Does Summer Mean Sleep Deprivation?

It’s summertime in the U.S.A. and that means fun, right? There are all kinds of things to do: swimming, sunbathing, gardening, lawn care, picnics, vacations, games, sitting on the porch until the sun goes down, and more. Unfortunately, the usual list of things to do continues as well: housework, the wage-earning-job, errands, meals, and all manner of mundane daily duties. So how do we accomplish all of these things? Does summer mean sleep deprivation? For many people it does. It’s a cruel season that makes you get ready for bed while it’s light out. ~Bill Watterson We all know that sleep is important. There’s information all over the web, televisions, and magazines telling us that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to decreased alertness, memory loss, and numerous medical issues ranging from obesity to heart disease. (For more information go to WebMD.) So why do we do we shave off sleep time? Perhaps we believe in some of the common myths about sleep. If you lose two hours of sleep, you can impair your performance equal to a .05 blood-alcohol level. (from 10 facts about.com) Do you believe that missing just one hour of sleep won’t hurt? Or that your body […]

When is a Clone Not a Clone

Bees do it. Lizards and snakes do it. Turkeys and Komodo Dragons can do it. Have babies without daddies, that is. It’s called Parthenogenesis. And it’s sort of when a clone isn’t a clone. Parthenogenesis a form of asexual reproduction in which growth of the embryo occurs without fertilization. The growth of the embryo begins due to a change in temperature, a mechanical action, or a chemical action. The term applies only to animals. (Botanical asexual reproduction is called something else.) And since the offspring are clones of the mother, they are usually female. This phenomenon was first observed in aphids and recorded by Charles Bonnet in the 18th century. In 1899, Jacques Loeb reported artificial parthenogenesis in sea urchins. Gregory Pincus used temperature and chemicals to induce embryonic development in rabbit eggs in 1936. Today, some sources say about 70 vertebrates can reproduce this way and if you include all organisms that number will top 2000 species. Some species are obligatory parthenogenic, in other words, they cannot reproduce sexually at all. Other species are facultatively parthenogenic, meaning they have the ability to switch between sexual and parthenogenic reproduction. There have been no known natural parthenogenic offspring in mammals. There […]

Going to Mars, Word by Word

The Power of Words Do you remember when you first started to read? Children recognize the power of words before they can form them. They know that books hold secrets long before they can read. Their curiosity and fascination drive them to turn pages of a book looking for the key to understanding. They beg to be read to. Finally, they are old enough to learn to read. But first, they must know their alphabet by sight and sound. There are only 26 letters but there are at least 44 sounds those letters, or combinations of letters, make. Finally, they learn to string the sounds together. Faces scrunch up with effort as they laboriously sound out letters on the page. “rrrrr – ah–” “No, that is a u. It’s sound here is ‘uh.’” “rrrr – uhhhh – ennn. rrr—uhhhh—nnnn.” Suddenly their face light up and they shout, “Run!” After the first word, the second, third, and fourth come more quickly. They turn the pages eagerly, finding new words and ideas on every page. They read nonfiction and fiction. Some progress to reading science fiction. The Power of Ideas The field of speculative fiction, or science fiction and fantasy if you […]