Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Periodic Table of the Elements

The Periodic Table of the Elements contains every known element in the universe. It is used by chemists to learn about these atoms. It is made up of tiny squares, each containing a certain element. The boxes are various colors as well. Blue indicates a gas when in its natural state, a yellow square indicates a solid when in its natural state, orange identify liquids when in their natural state, and green show that the element has been discovered by man in a laboratory. Inside each square is a one or two letter abbreviation of the name of the element, the symbol. Most of these abbreviations come from the Latin or Greek names of the elements. Above the symbol for the element is the elements atomic number.

The atomic number indicates the number of protons within the nucelus of a given element. Hydrogen only has one proton, so it's number one on the Periodic Table. Helium has two protons, so it is number two, and so on. The number that appears below the symbol is the elements atomic mass number. Protons and Neutrons are each both about one atomic mass unit. Neutrons have no electrical charge, so they don't affect the electrical balance of an atom, and there can be varying numbers of them. Each one of these with a varying number of neutrons is called an isotope.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ionic Bonds

There are three sorts of changes in matter - nuclear, physical, and chemical. Nuclear changes occur in the nucleus, or center, of atoms. Physical changes occur when a substance undergoes change, but retains its chemical composition. When chemical changes occur, there is an actual chemical change in the substance. The original atoms remain, but a new substance is created, with a different chemical composition. This is how items such as plastic are created. The substances used to make it cannot be separated, which is what distinguishes between these and mixtures, such as muddy water. If given enough time, mud and water will separate. In a compound, however, the valence electrons (the electrons in the outer energy level) are lost, gained, or shared between the different elements to create unique substances. They are held together by bonds, either ionic or covalent. I'll talk about ionic bonds today.

If an atom looses a negatively charged electron, it becomes a positive ion, because it has more positively charged protons than negatively charged electrons. If the opposite happens, and the atom looses a positively charged proton, it becomes a negatively charged ion. A positive ion and a negative ion will attract. Sodium has only one valence electron. Chlorine is an atom that is missing only one electron in order to become stable. If both come close together, the sodium's valence electron will join the chlorine atom, completing an ionic bond and forming sodium chloride, or table salt. This sort of bond is common in chemistry and has given rise to the Octet rule, which states that atoms tend to gain, loose, or share electrons in order to acquire a full set of valence electrons.

Ionic bonds share similar properties, which include high melting points, a tendency to be brittle, and dissolve in water.

Friday, November 18, 2011

In case anyone's wondering where my sudden interest in poisonous plants came from, it's because I read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley. And no, I have NOT been researching poison so I can actually USE it. Just in case this wasn't obvious, I don't recommend testing these plants to see if I'm right. (Though I'm sure none of you were thinking about it... were you?)


Aconitium napellus

This blue flower is deadly. It has a poison similar to that of larkspurs and delphiniums (which, in big enough doses, can also kill you, although I don't think it's as deadly as aconite). It can be found growing throughout Europe and the United States. It is also known as monkshood, the name coming from the appearance of the sepal, which resembles a hood or helmet. The Nazis added aconite to their bullets to make them extra deadly.

Bleeding Heart

Dicentra spp.

This attractive flower resembles a heart with a drop of blood suspended from it. It contains alkaloid toxins similar to those of the poppy family. The alkaloid can cause seizures, nausea, and respiratory problems.


Convallaria majalis

All parts of this flower are poisonous, the bulbs in particular. It contains various cardiac glycosides and, when consumed, provides a reaction similar to that of foxgloves (which I discussed in my last post). Both plants have been used to treat heart conditions. Lily-of-the-Valley can lead to headaches, nausea, and even heart failure.

Deadly Nightshade

Atropa belladonna

Due to the name, "Deadly Nightshade", do I really need to tell you that this plant isn't something you want to put in your mouth? This plant can cause hallucinations and headaches, among others things (which include killing you.) The black berries, however, are very attractive. Rabbits and cattle can eat them with no side effects. However, this does not extend to humans. (Which goes to show you that, when stranded on a deserted island, watching what the animals eat will not help you much.) The name Atropa has an interesting route. The three Fates of Greek Mythology each had a role. Lachesis measured the thread of destiny at birth. Clotho spun the thread, controlling their destiny. Atropos chose the time and manner of death.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

When does life begin?

Science has been able to prove that life starts at conception. As soon as an egg has been fertilized, it is one cell. But that cell has all the genetic information and potential to become a human being just like you or me. At 30 weeks, a baby can possibly recognize voices outside the womb and feel pain.

At 26 weeks, the eyes are partially open and the baby blinks often. It also feels pain. At 21 weeks, if the baby is born, it has a good chance of survival. At 20 weeks, hair is present. At 16 weeks, the baby's fingerprint is fully formed. At 14 weeks, the baby can move its arms, legs, lips, head, mouth, wrist, toes and feet. And it is thought that, even then, the baby feels pain. At 10 weeks, the baby's brain is growing quickly and it has sockets for all its teeth. At 18 days, the baby's heart is developing and its eyes are forming.

If you look in a recent medical dictionary, you'll read that life begins at implanation. However, if you ask a scientist, they will reply that it begins at conception. Why is this? So they can sell "morning after" pills. The owner of Oregon's largest abortion clinic, testifying under oath, said "Of course human life begins at conception". And this is a woman who runs an abortion clinic!

What does the Bible have to say about abortion? "Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb", Isaiah 44:2. God forms every child in the womb. Every human is "fearfully and wonderfully made" in God's image. We are not just another animal. The unborn human beings suffer horrible deaths we would wish on no one, yet condone for the murder of babies. And they feel that pain.

Once, a baby was removed from its mother's womb and left on a tray to die with no further ado. The abortion was performed at a certain part of the baby's development when it could survive outside the womb. The baby's screams were so awful that a nurse at the clinic eventually couldn't take them anymore, wrapped the baby in a blanket and took it home. The baby lived.

Those of us who have heard the Christmas story know that Herod killed all the babies two and under to keep himself in power. This was a horrible thing to do. But it's nothing compared to the murder of unborn children. Ever since abortion was legalized, over forty million babies have been legally murdered. Mary O'Bryan Drum said, "After a woman is pregnant, she cannot choose whether or not she wishes to become a mother. She already is... all that is left to decide is whether she will deliver her baby dead or alive."

We are turning a blind eye to the murder of children, all of whom had a plan, fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. We need to turn a seeing eye to it and stand up against it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

With genetic testing, it is now possible to determine many things about a baby before it born. It is routine to run a genetic test in order to ensure that a baby is healthy and normal. If the baby will not be "normal" the parents are given the choice not to continue the pregnancy (which could also be translated as "have an abortion".) Some people consider it wrong to bring into the world a child who will not be "normal". For many people with inherited disabilities, the idea of testing for disabilities is offensive. To them, it means they are not special human beings like everyone.

In the book and movie My Sister's Keeper, two parents have a "designer baby" genetically created to be a blood/organ donor for her sister with cancer (which could also be translated to "spare parts".) Nowadays, families with genetic diseases can arrange to have such a baby. The DNA of each fertilized egg is examined for the defect that passes on the disease. When one is found without the defect, it is placed in the womb.

However, not every such baby is created because of a genetic defect. Some, like the one in My Sister's Keeper, are designed with a certain blood type. Some are created to have certain characteristics, such as black hair or blue eyes. Perhaps the parents wanted a boy or girl. It is becoming easier and cheaper to have a "designer baby", and it causes young couples to make difficult decisions.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seeing Double

In July 1996, it was announced that a sheep had been been born at the Roslin Insitute near Edinburgh, Scotland. What was so amazing about this? Dolly was the first clone. She was very famous. A sweater knitted from her wool was placed in a museum. She had several sheep of her own, none of them clones and all healthy. Everyone talked about how humans would be next. But what is cloning, really?

Cloning comes from the Latin root meaning "to cut from". A clone is an organism grown from a single cell of the parent, genetically identical to the parent. To clone Dolly, they took the nucleus from a sheep egg and replaced it with the nucleus from a sheep cell. A little chemical manipulation and "Hello, Dolly". Cloning creates nothing new, it just makes a copy, like having an identical twin.

What happened to Dolly? At three, she showed signs of premature aging, and she passed away at age six - a young age for a sheep. "Goodbye, Dolly" didn't make the news a lot. But why did she die? Because of the cell that was put into the egg. The DNA was six years old when she was born. The egg that was used to produce her came from a six year old sheep, which made her genes six years old when she was born, meaning she aged faster and died a horrible death. Every cloned animal has died a horrible death.

We did not invent cloning. God did. If you've ever grown strawberries, you'll know that runners come off the plants, new plants for next year. These runners are actually clones of the plant. Some types of female insects produce eggs that, when hatched, produce clones of themselves.

Is cloning immoral? For my part, I have no problem with the idea of cloning plants and animals, if our intentions in doing so are right, such as attempting to cure a disease. We were granted dominion over them, and although we shouldn't abuse it, we can do many positive things through cloning plants and animals. We were not, however, given dominion over other humans. Think about it. God said we must not kill other people, but we were told it is alright to kill and eat animals. And furthermore, humans were meant to have two parents (although this is not always the case), but a cloned human could never. This goes directly against the Bible.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


DNA is short for deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA is what carries the instructions God put into us for what we look like and how our bodies work. Every species of organism has it, except for bacteria. Birds are born with DNA that makes them able to fly. We humans are all different. Some of us are tall, some of us have brown eyes, some of us have curly hair. But humans are generally not born with feathers.

A chromosome is a long strand of DNA wrapped around proteins. A gene is a length of DNA. Our genes are arranged along the chromosome like beads. Each chromosome has many genes. Within a species, a gene for a certain characteristic, such as black hair or blue eyes, is always on the same place on the same chromosome.

Each cell has two copies of each gene, one from each parent. These two same genes are called alleles. The combination of alleles is what makes each individual unique. The number of possible combinations is practically countless, with the thousands of genes in a chromosome.

A cell duplicates its chromosomes, its DNA, before it divides. A DNA is not a single molecule but is, instead, a double one. This gives it the ability to divide and reproduce. DNA is like a twisted zipper, with the bases the interlocking teeth of the zipper.

When DNA is duplicated, the two strands of DNA separate. The zipper unfastens. Enzymes, special proteins that control the speed of chemical reactions in the cell, bring nucleotides, small subunits on the chains of DNA, to the two DNA strands. The nucleotides link up with exposed bases and join together to form new strands attached to the originals. The result is two double strands.

Monday, September 19, 2011


For a flowering plant to reproduce, the male cells (pollen) and the female cells (ovule) have to join together. This is called fertilization. When a grain of pollen lands on the stigma (the sticky part of the carpel, see my last post) it forms into a pollen tube (the tube that transports male cells to the ovule at the bottom of the pistil). The pollen tube goes down into the ovary and enters an ovule through a tiny hole, the microphyle.

A pollen grain contains two male nuclei. These go down the pollen tube and join the contents of the ovule. One forms a zygote, which is the first cell of the new organism. The other creates a layer of tissue called endosperm, These become a seed. The ovary becomes a fruit. The plant no longer needs the rest of its parts and it dies.

Some plants do not need to be pollinated. The bee orchid, for example, attracts a certain type of bee by looking and smelling like a female bee, but if no bees come, its stamens will bend over and transfer pollen to the stigma.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cell Division

Cells have the ability to divide in order create new cells for growth or repair. The process, cell division, occurs in two stages. The first stage, mitosis, is when the nucleus divides into two parts, which each become a new nucleus. The two nuclei, called daughter nuclei, are identical copies of the original.

The second stage of cell division is called cytokinesis. A dividing line called the cell plate forms. It runs down the middle of the cytoplasm. (Cytoplasm is the gel-like substance inside a cell in which organelles are suspended. And organelles are the small parts inside a plant or animal cell.) New cell walls build up along the cell plate. These separate the new cells.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reproduction is the creation of new life. All living things contain the parts needed for reproduction. In flowers, these produce male and female cells called gametes, which join to create new plants. The many specialized parts of flowers include petals, stamens (the male parts of the plants), and one or more carpels (the female parts). In most flowers, the petals are arranged around the reproductive organs. Before a plant blooms, it produces a bud, which eventually develops into a flower. It grows from the receptacle, which is the extended stalk tip. The buds are surrounded by the leaf-like sepals.

A flower's male reproductive parts are stamens. A stamen is made of an anther, a pod-like structure which contains pollen sacks, at the end of a stalk called a filament. When an anther opens, it releases grains of pollen, male reproductive cells. A female's reproductive part is the carpel or pistil. It is made up of the stigma, the top part, which has a sticky surface for pollen to stick to, the style, and the ovaries, each of which holds one or more tiny eggs. The tiny eggs are the female reproductive cells, which develop into seeds after they are fertilized.

Some flowers, like buttercups, have several carpels, while others, like poppies, have only one. Flowers that have male and female parts are described as hermaphrodite. Some plants have two types of flowers - pistillate flowers, which are female, and staminate flowers, which are male. These are called monoecious plants. Other plants, like holly, have only male or female flowers on them and require another plant for fertilization. These are dioecious plants.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Death in YOUR Garden!!!!

If you don't look at the flowers and plants in your yard a little differently after you read this, let me know. Just wonder about how many of your favorite flowers are fatally poisonous... I strongly advise you don't decide to find out how accurate this post is by locating these plants and testing them. I would hate to hear that one of my readers had to visit the emergency room.


Nerium oleander

Evergreen which grows from two to six feet high, with large clusters of red, pinkish or white flowers. This plant is extremely poisonous. Even the smoke from burning it is toxic. A single leaf can kill a human. It grows native in the Mediterranean region to Japan. It is often grown as a houseplant or patio tree in more temperate areas of North America.

Sweet pea

Lathyrus odoratus and other related species

Climbing vine with clustered, fragrant flowers in a variety of colors. Grows to 1-2 meters (about six feet six inches). If eaten in large quantities, it can be deadly. It grows in many gardens across North America.


Myristica fragrans

Brown, spicy seed or brown powder. Harmless in small amounts, but more than 10 grams or 0.4 oz can cause acute poisoning or death.

Purple foxglove

Digitalis purpurea

Biennial with tall flowering stalks. Has such nicknames as witch's gloves and dead man's bells. A nibble of a leaf on an upper stalk is enough to possibly cause death. However, it is also used to treat the heart.


Daphne mezereum

Deciduous shrub with purple or white flowers appearing in the spring. Scarlet or occasionally yellow berry-like fruits. The berries may be fatally poisonous, even if only a few are consumed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011



A plant from the mint family. A small branched annual, grows from six to eight inches high. Smells similar to spearmint when crushed and is a popular tea. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy - never drink the oil. Even when taken in small doses, it results in death. An infusion, or tea, is safe to drink. The tea helps cure headaches, colds, fever, and nausea. It also settles the stomach. When the leaves are crushed and rubbed onto the skin, they repel insects.


Grows 10 to 20 inches high. Blooms in summer. The flowers resemble tiny daisies and are usually white, although some are pink or red. Legend has it that it is named after Achilles, the greatest warrior of all time in Greek mythology. He is said to have used it to treat the wounds of his men. Is a very useful plant. Can be used to treat colds, flu, chicken pox, and cramps. Also is good for treating wounds.


Resembles a daisy. Is a popular tea. Is good for the digestive system. Recommended for allergenic reactions. Aids the digestive system. Can be used to treat colds, upset stomachs, bruises, rashes, and fevers.


Makes popular teas and is commonly used for flavoring. Very good for treating headaches. Has a calming effect. Good for treating nausea, colds, fevers, influenza, colic, and vomiting.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Let There be Light Waves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have you ever wondered how light waves work? No, I mean really. How do they travel? Well, here's some food for thought. It's imperative to our survival that light travels where there is nothing, not even air. Why? What's the biggest vacuum you can think of? The one in the closet? The one called your siblings room, where things enter and never leave? Wrong! Here's a hint: the largest vacuum is a big space! That's right, it's space! And guess what? If light didn't travel there, we'd all be dead! And if you don't believe me, think of how many things need light to survive and grow.

How does light move, you ask? Well, do you want the short or long answer? I'll give you the short. Light waves always move in straight lines. Have you ever been to Saskatchewan? I've been a couple times. If you have you'll have noticed that the place is so flat you can see the curvature of the earth. If you don't believe me then find out if you know anyone in Saskatchewan and get your parents to take you. Preferably driving. That way you'll see the highway, and that's one of the best places to veiw the curvature of the earth. Anyway, you can see things for miles because the light travels in a straight line.

Light always travels in a straight line. Imagine if it didn't! You wouldn't be able to see anything in front of you! That could get a little painful! :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Filtering Light

Everyone likes colored lights. You put them on your tree at Christmas, unless you prefer white lights. Those exit signs in theaters and public places are orange. The lights on emergency vehicles are different colors, too. But the thing is, light is white, for the most part. So how do we get all these different colors?

To get different colors of light, we put our lights in colored tubes, or filters. Only certain colors can actually get through the glass, though, and that is why we have different colors. Some of the colors pass through, the rest are absorbed by the filter. The color we see, however, not only depends on the filter, but what the light is shining on.

If you put a red ball under a white light, you will see a red ball. If you put it under a red light, you will see a red ball. The red will probably be a slightly different shade, but it will still be red. Now, imagine if you put the same red ball under a green light. It will look like rather Christmasy, right? Wrong. The ball will be black. You see, the red ball absorbs the green light, so instead of looking like a really weird Christmas ornament, it rejects the black light, and that's what we see.

Here's one last interesting thing about light. The lights you have in your house produce more yellowish white light than the ones in stores. The lights in stores are usually fluoresent lights. This means that whatever is under the store lights looks a little different than in your house. This is a problem at paint stores, since not a lot of people realize that the sample they like looks different in their house!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lights in the Sky

The main light in the sky is the sun. But it's not the only one. We have the northern lights, and rainbows. We'll talk about those two.

Everybody likes rainbows. They're so beautiful. If you ever want a rainbow and nature won't oblige, you can make your own. If the sun is behind you, and it's a sunny day, you can fill your mouth with water and spit on a window. (If this doesn't work, check The Encyclopedia of Immaturity and you'll find a more complete set of directions.) How do rainbows work, you ask? The sun's light shines through the individual water droplets, and the colors are different due to the way the light bends. Due to the angle from which we are looking at it, the rainbow appears to be an arch, but it's actually a circle.

And now, onto the northern lights, or aurora borealis. People who saw it before we knew what it really was thought it was angry gods, the swishing tails of foxes made from fire, the souls of dead warriors, or the reflection of a large school of herring (I am not making these up.) They can only be seen in winter. How do they occur? Charged particles from space, which come from the sun, enter the earth's atmosphere, attracted by our magnetic poles. (Some are attracted to the south pole: these form the southern lights.) They react with gas particles in our atmosphere to creat the breathtaking auroras.

Well, that's all for now. Adios!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Seeing Things

Eyes are just a ball of liquid. So why are they so important? I don't know, why are you asking me? Okay, that was a joke. I do know. I'm just trying to be funny. I'm also starting to sound like the big red button on www.randomwritersrambling.blogspot .com Well, anyway, back to the eyeball. Imagine being unable to see anything. Wow. There isn't much to see, is there? If you couldn't see, you would be fairly helpless. And do you know what lets you see (drumroll please) your eyes! (As if I needed to say that.) The front of your eye is called the cornea and is transparent. The cornea lets in light. The colored part is called the iris, and at the center is the pupil, which narrows or widens, depending on the amount of light you need to see. Inside your eye is a small lens. When light enters your eye, which is probably happening right now, little muscles move the lens so you can see better. The lens focuses a picture on the back, or retina. The picture, by the way, is upside down. The retina changes the picture into nerve signals, which are sent into the brain via the optical nerve. The brain turns the picture right side up and voila! you are seeing something. This is happening all the time. I advise you not to think about it too much though. It will give you a headache.

Well, that's all for now on the eye. Adios!

Monday, January 10, 2011


Mirrors are everywhere. You can walk past any number of them during the day. Some are windows, some are just relective surfaces, but a human's natural impulse is to look at their reflection whenever they walk by anything in which they can see themselves. Have you ever stopped to wonder how that works? Well, I am now going to explain it as clearly as I can.

Did you know that your skin color is not the color you think it is? You might think it's black or white or brown or whatever, but really, it's every color except the one you think it is! See, objects absorb color. I said that in an earlier post. (They also subtract color, but I'm not getting into that now because it would get too complicated.) Well, your skin absorbs every color except the one you think it is. In fact, it rejects the color, so that's what you see. When you look in a mirror, the rays of light bounce off because the surface doesn't absorb it.

Also, things that don't reflect can also be mirrors. Signs that show up when the carlights hit them are reflecting the light from your lights. Cats eyes reflect things as well. When the eyes of a cat or nocturnal animal are caught in the headlights of a car, the eyes glow back at us due to a reflective material in the backs of their eyes. Let's just hope that you brake before you hit the animal, eh?

That's all. Adios!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Electromagnetic Waves

Transverse waves are waves in which particles vibrate at right angles to the direction in which the wave is traveling. Electromagnetic waves are transverse waves made of constantly changing electric and magnetic fields. They are all invisible, except for the ones that make up light. They can also travel through almost anything. The range of waves, in order of frequency and wavelength, are on the electromagnetic spectrum. Frequency is the number of complete waves that travel past a point in one second. The wavelength is the distance between one wave and the low point of the next wave.

The rays toward the beginning are the gammarays. They are short and I think they are the ones used in chemotherapy. The next are the X-rays, the ones used to take X-rays. After that are the untraviolet rays, the ones which the ozone layer helps protect us from. After that are the visble light rays, the one we can see through a spectrum. After that are the infrared waves, given out by anything hot. Then we have the microwaves. We all know what those are used for. Last, we have rays that are used to broadcast radio and TV.

Well, I hope you've learned something about waves. Oh, here's a last little thing. All waves travel at the same speed, about 300,000 kilometers per second. Isn't that cool?