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Submitted by bthoole on Wed, 09/26/2018 - 22:49

The lipid bilayer that surrounds most cells is an integral part of how life developed. As the name suggests, a bilayer is composed of two different layers of molecules, in this phospholipids. The phopholipid has polar phosphate head and a nonpolar fatty acid tail. The two phosphate heads are pointed toward each other on the inside of the membrane and the fatty acid tails point outwards toward the extracellular environment and inward towards the intracellular matrix. However, this makes it difficult for polar molecules to cross the boundary. Special transmembrane transport proteins are needed to transport different molecules. In the case of water, a critical molecule for life and one that is polar, it falls to the aquaporins to be the transport molecule. Water transports across membranes through osmosis, the diffusive transport of water, but due to the high permeability of epithelial cells, it was suspected that there were additional molecules helping in the transport of water. Some cells leak water and water still moves by osmosis, but cells with aquaporins transport water much more rapidly. Aquaporins are selective in their transport of water molecules in and out of the cell, and do not allow for the passage of other solutes and ions.

Hamilton's Rule

Submitted by bthoole on Tue, 09/25/2018 - 19:50

Kin selection is an evolutionary strategy that looks to favor the reproductive success of the genes at play, meaning that this can result in favoring the reproductive success of an organism's kin over their own success, whether that be their reproductive success or even their survival. This can explain the behaviors of social insects and other altruistic behaviors exhibited by kin. This idea is represented by the famous saying that " I would die for two brothers or eight cousins". More specifcally than that though, this phenomenon was explained mathematically with Hamilton's Rule, which stated that kin selection causes for gene frequency to increase when the genetc relatedness of a recipient to the actor is multiplied by benefit to the recipient is greater than the reproductive cost to the actor. This was summarized in the equation rB>C. r is the genetic relatedness, B is the benefit to the recipient of the act and C is the reproductive cost to the actor. Put simply, this means that the actor will only act altruistically if the reproductive benefit for the genes is greater than the reproductive value from not acting, which would be the cost to the actor. The benfit for the genes increases as the relatedness increases because of the simillarity in the genetic code they share.

Method for spider web

Submitted by bthoole on Mon, 09/24/2018 - 12:04

To get the pictures if the spiderweb, first exit the Biology Computer Lab and take a left. Continue to that end of the Morrill building until there is a staircase on both the left and right sides of the hall. Take the staircase on the right all the down to the first floor. Stand at the foot of the stairs and turn left. Facing the wall so that the wooden doors are on the right, look for the red air duct on the wall. There is a missing panel on the bottom left corner. Approach the duct and place a blue Bic ballpoint pen on the ground, with the cap facing away from the wooden doors and toward the exit to the street. The pen should be placed along the edge of the duct where the hole is. This will be used for scale and kept in every picture. Take the first picture with a phone on normal picture mode. Take the picture close to the hole to view the web. The square hole in the duct should match along the edge of the photo to get the correct size. Take a step back to get a wider shot of the area. About half the grate should be seen, with five of the grate sections to the right of the hole. Take another step back to be closest to the wall and take another photo of the whole duct. There should be four tiles in the picture to show the floor before the grate. These three photos will compose part of the figure and should be sent to an email so that they can be downloaded and imported to the inkscape program. To get the map image, use google to search for “Free Map Tools Radius Google My Maps”. Using the google my maps link, search for Morrill Science Center at Umass Amherst. Take a picture so that the campus pond is on the left, the Franklin permaculture garden is on the right and Morrill complex is centered. Use the street view, not the satellite feature. This image should also be saved so that it can be downloaded into inkscape.

    To make the figure for the spider web series, insert all four images from above into inkscape. Arrange them in a two by two fashion so that the closest image to the spider web is one the top left, the second closest is at the top right, the farthest from the web is in the bottom left and the map is in the bottom right. Adjust these images so they are about equivalent sizes, the final size will be adjusted later. Create a square box using the “create a square or rectangle” setting and set its color to red. Using the text feature, type a lowercase “a”. Bring this to the front of the image. Make sure the letter can be read on the box, then center the letter. Use the group button to group the letter and the box. Duplicate the box three times, so there are a total of four boxes. Change the letters in the three new boxes so that they are b-d. Center and group these as done previously. Place the box and letter in the upper left hand corner of each picture, so that the picture closest to the spider web is labeled “a”, the next closest is labeled “b”, the farthest from the web is labeled “c” and the map is labeled “d”. Finally group all the images together and adjust to fit the page. Make the height 3388.23 and the width 2560.94. Export the image and then save it into a google document.


Endangered Pangolins

Submitted by bthoole on Fri, 09/21/2018 - 18:46

Pangolins are mammals of the order Pholidota that look like scaly anteaters and have species that live in Asia and in Africa. They are the only known mammals to have large keratin scales covering their skin for protection and have a diet that consists of ants and termites. They are also the most trafficked animal in the world. The pangolins are threatened by poaching and deforestation and IUCN Red list classifies the extant species along a range of vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered.

The Pangolin is hunted for its meat and scales, both of which are revered in Asia. The scales are thought to possess medicinal qualities, even though they are made of keratin and are no different than human fingernails. As a result, a blackmarket has been created to buy and sell these animals. This creates one of the pressures that the pangolin is already facing. Along with loss of habitat, record numbers are being imported from Southeast Asia and Africa into China where their meat and scales are sold. As the Asian numbers decrease, more and more traffickers are turning to Africa to poach pangolins. Efforts are being made to stop poaching and resuscitate numbers, but it will take time and dedication, along with a change in the ideaology that these animals provide some miraculous remedy, so as to temper the black market.


Submitted by bthoole on Fri, 09/21/2018 - 16:31

Guanine protein coupled reactions (GPCR's) are a type of G-protein linked receptors that detect molecule outside the cell and cause a cell response. Initially, the guanine protein is made up of three subunits, an alpha, beta, and gamma subunit. When a ligand attaches on the outside of the transmembrane protein a conformational change occurs and the GPCR can activate an associated G-protein by exchanging a GDP bound to the alpha subunit with a GTP. When the alpha subunit is phosphorylated it dissociates from the beta and gamma subunits, which stay together. Both sections, the alpha subunit and the beta-gamma subunit complex, are now able to act on effectors that the are proper for the received signal. This continues until the alpha subunit is dephosphorylated. When this happens, all three subunits are rejoined and the GPCR returns to a resting state.

Environmental impacts of Hurricane Florence

Submitted by bthoole on Thu, 09/20/2018 - 20:20

One of the impacts of a hurricane such as the recent Hurricane Florence comes after the storm has passed. The flood waters can overtop places that people have sealed off to contain contaminants and as a result they are released into the environment. Such exampes of these quarantined spaces are waste facilities that can release toxic chemicals or hog lagoons, which farmers use to store feces and urine that are generated on the farm. The flooding causes these areas to overrun and releases contagious bacteria into the surrounding area and potential ruins the water supply. The environemntal impact on health may be better revealed as flood waters receded, but must be monitored in the interim. E.Coli, salmonella and giardia are all contagious bacteria that could be released. 

Another environemtnal hazard that could stem from the flooding is the contamination of water from coal ash. As coal is burned, it leaves behind ash that has toxic heavy metals and radioactive material. The ash is stored in a landfill, but similar to the hog lagoons, the flood water breached the walls and led to contamination. This allows for the spread of these toxic materials into the environment and results in exposure to people. The resulting materials could make its way into the groundwater and have lasting impacts on the surroundings or on drinking water.

Structure Property Relationships

Submitted by bthoole on Wed, 09/19/2018 - 21:54

One of the key aspects of chemistry and in turn the fields that employ chemistry, such as biology, environmental science and medicine, is the idea behind the structure of a compound giving that compound its properties. The structure of a molecule can be done in multiple ways. It can describe the molecular formula, the relative sizes of atoms in the molecule and their shapes, any functional groups that molecule may have, or the spatial relations between the atoms such as chirality. All these characteristics of structure can then relate to the molecules properties. These properties can be chemical, physical or bilogical.

Chemical properties explains steric effects, polar effects and electrostatic effects. These properties deal with reaction rates and position of equilibrium. Chemical properties involve the interaction of the molecule with another. Physical properties involve just the molecule at hand. These properties include the boiling and melting points and solubility. Biological properties are a subset of chemical properties, but they involve interacting with a biological chemical such as an enzyme. Since different molecule have different structures, they fit in biological receptors differently and cause different neural responses. These properties include color, odor, taste, and toxicity.

Anadromous Vs. Catatdromous

Submitted by bthoole on Tue, 09/18/2018 - 18:45

To better understand fish life life cycles, their migratory patterns during spawning season must be looked at. Some fish make journeys back to where they were born, or can only give birth in certain types of waters. The way fish move to make this journey helps scientists classify them into different groups. These groups do not hold any taxonomic sbustance and does not mean the fish are more or less related. Fish that live part of their lives in freshwater and part of their lives in salt water are called diadromous fish. This classification alerts whoever is studying the fish to their unique spawning behaviors and can be further broken down to a more psecific point. Anadromous fish are born in fresh water and then spend most of their lives in salt water before returning to freshwater to spawn. The salmon and its journey upstream to spawn is one of the most common examples, although stripped bass and sturgeon are other examples. Catadromous fish are the opposite. These fish are live in fresh water but journey to the sea to spawn. A common example of this type of fish are eels. This information is important to understanding the fish and in a practical sense, because it is necessary to know how certain buildings and structures will be affecting the aquatic life. If diadromous fish live in a river or off the coast, then they will need to be able to maintain access to the other in order to complete their life cycle and maintain a healthy population.

Today's Morning Routine

Submitted by bthoole on Fri, 09/14/2018 - 15:15

Waking up-

Waking up included turning off the alarm clock, putting on glasses and taking out retainer. It also included showering, getting dressed and getting supplies ready for classes that day.



Walking was the only mode of transportation taken and thus it is responsible for all movement in the day. It started with walking between the bedroom and the bathroom, continued when leaving for class to the ILC for physics, went from the ILC to Morrill for mineralogy, walked from Morrill to Franklin DC for lunch and walked from Franklin back to Morrill for Writing in Bio.



Classes were attended starting at 8am in the ILC for physics, was followed by Mineralogy at 10:10am and was followed by Writing in Biology at 1:25. In each class notes were taken with a notebook or laptop.


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