Day: October 3, 2011

Monday, 3 October 2011

10:25 – The first weekday of what may be Black October. Or, perhaps more fittingly, Red October.

Greece is near collapse. Not just the economy; the country itself. Greece did not meet the requirements of the troika, so if the troika auditors follow their own rules they will recommend against releasing the final tranche of the 2010 bailout. Most people, including me, think they’ll ignore their own rules and release the final tranche just to stave off collapse for a few (or a couple) more weeks. If it were up to the EU and the ECB, that tranche would be released, period. But the IMF also has a vote, and it’s possible the IMF will stick to the rules. If so, Greece will default within days; if not, it may be a few more weeks. But it’s as certain as can be that Greece will default by the end of this year.

Several weeks ago, I mentioned rumors that Germany was already printing Deutsche Marks, and I’ve since heard the same rumor from several independent sources. It’s hard to keep something like that quiet. The current rumors say that Germany has placed a rush order with the printers, presumably to make sure it has new notes available when Greece defaults. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Germany will leave the euro, at least not immediately. This may be simply a contingency plan. But, contingency plan or not, I expect to see Germany re-introduce the DM sometime within the next few months, if not weeks. I don’t think there’ll be much choice.

I’m still working hard on the biology lab book. I have a couple of dozen lab sessions complete, other than images, with many more in progress. I’m getting more worried about sticking to my page count budget, but at this point I’m just continuing to add new lab sessions, and sometimes expand existing ones. By the time we get to 100% completion (scheduled for 31 December), I’ll probably have more lab sessions than we have room for in the book. If so, I’ll probably self-publish them as a supplemental set.

I also need to run or re-run some lab sessions to verify things. For example, yesterday I finished writing the lab session on extracting, isolating, and visualizing DNA. I’ve done that lab many times before, but always using 95% ethanol or 99% isopropanol. So the lab session is currently written using 95% ethanol, but I want to see how (and if) it works using 70% ethanol or 70% isopropanol, both of which are cheaper and easier to find than the 95%/99% varieties. The potential problem is that DNA is relatively soluble in water, but extremely insoluble in pure ethanol or isopropanol. During the isolation phase, one gently pours alcohol into the test tube that contains the aqueous DNA solution. That alcohol forms a layer on top of the aqueous layer, and DNA precipitates out at the boundary layer. If the alcohol contains significant water, I’m not sure how well that precipitation and the subsequent spooling of the DNA goop will work.

I could just specify 95% ethanol or 99% isopropanol, but I want to make it as easy and inexpensive as possible for readers to do the labs. So I’ll spend some time checking.

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