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Posts tagged "science"

What does the Galapagos, Madagascar, and Australia have in common? Correct: they are all islands. But apart from the fact that they are isolated from other land bodies by surrounding oceanic waters, these islands are also known for their rich biodiversity.

Biodiversity is the extent of variation among species in a single climate region or biome. The more assorted (or diverse) the species are in a single habitat, the more healthy it is. The rate of endemism (the uniqueness or exclusivity of a species within a specific geographical border) is also high in islands; being separated from the “mainlands” makes them isolated enough for the adaptation and the evolution to occur independently, hence the highly endemic species. 

Australia, for one, is almost exclusively hosting the marsupial mammalian species (with only around one-fourth of the extant marsupial species live in the Americas). Eighty-percent of the the vascular plant species in Madagascar are endemic, along with species of bats, carnivores, insectivores, lemurs, and rodents.

The Galapagos Islands, apart from being one of Charles Darwin’s “cradle” while formulating his Theory of Evolution, is highly known of it biodiversity. 

Galapagos land iguana (Conolophus sp.)
Together with the Galapagos marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), this iguana is one of the amazing reptiles endemic to the Galapagos Islands. 

The Galapagos Islands was named after this species of giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra), one of the vertebrates with longest lifespans. The Islands were formerly known as "Insulae de los Galopegos" (Islands of the Tortoises).

Darwin’s Finches are fifteen species of passerines (“perching” birds or “songbirds”) whose beak variety has helped Darwin in identifying the role of geographical isolation in the process of adaptation and speciation.

Other birds found in the Galapagos are the Galápagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus), the waved albatross (Phoebastria irrorata), and the Galápagos hawk, (Buteo galapagoensis), all of three of them are endemic.

The role of islands in rearing and facilitating the evolution of these wonderful species is breathtaking. No wonder that, being an archipelago (group of islands), the Philippines is also known for its highly rich biodiversity, along with other ecologically blessed countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, India, China, Brazil, and South Africa.

The following animals are very few of the magnificent species found only in the Country of Juan:

Palawan bearded pig (Sus ahoenobarbus)

Giant golden-crowned flying fox/fruit bat (Acerodon jubatus)

Philippine duck (Anas luzonica)

Visayan Flowerpecker (Dicaeum haematostictum)

Mindanao Horned Frog (Megophrys stejnegeri)

The species listed here does not even include plants, fungi, rare orchids, exotic butterflies and insects, mysterious arthropods, and marine species.

One might ask why save these seemingly “insignificant” creatures? Yes, we may find many of these species unremarkable or perhaps we just take them for granted. In order to understand the importance of preserving Mother Nature’s children, we must understand the mechanisms involved in various ecological settings. It begins with awareness. If we read enough articles and books regarding natural history (the Internet has TONS of them), we will begin to appreciate the stroke of genius the Earth has in keeping the niches, habitats, and biomes functional.

Once we realize this, we also uncover the humans’ role in the ecosystem. With much deforestation, river poisoning, overfishing, poaching, and pollution, we have a lot to answer for in the extinction of many species and the ecology’s imbalance since the Industrial Revolution. We do not seem to recognize wildlife’s role in keeping the human civilization alive.

For 200,000 years the Earth has nurtured Homo sapiens (that’s us) with fruits from trees, hide from animals, and the incidental discovery of fire. I think it is only right to return the favor. And it starts with awareness.

Every year, new creatures are discovered and rediscovered. As taxonimists name these species, the necessity to preach the importance of wildlife to the world as a whole increases substantially as well.

Save the Earth. Spread the word.

©jandennarriba2012

Photo credits
Philippine Eagle by Rich Lindie
Galapagos Land Iguana 
Galapagos Tortoise 
Darwin’s Finches 
Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox 
Philippine Duck 
Visayan Flowerpecker 
Mindanao Horned Frog 
Palawan Bearded Pig

Asker buggirl Asks:
It is nice to see a religious person who is not at odds with science. I was raised Catholic as well, (now atheist) and have had way too many arguments with close religious friends about how evolution is the entire basis of the field of Biology and cannot be denied even if you have a belief in the supernatural. No one listens to me b/c of my lack of belief but I hope that people like you can be advocates for science on the other side :) (I'm an evolutionary biology major) Cheers!
darwingeek darwingeek Said:

Thank you for this wonderful message!

Oh, I am not religious! I am spiritual, but—even if I am pro-science, ever-questioning some dogmas of my Church, and ever-curious with the world’s belief systems—I am Catholic through and through. No good argument or black propaganda so far has swayed my faith with the Church.

It is sad that many of my countrymen (Filipinos), and perhaps the people of world too, have become blind sided with the affairs of the Church/religion in general and the moral implications of modern science and technology; they are always conforming to what the society thinks and their mouths are frothing with annoying ignorance. We always talk, but never read or think. That’s the reason I guess why I am walking two roads at the same time: expressing my Christian faith while promoting science!

My mother teaches biology and chemistry, she’s my prime influence. And about my belief in supernatural, I can always relate with this quote from the movie The Librarian:

Some of the items in the Library (the Excalibur, unicorns, golden geese, the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant, etc.) violate the known laws of science. But that is only because our brains are so small we haven’t come up with laws to explain them.”

We are “superstitious” folk, so there. :) I am hoping one day though that all the known sciences and beliefs will fuse into one universal body of knowledge.

And yay for your major! I find Darwinistic evolution fascinating ever since I read The Origin of Species, but I also find it hard to explain to creationists since they’re all, like, “Blah blah blah, I can’t hear you.” Hahaha. I mean, I think the Genesis creation account is metaphorical rather than literal. I don’t think God is stupid enough to create light first before the light source. LOL. He’s an architect for chrissakes.

Anyway, I think I babbled enough. I don’t get intellectually stimulating messages like this very often, so thanks! And good luck with your career in evolutionary biology! I’ll follow that path soon…

Cheers!

"It’s for our science project. How do you make a baby? How does sex work?" he said.

I was delighted. He reminded me of myself when I was still a grade schooler. I had asked my mother about sex (she teaches biology), and she told about the whole biological process in detail: from the sperm-meets-egg concept to embryology. Well, as for the inclusion the penis and the vagina in the development of the baby, I think I found out about them myself; I remember my mother giving me some sort of science book with only-for-high-school-students content, and then I found out about semen ejaculation and menstruation.

Okay. Too much information.

Anyway, as much as I want to help this kid with his sex education project, I should not assume that he’s as open-minded as I was before. I had my first sexual fantasies when I was 12 (?) but he’s still 10 for chrissakes. Jeez, I’m not making this kid have nightmares about penises chasing him in a vaginal tunnel.

Gross.

"Miss Johnson, you’re a nurse aren’t you? D’you know a physician who’d perform abortion for me?"

"Clare, are you sure—?"

"Yes, I’m sure! My life is ruined, Miss Johnson! Don’t you see? I need to get rid of this thing!"

"I don’t think it’s—"

"Please. I’m begging you"

"Clare… Abortion against my religion and personal belief. Giving you advice or direction with your attempt to murder your own child makes me no less of an abortionist myself! An innocent child, Clare!"

"It doesn’t matter! Please! Do you know someone? Tell me, please! I’m desperate…"

And Miss Johnson does know someone…

-

We just had our most interesting session in our Nursing Jurisprudence subject. A series of debates were initiated, concerning three different biomedical issues with shaky moral grounds: in vitro fertilization (natural vs. artificial), placebo therapy without consent (anti-drug dependence vs. veracity), and rejection of physician’s intervention in favor of faith healing (cultural respect vs. assurance to physical health).

Many people would raise their opinions on the said subjects, with both weak and strong premises, with pure logic or sheer emotion, with experience or objective analysis, and with religious conviction or scientific truth. Does the freedom of choice really supersede the value of life when it comes to abortion? How about contraception? About blood transfusion? About plastic surgery?

In debates, they say, “there are no wrong answers”. Only wrong reasoning. Debators tackle and attack, forever babbling about theories, laws, principles and ideas that would somehow discredit their respective opposing side. Debates, they say, are designed to convince. But in any case, anyone from either the affirmative or the negative, whose beliefs and intellect in firm and founded, will never be convinced of the views of the opposition.

The battle of the moralities and legalities concerning biomedical issues are never ending. The religious groups, the government, the scientific agencies, the political and business factions, the cultural castes, and the individuals that comprise humanity are ever diverse. And in this diversity will pros and cons sprout unendingly. The debate never ends. Even inside our heads.

Still, according to our Nursing Jurisprudence professor, the beliefs and decisions a nurse (or anyone) holds boil down to herself in the end. Will she opt for the whims of technology and individual choice? Or will she pay heed to her own conscience and judgment?

-

Clare is waiting.

© jandennarriba 2010

Everything in the universe happens and fits perfectly and purposefully in place because of trial and error and survival. For example, the canines were not formed to enable carnivores to slice through flesh; rather only the ancestors of carnivores whose teeth are sharp enough to cut through meat ate their fellow animals to survive and were allowed to breed. This is what evolution and natural selection are all about. This does not promote materialism or mundane perspective of things, nor does it necessarily reject the idea of Intelligent Design. Evolution is simply about necessity and environmental demands forcing Mother Nature to choose favorites among her creatures, and to select who are allowed breed, who are privileged to eat, who have the right to survive, and who among the life forms are permitted to undergo change and adaption and grant these changes to their offspring via reproduction.

Text © jandennarriba2011

What science does not understand, it dismisses.
Nicholas Flamel, The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

I was doing something productive when I saw my old Chemistry book. Wham! My attention was shifted! Hahaha. Oh well, books are my weakness. So I started scanning my old chem-codex and refreshed my memory on the principle’s of one of my fave subjects. (Jeez, I forgot the whole gas Laws. Boyle’s, Charles’s, Avogadro’s and all that.) My cerebrum was filled to the brim, so let me tell a couple of things I’ve found out and deducted along my chem readings:

  • YOUR COKE: When you open your bottle of carbonated drink, do you see the gas bubbles sizzle? That, my friend, is carbon dioxide, which is a product of the decomposition of carbonic acid in your Coke or Pepsi or whatever. Why? The solubility of gas increases as the pressure increases as well. Since carbonated drinks are manufactured in high pressures, this would prevent the carbonic acid from decomposing into water and carbon dioxide (causing it to taste flat). And, the solubility of gas in a liquid medium increases if the medium’s temperature decreases. The next time someone asks you why you’re putting ice on your already ice-cold Coke, tell them that you don’t want to decrease the solubility of your carbon dioxide in H20. Haha.
  • THE AIR ABOVE US: Did you know that the air surrounding the Earth is actually exerting about 15 pounds of mass on every square inch of your skin right now? Well, don’t play raise-your-eyebrows-skeptically on me! Don’t forget: the pressure inside your body equalizes the pressure outside. That’s why we are not squashed flat right now.
  • ACIDS AND BASES: Normal rain is slightly acidic. Your morning coffee is acidic. And your saliva is acidic too (especially in the morning, yeuch!). Sea water is alkalinic, and so is the fluid produced by your liver (bile). Blood is normally slightly alkalinic. Acidic blood is very unhealthy and it may be a sign that your body is [about to be] fucked up pretty bad.

Other interesting facts:

  • Sound travels faster in solid than in gas or in liquid.
  • Nothing gets colder than 0 Kelvin (-273 Celsius). NOTHING. That’s why it’s called absolute zero.
  • Helium is VERY VERY VERY hard to solidify. Solidification of helium requires great pressure.
  • In hospitals, ethyl alcohol is a NO-NO in body-wiping clients with fever. Apart from it being skin-irritating, there is another reason why cool water is preferred in cooling febrile (with fever) clients. Water has a higher specific heat than ethanol (ethyl alcohol). This means that water evaporates slower than ethanol, thereby allowing the client to feel cool longer.
  • And lastly, there are more than 3 or 4 or 6 states of matter. The only reason why your high school and grade school teachers discussed only 3 to 6 is because they do not want you to acquire headache. The recently recognized states of matter is not less than 10.

A green sea slug, Elysia chlorotica, capable of photosynthesizing by feeding on algae and retaining their chloroplasts.

NOW TELL ME EVOLUTION ISN’T REAL.

Galileo Galilei was imprisoned by the Catholic Church just because he disagrees with this photo… But now, it is accepted that the Sun is the center of our planetary system, therefore we consider those who imprisoned Galilei as uneducated bastards.
When Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution via natural selection, he was accused of “Killing God” in the equation of life, even until now… Now, in this case, tell me, do you wanna be called an “uneducated bastard” too?

Galileo Galilei was imprisoned by the Catholic Church just because he disagrees with this photo… But now, it is accepted that the Sun is the center of our planetary system, therefore we consider those who imprisoned Galilei as uneducated bastards.

When Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution via natural selection, he was accused of “Killing God” in the equation of life, even until now… Now, in this case, tell me, do you wanna be called an “uneducated bastard” too?