This is Moselio Schaechter's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Moselio Schaechter's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Moselio Schaechter
Recent Activity
Mark, Wat a lovely comment! As I've said before, I would love to be in your class. You make a key point in Biology. Thanks a lot. Elio
Toggle Commented May 1, 2014 on Talmudic Question #108 at Small Things Considered
This is a perfect example of a Talmudic Question, Elio! When I teach introductory biochemistry, I often get the "so why does the enzyme do it that way?" kind of question. Why does Rubisco mistake carbon dioxide for oxygen? What does triose phosphate isomerase produce 96% DHAP (which is not usable, and can be toxic) to 4% GA3P at equilibrium (though to be fair, that latter example is a good illustration and reminder that *life* is not at equilibrium)? I sometimes reply that these are more theological than biochemical questions. It's not always a satisfying answer, sort of like "what controls transcription factors" being answered by "other transcription factors." Getting back to cellulose, I hammer on my freshman to consider the "shape" of ligands and bonds---I call it a made up word, "stericity"---are central to all of biology. So the beta 1->4 glucosidic bonds are not well recognized by eukaryotic hydrolases? And it appears that microbes and macrobes look at this as a metabolic problem with a "crowdsourced" solution (as observed in the microbial universe within a milliliter of rumen fluid, to borrow from William Blake). Great opportunities for classroom discussion, in any event. I am going to pick and choose among your Talmudic Questions and make it a weekly feature in my Fall microbiology course (and I still think the collection would make one heck of a book!). Thanks again, Mark Martin
Toggle Commented May 1, 2014 on Talmudic Question #108 at Small Things Considered
Do you mean genetic diversity among the mice? or changes over the hundreds of generations? At minimum, I think there would be small to large changes or rearrangements due to transposon activity, as well as random base changes. Elio replies: Yes, we meant genetic diversity. The underlying purpose of the question is: what would be selected for under germ-free conditions?
Toggle Commented Apr 11, 2014 on Talmudic Question #107 at Small Things Considered
Do you mean genetic diversity among the mice? or changes over the hundreds of generations? At minimum, I think there would be small to large changes or rearrangements due to transposon activity, as well as random base changes.
Toggle Commented Apr 11, 2014 on Talmudic Question #107 at Small Things Considered
You may be interested to know that I have a two copies of a first edition of Microbe Hunters that I obtained for one dollar each at a book fair some years ago. I found tucked inside one of these volumes a book review from the Chicago Tribune dated February 26, 1926 (and now so brittle I hardly dare touch it) and also a cut out letter published in Correspondence of some “Journal" (I'll bet the JAMA) under the heading “Microbe Hunters”—a Denial’ and signed by Aldo Castellani, George C Low, David Nabarrow and Ronald Ross. Robin Henig refers to this denial in her article. I also have a copy of the 7th printing in August 1925 of the First Edition of "Arrowsmith." This printing includes a full page with the dedication: “ To Dr. Paul H. DeKruif I am indebted not only for most of the bacteriological and medical material in this tale but equally for his help in the planning of the fable itself—for his realization of the characters as living people, for his philosophy as a scientist. With this acknowledgment I want to record our months of companionship while working on the book, in the United States, in the West Indies, in Panama, in London and Fontainebleau. I wish I could reproduce our talks along the way, and the laboratory afternoons, the restaurants at night, and the deck at dawn as we steamed into tropic ports. SINCLAIR LEWIS” I have no idea whether this is a result of, or antedates, the argument Henig recounts. We seem to have shared many of the same experiences. The opening of the memoir I published in DNA Repair 11(2012) 3-11 starts “My scientific career started when I read Paul DeKruif's ”Microbe Hunters” at a branch of the New York Public Library………” Incidentally, I think this volume and the clippings (if they can be preserved) may have some value/interest to microbiologists and I would be happy to donate them to a good home. My own offspring are not much interested. I tried to persuade my oldest son to read the book but since I suggested it he adamantly refused. (Years later my daughter confessed that he had read it, secretly!) Bernard Strauss
Moselio Schaechter added a favorite at Everything Typepad
Apr 7, 2014