Author Archives: thomasonmission

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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After my sister had triplets (naturally) I was wondering if there is a gene that determines whether people will have multiples. What I was really wondering is whether my future wife is likely to have multiples. The more I thought about it, however, the more stupid I felt for not realizing – of course I wasn’t at a higher risk for having triplets, I’m a dude! I decided to continue my research anyway and found some interesting facts about multiple births. The thing I did find out was that although I (obviously) can’t have multiple children myself, if I too carry the gene, there is a possibility that I pass it on to my daughters. I didn’t really understand how rare my sister’s pregnancy was until doing more research on it. She had two girls (identical) and a boy (who is what is called a fraternal twin) and here is what that means: while many women only ovulate once a month, in order to have fraternal twins, the woman must hyper ovulate (releasing more than one egg) and both eggs must be fertilized. Though fraternal twins are genetic, identical twins are not. Here is an article that I found on twins, both identical and fraternal:


Some interesting facts about identical twins:

  • The causes of monozygotic twinning are generally unknown and unidentified. No one really knows why an egg splits; technically it’s a malfunction of the normal development process.
  • There’s no hereditary trait that influences a predisposition to having identical twins. Identical twins do not run in families. Although there are families with a high incidence of identical twins, it is due to chance, coincidence or plain good luck.
  • Identical twins represent about a third of all twins. Dizygotic twins are twice as common as monozygotic.
  • Birth rate statistics for identical twinning have remained stable over the years, despite the overall increase in twins and multiples since the late 1980’s. The odds of having identical twins is about 3 in 1,000, whereas the birthrate for all twins is about 32.2 in 1,000.
  • Identical twinning is not generally influenced by fertility-enhancing treatments like drugs or in vitro, although monozygotic twins have been produced in pregnancies that were the result of such treatments.
  • Birth rates for identical twins are consistent across populations; it is the same regardless of race, geography or maternal age.


Our lecture on Monday January 31 ended with slide number 128. We are expected to know everything up until that point for our quiz on Wednesday, February 2.


The question arose as to whether or not the Human Genome Project has been completed. Here is what I found on their website (


Is the human genome completely sequenced?

  • Yes – within the limits of today’s technology, the human genome is as complete as it can be. Small gaps that are unrecoverable in any current sequencing method remain, amounting for about 1 percent of the gene-containing portion of the genome, or euchromatin. New technologies will have to be invented to obtain the sequence of these regions.
  • However, the gene-containing portion of the genome is complete in nearly every functional way for the purposes of scientific research and is freely and publicly available. Even though the Human Genome Project is now completed, scientists will continue to develop and apply new technologies to the few remaining refractory problems. For its part, NHGRI will continue to support a wide range of research to develop new sequencing technologies, to interpret the human sequence and to use the newfound understanding of the human genome to improve human health.


The other question was actually pretty hard to find an answer to, but I ended up (hopefully) finding some good information.


The question was: how many genes are actually expressed?

I found the answer through Google Books. The name of the book is The Cooperative Gene by Mark Ridley.  I found it on page 243 which you can preview in Google Books. Ridley said that 60 percent of genes in the DNA are expressed. Look it up to read more, but I was unable to copy and paste the paragraph.



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