Hummingbirds might seem like beautiful, flying jewels, but if you took everything you knew about them and applied it all to a human, you quickly realize that these birds lie on the extreme end of almost every spectrum. In this newsletter, you’ll learn about hummingbirds. To enhance the experience, we’d like you to try to imagine, as you’re reading, a human with the traits of these birds.
What’s that you ask? What’s shRNA and what does it do? The short answer is that it’s an artificial piece of RNA that’s used to silence gene expression by cutting mRNA. Basically, stopping the instructions of protein-making from getting to the protein-making machine (the ribosome, in case you were wondering what this machine is called). Sounds simple enough, right? For the moment, yes. But now that you know what shRNA is, you will come up with more questions. For example, if it’s artificial, how does it get into the cell? And why would we want to silence gene expression? Who uses shRNA and in what situations? Good thing you’re reading this newsletter, because we’re going to answer all those questions for you today!
Protein synthesis is a process that every single one of your cells knows how to do (except your red blood cells). You have all different types of cells in your body and the proteins they make all have different jobs. If only it were so easy that one protein had one job. Nope. Some proteins have many jobs. Some proteins have redundant jobs. Some proteins, when broken or missing, cause catastrophic damage to the body. Despite the varied results of this crucial cellular process, the basic components are the same.
There’s a reason why the perfume industry is a billion dollar industry. Out of all our senses, smell is the one that seems the most primal. And it’s not just a feeling, there’s actual neuroscience behind it. Whether the smell of cookies transports you back to childhood or a stranger’s deodorant or perfume reminds you of a long lost love, you can thank your limbic system for those nostalgic feelings.
This week, we wanted to step away from our usual science newsletter and sprinkle in a bit of art. Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of science involved! But to start, let’s talk about origami. This ancient art of folding paper into different shapes is mostly associated with Japanese culture. The word origami is Japanese, after all. But paper folding was found in China and Europe as well. It makes sense. There was no YouTube back in the day, so why not fold paper into cranes and dragons and other cool animals?