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Chapter 3 Blog:  The Chemical Basis of Life II (Nicole)

Page history last edited by Nicole Lee 13 years, 2 months ago

A.  Daily Blog


The other day in class on Friday, our class mainly discussed functional groups.  Functional groups are groups of atoms that have unique chemical features that are each important to know in order to understand the function.  During class we went through various functional groups such as ketone, amino, carbonyl, and a few others.  Dr. Weber described that each type of functional group shares the same properties.  I had a few issues with understanding some of the functional groups we went over.  However, after watching a few tutorials on line on how to recognize certain ones from others, I can gladly say that I now know some characteristics of them. Some other topics we discussed in class were isomers.  Isomers are basically two different structures that have an identical molecular formula.  We also learned that there are structural isomers and stereo isomers. 





On Wednesday, the 15th of September the class learned mostly about Amino acids and proteins.  Amino acids are essentially the monomers of proteins.  There are many things that proteins are composed of such as oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements.  Amino acids all have a common structure, however, they have different R groups which help determine mainly the structure and the function of the amino acid.  In class, Dr. Weber also reviewed some basic facts such as:


  • Carboxyl groups ARE acidic
  • there are 20 amino acids
    • the alpha carbon is asymmetrical
    • ALL amino acids have an amino acid group, alpha carbon, R group (determines the shape and the function)and terminal hydrogen  


In the beginning of class, I was having a little trouble understand the functions of the R groups and whatnot however, after listening to the lecture and taking more notes in the subject.  However, I am still a little bit confused about some details about proteins.  However, before consulting Dr. Weber I will review over my notes and read through the chapter once more and if I have any questions I will email him or ask him before/ after class. 




Yesterday, September 17th Friday, the class discussed a few topics and then read about an experiment on proteins.  The class discussed nucleic acids.  Nucleic acids have codes for protein synthesis.  Nucleic acid examples are DNA and RNA.  The class then discussed briefly about what a gene essentially is.  A gene is a discreet unit of DNA that encodes for a functional product (RNA, protein).  The class also learned that a protein can NOT fold unless it has genes present.  Peptide bonds hold them in place (these bonds are covalent by the way).  the class also learned that every peptide bond makes them stronger.  

One thing in class that we did discuss that I had some trouble with was Vanderwalls (based on where the electrons are, they have different charges).  I'm sure the concept of Vanderwall's is fairly simple but for some reason it's just not sticking in my head.  Hopefully I will be able to find another tacky video on you- tube that will sing to me about it so I can remember the details and I'm sure you'll enjoy watching it as well :).  


Dr.  Weber surprised me (in a good way) when he had the class split up into pairs of two and discuss an experiment he had printed out.  I took some notes on the experiment that I will try attaching into this post.  Basically, the concept of the entire experiment was to see if within their amino acid sequence, proteins contain all the information needed to fold into their correct 3- D shapes.  The final conclusion of the experiment was that certain proteins, like ribonuclease can spontaneously fold into their final functional shapes without the assistance from other cellular structures or factors.  I liked the fact that the class got to participate and walk through with each other about the experiment.  This little activity made the class an overall good day and it helped 2me understand the experiment better by talking it out with someone.


B.  Useful Materials


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This first video is a commical and easy way to learn about the functional groups through a song. I hope you enjoy as much as I did:) 


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This second video is a college lecture on cis trans isomers!Eventhough the video might get a little dry at some points I find it very helpful!





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Sooooooooo Dr. Weber, if your watching this movie your probably thinking, what is Nicole on or something.  But to be completely honest with you, I am in love with searching up you-tube videos with songs about scientific topics.  Although the videos are EXTREMELY corny they help me memorize the material in a faster, more efficient manner.  By the way- I'm sorry if this womans voice scares you or your kids....


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So this second video is one that is on the more serious, dry side for me.  Although this movie might be a fall asleep to lecture, it helps me a lot in the sense that it visually shows me proteins.  Sorry if this video makes you fall asleep..




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All right, so I just want to warn you this video is EXTREMELY boring. However, it helped me understand Vanderwall's better.  Also, this video helped me because it has visual illustrations that stick in my head.



So this link above is of a game about DNA that you would probably only play if you really had nothing else to do and you wanted to play around with a piece of DNA.  Although you have to download this file (and it might be a little risky for your computer but who knows it works fine for me) this game helps you understand the structure of DNA in a colorful, visual manner.  





This first article relates to the topic of DNA the class focused on this week.  The article is about how scientists have come up with a strategy on how to identify an animal by taking a piece of it's tissue (or DNA) and putting it through a scanner to see what species it is.  I found this method distasteful because I think it would be cruel and unusual punishment to rip out some DNA or tissue from an animal to see what it is.  People should use their eyes and other observations before stabbing it with a machine.




Comments (2)

Derek Weber said

at 4:25 am on Sep 16, 2010

9/15: No update.

Derek Weber said

at 10:45 pm on Sep 28, 2010

I like the summary, but you need to link to the actual article cited in the summary on SA. I enjoy your summaries as they keep me very entertained. Keep up the good work.

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