Friday, October 10, 2014

The Tree of Life

Explore Life on Earth
(or if you need phylogeny help)
Explore Life on Earth
"The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree... As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications."
Charles Darwin, 1859

Friday, June 13, 2014

Purrrrr? Do you feel better?

I was surfing through Pinterest, and came upon the following photo. Now, I'm a crazy cat lady, but I was skeptical if this was true. So I decided to try and find a paper.

"Recent research has shown that the soothing sounds of a kitty can aid your body in a number of ways, greatly counteracting any heartache that comes from your cat ignoring you." Source.
Never has an article spoken such true words. That being said, many articles continue claiming cats heal you, but every one of them cited other articles that cited other articles, and never of the actual research paper they spoke of. This article then cited the following article from Death and Taxes Magazine. Watta title. 

I know from my experience that cats help lower my stress, especially when you have 3. I'd like to add that even just looking at adorable cat pictures helps reduce stress, especially chunky ones. Like the ones in the delightfullychubby subreddit (which I highly recommend you check out). 

I found this site, purring.org. Yes, it is real. They have a few papers and several videos and MP3 recordings of domestic cats and cheetahs purring. But I didn't find anything supporting our big question. Nonetheless, I thought it was cool to see this man's work dedicated to felid (cat) purring. 

I couldn't find a paper supporting their claims. But I did find this related paper in which a 1Hz frequency on the tibias of rabbits provided measured improvement in bone strength. But still not what I'm looking for.

Then I found this site, a fellow crazy cat lady who provides an excerpt of a magazine article related to the cat's purr, titled  "Secret Sounds That Heal", written by Paula Peterson, who then goes out to interview Elizabeth Von Muggenthaler, a research scientist and bio-acoustic specialist. Apparently Muggenthaler published a paper titled The felid purr: A healing mechanism? but I can't for the life of me find the full paper, only the abstract. Oddly, even Web of Science found no records of the paper, nor records of the author.

So overall, I couldn't find direct evidence for all the claims in the photos. Therefore we should always take infographics with a grain of salt, and always check the sources. As much as I wanted all these claims to be true. But, I will say that cats can help lower stress. Granted, you're not allergic to them or have had any bad experiences with them, then on that hand I believe it will increase you stress. But I'm no doctor, so don't take my word for it. 

And now I end this with a photo of my cat sleeping inside a Chipotle bag. Enjoy.

Trillionthtonne.org

A few weeks ago in my Earth 130 class (Global Warming) Professor Lea asked that we each share the following link to at least one person. 
The bright red number in the billions is the estimated tonnes of carbon emitted since the Industrial Revolution. Once we reach 1 trillion tonnes of carbon, there is expected to be a global warming of 2 degrees Celsuis. This site even has the date and time we expect to hit that point, as well as the estimated rate we must reduce our carbon emissions to avoid emitting 1 trillion tonnes of carbon. It's extremely interesting to see these numbers changing at such a fast rate, and the expected time move closer and closer. Definitely check it out. (I also highly recommend Earth 130, Professor Lea is awesome to have discussions with and knows it all, considering climate change is his line of work.)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Forensic Entemology

I've been going back on some old notes from quarter and came across a topic that Professor Latto mentioned briefly but didn't divulge on too much: forensic entomology. That is, the use of insects to analyze a corpse and other investigations. The following paper is a little old for the field (1992) but gave some great insight that was well laid out and easy to understand for a variety of aspects involved in the field, from using metabolic rate of organisms and many other techniques to find out not only post-mortem interval but many other key features.

http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.en.37.010192.001345

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Allosphere!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to get a peek inside of the Allosphere on our campus, which for those of you who don't know is a surrounding visual/audio simulator 3-stories tall inside of Elings Hall. It costs $3,000/ hour to run, but has vast opportunity when it comes to research. A lot of it is being used for media and arts technology, but it's also being taken on a path of biological simulations as well. They showed me the Allobrain, which created an architectural space of the brain but also used spatial sound cues corresponding to data of brain-blood density in different locations, entirely from numerical sets of data. MRI scans are being transposed into the sphere and used to virtually display the dynamics inside the body.



In case any of you are interested in viewing it, they have it open to public once a year towards the end of fall quarter and if you look online you can find out when to go early the day of and grab tickets. It's quite astounding. It's always encouraging to see art and science merge in such a magnificent way, and have both thrive off of each other.
http://www.allosphere.ucsb.edu/

For a brief TED talk on it, there's a link here.
http://www.ted.com/talks/joann_kuchera_morin_tours_the_allosphere

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Memory and Sleep Connection

Recent studies have been done with mice to study the effects sleep has in learning. According to these studies, mice who were able to sleep after learning had established more connections between the nerves in their brains than those mice who were deprived of their precious sleep. Mice who were able to sleep showed considerable growth in the lengths of their dendritic cells, over those that did not. According to the papers, the actual mechanism by which this occurs remains unknown, but results were observed.

With finals week coming up soon, this seemed like a relevant topic to post, as a reminder to sleep before your tests, and that sacrificing some of your sleep to cram into the wee-hours of the night right before, might not actually be the best idea. Good luck with your finals everyone!

Here is a link to the article I found about the study.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Training Cancer Sniffing Dogs

I know this has already been posted about and presented on, but I personally find this extremely interesting and thought watching this video would be worth-while. It shows footage of how the dogs are trained to recognize cancer and gives a little more information on it. It will be exciting to see where this takes the medical field in recognizing and diagnosing cancer! :)



(If the video doesn't work, here is the link!)

Flamboyant Cuttlefish

Found on muddy substrate in waters off Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia, the aptly named flamboyant cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) is an irresistible subject for underwater photographers. Reaching a mere 8 centimeters in length, this colorful little cephalopod hunts tiny fish and crustaceans using two modified feeding tentacles. The "cuttlebone," the chalky inner structure that cuttlefish use for buoyancy, is very small in this species. Therefore, the flamboyant does not hover in midwater, but rather "walks" on the seafloor using 3 pairs of fleshy flaps on its underside.
Being a very poor swimmer, the flamboyant cuttlefish relies primarily on it's vibrant colors for defense. When threatened, it flashes bright hues of red, yellow, and magenta, while pulsing pale patches of color down its sides in a cloud-like fashion. Despite the obvious message of this aposematic coloration, it remained uncertain whether or not the flamboyant cuttlefish was actually poisonous. This question was answered when cephalopod specialist Mark Norman sampled the flamboyant's muscle tissues. He found that they contain a toxin as deadly as that of the infamous blue ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa) This is the first recorded example of a poisonous cuttlefish. The toxin belongs to an entirely new class of poisons, which may prove groundbreaking in human medical research. Note: To see these amazing mollusks in action, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium's new exhibit: "Tentacles."

The Many Guises of the Mimic Octopus

Say hello to the ocean's master of disguise: Thaumoctopus mimicus. First sighted off Sulawesi, Indonesia in 1998, the mimic octopus's range has since been established in waters throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, and parts of Australia's Great Barrier reef. This harmless creature prefers silty, mud bottoms, where it forages for prey such as small fish and crabs. The mimic octopus is covered in bands of dark pigment, which it can intesify or fade at will by flexing millions of tiny muscles in its skin. Like most other octopi, it can dull its color to blend in with the seafloor.
But if spotted or cornered by a predator, the mimic octopus flashes its stripes and imitates one of several poisonous creatures: Top to bottom: sole/flatfish, lionfish, banded sea snake
Below: jellyfish
Below: stingray

Flatworm-Nudibranch Look-alikes

In tropical coral reef communities, flatworms of the order Polycladida have developed a unique defensive strategy. Although many secrete noxious chemicals, which they advertise with bright aposematic coloration, many have adopted colors and patterns that match those of local, toxic sea slugs. This Mullerian and/or Batesian mimicry is enough to confuse and repel would-be predators. Below are photos of these flatworms and their nudibranch counterparts, illustrating the striking similarities between them.
Pseudoceros imitatus (flatworm)
Phyllidiella pustulosa (nudibranch)
Pseudobiceros spp. (flatworm)
Chromodoris magnifica (nudibranch)
Eurylepta spp. (flatworm)
Phyllidia polkadotsa (nudibranch)
Pseudobiceros spp. (flatworm)
Glossodoris symmetricus (nudibranch)
Pseudoceros sapphirinus (flatworm)
Philinopsis gardineri (Aglajid slug)
Pseudoceros laingensis (flatworm)
Chromodoris aureopurpurea (nudibranch)
Eurylepta spp. (flatworm)
Chromodoris lochi (nudibranch)
Pseudoceros goslineri (flatworm)
Platydoris formosa (nudibranch)
Pseudoceros zebra (flatworm)
Chromodoris fidelis (nudibranch)
Thysanozoon/Acanthozoon spp. (flatworm)
Phyllidia ocellata (nudibranch)
Pseudoceros spp. (flatworm)
Chromodoris kuniei (nudibranch)
Pseudobiceros gloriosus (flatworm)
Dendrodoris arborensis (nudibranch)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dogs Detecting Cancer

After we talked about these dogs that can detect cancer in class, I was really curious to see how these dogs were trained and if this was actually being used in any sort of medical field. When you google dogs detecting cancer, theres a whole website that comes up that is a non-profit org trying to get dog cancer detection to be approved. And theres some amazing (and adorable) videos of puppies actually detecting cancer in some tests. Also, I looked up how to train a dog to sniff out different things, this eHow article uses illegal drugs, but we're ccs so I think we could figure out how to train them to sniff out diseases instead!

non-profit website about canine cancer detection: http://www.dogsdetectcancer.org
how to train your dog: http://www.ehow.com/how_2337851_train-dog-sniff-out.html

Dogs can also smell low blood sugar. There are trained dogs that live with individuals who have type I diabetes that can detect from a particular scent in human breath that indicates low blood sugar. Puppies are so cool.

diabetes assist dogs: http://can-do-canines.org/how-dogs-help/diabetes-assist-dogs/

Cancer Fighting T-Cells

 Your T-Cells are responsible for recognizing, identifying (and some) killing pathogens in your body. A lot of research is currently being done on T-cell immunotherapy, that is taking your own cancerous cells and training your T-cells to attack only those cancerous cells. They are using this type of therapy for tumor cells specifically and it has shown to be semi-effective in many patients, but there are a lot of variables within the body that make it difficult to target only one specific type of cell. In some patients this method has completely reduced their tumor mass, or at least decreased it significantly. I personally find this information very exciting because what it means for the future of cancer patients. In the US alone in 2014 almost 2 million people have been diagnosed with cancer.

http://cosmosmagazine.com/news/infused-t-cells-successfuly-wipe-out-leukemia/

http://www.cirm.ca.gov/sites/default/files/files/about_cirm/PresidentsScienceReportAug13.pdf


Malaria Vaccine!

A new GAP (genetically attenuated parasite) has been created that looks promising as an effective vaccine against Malaria. The impact of this vaccine would prevent over 200 million people from obtaining the malaria parasite. Malaria is most commonly transmitted through mosquito bites into humans. However researchers at Seattle Biomedical Research Institute have finally created a vaccine that is 100% effective, 100% of the time in protecting mice from the malaria parasite. It shows some promise in human candidates but they want the GAP to be "perfect" before releasing it into the human immune system, so it can be recognized and protected against. Think about what this would mean for countries suffering from Malaria epidemics! Exciting stuff.


http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140529092221.htm

Here's more on the article!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Other "Love Drug"

Dopamine and serotonin are commonly known as hormones that make you happy and are sometimes called "love drugs" but this "love drug", oxytocin, is something else. It plays a roles in maternal behaviors, anxiety, social recognition, pair bonding and orgasms and has also been rumored to be linked to autism: this article describes how a deficit in oxytocin could cause those with autism to have a lack of social recognition. Oxytocin also increases the levels of trust between people (see here), which could be why it is called a "love drug", and what is love without trust? 

"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind"
-Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act I, Scene I, Line 234



Bird of prey vision

I know this is a wiki article so take the information with a grain of salt but you can verify aspects with a more in depth search if you need to.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_vision#Movement

High density of receptors and four types of receptors.  The article also discusses the differences in sight (ex retinal structure) between diurnal, nocturnal, and water birds.

I found mixed results on whether hawks were farsighted.  Some sights (not supported by research papers though) said they can refocus much faster than we can.

http://www.kentuckyawake.org/Red-Tailed_Hawk

There was another statement about refocusing when entering water too that was supported by research.

Strod, Arad, Izhaki and Katzir, “Cormorants keep their power: visual resolution in a pursuit-diving bird under amphibious and turbid conditions,” Current Biology, Vol 14, R376-R377, 25 May 2004. 
http://crev.info/2004/05/cormorant_eyes_rapidly_refocus_in_dives_into_murky_water/


Lyme Disease might be 15 million years old

Recently studies of ticks fossilized in amber have revealed spirochetes, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, were being carried by the ticks between 15-20 million years ago. This suggests that Lyme disease might be older than the human race. In studying four ticks preserved in amber, large populations of a spirochete-like species that closely resemble that of the spirochete species that causes Lyme disease today were found. In a similar study, bacteria that resembled the present day bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever was also observed.

Prenatal Egg Selection

So, when talking about epigenetics in lecture a few times, the point was brought up that women have all of their eggs for their life from birth. I then stumbled across this article regarding the selection of more healthy eggs and removal of unhealthy ones, even before birth. They estimated that at the time of birth, the body has already discarded 80% of all the eggs that were initially there, making me picture fetuses as more so just living egg sacks (at least for a little while). One of the more interesting parts of the article was a theory that healthier eggs are selected by the body earlier on, which would leave potentially damaged eggs for later years, which could explain the higher risk of developmental problems in children born from older women.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Military is Building Brain Chips to Treat PTSD....?!


The news is out, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has received $26 million dollars to fund a project using "deep brain stimulation" or electric shocks, with the hopes to "record, predict and possibly treat anxiety, depression and other maladies of mood and mind."  

Their plan is to use a deep brain implant to try to monitor activity in the amygdala,  from which they would create models and maps to allow for a more precise understanding of the electrical patterns in the brain that signal anxiety, memory loss and depression.  By understand the patterns, they believe they will be able to predict mood changes, and potentially remedy negative ones, such as PTSD remotely via a device that causes the brain to establish new circuits and areas outside of the traumatized regions.

Read more about the project here!

Fun in the Local Channel!

This weekend, Jessica and I went Scuba diving at Anacapa Island and had the privilege of spotting what we think was a swell shark in the kelp. In an effort to confirm that what we saw was indeed a swell shark, I took to the Internet and somehow stumbled upon this video. Despite the fact that it was an accident, I'm very glad I found it (warning: video has some graphic content):
Yes, that's three great white sharks and several blue sharks feeding on a dead minke whale! All this excitement happened right off our coast, in the Santa Barbara Channel! I find it extremely exciting to hear about cool things happening in my backyard, so I figured I'd share this as a little encouragement for dead week! Devour those finals like those sharks devoured that whale! You can do it!

Read the original article here.

And, if you're interested in learning more about great white and/or blue sharks here are some great articles to start your discoveries!
Great white
Blue 

Hominin Evolution and Culture

One of my professors recently pointed out that the Smithsonian has a really nice website with a lot of information on hominin evolution and culture. I've checked it out a bit and it's definitely worth exploring. There's a lot of interesting information on there about things like evolution, tool use, burial, language, etc.

Link: http://humanorigins.si.edu/

Dimethyltryptamine

So, dimethyltryptamine is a thing. I remember watching part of a documentary on Netflix about it and since we've been talking about the nervous system recently, I thought it could be kind of relevant. It's a hallucinogenic found in plants and in trace amounts in humans(!) and other mammals where it is derived from tryptophan (an essential amino acid). It is analogous to serotonin, melatonin, and other psychedelic tryptamines. Depending on how much is administered, it can apparently have some pretty intense effects where people under the influence of it experience encounters with spiritual beings and realms. It is, however, super illegal.




All of the info I found (and more!) is here! (Which just links back to the Wikipedia page anyway)

Measles in the US

The number of measles cases in the US is at a 20-year high. According to the CDC, there has been 288 reported cases of measles between January 1st and May 23rd. This is the highest it has been in the first five months of the year since 1994. 97% of these cases have been associated with international travel of unvaccinated individuals. The press release is here! And the tracking of these outbreaks is here!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Here is an in depth video on neuron action potential. I found it particularly interesting because most videos start talking about action potential in the axon, but this one begins with the impulse in the dendrite.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6t_n6kTj1A

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

I work in the Feinstein lab on campus, and one of our current projects is about chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy so I thought I'd share a bit about it! I found this lovely little article that goes into detail about this kind of neuropathy:

http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/695/art%253A10.1007%252Fs00520-004-0657-7.pdf?auth66=1401772095_8b38e3174884ba404fed2a7d8cd71137&ext=.pdf

I mostly work with microscope images of mouse sciatic nerves and the effects of drugs such as paclitaxel and vincristine. When viewing the images, it is immediately obvious that these drugs destroy the myelin sheath surrounding the axons. This is a huge problem, as often the painful neuropathy forces cancer patients to stop taking these very effective drugs. As a result, their course of treatment must be completely altered, or they may be left with little or no effective treatment at all. The grad student I work under is organizing a conference specific to chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy sometime in the near future, so if anyone is interested I can get more details!

Mouse Party!

During AP Psychology our teacher had us visit this website called "Mouse Party" which is an interactive tutorial on how different drugs affect the brain. It's a great teaching tool, and it's absolutely hilarious. Little stoned/drunk mice in a lab. Check it out. You won't regret it.

http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/addiction/mouse/

Stupid Juice Diets

I brought this up in class, but I thought I'd go more into detail about the ridiculousness of the "cleansing" juice the people at the farmer's market tried to sell me. They claimed it would make my body more alkaline and oxygenate my blood therefore getting rid of bacteria, which is complete nonsense. Despite the erroneous nature of these claims in the firs place, we need that bacteria just as much as it needs us. In researching the new craze of "cold pressing" juice, no one could really confirm the supposed health benefits of juice diets and juice cleanses other than the fact that it will make you lose weight, which is pretty obvious when you're on a liquid diet. Oh, and you gain that lost water weight back when you start eating food again. Some good points were brought up in the following articles, including the lack of fiber, protein, and fat in juice diets, all of which are necessary for a properly functioning body.

This article talks about the juice industry from an economic perspective:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/dining/the-rush-toward-cold-pressed-juices.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

This article talks about the ridiculousness of juice diets:
http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/11/juice_cleanses_not_healthy_not_virtuous_just_expensive.html

And here is the website for the juice company that I had the "pleasure" of interacting with:
http://juiceranch.com/#about-us

Oh, and the juice tasted disgusting too.

Friday, May 30, 2014

World Ocean Day!!!

If amidst your finals cramming next weekend, you feel an overwhelming desire to take a trip down to the beach, you won't be the only one. World Ocean day is one day a year where thousands upon thousands of people gather on beaches worldwide to learn about, protect, and appreciate our beautiful oceans. Here in Santa Barbara, there a few cool sounding World Ocean day events going on.

1) Ocean Festival Saturday, June 7, 2014 at West Beach, Santa Barbara from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

2) UCSB Adventure programs World Ocean's Day Paddle Tour  June 7, 2014 , 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

If you want to learn more about world ocean day and the events going on, look here!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Animation of the Cocaine's Effect on Dopamine Receptors in the Brain

Claudia was talking about some animations on how dopamine and the receptors work in the brain and what the effect cocaine has on that system. I found a pretty basic animation that explains this and allows you to see the system with and without cocaine present.

Dopamine Animation

Strange Dolphin Behavior

In one of my classes today, someone mentioned a video they recently saw in which a pod of dolphins stranded themselves on the beach. She went on to talk about how several people on the beach immediately leapt into action and attempted to return them to their ocean home. Interested, I watched the video and was extremely impressed by the immediate response of the onlookers.

After watching, I started to think about why dolphins strand themselves, so I decided to look into it. Apparently, group strandings like the one in the video are not extremely uncommon. However, researchers still do not know why they do it. When 30 dolphins beached themselves in Brazil last year, proposed ideas included that the head dolphin was sick and beached itself, while the others followed; or that the dolphins were following a school of fish and didn't realize how close they were to the shore. However, this idea did not seem to be a possibility in 2008, when several pods beached themselves along the Cornish coast. At the time of the article, none of the post-mortems of the animals showed an illness, implying that the blame fell onto sonar. Yet another incidence of mass strandings, this time all over the world in 2012, caused researchers to believe that the weather was the primary cause of the unusual cetacean behavior.

My conclusion from this search is that humans really have no clue why dolphins strand themselves in groups. An interesting research area for one of us CCS Biology students perhaps?

A Relationship Between Heart Disease and Inflammation



The topic I researched a few weeks ago considers the relationship between heart disease and inflammation. It was mentioned in lecture that while the buildup of plaque and fatty deposits in the arteries (atherosclerosis) is quite significant in the occurrence of heart disease, inflammation may act as the "lethal factor" that results in the complete blocking of the arteries in question. In my research, I came upon an two articles that considered the abundance of several different proteins (C reactive protein, serum amyloid A protein,serum albumin, ect.) and their relationship to the probability of heart disease. These proteins are indicative of inflammatory response, and their levels tend to remain constant at some level unless inflammation occurs and leads to a spike in their concentrations. The papers study the resting level of the proteins, checking to see if a higher average protein level correlates to an increased probability of heart disease. This was indeed the case. The findings "suggest that some inflammatory processes [...] are likely to be involved in coronary heart disease" (Danish 2000).






The papers can be found here, and here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ocean Acidification Explained

Curious where carbon dioxide ends up after we send it to the heavens?

One major place is the ocean.

You can read my shpeal to have an in depth explanation or watch the inspiring video which covers the important aspects.  Plus, you can read (or skim, or pick out sections that interest you) the Royal Society report on the issue.

Video:


The Chemistry

Where the ocean and atmosphere meet, carbon dioxide can enter the surface waters.  Carbon dioxide interacts with water forming carbonic acid.

CO2+H2O <--> H2CO3

Carbonic acid can dissociate into hydrogen ions and bicarbonate ions.

H2CO3 <-->  H+ + HCO3-

With that increase in hydrogen ions, the water will become more acidic or have a lower pH (-log of hydrogen ions)

However, the ocean has a natural buffering system.  Carbonate ions either in the water or pulled from the sediment, bind the excess hydrogen forming bicarbonate ions.

H+ +CO3(2-)  <--> HCO3-

The ocean doesn't have an unlimited supply of carbonate ions (especially region specific) to sustain an ever increasing carbon dioxide concentration so the buffering capacity of the ocean is diminishing.

Biological Implications

Now to clear up why acidification is a problem for calcifying organisms (corals, urchins, sea butterflies, certain plankton, crustaceans, most larval stages-a popular strategy in the ocean).

General Calcification (as understood today):

2HCO3- + Ca2+ <--> CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O

So most calcifyers are using bicarbonate, why is less carbonate ions a problem??

Calcium carbonate dissolves into calcium and carbonate.

CaCO3 <--> Ca2+ + CO3(2-)

When chemical reactions occur in an equilibrium instead of a one direction reaction, removing a substance from one side will drive the reaction in that direction to balance out the removal.  Thus, calcium carbonate shells will be dissolved in the corrosive (high CO2, low pH) waters.  It will be more energetically costly to maintain a calcium carbonate shell.  Organisms will have to direct that energy away from other metabolic pathways (growth, reproduction, movement) putting them at high risk for not surviving.

CaCO3 --> Ca2+ + CO3(2-)

Some of these organisms are phytoplankton (like Coccolithophores) which provide us with around half of the oxygen we need for survival.

We are all connected directly or indirectly to the organic and inorganic substances of the Earth.  If we want to protect our own lives we need to be considerate of the Earth.  Burning dead material for energy is not the answer.

Interesting Predictions

Another aspect of calcification is that organisms create two different structures of calcium carbonate: aragonite and calcite.

Aragonite, because of its structure, is more readily dissolved.

Coral skeletons and pteropod shells (sea butterflies which are a large component of the Southern Ocean ecosystem) use aragonite.

It is predicted that with current levels of CO2 emissions, the Southern Ocean's aragonite saturation horizon (the depth below which aragonite dissolution is chemically favored) will be at the surface by 2100.  Basically, all aragonite forms of calcium carbonate will dissolve.

What we can do:

- promote sustainable energy sources (powered by wind, light, tides, and geothermal heating)
- buy sustainable fish
- use/buy less plastic  (reuseable water bottles and bags)
- bike, board, or walk
- use transportation powered by renewable sources
- properly dispose of trash (compost or recycle too)
- be less wasteful!




Monday, May 26, 2014

Wedding Crasher


A few days ago news broke out that this exquisite leatherback sea turtle came ashore and stole the show from a marrying couple in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. No news on how the bride took the intruder, but locals deemed it a good omen, particularly in the fertility department.  They probably came to this conclusion because leatherbacks only come to shore to lay their eggs, and that is exactly what this turtle proceeded to do. Leatherbacks are the largest sea turtles alive, getting up to 7 feet long and exceeding 2,000 pounds.  They are also extremely endangered. Additionally, these turtles usually lay their eggs at night under much more private conditions.  Were I this bride, I would definitely take the turtle's surprise appearance as a good omen!
Read more here.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hugh Herr: The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance

This TED talk about biomechanics is definitely worth watching. It discusses how biomechanics can be utilized to improve people's lives and how advances in biomechanics have improved the comfort, sensitivity, and function of biomechanical limbs.

Video: The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tired of the doom and gloom

If you just want a couple laughs about climate change (mainly global warming aspects) and about society's apathy for "preservation of resources for future generations," check out this short video clip.
johnoliver

http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/2014/05/12/video-this-is-what-climate-coverage-should-be-like/