“Evolve” and “Express”: Two Subtle Yet Loaded Biological Words

As you may know, I just started my Biology class, and while the focus right now is on the basics of biochemistry, I can state two words that are part and parcel of biology, yet may be overlooked when one reads biological materials.  These are “evolve” and “express.”

One, “express,” is what it means:  proteins encoded by the cell’s DNA.  While you should know about the basic scheme of DNA –> RNA –> Protein; for most people, the details aren’t so important.  RN A, by the way, is the “bridge” molecule carrying the instructions for the necessary proteins.  In a nutshell, DNA is proclaiming its intended form for that cell’s needs.  (Which is why proteins are important in the diet.)  Still, it a word that can be overlooked, so I feel like I needed to advise science students or mere science lovers about this.  (True scientists themselves probably already have it right.)

“Evolve” on the other hand is much weightier.  Probably, everyone knows about Charles Darwin, who, as he embarked on his ship (the Beagle),  identified some subtle differences among the finches on the Galapagos Islands.  This is the primary basis of the evolutionary theory.  (Of course, he had some far more innocent experiment on plant movements, and perhaps others, but that’s beside the point.Now while I personally am a young-earth believer, it’s not my place to pick on or quarrel with those who believe otherwise.

The only word, to creationists like me, that one should especially worry about is “evolve.”  Fortunately, the sentence in a secular book can be modified (in your head, that is; let’s not put tons of white-out to “restore” the book to less-than-pristine condition!).  This process simply removes or substitutes words suggesting evolution.  For instance:

“This animal evolved this structure/function…”

Instead, say it has this structure/function (i.e., as God created it)!

See how fun and easy creationist thinking is? And, boy, 6000-odd years is much more manipulative than a timescale of millions or billions of years.  And even when professors torture students with the gory details of evolution and/or an old earth, creationism keeps simplicity.

Conclusion:  Biology (and other sciences) can do without evolution, despite Theodosius Dobshansky’s claim on biology.

If “Anything Can Happen in Jersey”…

nj-lottery

Does that mean that anything can’t happen in Pennsylvania (where I live)?  Or other state?  Or abroad?  And it says nothing about the quality of what is happening.

In case you don’t know, this is the New Jersey Lottery’s current slogan.  Now don’t get me wrong, New Jersey is a lovely state, especially in the southern parts.  After all, Philadelphia, PA is directly across the Delaware River from New Jersey.  Further north, closer to New York City, it gets somewhat of a bad reputation from New Yorkers.  Philadelphians and other nearby Pennsylvanians complain about their driving, but that’s about it.

Believe it or not,  New Jersey, like other mid-Atlantic areas like the DC Metro, is very wealthy.  Several counties are just as suburban to Philadelphia as the ones in Pennsylvania.  Also, on my side of the river, the 4 richest counties are actually the four in the Philadelphia suburban counties, namely, Chester, Bucks, Montgomery, and Delaware (the county, not the state).  Most of Pennsylvania, while having much natural beauty (especially from its mountains) is where coal and steel reigned supreme.

Maybe this slogan is an arrogant and short-sighted way to appease New Jersey out of the trauma it has suffered after Superstorm Sandy.  In the summer of 2013, after Sandy’s 2012 ordeal, New Jersey claimed to be “stronger than the storm.”  Not only is it cocky, but it borders on blasphemy.  After all, God is in control, and we must trust his sovereign will.  Nobody is stronger than the Lord Almighty!

My conclusion:  Anything can happen anywhere.  Period.  And it doesn’t mean it’s good.  So to the powers that be in Trenton, think up a new slogan.

Collegiate Excitement

As I enter my second year of CCP, we better be on the watch for more homework, speeches (in Public Speakng), lecturing, and best of all, lab work in our science classes, namely Biology and Chemistry.

While the assigned texts can stay at home, we will still need to take notes and and bring the appropriate lab manual on lab days.  (Public speaking does not have a textbook.)  By the way, the biology notes are a mere “fill-in-the-blank” approach in a booklet (which I bring to class).  I have mixed feelings about this organization.  It’s easy and already prepared, but waters down some of the freedom of a “true” notebook, and can be a little “mechanical” in terms of its study style.  Chemistry is taught by a very conventional professor uses no computer technology in his instruction.  We take real notes with him.

As far as transfer plans or even later courses, I really want to truly take things “one day at a time,” without merely vaunting it.  Therefore, blog posts, whether academic or otherwise, will focus chiefly on current issues, whether school or personal.  In the final analysis, no matter what college or career path I pursue, I’ll always be learning something.  After all, lifelong learning is part and parcel of who I am.

Getting Ready for Another Semester

This fall semester, starting the day after Labor Day, I return to my (formal) studies at CCP.  And it will be quite exciting.

The three courses to be taken are Biology, Chemistry, and Public Speaking.  Both Biology and Chemistry are the formats designed for majors, and have a second part in the Spring 2017 semester.  This will be a heavy semester, with lots of homework, so blog posts this fall may be a little sporadic.

If I get a job, I will restrict it to Fridays and Saturdays, as the rest of the week is busy with school.  Sunday, as a “rest day,” will hopefully involve more personal pursuits, such as reading some books such as the various Scientific American books, (a few) texts I may own, and perhaps even novels.  Later on, hopefully, church and Bible study will be back to normal.  Yet at home, I could listen to sermons and some personal Bible study.  The bottom line is, as a Christian, that I will not work a job on Sunday.  Period.

So I thank the Lord for all my potential He has bestowed in a number of areas.

The Scientific American Library

As one who loves creation (and of course, its Creator) I love to learn science topics, whether in school (as we approach such, for summer is wrapping up and we soon enter the fall semester),  or just by reading and personal self-study.

The Scientific American Library, while now out of print, is still an awesome way to learn a number of topics on science.  You can find them in the Amazon Marketplace (Amazon’s department for sellers not part of Amazon) and cost a minimum of $4 per book (actually, a cent plus $3.99 for shipping)

There are many neat topics in this series.  They usually don’t demand too much scientific background, but if they do, it may be enough to Google certain points that you find murky.  Moreover, they are often interdisciplinary, so you see connections among topics.

Best of all, they include some historical and cultural background and practical applications; to support the info (instead of the in-your-face science of typical textbooks made for scholastic use).  While a layman series, it can be semi-technical at times, so again, have Google ready in case you’re stumped.

And since no book, let alone no series of books, has all knowledge on its topic, there’s always more to learn, through the internet, etc.

While I have abandoned some titles because I was “finished” with them, I may get them back (with the hope I can get the whole series and perhaps devour them).  Also, they may make good reference, even though I may have additional college textbook material.  But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

 

Why Textbooks Don’t Cut It On Their Own

Since high school, I’ve had a draw to college textbooks of many kinds, especially in the sciences.  Even though a given subject is of interest, the truth is, I’ve never felt confident to finish a text front to back.

Perhaps the main reason for such is the fact that without any instructor, you can’t guarantee your getting the right information.  Even if you can comprehend the writing with no problem, textbook material needs that actual power imparted by the professor in order to know exactly what is going on. This is especially true when you consider a college’s prerequisites for a given subject.  Reading such a book (and usually, thus taking such a class) warrants previous knowledge.

Moreover, especially in the natural sciences, you need labs, field trips, and many other practical exercises to truly learn concepts.  And of course, the lecture is at the center of it all.

Also, the fact that textbooks are constantly updated means inevitably that, as you grow older, you will miss newer material taught long after you graduated.  But again, you should be content with the position you are in now.

Now if you are out of college and wish to use a textbook for additional learning (e.g., when your school didn’t offer  a given class), I don’t see anything wrong with that.  But I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get there, as I would have to test that statement.

So I must resist spending money on texts that have nothing to do with my coursework, and just take “baby steps” toward the goals I may aspire to achieve.  And I’ll leave the choices of texts to the professors.  And ultimately, all of it is in God’s hands.

So until then, just Google things, or if you dare, use Wikipedia.  LOL

Slouch, Yawn

Whenever I sit upright, say, when reading, I can usually stay alert.  But when I slouch on a bed or couch, I start yawning when I read or do something similar.

Of course, it makes sense, but is there something scientific behind it, at least in general?

In fact, there is.  I learned it in Psychology last fall.  In the 1890s, Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, discovered the concept of classical conditioning.  He used a dog as his subject.  Dog naturally salivate at food, for it is internally wired into their brain.  They don’t need extrinsic commands. Then, Pavlov rang a bell to draw the dog to the food.  After then, the food was no longer necessary.

So, how do we explain this?  The bell, when combined with the food, takes precedence.  Thus, what was once irrelevant to the dog (the bell) has been incorporated into the dog’s repertoire of behavioral stimuli.  This incorporation is known as classical conditioning.

Now for my situation.  Keep in mind I’m no doctor or psychologist (and probably not planning to be either one), so I’m not trying to develop a direct theory of why slouching on a couch causes yawning or drowsiness when reading.  Just the correlations are enough.  Yet again, correlation does not mean causality.  But hey, at least it’s something quite practical from the course, that can be easily applied to us humans.  I guess I could do without the causality.  At least for now.

Source:  McLeod, S. A. (2013). Pavlov’s Dogs. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html