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The value of life

coffee and tea doodles

value is what we make it

Episode 3 / Season 13 of WNYC’s Radiolab asks, “What is the value of human life?” in a story titled, Worth.

This article questions how much life is actually worth to us. On the street, they put the question to passers-by in the form of, “What would one year of healthy, productive life be worth to you?”

Answers ranged from the ridiculously small ($5 – surely life is worth more than a Venti Frappacuinno at Starbucks) to the absurdly high ($10,000,000 – perhaps it would we worth that to someone with a net worth in the billions, but probably not for the average person.

Is a year worth the salary you make in a year? Apparently non-working spouses (or young children) are worth zero.

Is it the same value for every person? Is a year of my life worth as much as that of a fortune 500 CEO’s. The President? A Nobel Prize winner? A crack dealer?

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Posted by on December 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Evolution Animated

I just stumbled upon this cartoon for the first time today and I’m totally blown away. Sure, there are some things that could be explained better. There are a couple of moments when the illustrations could be a bit more accurate. But, overall, it’s a very good summary of the basic elements of evolution and pretty funny. (I wish I had made this!)

Have a watch and enjoy.

also, check out Kurzgesagt’s other animations on the Big Bang Theory, et al.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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I Think… but I do not Know

Darwin, wrote in his ‘B’ notebook in 1837,

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And in one instant transformed the way that we all think about life on earth. This simple diagram unified science. It captured Linnaeus’ nomenclature and married it to the fossil progressions that geologist the world over were seeing in the rocks. It redefined how we understand species and laid the framework for a new view of life as being all related at some level, with some organisms sharing more characteristics with their closer relatives and less with those more distant. It allowed scientists more than a hundred years later to recognize that the biochemical foundations of bacteria and yeast and drosophila and humans were all the same. Because we are fundamentally one family. There was no need to identify a genetic code for each species. Instead, we share a common (universal) code of DNA triplets each calling for an Amino Acid in building proteins.

However, there has been a lot of thought about what it really does mean to be a species. Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, addresses just this point. I raise this question on the first day of my general biology class and my microbiology class. In general biology we eventually rest on the idea that, at least in the larger plants and animals we are used to encountering – and will discuss in the course of our class, the ability to mate with, and produce fertile offspring from is necessary and sufficient to group two animals into the same species. Of course the mule comes up as a near exception necessitating the ‘produce fertile offspring’ clause, but this is a definition we can accept. In microbiology, we are forced, by the nature of the organisms we study, to discard that convenient description. Many micro-organisms replicate asexually and are capable of transferring genes horizontally.

thrashing fish
knowing they’re in a bucket
and not knowing

          -Issa 1819

In the November 1 issue of The Scientist, Axel G. Rossberg, Tim Rogers, and Alan J. McKane tackle the very existence of ‘species.’ Therein, they acknowledge the fact that we use the concept of ‘species’ for our own convenience and consider the possibility (or rater, probability) that the very idea of species delineation may be artificial. The article looks into the variety of life and how the definition must change depending upon the organisms in question and makes us face the assumptions we often take for granted. Click on ‘The Scientist’ below to see the full article.

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                Link to the article in The Scientist

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Apoopcalypse Now

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Penny resting while she contemplates where to strike next

My wife will return today from an approximately 36 hour business trip to the east coast. In that short time I can only assume that every animal in our house came down with an acute bladder infection. There was nowhere I could turn today that hadn’t been in some way soiled. I wasn’t keeping an official tally, but Penny appears to be the clear winner with at least three puddles and one fecal sample to her credit. However, William is much more sneaky in his attacks, so it is entirely possible that I simply haven’t found all his entries in this week’s contest.

 

If you haven’t checked it out yet, please consider pledging your support to DHS’s kickstarted project, ‘Mythic Science’

 

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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A Victory Lap

My wife got home yesterday afternoon ending the competition.

The final score was:

                      Pee                   Poop                       Vomit                   Kill something / viciously attack me

William            4   1/2                0                                1                                          0

Penny              2   1/2                1                                0                                         NA

Oliver                0                      0                                0                                           2

 

There was one peeing incident which the judges could not positively attribute to Penny or William and therefore decided to award 1/2 pt to each contestant. William began with, and maintained, a strong lead eventually finishing with a total of 5 1/2 points for the win.

To celebrate he took a victory lap and peed on the dinning room floor this morning. 

 

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Poops and Puddles

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The Golden Poop Award

My wife has been out of town for.. let’s see, four days now and the competition is really heating up.

As far as I know, William hasn’t peed on anything today. Of course, I might just have not found it yet. So far he’s got a commanding lead with 4 pee incidents and one nasty vomit. Penny is falling behind, but still holding her own having scored two puddles and one pile (I’m tempted to give an extra point for poop, but it’s so easy to clean up Peekapoops that it should probably only count for half.

With three days left, it’s still anyone’s game. Oliver’s really not playing, but I did give him a point for the mouse he caught, disemboweled and then completely scarfed up on the front step.

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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