The Bear clan must be reading these blog posts because after I mentioned how Christopher's kite ride ended in the last post, Mrs. Bear sent Little Bear to the house to deliver a photo she took of the two of them together when Little Bear gave Christopher a ride home. Here is a picture of Little Bear waiting in the front yard to give me the picture.
And here is a picture of them together. Evidence of a crash landing, I'd say!! And I didn't know until now that Christopher lost a shoe during the adventure. Tsk tsk. Oh well, I guess there was no harm done and he had a very good time!!!
Gentle Reader, once again, I've fallen way behind as far as keeping you apprised of the progress of the broadband project. (If you're just joining us, please see earlier "episodes" by clicking on "Broadband Projects" in the category list to the right.) So we have here some photos from about a month and a half ago (and the work has moved along since then!)
First off, to review the "gist" of the project (at least from Annie Laurie's perspective!) - to incorporate cell phone genes into American Chestnut trees and create green cell phone towers.
Sudha had just been to a Sons of Canute lodge meeting as a guest speaker - hence the nice clothes!! (And also this is to show Mary Sue that these girls are scientific AND "looking pretty" too!!) Annie Laurie hands her her lab coat to protect that pretty yella' dress. (Hey, anyone reading this who remembers when yours truly wore dresses, panty hose and high heels in the lab most days??!! Guess I got it out of my system back then!)
First order of business was to extract the genes from the cell phone cells (isn't it nice that they are cell phones and have cells!!??)
Annie Laurie extracted several beakers full of cell phone cells. Her next task was to separate out the genes and then prepare them for introduction into the new hosts (and Sudha and Annie Laurie are following several other pathways besides the chestnut one.) Various complicated (and secret) procedures were followed. Here you see Annie Laurie placing a beaker of cells into some sort of incubator, I think.
And here she exposes a beaker of cells to super duper ultra violet radiation (SDUVR). I include a photo using black light film that shows just how vigorously the cell culture is growing!!!!
Meanwhile, Sudha is approaching the problem with the idea of incorporating the cell phone genes into lichens that grow on the trees, instead of into the trees themselves. You may remember when last we saw Sudha and Annie Laurie, they had "hired" Christopher to go up into the trees harnessed to a kite to collect lichens for Sudha. That was not a success since Christopher got so "high" flying around in the trees that he didn't collect any lichens and ended way down the side of the mountain, almost in the next county! (Happily for him, an obliging bear gave him a ride back up the mountain.) But shortly after that, we had a very bad hail storm, one result of which was that lots and lots of twigs and branches were knocked down from the trees - so Sudha collected samples of various lichens without having to leave the ground!
There are an amazing number of different kinds of lichens here and Sudha made a very thorough study of each. In the photo on the right you can see the variety she has chosen to work with - a kind with a flattened, leaf-like thallus. She told me the Latin name for it, but I've forgotten already. Sorry.
So, for the time being, we leave our two lab mates: Sudha hard at work separating the alga cells from the fungus cells in the lichen and Annie Laurie checking her lap top for emails from fellow scientists (or is she watching the puppy cam??? http://explore.org/#!/live-cams/player/service-puppy-cam )
Sudha, at work on the lichen phase of the broadband project, found that she needed a definitive census of the most common lichen at the top of the trees in the neighborhood. Annie Laurie had just what was needed from an old aeronautics project she worked on a couple of years ago! And not only that, several of the boys were eager to volunteer - didn't even need to pay them!!
Outfitting Christopher -- He's not crazy about the helmet, but the googles are cool!!
So with the harness all fitting correctly, the next step was to attach the wings. ("Wings?" you say. "Is this a good idea??") And LAUNCH!!!
Enjoy! (And don't worry, no dolls were harmed for this project!) R.
I apologize that it has taken me so long to share photos of the new broadband project lab. Annie Laurie and Sudha started getting their equipment together a couple of weeks ago, but I got distracted with the jūnihitoe project and didn't give them too much help in unpacking. But here are some pictures taken by Andreas (who helped unpack) to share with you.
Unpacking and setting up the fluorescent micro electron mass spectrometer sputter meter (FMEMSSM).
Their lab has one window with a nice view. Sudha has already brought one of her orchids in to liven the room up. Another "personal" touch is to hang a poster picture of one of their mentors.
Things are really getting organized by this time, and the lab coats have arrived!! Can't be a Scientist without a lab coat, after all.
And so, for now, we leave Annie Laurie calibrating her ultraviolet electron peekaboo microscope (UEPM). Thanks for taking the pictures Andreas - I'll try to keep up from now on!
Here in the mountains, the way these messages get from our computer onto the internet superhighway (and thus to your computer) is via broadband signals, same as what cell phones use. And here in the mountains there aren't a lot of cell phone towers, so catching a signal can be dicey at times. At one point (while Andria and I were creating this website) I was having enough difficulties with the signal that I was talking with folks at Nameless Provider and it was suggested that they would be very happy to put up a new tower on our land and pay us rent for the privilege!! We said "no thanks". Then I suggested to Brother that he could let Nameless Provider put up a tower on his land and we would just barely have line-of-sight to it and be home free as far as a good signal. He said "no thanks."
None of us like cell phone towers! They're ugly and they are death to a lot of migrating (and otherwise) birds. But I got to thinking ..... surely these days when everything is miniaturized, someone can create some sort of miniature alternative for cell phone towers!? And who better to talk over such ideas with than my ten inch tall friends? Annie Laurie, Sudha and I were out for a walk today when the subject came up:
Annie Laurie said "just look at all these tall trees - beautiful to the eye and extremely bird-friendly. Maybe we could create genetically engineered trees that would act as broadband signal antennas!"
"But sooooo big. And they take soooo long to get big. That could be a problem" said Sudha. "Not chestnut trees. They get big fast!" replied Annie Laurie. "And get the blight fast and die" retorted Sudha. "Our friends Russ, Paul and Joe with the American Chestnut Foundation are working on that - maybe we can just slip in a few more genes along with the blight resistance gene?" said Annie Laurie (who always thinks big).
Sudha, meanwhile, was thinking on a more micro-scale. "Wait a minute - these trees are all covered with lichens. Lichens are fungus and algae that work together. I think we should try putting the cell phone genes in the algae that goes into the lichens. They grow much faster than trees. And they don't get the blight".
"We'd have to make sure that the cell phone genes don't change either the trees or the lichens so that wild animals eating them would be harmed". "We'd need to make sure the gene was expressed in the bark of the tree and not the leaves so that in the fall, when the leaves come off, the transmission still continues". "We ......"
I left them brainstorming enthusiastically in the woods!
(To be continued.) R.
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