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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Science of Food and Shampoo, but not simultaneously....

A grad student who has worked with my bioengineering class for a few semesters pointed out a visit from a faculty candidate who has a fun outreach! Once I saw what Amy Rowat does, I scrambled to be put on her visiting schedule and joined her for a lovely breakfast.

gummy/neutrophil.jpgWe talked a bit about her research on the physical properties of the cell nucleus, especially in terms of microfluidics and her interest in the unusual properties of the multilobed nucleus of the neutrophil. As you can see in the image on the left, that the nucleus looks different than the big sphere shaped ones we usually find in a diagram. This shape of nucleus helps the cell change shape and squeeze between the cells that make up the blood vessel.

A neutrophil is the most common white blood cell in the body. It is the first cell to leave the bloodstream and go into the surrounding tissue at the first signs of injury or infection. It is also the main component of pus. Neutrophils are well known for eating invading bacteria and below is a well known video shot in 1950s by David Rogers that shows a neutrophil chasing a bacteria in order to engulf it (also known as phagocytosis)



Dr. Rowat is currently at Harvard, and along with some colleagues, have presented Christmas
gummy/200px-Faraday_Michael_Christmas_lecture_detail.jpg Science shows (following in Michael Faraday's footsteps) based on "The Science of Food"! These are interactive discussions and experiments with audience participation about Chocolate and Pizza. This is real, creatively presented science and not the watered down version you might get on TV.  There are no videos but here is her website featuring the outreach. It is just a sampling, but you'll get the idea. This is an example of science outreach done well! I would love to see this in person sometime!

Maybe now you could use a tall, scientific drink after all that talk of food. Boing Boing just featured a great program given at the Exploratorium called The Science of Cocktails. I wish I could have attended that, too! Someone happened to soak gummy bears in vodka to see the results, a bit like I did with the water logged gummy bear on the liquid nitrogen gummy bears video. Take a look and be sure to watch the videos! Two of the videos are fun science tricks you can do at a restaurant and are demonstrated by the author of a book I own called  While You're Waiting for the Food to Come: A Tabletop Science Activity Book : Experiments and Tricks That Can Be Done at a Restaurant, the Dining Room Table, or Wherever Food Is Served (I've had my copy for years!!) 

While you are visiting BoingBoing you might also enjoy a couple of cool videos about chemistry and materials science on BoingBoing's Monday Morning Science Hoax .

Now, onto The Science of Shampoo. I found it via The Beauty Brains . It is by L'Oreal and shows many scientific ways that shampoo is tested for various characteristics. You will need to follow this link to view it. It is worth the detour.

Finally, I am going to point you to a very funny article in The Onion called Science Channel Refuses to Dumb Down Science Any Further Enjoy!

Until next time,

Kindly, Joanne

Tue, February 9, 2010 | link 


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