Under The Microscope – The Finale!

Under The Microscope

Hello! I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, it’s been fun to put together!

If you are wondering last weeks image was of tooth brush bristles!

So to honour the great images I’ve put together a little gallery of everything we’ve seen. Hope you’ve enjoyed it!

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Under The Microscope 7

Under The Microscope

Hello! Hope you have had a wonderful week! Are you getting excited for christmas or is it still too early for all that!

Anyway last week’s under the microscope was an image of ear wax on a cotton bud.

But what about this week well if you think you know what this is let me know in comments!

UTM7

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5 Truly Amazing Things about Cacti

Miscellaneous

Hello!

So a while back on my Facebook page, my good friend commented whether I had written anything about cacti, and I hadn’t so Charlotte here are 5 amazing things about cacti!

tn_mexico-desert

Number 1: All cacti belong to the family Cactaceae.

This plant family then belongs to 127 different genera of Cacti. To put it simply there are a lot of different species of Cacti all coming in different sizes and shapes.

Number 2: The fruit of some cactus species, like Opuntia phaeacantha, can be eaten, being called prickly pear.

Exactly like in the jungle book! Cacti are in fact used for lots of different things, for food as I’ve just said but also as ornamental plants. The trunk of some cacti is used to make a type of Argentinian drum called bombo leguero.

Number 3: You can tell what type of pollinator the cacti wants to attract by the smell they produce and the colour of their flowers.

Cacti are pollinated predominantly by insects but also hummingbirds. Some species of cacti produce the scent of rotting meat to attract flies to pollinate them.

Number 4: Cacti gather and hold lots of water in their stems.

The water is gathered from a large root system. This way when the rain does come the cactus is able to gather as much as possible. They also can have a long tap root that goes down into the soil much further than the rest of the root system. All of this water can then be held in the stem. The water forms a thick liquid and although no longer looks like water it is drinkable and has saved lives!

Number 5: Many species of cacti are in decline.

Cacti do an amazing job at staying alive in some of the worlds toughest terraine, so why are they in decline? Well like so many other plants one reason is habitat decline. Given the desert conditions I didn’t think this would be an issue but more humans are moving into desert areas and decreasing the areas for cacti to grow. Secondly the more pressing issue for many cacti species is illegal trade. Many species are protected and it is illegal to take them away from their habitat. You wouldn’t think of cacti when it comes to cacti but its a very real issue and something that the worlds legislation needs to combat.

I hope this blog has been interesting for you and you’ve learnt some more about these wonderful plants. If you have anything you’d like me to write about just drop me a comment!

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Under The Microscope

Under The Microscope

Hello!

For the next 10 weeks we are going to play a little game here on ThatBiologist, on a Friday you can expect to see a picture here of a common household object. This picture will however be from an electron microscope. This means you can see these objects in so much detail (perhaps even a little bit too much detail.

The game is really simple, look at the picture and comment on the blog what you think it is or you can tweet me @thatbiologist. Then I will let you know what it is the next week after.

Hopefully this will be a lot of fun and you’ll get to see some awesome stuff! Without further a do here’s number 1:

UTM1

Good luck!

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Snow White: Could An Apple Kill?

Fairyology

“How I wish that I had a daughter that had skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony.”

Fairyology Episode 3

599936-snow_white1_large.jpgToday we turn our attention to the well-wishing, house-cleaning, magic-mirroring princess. It’s Snow White! Now if for some strange reason you’ve been living under a rock for the post 2000 years and don’t know this particular princess let me give you a little run down of the story.

A queen wished for a daughter that had everything in the quote above. Luckily for this queen her wish was granted and they called the baby Snow White however she died shortly after giving birth. So her king had to look after Snow White. Then the king gets remarried, now you must know that this isn’t going to be good. Snows step mother has this mirror and it’s magic. Her step mum talks to the mirror everyday and asks it who is the fairest of them all. Now all while snow is growing up it always says the she is the fairest. Until (dun, dun duuuuuhhh) it says that Snow is now the fairest! So the evil step mum orders Snow killed. The man charged with this actually just squirrels her away into the woods where she lives with seven dwarfs. The evil queen finds out and then goes hunting for her. After several failed plots she succeeds with a poison apple which puts Snow into a deep sleep. Lucky for Snow her boyf comes to her rescue and wakes her with true loves kiss. Happy ending woohoo! (1)

But let’s rewind one hot second, a poisoned apple! Thats a biology goldmine! What could’ve poisoned it! Well as per usual I’ve come up with some theories, let’s get stuck in!

Theory 1 = Poison Hemlock

1Now way back when I did a post on poison hemlock, it sparked my series the poisons
collection. So I won’t go into the intricacy’s of this wonderful poisonous plant instead I’ll skip to how this plant could be linked to the poisoned apple. This plants poisons are slow working but they are also extremely potent. When consumed the poisons cause paralysis which works well with the story of Snow going into a deep sleep. All parts of the plant contains the poisons so you wouldn’t need much to lace the apple for it to take effect. (2) From history this plant has been used to kill lots of people most famously Socrates! (3) This could have easily been the perfect plan for the evil queen, so how did she survive with this theory? Well clearly the Prince gave snow the antidote with his kiss. Whatever lip balm he uses I want it!

Theory 2 = Deadly Nightshade

300px-Atropa_belladonna_003
Another plant that has been featured on the poisons collection in this post. Deadly Nightshade grows across Europe (where Snow White is set). It has some really edible looking berries, filled with poison that again causes paralysis. It’s said that the effects work quite quickly. Although the most potent part of the plant is considered to be the root; a handful of berry juice inserted into the apple would be enough! (4).

Theory 3 = The Apple Itself? 

Did you know that apple seeds contain cyanide! Yeah however due to the hard coating outside the seed the body rarely even sees the cyanide even if you do swallow a seed. So how would this work for cyanide to be the poison in the apple? Firstly the evil queen would have to produce a really really seedy apple. The amount of cyanide in each seed is so minimal you would need alot of seeds to do any harm. Secondly she would have to make the coating on the seeds weaker in some way or made sure snow chewed it very thoroughly. Then and only then would the cyanide be able to do some damage. Yeah that’s probably not that likely!

In conclusion I really hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, it was inspired by a poster I did way back in my third year of my bachelors degree. Til’ next time check out my links below and come say hi on your social media of choice!

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Sources

(1) = http://gb.imdb.com/title/tt0029583/plotsummary

(2) = http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/conium_maculatum.htm

(3) = http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/socrates.htm

(4) = http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/atropa_belladonna.htm

(5) = https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/oct/11/cyanide-in-fruit-seeds-how-dangerous-is-an-apple

 

Becoming A Master – In the beginning

BAM

Welcome to my new series Becoming A Master! This series (which I’ll shorten to BAM) is all about my journey through my masters degree. I want to share what its like week to week studying a masters degree in Conservation and I want to share all the new science I’m learning with you guys. I have no idea how this series will work out and thats so exciting, most of my blogs I write a couple weeks in advance but this series will be as live as I can. These will be coming to you every Sunday!

Week 1.

Y’know what I just said about these coming on a Sunday… well I know this post is coming out on Sunday but I’m currently writing this on the Thursday. It’s all I’m going to be able to cover for the moment as tomorrow I’m off to Norfolk on my first field course! I’m so excited to be back out in the field and you guys can all read about it next week. Anyway back on to what I’ve been up to.
Well as in the start of most courses this week has mostly been about admin. A lot of safety and generally trying to negotiate my way around my new building. UCL itself is a far bigger university than my university for my undergrad. Luckily I’m spending most of my time in the geography department.
It’s also been a lot of meeting new people which has been great so many different scientists with all sorts of different backgrounds and things to share and discuss.
I wish I could tell you some more scientific stuff in this blog entry but I really don’t think you’re going to want to hear a chat about plagiarism, although important it’s not the most interesting stuff.
So I will leave this entry here and I can’t wait to tell you all about my first field course!
Til next time!
Happy Biologying!

Edit: I know this is a late blog mostly because my signal in Norfolk is awful but here is my view currently.
image

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The Monthly Scientist: Mr September

The Monthly Scientist

The end of September already! Hope you’ve been all having a fantastic a year, it’s certainly rattling on through! On to who we’re celebrating today, without this guy we might be miles behind in the field of genetics, it is of course Mr Mendel.

Gregor Mendel

gregor_mendel_monk

Born: July 20, 1822

Died: January 6, 1884

Noted for: Father of genetics

Why scientist of the month?

Mendel was an Austrian Monk, who used the plants growing in his gardens founded the science of genetics. As part of his work particularly the pea plant he identified many of the rules of heredity. These rules determine how traits are passed through generations of living things. With this Mendelian genetics was founded, this includes that living things pass traits to the next generation by something which remains unchanged in successive generations of an organism – we now call this ‘something’ genes. These genetics identified recessive and dominant traits which pass from parents to offspring and most importantly it established that traits pass from parents to their offspring in a mathematically predictable way. Mendel’s work only made a big impact in 1900, 16 years after his death, and 34 years after he first published it. All of this work was done by just one person is understandably extraordinary and without this work we might be miles behind where we are now in understanding how genetics work.

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