[ECP] K-12 Newsletters: SCIENCE

  • From: Educational CyberPlayGround <admin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: K12NewsLetters@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2007 06:00:00 -0400





NASA Science News for October 12, 2007
The Cassini spacecraft has discovered three new lakes near the south pole of Saturn's moon Titan.
These strange bodies are filled not with water but liquid methane and ethane.
Researchers are also studying a lake near Titan's north pole larger than Lake Superior.

Hilton Pond (Autumnal Delights)
Fall is a terrific time of the year. Here at Hilton Pond Center for
Piedmont Natural History we witnessed lots of fall activity this week
and managed to get photos of some of it, from seed pods to skinks . . .
mantids to meadowhawks . . . Broomsedge to bignonias . . . and a
couple of tanagers, too.
To view our latest photo essay on "Autumnal Delights," please visit
the installment for 1-7 October 2007 at
As always we include a list of birds banded and recaptured, plus
notes about a record early date for a White-throated Sparrow, a
relatively late Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and a visit with the
Science Teachers of Missouri.

Monotech: What agribusiness has done to the honeybee
?The commercial beekeeping industry is just a cog in the big industrial wheel,? says Sharon Labchuk, leader of the provincial Green Party in Prince Edward Island, Canada, and a small-scale organic beekeeper. ?The industrial agriculture model has destroyed pollinating insects through its chemicals and through its clear cutting of forests and plowing under the prairies. It?s destroyed habitat for not only insects, but for everything else that would normally live in those kinds of ecosystems. We?ve destroyed the natural world within the area that
we?ve killed, and we?ve also destroyed the vicinity through chemical use.?
Labchuk also points to a little known peculiarity that bodes ill for the health of the honeybee: the super-sized wax foundations used in commercial beekeeping operations. Whereas the combs created by natural worker brood are about 4.6 mm in diameter, manufacturers have increased the size of wax foundations ? beginning about a century ago, according to Labchuk ? to 5.4 mm wide in an effort to create larger honeybees and, in turn, more honey (and, tellingly, more money). Given the way honeybees use their combs to reproduce, the Frankenstein-esque result has been a species that is half as large again as is natural, and an increased vulnerability to mite infestations
due to the extra space in the combs themselves.
?You?ve got bees that were made to be bigger the same way we?ve made cows, pigs and chickens bigger, because bigger is better in the industrial model,? quips Labchuk. ?We produce everything using an industrial model which is insatiable, which is one in which economic growth is the mantra and in which economic growth is seen as a good thing.?

NOVA: "Ghost in Your Genes"
Tuesday, October 16 at 8 p.m.
Scientists have long puzzled over the different fates of identical
twins: both have the same genes, yet only one may develop a serious
disease like cancer or autism. What's going on? Does something else
besides genes determine who we are? The "something else" turns out to
be a network of chemical switches that sit on our DNA, turning genes
off and on. Called collectively the epigenome, the switches appear to
play a major role in everything from how our cells keep their
identity to whether we contract dread diseases. Epigenetic switches
may even help mold our personalities. NOVA explores these startling
possibilities in "Ghost in Your Genes."
Here's what you'll find on the companion Web site:
Epigenetic Therapy
     Dr. Jean-Pierre Issa examines the connection between epigenetics,
     aging, and cancer.
 Ask the Expert
     Geneticist Randy Jirtle answers questions about how our
     lifestyles, via epigenetics, can impact the health of our
     children, and more.
A Tale of Two Mice
     In this audio slide show, hear how the epigenome can make
     identical-twin mice appear so different.
Gene Switches
     Not all switches are epigenetic. As this slide show reveals, some
     are genetic -- and amazingly powerful.

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