Biology 103

Arielle Schecter's picture

Gaia: The Earth Lives with Us

Whether for spiritual, scientific, or ontological purpose, the matter of defining life is an ancient and serious quest. The Gaian theory of earth science – so named for Gaia, the Greek goddess of the Earth – proposes that the physical Earth upon which we live is just as alive as we animals and the plants are. The scientist James Lovelock proposed in the mid 1960s that the Earth, far from being just a mobile mass in space hospitable to animal and plant life, is a self-regulating ecosystem that calls on the fields of geology and physiology to explain its potential status as a live organism.

Sarah Gale's picture

DDT vs. The Mosquito

The continent of Africa is one of the largest land masses of the world and known for its struggles with poverty, AIDS, and civil war. Yet an issue that hasn been discussed or portrayed in the media as openly is the issue of malaria; specifically, prevention of the disease. The World Health Organization (the WHO), has been grappling with this issue since the 1950's. Now, a resurgence of support for the employ of the pesticide DDT to combat the malaria- carrying mosquitoes has sparked controversy. Scientists and politicians seems to be going backwards on such an issue- it as if the environmental revolution never happened! That such polluting practices can continue to be allowed is unjust and exploitative to lesser-developed countries. What is even worse is the pro-DDT propaganda, which denounces the findings of scientists like Rachel Carson that DDT, in any dose, is lethal.

Moira Nadal's picture

Veganism: What is it, and is it nutritionally healthy?

Many things that people take for granted, such as butter, milk, honey, cheese and gummy snacks are off-limits to Vegans. Even things like some multi-vitamins use animal by-products in their processing or composition. Vegans, for several reasons, will not use or eat anything that comes from an animal. This differs from less strict forms of Vegetarianism which allow for the consumption of all things mentioned above. Veganism as defined by Wikipedia: "Veganism is a philosophy and lifestyle that avoids using animals and animal products for food, clothing and other purposes"[1]. These life choices are often times controversial and seen as somewhat radical. Many people do not know exactly what is the difference between veganism and vegetarianism. It has also been debated for several years whether or not this lifestyle is nutritionally sound. This paper seeks to explore some different aspects of veganism and help to further a discussion on the health of a Vegan way of life.

Courtney Malpass's picture

True or False: Dispelling Myths About Sharks

The first thing I think of when I hear the words 'shark attack' is the Hollywood blockbuster, JAWS. Hollywood has done an amazing job of terrifying the public of such a magnificent, prehistoric creature. There are so many myths and legends about sharks and shark attacks that none of them seem quite real to me anymore. So, being of a curious nature, I decided to do a little research and see if I could possibly separate the difference between myth and fact. I have been quite interested in this particular topic for a while now, and I made the most out of this opportunity to learn something new and possibly prove myself wrong on some of my hypotheses.

Cottage Pie's picture

Orca Social Structure and (Whale) Dialects

It has been known that killer whales speak in dialects since at least March 10,1990, when Leigh Dayton published “Killer Whales Communicate in Distinct Dialects”. In Dayton’s paper, J. Ford, the curator of marine mammals at Vancouver’s Public Aquarium, discovered this through listening to the two main communities of killer whales that were then divided into pods, each with its own dialect. Based upon these facts Ford concludes that since dialect is dependent upon pod the dialect is genetic. (2) Since Leigh Dayton’s paper in 1990 more has been found about orcas (killer whales) and their dialects with respect to their social structure along with the fact that dialect is not restricted only to killer whales but many other species of whale.

Margaret Bohara's picture

The Dracula of Hormones: Melatonin

In the U.S. alone, over half of adults have trouble sleeping at least a few days a week (1). Trouble sleeping, also called insomnia, can be found in mainly two different forms. Mild insomnia (insomnia only lasting for a week or two) is most likely caused by sadness or anxiety. Chronic insomnia can be a result of depression or other psychiatric illnesses. More and more in the last decade, insomnia sufferers have been turning to the hormone melatonin for relief.

Priscila Roney's picture

Teratoma: The monster that may lead to the cure?

The term "teratoma" originating from the Greek word teraton meaning monster, is used to describe a kind of tumor that forms from pluripotent germ cells. Pluripotent cells are unique in the way in which they demonstrate the ability to produce biological responses very similar to that of normal human tissue. Teratomata usually consist of a tumor that is very different compared to the issue of the area in which it is growing. What is most alarming and many times horrifying about teratomata is that it can grow hair and teeth very similar to real human tissue. These tumors have puzzled scientists, psychics, doctors and patients for centuries. Early beliefs blamed the individual suffering from the condition for swallowing hair or other body parts and that this growth was a punishment for cannibalism. Other beliefs include witchcraft and curses as well as a punishment for adultery with the devil. While it has not been proven, certain manuscripts state that due to their human-like characteristics, there was a time in which the Roman Catholic Church considered teratomata to be a forming embryo and required it to be baptized. The parthenogenic theory is now the one that is most widely accepted.

Cristiane de Oliveira's picture

Colored Hearing: Synesthesia as an Enhanced Reality


Every human being has a different perception of the world; these contrasting perceptions, including interactions with colors and sounds, have influenced many artists in producing remarkable works of art and literature. The great Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov describes in his autobiography the intriguing relationship he has with letters and colors, something he refers to as "colored hearing": "The color sensation seems to be produced by the very act of my orally forming a given letter while I imagine its outline. The long a of the English alphabet has for me the tint of weathered wood, but a French a evokes polished ebony. This black group also includes hard g (vulcanized rubber) and r (a sooty rag being ripped). Oatmeal n, noodle-limp l, and the ivory-backed hand mirror of o take care of the whites...Since a subtle interaction exists between sound and shape, I see q as browner than k, while s is not the light blue of c, but a curious mixture of azure and mother-of-pearl." (Nabokov, 34). Nabokov's colored hearing is in fact the phenomenon of synesthesia - where two or more of the physical senses evoke concomitant feelings or perceptions.

Student Contributor to Biology 103's picture

The Abortion Pill

For the past few years, the introduction of RU-486 has caused heavy debate throughout
the country. Also known as the ‘abortion pill’, the use of the drug has become an
alternative to having a surgical abortion. RU-486 made the access of having abortions
easier for women to obtain. However, there are some severe consequences to taking the
abortion pill. Part of the debate over this drug is because of the health factors that it
poses and the other parts are of outside reasons. While there are dangerous side effects,
the Food and Drug Administration has allowed for the continual use of the drug and
through this approval, has made the drug legally okay to use. However, the legality of a
drug does not always mean that the drug is acceptable in or for society as some would
argue. There are people who believe otherwise, and so, this debate still continues.

Simone Biow's picture

Does Adolescence Make Sense?

Serving as a transitional period between childhood and adulthood, adolescence is an integral stage in the human growth process. It is both a period of physical metamorphosis and of identity formation. However, sociologists have begun to place "emphasis on adolescence as a problematic stage in modern society" (4). In fact, some scientists have even asserted that adolescence has become obsolete. Today, it is undeniable that, if current trends continue, the prolongation of adolescence and postponement of adulthood will have increasingly detrimental effects on both youths and society (6). Nevertheless, history and biology have proven that when regarded as a period of physiological and intellectual maturation, adolescence makes sense.

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