Introduction (3/6)

Submitted by kheredia on Thu, 09/19/2019 - 10:24

There is a wide variety of trees, plants, and shrubs on campus that display evidence of photophagy on campus. Choosing where to go can be complicated, because there are many factors to consider. For example, students are walking around in large numbers throughout the day, whether it is on sidewalks or cutting across the lawns to make it to class. There is less of a chance to find clear evidence in areas where it is congested, because students tread over leaves and bushes that can get rid of the evidence and there will also be less bugs during the day time when there are people constantly walking over and killing them. Not to mention that being in a heavily populated area can be distracting and impede in the search for phytophagy. This is why I sought out an area on campus where considerably less students walk by and where nature is left more often untouched. I plan to search the courtyard of grass and trees in between the rec center, the Dickinson hall building and the George N. Parks Minuteman Marching Band Building. With more room to move due of the lack of people and by visiting during class time, I will have enough time to efficiently seek out various leaves on trees and those that have fallen for the evidence. 

Plant diversity

Submitted by semans on Thu, 09/19/2019 - 08:07

The uniformity of most modern crops is due to three genetic bottlenecks that took place during centuries of plant domestication. The first occurred at the start of sedentary, agricultural life, and could best be described as the domestication bottleneck. Early farmers only used a limited number of individuals as the progenitor species for their crop, resulting in a landrace. Thus, all of the subsequent crop plants came from the few those farmers had picked out, narrowing genetic variation in that plant. The second occurred during the first migratory phases of human civilization. When people migrated to new lands they would bring with them only a select number of plants from the landraces, which would once again reduce the genetic variation in the resulting crops. Finally, the third occurred many centuries later with the advent of modern genetic technology. Through the use of gene editing technology it became possible to create homogeneity for entire crop fields. Plants could now be edited to include genes of choice such as herbicide resistance, pest resistance, disease resistance, and many other traits, some of which allowed for the complete mechanization of farming. The final bottleneck has resulted in single plant genotypes propagated across entire fields, random variations becoming a thing of the past.

Geriatric care in prison

Submitted by smomalley on Thu, 09/19/2019 - 01:22

The United States has the highest percentage of incarcerated people in the entire world. The prison population is mostly made up of non-violent short term sentences. Most prisoners are adult males behind bars for violent crimes. The majority of whom are held in state prisons. The average age of this specific prison population has risen as older prisoners carry out lengthy sentences. The older prison population has a host of health problems associated with age. Living in prison is hard on the body and accelerates the aging process. On average a prisoner above the age of sixty requires double the funding of a younger prisoner because of these health problems. This strains the already small state prison budgets. Statistically speaking, these prisoners are the least likely to return into society and committ another crime. A person typically "ages out" of crime in their late thirties. Violent offenders are also the least likely to committ another crime once released from prison, regardless of age. That begs the question, why are these people still locked behind bars? Prison health care does not have specialized geriatric care needed by these older prisoners. These older prisoners are the least likely to committ another crime, and cost double that of a younger prisoner. In countries like Denmark the maximum number of years served in prison is 25, regardless of the crime committed. After a certain point, there is no benefit to keeping ceratin populations in prison. Moving forward, geriatric care in prisons should be expanded upon, or release should be considered. 

The Warrior Gene

Submitted by smomalley on Thu, 09/19/2019 - 01:08

In the classic depate of nature versus nurture, a fairly recently discovered gene is added to evidence in the debate. The MAOA  gene, or the "Warrior Gene" is a gene linked to anger management issues and violent behavior when mutated. When the MAOA gene is shortened, it inhibits the body from clearing excess seratonin in the neural synapses of the brain. This excess seratonin causes a good mood to turn bad. This gene mutation has been corelated to anger management issues and violent behavior patterns. A team of scientists took genetic samples from a wide range of participants; ranging from buddhist monks to violent gang members. The genetic samples were tested for the Warrior Gene which is though to be natures cause for human violence. The results of the genetic tests showed that the three sampled buddhist monks had the gene, while other more violent participants did not. This result argues for nurture's cause of human violence.The results varied amoung groups tested, leading to the belief that both nature and nurture play a role in the personality of a human being. 

AQ 9/18 Draft

Submitted by atquang on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 23:59

GMOs stand for genetically modified organisms. Their DNA has been artificially modified to enhance effectiveness. Some of these effects include longer shelf life, taste, nutrients, the ability to withstand pesticides, and faster-growing plants and animals. They are mainly found in agriculture products and cattle. An explicit example of GMOs used is to fasten the growth and size of chickens. They are everywhere in grocery stores, and can even start from the birth of livestock. Monsanto is a major producer of pesticides and genetically modified crops, selling a package of farm products that have improved yields and cut down on some pest problems. But while that business has made the company popular with many farmers, a series of scandals have damaged its reputation with consumers. Monsanto is well-known to genetically modify their seeds and crops, create growth hormones forced on cattle; in addition, suing the farmers over patent infringement. These are the reasons Monsanto is an unethical company.

Methods Draft

Submitted by mpetracchi on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 22:42

  Once all three of the images have been gathered open google drive. Click on the new media icon and hover over the tab labeled more. A second menu should pop out to the side. Select google drawings. A file should open revealing an empty workspace with a checkerboard pattern. From here import the three images from before into the workspace. They will be oriented left to right as follows: Close up shot, distant shot, map. The workspace itself is 10 inches across and the images should fit that space exactly. The close-up image is 2.7 inches wide and 3.61 inches tall. The distant shot is also 2.7 inches wide and 3.61 inches tall. The map is 4.6 inches wide and 3.61 inches tall. On top of the map, circle the area where the leaf was found by clicking the 'shape' icon and adding a circle. Select the border color icon next to the fill icon and change the color to red.  Approximate where the plant may be found in this area. Select the arrow icon and add an arrow pointing towards the circle starting from the bottom right. The figure should look as follows. Three images left to right including a close-up shot, distant shot, and map. The map should have a red circle identifying where the plant was found with an arrow pointing towards this circle. The figure image is now complete. Export to a .png file by clicking ‘file’, then ‘download’, and select ‘PNG image (.png)’.


Submitted by mpetracchi on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 21:11

        The following question was recently posted as a writing prompt in my anthropology disscussion section, If you could go back in time and prevent early humans from developing agriculture would you? I would not. To preface my argument, there is much evidence that points to early farming communities having very poor health and lower lifespans, compared to their hunter-gatherer counterparts. These seem like terrible things, so why not get rid of it? Even though agriculture may have harmed human health in the short term, we now have the available technology to learn from our mistakes and improve. On such example is golden rice. Many recent reports of global malnutrition have concluded that the diets of many poor countries consist of primary rice, in some cases up to 100% of a diet. Unfortunately, even though these people receive calories, they don't get other important nutrients. One of which being pro-vitamin A.  Without it people can lose their eyesight, worsen their health and eventually die. A swiss professor and a team were able to insert the gene for Beta-carotene production into grains of rice which codes for pro-vitamin A. This rice could save millions of people and the same could be done for other nutrients. Also one of the important factors that should be highlighted is that even the best hunter-gatherers had an average lifespan of 26 years while humans today live on average to 79 years with agriculture and everything it has allowed us to do. This includes cities, medicine, and engineering. I stick to my answer, however, I feel the question is very subjective because for some people the hunter-gatherer lifestyle may seem more appealing and would choose to prevent agriculture. This is to say that neither answer is right or wrong. Instead it's an opinion on a hypothetical situation.

Innate vs. Learned Draft 3/6

Submitted by kheredia on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 21:04

It is often difficult to distinguish the difference between a learned behavior or something that is innate. If it is instinctual, it is present from birth and likely has evolved in an organism to better help it survive in harsh or changing conditions. For example, the Clark Jay has the ability to bury over 30,000 nutcrackers regardless of the weather and be able to retrieve 90% of them within the span of months. Their spatial learning is not a behavior that was learned over time through experience but rather is behavior that has a genetic basis. 

Another example of this is depth perception. Though they are not born being able to perceive depth. humans eventually develop the pathways needed to obtain the ability of depth perception after the age of 5 months. Otherwise, they fail to distinguish how deep something such as a ledge could be. The only difference is that it takes a little bit of time. Nonetheless, it is not a learned behavior, but rather an innate feature of mind that develops post-birth.

One classic example of a learned behavior is conditioning. A famous example of this is Pavlov's experiment with dogs. Dogs do not know to salivate when they hear a bell, but if you present food as a stimulus paired with the ringing of a bell, the dog will eventually associate the ringing of the bell with food and will salivate even if the food is not present.

Draft 8

Submitted by dfmiller on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 20:23

Public health is a relatively new concern in the history of mankind. This is not due to people simply not caring, but rather their inability to understand how illnesses are spread. Germ theory was essential in order to help contain and prevent transferrable disease. Before this advancement in microbiology, medical professionals had to theorize the cause of illnesses. These doctors proposed humoral and subsequently miasma theory. Humoral theory proposed that imbalances of phlegm, red bile, black bile, and blood. Miasma theory suggested that illness was caused by miasma, or bad air, usually emanating from rotten organic matter. As wrong as miasma theory was, it certainly was a better explanation than humoral theory. The idea that filth, rotten material, and stenches harbored illnesses is still something expressed by people today, and therefore must have some truth.

Midterm Paper ideas

Submitted by rbudnick on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 20:09

With midterm peaking the horizon, its time to consider the topic for a midterm paper for New England Flora. The prompt is to write a research paper about how climate change is affecting plants. You can choose any plant or type of plants from anywhere in the world. Because of this, I plan to choose something unique that peers might not think of immediately. Here, I will brainstorm some ideas over the course of the time leading up to when the paper is due. Initially I thought of the affect of global warming on plants of the far north, mainly trees and how their respiration is affected. During the winter, trees need to conserve as much water as possible as humidity is low. With global warming air temperatures rising steadily causing snow and ice to melti at an alarming rate. This would affect the amount of humidity in the air, therefor influencing how these tundra tree-line trees store water and even respirate. 

Another idea I had was to evaluate aquatic plants. Specifically oceanic plants. Here, I could look at this relationship in a more positive light. There have been many articles and papers published about seaweed and climate change, specifically how growing vast plots of seaweed can help fight climate change. Increasing and expanding the seaweed farming industry can be beneficial to reducing a country's greenhouse gas emmission. While I think the negatives associated with climate change are extremely important, and as a realist I was tempted to write about a negative, I want to give myself and other who read  my paper a bit of inspiration and hope about the future. 


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