by Andre on 15 April 2007
Larry Moran, a biochemist at the University of Toronto, has a series of posts on his blog Sandwalk explaining the cascades of enzymes that regulate blood clotting. It’s an amazing process that must be carefully regulated. If the balance tips towards too much (or inappropriate) clotting, heart attacks and strokes result. Insufficient clotting leads to bleeding disorders. Moran guides us through from the basics, platelets, Extrinsic Activity and Platelet Activation, to intrinsic activity. It’s a free course in biochemistry and it provides the perfect background for some of our recent work on the mechanics of fibrinogen, the protein that actually forms the network of clots at the end of these enzyme cascades.
This kind of mini-tutorial is one of the great things that science blogging encourages and I hope we get more of it. The low number of comments on many science-heavy posts, even on very popular blogs like Pharyngula, shouldn’t be taken as a sign that there’s no interest in these topics. They don’t generate the same immediate reaction as posts on politics or religion, but they’re part of something larger that’s slowly developing. Since the Internet has become so easily searchable, finding scientific information written by experts for a lay audience is becoming much easier. Wikipedia is great, but the loosely nit archive of science that’s developing in science blogs has a different character. These posts often have interesting tangents about related topics and more narrative structure making them easier to read and, perhaps most importantly, they’re interactive so if you have a question about the subject of the post, blogs offer a great opportunity to directly ask experts for clarification without having to wait for the topic to come up in an “ask the experts” column in a science magazine.