public posts

The select public posts from syn·op·sis, written and reviewed by iSci students at McMaster University. Each post is interdisciplinary in nature, and a wide variety of subject matter is covered. So sit back, relax, and start learning.

Efflux Pumps as Drug Targets

FIgure 3: the RND efflux pump complex in a gram negative bacteria.

Multidrug resistance (MDR) has become a more and more prevalent issue within the last few months, as authorities say humanity has reached the post-antibiotic era, as opposed to approaching it (PBS, 2013). While currently considered to be an everyday commodity, antibiotics are important tools that form the basis of modern medicine, as they are essential Read the full article…

The Concreteness Effect: A Comparison of Apples and Facts

Figure 1: A Google search of the term “apple” yields tangible images, much like thinking the term “apple” would yield in your mind’s eye.

  Apple.   Fact.   Close your eyes and think about the two.   Which one of these words was easier to visualize in your mind when you read them? The answer is typically apple, or rather any concrete noun. More abstract terms, like “fact,” “truth,” and “reality,” are much more difficult to picture in Read the full article…

Sleep It Out

Figure 1: This image shows the convective flow of CSF though the para-arterial space, out through the (AQP4) water channels into the interstitial space. This drives the waste into ISF into the para-venous space which is taken out of the brain (Nedergaard, 2013).

On average humans spend a third of their lives sleeping (Underwood, 2013). Sleep deprivation had been shown to lead to poor decision-making, impaired learning and heightened risk of migraines and epileptic attacks. Even more severe, chronic and complete insomnia has been seen to result in death in humans (Herculano-Houzel, 2013). Yet for something so vital, Read the full article…

Vulcanization, Thermodynamics, and Elastic Bands

Vulcanization, Thermodynamics, and Elastic Bands

Whether they are holding your newspaper together, being shot at you by a friend, or just cluttering your junk drawer, elastic bands are all around us. However, this seemingly mundane material has some amazing, and even surprising, properties which can be understood by considering the thermodynamics at play. Elastic bands are elastomers and, like other Read the full article…

Vioxx: The Controversy

Figure 1: Mode of action of non-specific non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that target both COX-1 and COX-2.

As a strong analgesic with a significantly lower risk of stomach pain, rofecoxib (Vioxx) was a wildly successful painkiller with a worldwide annual revenue of 2.5 billion USD. However, following mounting evidence and public discovery that Vioxx doubles the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke, Merck & Co. withdrew the drug from the market on Read the full article…

The Shrinking Proton

The model of a proton

For decades there has been a unanimous agreement in the scientific community regarding the size of the proton (Lambert, 2013). Through various experiments, the size of the proton has been proven to be 0.8768 femtometers in radius. This value was widely accepted and considered to be as absolute as the speed of light in a Read the full article…

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