Biology news

'On Growth and Form'

D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, 'On Growth and Form' (1917) was critical of Darwin and thought that biologists of the day over emphasized evolution as the fundamental determinant of form and structure of living organisms - and also over emphasized the roles of physical laws and mechanics. He advocated structuralism as an alternative to survival of the fittest in governing the form of species. Thompson did not reject natural selection but regarded it as a secondary to the origin of biological form (quoting from Wikipedia).

Patterns in Nature

A really fascinating series of posts over at Tim Cullen's blog http://malagabay.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/liesegang-rings-1-the-liesegan... ... which goes back to experimentation in the 19th century that resulted in the discovery of photography and television, creating pictures out of nowhere.

Earth's wobble and how it effects life in the oceans

At http://phys.org/print298346381.html ... research at Princetown University and the Swiss Institution of Technology in Zurich have discovered the wobble of the Earth on its axis controls the population of fertilising nitrogen connected to life in the oceans. The wobble, or axial precession, causes an upwelling of bottom water and this is rich in phosphorous, among other things. This occurs at 23,000 year intervals - in a mainstream perspective.

A human brain reproduced in a laboratory

At www.livescience.com/39247-mini-human-brains-grown-in-dish.html ... the first example of a developing human brain to have been created in a laboratory - using stem cell technology

Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch

It might be the title of an old pop song but there is something in those words. Go to http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2013/08/the-science-behind-honey... ... salt, sugar, and dried rice can be kept for long periods of time without deteriorating, and so can honey. Archaeologists in Egypt have come across pots of honey that are still well preserved, and edible, in spite of a shelf life of several thousands of years. Why is this?

Gorillas, like Pandas, have an appetite for bamboo

An interesting story at http://phys.org/print296465433.html ... African mountain bamboos are hidden away, like the mountain gorillas that feed on them, in the mountains at the  tropics. Similarly, Chinese bamboos are the diet of Giant Pandas, and they too are hidden away in remote locations. How did bamboos get from a tropical location in Africa to a temperate location in China? Could the latter once have been in the tropics?

 

Giant Redwoods and co2

At www.sfgate.com/science/article/Ancient-redwoods-in-growth-spurt-of-a-lif... ... very often we hear negative stories about the Californian giant redwood tree - they are on the verge of dying, global warming will suffocate them, and that kind of doomsaying. These trees are important as unlike European oaks that live for hundreds of years they can live for thousands of years. One tree near Crescent City is 2520 years of age and there is a giant sequoia that has survived for over 3000 years.

Tony Haynes on energy in the body

Tony Haynes, in an email, and continuing his research into alternative energy such as plasma and cold fusion, has found another twist in the story, the use of tungsten nano-particles with an added catalyst of platinum to separate hydrogen, presumably from water, with no energy input apart from ultra violet light.

Evolution in Rapid Bursts

The Daily Mail has picked up on a story I meant to post but never did. Gary Gilligan has forwarded the links at www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2389820/Planktonic-foraminifera-... ... and in the style of said newspaper has the headline, 'Did evolution happen in a rapid burst?' - note the use of singular rather then the plural. Are they aiming the story at anyone in particular?

Manure, rotation, and pathogens

At http://phys.org/print293169366.html ... Europe's first farmers, some 8000 years ago, used manure on their fields. It has always been assumed manure was not used until the Iron Age/Roman period but enriched levels of Nitrogen 15, a stable isotope abundant in manure, has been found in charred cereal grains and palaeo seeds (peas, beans, lentils) from 13 different Neolithic sites across Europe (including Britain) between 6000 and 2400BC. Manuring is a long term process - it takes several years for the land to benefit fully from manure.