Post 1: The Difficulties of Interviews

After a long and busy June, I have finally begun the actual interview process for my project looking into people’s perception of environmental policies. A couple of weeks ago, I made a list of potential interviewees and contacted a couple of them. I was trying to find people who would be interested and have a unique perspective while keeping the group representative of the Dover population. I did some research about the breakdown of different groups in Dover in order to make sure I represent all different ages, classes, and races. I’ve found about six people to interview so far, but would really like to find at least two more in the next two weeks.

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Dark Humor Research Update #2

I have just closed my survey after collecting 172 anonymous responses. Out of the 172 responses, 53 respondents completed the entire survey. Although this indicates a completion rate of about 30%, I believe I can still analyze my results with significance since my completed sample size is 53 (Above the generally accepted n = 30 for statistical analysis).

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Modeling Crystal Structures

The idea behind x-ray crystallography is that focused, collimated x-rays diffract off of clouds of electron density in a calculated manner defined by the Bragg equation. By measuring the intensity of these reflected x-rays, we can reverse engineer a 3D lattice from sets of thousands of diffracted spots, called reflections. My last post detailed some of the more physical skills related to crystallography, but I completely neglected to mention one of the greatest programs ever created for crystallography: SHELX. SHELX was developed in the 1960s and 1970s. It was coded in fortran wth the goal that it could be completely self-contained. This occurred at a time when the Internet was in its infancy, so everything that crystallographers used had to be independent. Keep in mind, this was originally stored on perforated paper tapes! SHELXLE is the GUI that crystallographers use today for refining structures. Fortunately, it lets you see the 3D visualization after every iteration. (The original version required crystallographers to print out a paper with numbers in the exact location of each atom from a specified orientation, so this is much more user friendly.) The goal of refinement is to match the measured electron density with positions of molecules in the lattice, while realistically describing how atoms interact. This is very different from simply reading off a graph because the data is coming in three dimensions of space and it extends ad infinitum. It is important to remember that the refinements are attempting to match all of space with the average unit cell. Sometimes free variables must be added and refined to proportions that describe how likely a certain arrangement is.

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Post 1: Immunocontraception and Chemical Sterilization

I know… It’s July. Where has the summer gone? The time from April til now has given me more opportunity to really think about my research.

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