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Wiley Hundertmarkon 27 August 2013
Transcript of Biology
Inventing the Future: Synthetic Biology
A Chimp-Pig Hybrid Origin For Humans?
Dr. Eugene McCarthy, a Ph.D. geneticist who studies hybridization in animals, has recently proposed that humans are the offspring of chimpanzees and pigs. While this may sound outrageous, McCarthy has valid evidence to back up his statement, including anatomical comparisons and coincidentally similar locations. However, from this article, I discovered that inter-species mating was actually much more common than one might think. I had previously heard of ligers, (lion/tigers), and the rare zedonk, (zebra/donkey), but I thought that these were extremely uncommon. I arrived at my conclusion when I read that mules, which I had thought were the same as donkeys, were hybrids of horses and donkeys, and that humans could be long-lost hybrids of pigs and chimpanzees. This caused me to wonder if there were any more hybrids in nature that scientists haven't discovered yet. This also made me wonder if we could possibly breed hybrid species of animals in the future that could be further improved to help the human race.
Celery and Food Coloring Experiment
Process... First, I filled up a small plastic cup and added a few drops of blue food coloring. Then, I cut the celery until it was approximately 6-8 inches long, and put the bottom end into the cup of blue water. I took a photo right when I put the celery in the water, and then another one three and a half hours later. The coloring in the water allowed me to see where the water went in the celery.
Observations in the Woods
Toad hops on log
Crickets constantly chirp to one another
Two squirrels chase each other up and down tree
Fungi grows on rotting log
Woodpecker pecks hole in tree
Gnats fly in groups
Mushroom grows on tree
Dead tree leans against another tree
Lichen and moss grow on oak tree
Over the course of this project, I have discovered that there are many different components that go
By : Wiley Hundertmark
This is an extremely informative documentary that shares almost everything there is to know about the future of synthetic biology. As I watched the video, I noticed one reoccurring theme that I never knew before: the human race will soon hold the power to control all forms of life using synthetic biology, and we will be able to use synthetic materials to solve most of the problems that the human race faces. The way that I came upon this discovery was rather simple. In the video, Andrew Hessel, a bio technician, mentions that people can now design DNA on a computer, print it, and put it into a living thing (Tercek, "Synthetic Biology"). This means that humans can now decide what lives and and doesn't live, meaning an end is coming to Natural Selection. Other synthetic biology projects include embryonic stem cell research with synthetic embryos, choosing certain DNA to be implanted into a baby, genetically modified athletes, synthetic bacteria that senses when food is expiring, and streetside glowing trees (eradicating the need for streetlamps). Essentially, scientists can now re-program life at the cellular level, and will soon be able to control all forms of life as we know it.
Inside celery stalks, small tubes called xylem suck up water from the soil into the plant (Milton, KiwiCrate). Water in the celery leaves slowly evaporates and this causes a suction-type action from the base of the plant to the top. This is how water gets to the leaves in every vascular plant, celery included (Xylem Vessels in Vascular Plants, Map of Life). From this experiment, I discovered how plants get water to all their stems and leaves and also what causes it to move upward. This is essentially how a plant stays alive. I discovered this information due mainly to my experiment when the colored water rose up the celery stalks, but also from online facts. I think that this is very interesting, because it is how all tall (vascular) plants live, including trees, bushes, and flowers.
Did you know: In a tree, wood is composed of xylem.
Did you know: The New Caledonian shrub Amborella is a primitive angiosperm, and does not have xylem vessels.
As I made these observations in the forest, I noticed a common theme between many of them. These are all living things that are interacting with living things, all living in harmony with one another. I realized how much these living things depend on each other for support, including food and shelter. Even if just one or two of these elements were removed from the environment, say trees and rocks, this would have a major negative impact on all the life in the forest. Animals that feed
on leaves would die, and animals that live under rocks or depend on rocks for shelter would eventually die as well. Essentially, I came upon this discovery as I noticed the great diversity of life in the forest, and how they are constantly interacting with each other. This can be observed with practically any ecosystem, where if a living element is removed than it affects the whole system.
Natural Selection Video
Connection to Natural Selection
As I was watching the video on natural selection, I recalled a movie quote from the James Bond movie Skyfall. Bond's nemesis, Raoul Silva, says, " We buried an oil drum and hinged the lid. Then we wired coconut to the lid as bait and the rats would come for the coconut and they would fall into the drum. And after a month, you have trapped all the rats. Then you just leave it and they begin to get hungry. And one by one... They start eating each other until there are only two left. The two survivors. And then you take them and release them into the trees, but now they don't eat coconut anymore. Now, they only eat rat. You have changed their nature. The two survivors." ("Silva Quotes"). This quote is describing an exact form of Natural Selection, where the rats have adapted to their change in environment: being in the oil drum with other rats rather than being in the forest
This video on natural selection
had a lot of interesting information, but I discovered two main facts from the video: I learned how evolution and natural selection occur. Evolution occurs in living organisms when there are changes in the gene pool (Anderson, Natural Selection). These changes can be because of an adaptation in the creature due to an environment change, a change in DNA (mutation), or if a creature develops an attraction to a food or habit. Natural Selection is a creature changing over time to help it fit into it's environment in order
Natural Selection Connection #2
Also when I was watching the moth part of the video on Natural Selection, I was reminded of a Natural Selection activity that my science class did in seventh grade. Each student got one blank, white paper moth that they were allowed to color and tape anywhere on anything in the classroom. Each day, the whole class got a minute or so to look for moths, and eventually there were just one or two moths remaining that had not been found. These were considered the 'winning' moths. This activity showed the direct effects of Natural Selection because the moths that were the most camouflaged, or had the highest 'fitness,' stayed alive longer and were found later.
for it to stay alive, so natural selection affects the evolution of a species. The video mainly helped me understand this topic, but one of the phrases that Paul Anderson used to sum up natural selection, "Differential Reproductive Success," especially helped me. This phrase is essentially saying that as organisms change over time, they reproduce and this change is passed on to their offspring, and this helps them to succeed and live. This phrase really helped me understand the whole idea of natural selection.
Baby Corals Pass the Acid Test
Photo Credits: http://www.aboututila.com/PhotoGallery/PGCorals01.htm
Scientists have recently discovered that baby coral, who often times live in toxic waters, have grown a possible immunity to most types of acid in seawater ("Baby Corals Pass the Acid Test"). Scientists have found that baby coral do not negatively react to acidic water nearly as much as adult coral do, and that these baby coral can now survive the early stages of their development much better against toxins. The discovery that I made from this article, however, is that nature is having to adapt to how humans are affecting the environment, which I think is appalling. We should not be affecting the environment so strongly that organisms must change their gene pools in order to stay alive. Since we cause the ocean to be acidic, we are directly affecting them. I realized this because it relates back to my discovery on natural selection, and how
organisms sometimes have to adapt to fit in with their surroundings and stay alive.
Brave New World with Stephen Hawking: Biology
Although this documentary just gave a quick five or ten minute synopsis of multiple important discoveries that are occurring in biology, I made my discovery from what I sensed as a common theme: In order to stay alive, the human race is going to need help from outside sources in order to stay functional without giving in to different issues. Scientists are now looking at other living organisms in order to gain understanding and possibly even solutions or cures to our problems, using plant and animal DNA, bacteria and cyanobacteria, and even eradicating specific human genes in order for us to live longer (Hawking, Brave New World). As I watched the video, my conclusion
The scientists in the video were trying to
come up with cures to cancer, heart diseases, and trying to create a synthetic unlimited fuel supply. These are all issues that the human race faces on planet earth, and we will need to find solutions to if we want to live on this planet for a while longer. Essentially humans are going to have to depend on other organisms for help staying alive in the future.
was somewhat easy to come to.
Tiny Fish Make 'Eyes' at their Killer
In this current event article, scientists from the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies have discovered that the tiny Damsel fish changes the size of the fake 'eye' on it's tail when the fish feels threatened ("Tiny Fish Make Eyes At Their Killer"). This helps to throw off the predator fish, and convince it that the Damsel is swimming the opposite way. While reading this article, I realized that every creature has a survival instinct, and a will to live. Nature has given most creatures have something to help protect them, for example a lion has teeth and claws, cheetahs have fast speed, roses have thorns, and the yellow Damsel fish has a black spot on it's back. This may not seem like much, but it actually keeps the Damsel fish safe by confusing and distracting predators, allowing the Damsel fish to swim away. This article is significant because it is saying that the Damsel fish can tell when it is in danger, so it increases the size of it's 'eye'. I came across this realization while reading because I made the connection between the Damsel fish and some other members of the animal and plant kingdoms. Also, when it says in the article 'maximize
Photo Credit: static.ddmcdn.com
chances of survival,' this also reminded me that it is in all animals' nature to have a will to live, just like it's in their nature to do other things. For example, animals do not reproduce because they are told to, but instead because it is in their nature to do so.
BBC: Life in Cold Blood: The Cold Blooded Truth
David Attenborough introduced this video by stating that cold-blooded animals, or reptiles and amphibians, are fast, beautiful, sophisticated, and affectionate (Attenborough, "Life in Cold Blood"). From this video, I learned that all of this was true, and discovered a plethora of new information about the cold-blooded world. However, I noticed one specific theme that affected both reptiles and amphibians, but mainly reptiles. The heat of the sun plays a major part in cold-blooded animals' lives, so much that most of them could not live without it. I realized this when I looked down at my note sheet from the documentary and found that it essentially listed all the ways that the sun's heat impacts
Have moist skin, staying in sun too long would dry them out
In climates with very moist air, they can stay in the sun for a little while
Sun's heat gives them energy, allows them to move and operate, would die without it
Sun's heat helps them digest food
Rocks absorb sun's heat, reptiles use rocks to keep warm
Rarely active at night due to lack of heat
Air and rock temperature affect gender of offspring while still developing in egg
cold-blooded animals. The sun's heat basically affects every single aspect of a cold-blooded animal's life, from the gender of babies to how they can digest their food. In the circle to the right are two summaries of how the sun's heat affects
reptiles and amphibians. (Click to next slide and it will zoom in).
Taste Preferences for Ants
In this lab, I set out seven different foods on my outdoor patio, where there are a huge number of ants. The foods were a piece of dark chocolate, an Oreo, a piece of a pancake, half a tomato, a Pringle, a slice of cheddar cheese, and a grape. When I returned two hours later, there had been some minute changes made to the food. (These changes are barely noticeable in the photographs). When I looked very closely, the Oreo, chocolate, and pancake had been nibbled on, the cheese had been slightly eaten, the Pringle had a piece broken off, the tomato was untouched, and the ants had found a way inside the red grape through the stem hole. With this information, I furthered my research online and found that not only the ants on my patio, pavement ants, prefer greasier, fatty foods foods (Orkin, "Pavement Ants"), but also
ants that are farther inland prefer saltier foods because they are further from the ocean (LiveScience, "Inland Ants Prefer Salt Over Sugar"). However, since Portsmouth is right next to the ocean, ants here would tend to like sweeter foods as opposed to saltier ones. This would explain how the ants chose to eat the chocolate, Oreo, and pancake, as opposed to the tomato. The cheese and Pringle were eaten, possibly because they're greasier
foods, and the grape may have been nibbled on a little bit because of the sucrose in it. This lab, although I was just using pavement ants, taught me that different animals in nature have different tastes of food. This impacts the life around it, ranging from plants that could be a source of food to different animals that also want that certain food.
Website for this Lab...
into the biological system, and finding a final definition for the whole of these parts was difficult. Nevertheless, I came
up with a discovery-based summary of my view of biology: biology is not only understanding and accepting all life, but it is also the study of life and how living creatures interact with each other and their environment. I view biology as the most important science because it deals with life, the human race included, and it is imperative to understand all species on our planet and possibly beyond. This is crucial because the more we know about Earth and ourselves, the
more we can progress based on our extensive knowledge, finding cures for diseases and solving other
issues the human race faces.