Dialogue 2013 #3
New DVD — the Most Exciting Yet!
Illustra Media has produced many excellent DVDs, but the last one Flight: the Genius of Birds is one of their most awesome! It is certainly one that will appeal to entire families. While the previously released Metamorphosis (dealing with butterflies) provides amazing scenes and discussion, Flight not only provides wonderful photography, but also discussion which is easily understood by all. Moreover, even if one could not understand a word of the commentary, the scenes of birds in flight and the graphics still convey a powerful message. Read the rest of this entry »
The Amazing Dromedary Camel
Camels are one of the most amazing animals known to humans. They are the workhorse of the desert and a gift to generations of people. The Bible mentions camels over 60 times, indicating their central importance in Biblical times. The Bible notes two kinds of camels, the two humped Bactrian camel, and the larger one hump dromedary camel, Camelus dromedarius, family Camelidae. Both kinds now live in the hot dry deserts of the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »
Animal Tails, Wonder Tools for Wonder Animals
A tail is a distinct, flexible appendage attached to the torso of the rear section of an animal’s body. It is the body part that corresponds roughly to the coccyx in mammals, reptiles, and birds. Tails are primarily a feature of vertebrates, although some invertebrates, including scorpions and springtails, have tails. Even snails and slugs have tail-like appendages sometimes referred to as tails. Read the rest of this entry »
One More Use for DNA
Over the last decade, everything has become digital. We don’t capture images on film anymore, but in digital files. We don’t send letters, we send email messages. We don’t buy books, we download documents to an e-reader. Every organization has a website. Information is at our fingertips, but the whole system is extremely fragile.
The problems with our digital storage technologies are twofold. The data don’t last once they have been laid down and must be transferred to keep them fresh, while the technology for storage and reading keeps changing. An amusing example of this is NASA, which in the early 2000s, found that it was unable to access data from the space program of the 1960s and 1970s. So there they were, scouring internet auction sites to find second hand eight-inch floppy drives which could read their priceless data. Similar events of loss or near loss happen all the time. In 2009 when Yahoo! closed their GeoCities server, a huge amount of data was lost, perhaps “the most amount of history in the shortest amount of time, certainly on purpose, in living memory.” Nobody seemed to notice, but if these had been paper documents which were lost from a library, the outcry would have been anguished indeed. The take home lesson is that as a digital society, we need better systems to store and read data. In view of this, some scientists have turned their attention not to a new system, but to a tried and true system, much better than modern devices. Enter DNA to the discussion. Read the rest of this entry »