Monday, December 11, 2006

Teaching tip #5 - a quick survey tells you where they fell

You are a good teacher...not doubt about it! You care and your students know that! But did they get everything you wanted them to get? Did they reach YOUR objectives? After class, ask them to write on a sheet of paper what THEY think was the most important message of your lecture. If it was in line with your own objectives...bulls eye! If not...next time make sure to come back on the last lecture. Easy!!!

A new nail in the intelligent design's coffin!

A new paper published in Nature indicates that an increase in atmospheric oxygen levels might have "stimulated the evolution of macroscopic multicellular animals and the oxygenation of deep oceans".

This new oxygenation is considered as a very stressful event in our planet natural history because oxygen usage means free radicals production and protein (and DNA) damage. It would be very interesting to compare phylogenetic data from anti oxidant and DNA repair proteins. If this theory is right, we should be able to correlate atmospheric/ocean oxygen increase with cellular molecular protection.

Reference: Fike, D.A., et al. (2006) Oxidation of the Ediacaran Ocean. Nature, December 2006, p 744-747.

Teaching tip #4 - DO YOU CARE ENOUGH?

I read this somewhere:

"People do not care about what you know until they know how much you care".

Caring is the MOST important thing when it comes to teaching. It does not matter if you are a seasoned professor or a novice...if you do not care, it shows or it will show very quickly. Students are not idiots and they will not care either. If you should ever stop caring, take a break. You might be burned out, or begin to be. If after that break you still do not care, your flame is out......choose another career...for the students sake!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Nanotechnology as pollution?

Nanotechnology holds big promises. Nanotechnology could even, a day, revolutionize the way we treat or prevent disease, the way we look, the way we think and even the way we go to war.

Nanotechnology is as inspiring as year 2000 was, back in the 50's. It is far away but still it is already here. The problem is this, nanotechnology could, one day, be a very big problem. How do we get rid of microscopic things that do not respond to medication, antibiotics or antivirals. We already thought of creating new devices that seem promising, but have we thought of poential solution to real future problems? Some particles could be so small, there is a potential for them to be endocytosed by some tissues. They could gain access to vital organs like the brain, kidneys or liver. G√ľnter Oberd√∂rster is a researcher in the field of nanotoxicology and his studies prove that nanoparticles can gain access inside the body through inhalation.

At the cell level, those nanoparticles can be ingested by specialized cells called macrophages. These cells, that have evolved to destroy microorganisms, can move from blood circulation to tissues and back to blood. This way, they can transport nanoparticles to tissues. These cells, when they die, will spill this nanopollution. Nanoparticles, many of them, have a very stable form. Bucky tubes and bucky balls are made of carbon and their molecular configuration makes them as stable as diamond (which is also carbon). Once in the tissues, they could stay there for a very long time and nobody can predict what can happen.

We, humans, have this problem....we create problems to which we have no solutions. Silly human race....