Nature News

Nature News – Jake Sigg, July 2020

Many heavily pigmented vegetables have higher nutritional value than unpigmented ones:  e.g., white potatoes are much less nutritious than the red, yellow, and purple ones.  Ditto carrots:  older varieties are red, blue, and yellow.  (The familiar orange carrot is the most recently developed, dating only from the 16th century.)  The healthful compounds are primarily the antioxidant flavonoids and carotenes.

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The mutation machine

If you live long enough, you get cancer.  

But our blundering cells got us this far, says Nathan Lents in Guardian Weekly 14.05.18

Excerpts:

Cancer is a disease of cell division.

As American essayist Edward Abbey put it: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” While he meant this as a critique of capitalism, he nailed the essence of cancer as well as any scientist has.

Mutations … must be our most vicious enemy, the ultimate undoing of our happy lives. But we must never forget that mutations are the source of all diversity and all evolutionary innovation. As Dr. Lewis Thomas put it: “The capacity to blunder slightly is the real marvel of DNA. Without this special attribute, we would still be anaerobic bacteria and there would be no music.”

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Spiders could theoretically eat every human on Earth in one year

The world’s spiders consume somewhere between 400 million and 800 million tons of prey in any given year. The total biomass of all adult humans on Earth is estimated to be 287 million tons. Spiders could eat all of us and still be hungry.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/03/28/spiders-could-theoretically-eat-every-human-on-earth-in-one-year/?utm_term=.f978c1b356e3

(Originally published in April 2017 issue of The Science of Nature.  For more information, visit http://bit.ly/2msUTZq.)

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From Teaching Company article:

English is a bastard language in terms of our vocabulary … which is of extremely mixed origins. We are accustomed to finding that a word traces back to Latin, French, Dutch or Greek. It’s almost the unexpected case if it traces back to Old English … this is something that is more common for English speakers than for people who speak many other languages. If you are a Pole, e.g., you go into the dictionary and most of the time you find out that your basic words came from a Slavic ancestral language. But in English, out of all the words in the Oxford English Dictionary — which is considered a relatively comprehensive sample of all of the words – it has been said that 99% were taken from other languages. That leaves only 1% of words that trace back to the original Old English root stock.

Take the sentence:

Yet the vast majority of our vocabulary originated in foreign languages, including not merely the obvious Latinate items like “adjacent” but common, mundane forms not processed by us as continental in the slightest.

In that sentence, every word longer than three letters is not English.  All the words in bold are foreign.

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Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

W.B. Yeats

 

And was there not one moment in time

when our liberated adventurer

might have felt himself to be

a new unique form of life on earth

Was there not one moment when he felt

a quivering a wavering vibe

between himself and all breathing beings

and a deep ineffable delight

engulfing him

as if he were not a man separate and apart

from the rest of creation

but a part of pure nature

without the hubris to destroy it—

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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