Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Just in time... for you to have no time.

Recognizing that the first day of exams is not when most people will look at the new books shelf (more's the pity), I will highlight just two:

Pictured rocks of the Upper Peninsula is purely a personal choice, as a Michigander and someone who loves the northern parts of the state.  Spend just a few minutes with this book and you will feel refreshed and ready for the next exam:
Geology and landscape of Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and vicinity / William L. Blewett.
The world of trees  is my second choice.  The trees around Oberlin this spring are amazing! - in fact, anything that uses carbon dioxide for growth (anything plant-like, that is) is growing by leaps and bounds.  It's a bit alarming, to be honest.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Buddha? Mycobacterial infection following tattoo

Annika Sullivan '12 is a co-author on a paper originating from the Oregon Health & Science University, Portland:
Happy Buddha? Kevin L. Winthrop; Cara D. Varley; Annika Sullivan; Robert S. Hopkins.  2012.  Clinical Infectious Diseases  54: 1670-1671.
Oberlin does not subscribe to this journal, but the publisher provided this link for limited number of free access views of the html version. The tattoo identified in the article as the origin of a mycobacterial infection depicts a joyful buddha in a standing pose, completed using a grey ink. The dye was created by mixing black tattoo ink with tap water, a common source of Mycobacterium chelonae.

The authors observed "Outbreaks associated with [Myccobacterium organisms] may occur when contaminated tap water is inappropriately used in surgical, cosmetic, or other procedures. Symptoms typically develop 2–3 weeks after exposure."

Today's lesson: when getting a tattoo, insist that purified water be used throughout the procedure.

Friday, May 11, 2012

University of Minnesota compiles database of peer-reviewed, open-source textbooks | Inside Higher Ed

This is an exciting development, and could dramatically change the learning process in undergraduate courses.  Reliable participation by faculty in many colleges and universities would be useful, to extend peer-review to a wider audience.
University of Minnesota compiles database of peer-reviewed, open-source textbooks | Inside Higher Ed

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Something fishy online

We now have access to Elsevier's Encyclopedia of Fish Physiology online, at  If you are asked to identify your institutional affiliation before gaining access, be sure to select the Oberlin College option (not Oberlin College/OhioLINK, which gives access to the journals archive only).

Here's a snippet to pique your interest:
"At a conservative estimate at least 40% of the world's vertebrates are fish. On the one hand they are united by their adaptations to an aquatic environment and on the other they show a variety of adaptations to differing environmental conditions - often to extremes of temperature, salinity, oxygen level and water chemistry."  One chapter begins with this truism:  "All fish are united by the requirement to obtain food, while (at least during some phase of their life) avoiding being food." It's a challenging life, beneath the water's surface.  Take the plunge and learn more.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

New articles by faculty and students

Oberlin-authored articles published in April 2012 included the following:

From Emeritus professor of chemistry Norm Craig with Oberlin student Hengfeng Tian -
Craig N. C., H. Tian, and T. A. Blake. 2012. Analysis of the Rotational Structure in the High-Resolution Infrared Spectrum of trans-Hexatriene-1-C-13(1): A Semiexperimental Equilibrium Structure for the C-6 Backbone of trans-Hexatriene. Journal of Physical Chemistry A 116:3148-3155. [access at ACS]

From Neuroscience professor Jan Thornton with Oberlin students Sarah McConnell, Juliet Alla, and Elizabeth Wheat -
McConnell S. E. A., J. Alla, E. Wheat, R. D. Romeo, B. McEwen, and J. E. Thornton. 2012. The role of testicular hormones and luteinizing hormone in spatial memory in adult male rats. Hormones and behavior 61:479-486. [access at OhioLINK EJC or]
Curious about those hormones and spatial memory?  Here's the summary statement from the abstract:
"[The] data indicate that testicular androgens are important for maximal levels of spatial working memory in male rats, that testosterone may be converted to estradiol and/or dihydrotestosterone to exert its effects, and that some of the effects of these steroid hormones may occur via negative feedback effects on luteinizing hormone."  No indication is given on any possible linkage between testosterone and human male behavior vis-à-vis seeking directions while traveling through unfamiliar territory.  Sorry, couldn't resist.