Friday, 17 June 2011

Them Clones at Blue Frog

Not one of the best gigs I've been to (Wednesday, 15 June). Probably the only one where I felt the band sounded better on their album, than live. It's not that they were bad. They weren't that remarkable. The music didn't connect. It seemed to be missing something. Maybe it was the lead singer. I got the impression that he couldn't match the range that their song choices demanded.

Here are a couple of their better numbers:



Thursday, 16 June 2011

Biology Tutorials

This site provides excellent introductions to a lot of biological concepts like genetics & ecology.

Just check out the 'Topics' and 'Learning Paths' pages. Seems to be made for students.


Saturday, 11 June 2011

YouTube: Ethology Lessons 1

James Lee on reproductive strategies in vertebrates.

Researchers conducted an experiment with guppies. They moved a group of guppies from a lake with low predation to one with high predation. They noticed, after just 10 years, that the new group grew to smaller adult sizes, reproduced earlier, more frequently, had more offspring, and a faster growth rate than the original group. 

They concluded that individuals in a stable environment can afford to wait before reproducing whereas individuals in environments with high mortalities tend to reproduce faster, as a biological response to predation.

This is the same for humans too. Humans livings in environments with high infant mortalities experience greater birth rates, and as resources go up, birth rates go down. Also, people moving from low resource environments to high resource ones tend towards obesity. Their body has adapted to fewer resources, but since people in general are programmed to consume as much food as is freely available, people from low resource areas are especially at risk of obesity. It is important to understand the biological causes of behaviour.


Sunday, 5 June 2011

Earth Story

I recently watched Earth Story, an 8 part 6.5 hour long T.V series produced by the BBC, narrated by Aubrey Manning, and released in 1998, detailing the history of the Earth, beginning with measuring the Earth's age by observing geological change and using radioactive temperature as an indicator, in part 1 - 'The Time Travellers', to finding evidence for why our planet is so unique in part 8 - 'A World Apart', like it's ability to regulate CO2 emissions in the carbon cycle, using water as a lubricant in tectonic shift, etc.

The series presents various discoveries that helped us in our understanding of the Earth's history, like how sonar, explosives and satellites helped uncover a continuous mountain ridge running on the surface of the oceans, magnetic in nature, pointing towards the existence of Pangaea and continental drift (Part 2 - The Deep). Part 3 - 'Ring of Fire' continues with the same theme, explaining the existence of tectonic plates and exploring how and why shifting plates create new earth, and the role volcanoes play. 

Part 4 - 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' looks at some of the causes behind tectonic movement, demonstrating how convecting land plumes formed by heat from the earth's molten core moves land plates up, only to have them sink again when cool, moving under other plates, causing earthquakes and volcanoes, through which heat from sinking land escapes. 

Part 5 - 'The Roof of the World' focuses on India and Tibet, noting that mountain ranges are caused by land masses moving against each other, like the Himalayas being formed when India merged with Asia, where the pressure even created granite rock. It's also revealed that Tibet is sinking fast, which is probably just a consequence of it rising so fast in the past after it lost it's land plume anchor (the land version of an iceberg), and is now settling and spreading out. 

Part 6 - 'The Big Freeze' looks at the reasons behind periodic ice ages and constant climate change; part 7 - 'The Living Earth' looks at early life in the oceans, 500 million yrs ago, and the creation of oxygen.

What struck me while watching the series was how everything we know about the history of the Earth is really a cumulative effort. No one man or woman has been responsible for recent scientific progress in this area. It has been a collective effort between geologists, meteorologists, biologists, botanists, engineers, chemists, technicians and all kinds of scientists involved in climate, mapping, radio isotoping, carbon dating, etc.