Category Archives: Biology

The Ears Have It

by James Morris

Your ears, which allow you to hear sounds – from the babbling of a brook to the wail of a siren to the song of a bird to the words of a friend – also have the remarkable ability to make sounds. That’s right – your ears actually produce sounds. These sounds can be detected and used for many practical and sometimes surprising purposes. Continue reading

Balancing Act

by James Morris

William Happer, a retired Princeton University physicist and Deputy Assistant for Emerging Technologies on the National Security Council, recently stated that carbon dioxide is beneficial to humanity and therefore should not be regulated in any way. In biology, however, the idea that things are “good” or “bad” is simply a lot of hot air. Continue reading

Trees Aren’t Brown

by James Morris

Sometimes, it’s hard to see what’s right in front of you.

I recently overheard a conversation between two friends. One just took up painting, and the other has painted for many years. They were talking about how to paint trees, when the one with more experience said, “Look closely at trees – they aren’t brown.”

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It Takes Two

by James Morris
Photograph by Randy Phillis

Great fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite ‘em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
and so, ad infinitum.

~ Augustus De Morgan, A Budget of Paradoxes

You are not alone. Certainly, you have family and friends to help, support, and encourage you. But you have even more intimate partnerships.

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Genes, Genomes, and Genies

by James Morris
Illustration by Talia Niederman

We are all, in a way, familiar with genetics. We know that children resemble their parents. We know that there are sometimes uncanny similarities among distant family members. And not a day goes by without some mention of genetics in the news – a gene is implicated in a disease; DNA testing is used to solve a crime; another genome is sequenced.

Yet we might struggle with certain details. What is a genome and why do we care about its sequence? What are genes and how do they relate to traits we see all around us? Why do some traits get passed on – brown eyes, red hair, high blood pressure – but not always, and sometimes in seemingly random ways?

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