### Getting Science into Politics with 314 Action

by Mark Wolfman on 2018-05-03

One thing has become clear to me over the past year: our political system in the US needs more scientifically literate people. Luckily, the 314 Action group is working diligently on this. Last week, they hosted a training event in Chicago to give scientists the tools to successfully run for political office. As it turns out, many great scientists find the process of running a political campaign uncomfortable and foregin. I'll admit, the idea of asking people for money to fund a campagin sounds...unpleasant.

There were two national candidates there, but more exciting were the enthustic candidates for local and state offices: less glamorous but equally important. There was also a strong presence from graduate students and other early-career scientists. Completing a PhD and running for office is too much, but after grad-school...who knows!

### Entropy of the Universe

by Mark Wolfman on 2014-12-17

I had the following e-mail exchange with one of my Chem 114 students, Kinza. Usually, the questions I get are specific to what we're studying in class and they tend to be easier to answer during office hours. These questions, on the other hand, were Kinza trying to understand the concept of entropy. We had covered it briefly earlier in the semester in the chaprter on thermodynamics. It's definitely a difficult concept, one I don't understand fully myself. It's more in the physics realm than chemistry but I still felt it was worth sharing. Published with student's permission.

Hi Mark,

If every reaction that occurs increases the entropy of the universe, doesn't that mean that all the reactions going on in the universe are causing the entropy of the universe to keep going up? What's going to happen to the universe as predicted by thermochemistry?

-Kinza

### More Sunshine (Vitamin): Doctor's Orders

by Mark Wolfman on 2014-07-02

As per my doctor's suggestion, I'm spending the next week on a sailboat. No, it's not a blood pressure or a stress thing. I had a physical exam a while ago and for the most part everything was normal. The one exception was vitamin D deficiency. The solution? Spend more time in the sun.

Vitamin D is actually a group of five vitamins: D1 through D5. The most relevant to human health are vitamins D2 and D3 and are usually what people mean when they refer to “vitamin D”. My results listed “Vitamin D, 25-hydroxy” as 18 $$\frac{ng}{mL}$$ and the target range was 30-96 $$\frac{ng}{mL}$$. An article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that levels below 20 $$\frac{ng}{mL}$$ indicates a deficiency. Clearly I need to get those levels up. But why?

The sun at 17.1 nm light. Courtesy of SOHO/EIT consortium. SOHO is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

### Follow-up: I Have a Carbon Monoxide Detector. Now What?

by Mark Wolfman on 2014-06-01

This is a follow-up post to “Why Do I Need a Carbon Monoxide Detector?”, which talks about the chemistry of carbon monoxide with oxygen-transporting proteins in your blood. I received a few questions about the relationship between carbon monoxide levels in the air and the levels in your hemoglobin. I also wanted to learn how carbon monoxide alarms respond to carbon monoxide (CO) but not other gases in the air, like carbon dioxide (CO2).