Melissae Fellet is a freelance science writer obsessed with electrons, atoms and molecules. Writing about chemistry, physics and technology, she hopes to reveal how the invisible building blocks of matter influence things like plastics, perfumed shampoos and the speedy computer chips we use everyday. She holds a BS in biochemistry and microbiology from the University of Florida and a PhD in chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis. She spends sunny days at her home in Santa Cruz either watching otters in the bay or tromping around the redwood forests.
Chemists want to reengineer metabolic proteins and pathways in microbes so they can convert sugar into commodity chemicals. Now a mutant protein found in cancer cells provides clues to help scientists improve a protein that could help microbes create a precursor to nylon. In science, as in so much of life, inspiration can come from unusual places.
Scientists are looking for elements and molecules that signify life as we know it. But even if they don’t find those molecules, minerals contain important information about the Martian environment. That could help scientists determine if life could have survived on the planet.
A new ordinance in Alameda County requires the pharmaceutical industry to pay for disposal of extra medicine. The regulation is part of a larger movement to shift responsibility for waste disposal from local governments to companies that make products like paint, medicine and batteries.
Conserving delicate artwork requires knowing what paints and techniques were used to create a piece. A new imaging technique helps restorers look at the pigments in frescos even while visitors are enjoying the works in a gallery.
One hundred years after the sinking of the Titanic, questions still abound about what really caused the ship to go down. Two theories say the physical properties of the ship’s metal hull or the composition of the iron rivets could have worsened the damage when the ship slammed into the iceberg.