What makes life alive?

24 02 2010

Pebble plants (Lithops salicola) among rocks. What distinguishes one from the other?

What is it, exactly, that makes a thing alive? Why do we call a rabbit alive, but not a rock? Here’s a little dialog to help clarify the problem. This is hardly comprehensive and I reserve the right to make sweeping edits in the future! But here it is, just below the fold:

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!

Read the rest of this entry »





David Attenborough and More on Youtube!!

17 01 2010

The man himself! Sir David Attenborough.

The unparalleled naturalist David Attenborough has participated in a huge number of fantastic nature documentaries over the year, and it turns out a fair number of these are available on youtube! Having stumbled on these yesterday and spent several hours enjoying them, I felt compelled to share them with you, the public hungry for knowledge!

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!

Read the rest of this entry »





Emergent Phenomena and You

2 01 2010

The matter of the Chimpanzee and the matter of the stone are not so different...

Today I want to discuss something more philosophical than usual. This post contains personal thoughts that are not scientific and upon which there is not a consensus opinion. But I find the topic very, very interesting and I felt like sharing. So here we go.

The topic is Emergent Phenomena.

Let us start with a neuron.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!

Read the rest of this entry »





Awesome Cell Biology Animations!

1 09 2009
A few red blood cells imaged under a microscope. Red blood cells are an example of non-nucleated cells, meaning cells which lack a nucleus. Because of this feature, red blood cells cannot reproduce themselves. Luckily your body produces about two million per second, so this isn't a problem.

A few red blood cells imaged under a microscope. Red blood cells are an example of non-nucleated cells, meaning cells which lack a nucleus. Because of this feature, red blood cells cannot reproduce themselves. Luckily your body produces about two million per second, so this isn't a problem.

Cell biology is an extremely fascinating field! The amount of detail and the exquisite organization of the cell is mind-blowing. When I read about cell biology I sometimes throw my hands in the air and start shouting the word “What!” and flail my arms around and grab my head. Seriously. It’s unbelievable stuff. And I have some cool resources for you to help you get as excited about cell biology as I am.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!

Read the rest of this entry »





Chemical Structure of Molecule Imaged for First Time

1 09 2009
This is a diagram of the pentacene molecule which researchers in Zurich imaged. Each corner of each hexagon represents a carbon atom, and the lines represent bonds. The double lines represent double bonds. Not present on this diagram are the hydrogen atoms bond to the periphery.

This is a diagram of the pentacene molecule which researchers in Zurich imaged. Each corner of each hexagon represents a carbon atom, and the lines represent bonds. The double lines represent double bonds. Not present on this diagram are the hydrogen atoms bond to the periphery.

IBM researchers in Zurich, Switzerland have for the first time imaged a molecule, bonds and all. We live in a time when the gates of wonder are being wrenched open by human ingenuity! Check out the BBC News article here for the stunning image. Thanks go out to the inimitable Sam Tung for bringing this to my attention!





Are We Alone?

19 08 2009
The Earth, my home and yours.

The Earth, my home and yours. It looks lonely, doesn't it?

I recently received an email. It’s a good one, and the discussion it concerns is important.

Sam writes:

Hey guys,

I really enjoyed the Hubble post.  That was a pretty amazing video!  Between that, and seeing “District 9” this weekend, I was wondering what you thought the odds are that we are alone in the universe?

Thanks,

Sam

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!

Read the rest of this entry »





Science at Home

4 08 2009
Handsome scientist and bon-vivant Louis Pasteur helped develop germ theory, invented the first rabies vaccine, and of course, invented pasteurization! Jealous? I don't blame you.

Handsome scientist and bon-vivant Louis Pasteur helped develop germ theory, invented the first rabies vaccine, and of course, invented pasteurization! Jealous? I don't blame you.

Ever find yourself wracked with envy over the fabulous lifestyles of the members of the scientific community? Does the sight of a lab-coated, bespectacled scientist strolling down Park Avenue with an air of well-earned confidence turn you green with envy? Want to reel in the ladies like a marine biologist? Well worry no more friends!

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!

Read the rest of this entry »