Biology news

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.

Treezilla

At http://phys.org/print290759007.html ... we learn that Treezilla is a monster map of trees launched by the Open University (or at tax payers expense to be more specific). It intends to map every tree in Britain via www.treezilla.org ... it is free and open to everybody to use and local groups are being encouraged to upload data. Needless to say it has a CAGW angle - trees are said to capture co2. Well, they would, seeing as co2 is food for plants.

D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson

His book, 'On Growth and Form' appears on page 101 of Trevor Palmer's 'The Perilous Planet Earth; Catastrophes and Catastrophism Through the Ages' Cambidge University Press:2003. He wrote this book when he was Head of Life Sciences at Nottingham Trent University and dedicated it to all the members of SIS.

Gut Bacteria

At http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2010/11/16/gut-bacteria-recap-th... ... is an interesting post forwarded by member Brian Sherwood Jones  in response to a post a few days ago. The evolution of microbes in the bodies of humans, and their relatives such as the apes, is the subject of the study. Gut bacteria is passed down from parents to their children and it is no surprise that gorilla gut bacteria differs from that of humans.

Pigeons and Tomatoes

At http://phys.org/print289048035.html ... pigeons pecking the ground in search of seeds or crumbs may appear to be acting randomly as a scavenger but the birds have the ability, it would seem, of making intelligent choices.