The Weekly Scientist – Pasteur and the Germ Theory

BEDA 2018, The Monthly Scientist

Hello and welcome to the first of four weekly scientists. We wouldn’t understand how the human body works without these scientists and many of their discoveries have enabled us to live for longer!

Louis Pasteur

Louis_Pasteur

Born: Dec 27, 1822 at Dole, Jura, Franche-Comté, France

Died: Sep 28, 1895 (at age 72) at Marnes-la-Coquette, Hauts-de-Seine, France

Noted for: helped resolve the mysteries of several deadly diseases like chicken cholera, anthrax, rabies and silkworm diseases. He also contributed to the development of the very first vaccines.

Why scientist of the week?

Vaccinations have saved thousands upon thousands of lives. Pasteur created vaccinations for some of the most horrendous diseases.

Pasteur’s first vaccine discovery was in 1879 with a contagious disease called chicken-cholera. After unexpectedly exposing chickens to the weakened form of a disease, he proved that they became immune to the actual virus. Pasteur continued to extend his “germ theory” to formulate vaccinations for various diseases including anthrax, smallpox and cholera.

In 1882, Pasteur made a decision to emphasize his efforts and research on the subject of rabies disease which was proven to attack the central nervous system. In 1885, he vaccinated Joseph Meister, a nine-year-old boy who had previously been bitten 14 times by a rabid dog. The effective results of Pasteur’s vaccine for rabies brought him instant fame. This set off a worldwide fundraising campaign to construct the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, which was inaugurated on November 14, 1888.

Cheers Louis for saving me from the horrors of cholera, smallpox and anthrax!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Book Review of Bizarre Botany

Reviews

Hello everyone, long time no write but I’m back at it and catching up with my posts. I have a goal this year to read more non-fiction and I thought I would do a few little book reviews once I finish each book. Today I wanted to do a little book review of a Book I read in January and mentioned in my January Round Up. And it’s called….

Bizarre Botany

By Christina Harrison and Lauren Gardiner and the blurb goes a little like this,

Take a journey through a forest of fascinating facts and explore the wonders of the plant kingdom – from the tallest and smallest, to the smelliest and deadliest. This A to Z gift book reveals some of the most quirky and awe-inspiring stories about plants and will give you a whole new appreciation of all things floral.

Basically this book is a 170 page romp through some of the weirdest phenomenon of the botanical world going from A-Z. And it’s really great! It goes through so many different topics which I love and they’re all in short and easily digestible paragraphs. As well as going through the worlds weirdest plants it also highlights many botanists. The “Botany Hero’s” sections were some of my favorite sections of the book as I didn’t know many of the people who were featured.

The book was written for and by members of Kew so they really do know their stuff. They give away some more unknown facts about the Royal Botanical Gardens but you should be aware that it is very plug heavy. I didn’t mind though because personally I think Kew are a pretty amazing organisation.

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Highlight from the Book!

It’s really hard to pick one section from the book that I loved the most. However, the Darwin Botany Hero’s section was truly stunning. That and the section on vegetable sheep! I won’t give anymore though.

To sum up this book is great for anyone with a basic interest in the botanical world. It was easy to read and fitted perfectly in my bag to read on the commute to work! It’s now made its way to live with the rest of my favourite Biology Books. If you would like to read Bizarre Botany here’s the link to buy it!*

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*Not sponsored, I just love the book!

Biology Presents!

Miscellaneous, Not Exactly Science

Hello! Is it too soon… can I really start talking about christmas! Well as I’ve been shopping since October, I guess so! I have a few christmassy posts lined up until I go for my Christmas break and today I thought I’d give some recommendations for presents for the biological people in your life!

1 – A Cellfie Mug

I love this cute mug that is perfect for any biologist! You can get it here.

2 – Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World 

This book is most certainly on my christmas list. I love celebrating women in STEM and this book does that as well as being simply beautiful. You can get this book on amazon here.

3 – DNA Bookmark

What’s more perfect to go with a Biology book than a biology themed bookmark! This beautiful creation is from etsy and can be personalised with your loved ones initials. You can get it here!

4 – DNA Art?!

If you know a true DNA connoisseur how about this!  This company makes artwork from your own DNA, I think it would hang beautifully next to some qualification certificates! Have a look at it here.

5 – Air Plant and Shell combo

This is perfect for those that aren’t great with plants but would love a houseplant. This is a combination of an air plant growing in a shell, I think it would look perfect on any bathroom counter top! You can have a look here.

On Sunday there will be some more present recommendations but with a different twist so stay tuned!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Have Yourself an Eco-Friendly Christmas!

Miscellaneous

Hello! It’s officially December and as I always take a bit of time off from blogging at the end of the year soooo that means it’s time to get christmassy! I have three posts that are all centered around christmas coming for you and today we’re talking about having an eco-friendly christmas!

Tip 1. Buy a real Christmas Tree but make it local!

Plastic trees are often made of non recyclable materials, so unless you plan to use it for a decade or more! Real trees are often purpose grown and in that time they can provide a habitat and will absorb CO2. However just pick it up from somewhere local and look for the FSC logo.

Tip 2. – RECYCLE RECYCLE RECYCLE

Christmas often means a whole heap of packaging! I understand that the easy option is to put all the junk in the bin but it makes such a difference if you recycle as much as you can. All of your wrapping paper should be going into the paper recycling!

Tip 3. Try and Cut Down Food Waste

Christmas is often a time for lots and lots of food. Make sure you try and make the most of every scrap of food you have. There are lots of fantastic leftover recipes out there but my personal favourite is a leftover pie! Or freeze things for a later date.

Tip 4. Get the lighting right!

My favourite thing about christmas is all the twinkly lights but not all lights are created equal. Certain lights will drain more energy which costs you more as well as the planet. Indoor LED fairy lights are a great option when decorating your home for Christmas. They don’t need much energy to run and are much more efficient than standard or even energy saving bulbs. LED lights generally don’t produce heat, making them ideal for decorating your Christmas tree and reducing the risk of fire hazard. Also utilize timers! All your Christmas lights should be on timers, from the strands adorning your trees to the lights outside. Don’t count on remembering to turn them off after a long day and plug the lights into a timer that remembers for you. Light timers can be found at any hardware store.

Tip 5. Presents!

There will be two more christmas themed posts coming up all about gift ideas for Biologists and for gifts that do good for the world. However, think about the presents that you receive and that you give. Try and keep packaging to a minimum and donate what you don’t use rather than throwing things away!

I hope you all have a wonderful christmas whatever you do!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Biology Books!

Miscellaneous

Hello, so I have something to admit, I am a secret collector of biology themed books. My dream one day is to have a bookshelf full of all of the best books in the biology world. So I thought I would share some of my favourite’s with you!

Number 1: Charles Darwin – The Origin of Species

It’s a book all biologists should read because it’s totally brilliant and I believe it’s important for us to know the history of science. However this particular version is so much more. Once upon a time, I went to the Natural History Museum with my other half for his birthday and saw this beautiful illustrated version of the book, but it is extremely large and not exactly cheap so I put the book down and walked away. A few months later for our anniversary I was presented with that very book. It really is stunningly put together and well worth a look.

9781742372181Number 2: Bill Laws – Fifty Plants That Changed The Course Of History.

I have mentioned this book before but it definitely deserves mentioning again! This was another gift and is once again a beautifully illustrated book. I love plants and botany if you didn’t know and this book highlights just how important plants have been in history. It’s a lot lighter reading than the origin of species and is easy to read just about one plant and then put away again.

Number 3: Francis Rose – The Wild Flower Key

On a slightly different note from the other two, I had to but this book for my masters degree course and ended up not using it much during my field trips but lots during my masters degree. If you are interested in trying to get to grips with plant identification this book has a lot in it. It’s got really clear keys and fantastic pictures to make identification easy!

Those are my top three that are currently in my collection but I have an ever growing wish list of books. Kew gardens has a fantastic range of books in their shop and I just want to buy all of them! One day perhaps! Until then let me know any book recommendations you have!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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What makes something native?

Miscellaneous

In conservation and biology in general there is a lot of talk over whether a species is native. This can often be quite a divisive issue because when species are not native they can often be removed or not be a part of policy making. This then means that when conservation plans are put into place a decision must be made as to whether a species is native or not.

So how do you decide whether something is in fact native?

A seemingly easy way of doing this is whether a species has been living in a location for a long time. However due to the wonderful nature of the world trying to pick a starting point in time and figure out what was living there can be a tricky task. For example certain plant species have always been in the UK such as Oak trees. They are therefore classed as native. Other plant species have been brought into the UK. This can happen for lots of different reasons whether its because the plant has a medical property that humans can use or it could be that they are just pretty. Many of these species have a specific few years when they were brought in. One example of this is Rhododendron ponticum which was brought in as an ornamental plant from Spain in 1763. Its since become an invasive species and out competes a lot of native species and such its regarded as a non-native species. However some research suggests that this species was growing in the UK before the last ice age. Obviously this was a long time ago but this does then pose the question of is it a native species as it once was many years a go.

It is a complicated question that I couldn’t answer in a simple blog post. However, most native species are defined as species that originated in their location naturally and without the involvement of human activity or intervention. This definition works for the majority of cases but should be called into question every once in a while!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Top 10 Hedgerow Plants

Miscellaneous

Hello! I have been working on my dissertation for my masters which is all about hedgerows and their conservation. This has meant I’ve got to know the plants in Cornish hedgerows really well so without further a do here are 10 of my favourites!

  1. Red Campion (Silene dioica) – This is one of the most common wild flowers I found as part of my research. Traditional medicines used the seeds to treat snakebites and its genus name comes from the greek word sialon which means saliva.
  2. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) – Easily the plant I was most aware of in my research because I had all the stings to prove I had found it. However, stinging nettles have their place in the hedgerow and provide an excellent habitat and food source for lots of my favourite butterflies.
  3. Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – This was one of the main shrubs I found in my hedgerows. It can be extremely dense but provide food and habitat for up to 300 different species of insect. It was once said that if you brought a hawthorn blossom into your house illness and death were to follow so perhaps admire this plant from afar.
  4. Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) – Another common hedgerow shrub also known by the name of sloe bush. It’s berries are commonly made into sloe gin but another interesting fact is that blackthorn wood was associated with witchcraft.
  5. Buttercup (Ranunculus repens) – Otherwise known as the species with the best latin name I have ever heard of. I commonly found creeping buttercup at the bottom of hedgerows. It used to be a favourite game of mine and my friends at primary school to hold a buttercup flower underneath each others chins and if you could see the yellow reflection of the flower it meant you liked butter. Not particularly sure why that mattered but it’s still a delightful little flower.
  6. Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) – Fun fact sycamore trees are actually my favourite tree. They have the most beautiful colours in them all year round as the young leaves and stems are red before going green. They are actually an introduced species in the UK but they have been here since the 17th century. They can live for up to 400 years so I think the Sycamore is here to stay!
  7. Fools Parsley (Aethusa cynapium) – This one wasn’t very common so I definitely had to dig around to find it but I did! In some areas it grows quite commonly but every hedge is different.
  8. Dogs Violet (Viola riviana) – This is another very sweet wildflower that I found in my research. If you do happen upon a violet looking flower it’s more than likely going to be this one.
  9. Hazel (Corylus avellana) – This is another very common hedgerow tree. It provides an excellent resource for many other species but often suffers when cut back to vigorously. The stems are very bendy in spring so much that they can be bent into a knot without breaking!
  10. Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) – This species was introduced to the UK in the 19th century as an ornamental species and has since escaped from gardens and can be found in lots of areas. I found some specimens in the base of my hedgerows but was always careful of them as the sap from this species can cause irritation and even blisters.

If you fancy finding out more about hedgerows I’m talking a lot about them in my becoming a master series which comes out on Sundays!

See you soon!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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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 9

Under The Microscope

Hello budding biologists! I hope you’ve enjoyed these up close and personal pictures.

If you were wondering what last weeks picture was, well it was actually straight up dust!

On to this week, it’s the last picture so make sure to leave a comment on what you think this is as well as what your favourite pictures been.

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Christmas Trees

Miscellaneous

Hello!

So I haven’t posted anything yet that’s Christmas themed however I’m in the midst of writing three assignments so forgive me if this post is a little brief! Nevertheless here are 5 things you didn’t know about Christmas trees!

Number 1: Christmas trees are grown for 7 years on average before being cut down

Number 2: You can rent a christmas tree! If you want a greener option you can buy a living tree and rent it for the holidays and then give it back!

Number 3: Evergreen trees became the most popular christmas tree variety because they represented fertility and life.

Number 4: Christmas trees used to be decorated with real on fire candles! As you can imagine this was a huge fire risk and caused a lot of damage particularly in the victorian era.

Number 5: Around 8 million christmas trees are sold every year in the UK

Hope you’re getting into the festive spirit wherever you are! To finish here is a picture of my christmas tree!

Merry Christmas!