Saturday, April 23, 2016

A to Z: Telomeres

"Mom, since you last saw me, I've learned about infrared spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance, gotten addicted to a new show called The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, found five dollars on the ground, and I think I've figured out how to reverse the aging process!"

When Bigger Girl comes home, you never know what you will hear.

Okay, i said, then waited.  You never have to wait long, she loves to tell about whatever is going through her mind at the moment.

"The infrared spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance i'm learning about in class, and the five dollars on the ground was pure luck.  But that show!

"Mom, it's great!  Kimmy was held in a cult and then rescued, and it's about how she's adjusting to a new life outside of it.  It's actually taught me a new coping skill!  If you can get through the next ten seconds, all is well.  Then the next ten seconds.  If you have to, you just get through the hard things ten seconds at a time!"

Like my saying that you can do anything, or put up with almost anything, for fifteen minutes, i said.

"Right!  But sometimes the next fifteen minutes is too scary to contemplate, especially in an organic chemistry exam, so I go with ten seconds.  I can get through the ten seconds it takes to read a question, then the ten seconds to reread and make sure I understood, then some time to think about the answer, then writing it down.  See?  Break it down into the smallest increments you need to get through it."

Well done, i said.  So, how are you going to reverse the aging process?

"You know how our life span is controlled by our telomeres?  Those are the things at the ends of the strands of DNA, and they shorten when cells divide, and when they are gone the cell dies, right?"

Right, i said, because yes, i've heard of that.

"So, how about we take noncoding retrotransposons from viruses and use them to extend our telomeres indefinitely!  We'd live forever!  We'd never even get sick!"

It does sound like a promising area of research, but remember nature has a way of biting us in the rump when we try to mess with such things, i said.

"Oh, I know, but it would be a great thing to research, and think about if it worked!"

What would worry me is that i can think of a few people i wouldn't want living forever!

Today is:

Alfred G. "Alferd" Packer Day -- Colorado

Book Day and Lover's Day -- Spain, especially Catalan (women give books to men, while men give flowers to the women. Celebrated in the Spanish city of Barcelona since 1714 to honor Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes [author of "Don Quixote"] and in observance of St. George's Day)

Canada Book Day

Chance Day -- Fairy Calendar

Children's Day -- North Cyprus; Turkey

Community Day -- CL, Spain

Community Day/St. George's Day -- AR, Spain

English Language Day -- UN 

Historic Garden Week in Virginia -- VA, US (enjoying some of Virginia's finest homes and gardens)

Impossible Astronaut Day -- if you are a Dr. Who fan, you know, and if not, go here and find out   

Independence Day -- Conch Republic, Key West, FL. US (a tongue-in-cheek micronation which seceeded from the Union in 1982; celebrated yearly with a week long festival)

International Marconi Day -- a 24-hour amateur radio event annually near the birth anniversary of Marconi

International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day -- on St. George's Day, encouraging members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America to continue to be what Howard V. Hendrix derrogatorily termed "webscabs", posting their stories free on the internet

International Sing Out Day -- no one will claim responsibility for this one, but i promise not to observe it!

Jurgi Festival -- Ancient Latvian Calendar (day sacred to Usins; first day outdoor work began for the summer)

Lazarus Saturday -- Orthodox Christian
     Lazarovden -- Bulgaria (along with celebrating the raising of Lazarus, there are fertility rituals, especially involving young maidens, and honoring the goddesses of spring and love)

Loktantra Diwas -- Nepal (Democracy Day)

National Cherry Cheesecake Day

National Picnic Day -- US

National Sovereignty Day -- Turkey

Redbud Trail Rendezvous -- Rochester, IN, US (living history along the Tippecanoe River; through tomorrow)

Sigurd the Dragon Slayer's Day -- because he was probably the inspiration for the legends about St. George

St. Adalbert's Day (Patron of Bohemia; Czech Republic; Poland; Prague, Czech Republic; Prussia)

St. George's Day (Patron of archers, armourers, Boy Scouts, butchers, cavalry, chivalry, Crusaders, equestrians, farmers, field hands, field workers, horsemen, horses, husbandmen, knights, lepers, Order of the Garter, Palestinian Christians, riders, Romanian Army, saddle makers, saddlers, sheep, shepherds, soldiers, Teutonic Knights; Canada; England; Ethiopia; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Lithuania; Malta; Portugal; Cappadocia; Catalonia; Palestine; over 20 cities and diocese around the world; against herpes, leprosy, plague, skin diseases, skin rashes, syphilis; by the middle ages, St. George was revered in much of Europe as the personification of chivalry)*

Take a Chance Day -- internet generated encouragement to try something different

Talk Like Shakespeare Day -- on The Bard's attributed birth anniversary 

Vinalia Priora -- Ancient Roman Calendar (tasting the first wines of the year)

World Book & Copyright Day -- UN (this date chosen because of how parts of Spain celebrate St. George's Day, with books)
     World Book Night -- Germany; Ireland; UK; US (anniversary of the birth and death of Shakespeare, and the death of Miguel de Cervantes; encouraging you can share books and your love of reading with those who don't read much
World's Biggest Fish Fry -- Paris, TN, US (parades, auto shows, arts and crafts, and of course, all-you-can-eat catfish dinner; through the 30th)

*To save a Maid, St. George the Dragon slew
A pretty tale, if all is told to be true
Most say, there are no Dragons, and tis said
There was no George: pray God there was a Maid.
-- John Aubrey, Remains of Gentilism (1688)

Birthdays Today:

Dev Patel, 1990
John Cena, 1977
Kal Penn, 1977
Scott Bairstow, 1970
Melina Kanakaredes, 1967
George Lopez, 1961
Valerie Bertinelli, 1960
Craig Sheffer, 1960
Jan Hooks, 1957
Judy Davis, 1955
Michael Moore, 1954
Joyce DeWitt, 1949
Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, 1947
Sandra Dee, 1942
David Birney, 1940
Lee Majors, 1940
Roy Orbison, 1936
Shirley Temple Black, 1928
Vladimire Nabokov, 1899
Lester Bowles "Mike" Pearson, 1897
Sergei Prokofiev, 1891
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, 1858
Granville T. Woods, 1856
James Buchanan, 1791
William Penn, 1621
William Shakespeare, 1564(attributed -- only the day of his baptism, April 26, is known for certain)

Debuting/Premiering Today:

"Baywatch"(TV), 1989
"No Man's Land"(Play), 1975
"She Loves Me"(Musical), 1963
"Patience; or, Bunthorne's Bride"(Opera), 1881
"Il re pastore/The Shepherd King"(Mozart opera, K 208)1775
"The Tender Husband"(Comedy), 1705

Today in History:

The founding of the Order of the Garter by King Edward III is announced on St George's Day, 1348
William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor is first performed, with Queen Elizabeth I in attendance, 1597
The first public school in the United States, Boston Latin School, is founded in Boston, Massachusetts, 1635
Connecticut is chartered as an English colony, 1662
Canada issues its first postage stamps, 1851
The Vitascope system of movie projection debuts the first motion picture at Koster & Bial's Music Hall in NYC, 1896
Namibia becomes the 160th member of the UN and the 50th member of the Commonwealth of Nations, 1990
Eritrians vote overwhelmingly for independence from Ethiopia, 1993
Beijing closes all schools for two weeks because of the SARS virus, 2003
The gamma ray burst GRB 090423 is observed for 10 seconds. The event signals the most distant object of any kind and also the oldest known object in the universe, 2009
Despite an initial ban on the film 'Borat,' Kazakhstan issues and official 'thank you' to actor Sacha Baron Cohen for his character, Borat Sagdiyev, 2012


  1. Really cool conversations you have with that girl. I wonder what she is going to do with her life.

  2. Great piece of writing. I'd never heard of telomeres before. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I can also think of a few people I wouldn't want living forever.

  4. I can't think of a lot of people I wouldn't want living forever. Let's not do this.

    Then you'd have to work forever. Never the hope of retirement. Nope, not interested.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  5. laughing at your ending thought. and enjoying your smart girl. :)

  6. Gosh... trouble is, if we all live forever, and never get ill, the planet will soon run out of resources (as it is already doing) and they'll have to start finding a way to go about murdering people... or perhaps sterilising everyone not considered 'good enough' to procreate. It's not a good thought. ~Liz

  7. Either someone is very smart or i am a little dim. I suspect the former...maybe a bit of both.

  8. ha - great minds, because my first thought was okay but WHO could afford this fancy immortal technology, and I just got an image of Trump in my head. LOL
    I do like the 10 second idea though.

  9. Tell your daughter that she is not allowed to share this info with ANY politician!!!

  10. ROFL, I tend to agree with you there, I'm pretty sure that I don't even want to live forever!! I love the fresh minds of youth though, believing that anything is possible. I once believed that way too, now I am more practical, but I still have hope for us all!


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