ProK: An Old ‘Pro’ That is Still In The Game

Proteinase K Ribbon Structure ImageSource=RCSB PDB; StructureID=4b5l; DOI=;
Proteinase K Ribbon Structure ImageSource=RCSB PDB; StructureID=4b5l; DOI=;
If you enter any molecular lab asking to borrow some Proteinase K, lab members are likely to answer: “I know we have it. Let me see where it is”. Sometimes the enzyme will be found to have expired. The lab may also have struggled with power outages or freezer malfunctions in the past. But the lab still decides to keep the enzyme. One may rightly ask – why do labs hang on to Proteinase K even when it has been stored under sub-standard conditions? Continue reading “ProK: An Old ‘Pro’ That is Still In The Game”

King Richard III Identified

Richard IIIBy now, you’ve seen the headlines. The bones that scientists found buried under a car park in Leicester, England, have been identified as those of the last Plantagenet king of England: Richard III. For those of you who might be new to this story, archaeologists identified and excavated the most likely burial spot for Richard III, under a car park near the Leicester City Council building, and unearthed a human skeleton with skeletal abnormalities similar to those of Richard III. Geneticists were called in to perform DNA analysis to determine if these bones were those of the English king. The DNA findings were just recently released. Now that scientists can say beyond a reasonable doubt that these bones belong to Richard III, we are learning new things about the ancient king. Continue reading “King Richard III Identified”

A Scientist’s Rant about the Word “Theory”

Frustrated scientistI have many pet peeves in my life. Because I am a scientific editor, many of my pet peeves revolve around abuse of the English language. The abuse that set me off most recently is the misuse of the word “theory”. These days everyone has a theory about something. For example I have a “theory” as to why I gained five pounds over the holidays: Too much rich food and egg nog! However, from a scientific standpoint, saying “I have a theory as to why I gained five pounds over the holidays” is not a proper use of the word theory. While it is likely that the food and egg nog contributed to the weight gain, I do not have a theory. The cause of the weight gain has not been scientifically scrutinized and put through rigorous testing. There isn’t a pile of scientific evidence to support my statement. What I have is a sound working hypothesis, not a theory.

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