Rabu, 31 Maret 2010

New Deep Sea Creature Surfaced!

Think sharks are scary? They're downright cuddly compared to the Bathynomus giganteus, a very terrifying (and very real) sea creature that recently surfaced from the deep.

See Flickr photos of the creature. (Warning: May give you nightmares.)

So, what the heck is it? According to an article from Fox News, the Bathynomus giganteus (henceforth known as "Bart") is a type of giant isopod, "a large crustacean that dwells in deep Atlantic and Pacific waters," and looks like a huge, gigantic cockroach! It passes the time by feeding on "dead whales, fish, and squid."

Ol' Bart attached itself to a submarine that was exploring the ocean floor. When the sub surfaced, people got an unexpected look at the slithery stowaway. The creature is a pinkish in color, two and a half feet long, and wouldn't be out of place in an Ed Wood movie (no offense, Bart).

The story was originally posted on Reddit by a guy who works for the submarine company. It quickly went viral from there. Once news of the creature's existence hit, Web searches immediately soared. Online lookups for "sea creature found," "giant isopod," and (our personal favorite) "terrifying sea creature" all roared.

It's worth noting that the existence of the Bathynomus giganteus isn't, in and of itself, a surprise. Scientists have long been aware of them. The shock came from seeing one up close in all its cockroach-like glory. Can't. Look. Away.

Article thanks to: Mike Krumboltz, "Sea Creature Surfaces, Chaos Ensues"

CCBER seminar for Spring 2010

CCBER's conservation and restoration ecology seminar series.

This spring we will be discussing the importance (or not) of using local genetic ecotypes for restoration as well as other ways that genetic information can inform restoration efforts; see schedule below.

Seminars are Monday evenings, 6-7pm. This Spring they will be in North Hall Rm 1109
  • March 29th – Introduction, Wayne Chapman for Lisa
  • April 5th – Genetics 101, Lisa Stratton
  • April 12nd – Genotypes and Local restoration: Issues, constraints and examples, Wayne Chapman.
  • April 19th –Native seed production: Issues and Constraints; Paul Albright, Albright Seeds
  • April 26th – Genetic issues related to rare species conservation - Mark Elvin, USFWS
  • May 3rd – Gene flow, genetic structure, and restoration ecology of oaks– Victoria Sork, UCLA
  • May 10th – Evolutionary Restoration, Kevin Rice, UCDavis
  • May 17th – Creating a cultivar & hybridization risks, Bart O’ Brien, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
  • May 24th – Final Discussion

Kamis, 25 Maret 2010

Re-creating Undifferentiated Cells

People who object to the use of embryonic stem cells (ES cells) for research or for therapeutic purposes continue to hope that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) might just be the answer. If adult cells could somehow be coaxed back (induced) into a state where they were once again capable of differentiating into all kinds of cells (i.e. were pluripotent), then embryonic stem cells just wouldn’t be needed any more.

Researchers announced several years ago that they had, in fact, found a way to create iPS cells. But are currently available iPS cells just as good as ES cells? In the first side-by-side comparisons of iPS and ES cells, two groups report that they are not. Both groups report that while iPS cells can differentiate into many cell types, they just are not very efficient at it, at least not yet.

The results are a disappointment, perhaps, but don’t count iPS cells out just yet. Scientists are still in the early stages of understanding how to create iPS cells in the first place. As the techniques improve, perhaps they’ll begin to look more and more like ES cells after all. And that would be a scientific advance welcomed by all.

Distinguished Cox Lecture with Dr. Jay Keasling from University of California Berkeley - Fall 2009

Professor Jay Keasling of the University of California at Berkeley presents "Synthetic Biology for Synthetic Chemistry: From Bugs to Drugs & Fuel" at Washington University in St. Louis on October 30, 2009.

Part 1 of 5

Part 2 of 5

Part 3 of 5

Part 4 of 5

Part 5 of 5

BioBrick-A-Bot Project by University of Washington - iGEM 2009 Presentation @ MIT

BioBrick-A-Bot Model C V 1.1 in action.

IGEM Presentation Part 1:

IGEM Presentation Part 2:

University of Washington Software Team. BioBrick-A-Bot Project to be presented at MIT from Oct 30- Nov 2 during
iGEM (Intl Genetically Engineered Machine) 2009
BioBrick-A-Bot is made up of an ALPHA Module and a PHI Module mounted on a BETA Frame.

BETA Frame: BioBrick Environmental Test Apparatus

ALPHA Module: Automated Lego Pipette Head Assembly
- Motor 1, Motor 2, Motor 3 used to position the pipette head accurately to any wells on the 96-well plate.

PHI Module
Pneumatic Handling Interface
- Motor 1 connected to a piston, either Aspirate or Dispense Fluid
- Motor 2 connected to 2 compression pumps, emit air jet to Clean Fluid
- Motor 3 controls a 3-way switch which selects one of 3 actions: Aspirate / Dispense, Nothing or Clean

Master Slave Synchronization
- Master Device : ALPHA Module
- Slave Device : PHI Module
- synchronization is programmtically controlled via bluetooth wireless technology

Andrew Hessel Talks About Synthetic Biology

Andrew Hessel on the Future of Synthetic Biology

Andrew Hessel - Introduction to Synthetic Biology

Andrew Hessel - DIY Bio tookits

Andrew Hassel on Darwin and future labs

Andrew Hessel: Synthetic biology is the next IT industry

Andrew Hessel on DNA

Andrew Hessel discusses writing DNA

Andrew Hessel - Biology = computing

What Synthetic Biology Can Do For You - TEDxTerryTalks - Eric Ma - 10/03/09

Links: http://www.ubcigem.com/ | http://terry.ubc.ca/tedxterrytalks.
Filmed by Craig Ross at TEDx Terry talks 2009 (October 3rd, 2009). Video edited by David Ng.

Beautiful blog: Synbiosoup - Research scrapbook for a project on Synthetic Biology Project at RCA Design Interactions by Gerrit Kaiser

1 Min Video: Xiling Shen, at Cornell, uses engineering to tackle complex biological problems

Synthetic Biology and the Corn Crop - a trip to the University of Illinois

Podcast: James Collins - Engineering Life: The Past and Future of Synthetic Biology

via: http://www.microbeworld.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=604:mts45-james-collins-engineering-life-the-past-and-future-of-synthetic-biology&catid=37:meet-the-scientist&Itemid=155

"In this podcast, I talk to James Collins, an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a professor at Boston University. Ten years ago Collins helped launch a new kind of science called synthetic biology. I talked to Collins about the achievements of synthetic biology over the past decade, such as engineering E. coli that can count, and about the future of synthetic biology--from using bacteria to make fuel to reprogramming the bacteria in our guts to improve our health."

Download: mp3 (37.5 min | 34 megs)

Joshua Leonard and Michael Jewett explain Synthetic Biology

An overview of the emerging field of synthetic biology by Professors Joshua Leonard and Michael Jewett at Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Science Daily Article: Biotech, Nanotech and Synthetic Biology Roles in Future Food Supply Explored

Quoted from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100221143238.htm
ScienceDaily (Feb. 25, 2010) — Some say the world's population will swell to 9 billion people by 2030 and that will present significant challenges for agriculture to provide enough food to meet demand, says University of Idaho animal scientist Rod Hill.

Hill and Larry Branen, a University of Idaho food scientist, organized a symposium during the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting February 17 to explore ways biotechnology could provide healthy and plentiful animal-based foods to meet future demands.

Synthetic biology, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and other applications of biotechnology -- and the public's role in determining their acceptable uses -- were all addressed by panelists during the session. The goal for the session, which was part of the nation's largest general science meeting held annually, was to encourage a dialogue among scientists and the public, said Hill, a Moscow-based molecular physiologist who studies muscle growth in cattle.
"There will be a significant challenge for agriculture and the science that will be required to provide a healthy, nutritious and adequate food supply in coming decades for a rapidly growing population," Hill said. A key question, he said, is whether the Earth can continue to provide enough food without technological support. The history of civilization and agriculture during the last 10,000 years suggests otherwise.

"Unaided food production is an unattainable ideal -- current society is irrevocably grounded in the technological interventions underpinning the agricultural revolution that now strives to feed the world," Hill said. Branen serves as the university's Coeur d'Alene-based associate vice president for northern Idaho. He also remains active as a researcher working with nanotechnology in a variety of ways, including uses as biological sensors to detect disease or spoilage. Nanoparticles may be used to target certain genes and thus play a role in genetic engineering of food animals. Branen said, "There's also no question that nanomaterials may help increase the shelf stability of food products and assure their safety."

Other panelists include University of Missouri Prof. Kevin Wells who believes genetically modified animals will have a future place on humanity's tables, just as genetically modified plants do now. Panelist Hongda Chen serves as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's national program leader for bioprocessing engineering and nanotechnology. He will explore how scientific methods like nanotechnology may be applied to help meet the world's growing demand for safe and healthy food.

Synthetic biology, the use of novel methods to create genes or chromosomes, will be explored by panelist Michele Garfinkel, a policy analyst for the J. Craig Venter Institute, which pioneered the sequencing of the human genome. The public's acceptance or rejection of new technologies that could determine future food supplies will be the domain of Susanna Priest, a professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. A communications researcher, she has argued that public debate is essential to public attitudes toward such technologies. "I think that's essential," he said. "We've seen lots of technologies where we didn't get adoption because we didn't get consumer acceptance and understanding. Irradiation of food has been possible for over 50 years but we still haven't gotten to general use because there is still a fear and lack of understanding of it." Branen added, "To me everything we're doing today requires an extensive discussion and an interdisciplinary approach. We can't just focus on the technology but must look at the social and political aspects of the technology as well."

Open-Source Lab Promises Free DNA Parts for Bioengineers

Quoted From: http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-01/open-source-lab-promises-free-dna-parts-bioengineers


BIOFAB Drew Endy and Adam Arkin, director and co-director, respectively, of BIOFAB, at its temporary headquarters in the Emeryville labs of the Joint BioEnergy Institute. Margot Hartford

By Jeremy HsuPosted 01.25.2010 at 11:15 am - Poor Dr. Frankenstein had to steal corpses for his mad experiments, but modern-day bioengineers need not resort to such dubious methods for raw materials. The new Biofab laboratory plans to churn out thousands of free standard DNA parts that academic and private biotech labs can use to create new designer microbes that can make everything from new drugs to fuel.

This could give a significant boost for research efforts, considering that a single designer microbe may cost years and tens of millions of dollars. One University of California-Berkeley effort to engineer microbes that could synthesize an anti-malarial drug took a decade and $25 million to reach small-scale production.

Scientists from Stanford University and UC Berkeley have focused on identifying the thousands of molecules and processes so that they can mix and match DNA parts in the Biofab lab. Their funding comes from the U.S. National Science Foundation, as well as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the BioBricks Foundation.

Open source as an engine for innovation has caught fire recently. Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has offered up thousands of chemical compounds from its database in hopes of someone finding a cure for the mosquito-borne disease malaria.

The Pentagon's mad science lab DARPA has also pushed for a similar business revolution along the lines of the semiconductor industry, where certain firms focus on innovation and leave the tedious manufacturing to semiconductor foundries. But in this case, Biofab would provide the raw building blocks that allow synthetic biologists to more quickly realize their dreamt-up creations.

Regenerating bodies

Japanese Create Fluorescent Mario from Genetically Engineered Bacteria

Quoted from: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2009-12/japanese-create-fluorescent-mario-genetically-engineered-bacteria
Team Osaka's nanobiology lab created a petri-dish image of everyone's favorite Nintendo game character. By Jeremy Hsu - Seizure Mario Running seizure Mario!

Nintendo's Mario has taught us science and even encouraged the development of better artificial intelligence. So it's only appropriate that Japanese researchers paid homage to everyone's favorite video game character, by recreating his likeness in a petri dish with genetically engineered glow-in-the-dark bacteria. Warning: we reveal a seizure-inducing Mario animation after the story jump.

Team Osaka submitted their Mario likeness to the 2009 international Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM). They combined standard DNA sequences known as BioBricks with their own special DNA snips to create franken-bacteria that express fluorescent proteins and carotenoid pigments.

You can gawk at this and other fine petri dish masterworks at this New Scientist gallery.

[via New Scientist]

Popular Science's DIY Bio Article

Synthesizing New Life A City College of San Francisco team plans to make their mark at MIT's iGEM conference Douglas Adesko/NYTimes

Quoted from: http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-02/future-biology-lies-designer-organisms

The Wild World of DIY Synthetic Biology: Get your designer life forms here! By Jeremy HsuPosted 02.12.2010 at 4:55 pm

"A new generation of scientists hope to become genome hackers who redesign organisms to become living tools, capable of creating diesel fuel or producing anti-malarial drugs. That synthetic biology revolution has led to a can-do spirit of innovation that has fueled MIT's International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition, known as iGEM for short. The New York Times has traced the route to iGEM by following a community-college team from the City College of San Francisco, as the group tries to build a bacteria-based battery powered entirely by the sun for iGEM. It's a great overview of one of the more exciting scientific fields today.

Genetic engineering has traditionally focused on swapping out single genes at a time. But synthetic biology represents something much wilder and more radical. Rather than cut-and-paste, synthetic biologists hope to create entirely new genetic code assembled from an open-source repository of snippets of working genes called "BioBricks." Assembling them like legos, the new sets of custom genetic code can then be re-inserted into bacteria or other organisms, modifying their fundamental behaviors and life cycles. This opens the door for scientists to engineer entirely new living organisms.

This redesign approach need not only take place in large private or government labs, as iGEM's student participation shows. Another example comes from DIYbio NYC, a group founded by NYU students that aims to make synthetic biology accessible to "citizen scientists, amateur biologists, and DIY biological engineers."

Synthetic biologists of all stripes already have a large set of genetic parts to work with. MIT has assembled an open-source library, called the Registry of Standard Biological Parts, that holds more than 5,000 BioBricks. iGEM teams have contributed the BioBricks from their projects, but they can also make use of the library for future work.

Technology, Jeremy Hsu, bioengineering, dna, genes, genomes, iGEM, MIT, synthetic biologists, synthetic biologyScientists from Stanford University and the University of California-Berkeley have also launched their own open-source genetic lab called Biofab. They hope to identify thousands of molecules and processes that would allow them to efficiently assemble DNA parts in the lab, which would then become available for free to any would-be visionaries.

There's hardly any limit to the early ambitions of synthetic biologists. Even the Pentagon's mad scientists at DARPA have expressed the wish to immortal living organisms with genetically encoded kill-switches. But iGEM teams seem intent on more practical or at least achievable goals for now, including a seizure-inducing fluorescent Mario based on glow-in-the-dark bacteria."

Louis Matzel at Rutgers University Improves the Working Memory of Mice

Mice trained to improve their working memory become more intelligent, suggesting that similar improvements in working memory might help human beings enhance their brain power, according to research published today in Current Biology by researchers at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
See the full article here: http://www.physorg.com/news188739131.html

Maryland's DIY BIO Group's: Wonderful List of Learning Links

Wow, here is a great list of links from Maryland's DIY BIO group! Thanks! I posted some of them here, visit their website for more.

Quoted from: http://www.genoblasts.com/6.html

Some basic links about Synthetic Biology, Protocols, Regulatory Agencies
Legal Issues and Intellectual Property Resources

DIY-Bio Projects & Kits

For More visit Maryland DIY Bios Website: http://www.genoblasts.com/6.html

The Story of Taiwan's Tzu Chi University's IGEM Team

Their project Midnight Apollo aims to reengineers GFP to become bright enough to be a viable light source.

Minggu, 21 Maret 2010

Potential Alzheimer's Drug Flames Out

A closely-watched drug that was supposed to offer hope to Alzheimer’s sufferers failed miserably in Phase III trials this month, according to a press release from Pfizer, one of the pharmaceutical companies involved in its development. In all likelihood all further research on the drug will stop.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this, although looking back it may not be as surprising as it sounds. The drug, called Dimebon, was actually an antihistamine previously sold only in Russia. The Phase I and Phase II trials (efficacy in animals and limited safety tests in humans) were performed in Russia, and then the drug was patented and brought to the United States for Phase III trials and future marketing as an Alzheimer’s treatment. Apparently it doesn’t work.

Although people sometimes complain (rightly) that the drug approval process in the United States is expensive and time-consuming, there’s a good reason for the process. It protects us all.

Jumat, 19 Maret 2010

Get involved: USA National Phenology Network

Here is a cool website to check out over Spring Break. Something you can get involved with or have your friends or family do as well.
Just observe the phenology of certain life history traits of plants that you can probably find in your backyard. The website is national effort to monitor information about the plants. The website is self explanantory and easy to navigate. Check it out and have fun!

Click on link:


Selasa, 16 Maret 2010

A film about pines

We watched this film in my plant biology class, and it really helped me understand the specifics of pine reproduction.


Senin, 15 Maret 2010

Caffeine Made Easy

Remember Sweet’n Low, the first really convenient sugar substitute? Well, now somebody has finally come up with a similar easy-to-use product containing caffeine. Fein energy crystals (pronounced FEEN) are being promoted as an energy-boosting product that can be added to any drink, including water. Fein has no calories, no artificial ingredients, and no taste, according to the company marketing it. Drop a single stick of FEIN into your drink of choice and you’re getting 75 mg of pure crystalline caffeine, roughly the amount of caffeine in some energy drinks. And Fein costs less than 70 cents per stick. You probably won’t find it in stores yet, but it’s available over the internet.

Henceforth, getting that caffeine buzz (if that’s important to you) will be as easy as sweetening your tea. This is not an endorsement; just a fact.

Jumat, 12 Maret 2010

Should Older Women be Vaccinated Against HPV?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all girls and women between the ages of 11 and 26 be vaccinated against the strains of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) that cause cervical cancer. But what about older women; wouldn’t they benefit as well?

The answer appears to be no, or at least not very much. A study of over 9,000 Costa Rican women conducted over a seven-year period found that older women (over 40) tend to get fewer new HPV infections. They also found that HPV infections do not progress towards cancer any faster in older women than in younger women.

Cancer develops in only a small fraction of women who have an HPV infection during their lifetimes, and most HPV infections clear up on their own within a couple of years anyway. Even among women who do develop cervical cancer as a result of an HPV infection, it takes about 25-30 years on average for the cancer to develop fully to the metastatic stage. Therefore, vaccinating older women is not of much use. The ideal time to vaccinate women and girls is before they become sexually active so that they never have an HPV infection in the first place.


Okay, I'm going to take a break from daily postings for a while - although I may still post the odd item. I'll be back and posting daily again next quarter. Oh, and I will add a post tomorrow or so about some of the questions on the multiple choice test I handed out.

Final question, what good non-fiction books have you read outside of biology lately? I'm a little late to the party but I just picked up a copy of last year's UCSB Reads book 'The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy.' It's really interesting and is helping explain a lot about the global economy to me - even if I am reading it a year after everyone else. Post any suggestions you have for other good non-biology books in the comments.

Good luck with your finals and have a fun, and safe, Spring Break.

Kamis, 11 Maret 2010

The Crow Paradox

Congratulations to Garrett for the 500th posting to the CCSBio blog. Sadly there is no prize. (no, not even a 'no-prize').

I'm now set up for the rest of the quarter (or what remains) because your presentations have reminded me of a number of items.

Thanks again for presenting. I thought everybody did a great job and almost all of you kept to time well. Sorry for being so strict on time, it would have been great to follow each person with a few questions or discussion, but you have to be tough when you are trying to fit in a lot of presentations.

Inspired by Whitney's talk about facial recognition I thought some of you might enjoy this little NPR animation. I don't think I can embed it but if you click the image it will take you to the NPR page with the video. Yes, that is Dick Cheney.

Here's a surprise: Wild crows can recognize individual people. They can pick a person out of a crowd, follow them, and remember them — apparently for years. But people — even people who love crows — usually can't tell them apart.

Can YOU recognize different crows?

Rabu, 10 Maret 2010

Subglacial Lake Research

Researchers have thawed ice estimated to be perhaps a million years old or more from above Lake Vostok, an ancient lake that lies hidden more than two miles beneath the frozen surface of Antarctica using novel genomic techniques to determine how tiny, living "time capsules" survived the ages in total darkness, in freezing cold, and without food and energy from the sun.

Lake Vostok is located beneath four kilometers of ice in East Antarctica. The lake is approximately 250 km long and 50 km wide. The overlying ice provides a continuous paleo-climatic record of 400,000 years, although the lake water itself may have been isolated for as long as 15 million years.

Because of the long isolation, it's believed that Lake Vostok could contain new lifeforms, and unique geochemical processes. For five years, scientists in Russia and the United States have sought to probe the ancient lake to discover the secrets lying inside this pristine body of water.

A major issue is the reality that it is impossible to penetrate an isolated ecosystem without contaminating it. The catch 22 inherent in Lake Vostok is that the very thing that make it potentially unique: because of its millennia of isolation from the rest of the world, it cannot be explored without introduction of microbes from the outer world.

NASA has expressed interest in exploring the lake to search for microbes that might be similar to ones on other planets. How the bacteria get energy to survive is an important unanswered question. The lake could be an analog to Jupiter's moon Europa or subsurface where conditions are similar.

The ice segments were cut from an 11,866-foot ice core drilled in 1998 through a joint effort involving the United States, Russia, and France. The core was taken from approximately two miles below the surface of Antarctica and 656 feet (200 meters) above the surface of the lake, and has since been stored at -35 degrees Celsius at the National Ice Core Laboratory, Denver, Colo.

"This lake may have been isolated for that long - 15 million years," said Lanoil, the principal investigator of the research project. "After nearly a year of preparation and verifying protocols, we are now ready to process the samples, and will examine the DNA of these microorganisms to understand how they survived in such an extreme environment."

New Dinosaur Discovered

ScienceDaily (Feb. 24, 2010) — A team of paleontologists has discovered a new dinosaur species they're calling Abydosaurus, which belongs to the group of gigantic, long-necked, long-tailed, four-legged, plant-eating dinosaurs such as Brachiosaurus.

In a rare twist, they recovered four heads -- two still fully intact -- from a quarry in Dinosaur National Monument in eastern Utah. Complete skulls have been recovered for only eight of more than 120 known varieties of sauropod.

"Their heads are built lighter than mammal skulls because they sit way out at the end of very long necks," said Brooks Britt, a paleontologist at Brigham Young University. "Instead of thick bones fused together, sauropod skulls are made of thin bones bound together by soft tissue. Usually it falls apart quickly after death and disintegrates."

Analysis of the bones indicates that the closest relative of Abydosaurus is Brachiosaurus, which lived 45 million years earlier. The four Abydosaurus specimens were all juveniles.

Most of what scientists know about sauropods is from the neck down, but the skulls from Abydosaurus give a few clues about how the largest land animals to roam the earth ate their food. "They didn't chew their food; they just grabbed it and swallowed it," Britt said. "The skulls are only one two-hundredth of total body volume and don't have an elaborate chewing system."

All sauropods ate plants and continually replaced their teeth throughout their lives. In the Jurassic Period, sauropods exhibited a wide range of tooth shapes. But by the end of the dinosaur age, all sauropods had narrow, pencil-like teeth. Abydosaurus teeth are somewhere in between, reflecting a trend toward smaller teeth and more rapid tooth replacement.

The fossils were excavated from the Cedar Mountain Formation in Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal, Utah. The site is just a quarter of a mile away from the condemned visitor center that displays thousands of bones that remain in place on an uplifted slab of sandstone.

Pandas Might Go EXTINCT!!!

China's famous mascot, the giant panda, could disappear from the wild in two or three generations, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Beijing. Experts warn the animal's natural habitat in southwest China is threatened by development.

Fan Zhiyong, Species Programme Director for the World Wide Fund for Nature in Beijing voiced concerns in a report by the Xinhua News Agency, saying basic housing projects have "a fundamental conflict with conservation."

Heavy traffic has stopped pandas from crossing over highways, inhibiting the pandas' ability to meet and interact with each other, as they normally do. Roads, power lines and water projects are also cutting off pandas from nearby areas where they might find a suitable mate.

Researchers have increased the number of pandas held in captivity through artificial insemination. But, in the the wild, pandas are terrible at reproducing on their own and no fewer than 1,600 of them exist.

Although the WWF was not against economic development, Zhiyong said considerations for pandas should be made when developing housing ideas.

"We shouldn't say 'don't let development happen.' We are just asking if, in the process of developing these areas should we, can we, stop and think that as a Chinese national treasure and a globally protected species, can we plan with them in mind? Can our development plans include them in the considerations?"

Ongoing construction could soon shrink the wild panda population to nothing. Zhiyong said, "If these animals are all raised by people they are no longer a wild species...if at some point in the future the only way to see the survival of the panda as a species is to rely on the artificial insemination of frozen sperm, we will know the extinction of this species is not far off."

Red Queen

Come see the Red Queen in action or just blow off some steam before finals. UCSB Running Series presents the Shamrock Scramble this Saturday (March 13th) at 9am - starting and ending at the West Campus and taking in Del Playa and a loop around Manzanita housing.
Online registration ends today (Wednesday) but you can sign up on the day if you pay $5 extra. Funds raised benefit the Alumni Association Scholarship Fund.

This is the way it was(n't)

No dinosaurs were harmed during the making of this movie. Despite the scientific innacuracies you have to admire the skill of the master of stop-motion animation Ray Harryhausen who is on record as saying that he did not make One Million Years B.C. for "professors" who in his opinion "probably don't go to see these kinds of movies anyway."

The U.S. Birth Rate is on the Rise

A record 4.3 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2007, according to a summary of birth statistics published each year in the journal Pediatrics. The birth rate (number of births per 1,000 women) has been climbing for a couple of decades, though it is nowhere near what it was 100 years ago. The record high number of births is due both to a recent trend upward in the birth rate and the larger U.S. population now than 100 years ago.

A noteworthy trend in the data is that women are having their babies later than they did just 15-20 years ago. Birth rates were lower in 2007 than in 1990 for women under 30, but higher in 2007 for women over 30. Also noteworthy is a continued rise in the number of births to unmarried women; it’s now a record 40% of all births.

Selasa, 09 Maret 2010

No Sex Needed: All-Female Lizard Species Cross Their Chromosomes to Make Babies

This species of lizard is comprised solely of females. They are able to reproduce asexually.


Animals Getting Drunk

We watched this documentary "Animals are Beautiful People" in AP biology, and its hilarious. This particular clip is about how some animals get drunk. Just a little comic relief.



Water Bears

Don't let the cute and cuddly fool you, these guys can survive the most intense climates!


Growing low-oxygen zones in oceans worry scientists

Lower levels of oxygen in the Earth's oceans, particularly off the United States' Pacific Northwest coast, could be another sign of fundamental changes linked to global climate change, scientists say.

They warn that the oceans' complex undersea ecosystems and fragile food chains could be disrupted.

In some spots off Washington state and Oregon, the almost complete absence of oxygen has left piles of Dungeness crab carcasses littering the ocean floor, killed off 25-year-old sea stars, crippled colonies of sea anemones and produced mats of potentially noxious bacteria that thrive in such conditions.

In areas such as the Southern California coast, oxygen levels have dropped roughly 20 percent over the past 25 years. Elsewhere, scientists say, oxygen levels might have declined by one-third over 50 years.

"The real surprise is how this has become the new norm," said Jack Barth, an oceanography professor at Oregon State University. "We are seeing it year after year."

Barth and others say the changes are consistent with current climate-change models. Previous studies have found that the oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

"If the Earth continues to warm, the expectation is we will have lower and lower oxygen levels," said Francis Chan, a marine researcher at Oregon State.

As ocean temperatures rise, the warmer water on the surface acts as a cap, which interferes with the natural circulation that normally allows deeper waters that are already oxygen-depleted to reach the surface. It's on the surface where ocean waters are recharged with oxygen from the air.

Commonly, ocean "dead zones" have been linked to agricultural runoff and other pollution coming down major rivers such as the Mississippi or the Columbia. One of the largest of the 400 or so ocean dead zones is in the Gulf of Mexico, near the mouth of the Mississippi.

"It's like an experiment," said Francis Chan, a marine researcher at Oregon State. "We are pulling some things out of the food web and we will have to see what happens. But if you pull enough things out, it could have a real impact."

--Courtesy of Les Blumenthal - McClatchy Newspapers

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