My favorite courses thus far in university.
They are second year courses, an introduction to the fundamental concepts of neuroscience; anatomy, neurochemistry, pharmacology, cognitive processes etc and introductory biochemistry. I finally dove into what I really want to learn about and pursue in my career.
That being said, mid term season is back. I've got a lot on my plate this year, working 3/4 time, and with a full course load. Studying didn't get any easier and the work load didn't get any lighter, on the contrary, it was a bit of a surprise as to how much memorization I need to accomplish. So today I've got one done and several more mid terms to go, but at least it's interesting...
...and applicable. I always remembered hearing "I'll never use this shit. Why the hell do I need to learn how to calculate the line at which two planes intersect, or how to take the derivative of a function." Well I finally did something that I could see myself doing again.
My second lab in my current biochemistry course consisted of two parts; separation of amino acids using a cation-exchange column, and then identification of them via thin layer chromatography. In a nut shell, amino acids either elute from the column, or get stuck to the resin inside it depending on their charge. Then you apply the samples collected to a TLC plate, and when a non-polar solvent runs up the TLC plate, some of the amino acids travel further than others depending on their polarity. Here's what the final product looks like.
TLC plate of standard amino acid samples and unknown amino acid mixture.
On the far left, the two red splotches under the 'X' are the two amino acids in the unknown. If you follow a horizontal line across, they should match up with others from the sample, and if they are at the same level, they are the same amino acid.
I kinda messed this up, I think I mixed up some of the samples, so in my results I only pin pointed one of the two amino acids. Not a big deal when it's a second year biochemistry class. (And those 4 small dots in the top right corner... I lost focus and forgot which was which, so I had to turn the place upside down and start again.)
However, it is a big deal if you happen to mix up other compounds, and then ingest them. Take 2C-B-FLY and bromo-dragon-fly for example. Recent deaths have been attributed to a mix up that happened by an RC distributor. It extremely unfortunate that this occurred and that lives were lost, and it shows how careful one needs to be when they're going to consume something they are not as sure as possible about. But that being said, one can use thin layer chromatography in a similar fashion if they know the contents of standard samples.
TLC plate with Marquis test comparing "2C-B-Fly" with known substances.
On a different note, I remember one of the more interesting biology labs we had to perform, where we applied a small amount of norepinephrine to Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) scales, to determine it's effect on melanophores. It (NE) basically causes the skin to become more pale and change color by decreased cellular levels of cAMP and pigment granules to aggregate.
I couldn't stop thinking about whether or not NE has any recreational potential. :laugh: Either way, there was a tiny vial ( <5 ml or so ) for the whole class, and it was guarded heavily by of the TA's.
That being said, I am starting to approach my studies in a more responsible way, aware of the fact that some day in the future I will be responsible for chemicals that the general public does not have access to. As time goes on, I won't be able to afford screwing up, and letting something go missing. One good friend of mine once stole some sort of magnesium oxide, way back in high school, when he learned he could mix it with hydrogen peroxide to produce oxygen. Let's get high on oxygen, he thought. Ridiculous.
Onward and upward...