Sep. 21st, 2013 08:08 pm
tanarill: (Science!)
[personal profile] tanarill
In the original Greek, a symposium was rather like a Roman orgy - that is, you and some of your friends got together to eat a nice meal and drink some drinks and debate philosophy; in modern times, it would be called a "dinner party." But in Science!, symposiums means "when a bunch of scientists get together and tell each other about the cool things that they are doing." At my school, we have one each year, just before school starts, to welcome the incoming grad students. It was yesterday.

I will not bore you with the details, but here are some highlights:
1. Using embryonic stem cells to grow retinal cells, which are then implanted into the eyes of people suffering age-related macular degeneration. If it is done early enough, there is no degeneration.
2. Molecular motors that pump DNA into viral capsids. These are not the most efficient motors we have found, but they are among the strongest, exerting forces of of up to 70 pN. (For comparison, the motors that drive muscle cells can exert between 3 and 5 pN.) Also, they make things spin.
3. A 10-minute drug test that will enable police with the device to determine if someone has been doing meth (and in the future, other narcotics) from 20 uL of saliva. There are 1000 uL in each milliliter, so we are talking less than the volume of saliva that is in your mouth right now. Least invasive, fastest test.
4. A growing mass of cells is under both tension (at the edges) and compression (in the middle). When the forces balance, the cell mass stops growing. Unless it's cancer.

Today, for no good reason that I can tell, half the power in this house is out. I mean, half the circuits are not working, but which ones are not working seems kind of random and arbitrary. I can't find the fuse box, so I will have to wait until the landlady returns.

[flashbacky effects]
Sunday! The wedding! Yaakov and Caryn got married! I do not have much to say, aside from the fact that Yaakov was crying with joy as he walked to the Khuppa*. They are pretty much for each other, and everyone has known this forever. He did not propose until he finished his degree, which is a good and responsible thing to do.

The MC was Orthodox but not crazily so, as evidenced by his first statement, to whit: "Mawwige. Mawwige is what bwings us togevow today." The whole wedding was like that, which various people reading the Seven Blessings, and the drinking of the wine, and the smashing of the glass, and the (not-necessary in a functional sense) exchange of rings, and toasting.

Then we partied, and partied, and did the terrifying chair dance, and partied, and ate some food, and partied. It was pretty great.

Yes, the wedding is why I went to Michigan during Hell Month. But if your close good friend, your best-friend while you were in middle school, gets married . . . you go to the wedding :)
[flashbacky wavy effects]

*Marriage tent. Think altar, though, if you are Christian, functionally it works the same way.
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