On Containers

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Why is the astronaut in a space suit?

I always enjoyed asking that question to biology students. Knowing the knew the answer is one thing, but the question and the crafted discussion was a setup of what was to come. After all, I wanted to expand their view of the situation and use the discussion throughout the entire unit (3 chapters).

The space suit serves as a barrier between two environments – one suitable for the human body, and the other quite harsh – therefore, the space suit is a container similar to a can of vegetables on the grocery self.

The body within the space suit is also a container with a barrier separating different environments on each side of the barrier. Within the human body are several cavities – open spaces that are sealed spaces for organs. For instance, the chest cavity is sealed with a protective barrier to play an important role in inhaling and exhaling. Yes, another container within a container that is inside the protective space suit.

Tissues and organs (composed of tissues) are not only within the cavities, but throughout the body. Tissues are composed of two or more different types of cells working together in a common function. Surprise, surprise, surprise – cells are also containers because each cell has a protective barrier (cell membrane) separating two environments. It is through these membranes that essential materials pass through to reach their site of need for processing. Through these same membranes, the waste removal process occurs.

Cells contain individual parts with specialized functions. Are you surprised to know that many of these parts are covered with protective barriers separating two distinct environments?

Substances continually pass in and out of the cell through the membrane. Some of these movements occur naturally without the cell expending energy. On the other hand, some movements require energy to occur.

Cells are the reason we take in oxygen from the atmosphere and return carbon dioxide. Cells are the reason we eat. Cells are the reason the heart pumps blood throughout the body to transport nutrients and carry away wastes. Cells are the reason we go to the bathroom. Cells are the reason all vital activities exist.

Cells have to survive in order to reproduce. Cells require food and eliminate wastes. Cells must interact with their surrounding environment. Cells require amino acids to produce proteins. Cells contain DNA to serve as the code of life not only for itself, but for the organism as a whole. As Bruce Lipton (scientist) states, “In reality, a cell is a biological mini-me compared to the human body. A cell has every biological system that you have.” …. now, that is quite the container.

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On Carbon

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Carbon – from Latin: carbo “coal”

Carbon – symbol C, atomic number 6 on the Periodic Table (group 14) because each carbon atom contains 6 protons

Carbon – each atom with 6 protons, but varying number of neutrons to form different isotopes, such as carbon-12 being almost 99% of the Earth’s carbon, and carbon-14, another naturally occurring form whose presence is used to determine ages (carbon dating)

Carbon – the 4th most abundant element in the universe by mass (after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen), but only the 15th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust

Carbon – whose density is slightly twice more than water, so it sinks

Carbon – which is 40 times more abundant in Earth’s water that in its atmosphere

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Carbon – whose different physical forms are best known as charcoal, graphite, and diamond … each with different properties (from transparent to opaque, from hard to soft, from conductor to a resistor), thus different uses

Carbon as graphite, used in pencils (when combined with clay), in nuclear reactors to moderate the reaction in the reactor … plus is used in electric motors, dry batteries, electroplating, and manufacturing glass

Carbon as diamonds – a girl’s best friend – thus a story in itself

Carbon as the black pigment in printing ink, artist’s oil paint and watercolors, carbon paper, automotive finishes, India ink and laser printer toner – thus was also one of the first pigments for tattoos

Carbon, in the form of activated charcoal, – used as an absorbent and absorbent in filter material in gas masks, water purification, kitchen hoods, and in medicine to absorb odors, impurities, toxins, poisons, or gases

Carbon – with 4 available outer electrons to make covalent (sharing) chemical bonds with other atoms

Carbon – whose atom’s electron-sharing capability allows it for form around ten million different chemical compounds

Carbon – as a member of the vital carbon cycle moves from organism to organism and from life to nonlife

Carbon – whose cycle involves all life forms, thus is important in processes as cell respiration, photosynthesis, biosynthesis (life processes making new molecules), decay (decomposition), and combustion – plus is passed from one organism to another by eating

Carbon – which combines with oxygen and hydrogen to make carbohydrates (including sugars), proteins, fats, and alcohol – then add nitrogen (and sometimes sulfur) to make DNA, RNA, antibiotics, amino acids, and more

Carbon – the foundation of cellulose, an important carbohydrate for plants – thus an important component in cotton, hemp, and numerous fabrics (natural and synthetic) .. plus animal products as wool,, cashmere, silk, and leather

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Carbon – the foundation for organic chemistry, thus the chemical basis of all known life

Carbon – the substance forming the primary ingredient in coal

Carbon – as danger when inhaling coal dust or soot in large quantities (as in Black Lung Disease)

Carbon – which unites with hydrogens to make hydrocarbons as plastics, refrigerants, solvents lubricants, paraffin, and fossil fuels such as petroleum, methane, butane, propane, octane, kerosene, natural gas (a mixture), and others.

Carbon – whose combination with silicon, tungsten, boron, or titanium, form carbides – which are among the hardest known materials, and are used as abrasives in cutting and grinding tools.

Carbon – used as a filler in rubber products such as tires and in plastics

Carbon – with one of the highest melting points plays a role in the high temperatures of manufacturing steel

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Carbon – Its abundance in the Sun, stars, comets, asteroids, and other atmospheres stimulates our wonder if life exists elsewhere

Carbon – formed within the core of stars by fusing atoms of helium and hydrogen

Carbon – scattered in the universe as space dust from supernova explosions

 

Note: The reader may not remember this, but 3-5 years ago Jim Wheeler suggested I do a post about carbon. I immediately knew Jim’s idea was a great one, and started drafting. For a variety of reasons, the draft sat for a long time, but it remained in my eyesight. Not long ago I decided to make the post a reality. Jim, thanks for the suggestion – and this post is for you.

On an Awesome Journey

Breaking News

I interrupt previously announced posting because of important news. Iceland posts will be delayed. The post about Reykjavik will publish Sunday evening (Eastern US), then the post about travel tips for Iceland will be Tuesday evening (Eastern US).

Long-time visitors know my fascination with images of deep space – such as those from the Hubble Telescope. After all, I use them as headers here. (Click here for past headers or click the Past Headers tab for my page dedicated to past headers.)

The magical and mystical nature of deep space image give me a special sense of the grand nature of creation – the universe we live in.

The Friday morning news featured a clip of a video from the Hubble Telescope team. I immediately knew I had to use it here. It is an animated fly-through of the Orion Nebula – a place featured in multiple headers. The video is a worthy 3 minutes and I recommend viewing it on full screen. Enjoy.

Addition (10:15 AM): For some, the video promotes reflection. If so, please share in your comment.

On a Book Review in a Hurry

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Neil deGrasse Tyson is a rock star to many people – definitely an odd descriptor for an astrophysicist who is Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Many consider him to be today’s Carl Sagan – and I find it interesting that (at least to me) he talks and sounds like Dr. Sagan.

No matter in his role as director, author, speaker, interviewee, or television show host, Dr. deGrasse Tyson exudes enthusiasm and commitment to his craft and passion – science – just as Carl Sagan did.

Images of deep space capture a sense of awesome for me – which is one of the reasons I use them as headers on this blog. (Click here to see past headers.) As a geek interested in the intersection of science and religion, those images give me a greater sense of creation. These points, along with interviews I saw with Dr. deGrasse Tyson, his 2017 book became a must-read for me.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is a short read (about 200 pages) that made it to the top of the New York Times Best-Seller list. This book is about time, space, particles, forces, and how they fit together in the universe according to the laws of the universe. Yes, he takes readers into complex topics as the Big Bang, dark matter, and dark energy – but he does it with relative simplicity with wit, real-world application, and enthusiasm. Even with his wit and understandable writing style, the topic isn’t naturally easy for all – so I had head scratching.

Logically-sequenced chapters are short with each focusing on a single topic. His easy-to-read text aims at an audience that doesn’t know much astrophysics. The text doesn’t contain new, groundbreaking information, so I consider this book as a primer that can lead to deeper learning if one chooses. (Like a 101 college course that serves as an introduction and springboard.)

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an excellent communicator and I can hear his voice in his words. This booked helped me understand my awe with deep space and creation. He promotes the cosmic perspective from the frontiers; which he describes as humbling, spiritual, redemptive, mind opening, eye opening, transcending, wise, insightful, finding beauty, enabling one to see beyond in order to embrace chemical and genetic kinship, and more. Now that is for me!

I encourage readers to take the time to embrace Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Besides, it could be a stocking stuffer as a holiday gift. Here’s the link for the book on Amazon.

I end this review with a fantastic video on a similar topic from Symphony of Science featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson.

On Aspects of Science

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Science – the search for the explanation of what we observe in nature.

Science – a body of organized knowledge that describes the properties and interactions of the material components of the universe.

Science – a human endeavor limited to the human perspective seeking to understand and explain phenomena occurring in the natural world and the laboratory.

Science – a dynamic (not static) intellectual human endeavor leading us to a deeper understanding of the natural world.

Science – an impersonal process requiring a trained mind with passion, imagination, and patience for details to find patterns, structure, connections, and history within nature.

Science – a data-gathering process so we can better understand ourselves, the natural world around us, and our place in this world.

Science – a process with accepted methodologies trained mind works uses while fighting misconceptions, mistaken observations, and inadequate conclusions.

Science – an intellectual activity using the senses and technology to extend the senses for gathering data to develop an explanation based on evidence and what is already known.

Science – a process and activity requiring a conscious mind that observes, inquires, organizes, interprets, understands, and a willingness to follow acceptable scientific methodologies while staying within nature’s boundaries – yet that does not mean that nothing exists outside of nature’s boundaries.

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Science – the study of the material, processes, and forces of the natural world.

Science – not a belief system, but a learning system involving the exploration of natural causes to explain natural phenomena through systemic processes and procedures.

Science – an empirical human endeavor by establishing questions of truth through experimenting and testing without absolutes while remaining open to retesting and reconsideration.

Science – a gift as it brings us new knowledge, yet knowledge that is only for a given point in time because it can change based on newer knowledge. Because of potential development of new knowledge, science must be willing to have what is currently known to be proven wrong.

Science – a system giving us gives theories: a structure of ideas based on large amounts of evidence that explain and interpret numerous facts about a concept – therefore, well beyond a personal opinion or a detective’s hunch.

Science – a habit of mind of careful sifting of data and withholding of final judgment.

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Science – a methodology that does not make moral, ethical, and value judgments for society because those judgments are made by society.

Science – a way of knowing, but not the only way because science does not corner the way to truth about everything. Philosophical, theological, psychological/emotional, ethical, political, and historical views provide additional perspectives, yet each discipline is selective and limited.

Science – an activity bringing forth new issues causing humanity to face moral and ethical questions – whose answers science does not provide because it is neither equipped nor competent to answer ethical and moral questions, let alone the metaphysical, philosophical, or theological questions as “what is the meaning of life”, “why am I here”, and “is there a god?”

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Science – a process with recognized limitations. Science does not state how to use its knowledge. Science does not make value judgments. Science is limited to studying in nature. Science is limited to our ability to observe, including technology’s limitations. Science does not operate outside of its defined methodologies.

Science – a study that is limited to itself. Science cannot prove or disprove God’s existence because that question/topic lies outside science’s self-imposed boundaries of the observable events in the natural world around us.

Science – a study that should be embraced by all.

On Density

Density is one of those topics that science classes frequently include – especially in the physical sciences. Yes, it’s the ratio of mass to volume – or as I like to think – how much stuff is contained in a given space.

Like any formula as D=M/V, given any two variables, it’s possible to calculate the unknown. Density is more than just working formulas – after all – it is an important concept to understand – but most teachers focus on density as it’s covered in a textbook or as their designated drills to pass a state-mandated test.

To me, it’s the application of density into our everyday world that gives the topic relevance. For instance, wood is more than just wood. Product information for a new fireplace or wood-burning stove may include information about softwood and hardwood.

Given 2 logs of the same size, the hardwood log (oak) will have more mass (think of it as heavier when you pick it up) than the softwood log (pine). There’s more wood substance packed into the given space as the same-sized log of softwood. Bottom line being that the hardwood log will burn longer and release more heat.

When density is applied to populations in biology, Hong Kong is very dense – just like hardwoods – well, more like ebony, one of the most dense hardwoods.

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Which is heavier, five pounds (kilos) or one pound (kilo) of water? That’s a no brainer – the oil is heavier, so will five pounds (kilos) float on one pound (kilo) of water? Sure it will because oil is less dense than water (Note: we could include a discussion about solubility, but will stick to density). Yep – that’s why we shake that bottle of Italian dressing before we use it.

Hot air doesn’t rise – (it never has and it never will) – but it is displaced upward by the colder air that is also more dense. (Here’s a past post that addresses that misconception). The same idea can be applied to any fluid (liquid and gases), so now density helps explain currents in the atmosphere and in bodies of water. https://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/on-hot-air/

You may remember the story of Archimedes (Greek mathematician, physicist, and inventor) whom the king called upon to determine if the crown was real gold or not. Legend has it that the explanation came to Archimedes while in a bathtub – “Eureka!” Of course, his points about density and displacement eventually led to how boats and ships float.

While at a party, you want a soda – which is found in a large metal tub. All the ice has melted, but the cold water is still keeping the cans cold. You notice some of the cans are floating and others lie on the bottom. The sign says Diet Soda and Regular Soda. You want a Diet soda, and density is telling you which one to pick.

Readers are wondering why I wrote this post – or at least what sparked the idea. After all, long-time readers here know I have reasons for what I do. I like Chex cereals – and earlier this year I bought a box of each of my favorites in the Chex family. (The written number represent ounces and grams.) Personally, I like the more dense one better – and it’s more filling – which should not be a surprise.

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On Phi

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. (Albert Einstein)

Nature hides her secrets because of her essential loftiness, but not by means of ruse. (Albert Einstein)

All life is biology – All biology is physiology – All physiology is chemistry – All chemistry is physics – All physics is math. (Dr. Stephen Marquardt)

Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so. (Galileo Galilei)

Geometry has two great treasures: one is the Theorem of Pythagoras; the other, the division of a line into extreme and mean ratio. The first we may compare to a measure of gold; the second we may name a precious jewel. (Johannes Kepler)

This post is about Phi (Φ) – 21st letter of the Greek alphabet

Phi – but not fi fo and fum

Phi, in traditional Greek numerals a value of 500 (φʹ) or 500 000 (φ)

Phi – the ratio of each successive pair of numbers in the Fibonacci Sequence

Phi – the symbol for the golden ratio and on other occasions in math and science

Phi – applicable in mathematics, art, architecture, biology, astronomy, music, physics, navigation, geology, engineering, economics, philosophy, and more

Phi – squared is a number exactly 1 greater than itself: 2.618

Phi – the ratio in the length of a DNA molecule

Phi – the ratio of the diameter of Saturn to the diameter of its rings

Phi – the sound of this song if the numbers were assigned to piano keys. Enjoy.

Additional Information about Phi at this site dedicated to phi