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Archive for February, 2016

earlyvote

Don’t wait – your vote in the Texas primary can count much more than in November. Texas can affect presidential races, most Texas statewide races are settled in primaries and a lot fewer people vote.

The Brazos County polls close at 8 p.m. Friday for early voting in this presidential primary. Let’s do this!

  • Any day this week between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Grab your driver’s license (or other government ID from this list)
  • Bring a sample ballot “cheatsheet” if you want — printable here
  • And head to any one of these five locations: http://brazosvotes.org/when

If you wait till election day, March 1, you’ll actually have 26 locations to choose from in Brazos County — you can vote at any of them, but you have to do it that day, and the polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

(Click here to check whether you’re registered to vote: http://brazosvotes.org/register/ami)

You’ll be voting on an electronic machine that will automatically know what precincts you’re in and will let you skip a race if you’re not sure who you want to vote for in it.

Everybody gets to vote on the presidential candidates and the statewide races such as Railroad Commissioner, Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and State Board of Education (some nonpartisan info on these candidates is here).

Each party will also ask for your opinion on several issues (referendum/proposition) that may help decide the state parties’ platforms. These items have no weight in law.

Contested local races (see below for how to find your district/precinct):

  • On the Republican ballot, there are contested races in U.S. Congressional District 17, State House Districts 12 and 14, county commissioners in Precincts 1 and 3, and for Brazos County sheriff. Go here and scroll down to read recent Eagle news stories on some of these races: http://www.theeagle.com/news/elections/
  • On the Democratic ballot, there is only one contested local race, and it’s to determine who will be the party’s chairperson for Precinct 17. I couldn’t find any more information about this race other than the names.

(Voting in the Democratic or Republican primary doesn’t mean you have to vote for that party in November, but it does mean you’ll have to stick with that party if there is a runoff election in this current primary.)

Finding your district and precinct:

 

 

 

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walk
This animation of a “walking” protein inside a cell is going viral, and I became briefly obsessed with figuring out what’s going on here. Behavior that looks conscious and deliberate can’t, of course, be deliberate or conscious at the subcellular level. It’s just as fascinating, though.

What it is: A kinesin protein hauling a vesicle (pouch that can contain various things the cell needs) along a microtubule.

How are its “feet” moving? Reactions (see video, below.)The protein floats around till one of its feet hits a microtubule, where it binds. Then that foot releases a nucleotide (ADP), which leaves a site on its surface open that gets filled by a different nucleotide (ATP); this triggers the kinesin to wave its other foot forward. The front foot attaches and starts the same cycle; the back foot processes its ATP into ADP, releasing phosphate, and detaches from the tubule, then waves forward and “takes a step,” attaching to the microtubule again.

Why does it look deliberate? The process isn’t as smooth or clean as depicted in some animations like this, which are simplified to show the essential motions. In real life, there’s more jiggling and colliding. In fact, all the floating confusion is one reason why the “two-feet” method works — the kinesin is never completely detached from the microtubule, so it doesn’t float away.

Why is it moving in a particular direction? Microtubules have polarity, and some types of motor proteins will move toward the plus-end or minus-end.

I hat-tip @picpedant, where I first saw this, and recommend this by the artist who created the animation shown above, as well as this discussion of some of the misconceptions surrounding the viral version.

 

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