New Planet: Another “Earth” Discovered By Scientists

R. Paul Butler, Planet co-discoverer
Steve Vogt, Planet co-discoverer

Astronomers have announced they have discovered an earth like planet that could support the crucial conditions needed for life to exist. The new planet sits directly in the middle of what is referred to as the habitable or Goldilocks zone (Gliese 581 g), unlike any of the nearly 500 other planets astronomers have found outside Earth’s solar system. It also is in Earth’s galactic neighbourhood, suggesting that plenty of Earth-like planets circle other stars. Astronomers say the planet is neither too far from its star, not too close and could contain liquid water.

Battered Tharsis Tholus Volcano On Mars

ScienceDaily (Nov. 8, 2011) — The latest image released from Mars Express reveals a large extinct volcano that has been battered and deformed over the aeons.

Tharsis Tholus Volcano - Mars

By Earthly standards, Tharsis Tholus is a giant, towering 8 km above the surrounding terrain, with a base stretching over 155 x 125 km. Yet on Mars, it is just an average-sized volcano. What marks it out as unusual is its battered condition.

Shown in images taken by the HRSC high-resolution stereo camera on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft, the volcanic edifice has been marked by dramatic events.

At least two large sections have collapsed around its eastern and western flanks during its four-billion-year history and these catastrophes are now visible as scarps up to several kilometres high.

The main feature of Tharsis Tholus is, however, the caldera in its centre.

It has an almost circular outline, about 32 x 34 km, and is ringed by faults that have allowed the caldera floor to subside by as much as 2.7 km.

It is thought that the volcano emptied its magma chamber during eruptions and, as the lava ran out onto the surface, the chamber roof was no longer able to support its own weight.

So, the volcano collapsed, forming the large caldera.

November is a busy month for Mars exploration: Russia and NASA both plan launches this month.

Russia’s Phobos-Soil (formerly known as Phobos-Grunt) is designed to land on Phobos, the larger of Mars’ two moons, to collect samples, and return them to Earth in 2014. It also carries the first Chinese spacecraft to Mars, Yinghuo-1.

Mars Express HRSC digital elevation models of Phobos were used by Russian scientists to assess the mission’s potential landing sites and ESA is also providing telecommunications support for both Phobos-Soil and Yinghuo-1.

In return, the European scientific community will have access to data obtained by both spacecraft.

NASA’s mission is the Mars Science Laboratory, a large rover known as Curiosity, with experiments designed to detect organic molecules — past or present — on the Red Planet.

Also worth noting is the simulated Mars mission, Mars500, which ended on Friday when the hatch was opened for the first time since June 2010. For 520 days, the international crew had been working in a simulated spacecraft in Moscow.


The Biology of Cancer

Cancer is a complicated disease…I wish I could say it was easy, but I think it is very important to start looking at and trying to impart as much understanding about the disease, how it works, and how it is treated, as possible. Some of the material here is beyond the scope of our class and the knowledge being taught and assessed in our class.

What is Cancer Animation

Understanding Cancer

An Academic Look At Cancer

Cancer Risk Factors

Factors Impacting Cancer Growth – The end of this video looks at one companies treatment of these factors and cancer (ignore the plug for the company)

Breast Cancer Cells Dividing

Camera on Cancer Research

SOTM: October 2011

Yasmeen Pelayo – General Biology

This high flying freshman was chosen because of the hard work she has exhibited. She has one of the highest biology grades and performed well on our first test. She is a good team player and asks good questions. She is always willing to work hard and shows interest in the subject. These traits combined with her positive attitude will allow Yasmeen to be successful as she continues through her high school years and beyond into her career of choice.

Cell Division/Mitosis

Here is a quick overview of mitosis…it does not label the stages, but has a nice little movie at the end showing division actually taking place…

This next video labels the stages and shows a pretty cool (I think) computer simulation of the process.

Don’t forget the stages of the cell cycle:

    G1 Phase – Cell Growth
    S Phase – DNA Replication
    G2 Phase – DNA Checking & Preparation for Division
    M Phase (Mitosis)


I’ve updated this post to include an additional video covering the phases of mitosis and what happens.

Friday Nov. 4th: Onion Root Tip Lab

We will be starting our mitosis identification lab. Make sure you know the stages of Mitosis and that you know how to use a microscope (REMEMBER: actually using the microscope will be part of your cells test; focusing, centering, switching powers). If you need help with the process of getting a microscope focused in class, please ask before the review day.

When you are looking for the dividing cells, make sure you stay in the apical meristem (the primary location for cellular division in the root) and not in the root cap (which are more or less protective cells for the apical meristem).