A Year in Ideas

this year in ideas.jpg

TED Talks compiles it’s most moving talks and manages to cover the news, technology, and emotion of 2015 into the best year-in-review video I’ve ever seen yet.

Here’s to you and yours and a Happy New Year!


Darwin’s Finches May Soon Be Gone

darwin finsh

The organisms that paved the way for evolution are now close to extinction: certain parasites have reached the Galapagos islands and are attacking the finches that Charles Darwin so famously studied. A mathematical model predicted that they could be gone in as soon as 50 years.

…and I thought the North African White Rhino extinction this summer was heartbreaking… 😦

Read more here.

The Saltiest Things in Life are the Unseen

We don’t just cry when we’re sad, but also when we’re happy, overwhelmed, stressed, even in the kitchen. Here’s the scientific proof that we have different tears for different cries: photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher collected her own tears and those of hundreds of other volunteers in various moods and ages over the course of a year and then photographed them under a light microscope. Here’s what she found our different tears look like:

tears in humans

Maybe it’s true what they say about crying… “The sweetest (or in this case, the saltiest) things in life are the unseen…”

Read more about her work and this study here.

Our Own Worst Enemy

That song lyrics comes to mind when I see this picture: “…I’m a hazard to myself. Don’t let me get me. I’m my own worst enemy…”

earth gun

They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, so at the end of our Ecology Unit, instead of talking about how we’re destroying our planet, I had my students go to this site and see for themselves a couple of the shocking ways that we’re demolishing the earth bit by bit, like the one below. Scary.


On the bright side though, this did lead to a very in-depth discussion on what the actual problems are and how we can go about fixing them.

When you burn off the fat, where does it go?

This is a great article by NPR on a question pertinent to most of us trying to lose that extra holiday ‘couple:

When you burn off the fat, where does it go?

I’ve used it as an introduction to macromolecules and cellular respiration, but it’s also a great side article that gets students thinking about what being on a diet and weight loss really is.

Truth and Beauty in Cells

This is why we teach the cell–not because it’s a part of the curriculum or because it’s “essential to biology,” but because it’s an integral part of the truth and beauty that makes you…you.

truth and beauty in cells

“…Truth and beauty are things that are often opaque to people who are not in the sciences. They are things that describe beauty in a way that is often only accessible if you understand the language and the syntax of the person who studies the subject in which truth and beauty is expressed…I wanted to figure out a way to help people understand truth and beauty in the biological sciences by using animation, by using pictures, by telling stories so that the things that are not necessarily evident to people can be brought forth, and can be taught, and can be understood.”

-David Bolinsky in his TED Talk, Visualizing the Wonder of a Living Cell