Titin Protein – The Longest Word in English

By Anupum Pant

Background

No, I’m not talking about the fictional character Tintin. It’s Titin I’m talking about. The initial part of it is pronounced almost like Titan, but please do not confuse it with Titan.  Titin is the largest protein molecule ever discovered. Soon you’ll see why it is the largest…

Titin is the short name for an extremely massive protein molecule. The full-length scientific name of this protein molecule contains 189,819 characters and is considered (by some) as the longest word in not just English, but any language.

Others choose to not consider it a word at all. You won’t even find the full scientific name of Titin in any dictionary. According to lexicographers it is only a chemical formula, not a word. Technically, they are right. So, it is not really the longest word in English.

In that case, probably a lung disease called pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis can be considered the largest word. There are 45 letters in it. But my history teacher once told me that floccinaucinihilipilification (meaning, the estimation of something as worthless) was the longest word in English. Well, someone needs to tell me which one it really is. Till then, I’ll consider Titin as the undefeated champion…

What is it?

Titin is a protein found in certain kind of muscle tissues. It is the thing that makes those muscles elastic. For instance, in heart muscles – that expand and contract continuously for decades, without a break. The folded nature of this huge molecule makes it act like a spring – just like a long wire can be coiled into a small spring. The full chemical formula goes like this:

C132983H211861N36149O40883S693

I won’t spam my blog with the full name, but I’ll definitely point you to it. [Full name spelled out]. If you are too lazy to go there, it starts like this:

Methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylalrylglycylphenylalanylprolylvalylprolyylglycylarginylalanyllysylleucylthreonylglutamylleucylleu…

and ends like this:

partylaspartylleucylthreonylthrnylaspartylvalylglutaminyllysylglutamilthreonylleucylserylleucylglycylasparalaspartylserylalanylthr…

The video: It takes about 233 minutes to pronounce the full chemical name – Yes, a guy tried it out (with video cuts of course). The gentleman pronounces it on camera for you. If you care enough to watch the whole 3 and half hour-long video, you’ll see how the man grows a stubble while pronouncing it. Also, you’ll see the plant dying out. But those are only gimmicks that makes the video funny. I’d like to add that his expression in the end is priceless. You shouldn’t miss that. Here, I’ve attached it for you below:

To use up the same amount of time in a better manner, I suggest that you watch the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate.

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His Blood was a Powerful Snakebite Serum

By Anupum Pant

Background

Trust me, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. Bill Haast, born in the year 1910 was one very interesting person. He was a man who was immune to the bites of some of the world’s most dangerous snakes like cobras, vipers (and others). He was the only person to have survived 3 king cobra bites. He even survived the bite from a blue krait (the snake died). Not just that. His blood was treated as a powerful snakebite serum. He also saved countless lives simply donating his blood. Was it a superpower of some sort?

Did you know? Venom and Poison are not the same things.

How?

Maybe you could call it that. But, the superpower did not happen spontaneously. He did it to himself. He turned himself into a human experiment (at the cost of his life) to attain this level of resistance to snake venom.

His secret: Bill Hast, bitten by snakes more than 170 times, in his time, was a man who was bitten by poisonous snakes more times than any other living man. But those were mostly accidents that happened when he handled snakes during his career with snakes, a career that lasted more than 60 years. He built antibodies in his blood by voluntarily injecting snake venom every week since 1948! When he started doing this to himself, he did not know if he’d survive.

However, the man went on to hit 100 years of healthy life. Look at how he moves around at the age of 88. (Certainly not as agile as the 86-year-old gymnast – the super grandma. No one beats that!). He died on June 15, 2010.

His job: His real occupation was to collect venom to make anti-venom serums. He owned about 10,000 snakes. He collected the venom by repeating the process thousands of time (at the same time he was kind to the snakes). For drug companies in the year 1990, he was the source for 36,000 samples of venom.

Did you know? There is a Wasp that turns a cockroach into a zombie with its venom!

The other side of it

Of course the superpower came with a cost. In the video, you can see how had gnarled, he had lost the use of couple of muscles in his hand and had scars all over. He did it all with good intentions in mind, not for the money. Bill Haast, certainly was a legend.

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Moving Light Captured on Camera

By Anupum Pant

The speed of light

In vacuüm, light travels 299,792,458 meters in a single second. In other words, in a single second it travels 186,000 miles. To establish a  perspective, if I could move that fast, I would circumnavigate the world in 0.13 seconds. A hypothetical jet plane would take more than 2 days to do the same. In short, it is fast. It is the fastest – Nothing beats light.

If you try to record moving light on a home camera, you’d fail miserably. That is because normally they can roll only about 30 to 60 frames per second. In fact, you’d not even be able to capture a fast-moving ball without motion blur, forget recording moving light. To record fast things you need fast cameras that can roll several thousands of frames every second.

In the past, high-speed-cameras, rolling film at thousands of frames per second have been able to record bullets moving in slow motion, bubbles bursting, people getting punched and what not! MythBusters use such cameras for almost every experiment they do.

But light travels a million times faster than bullets. Till the year 2011, to capture moving light on film was considered an impossible feat; and then, a team from MIT media lab invented this.

A 1,000,000,000,000 FPS camera

A camera that can record at a speed equivalent to a theoretical one-trillion-FPS camera was invented by a team at MIT media labs in the year 2011. This camera can record light moving through space, in slow motion! To look at what it can do, you’ll have to watch the video below. In the video, the researcher explains its mechanism in detail.

It is theoretically impossible to craft a mechanical device that can roll film at such extremely high speeds. To tackle this physical limit, these geniuses invented a whole setup containing several cameras sensors that work together to make this feat possible.

Note: In reality, the camera doesn’t record the footage of a trillionth of a second. It is a composite video of lines of different pulses of a laser recorded and stitched together. The time it takes to compile enough data for the video, is more than what it takes the light to travel from one end to another.

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