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Today isn't especially exciting. I am finding that, living by myself, I'm not strongly motivated to stay up all that late. Grandma bedtime and all that. So instead, I set an early alarm and got up at six this morning so I'd have some extra time to bake scones and bleach the front room. The front room, which seems to have experienced the greatest water damage, is now done. Remaining rooms: hallway, bathroom, dining room, back entry room.

I think I have a better understanding now of the plans for the radioisotope experiments we'll be doing soon. Nebraska-boss is an intermediary metabolism expert, and he has spent a couple of decades studying differences in the intermediary metabolism of these flight-capable vs. flightless (egg-laying) crickets. So there are several papers from the early 2000's that detail what happens to 14C-labeled palmitic acid, acetate, and glycine within each morph. However, we've shown that food protein-carbohydrate content alters aspects of intermediary metabolism, by measuring the effects of diet on allocation to different tissues associated with flight and reproduction. What we haven't done, yet, is shown how this happens, which is what the radiotracers are useful for. We will inject small amounts of radiotracers into the crickets, and then measure how much of the radiolabeled compound winds up in different tissues or is respired as carbon dioxide.

Going through the radiation safety training has been interesting, and as fun as such safety training could really be, in that the guy teaching us throws in lots of jokes and lets us ask all kinds of questions. The bottom line is rather unsurprising - the precautions we will use will mean that we're exposed to trivial amounts of radiation, but we need to be careful because NUKULAR AMERICUH. But for instance, I haven't spent much time thinking about things like Roentgen equivalent man - units, or, more practically, sieverts, even with xkcd's awesome chart all about it, produced during the post-Fukushima era (and despite having an uncle who is a nuclear medical technician, a pretty cool job). We were informed, for context, of the rems involved in a CT scan, versus occupational limits for us workers (or fetuses). And much emphasis was put on the difference between the precautions taken in the name of statistical probabilities (risks) versus what happens when doses reach the order of magnitude where they start to have physical effects.

I couldn't stop thinking about two people, at this point: my father, who has lots of CT scans in his future in the name of cancer prevention, and a former neighbor about to begin radiation therapy for a neck tumor.

Why is it that people freak out about cancer, but not automobile accidents, heart disease, gun violence, or mental illness? A fear of suffering, I suppose.

One of the things I need to think about, here, is how to translate the cricket work over to the leafcutter ant work, and these experiments are a part of that overall project, although I also need to look at and think about more of the stable isotope options, too, as they should be much less expensive altogether.


( 2 remarks — Remark )
Feb. 17th, 2015 09:22 pm (UTC)
I think with cancer, it is this secret thing that lurks within you. Heart disease gives you some warnings, and in many ways you can prevent it.
car accidents, gun violence? those are those outside forces of life.
But cancer is like an evil magic.
Feb. 18th, 2015 03:15 am (UTC)
I suspect it's because with autos and to a lesser extent guns most people can define the positives as well as the negatives and say that the cost/benefit analysis makes us accept tens of thousands of dead people. Cancer has a terrible c/b.
( 2 remarks — Remark )

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