Tag Archives: biology

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!

Another YouTube Channel?? – Science!

After a lot of thought over the last few days, I’ve come to a decision. I will be starting another YouTube channel. Here’s how this came about.

A while back, I was thinking I might start doing some science-related vlogs on my vlog channel (you should subscribe to it!). I then decided I’d do a science video every week. However, I felt like it wouldn’t fit with that channel, as it’s meant to be a daily (sometimes 2-3 days) vlog. Why not start a new channel?

And so I made my decision. Soon, there will be a new channel on YouTube dedicated to science! But it won’t be right away. I need some time to plan it, choose a name, and have room to shoot my videos in. They’ll be extremely low budget, but I plan on using a new video editor (it’s a free one, but highly recommended).  I need to learn that new editor before I start the new channel, and I need a whole list of video ideas. I need to develop a format for it, as well. There’s a lot to consider. And one of the things I need to check out is if I am able to monetize a third channel this year. When I tried monetizing the channel for my daughter and I, YouTube told me I can’t monetize three channels in one year. Not sure about that, but I’ll investigate.

The new channel will have one video per week to start. They’ll feature me in front of the camera, and I’d like to do these videos with diagrams on paper. I’ll need to script the videos, unlike the videos I currently do for books and vlogs. I will focus a lot on astronomy and biology, though I’ll also include geology, physics, and chemistry.

I have some questions for you, though. I’d love to have some input.

  1. Would you be interested in subscribing and watching this channel?
  2. Do you think I should aim the videos toward children or adults? Or maybe good for both?
  3. What topics would you like to see me make videos on?

One of the things I may start doing for that channel is a weekly Q&A where I take a question or two and provide the answers. However, this will come down the road. As for the main videos, I’ll be using a lot of public domain images and planning on doing picture in picture video from time to time. So, I need to practice editing videos. And if possible, a collaboration or two with other science channels. Lots to do!

So, who’s with me? Interested? Let me know what you think in the comments with your answers to the questions above.

TV Impression – Walking With Dinosaurs

WalkingwithdinosdvdcoverWalking With Dinosaurs

Series length: 6 episodes

Genre: Documentary

Going in chronological order, I watched this after Walking With Monsters. However, it was made several years earlier, in 1999. And it looks dated. Even though it was the most expensive documentary ever made at the time, the CG looks like CG. Jurassic Park was much better. That’s what stood out to me the most. The movement was a bit unnatural, and the dinosaurs didn’t seem to fit in with the real locations that they used.

But I enjoyed it. It was fascinating, just like the other series. But as it is dated, none of the dinosaurs had feathers. But that’s just a nitpick. They did mention that dinosaurs evolved into birds, so there’s that. Like Walking With Monsters, I found the environments interesting. The world changed so much during the time of the dinosaurs, from hot and tropical to hot and dry. Even Antarctica had forests when it was at the South Pole. Dinosaurs lived there and they adapted to the dark, cold winters.

But it wasn’t all about dinosaurs. It was also about the marine reptiles, like icthyosaurs and pliosaurs. And there was an episode about pterosaurs. They featured mammals, sharks, and the occasional amphibian, too.

At only half an hour each episode, it’s an easy series to watch in a short time. If you love dinosaurs, you’ll probably love this.

TV Impression – Walking With Monsters

Walking_with_Monsters_DVD_coverWalking With Monsters

Series length: 3 episodes

Genre: Documentary

This is the first of a series of TV impressions. They are not full reviews. Usually, I will do a full series impression. However, in some circumstances, I will do episode-by-episode impressions. In this case, I will be doing a series impression. So, let’s get to it!

This series was created by the BBC and shows what life was like during the Palaeozoic, the time before the dinosaurs. Coming out in 2005, the computer animation is quite good, though still looks a bit artificial. I found it to be very interesting, as we usually don’t get to see much about this time in prehistory, other than hearing about dimetrodons. It’s usually overshadowed by the Mesozoic and the dinosaurs.

The things I found fascinating about this include the environment and development of life. It had me thinking a lot about worldbuilding, in fact. The oxygen levels in the atmosphere varied vastly during this time, as did the arrangements of the continents. This resulted in totally different ecosystems developing. At one time, it’s extremely hot and humid, at others it’s very cold, and another time, it’s hot and dry. How do the animals adapt? Watching this gave me a little more insight into how to create a world with alien animals.

I recommend this series for those of you who love natural history. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Can We Reach a Memory Limit in Our Brain?

Thinking about studying languages, I’ve wondered how many words we can actually remember. The average person these days seems to know about ten thousand words, which is apparently less than in the past. But for those of us who are studying more than one language, can we reach a limit?

There are polyglots who can speak many languages fluently. So, I have to imagine that we can remember a large number of words. And we are always developing new memories, though old ones tend to fade. Is that just new memories replacing old ones? Or just a degradation of memory due to the lack of use? But then, there are people who remember details from when they were very young that no one else can remember. And those who can remember detailed maps and navigate using that built in mental Google Maps (me!).

Well, it turns out that we know the limit. The memory capacity of the human brain is at least one petabyte, but easily more. How much is that? World of Warcraft uses 1.3 petabytes to maintain itself. It would require 2000 years to listen to 1 petabyte of mp3 files.

So, I guess we should have no problem learning several hundred languages. The only problem is time.