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Podcast: SciCafe: The Virus Hunters

Podcasts

Highly publicized diseases like Ebola and swine flu are only some of the many viruses that spread from animals to humans. In this talk titled “The Virus Hunters” from a recent SciCafe, join virologist Nathan Wolfe and computational biologist Daniel Janies as they discuss their efforts to track infectious agents in animals before they reach people.

“The Virus Hunters” was introduced by Mark Siddall, a curator from the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology. The SciCafe took place at the Museum on February 1, 2012.

Podcast: Download | RSS | iTunes (1 hour, 7mins, 80 MB)

Tags: Podcasts, SciCafe

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David Gruber on Microscopic Glowing Aliens Friday, March 02 9:18 am

On Exhibit posts

Curator John Sparks is blogging weekly about the upcoming exhibition, Creatures of Light, which opens on Saturday, March 31. This week, he invited marine biologist David Gruber, an assistant professor at The City University of New York (CUNY) and a Museum research associate who consulted on the exhibition, to contribute the guest post below.

Imagine a group of single-celled animals smaller than the width of a human hair that possess 25 times the amount of DNA as humans. These organisms both bask in the sun to obtain energy, like plants, and actively hunt, like animals, even slurping out the insides of other cells. They include some of the fastest speed demons of the microscopic domain, propelling themselves up to 200-500 μm/second—the equivalent to a 6-foot Olympian athlete swimming at 40 mph. On top of these feats, a few members are responsible for creating the nighttime sparkle on breaking surf.

Tags: Bioluminescence

Wylie Dufresne

Wylie Dufresne Talks Chemistry and Creativity

Q&As

Molecular gastronomy is a branch of food science that explores how chemical processes transform ingredients. Chefs like Wylie Dufresne apply this research from the lab to the kitchen, creating dishes that are both inspired and informed. At this month’s Adventures in the Global Kitchen event, The Magical Meal with Wylie Dufresne, Dufresnse will discuss how to alter the texture, viscosity, and appearance of food with the Museum’s Provost of Science, Michael Novacek. Below, Dufresne answers a few questions about his cooking inspiration.

Tags: Food, Our Global Kitchen, Q&A

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Using Snake Venom Protein to Fight Cancer

Q&As

While “snake oil” is shorthand for false cure, snake venom may have real healing power. At March 7’s SciCafe, From Poison to Panacea: Using Snake Venom to Combat Cancer, University of Southern California biochemistry professor Frank Markland will share his research on a protein found in snake venom and how it’s being used to combat cancer in the lab. Below, Markland answers a few questions about his research.

How are you using snake venom in cancer research?

Frank Markland: We injected contortrostatin, a protein found in southern copperhead snake venom, directly into the mammary glands of mice where human breast cancer cells had been injected two weeks earlier. Not only did the injection of this protein inhibit the growth of the tumor—it also slowed angiogenesis, the growth of blood vessels into the tumor that supply it with nutrients and allow the tumor to grow and spread. The protein also impaired the spread of the tumor to the lungs, one site where breast cancer spreads effectively.

Tags: Q&A, SciCafe

Animal Drawing Entices Artists of All Stripes

Education posts

For over 30 years, Museum naturalist and diorama master Stephen Quinn has shown students the art of drawing animals—from their skeletal composition, to their musculature, to the nuanced patterns of their coats and gaits. The course always draws students with a range of backgrounds, including expert medical illustrators and comic book artists as well as enthusiastic beginners. And every year, Quinn sees a few familiar faces.

One belongs to George Corbin, who has taken the course five times and has already signed up for Animal Drawing’s spring session, which will run for eight weeks beginning on Thursday, March 15. 

Tags: Art Classes for Adults

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