Survival Of The Laziest

Now, I’m no mollusk but I do know that as I’ve aged I’ve slowed down . . . along with my metabolism.  Turns out this is GOOD news:

Less Active Species May Live Longer

“This is what a group of researchers from the University of Kansas found after taking a close look at some extinct as well as living species . . . analyzing the physiology and evolution of as many as 299 species of aquatic mollusks — including present-day snails and slugs — over last five million years.”

“They delved into the occurrences and extinction of different species over the said period as well as their respective metabolic rates or the amount of energy each of the creature in question needed for survival.”

“Much to everyone’s surprise, the findings of the work revealed that metabolic rates make a reliable factor for predicting the likelihood of extinction of a certain animal species or community of species.”

“We found a difference for mollusk species that have gone extinct over the past 5 million years and ones that are still around today.  Those that have gone extinct tend to have higher metabolic rates than those that are still living . . . those that have lower energy maintenance requirements seem more likely to survive than those organisms with higher metabolic rates.”*

“Maybe in the long-term the best evolutionary strategy for animals is to be lassitudinous and sluggish — the lower the metabolic rate, the more likely the species you belong to will survive . . . Instead of ‘survival of the fittest,’ maybe a better metaphor for the history of life is ‘survival of the laziest’ or at least ‘survival of the sluggish.'”**

I was going to go for a brisk walk but I’ll take a nap instead and . . .

live to walk another day.

judy

*Luke Strotz, lead author of the study

**co-author Bruce Lieberman

Sunday Sermon, Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual … “

Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

Hold up your hand for just a second.  Feel anything?

At any given second 100 trillion neutrinos are passing through your body  . . .RIGHT NOW.

The majority of neutrinos in the vicinity of the Earth are from nuclear reactions in the Sun. The solar neutrino flux for us on Earth is about 65 billion neutrinos, passing through just one square centimeter of area on earth, every second.  That’s a lot of neutrinos and we are not able to see them, sense them nor understand them.

There is so much, too much, that is not perceivable to our limited senses nor explainable by our reason.

I was a psychotherapist in private practice for 30 years.  Not only did people share their fears and sorrows but unexplainable encounters with spirits, near death experiences and life altering experiences with the divine. I admit I was sometimes skeptical.  Over time it became impossible, to dismiss what intelligent, discerning people shared.  

I now think of science as one wing and religion as the other wing of a bird; a bird needs two wings for flight, one alone would be useless . . .  

 . . .  and I circled back to my study of faith and my belief we live a domino life where when one falls we all fall, where one succeeds we all succeed.   I discovered two faiths I’d not originally studied – Unitarian Universalism and Baha’i. They not only complemented each other but each offered something a bit different.  

Baha’is believe in and share all the UU principles:  

  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth;
  4.  A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process;
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

. . . and most importantly the 7th UU principle –

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

The Baha’i World Faith brought me full circle back to childhood and to God but it wasn’t the God of fear but of love.

When I read the three core principles which are the basis for Bahá’í teachings and doctrine: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity From these stems the belief that God periodically reveals his will through divine messengers: MuhammadJesusMoses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Krishna the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh.  It was an “ah-ha moment for me that all establishers of religion. the great religions of the world, represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society. That religion is seen as orderly, unified, and progressive from age to age unexpectedly resonated.

Through decades of trials and tribulations I realize the magical thinking in my childhood, that the world revolved around me, wasn’t quite accurate . . . however,

. . .  perhaps some magical thinking persists 60+ years later.   Every morning I say a Baha’i prayer for family, friends, acquaintances,  past clients and a prayer for those who have passed.  The recitation of all the people grows longer each day and takes longer than the prayers . . . The difference between then and now is my prayers are steeped in love, not terror. 

        *          *           *

I’m attending a sermon writing workshop led by Kent Doss, the reverend at Tapestry Unitarian Universalist Congregation – not because I plan to deliver sermons but because I’m fascinated how ministers, rabbi’s, priests and preachers write and deliver something inspiring enough to capture the imagination and stir humans to transformative right action. week after week after week which seems a daunting undertaking.  

To read Part I, The Interconnectedness of All Beings click HERE

Read Part II, Head & Heart click HERE

Read Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

 

 

Mini Sunday Sermon, Part III, Stardusted

Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, says it best . . .

“So you’re made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?”

Not only are we synchronizing our heads and hearts, one with another, (Part II) we are interconnected with the Universe.  All is  from the same matter.

We are made of stardust. It’s like a line from a song, but there is some solid science behind this : Almost every element on earth, including you and me, was formed from the heart of a star.

Next time you’re out gazing at the stars, (all 5 stars we can actually see in a city) twinkling in the night sky, you are looking at the energy released by nuclear fusion reactions at their cores.

When a massive star explodes at the end of its life, the resulting high energy enables the creation of oxygen, carbon, iron, nickel, and all the other elements – the building blocks which make up the world around us and in us. 

The explosion disperses these elements across the universe, scattering the stardust through stellar winds which makes up planets including Earth, eventually some of it finds its way into our bodies.

There is so much we are not able to perceive through our senses:  The Earth’s electromagnetic fields that guide animals engaged in long-distance migrations, sea turtles and Monarch butterflies, birds, use Earth’s magnetic field as a navigational system; smells which compel my dog Freddie to lift his leg; dreams that portend the future. 

I admit I don’t understand science.

How do liver cells know how to make more liver cells and new heart cells know how to take up the beat?   We’re not fixed at all. We’re more like a pattern or a process, a transient body, cells continually dying and rebuilding all the time, and a continual flow of energy and matter being created . . . without my awareness . . .

Not only are our hearts synchronizing, our brain waves vibrating in unison but the very atoms of our cells are dying, being reborn and quivering in recognition we are all made of stardust.

Everything around us does this. Nature is not outside us. We are nature.

     *          *           *

To read Part I,  Interconnectedness of all Beings click HERE

 Part II, Head and Heart, click HERE

Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

 Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird, click HERE

 

Weird Wonderful World – lizards with toxic green blood

Make no bones about it

It’s not easy being green

you must have grit, a bit of wit

and know it’s just your gene

But 

if you are a Prasinohaema lizard

it’s quite natural, very easy 

to have green blood and gizzard 

and never, ever feel sleazy

“In the forests of New Guinea, lizards scurry around with green bones, green hearts, green tongues, and green blood. At least six species share this enigmatic trait, which didn’t originate from one bizarre mutation but evolved four different times, according to new research in Science Advances.”

“These lizards have green insides because their bile carries super high levels of a deadly compound called biliverdin, the product of old red blood cells. People make the same pigment—you can see it when you get a gnarly, green-tinged bruise —but our livers filter it from our blood. Trace amounts of biliverdin cause jaundice, a disease common in infants and adults with liver failure.”

The levels found in these lizards would kill us. But for these lizards, it sure is easy being green

Prasinohaema virens green blooded lizard

“It’s possible there is no adaptive value,” says biologist Christopher Austin at Louisiana State University, “but it’s hard to imagine.” Over the course of 27 years, Austin, one of the authors of the study, has traveled to New Guinea in search of the bright green creatures. He’s captured hundreds of lizards by clamoring up trees and grabbing the critters. In his fieldwork, he discovered two new species, but he’s sure there are more. “New Guinea is like this black hole for biological discovery,” Austin says. “There’s no field guide.”

“Some species of fish and frogs also have green blood, but none come close to the levels of biliverdin found in Prasinohaema lizards

Austin’s effort to understand the lizards’ evolutionary history might explain why the heck toxic green blood would evolve in the New Guinea lizards more than once. One theory is that biliverdin could help fight off blood parasites, like malaria or blood-born worms, says Susan Perkins, a parasitologist at the American Museum of Natural History, another of the study’s authors.”

https://www.popsci.com/green-blood-lizards

Yum Yum – Why you may have been eating insects your whole life

The thought of eating bugs doesn’t appeal to me, particularly if I can identify them on my plate – pulverized, unidentifiable, mushed in my food, doesn’t bother me.  Now that I’ve read this article I stand somewhere in-between revulsion and delectable.

Tasty by judy

One of the most widely used red food colorings – carmine – is made from crushed up cochineal insects, native to Latin America where they live on cacti.  Farmed mainly in Peru, millions of the tiny insects are harvested every year to produce the coloring.

A staple of the global food industry, carmine is added to everything from yoghurt, ice cream, to fruit pie, soft drinks, cupcakes and donuts. (the delectable part)

It is also used extensively in the cosmetics industry and is found in many lipsticks. (makes me not want to lick my lips)

Cochineal on a cactusImage copyright MARK WILLIAMSON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY Cochineal insects, the white dots on this cactus, are found across Latin America

Here are the facts:

  • The bugs, which are about 5mm or 0.2 inches long, are brushed off the pads of prickly pear cacti.
  • It’s the wingless females that are harvested, rather than the flying males. (I’m bugged by this discrimination)
  • The insects are dried and then crushed to produce the red coloring
  • It takes up to 70,000 individual insects to produce just 500g of dye
  • The red color comes from carminic acid, which makes up almost a quarter of the bugs’ weight, and deters predation by other insects (and promotes predation by humans)

“I’d love a mouthful”

Look for the word “carmine” on a food product that contains it or “natural red four”, “crimson lake” or E120.

Carmine is a very stable and reliable natural food dye that can be used to create a wide range of colours – pinks, oranges, purples, as well as reds.

Supporters also point out that it is a natural product first discovered and used by the Maya and then the Aztecs more than five centuries ago. They claim that it is far healthier than artificial alternatives such as food coloring, rings made from coal or petroleum by-products. (double yum)

Click here to read the entire article: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-43786055

Why do dogs have floppy ears?

But what’s behind this mysterious change? What possibly could link tameness and ear cartilage? Skunk Bear’s latest episode shares one fascinating hypothesis that ties it all together, and explains shortened snouts and patchy coats along the way.

Why do pets and livestock tend to have “drooping ears?”

“Wolves, for example, have perky, upright ears. But the ears of many dogs are distinctly floppy. Darwin saw this odd trait in many domesticated species — “cats in China, horses in parts of Russia, sheep in Italy and elsewhere, the guinea-pig in Germany, goats and cattle in India, rabbits, pigs and dogs in all long-civilized countries.”

“The incapacity to erect the ears,” Darwin concluded, “is certainly in some manner the result of domestication.”

“A century later, an ambitious (and adorable) experiment in the Soviet Union proved him right. At the time, Vladimir Lenin’s pseudo-scientific dogma had no room for classical genetics. So Russian geneticist Dmitry Belyayev disguised his own research as the study of animal physiology. He retreated to Siberia and attempted to domesticate the silver fox.”

“Belyayev took 130 foxes from fur farms and started a breeding program. He only picked the tamest foxes — those that seemed less jumpy around humans, and less likely to bite — as parents. When their pups were grown, he’d pick the tamest ones to breed again.”

“In just a few dozen generations, Belyayev’s foxes were tame. And, lo and behold, their ears were distinctly floppier. Just as Darwin suspected, the change in behavior had caused an unexpected change in appearance.”

 

You (and hot dogs) are the stuff fireworks are made of

The explosive black powder in the firework shot into the air contains almost the exact same amount of energy as a simple hot dog.

The firework uses the energy in black powder to fill the sky with light. We use the energy in a hot dog to do everything — move, breathe, think, stay alive.

“And here’s the surprising thing: the firework and your body use the same basic chemical process to get at that energy.”

“Luckily, as Skunk Bear’s latest video explains, our version of this reaction is a bit less explosive.”

Want to learn more about fireworks? This Skunk Bear video explains the chemistry behind their bright colors. (Hint: It has something to do with everyday table salt.)

 

Skunk Bear

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