Molecular Biology and Me
Behold my website.
It consist of eight parts in addition to this home page. In the section called "Courses", I've placed slides from the classes that I've presented in Austin's five Osher LLI programs and in Austin's Lifelong Learning Institute. The menu item entitled "Memoir" directs you to a brief autobiography written primarily for the benefit of my grand kids. The "Images" section comprises a gallery of my molecular art work and photographs. "Bill's Blog" describes my efforts to learn immunology, cancer, Covid19, and some other subjects in molecular biology. "Books" lists the books that I've written, with hyperlinks to where you can purchase them. "Screenplay" is a spoof of an episode of Star Trek with a little molecular biology thrown in as an educational extra. "Travel" is a description of some recent trips that Gail and I have taken. The recent epidemic will tend to keep this section short. Finally, there's a "Programs" tab that directs you to a few molecular biology and word puzzle programs that I've written.
My novel, "Three to One" has been published on Amazon (for Kindle and in paperback), Barnes and Noble (Nook), and Kobo. Here is a brief description:
"Gregor Mendel was a monk who lived in what is now the Czech Republic in the first part of the nineteenth century. Generally regarded as the founder of modern genetics, he labored for eight years analyzing the inheritance of multiple characters in peas. Anyone who has taken high school biology is probably familiar with his work. What is not as widely known is that, while a member of the monastery, he was a substitute teacher who taught physics to grade school children. In order to secure a permanent position, he took a state-mandated certification examination. He failed, largely due to an insufficient background in biology. To make up for his deficits, he was sent to the University of Vienna to study for two years. After completing his tenure there, he took the exam again, and failed for a second time, walking out of the room without handing in his paper. The reason for his failure is unknown. It's a great mystery. This work is a totally fictional account of a possible explanation. It brings broken vows, sexual identity, an illicit romance, an illegitimate child, and religious intolerance to the story. Have fun reading."
The way that I programmed "FourSquare" made it extremely difficult to beat the computer. As I wrote two days ago, the computer takes 500 guesses at the best arrangement of letters to come up with its best score. I've lowered that to 25(!) and it still beats me much of the time. Give it a try and let me know how you're doing.
Another day another game. This one's called "FourSquare". Again, it's a word game that you play against the computer. This time you have forty seconds to arrange letters in a four by four square into words. Vertical, horizontal, and diagonal words count. Four letter words count eight, three letters,three, and one letters, one. The computer mixes up the letters 500 times to find its best answer. It is very, very, difficult to beat it. The game plays best on a laptop or desktop. I'll try to make it more suitable for a tablet.
I've developed a new game called 'HiScore". The current version is not very pretty, but it seems to work. The goal is to assemble seven letters into the highest scoring word and beat the computer. Letter values are like Scrabble, and longer words count more. The only innovative aspect of the game is that the computer doesn't always come up with the best possible word. Instead, the computer scrambles the letters 500 times and finds the best random word it can. Give it a try.
I'm still working on coding the "Amino Acid Quiz". You can reach it via the menu at the top, but it doesn't work Very frustrating because it runs fine locally on a variety of browsers.
The graph on the right comes from Austin Water, the governmental agency that is in charge of the Austin water supply. Right now, we're still under a boil water notice. But half the city has been relieved of that burden. And it looks like we're going to join them soon. What I find interesting is that the utility saw a doubling in water usage at the time of the great freeze (blue line) that resulted in a dramatic drop in the amount stored (red line). The surge in usage was undoubtedly due to the broken pipes caused by the low temperatures. Since then, most of the leaks have been repaired, they've increased production, and the water stored has come back to near normal levels. We're looking forward to drinking water out of the faucet in the near future.
As has been widely reported, Austin Texas. where I live, was buffeted buy a blast of Arctic weather last week. Sunday night, or more accurately at 1:30AM on Monday morning, we lost electrical power. Five inches of snow were on the ground. The temperature outside at the time was 7°F. Although our home is heated by natural gas, because our thermostats require electricity to operate, (the blowers are also electricity dependent) we had no heat. Power was off for 30+ hours. Despite turning the gas burners to high and running the gas fireplace, the inside temperature slowly descended to about 40°. I managed to keep warm at night by wearing thermal underwear, a wool sweater, my down jacket, and four blankets. My wife and the cats slept by the fireplace. After electricity was restored, it was announced that one of the city's water filtration plants was inoperative, and we had to boil drinking water. Around the city, water is gushing from many previously frozen pipes. That's still the case. Because the roads were impassible for several days, people ran low on food. When the roads cleared, there was a run on the supermarkets. Their supplies were low because of the storm and they quickly ran out of produce and and milk products. Bottle water isn't readily available. It's a mess.
Who's at fault for this situation? It is not the weather bureau. They predicted these low temperatures nearly a week before they arrived. I put most blame on past and present politicians - the Governor and the State legislators. They have this thing against regulations. They believe that the unbridled free enterprise system can act swiftly enough to ensure the proper operation of the electrical grid under all circumstances. And usually it does. But insulating gas lines, weather proofing wind turbine, and other measures are expensive. Sharing the burden with other states under Federal regulation is anathema. These low temperatures only occur rarely. In the meantime, energy supplier's pocketbooks fill. The result is our current situation.
I've added another program under the "Programs" tab. It's called the "Virtual Ribosome", or, more informally, "My Name is Charles Darwin".
I've added a section to the site called "Programs". The first, and so far the only program that I've written and placed in this section, is called "The Amino Acids". It depicts three dimensional representations of twenty of the amino acids commonly found in proteins, and describes some of their properties.
The second edition of my book, "Giants of Genetics", is now available for Kindle readers. A paperback version is for sale on the Amazon website.
I've added a blog entry on the molecular biology of coronaviruses
The paperback versions of my two books, "Cancer Immunotherapy" and "Clones and Stem Cells", are available on Amazon.
I've just uploaded my ebook, "Cancer Immunotherapy: Basic Biology" to Amazon. It should be available for reading as a Kindle book in three days or less. Comments are welcome.
A well written account of the effects of CAR-T therapy on patients appeared here.
The slides from all six sessions of the OLLI Forum seminar on Cancer Immunotherapy have been posted.
A short posting on telomeres/cancer/aging