March 9, 2011

So we had some announcements, pieces of advice, and reminders before class. 

#1 – First, don’t forget to fill out the mid-semester feedback form that’s due Monday!

#2 – Here’s a helpful piece of advice: write down all the due dates in your calendar 🙂

#3 – Don’t forget that the mid-term is next Wednesday, March 16th!!!!  It will be like the quizzes we’ve had (about 50% the same as the quizzes), and it will cover up through chapter 40 (what we got done on the 9th.)  We will review on Monday.

Then we started into the lecture, and some questions were brought up.

One of the questions that was asked in class was, “Why are vertebrates less efficient in keeping in energy than invertebrates?”  We came up with some reasons.  Invertebrates are cold-blooded and they don’t need to respire as much, so they can keep more energy in.  Vertebrates, however, do respire more, and they digest more and have less feces, therefore they are not as efficient in keeping energy in.


Another question that was asked that I am particularly interested in was “What is blue-baby syndrome?”  Those of you who know me know that I LOVE babies!  I want to be a neonatologist, so it’s natural.  So, I did some research and I found that blue-baby syndrome is also called methemoglobinemia.  This occurs when there is a rise in the level of methemoglobin in an infant’s blood.  (Methemoglobin is a non-oxygen carrying enzyme that is produced by the body, which is converted to hemoglobin.)  The reason there could be a rise in the levels of methemoglobin in the blood is because if there is a high level of nitrates in drinking water, the nitrates are converted to nitrites in the infant’s digestive system.  These nitrites react with the hemoglobin in the infant’s blood, causing a high level of methemoglobin.  Because methemoglobin does not carry oxygen, the infant’s organs may not get enough oxygen, so the infant may turn blue, hence the term “blue-baby syndrome.”  The infant may also start vomiting or may have a harder time breathing.  If this happens, then the infant should be taken to a doctor, in which the doctor can give the infant methylene blue, which will make the infant’s blood go back to normal.  I found this extremely interesting!  And now you know what blue-baby syndrome is.  Here is the URL if you want to read the whole article.

We also wanted to know what potash is made out of.  So, I did a little investigating, and I found that it is potassium carbonate, which almost all came from wood ashes.  Here’s the URL for the whole article about it if you want to know more!

And that was it for this class period! 😀



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7 responses to “March 9, 2011

  1. ekpetersen

    First I must say, I love the enthusiasm on the blue-baby syndrome!

    On another note, in regards to our inquiry about vertebrates and invertebrates, about their energy efficiency, I found something I have to share with you guys. It’s a paper titled “Action potential energy efficiency varies among neuron types in vertebrates and invertebrates.” I may be reading into it incorrectly, but here’s what I’ve gathered. As you know, neurons rely on a system of action potentials and resting potentials in order to relay messages to other neurons. These action potentials require a certain amount of energy to be set off. From what I’ve gathered, this paper is suggesting that vertebrates require more energy to initiate their neurons’ action potentials than invertebrates. I thought this might explain their apparent insufficiency in energy use. It really just takes more energy to get their neurons going!

    Let me know what you think. Here’s the paper’s description:

  2. bbaclig

    I loved the picture of the chipmunk/squirrel. (I’m from Hawaii, I can’t tell the difference) Anyways, it was interesting that invertebrates are efficient in keeping in energy because most of them fluctuate in body temperature. Most vertebrates maintain their body temperature, therefore using a lot of energy, which corresponds to why they are not efficient in keeping in energy. I like connecting the dots!

  3. I just read this blog and thought I’d connect it to biology lab a little bit. We studied water quality and how it is important to life. We talked about how nitrites can be found in water and how high levels of nitrites can be fatal to infants! I think its interesting that these two things connected. Many babies drink water that is specially filtered for them, to keep things like nitrites out. I did some research and found out that babies shouldn’t even have water until they are six months old because it can flush out electrolytes. Until then they should only drink formula or breastmilk. You learn some intersting things when one research topic leads to another.

  4. togas1

    It wasn’t until recently that I made an (obvious) observation. We were talking about blue baby syndrome in lab last week and Justin referred to it as Cyanosis. This was the first time I heard that term and it let me to put some things together. My initial thought was, “Wow, that sounds a lot like hemocyanin!” This made perfect sense because crabs have blue blood because they have hemocyanin in their blood and babies turn blue as a result of cyanosis. It was then that I said, “Oh, duh! CYAN – a shade of blue!” Kind of embarrassing…well, not really.

  5. camilletan

    I was doing some research and apparently the first blue baby operation was called the Blalock-Taussig Shunt. On November 29, 1944 a baby was brought into John Hopkins Hospital with a heart conditions because the blood didn’t have enough oxygen. The doctors performed a procedure in which they tried to oxygenate the blood by connecting the artery leaving the heart to the artery leading to the lungs.

  6. Lauren

    I’m curious if the presence of methemoglobin makes the amount of hemoglobin decrease, although to have a child with blue-baby syndrome, I’m guessing the amount of methemoglobin is larger than hemoglobin. What is the frequency of blue-baby syndrome? And is it more prevalent in certain areas or certain populations? I have never heard of it until this class, so I am very curious about it!

  7. mgranzella

    From reading this blog I started to question how much nitrate is regulated in our water supply and how it is mandated? According to the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency they have established a federal drinking water standard. This is called the Maximum Contaminant Level. This is also usually abbreviated as MCL. The MCL is measured in milligrams per liter (mg/L) or also in, parts per million (ppm).
    Colorado’s drinking water quality standard for the most part is 10 mg/L. The public water systems are required by the government to sample for various contaminants, such as nitrate, on a regular basis.

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