Tuesday, May 28, 2013

molecule of the day: milrinone

The molecule of the day is milrinone:

It's a drug that provides short-term benefits for heart transplant and heart failure patients by increasing heart contractility, but in the long-term it causes arrhythmia.  It inhibits type 3 phosphodiesterases (PDE3s).  Recent work suggests that its target in heart is probably the A isoform (PDE3A) (which is not that surprising given that it's PDE3A that's mostly expressed in heart muscle).

word of the day: inotropic

The word of the day is inotropic:

Etymology:  < German inotrop (T. W. Engelmann 1896, in Arch. f. ges. Physiol. LXII. 555): see ino- comb. form and -tropic comb. form.
Modifying the contractility of muscle. (OED)

"A positive inotropic cardiotonic agent with vasodilator properties."

 - PubChem entry on milrinone

Sunday, May 26, 2013

word of the day: diamanté

The word of the day is diamanté:

Etymology:  French, past participle of diamanter to set with diamonds, to make shine like diamonds.
Material to which a sparkling effect is given by the use of paste brilliants, powdered glass or crystal, etc. Also attrib. (OED)

"In 'Country Girl', O'Brien uses the frame of memory to crop the commonplace out of life.  She loses her virginity in a field outside Dublin, but recalls 'the damp of the grass, a diamanté hair slide that I had lost, the peas that kept slipping off his fork.'"

 - Lauren Collins, "Ink: where she was from", 20 May 2013 The New Yorker

Saturday, May 25, 2013

phrase of the day: wildcat strike

The phrase of the day is wildcat strike:

An employee work stoppage that is not authorized by the Labor Union to which the employees belong.  (legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com)

"On a later night, however, they return to lob Molotov cocktails, and a security guard is hurt; to avoid trouble, the friends take off for the summer break, hitching a ride to Italy with a revolutionary film collective in (of course) a VW van.  The sun glares, the strikes are wildcat, and the masses await enlightenment through cinema.  Bliss is it in that dawn to be alive."

 - Anthony Lane, "Battle weary: 'Iron Man 3' and 'Something in the Air'", 6 May 2013 The New Yorker

Friday, May 24, 2013

word of the day: fug

The word of the day is fug:

colloq. (orig dial. and School slang).
A thick, close, stuffy atmosphere, esp. that of a room overcrowded and with little or no ventilation. (OED)

"Instead, they exist in a constant fug that I took for cigarette smoke or tear gas, but that slowly resolves itself into a nimbus of ill-defined needs - a haze of becoming, with the foothills of adulthood starting to loom ahead."

 - Anthony Lane, "Battle weary: 'Iron Man 3' and 'Something in the Air'", 6 May 2013 The New Yorker

Thursday, May 23, 2013

word of the day: logorrhea

The word of the day is logorrhea:

Etymology:  < Greek λόγος word + ῥοία flow, stream (probably after diarrhœa n.).
Excessive volubility accompanying some forms of mental illness; also gen., an excessive flow of words, prolixity.  (OED)

"To be honest, the film is a whiney and logorrheic mess until Stark, after a couple of misadventures, finds himself in Tennessee, just before Christmas, hauling a broken Iron Man suit through the snow like a toboggan."

 - Anthony Lane, "Battle weary: 'Iron Man 3' and 'Something in the Air'", 6 May 2013 The New Yorker

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

molecule of the day: benzopyrene

The molecule of the day is benzopyrene:


It's a carcinogen found in tobacco smoke, among other things, and can be used to induce lung tumors in mice when injected into the peritoneal cavity (tummy), as in this paper, the star of today's Center for Metabolism and Obesity Research journal club.  One of the attendees described it as "that chickenwire compound".

I asked the presenter why, after injecting it into the peritoneal cavity, benzopyrene would cause tumors in the lung (after all, the paper uses a fancy aerosol device to deliver the 3-bromopyruvate (the chemical they were testing to see whether it prevented the tumors from forming), so why not use that to deliver the benzopyrene, too?  Wouldn't that be more relevant anyway for a carcinogen found in tobacco smoke?), and he thought that the authors were just looking at lung tumors and not really interested in any tumors that may or may not have formed in other parts of the body.  I guess intraperitoneal injection is the easiest way to deliver a drug to a mouse, and if it works to produce the desired lung tumors, then good enough?

Reading a bit more, I learned that benzopyrene is actually a "pro-carcinogen": after benzopyrene enters your body, you metabolize it into another molecule, 7,8-dihydroxy-9,10-epoxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydrobenzo[a]pyrene:
which is the actual carcinogen.  It fits into the double helix of the DNA strand, which can cause the DNA to be copied incorrectly and introduce mutations, which can then cause cancer.

word of the day: cadre

The word of the day is cadre:

Etymology:  French cadre frame (e.g. of a picture), also used in sense ‘l'ensemble des officiers et sous-officiers d'une compagnie’ (Littré), < Italian quadro < Latin quadrum four-sided thing, square. 
1. A frame, framework; scheme.
2. Mil.a. The permanent establishment forming the framework or skeleton of a regiment, which is filled up by enlistment when required. Also of an R.A.F. squadron. Also attrib. 
b. The complement of officers of a regiment; the list or scheme of such officers.(After the Indian Mutiny, the cadres of Native Regiments which had been disbanded were kept in the Indian Army List for regulating promotions. In the parliamentary discussions about the amalgamation of the Indian with the British Army, the word was in constant use in this sense.)
 3.a. In Communist countries, a group of workers, etc., acting to promote the interests of the Communist Party; also, a member of such a group; = cell n.1 19.
b. In the People's Republic of China, an office-holder in a Party, governmental, or military organization; also more widely, one who holds a position, esp. in a local organization, school, etc. Also attrib., esp. as cadre school.  (OED)

"As the sharp end of a counter-insurgency strategy, McChrystal's approach resembled the C.I.A.'s Phoenix program during the Vietnam War, when the United States tried, and failed, to suppress the Vietcong by detaining and assassinating thousands of suspected militants and cadre leaders."

 - Steve Coll, "Remote control: our drone delusion", 6 May 2013 The New Yorker

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

word of the day: gravid

The word of the day is gravid:

Etymology:  < Latin gravidus, < gravis burdened, heavy (see grave adj.1, grave n.1 Compare French gravide.
Pregnant, heavy with young.

"Never fear.  I know the difference between
arteries and ardor, arbor and treed,
my bower and a weak-kneed need, a harbor
where one might moor tonight and a port worth
the oars' effort to come ashore for, a bit
part and the serpent's gravid apple."

 - Dora Malech, "To the you of ten years ago, now", 6 May 2013 The New Yorker

Monday, May 20, 2013

word of the day: fer-de-lance

The word of the day is fer-de-lance:

fer-de-lance, any of several extremely venomous snakes of the viper family (Viperidae) found in diverse habitats from cultivated lands to forests throughout tropical America and tropical Asia. (Britannica)

"The rain forests of Mosquitia, which span more than thirty-two thousand square miles of Honduras and Nicaragua, are among the densest and most inhospitable in the world.  'It's mountainous', Chris Begley, an archaeologist and expert on Honduras, told me recently.  'There's white water.  There are jumping vipers, coral snakes, fer-de-lance, stinging plants, and biting insects.  And then there are the illnesses - malaria, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, Chagas'."

 - Douglas Preston, "The El Dorado machine: a new scanner's rain-forest discoveries", 6 May 2013 The New Yorker

Shouldn't that be "fers-de-lance"?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

word of the day: mishegoss

 The word of the day is mishegoss:

Etymology:  < Yiddish meshugas < Hebrew mĕšuggaʿaṯ , use as abstract noun of feminine of mĕšuggaʿ meshuga adj.(Show Less)
Esp. in Jewish usage: madness, craziness; nonsense, foolishness; (as a count noun) a foolish idea; a foible, an idiosyncracy.

"In 1983, around the time that Berman moved to Tuxedo Park, some of his former students received invitations to purchase 'a limited subscriber's edition of a monumental novel'.  It was Berman's magnum opus.  For many alumni, the book - a four-hundred-and-eighty-three-page volume, beautifully published by a former Berman student - is the only window they've had onto their mysterious teacher.  'His whole universe of mishegoss is in there - the art, the music, the literature, the sex', a college professor who has spent many years trying to figure out Berman says."

 - Marc Fisher, "The master: a charismatic teacher enthralled his students.  Was he abusing them?", 1 April 2013 The New Yorker

Saturday, May 18, 2013

word of the day: halt

The word of the day is halt:

Etymology:  A Common Germanic adj.: Old English halt, healt = Old Frisian, Old Saxon halt (Middle Dutch halt, hout, Old High German, Middle High German halz, Old Norse haltr (Swedish, Danish halt), Gothic halt-s < Old Germanic *halt-oz.(Show Less)
arch. and literary.
Lame; crippled; limping. (OED)

"When I asked Berman, who is now seventy-eight, to talk with me, he wrote that he was 'very near death' and that he saw no point in meeting: 'All you would discover is a rather halt old man in deteriorating health.  What you most likely would not perceive is such a person who never in his long life intentionally injured anyone.'"

 - Marc Fisher, "The master: a charismatic teacher enthralled his students.  Was he abusing them?", 1 April 2013 The New Yorker

Monday, May 06, 2013

word of the day: humic

The word of the day is humic:

Etymology:  Latin humus ground, mould + -ic suffix. 
Of or pertaining to humus or mould; present in or of the nature of humus; rich in humus; also, formed or derived from plant remains. (OED)

"Patented Inhibitor Removal Technology eliminates humic substances and other PCR inhibitors."

 - product description for PowerSoil® DNA Isolation Kit from Mo Bio Laboratories, Inc.