Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Science Without Creativity? Not To Me

From an outsider's perspective, it’s easy to think that science lacks creativity. The methodical procedures, the copying of steps and numbers, none of it seems creative to the casual observer sitting in a science class while they're told what to do. Everyone remember that one lab (or many labs) that they never understood, but instead just followed the steps blindly. It's for this reason, among others, that the misconceptions about science and creativity occur. People do not create these steps, so they do not find them creative, but this simply is not true. The level of achievement necessary to be able to find out how something works is massive. Our knowledge about the world is solidified through science and the understanding of creation. If science was not creative, then everything we know today would be stunted and without complexity. It takes new ideas and thoughts to create new tests and experiments that are then interpreted critically. Everything about the scientific method, even if it is a method, relies on its creator and how much thought and effort they put into their work. Every test, just like every piece of creative work, is inspired by those before it and then uses those inspirations to create or learn something new. People may argue that there is no creativity in science, but this is because they've never been made to conduct their own experiment and design a procedure that will work, lower variation, and give accurate results. It isn't something that can just appear out of thin air.
When I think back to why people may feel this way, I remember the days before high school. Science wasn't my favorite course, and I never really found the purpose in it. Everything appeared the same because I never fully understood why we did the labs we did, or why anything was important enough. But after experiencing science fairs after science fairs to then research projects, the scientific method become less of a checklist and more of a matter of making something that can be solidly conducted. And, with complete honesty, it isn't an easy task. Making something with enough consistencies to be functional and trying to make the experiment possible for high school students isn't an easy task. Some people may have a step involving the preparation of a dish, but without the knowledge of how a petroleum dish functions, what its purpose is, the effectiveness will be hindered. Advancing science is equal parts knowledge as it is creativity, and most people fail to recognize that. Science isn't just about what we know today, it's about how people were able to figure out the information that we know, and then how they use it to learn more and more and more. The concepts of density, melting, and freezing points, all which seem like common knowledge to most people, had to be discovered, tested, and proven, and all of this was based on theories. Using nothing to make something, or transforming something to make something else, is the process of creation. For those who think otherwise, for better or worse, I believe they should sit down and try truly making something, and then coming back to review the question.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Leave-ing Natural Photosynthesis in the Dust

The first thing I thought of when reading this article was “Wow, another thing about fake leaves.” Of course, this was only because I have seen similar articles time and time again via the dreaded chemistry and society essays last year. It is not a new idea, but where it differs is that this bionic leaf is more efficient than natural photosynthesis. Whether this is because this is the first time or I failed to pay good attention last year is up for debate, but these leaves seem to be a little more than meets the eye. The article explains that they have found a proper catalyst to make the production nontoxic and safe, making it a step above other similar bionic leaves (move over, leaf creators). They can create effective fuel that we can use from all of the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
One of the major issues our world faces is that of global warming, which is constantly battled by the need for fuels to power our machines, devices, and day to day lives. As nice as it would be to just stop our energy consumption, that’s unrealistic. The shift to renewable energy has started but is still only at its beginning. One of the main questions I worry about is the cost of producing these leaves and exactly how they will be set up to produce energy. I am far from skeptical, but it is something I feel we need to keep in mind. Regardless, having a safe way of producing fuel that helps to combat a serious problem hits both metaphorical birds with one huge rock of science, and that’s pretty dang cool.

Note: I’m working on my pun game #votemeforsupremepunqueen2k16))

Thursday, July 28, 2016

CRISPR Sounds like a Breath of Fresh Air for Cancer Patients

Even if I may not be an experienced biologist, or an expert on cancer treatment, the  CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing technique for treatment seems to bring high hopes to those suffering from cancer. The disease, which causes rapid cell division, is most often fought with the use of chemotherapy. While chemotherapy can be very effective in some patients, its reliability is not always clear-cut and consistent. Some patients find that their cancer can return after a period of time, even after the use of chemotherapy. Why does this happen? Some people speculate that it is a result of a number of cancer cells being left behind after chemotherapy, which then continue to rapidly divide and be found again in the body after a period of time. Others believe that it is a result of slower dividing cancer cells, which are not detected and go unnoticed, or that patients grow resistant to the chemotherapy after exposure. Regardless of the reasoning, we do know that chemotherapy cannot be a guaranteed cure. It can also have harmful side effects, causing pain for those affected and their loved ones.
Gene editing, in my personal (and unprofessional) opinion, is a tool that can have extremely useful purposes, including the treatment for cancer. By using CRISPR-Cas9, the effectiveness of attacking cancer cells can be much more reliable and powerful than  that of chemotherapy. What really stands out to me is the implementation of the PD-1 gene, which will help to prevent the damage of healthy cells from the immune system. This is where I find that it differs greatly from chemotherapy, which will damage both healthy and cancerous cells, leaving it to be a guessing game and a matter of hope for effectiveness.
Do I expect this to be the all end solution to cancer? As much as I would love to say so, I must disagree. I think this can be an extremely positive step in treatment, but it still leaves questions. One of my biggest concerns involves CRISPR editing the wrong genes at the wrong time, which was brought up in the article. How effectively can this be regulated, and exactly how damaging could it be to the patient? While I am aware that after testing and ensuring that the right genes will be edited, this possibility is still a concern that needs to be considered. With the testing beginning in August, it isn’t unreasonable to think that these issues and possibilities will be sorted out and discussed properly until they are perfected. Regardless of the chances, I have high hopes for these tests, and can only pray that they are as effective as it appears they will be. In the worst case scenario, they can still be valuable stepping stones for future treatment.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Grolar Bears More Like No-lar Bears

As much as I find it interesting to have hybrid animals like ‘grolar bears’, their chances of being something we would come into contact with is extremely low. As the climate changes, the natural habitat of the polar bear decreases, and as their habitat decreases, Darwinism comes knocking in to give the polar bears a reality check.
I don’t find it unreasonable to think that there could be cross-breeding between the two species, but anything occurring would be rare. Polar bears and grizzly bears live in very different places, and to mate some type of travel would have to be involved. Due to the earth heating and ice melting, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect some polar bears to move in the direction of different land, but a large majority of them will die whether it be in the process of moving or just because of circumstances. These bears would face issues when trying to feed and live off of an unfamiliar and new habitat, decreasing their population even further.
Any bears that did manage to mate with the existing grizzly bears would be part of a minority, which would soon die regardless. Darwinism reflected the idea that only the fittest animals survive, and that their circumstances (both genetically and in their habitat) determine whether they will live or die. The polar bears couldn’t move fast enough, and if they did, they wouldn’t last terribly long. Any bears that mated with the grizzly bears would have merged features, but even those animals would face conflicts surviving in an environment they are not suited for. In this scenario, their breeding with the natural grizzly bear population would wean down the genes and traits from the polar bear over time, as the undesirable traits would be cut off.
Hybrids occurring would be more likely with other animals, such as birds, due to their access to different locations. Flying makes things easier in comparison to bears who have to walk, but even they will face difficulties when mating with pre-existing species. It does leave questions about how many animals will mate and form new hybrids, but after how long would they even be considered hybrids? I even wonder how compatible a polar bear and grizzly bear would be, and if their children would be capable of surviving past a few generations.

Popular Posts

top navigation

About me

I'm Hannah and a big fan of mitochondria. This is my biology blog.