I’ve had a bit of a problem getting back into the flow of writing about science this semester. We started up again last week ending the frustrating period between semesters when all I have is time, but I can never seem to focus my attention on anything long enough to get much accomplished. Classes had a rocky start – in part because I was sick the weekend before our first meeting, but mostly because I’m fairly complacent about the first days of the semester – it’s a time of working through logistics and clarifying the syllabus and not there are always students who ‘add’ after the first days, so I don’t want to get moving too fast.
But that time is passed now and I’m looking to work through the last of the intro material quickly and get into the meat of the courses. Nevertheless, I looked back and found the link to this essay I wrote several years ago and recently published here a month or more ago. It’s on the nature of science and how scientists look at the world. I thought I would make a link to that for any students interested in thinking about science as philosophy or just anyone who was interested in thinking about how science shapes our understanding. Find that article here.
Next week I am hoping to finish our discussion of chemistry and biomolecules in General Bio and start in on cell structure and organization. In this class I will cover prokaryotes, but our main focus is on eukaryotic cells, specifically animal cells.I make the flow of information in biology (DNA->RNA->Protein) a central theme of this class and this is the first chapter where we actually begin to flesh it out as more than words on the board.
Microbiology will begin a survey of various forms of life, with emphasis on those organisms most important to human health / pathology. Again, we we start with prokaryotes, but stick mostly with bacteria, as archebacteria are primarily extremophiles and therefore don’t impact humans very often. Most importantly, we will focus on the difference between gram positive and negative organisms and how the proteoglycan cell wall is structured. This is vital because later in the semester we’ll discover that a large number of anti-bacterials target this structure specifically.
And one last thing, I wrote to Paul Offit this weekend, and he is very happy that we will be using his book, Vaccinated in class this semester. I’ll touch base with him again at the end of the term to let him know how it worked out and what the reception of his book was like.