Monday, January 31, 2011

Helen E. Blackwell '94, co-editor of Chemical Reviews, Jan. 2011

Helen Blackwell, class of 1994, is co-editor with Clay Fuqua of 2011 Bacterial Signals and Chemical Communication,  special issue of Chemical Reviews [access on the American Chemical Society site is limited to subscribers].  Their editorial, Introduction to Bacterial Signals and Chemical Communication, is a cogent and easily understood explanation of the ability of bacteria to communicate through the release of chemical compounds.  A significant aspect of this communication is known as "quorum sensing" - that is, releasing certain compounds in response to the density of bacterial cells and other environmental factors, which facilitates coordination among bacteria so they can more "effectively colonize and manipulate host organisms."  The mechanisms for chemical signaling between bacteria species and among bacteria and host species are complex and varied, as evident from the different review articles in this special issue, and the implications for human health are exciting.

The editors conclude, "Understanding these processes [of bacterial conversation] provides the opportunity for scientists to intervene in the conversation and guide it in specific directions that potentially mollify the negative activities of microorganisms and promote the their beneficial attributes."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Space Shuttle Challenger Astronaut Remembered

photo from
From NPR's Morning Edition:  "Ronald McNair was one of the astronauts killed 25 years ago on Jan. 28, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded.  As his brother recalls, McNair's life was all about exploring boundaries - and exceeding them." [more]

Each Friday Morning Edition features a remembrance or interview from StoryCorps.  Today's story came from Carl McNair, brother of Ronald McNair, the second African-American to become an astronaut.  Perseverance to borrow books from the public library, then restricted to whites only, was an early indication that the young McNair would pursue his dreams.  That, and his interpretation of Star Trek's diverse crew as possibility rather than science fiction, is a touching tribute to a young person's goals.  That public library in Lake City, S.C., now celebrates Ronald E. McNair's legacy [story from the Charlotte Observer].

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Radioactive... a tale of love and fallout

We have received an extraordinary book; part biography, part art, part science, and full of passion and creativity.  It is a delight for the eyes and intellect - and it smells delightfully bookish, from the combination of so many colored inks and fine paper.  The cover offers an extra treat of tactile pleasure, with slightly fuzzy imprinting of images and lettering.  The content, of course, makes it truly special, giving insight into the lives of Marie and Pierre Curie, and their abiding love and shared genius in the discovery of radioactivity.  The book considers also the scientific and romantic partnership of their daughter, Irene, with Frederic Joliot, who as a team discovered that radioactivity could be "provoked rather than simply observed," and worked so closely together that they could not always say who had an idea first.  The author, Lauren Redniss, brings the reader to more contemporary issues as well, and provides copious source notes.  It is sure to be off the shelf and into a borrower's hands quickly!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More new books arrived! High time, too.

Just when cobwebs threatened to form on the books displayed since mid-December, a shipment of new books was wheeled into the library.  Good stuff, all of it.  The World is Blue caught my eye immediately, and reminded me of the BBC story heard today of the polar bear who swam continuously for nine days, seeking sea ice, losing 22% of her body fat and her yearling cub in the process.  A photograph of a polar bear, looking directly into the camera, is the last image in The World is Blue.

The world is blue : how our fate and the ocean's are one / Sylvia A. Earle.
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, c2009.

Sylvia Earle is former NOAA Chief Scientist, and the first person to walk untethered at the lowest depth ever—1, 250 feet. She is founder and director of Deep Ocean Research and Exploration, which designs instruments for deep-sea exploration.

It seemed very fitting that we received a replacement copy of Wendell Berry's The gift of good land : further essays, cultural and agricultural (Counterpoint Press, c1981) in the same shipment as Rebels for the soil : the rise of the global organic food and farming movement / Matthew Reed. (Earthscan, 2010).  The two books are excellent bookends for the past two decades of progress toward sustainable agricultural practices.

Browse the new book shelf - you will find a good read for that lull between the end of Winter Term and the start of spring semester!

Wag the Dog - last showing in the Big Read film series

Join us for the last showing in our Fahrenheit 451 film series! 
Sponsored by the Oberlin Big Read.

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2011
7 pm
Oberlin Public Library

Before elections, a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer join efforts to "fabricate" a war in order to cover-up a presidential sex scandal.

Director: Barry Levinson
Writers: Larry Beinhart, Hilary Henkin
Staring: Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro and Anne Heche

Friday, January 21, 2011

Faculty publication: Zeb Page in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

As indexed in ISI Web of Knowledge:

Cryptic metasomatism during exhumation of Franciscan eclogite and hornblendite revealed by in situ delta O-18 analysis of garnets.
Page, F. Zeb; Essene, Eric J.; Kita, Noriko T.; Valley, John W.
GEOCHIMICA ET COSMOCHIMICA ACTA 74 (12): A785-A785 Suppl. 1 JUN 2010

This is an abstract of a presentation made at the 19th Annual V.M. Goldschmidt Conference (Goldschmidt 2010: Earth, Energy, and the Environment, Knoxville Tennessee, June 13-18, 2010)

Nicole Foss speaking in Oberlin on January 28

Nicole Foss will be speaking in Oberlin on Friday, January 28 at 7pm, on A Century of Challenges: Building Local Resilience in an Era of Economic Turmoil & Resource Depletion.  She writes at The Automatic Earth under the pseudonym Stoneleigh.  The talk will be held at First Church in Oberlin, 106 N. Main St.

This event was announced on her blog and on Mike Ruppert's radio show, The Lifeboat Hour
see More details and a poster [pdf].  About Nicole Foss.

Foss runs the Agri-Energy Producers' Association of Ontario, where she has focused on farm-based biogas projects and grid connections for renewable energy.  A new publication from the OECD gives an overview of biogas and related topics: Bioheat, biopower and biogas: developments and implications for agriculture / Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.