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Showing posts from 2018

A Brief Primer on Proteins for Bioinformatics Non-Biologists

You might recall, around the year 2000, a Grand Breakthrough in biology: the complete sequencing of human DNA.   People hoped that proteins would be next.  But now, about 20 years later, we're not at that level of understanding when it comes to PROTEINS rather than DNA...  Why? Because proteins are devilishly complex . If you're managing a database (relational or semantic) featuring proteins, you might think that the entities (records) of your database are simply "proteins", and that you're just going to need a number of fields (attributes) to describe those records...  Right?  Wrong! A little basic biology brush-up for starters...  Recall that DNA is a sequence of 4 "letters" ( nucleotides .)  Proteins are sequences of 20 "letters" (amino acids. )  So, why the immense complexity of proteins? There are 20 200  possible amino-acid sequences for a 200-residue protein, of which the natural evolutionary process has sampled only an infinites

Online Course Review: "Mysteries of Time" (prof. Sean Carroll, from "The Great Courses")

What is Time?  And why does it seem to "flow" in just one direction ("arrow of time")? Few questions could be more spellbinding - and almost intractable - than that! In this blog, I'll periodically include detailed reviews of some online courses I've taken. REVIEW OF ONLINE COURSE " Mystery of Time " (course by Cal Tech prof. Sean Carroll, produced by "The Great Courses" in 2012) Another fascinating course by Sean Carroll!  He's very ambitious to not only tackle the Universe - and the difficult abstract concept of Time's Arrow (direction) - but also to make it accessible (sort of) to a (serious and determined) lay audience. Speaking of "layperson", even though that's the intended audience, I'd only recommend this course to people who are used to, at the VERY least, watching (and enjoying!) documentaries on topics such as quantum mechanics and relativity. Let's face it: to seriously tackle

To Build or Not to Build One’s Own Desktop Computer?

“ VALENTINA ” [UPDATED JUNE 2021] - Whether you're a hobbyist, or someone who just needs a good desktop computer, or an IT professional who wants a wider breath of knowledge, or a gamer who needs a performant machine, you might have contemplated at some point whether to build your own desktop computer. If you're a hobbyist, I think it's a great project.  If you're an IT professional - especially a "coder" - I urge you to do it: in my opinion, a full-fledged Computer Scientist absolutely needs breath, ranging from the likes of Shannon's Information Theory and the Halting Problem - all the way down to how transistors work. And what about someone who just needs a good desktop computer?  A big maybe on that - but perhaps this blog entry will either help you, or scare you off for your own good! To build, or not to build, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of OEM's cutting corners and limit