Subject: Periodic Table
Date: Thu Oct 5 17:55:30 EDT 2000
Comments: I just wanted to comment about Wednesday's class and its focus on biochemistry, which I (surprisingly) found enjoyable :)
I think it's a lot easier to look at the periodic table, than living organisms, for categorizing things. (It's funny that it makes so much more sense now than it did in high school.) I think it may be easier to understand because of the visual representation of the different elements in the form of a table. However elements are also more abstract than actual living organisms. Maybe it's because we are so caught up with the visual perceptions that we have of living organisms that we can't seem to think of natural categories- there are so many different characteristics that would apply. Whereas with elements, there isn't much visual representation to look at- we can only depend on a model to help get a grasp of the concept.
Subject: various responses
Date: Fri Oct 6 00:20:50 EDT 2000
Comments: #1 I, too, enjoyed wednesday's focus on biochemistry. I have never
looked upon the periodic table as both a compilation of an incredible
amount of highly complicated information as well as a well-organized, even
simple, chart of this information. Also, though in the shadows of
"clumpiness", grabbiness is a fine word.
#2 Secondly, regarding the highly "random" improbable assemblies: I
think this is perhaps one of the most interesting assertions that has come
out of the discussion of improbable assemblies. I think, for certain, it
is possible that such assemblies exist. In fact, to the extent that we
agree that improbable assemblies "more" complex ( I know it is hard to
judge complexity) than us exist (or could potentially), then these "random"
assemblies must nesessarily exist. Of course, these assemblies would SEEM
to be random. That is, too complex for us to understand. Did you get that?
I'm not sure I did.....
#3 Third, in regard to spaces and clumpiness: However we categorize
species, there are going to be spaces. Yes, certain spaces go away
according to how you categorize...ie trees linked with mammals if we are
only talking about single cell versus multi cell.....but the spaces are as
certain as the species themselves. If the spaces fail to exist, so do the
animals or species or anything -- matter becomes just matter...
Date: Fri Oct 6 16:47:58 EDT 2000
Comments: Our class on Wednesday reminded me of a discussion we had in an earlier class which asked the question that if we did come across intelligent life on some other planet, would we find that all that we know about biology today is no longer relevant. I think that this is not completely true in a biochem sort of way. Granted we may find non-carbon based organisms, and we may even discover knew elements. But I believe that what we know about the elements, and molecules, would hold true, and therefore we would not be so lost in determining how these organisms can exist - we would just have to be a little more open minded in parting from our knowledge of life.
Subject: a bit of confusion
Date: Sat Oct 7 01:25:11 EDT 2000
Comments: Here's something I'm still not 100% clear on. Perhaps the rest of the class can help me. I understand the idea of molecules/atoms constantly moving and I'm fine with the whole process of evolution once the first organism was created. What i'm still confused on or having problems accepting is that line inbetween. I.e how randomly moving particles bouncing around adding on to themselves suddenly became "alive". How do atoms even complex combinations of atoms suddenly develop conscienceness. What would be the benefit of creating something that suddenly requires a energy in put and processing system instead of just simple moleculer bonds?
Subject: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts
Date: Sat Oct 7 09:11:52 EDT 2000
Comments: i suppose the benefit to creating a complex of molecules that requires an energy input to "live" is that the energy allows for even more complex and highly improbable asemblies. however, it's important to remember that it's all random -- nobody was sitting there with a set of colored balls and sticks, trying out different molecular structures, then suddenly said "aha! let's add a little juice and see if we can get some really crazy stuff going!" life simply tried it out, and it obviously worked (because here it is, in all its diversity). it's hard to break the habit of looking at systems as if they have a rational goal, as if some sort of pre-planning or thought is going into them. that's our challenge as "scientists."
Name: Katie Kaczmarek
Subject: Molecular ponderings...
Date: Mon Oct 9 21:06:10 EDT 2000
Comments: The thing that struck me most when looking at all those molecular structures (yet again)is how little variation in the molecules translates to a large difference in the overall structure of the organisms. This really frustrated me in science when we used those cute little ball and stick kits to make molecules because the simplest little difference makes a different molecule. (A side note, if anyone's ever had to make molecules with those little kits, did you ever notice that if you arrange the petroleum model the right way, it looks like a dog? We called it the "Petroleum Puppy"! :) It's amazing that the cell can keep all those little differences straight when making those increadably complex macromolecules....
Subject: temperature and pH
Date: Thu Oct 12 20:52:27 EDT 2000
Comments: The discussion and experiments in class and lab on wednesday were interesting and (more incredibly) related to each other! :) I think it makes a lot of sense that living systems are so sensitive to temperature and pH, although it was interesting to find that the reason behind this is the underlying 3-dimensional structure.
So now, I have a question about food- I know this seems a little off tangent, but trust me, it's related. Are foods considered to be living things, even after they've been removed from their natural environment? (for ex. -> carrots?) Do things rot because the changes in temperature change the underlying 3-dimensional structure?
If carrots are not considered as living then what accounts for this?
Sorry if this seems unrelated. Have a good break all :0)
Subject: re: 3d structure and food
Date: Thu Oct 12 22:47:38 EDT 2000
Comments: I have always considered foods such as fresh carrots (vegetables, fruits)to be "live" foods. They are unchanged parts of living things -- the plants that produce them. And in them are usually seeds which could be used to make new plants. When the molecules in their cells change in 3d structure, (denatured?) by cooking or severely changing the outside environment in various other ways (I cant think of any other examples) then they could no longer produce new plants and therefore are not live. Right? I think this was a completely related question to the topic of class and lab. Have a great break!!!!!