The periodic table represents a chemical blueprint for organizing the elements of life. By analogy to an orchestra, each element can be thought of as an instrument with a unique sound and personality. In this month’s Midday Science Cafe, you’ll meet two chemical biologists who not only listen to the music that nature plays by studying the structure and properties of elements, but also actively compose music by developing new ways to harness elements to advance the frontiers of research. Berkeley Lab scientist Kathy Shield will walk us through the f-elements, the elusive, and often dismissed, bottom two rows of the periodic table. These elements have truly amazing properties: some are radioactive, some glow, some help cure cancer, and some power your cell phone. UC Berkeley researcher Dr. Eva Ge will introduce us to the wonderful world of metals, which are essential for life and the function of all DNA, RNA, and one-third to one-half of all proteins. Additionally, unique properties of metals, such as spin or radioactivity, can be harnessed to create new diagnostics and therapeutics in medicine.
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