Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Islamic creationists and walking efficiently - Lauren

I found two new articles this morning.
New York Times article about Islamic creationist:
Islamic Creationist and a Book Sent Round the World
This creationist does not try to claim that the earth is too young for evolution, rather, he claims that fossil evidence shows that old species are the same as modern ones, and therefore no evolution happened. He wrote a book explaining his creationist ideas. According to the article: "At 11 x 17 inches and 12 pounds, with a bright red cover and almost 800 glossy pages, most of them lavishly illustrated, “Atlas of Creation” is probably the largest and most beautiful creationist challenge yet to Darwin’s theory."

The author has mailed out many copies of the books to evolutionary biologists and French high schools and universities. He sent a copy to all the professors in Columbia University's medical school. What surprises people about the book is not the content but the fact that he must have spent millions of dollars on this enterprise, and he is giving the books away.

The second article was from the BBC:
Energy use 'drove human walking'

In a study, adult humans and adult chimps walked on treadmills, and the humans were more efficient walkers than chimps (with chimps on two legs or on four legs). Efficiency of walking is a possible reason for humans evolving to walk on two legs.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bacteria evolution and AIDS - Lauren

This article, OSU discovery may unlock AIDS cure, was published in my local newspaper (Corvallis Gazette-Times) on Friday. Researchers at Oregon State University (in Corvallis) have studied Mycobacterium avium, a common bacteria found in water and food. Most people are not affected by this bacteria, but people with compromised immune systems (e.g. AIDS patients) can be infected by it. When they are, it often kills them.

What makes this article relevant to us is that M. avium in its original state is incapable of infecting other cells. Over time, M. avium has evolved by acquiring DNA from other sources. This additional DNA codes for proteins that M. avium can release into potential host cells. As a result, the bacterium is incorporated into the host cell, rather than being phagocytosed (ingested) by it.

Potentially, blocking the proteins that allow the bacterium to be ingested may prevent infection of AIDS patients, and prolong the lives of AIDS patients who otherwise might be killed by M. avium.

Carnivorous Plants...Yay!

Special exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers...

Some friends and I went to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park yesterday, and right now they have a special exhibit on carnivorous plants. Darwin would be so proud. If you've never been and you're in the area, you should definitely go. The place is amazing. They have a highland tropics room (one of only four or five in the US), that has GORGEOUS orchids (fourth pic). And after you visit the Conservatory, I recommend a ride on the carousel...it's the best part of the park :).

Hope everyone's having a more stress-free summer than I,
(honors theses are not for the faint of heart...),