I can resist anything, except temptation! (Oscar Wilde)

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Rice genome vs human’s

in general

In the documentary which I posted recently, it was mentioned that the full genetic sequence of some plants (genome) is larger than humans.  For instance rice genome has 45-55K genes[1], in contrast to human genome which has about 21K genes[2].

Does this show that rice is more complex, more evolved, or superior than humanity, or it is an indication that complexity or superiority has no direct relation to the size of the genome?

  1. J. Yu, S. Hu, et al., “A Draft Sequence of the Rice Genome (Oryza sativa L. ssp. indica),” Science, vol. 296, no. 5565, pp. 79–92, Apr. 2002. 

  2. “About the Human Genome Project.” [Online]. Available: http://web.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/project/info.shtml. [Accessed: 23-Aug-2014]. 

Gravity waves detected

in general

It’s an amazing achievement that we humans, doing science systematically for just a few hundred years, can extend our understanding that far.[1]

  1. “Big Bang breakthrough announced; gravity waves detected – CNN.com.” [Online]. Available: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/17/tech/innovation/big-bang-gravitational-waves/. [Accessed: 18-Mar-2014]. 

The solar system’s edge

in general

“Cynics—as well as most astronomers, cosmologists and, indeed NASA itself—point out that the edge of the solar system is more properly defined as the point beyond which an object will not succumb to the sun’s gravity. Gravity is, after all, what defines the universe at the grandest scale. That, though, is roughly 50,000 times farther from the sun than Earth is. Voyager 1 has so far travelled 123 times Earth’s distance from the sun, or 18 billion km. It would need another 14,000 years, give or take, to escape the sun’s gravitational pull at its current speed.”[1]

  1. Postcards from the edge, The Economist, 07-Feb-2013. 


in general

I saw ReadCube on Nature’s twitter and became curious. I downloaded it and immediately found that it is exactly what I need. It does the following:

  1. Search articles, download PDF versions via university proxy
  2. You can mark the read articles, also you can star your favs.
  3. Recommendation. It is amazing. You can find interesting or prominent articles you haven’t read before.
  4. Full text search (I mean full text)
  5. PDF reading, annotation and commenting. Simple and almost bug free. Specially I find the reference list on the right sidebar very useful. You can simply click on each reference while reading the main article.
  6. Free
  7. Sync via multiple computers (I have not tested this feature yet).
  8. Simple, yet rich and intuitive UI.

It is rich, intuitive and simple. I plan to use it in combination with Zotero. Zotero is good for reference management and adding citations to my articles. But for my personal PDF management and reading, I find ReadCube a superior choice.

First global annihilation

in general

If we consider the story of life on earth, changes which led to presence of free molecular oxygen on Earth (known as GOE), is probably the most horrible event. It led to annihilation of anaerobic life forms which dominated the earth for more than a billion years.[1]

Cyanobacteria, which appeared about 200 million years before the GOE began producing oxygen by photosynthesis. Before the GOE, any free oxygen they produced was chemically captured by dissolved iron organic matter. The GOE was the point when these oxygen sinks became saturated and could not capture all of the oxygen that was produced by cyanobacterial photosynthesis. After the GOE the excess free oxygen started to accumulate in the atmosphere. Free oxygen is toxic to anaerobic organisms and the rising concentrations may have wiped out most of the Earth’s anaerobic inhabitants at the time. From their perspective it was a catastrophe. Cyanobacteria were therefore responsible for one of the most significant extinction events in Earth’s history. Additionally the free oxygen reacted with the atmospheric methane, a greenhouse gas, triggering the Huronian glaciation, possibly the longest snowball Earth episode. Free oxygen has been an important constituent of the atmosphere ever since.

Basically, the planet was saturated by toxic wastes (for the major inhabitants of Earth then) which led to a global bio-catastrophe and their annihilation. Sounds familiar?!

  1. Great Oxygenation Event, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 19-Jan-2013. 

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