Friday, April 22, 2011

A Tribute to Extinct Plants

As my last post was pretty pointless, I decided to do another post that is awesome. As today is Earth Day, I created a little tribute to extinct plants of Africa and North America. There is a lot of attention on endangered animals, but not nearly enough attention on endangered plants and fungi. The power-point is below. I hope that in future weeks, I can do more plants from Asia, Oceania, South America, and Europe.

-Mister Pip (DZ)

The Black Death...And the Bloody One

Plague is caused by Yersina Pestis. It's transmitted mainly by fleas and has a rodent reservoir...which means that plague's here to stay. If we can get rid of or vaccine EVERY SINGLE RAT ON THE PLANET, then sure we can get rid of plague.
On a brighter note, plague is becoming antibiotic-resistant!
Oh, that wasn't good. My bad.
Anyway, plasmids (DNA in circles instead of strands) containing the genes necessary for antibiotic immunity are frequently transferred to the plague bacterium in the flea midgut. Flea has resistant genes. Flea eats plague. Plauge gets resistant genes.
And in case you're worried, here are the symptoms!
Three to seven days after infection you become feverish, nauseous, and experience chills, fever, head/body aches, weakness and vomiting. In the most common form of plague, bubonic, the Yersinia pestis bacillus replicates in your lymph nodes, inflaming them to create "bubos".
These things hurt and sometimes burst, creating open, festering sores.
Isn't nature lovely?

And if that wasn't all, here's the bloody death to cheer you up!

Ebola is caused by an RNA virus. RNA is what came before DNA, but in this case, it does the same thing. It was first seen in Africa and causes illness in primates and humans. We don't know what the reservoir of the virus is yet, but there is strong evidence to suggest that it is an animal native to Africa.
The first infection (we think) results from contact with an infected animal. The next wave is when other people are infected. These people are usually the ones who care for the ill person i.e. their friends, parents, and/or doctors.
Just so you don't accidentally care for one of these unfortunates, here are the disputably worse symptoms!
After two to twenty-one days, headache, joint/muscle aches, fever, sore throat and weakness appear.
Isn't this sounding familiar.
Next comes vomiting (the similarities abound), diarrhea, and stomach pain. In some patients, rashes, red eyes, hiccups and internal/external bleeding is present. Death can be caused by "bleeding out"; this is when the internal organs disintegrate into blood and leave the body through any orifice. It's not understood why some people recover and others do not, but it has been observed that those deceased had very few antibodies in their bloodstream...Ebola attacks quickly.

And now that we've outlined the symptoms, which would you prefer? The black death...or the bloody one?

-[Asian X]

Now You're Thinking with Portals!

Cave Johnson here!

After quite a few years of waiting, the highly-anticipated sequel to one of the best games of the early 2000s finally arrived on Tuesday, April 19th. It was met with very high reviews from several professional review sites. Many fans have also voiced their approving opinions on the game, especially after the intense ARG (Alternate Reality Game) that led up to the release of Portal 2.

The great thing about Portal is that it's a puzzle game from a first person perspective. The humorous dialogue and intensely creepy robot villain GLaDOS keep the game moving along at a nice pace. The voice acting in the game is superb. Cave Johnson, the ever-enigmatic, somewhat`disheveled former CEO of Aperture Science may be the best part of Portal 2.

Portal 2 is not just a well-written game but a well-designed one too. The environments are similar to the last game but feature more dynamic lighting. Since it's been a few years after the end of the first Portal, the test chambers have become somewhat overgrown. The design of each test chamber is incredibly well-thought out and unique -- it's not something you'd see in most futuristic first-person-shooters. The archaic lower-depths of the testing facility are also beautifully eerie.

My advice?

Buy it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Science v Technology Definitions

So this issue has been bothering me for a long time: the difference between Science and Technology. Many people think they understand the difference, but I have been seeing more and more cases of confusion between the two words. So here's the two definitions:

Science - The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment

Technology- The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.

So pretty simple, science is the study of learning about our world (and space) through observation and experimentation. Technology is using science. So technology can be gizmos and gadgets like we usually think, but it can also be just using science in our everyday life. Identifying plants from scientific research is technology. Though it is not an incredibly advanced item, it is still part of what technology is. Now that, that's cleared up, I think it's important to understand how both are practical in our everyday life. Many could say that we never actually use science, itself , but we use the information from it in all of our technology. Without science we could not advance in society, but the actual information we acquire from scientific study is essential.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Startling Statement

Across from me sits a man twice escaped from jail. His tanned skin shows years of sun. You'd never know it, but this man has graduated medical school and served in the army. Because of that, he was sent to jail. He would have been safe if he'd served in the North Vietnamese army.

Startling Statement

After escaping to Laos, Steven Hoang is sent back to jail. As a doctor, you wouldn’t think that he’d be in jail. But this isn’t America. In Communist Vietnam, anything goes.


It's scorching outside, but there is an abundance of water. Unfortunately, it's all salt. The tepid breeze ruffles the sea as the boat drifts along, the last of the fuel dribbling out of the rent in its side. Quietly the thousands of men and women crouch, driven to exhaustion by the lack of supplies.

-[Asian X]

Mister Pip's Leads

Being one with the animals and understanding their life. She ventured into a difficult field, that few take on. She's not an adventurer nor an explorer, in fact she's not even exploring extreme dangers. No, Brittaney Hopkins, is a teacher.

Earlier this year, Britanny Hopkins found out that her services will no longer be needed at LASA High School. After only one year of being a teacher she is losing her job, and will be forced to find work elsewhere.

Her room says everything about her. A calmness in the air layers the small shrieks coming from the parrot next door. Her room is greeted with the friendly words of _______(need to fact check)_______. Nothing though expresses herself as much as the biology and teaching material dispersed across the room.