Spring 2010

Light Availability and Multi-Level Defenses of Urtica dioica

Light Availability and Multi-Level Defenses of Urtica dioica

Urtica dioica contains medically useful antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents, and thus understanding factors that influence production of such compounds may prove beneficial. In Cerro de la Muerte, Costa Rica, it is found in both shade and light conditions. I tested the hypothesis that it adjusts allocation between leaf growth and...


Blindfolded Birdwatching: The Effect of Harmonics on Localization of Bird Calls

The Broad-billed Motmot, or Electron platyrhynchum, was one of the species recorded for this study.

Abstract Sound with fewer harmonics is believed to be harder for humans to localize. Birds may have evolved calls with fewer harmonics in order to reduce predation risk. In light of this hypothesis, we predicted that bird calls lacking harmonics would be harder to localize. We asked blindfolded human test...


Synesthesia: Opening the Doors of Perception

Synthesthetes may mix number and letter cues with different colors as shown above.

Once he tasted some chamomile tea and sent it back, saying only: “The stuff tastes of window.” Both she and the servants were surprised because they had never heard of anyone who had drunk oiled window, but when they tried the tea in an effort to understand, they understood: it...


Oceans of Ice: The Snowball Earth Theory of Global Glaciation

Figure 1: Global and regional glaciations

The term Snowball Earth refers to the hypothesis that in the distant past, specifically the Cryogenian period (850-630 million years ago), the earth’s surface was entirely frozen from pole to pole. Evidence of a Snowball Earth comes from the presence of glacial deposits around the world that date back to...


Serotonin: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Humanity

Molecular structure of serotonin

Neural activity in its simplest form is an action potential.  These phenomena propagate to the end of pre-synaptic neurons via voltage-gated channels, which reconfigure themselves just enough to allow sodium ions to rush in from the sodium chloride salt solution surrounding the neuron.  These ions obey physical laws of electrical...


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