Tag: biology

I used to think spelunking would be fun

That was before I knew that, along with stalactites and stalagmites, one can also find “snottites” in caves. Eeewwww.

Restore the prairie…

…to something like its natural state, and reap a benefit: turns out the best feed material for creating ethanol isn’t monoculture crops like wheat or corn, but mixtures of native prairie grasses and other flowering plants. Easier to grow, too, obviously.

Organic chicken?

No, thanks. Turns out, …organic poultry is actually less nutritious, contains more fat and tastes worse than its mass-produced equivalent, research has shown. That’s going to make some people squawk.

Movie monster biology

Not long ago I wrote an article emphasizing that science fiction is, first and foremost, fiction, and that a little fudging of the science for the sake of the story is expected and accepted. Having said that, however, I must also admit that nothing warms the cockles of my heart (what exactly is a cockle, …

Continue reading

The Biology of B-Movie Monsters

I can’t believe I hadn’t come across this until now (but then, the World Wide Web is a rather large place [if it’s a place at all (and how many paranthetical [like this] statements can one put in a single sentence, anyway?)]): Michael C. LaBarbera, a University of Chicago biologist, has taken a scientific look …

Continue reading

The bat-bot

How often have you said to yourself, “You know, I sure wish someone would build a robotic bat head.” What? Never? In fact, you say, the whole idea sounds…well, batty? Not too surprising, I suppose. After all, bats have suffered a serious image problem throughout most of western history. (In the Orient, they are often …

Continue reading

“Musseling” in on the glue industry

Since all of my science columns are online, I frequently get questions out of the blue about past column topics. This week, for example, I received an e-mail from a mother whose nine-year-old had decided to do a third-grade science project on glue. They’d found my column on the topic from a decade ago, and …

Continue reading

Bacteria on a chip

There’s an old science joke that goes, “If it stinks, it’s chemistry, if it’s green and slimy, it’s biology, and if it doesn’t work, it’s physics.” Now, however, scientists are messing with these once-sacred boundaries, as they attempt to combine living cells and computer chips to create tiny, inexpensive pollution detectors. Many cells contain mechanisms …

Continue reading

Man-made life

For as long as I remember, there have been jokes and pop-culture references to scientists creating life in a test tube–usually with the understanding that such a thing was an impossibility outside of horror movies. But last week scientists in the U.S. announced their intention to create the first completely artificial form of life, a …

Continue reading


I recently toured the Toronto Zoo, exciting to me because I’ve never seen it, and exciting to our two-year-old, Alice, because currently her favorite story is a short adaptation of Disney’s animated adaptation of Tarzan, in which many of the characters are gorillas–and one of the Toronto zoo’s star features is called the Gorilla Rainforest. It’s …

Continue reading

Animal emotions

Anyone who has ever owned a pet, at least of the warm-blooded variety, knows that animals have rich emotional lives. Dogs whine piteously when left alone; cats sulk when their owners are going out and leaving them at home; horses can develop such strong attachments to each other that they refuse to be put into …

Continue reading


Over the weekend, the Regina Orchid Society held its annual show and sale. I know this, even though I was out of town, because when I got home we had orchids in our living room. The Regina Orchid Society, which has about 40 members and has been around for 15 years, and countless societies like …

Continue reading

Easy AdSense Pro by Unreal