Category Archives: Science

D Is for DNA

This post is coming a day late. I hope that’s not a problem with the rules of the A to Z Challenge! You see, I have some foreign DNA in my body. The common cold. I was too tired to get the video and post up last night. But here it is now! For the letter D, I’m talking about DNA. How many of these facts did you know?

And here are the facts:

  1. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid.
  2. A DNA molecule is made up of two bipolymer strands wrapped around each other to form a double helix.
  3. There are four nucleobases represented by the letters C, G, A, and T. They are cytosine, guanine, adenine, and thymine.
  4. Nucleobases pair up, A with T and C with G to connect the two DNA strands to form the double helix.
  5. Only 2% of human DNA codes protein sequences. The remaining 98% have other various functions, which would require another full video to talk about.
  6. The species with the largest number of chromosomes is the ciliated protozoa with 29,640,000.
  7. The species with the fewest number of chromosomes is the jack jumper ant with only 2. But that’s for the females. Males are haploid and have only 1, the smallest number possible.
  8. Humans have 46 chromosomes, but other great apes, including chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, have 48.
  9. More than 8% of the human genome is made up of retrovirus sequences.
  10. There is a 4% difference in the genomes of humans and our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos.

Let me know in the comments section below what you knew.

C Is for Canada Goose

What other bird says “Canada” to you? Maybe the loon? Well, how about the Canada goose? For the letter C, I am talking about the Canada goose! Check out the video, which includes some bonus video of a v-formation I managed to catch.

And here are the facts. How many did you know?

  1. This large goose is native to the arctic and temperature regions of North America.
  2. It’s been introduced to other parts of the world, including the UK, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile.
  3. They are extremely successful at adapting to human habitation, so they are a very common bird around cities and towns, now having a population of between 4 and 5 million.
  4. There are 7 subspecies of Canada goose.
  5. They range from 75 to 120 cm in length and have a wingspan of between 127 and 185 cm.
  6. In most bird species, sexual dimorphism is apparent in the differences between male and female bird appearance, but the male and female Canada goose are virtually identical, except for a small difference in weight. Females are smaller.
  7. They spend their summers throughout Canada and the northern United States, but breed in the southern US and northern Mexico.
  8. Canada geese eat mainly plants, but have been known to eat insects and fish. And sometimes they scavenge from garbage cans.
  9. They fly in a v-formation at around 1 km in altitude, but have been known to fly as high as 9 km.
  10. Canada geese are monogamous, mating for life. If one dies, then they can find another mate. They’re very faithful birds.

Let me know in the comments below which facts you didn’t know about or were the most surprised about.

B Is for Bees

The A to Z Challenge continues with the letter B! This time, I talk about bees. It’s springtime, so insects are now coming out. Bees are a very important part of our environment, since they pollinate flowers, and help us grow our plant crops. So, let’s take a look at the video.

Here are the facts, which I mentioned in the video.

  1. There are around 20,000 known species of bee.
  2. The smallest bees are stingless bees that are only 2 mm in length.
  3. The largest bees are the Wallace’s giant bee, a kind of leafcutter bee that grows to 39 mm in length.
  4. Although collection of honey by humans dates back 15,000 years, beekeeping didn’t begin until 4,500 years ago in ancient Egypt.
  5. A bee’s mouthparts are adapted to both chew and suck, having both mandibles and a proboscis.
  6. The explosion of flowering plants 120 million years ago did not coincide with the appearance of bees, which have been around for 100 million years ago, evolving from a type of wasp.
  7. A third of our food supply depends on pollinators, most of which are bees.
  8. Honey isn’t the only thing humans eat. In some countries, the larvae are also eaten.
  9. The decline in bees has been a major worry in recent years, and has been linked to various problems such as pesticides, loss of habitat, and climate change.
  10. It was once said that a bumblebee’s flight was impossible. We now know that the short wing strokes, rotation of the wings, and rapid wing-beats result in sufficient lift. They’re not impossible fliers anymore.

Coming up tomorrow is the letter C. It’s going to be another biological topic. Check back tomorrow!

A Is for Alpha Centauri

Here it is! It’s the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge! Two years ago, I participated in it, and now I’m doing it again. This time, I have a science theme, and I am featuring videos.

For the first topic, we have Alpha Centauri. Check out the video below. After the video, the facts are available for you to read.

  1. It’s a triple star system 4.37 ly from the sun.
  2. Alpha Centauri A is also known as Rigil Kentaurus, while Alpha Centauri C is known as Proxima Centauri. B has no other name.
  3. Alpha Centauri A is a G2 yellow dwarf star similar to the sun, although 10% brighter and 23% larger.
  4. Alpha Centauri B is a K1 orange dwarf star 90% the mass and 14% smaller radius than the sun.
  5. Proxima Centauri is an M6 class red dwarf star with 0.123 solar masses.
  6. Proxima Centauri orbits the AB pair at a massive distance of 15,000 AU or 0.24 light years, though it’s not completely certain it is a member of the system.
  7. Discovered in 2012, Alpha Centauri Bb was an extrasolar planet that was found in 2015 to be an artefact of data analysis. It doesn’t exist.
  8. In 2016, Proxima Centauri b was announced. It’s an extrasolar planet a bit larger than the earth, but is in the star’s habitable zone. It’s likely to be tidally locked, making life difficult to take hold. It’s also likely to be one of the easiest extrasolar planets to study in the near future because of it’s proximity.
  9. The Alpha Centauri system is estimated to be between 4.5 and 7 billion years old, around the same age of our sun or older.
  10. Due to Proxima Centauri being a flare star, life may never have a chance to become established on b because the flares may strip the planet of its atmosphere.

Coming on Monday is the letter B, which will have a more biological topic. Comments are always welcome!

About to Get Political on YouTube

Tomorrow, I’m recording my weekly science news video. It’ll be uploaded on Thursday. Over the first two weeks, I haven’t done anything remotely political, but this week, one of the biggest science news stories has to do with the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States. The chief of the EPA is a climate change denier and has made a conclusion about climate change and carbon dioxide without actually knowing the science.

I’ll be keeping my opinion out of the video, as I just want to report the news on it. But I’ll say it here: you can’t make a scientific conclusion if you haven’t actually studied the science. His opinion won’t change reality. Unless he shows evidence that he is correct, I won’t accept his conclusion.

The same goes for any science-deniers. Deny evolution? Think vaccinations cause autism? Give us the evidence. Not anecdotal evidence. Not opinions disguised as evidence. Not the Bible. Not Andrew Wakefield. If you can show that the science is wrong without any doubt, you’ll win the Nobel Prize.

So, show me the evidence.

Remembering the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

It’s been 6 years since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. It’s a very strong memory in my life, and something I’ll never forget. I recently started a new science channel and my first feature topic is about megathrust earthquakes and the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. Check it out.

Any comments are definitely welcome.

Learning to Read

My daughter is 5 years old. She’s in kindergarten, and she’s learning to read. A few months ago, she couldn’t read at all. But now, she knows the sounds of all the letters of the alphabet, as well as all hiragana. What’s that? It’s the main writing script for Japanese.

You see, my daughter also goes to a Japanese school, though not for much longer. She’s able to read both English and Japanese. Actually, she can read Japanese faster. It’s easier to learn to read Japanese than English. You might not think so, since English has 26 letters, while Japanese has 46 hiragana, 46 katakana, and thousands of kanji. It’s hiragana that she knows, and this is what’s needed to be able to read basic Japanese.

But why is it easier for her to read Japanese? Hiragana is phonetic. With a couple exceptions, everything sounds exactly as it’s written. English is a mess. There’s a meme going around:

If GH stands for P as in Hiccough
If OUGH stands for O as in Dough
If PHTH stands for T as in Phthisis
If EIGH stands for A as in Neighbour
If TTE stands for T as in Gazette
If EAU stands for O as in Plateau

Then the right way to spell POTATO should be: GHOUGHPHTHEIGHTTEEAU

I have no idea what the original source is, but this is everywhere. But you get the point, right? English spelling is stupid. I taught English for 11 years, but I managed to get children, including a 5 year old, to be able to read English reasonably well.

My point here is that if you can read English with no trouble at all, you’re doing pretty good. It must have one of the least strict rules for spelling.

I’m pretty good at spelling. When I was in grade 7, I tested at a university level for spelling. But there was one word that I had no idea how to read: paradigm. When I saw it, I thought, “paradiggum?” I knew the actual pronunciation. I’d heard the word before, but I’d never seen it spelled out. And then there’s “embarrassed.” How many r’s is it? Well, it’s two.  Don’t forget that!

What are some words you had trouble spelling or were pronouncing completely wrong?