Epigenetic studies are burgeoning; these genetic mechanisms that are external to direct DNA/RNA encoding and expression are being intensively studied, particularly how environmental factors can stimulate methylation and acetylation of bases of DNA or histone proteins, which then affects the expression of specific gene activity. Is epigenetic modification heritable, and if so, does this represent a revival of Lamarckism?
Beijing Genomics Institute, BGI, situated in Shenzhen, on the border between Guangdong and Hong Kong, claims the title of the world's biggest Genomics institute. Their president Jian Wang said, 'For the last 500 years, you (the West) have been leading the way with innovation. We are no longer interested in following.' The scale of their sequencing capability is large, as are their goals: to crack hunger, illness, evolution - and the genetics of human intelligence.
The fascination of astronomy for me, beyond the beauty of the heavens in the night sky, beyond the immense imponderables of the current model of a vast and ancient universe, is the idea that our understanding regarding the universe has been gleaned by observing from the Earth a few points of light in the sky. One illustration of this can be found in the history of our knowledge of the moons of Jupiter.
When Fred Rickson taught his section of General Biology at Oregon State, I made sure to attend all of his lectures, as he opened them with hisÂ evolutionary zingers, hoping that his students would would be enticed to be more prompt than usual. Â My favorite was his zinger aboutÂ the three-way symbiotic relationship between a bat, a moth, and a mite.
I treasure the science education I obtained at Oregon State University. One standout class was General Biology, a portion of which was taught by professor Fred Rickson. He did not like people slipping in late, so he gave short teasers promptly at the start of the hour, which he entitled evolutionary zingers, hoping that his students would enjoy the stories sufficiently to show up on time. It definitely worked for me. I was not in the habit of attending a lot of lectures, but the intricate stories of complex life told by professor Rickson were as attractive to me as nectar "fountains" are to acacia ants, the subject of one of his zingers.
Book Book Review, Title What Is Life?, Author Erwin Schrödinger, Rating 4.5,
What Is Life?
I recently re-read portions Erwin SchrĂ¶dinger's amazing little book What is Life, which was a post-war stimulus for a number of physicists to switch from physics to biology and look hard for a physical understanding of living organisms.
Flora of the Pacific Northwest, by Hitchcock and Cronquist, is an excellent dichotomous key of indigenous Pacific Northwest flora. It served as one of my texts for a class in Systematic Botany at Oregon State University, which I feared would be deathly dull (and so proved the lectures), but the laboratory turned out to be a memorable exploratory journey.