Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Pig Dissection

What better way to spend the last few days before our bio exam than doing a PIG DISSECTION?? Who needs to study when you can have a hands-on experience with animal anatomy.

Poor pig. But it's all in the name of science!

Look at all the beautiful organs.

Oh look, the brain. Yum.

Who doesn't like a good ol' eyeball.

The heart, the thing that keeps living organisms going.

Pig testes, where half of future piggies come from.

All in all it was a great experience! Sure the formaldehyde burned our eyes and irritated our skin, but it was all worth it!

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Cove

1. What country indirectly runs the International Whaling Commission?

2. How do the fishermen trap the dolphins in the cove?
They use noise to scare them into an area, then surround them with nets.

3. How many dolphins are killed at this secret cove a year?
23 000

4. The main character and his group offer to pay the fisherman the same price they get from killing the dolphins if they stop. Why do they refuse?
It were supposedly killing the dolphins as "pest control."

5. What is the form of propaganda they plan to use to "sell" dolphin meat to people?
Giving away free dolphin meat.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Elephants vs. Lions: Who Will Win?

Elephants are known as the massive, intellectual beasts of the animal kingdom. One stomp from them is like 4000kg box being thrown on top of you. Ouch.

But who dares hunt these beasts? The royalty of predators, lion prides.

Although lions do not normally hunt adult elephants, in desperate times calls for desperate measures. When food is scarce and there isn't anything else to eat, elephants become their prime target.

What makes them such deadly predators is their speed and numbers. A lion by itself has not much more power than a cat. Even a swift kick from a zebra or a stampede from buffalo can injure a single lion. But when they use that speed and teamwork of their pride, they become one of the most feared predators of the land.

Elephants are the largest land animal in the world, their enormous size becomes their only defense. Like lions, they also travel and stay in herds. When adult elephants sense danger, they will form a wall surrounding their young. Try getting through a wall of elephants.Yeah, not going to happen. But what leaves them vulnerable to lions is their poor eyesight in the dark and their slow speed. Lions hunt on them during the night, because the elephants have less sensitive eyesight. It is harder to spot the lions and defend.

When the elephants are finally taken down by a pack of lions, they don't die instantly. The lions of have injured it enough that it cannot fight back anymore, but usually not to the point of death. The lions feast on the elephant while it is still alive, facing a slow and painful death. It usually takes hours for a elephant to pass after an ambush.

The competition for water, the competition for survival may ultimately end in becoming the prey of another. It can be heart wrenching to watch, but it's the Circle of Life and everyone in the end (animal or not) is fighting for their own survival.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Sharkwater is a internationally acclaimed documentary by Robert Stewart discussing the fascinating and mysterious creature of the deep: Sharks.

Before this movie, I had the same stereotype of sharks as most other people in this world, that they're dangerous and shouldn't be messed around with.
One of this things changed after the movie: they're not dangerous at all. However, it remains the same that sharks should not be messed around with.

The common misconception is that sharks are dumb and they will eat and go for anything that crosses their path. However, sharks are actually just scared and shy fish. More people are killed by elephants than by sharks.
They're highly intelligent, and follow just about the same rule as every other animal in this world: if you don't bother them, they won't bother you.

But can that rule be applied to humans?
Shark fins are a delicacy and symbolize royal status in Asia. Shark fins have such an enormous price tag on them, that it has become a multi-million black market industry.

Watching this video was heart-wrenching. As a lover of the sea and animals, I could not fathom why people would do such cruel and torturous things to animals. They were killing an entire species, for what? A nice bowl of soup. A tasteless bowl of soup. Sharks had their fins slashed off, and simply thrown back into the sea, dead.

Throughout the movie I wanted to scream at the poachers: "Would you appreciate having parts of your body cut off and then being thrown back to die. No, I don't think so. So you have no right doing that to creatures who have done nothing to you."

But there were also the heroes of the sharks: Stewart, Watson, their team and every protester involved. I greatly admire their passion and commitment. They risked prison, and the wrath of machine guns to try and expose how people were abusing the sharks, and bring more awareness. They provided the foundation of protesting in Costa Rica. They single-handedly saved thousands, possibly millions of sharks of the future from being hunted. It just goes to show how a person and their passion can make such a difference

All in all, the bigger picture is that humans are destroyed this planet. That the damage we have created will eventually and bite us back. And hard. If nothing is done, if we continue our way of living, not only will the animals suffer but we can face our own destruction as well. Without the greed of money, we could find a way to live harmoniously with the world, and not lead it to its destruction.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Clothespin Respiration Activity - Clothespins and Muscle Fatigue

1. Strength decreased as you progressed through each trial.
2. The hand and fingers felt numb, tired, and strained during the end of the trials.
3. Focus and breathing were factors that might have caused more squeezes.
4. The dominant hand had slightly higher results than the non-dominant hand. This is because the dominant hand has more strength and muscle control due to its continual use.
5. The muscles would probably recover after 10 minutes of rest and operate at its original squeeze rate because it had the time to relax and regain energy.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

20 Notes - An Introduction to Metabolism

- Metabolism is the sum of all anabolic and catabolic processes in a cell or organism that uses energy to produce work
- Potential Energy is stored energy that is eventually converted into kinetic energy
- The First Law of Thermodynamics: energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can also be converted
- A potential energy diagram shows the changes in energy during a chemical reaction, including the amount of energy required to break molecular bonds (activation energy)
- Exergonic reactions are spontaneous (change in G is negative) and endergonic reactions are not spontaneous

- The Second Law of Thermodynamics: The entropy of the universe increases with any change that occurs
- Entropy is the measure of randomness or disorder in energy or a collection of objects
- Energy and Entropy determine whether a given chemical or physical change will occur spontaneously
- Gibbs free energy: energy that can do useful work
- The order created by anabolic processes is accompanied by even greater disorder in the universe that surrounds them

- Adenonsine Triphosphate (ATP) is the primary source of energy in living cells
- Phosphorylation is the process of attaching a phosphate group to an organic molecule such as ADP (the product through hydrolysis of the terminal phosphate of ATP) which allows for the molecule to become more reactive
- Redox reaction is the coupled reaction of oxidation (losing electrons) and reduction (gaining electrons, the oxidizing agent)
- When electrons transfer through a series of increasingly stronger electron carriers (called a coupled redox equation), more free energy is released in each step
- Partial transfer of electrons is when electrons of a covalent bond move closer to a more electronegative atom (shifts in electron positions)

- Enzymes (protein catalysts) will be effective the reactant molecules are facing each other in the right orientation, and collide with enough force to break molecular bonds
- Enzymes cannot change an endergonic reaction into a exergonic reaction, it can only decrease the activation energy required
- Substrate: the reactant that an enzyme acts on when it catalyzes a chemical reaction, it binds to a specific site on the enzyme
- Competitive (try and take over the active site) and Noncompetitive inhibitors (changes the shape of the enzyme so it does not fit into the active site) both prevent enzyme activity; it can either be a poison or a enzyme activity regulator
- Allosteric regulation involves allosteric sites that bind substances that inhibit or stimulate enzyme activity and alleosteric inhibitors which maintain inactive forms of enzymes

Monday, 17 October 2011

10 Things You Need to Know About BIOTECHNOLOGY!

10. Vector Cloning (5 steps)
1. Isolate the desired genes in the plasma and human DNA
2. Insert human DNA into plasmid
3. Plasmid is placed into bacteria through transformation
4. Bacteria replicates
5. Identify the clone that carries the DNA

9. Sticky Ends & Blunt Ends
- Sticky ends are in a staggered formation, and will allow the formation of hydrogen bonds with other DNA molecules that were cut with the same enzyme
- Blunt ends will not form this hydrogen bond

DO NOT USE ENZYMES THAT CREATE BLUNT ENDS (the ends will not be able to stick together)
- Ligase is used to create phosphodiester bonds that secure the DNA fusion

8. PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction)
- Used when DNA is contaminated or very limited
- Extremely fast
- Does not require the use of any other cells
- Three Step Cycle: Heating, Cooling, and Replication
- THe DNA is incubated in a test tube with a solution of Taq Polymerase, Nucleotides, and Primers
- Heating the DNA segment induces Denaturation, which separates them into single strands of nucleotides
- Taq Polymerase elongates the strand creating its complementary strand
- Cooling the test tube binds the single stranded DNA from heating into a double-stranded  DNA

7. RFLP (Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism)
- Uses restriction enzymes to separate DNA molecules into shorter fragments
- The fragments are differentiated and organized through Gel Electorphoresis
- DNA sequences may differ in one or more restriction sites, thus they may produce fragments of different sizes

6. Autoradiography
- Nucleic acid hybridization will use a specific probe to identify and label bands that are related to the gene of interest
- A radioactive label is placed, identifying the target fragments
- Southern Blotting transfers the patterns on the gel to a sheet of nitrocellulose paper
- Soaking the sheet into the solution with the probe allows us to visualize the bands

5. Gel Electrophoresis
- Separates macromolecules (nucleic acids + proteins) based on rate of movement, which is determined by their size, electrical charge and other properties
- The Gel Electrophoresis moves from negative to positive
- Smaller fragments are able to travel further along the Gel, while larger fragments tend to stay behind

4. DNA Sequencing
- Uses dideoxynucleotides
- ddATP, ddCTP, ddTTP, ddGTP
- Stops elongation when mixed with a growing DNA strand
- Fragments of various lengths are made
- Gel Electrophoresis is used to determine the order of the nucleotide sequence

3. Restriction Enzymes
- Cut DNA molecules at a specific point in the sequence
- EcoRI
- SmaI
- AluI
- SalI  (blunt end)
- HindIII (blunt end)
- PstI

2. Incomplete & Complete Digestion
- Enzymes that undergo incomplete digestion are less expensive
- Complete digestion will make the restriction enzymes cut at all cut sites
- Incomplete digestion will make restriction enzymes cut at random cut sites (or none at all)

1. Transcription / Translation
- Know how to transcribe and translate
- Review exons / introns
- Know how to isolate the desired gene