Origins Sunday: Early life liked it salty!

Cool link below describing research that shows how a certain set of 10 amino acids will fold when exposed to high salt concentrations, like those found naturally in certain regions of the early earth.  This may have allowed proteins to be functional before the cellular machinery to fold proteins had yet evolved.  Our earliest ancestors may have been halophiles (salt lovers).  Unfortunately, many of us retain that salt loving trait, and perhaps that’s why I love pizza so much?!? – craving the salt that my Archean ancestors loved so!

Atomic Tuesday: The Magic Numbers of Nuclear Physics

Atomic Tuesday:  The Magic Numbers of Nuclear Physics. by Rich Feldenberg Similar to the way electrons reside in atomic orbitals around the atom, the protons and neutrons that make the atomic nucleus are also organized into orbitals or shells.  The Nuclear Shell Model addresses the structure and energy levels associated with these nuclear shells.  No two protons or neutrons (nucleons) can be found in the same shell if they contain the same quantum state (again very similar to the quantum rules followed by electrons going into atom orbitals- Pauli exclusion principle).  Each energy shell can hold up to a certain “magic number” of protons or neutrons, but all nucleons within the shell must be of different quantum states.  If all the quantum states for that shell are already taken, then they will go to the next available shell.  The magic numbers are 2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82, and 126 – indicating the number of nucleons possible in each of

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Origins Saturday: Origin of America!

by Rich Feldenberg Today, in honor of Independence Day weekend, we will do something slightly different with Origins Sunday.  For one thing we are temporarily converting it into Origins Saturday so it can coincide with Independence Day.  As a critical thinker it is important not to be rigid in your thinking, but to remain flexible so as to adjust to ever changing conditions – but that’s a topic for another time. In this episode of Origins, we also diverge from the usual topic of life’s origins, and instead will show the origins of the North American continent, and the place we now call The United States of America.  Today is the 239th birthday of the USA (happy birthday America), but the land mass that we live on is much older than that, and has been apart of other supercontinents in the distant past.  Below, you can see the distribution of the present day continents placed over the supercontinent Pangea. Pangea

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