Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Daft Punk, Exams, and Biochemical Awesomeness

Whoa, over 10,000 views! When did THAT happen?? Thanks for reading; it's very encouraging to see that people read what I write on here...

For the record, I love my classes (Analytical Chemistry and Biochemistry I). Not always equally (and not always consistently...), but for the most part I genuinely enjoy the time I spend learning.

Aaaaand following that warm-and-fuzzy thought, I just made myself laugh by thinking how good it is that they don't shorten Analytical Chemistry in the same way as Biochemistry was shortened from Biological Chemistry...

Yup, I'm in two classes, so normally I'd be expecting two exams right about now. What's that? I have three, you say?? That's right! Apparently my Analyt prof decided to make this exam twice as large and worth the same number of points, so now it spans two days. Why? The only reason I can find is that he didn't want to be choosy about what to include, so he's including EVERYTHING.

I could have done very well without that...

I've gotten back into listening to music while studying and working, and let me tell you - it's GREAT. I found a particularly energetic / pump-me-up album in Daft Punk's Tron Legacy R3CONFIGURED album. Not everyone's cup of tea I'm sure, but it did lend itself to an awesome, impromptu dance party with my wife... See #8. After this experience, I will be looking more heavily into remixed soundtracks for my study-listening pleasure.

Next Analyt exam is Friday, then a tasty Biochem exam on Monday. Mmm...

One last thing I'd like to mention (edit: "mention" was used lightly here... it would've been better said, "discuss in inordinate detail") corresponds to the images below that highlight membrane transport proteins.
These are some of my notes from Monday's lecture, and it was just another of those I-am-blown-away-by-the-neat-complexity-and-awesomeness-of-what-I-am-learning moments. The intricate biological machinery employed to monitor conditions across our cell membranes - it just floors me.

These transport proteins, made up of huge chains of amino acids folded together (see below picture for an artificially simple example), get plugged into the lipid bilayer in the appropriate amounts to construct and maintain extremely sensitive charge and concentration gradients. In the example above (blown up for better viewing) ATP (adenosine triphosphate) binds to a region of the protein located within the cell but attached to the membrane. ATP donates energy through the loss of an inorganic phosphate molecule to form ADP (adenosine diphosphate). This causes a conformational change in the protein, creating an opening in the cell membrane through which ions can travel.
On top of all that, as you can see in the calculations shown in my notes and in the problem below, given the concentration of solutes inside and outside the cell as well as the charge potential across the cell membrane, we can actually calculate how much free energy it takes to transport a given ion across the membrane! Very cool stuff. I'm looking forward to Biochemistry in med school, though mostly for the detail we'll see, not so much the pace at which we see it... Today my professor said they tend to cover the material at least five times as fast as we cover it in our lectures...

Yikes!

1 comment:

Bekah said...

Not as in depth. Very fast. Lots of clinical correlations. I think you will be fine - we just did membrane transport in Phys and it was no where near that level. :) No calculations.

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