug design.  Right now, many antibiotics are targeted at sites which are in many of our proteins, as well as the proteins in the bacteria, which makes them very inefficient.  This work would allow much more efficient antibiotics to be designed.  Pretty kick ass stuff, and way broader a scope than you tend to see.  Klaus Schulten’s work is pretty similar in breadth.  The part he showed us was on understanding photosynthesis in bacteria.  They used pretty much every technique available to chemists (and related disciplines) to model the photosynthetic sites in bacteria, so that now they have the complete molecular picture, and how it changes when exposed to light.
I need to learn biochem.  This idea has been dawning on me slowly throughout the past month, as I realize that the people I want to work with are all into the bio side of things.  I don’t want to BE a biochemist, but I need to get a book and get reading, because I’m going to need this probably in whatever group I end up in.  Think I can pay Marcie to teach it to me?  It’s amazing how bio-oriented this science is now, though.  I talked with three pchem theorists today and all three assumed I knew the basics of biochem.  It’s lucky that I’ve worked in Jim’s lab for son long, so that I can talk the talk enough to get by.  Just don’t ask me to draw leucine – I don’t know.
I’m so very excited about chemistry right now.  About how awesome it is.  You can tell, of course, by my use of exclamation points.  But yes.  I’m psyched to be heading to grad school and actually get to learn something really cool and just maybe useful.  I like the saying “A well educated man knows everything about something and something about everything.”  I feel like my BS has gotten me the second part decently well, and I’m really move on to become the world’s expert on something obscure and wonderful.  Yeah I just rewatched that Harvard video “The Inner Life of a Cell” (I highly recommend you find it on youtube.  Watch the three minute version unless you’re a biologist, and just how cool cells are on the inside).  That’s what really draws me about pchem.  Not figuring how which processes occur to cause life.  Blah, leave that to a biologist.  I want to know how those processes occur.  The self assemble of microtubules, the movement of motor proteins, and how translation works.  I don’t care what peptides are formed and what diseases they fight.  I just want to understand those systems because they’re so amazingly complex.  Like I told Yin the one time, I can see how an understanding of molecular biology or biochemistry leads to a belief in intelligent design – these structures are so amazingly complex, and there are SO MANY of them needed for something as complex as a human to function, it’s just amazing that it came about on it’s own, using just the laws of physics.
oi anyway.  I’ll shutup now.  I’m going to go pretend to be productive

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