Tag Archives: chemistry

InnoCentive

InnoCentive is a Waltham, Massachusetts-based crowdsourcing company that accepts by commission research and development problems in engineering, computer science, math, chemistry, life sciences, physical sciences and business. The company frames these as “challenge problems” for anyone to solve. It gives cash awards for the best solutions to solvers who meet the challenge criteria.[1]

The idea for InnoCentive came to Alpheus Bingham and Aaron Schacht in 1998 while they worked together at Eli Lilly and Companyduring a session that was focused on exploring application of the Internet to business. The company was launched in 2001 by Jill Panetta, Jeff Hensley, Darren Carroll and Alpheus Bingham, with majority seed funding from Eli Lilly and Company. Darren Carroll led the launch effort and became the first CEO.

In 2005, InnoCentive was spun out of Eli Lilly with investments led by Spencer Trask of New York. In December 2006, shortly after Dwayne Spradlin took the helm as CEO, the company signed an agreement with the Rockefeller Foundation to add a non-profit area designed to generate science and technology solutions to pressing problems in the developing world. Between 2006 and 2009, The Rockefeller Foundation posted 10 challenges on InnoCentive with an 80% success rate.[2]

In February 2012, InnoCentive acquired UK-based OmniCompete.[3]

InnoCentive is a privately held, venture-backed firm headquartered near Boston in Waltham, Massachusetts, with a European office in London, UK. The company posts “Challenges” to its “Global Solver Community” in addition to internal Challenges—those targeted at private communities like employees, customers and suppliers.

InnoCentive’s solver community consists of over 355,000 people from nearly 200 countries,[4]

As of January 2014, there was a total of 355,000 users from nearly 200 countries. Aside from traditional science PhDs, the user group includes technicians, students and engineers. More than 50% of registered solvers come from Russia, India, and China. Most of the problem solvers are well-educated, with a majority (65.8%) holding a PhD. InnoCentive has also signed agreements with the Chinese and Russian national science academies. As motivation for Russian universities, for example, a solver’s academic department can get 10% of any award.[5]

Proteins

Proteins (/ˈprˌtnz/ or /ˈprti.nz/) are large biomolecules, or macromolecules, consisting of one or more long chains of amino acidresidues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within living organisms, including catalyzing metabolic reactions, DNA replication,responding to stimuli, and transporting molecules from one location to another. Proteins differ from one another primarily in their sequence of amino acids, which is dictated by the nucleotide sequence of their genes, and which usually results in protein folding into a specific three-dimensional structure that determines its activity.

A linear chain of amino acid residues is called a polypeptide. A protein contains at least one long polypeptide. Short polypeptides, containing less than 20-30 residues, are rarely considered to be proteins and are commonly called peptides, or sometimes oligopeptides. The individual amino acid residues are bonded together by peptide bonds and adjacent amino acid residues. The sequence of amino acid residues in a protein is defined by the sequence of a gene, which is encoded in the genetic code. In general, the genetic code specifies 20 standard amino acids; however, in certain organisms the genetic code can include selenocysteine and—in certain archaeapyrrolysine. Shortly after or even during synthesis, the residues in a protein are often chemically modified by posttranslational modification, which alters the physical and chemical properties, folding, stability, activity, and ultimately, the function of the proteins. Sometimes proteins have non-peptide groups attached, which can be called prosthetic groups or cofactors. Proteins can also work together to achieve a particular function, and they often associate to form stable protein complexes.

Once formed, proteins only exist for a certain period of time and are then degraded and recycled by the cell’s machinery through the process of protein turnover. A protein’s lifespan is measured in terms of its half-life and covers a wide range. They can exist for minutes or years with an average lifespan of 1–2 days in mammalian cells. Abnormal and or misfolded proteins are degraded more rapidly either due to being targeted for destruction or due to being unstable.

Like other biological macromolecules such as polysaccharides and nucleic acids, proteins are essential parts of organisms and participate in virtually every process within cells. Many proteins are enzymes that catalyze biochemical reactions and are vital to metabolism. Proteins also have structural or mechanical functions, such as actin and myosin in muscle and the proteins in the cytoskeleton, which form a system of scaffolding that maintains cell shape. Other proteins are important incell signaling, immune responses, cell adhesion, and the cell cycle. Proteins are also necessary in animals’ diets, since animals cannot synthesize all the amino acids they need and must obtain essential amino acids from food. Through the process of digestion, animals break down ingested protein into free amino acids that are then used in metabolism.

Proteins may be purified from other cellular components using a variety of techniques such as ultracentrifugation, precipitation, electrophoresis, and chromatography; the advent of genetic engineering has made possible a number of methods to facilitate purification. Methods commonly used to study protein structure and function includeimmunohistochemistry, site-directed mutagenesis, X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry.

In chemistry, hydrophobicity is the physical property of a molecule (known as a hydrophobe) that is seemingly repelled from a mass ofwater.[1] (Strictly speaking, there is no repulsive force involved; it is an absence of attraction.)

Hydrophobic molecules tend to be non-polar and, thus, prefer other neutral molecules and non-polar solvents. Hydrophobic molecules in water often cluster together, forming micelles. Water on hydrophobic surfaces will exhibit a high contact angle.

Examples of hydrophobic molecules include the alkanes, oils, fats, and greasy substances in general. Hydrophobic materials are used for oil removal from water, the management of oil spills, and chemical separation processes to remove non-polar substances from polar compounds.[2]

Hydrophobic is often used interchangeably with lipophilic, “fat-loving.” However, the two terms are not synonymous. While hydrophobic substances are usually lipophilic, there are exceptions—such as the silicones and fluorocarbons.

The term hydrophobe comes from the Ancient Greek ὑδρόφοβος, “having a horror of water”, constructed from ὕδωρ, “water”, and φόβος, “fear”.[3]

A hydrophilic molecule or portion of a molecule is one whose interactions with water and other polar substances are more thermodynamically favorable than their interactions with oil or other hydrophobic solvents.[2][3] They are typically charge-polarized and capable of hydrogen bonding. This makes these molecules soluble not only in water but also in other polar solvents.

Hydrophilic molecules (and portions of molecules) can be contrasted with hydrophobic molecules (and portions of molecules). In some cases, both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties occur in a single molecule. An example of these amphiphilic molecules is the lipids that comprise the cell membrane. Another example is soap, which has a hydrophilic head and a hydrophobic tail, allowing it to dissolve in both water and oil.

Hydrophilic and hydrophobic molecules are also known as polar molecules and nonpolar molecules, respectively. Some hydrophilic substances do not dissolve. This type of mixture is called a colloid.

An approximate rule of thumb for hydrophilicity of organic compounds is that solubility of a molecule in water is more than 1 mass % if there is at least one neutral hydrophile group per 5 carbons, or at least one electrically charged hydrophile group per 7 carbons.[4]

Hydrophilic substances (ex: salts) can seem to attract water out of the air. Sugar is also hydrophilic, and like salt is sometimes used to draw water out of foods. Sugar sprinkled on cut fruit will “draw out the water” through hydrophilia, making the fruit mushy and wet, as in a common strawberry compote recipe.

safe operating space

Footprint Calculator

How much land area does it take to support your lifestyle? Take this quiz to find out your Ecological Footprint, discover your biggest areas of resource consumption, and learn what you can do to tread more lightly on the earth.

There are limits to the individual’s ability to instigate major change on the Earth’s changing conditions. Many people indicated that, even after dramatically changing certain behaviors such as fuel usage, their scores were marginally changed (if at all) – and depending on which country you reside in, a certain allotment of environmental impact is prescribed via goods and services. Therefore, to reduce this allotment, collective action (through aggressive campaigning or swift policy changes) must take priority.

Of course, this is not to say that individual actions do not matter – indeed, collectivity is comprised of a large group of individuals. By committing to invest in solar rather than non-renewable energy sources or eliminating meat from your diet to reduce the amount of grains that must be grown to feed those animals or reducing time in the shower, you are advocating for the Earth and setting an example that others can follow.

At the rate things are going, the Earth in the coming decades could cease to be a “safe operating space” for human beings. That is the conclusion of a new paper published Thursday in the journal Science by 18 researchers trying to gauge the breaking points in the natural world.

Nine planetary boundaries
1. Climate change
2. Change in biosphere integrity (biodiversity loss and species extinction)
3. Stratospheric ozone depletion
4. Ocean acidification
5. Biogeochemical flows (phosphorus and nitrogen cycles)
6. Land-system change (for example deforestation)
7. Freshwater use
8. Atmospheric aerosol loading (microscopic particles in the atmosphere that affect climate and living organisms)
9. Introduction of novel entities (e.g. organic pollutants, radioactive materials, nanomaterials, and micro-plastics).

Prepared by researchers at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the study looks specifically at how “four of nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed as a result of human activity.” Published in the journalScience* on Thursday, the 18 researchers involved with compiling evidence for the report—titled ‘Planetary Boundaries 2.0‘—found that when it comes to climate change, species extinction and biodiversity loss, deforestation and other land-system changes, and altered biogeochemical cycles (such as changes to how key organic compounds like phosphorus and nitrogen are operating in the environment), the degradation that has already take place is driving the Earth System, as a whole, into a new state of imbalance.

The conclusion that the world’s dominant economic model—a globalized form of neoliberal capitalism, largely based on international trade and fueled by extracting and consuming natural resources—is the driving force behind planetary destruction will not come as a shock, but the model’s detailed description of how this has worked since the middle of the 20th century makes a more substantial case than many previous attempts.

“When we first aggregated these datasets, we expected to see major changes but what surprised us was the timing. Almost all graphs show the same pattern. The most dramatic shifts have occurred since 1950. We can say that around 1950 was the start of the Great Acceleration,” says Steffen. “After 1950 we can see that major Earth System changes became directly linked to changes largely related to the global economic system. This is a new phenomenon and indicates that humanity has a new responsibility at a global level for the planet.”

Resources

Bohrium

Uploaded on Aug 25, 2011

A new video about Bohrium, including footage from Darmstadt where the element was created and named.


In 1922 Niels Bohr received the Nobel prize for his work on sussing out the structure of atoms. For his outright brilliance he was given a house next door to the Carlsberg brewing company, and had a pipeline running from the brewery into the house so that he could have a never-ending supply of fresh beer on tap.

There are several studies that indicate that being drunk can actually improve your creativity. That’s because it prevents your mind from being able to focus, so it more readily drifts from one connection to another, which can yield creative solutions to problems.

So was free beer the reason why Bohr was able to make great strides in developing quantum mechanics?

How did life on Earth get started?

July 30, 2013

How did life on Earth get started? Three new papers co-authored by Mike Russell, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., strengthen the case that Earth’s first life began at alkaline hydrothermal vents at the bottom of oceans. Scientists are interested in understanding early life on Earth because if we ever hope to find life on other worlds — especially icy worlds with subsurface oceans such as Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus — we need to know what chemical signatures to look for.

Two papers published recently in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B provide more detail on the chemical and precursor metabolic reactions that have to take place to pave the pathway for life. Russell and his co-authors describe how the interactions between the earliest oceans and alkaline hydrothermal fluids likely produced acetate (comparable to vinegar). The acetate is a product of methane and hydrogen from the alkaline hydrothermal vents and carbon dioxide dissolved in the surrounding ocean. Once this early chemical pathway was forged, acetate could become the basis of other biological molecules. They also describe how two kinds of “nano-engines” that create organic carbon and polymers — energy currency of the first cells — could have been assembled from inorganic minerals.

A paper published in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta analyzes the structural similarity between the most ancient enzymes of life and minerals precipitated at these alkaline vents, an indication that the first life didn’t have to invent its first catalysts and engines.

“Our work on alkaline hot springs on the ocean floor makes what we believe is the most plausible case for the origin of the life’s building blocks and its energy supply,” Russell said. “Our hypothesis is testable, has the right assortment of ingredients and obeys the laws of thermodynamics.”

Russell’s work was funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute through the Icy Worlds team based at JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. The NASA Astrobiology Institute, based at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., is a partnership among NASA, 15 U.S. teams and 13 international consortia. The Institute is part of NASA’s astrobiology program, which supports research into the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life on Earth and the potential for life elsewhere.

Jia-Rui C. Cook 818-354-0850
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
jccook@jpl.nasa.gov

Hydrogen atom

In 1914, Niels Bohr obtained the spectral frequencies of the hydrogen atom after making a number of simplifying assumptions. These assumptions, the cornerstones of the Bohr model, were not fully correct but did yield the correct energy answers. Bohr’s results for the frequencies and underlying energy values were confirmed by the full quantum-mechanical analysis which uses the Schrödinger equation, as was shown in 1925–1926. The solution to the Schrödinger equation for hydrogen is analytical. From this, the hydrogen energy levels and thus the frequencies of the hydrogen spectral lines can be calculated. The solution of the Schrödinger equation goes much further than the Bohr model however, because it also yields the shape of the electron’s wave function (“orbital”) for the various possible quantum-mechanical states, thus explaining the anisotropic character of atomic bonds.

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_atom

Modern Quantum Mechanics (2nd Edition)

Quantum Mechanics Non-Relativistic Theory, Third Edition: Volume 3

Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (2nd Edition)

Quantum Mechanics of One- and Two-Electron Atoms