2016年12月3日 星期六

肌肉(muscle)與老鼠

家鼠。圖片來源:Wikipedia

不知道有多少人看到家鼠的學名 Mus musculus會像老葉一樣想到肌肉(muscle)的?

查了一下發現,原來老鼠的名字還真的與肌肉有關。肌肉的英文在十四世紀晚期第一次出現,應該是源自於法文的肌肉 「muscle」。

而法文又是源自於拉丁文的肌肉「musculus」。拉丁文的肌肉原來的意思就是「小老鼠」,而家鼠的屬名mus在拉丁文裡面的意思就是老鼠喔!

為什麼老鼠會跟肌肉扯上關係呢?原來是因為肱二頭肌(biceps)的形狀有點像老鼠,尤其當我們把手臂屈曲來展現它的時候,看起來真的像一頭小老鼠在上臂移動!所以不只是在拉丁文,希臘文的mys也同時用來描述老鼠與肌肉。

肱二頭肌。圖片來源:Wikipedia
因為這樣,所以字首 musculo- 與 my- 也都用來描述與肌肉有關的事物喔!當然,知道了拉丁文以後,回頭看家鼠的學名 Mus musculus才發現,原來講的都是老鼠呢!

參考資料:

Online Etymology Dictionary. Muscle.

2016年10月24日 星期一

偷竊寄生 kleptoparasitic

最近在看一篇文獻的時候,看到一個有趣的名詞:kleptoparasitic。

kleptoparasitic翻成中文就是「偷竊寄生」,字首klept(o)-源自希臘文kleptein,意為「偷竊」(to steal)。

寄生(parasitism)大家都知道是什麼,但是偷竊寄生是一種怎樣的生活形態呢?以肖稗稈蠅屬(Desmometopa)的昆蟲為例,這一屬的蠅,會在牠的宿主(如西方蜜蜂 Apis mellifera)被掠食者攻擊的時候,趁掠食者(如蜘蛛)不注意,在旁邊偷偷搶點蜜蜂的腸子等等。

雖然鬣狗(hyena)有時也會跟在其他掠食者的旁邊偷點東西吃,但偷竊寄生的動物可是專業的在扮演「你吃肉我喝湯」的角色。尤其牠們的雌性,因為卵子的製造需要消耗大量的養分,他們可是孜孜不倦地在找機會呢。

牠們為了找機會,當然就要發展出一套偵測系統,快速而準確的偵測出附近有沒有宿主受到攻擊;由於蜜蜂在受到攻擊時會發出費洛蒙,這些蠅便發展出費洛蒙偵測系統,可以在幾秒內偵測到並展開行動。

降落傘花。圖片來源:Wiki
沒想到牠們對費洛蒙的敏感性,卻被降落傘花(parachute plant,Ceropegia sandersonii)給利用了。因為降落傘花具有花粉器(pollinaria)這種傳粉的構造,而花粉器因為重量的關係,昆蟲如果太小隻是幫不上忙的。因為這一屬的蠅夠大,所以降落傘花就發出西方蜜蜂受攻擊時產生的費洛蒙,把蠅兒給騙進來。

受騙的蠅兒,因為降落傘花的形狀的關係,一進去就被關在裡面了。不過別緊張,一天以後花謝了,蠅兒就脫困了:而植物傳宗接代的重責大任也完成了!

在被子植物裡面,根據目前的估計,有百分之四到六都是靠騙的來完成傳宗接代的任務。若以邱園2016年的報告中被子植物的總數(369,000種)乘以百分之五來計算,也就是說世界上有18,450種植物是「以騙維生」的喔!

參考文獻:

張彥華、曾喜育、曾彥學。臺灣產牛皮消屬植物花粉器形態之研究。林業研究季刊 34(4):251-262, 2012.

S. D. JohnsonT. J. Edwards.The structure and function of orchid pollinaria. Plant Systematics and Evolution March 2000, Volume 222, Issue 1, pp 243–269.

Heiduk et al., Ceropegia sandersonii Mimics Attacked Honeybees to Attract Kleptoparasitic Flies for Pollination, Current Biology (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.085

Royal Botanical Gardens Kew. State of the World's Plants 2016.

2016年10月4日 星期二

2016諾貝爾生理醫學獎:大隅良典研究自體吞噬(autophagy)作用機制

自體吞噬作用。圖片來源:Wiki

2016諾貝爾生理醫學獎開獎啦!今年頒給日本東京工業大學榮譽教授大隅良典(Yoshinori Ohsumi,1945-)博士。

大隅博士的研究題目是自體吞噬作用(autophagy)。這個字是由字首aut(o)-與字尾-phagy拼起來的,字首aut(o)-源自於希臘文autos,意為「自己」(self)(參考第二十課),字尾-phagy源自希臘文phagein,意思是「吃」(to eat)(參考第十六課);同義的字尾還有phag(o)-, -phagia, 與-phage。

自體吞噬作用對我們很重要。比利時的生物化學家克里斯汀·德·迪夫(Christian de Duve,1917-2013)在1963年首先觀察到這個現象,並為它命名;但真正的研究要到1988年由大隅博士以啤酒酵母(Saccharomyces cerevisiae,baker's yeast)為研究材料,開始研究與自體吞噬有關的基因。

當時研究自體吞噬的人並不多,算是相當冷門的領域;直到1999年貝絲·萊文(Beth Levine)發現自體吞噬基因與癌症有關,整個領域才變得熱門。 目前知道,自體吞噬作用不只是與癌症有關,巴金森氏症、第二型糖尿病也都跟它有關連。

參考資料:

中央社。大隅良典獲諾貝爾獎:做沒人做的事很快樂
Nature News. Medicine Nobel for research on how cells 'eat themselves'.
Tsukada M, Ohsumi Y. Isolation and characterization of autophagy-defective mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. FEBS Lett. 1993 Oct 25;333(1-2):169-74.

2016年8月13日 星期六

neonatal 原來是「新屁股」

圖片來源:Wikipedia

neonatal原來是「新屁股」的意思。
字首ne(o)-是「新的、不成熟的」,後面的natal是「屁股」(buttock)的意思,
所以新生兒就是「新屁股」,
那我們不就是geronatal(老屁股)...XD

2016年8月2日 星期二

碳氫化合物的名稱

在製作第二課測驗解說時,
想到應該要補充一下碳氫化合物的稱呼。

為什麼?因為從一到四個碳的碳氫化合物的命名,並不遵守我們第一課說的規則喔!

先來看一下影音資料:

甲烷是methane,不是monane;(甲烷的故事
乙烷是ethane,不是bisane或diane(要是這名字就糟了)(乙烷的故事);
丙烷是propane;(丙烷的故事
丁烷是butane;(丁烷的故事
不過從五,也就是戊烷開始,就回歸到原來的命名,所以是pentane;不過戊烷有個俗稱 amyl alcohol(戊烷的故事
己烷(你「擠完」了沒有?XD)是hexane;
庚烷是heptane;
辛烷是octane。

2016年7月4日 星期一

彩虹女神:Iris

在專業字首中,表示彩虹的字首是 irid(o)-(請參考第五課(三)),來源是希臘文的iris,就是「彩虹」(rainbow)的意思。

Iris除了用來形容彩虹,還用來形容眼睛的虹膜以及鳶尾花,請參考補充資料「Iris為什麼又是虹膜又是鳶尾花?」。

不過Iris其實是女神的名字喔!在希臘神話中Iris是彩虹女神以及諸神的信使,她最常見的形象是一位帶有雙翅的少女,身披薄紗,在陽光下呈現出七種色彩,絢麗多姿。

Morpheus(左)與 Iris (右)。圖片來源:Wiki

在古典造型藝術中,Iris是一個生有翅膀的少女,經常站在Hera身後,手持茶杯給雲朵送水;字首irid(o)-就是由Iris衍生而來的。

Iris 是 Thaumas與雲霧女神 Electra的女兒。在荷馬的「伊里亞得」(Iliad)中,她負責傳遞宙斯(Zeus)的信息。

而虹膜因為會發出彩虹般的色彩,所以也用了irid(o)-這個字首(第十四課(一))。

亞歷山大大帝解開的是什麼結?

亞歷山大大帝一劍劈開郭狄亞斯繩結。圖片來源:Wiki

大家都聽過,關於亞歷山大大帝( Alexander the Great)一劍劈開世界上沒有人可以解開的結的故事;但是,那個結到底是什麼結呢?

原來,那個結是弗里幾亞(Phrygia,約在現在的土耳其)國王的舊車上的一個繩結。

那麼,亞歷山大大帝又為什麼要解開他呢?總不會是吃飽太閒沒事做吧!

原來,傳說說能解開這個繩結的人就會統治亞洲⋯⋯所以亞歷山大大帝當然要想辦法解開它囉!結果是,怎麼解都解不開,所以最後他就一劍把它劈開了。(P.S.當時人的概念中的亞洲只有到印度)

這麼厲害的結,當然有名字囉!它叫做「郭狄亞斯繩結」(the Gordian knot)!

郭狄亞斯就是當年弗里幾亞的國王。他原本是個農民,但最後成了國王;而他的兒子就是那位點石成金的國王Midas。

參考文獻:

引經據典說英文-希臘羅馬篇
維基百科:Gordian Knot

蜘蛛的字首(arachn(o)-)有個悲傷的故事

圖片來源:漫畫大英百科 生物地科1:昆蟲與蜘蛛

字首arachn(o)-源自於希臘文arachne,意思就是「蜘蛛」(spider);不過Arachne其實是希臘羅馬神話中的一位凡間的女子,因為紡織技巧非常好,常被人稱讚而變得驕傲,最後向雅典娜(Athena)女神挑戰。

這個故事有許多不同的版本,有些版本說Arachne贏了,有些說雅典娜贏了,但不管是誰贏,最後神為了懲罰Arachne的自大,將她變成蜘蛛,罰她世世代代都要織布。

由於這個故事,於是蜘蛛在命名的時候便借了Arachne的名字:Arachnida(蜘蛛綱,蛛形綱)。而用來描述蜘蛛的字首就成了arachn(o)-

參考文獻:

BomBom Story。漫畫大英百科 生物地科1:昆蟲與蜘蛛。三采文化。
Wikipedia. Arachne

2016年6月29日 星期三

「讚」原來不是那麼一回事(thumbs up)

Pollice Verso by Leon Gerome 圖片來源:Wikipedia

我們很習慣用翹起的大拇指(thumbs up)稱讚別人,但是根據 Michael Macrone 的「引經據典說英文:希臘羅馬篇」裡面所說,當初在羅馬競技場上,翹起的大拇指代表戰敗受傷的鬥士要被處決(因為觀眾覺得他鬥得不好),而拇指朝下(thumbs down)則這位受傷的鬥士可以獲得治療(代表觀眾覺得他鬥得好)。

那麼,什麼時候拇指朝上成了好的意義呢?據說是因為Leon Gerome的錯誤導致。他是法國畫家,在1873年畫了一幅名為Pollice Verso的畫(如上圖),在裡面他錯誤的將拉丁文的verso pollice (拇指朝上)誤解為拇指朝下(因為拉丁文的verso是翻轉的意思)。因此,他畫了這幅畫,裡面觀眾們紛紛將拇指朝下,而戰敗的鬥士也被勝利者殺死。由於這幅畫太有名了,使得大家誤以為拇指朝下才是不好的意思。

於是,我們就以為拇指朝上才是好的了。

如果未來有人穿越時空到古羅馬去玩耍時,千萬別比錯手勢,會出事啊!

「遠方的聲音」-電話(Distance voice - telephone)

1892年,貝爾從紐約打電話到芝加哥
圖片來源:Wikipedia

1876年三月,貝爾(Alexander Graham Bell)獲得了電話在美國的第一個專利。不過,電話「telephone」這個字,其實也是字首與字尾拼起來的呢!
In March 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded a patent for the electric telephone by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It was the first patent to be awarded for telephone.

字首tele-是「遠方」的意思;而字尾-phone是「聲音」的意思。兩個字合起來就是「遠方的聲音」的意思!
The prefix tele- means "distant" and the suffix -phone means "sound, voice". The actual meaning for "telephone" is "distant voice".

不過,電話並不是第一個使用telephone這個詞的器具。在1844年,約翰‧泰勒船長(John Taylor)發明了用四個空氣喇叭讓船隻在大霧中還可以互相聯絡的方法,而telephone這個詞就是他發明的。而1860年約翰‧菲力普‧雷斯(Johann Philipp Reis)發明了原形電話,可以將聲音轉成電波。
However, the word "telephone" was not invented by Bell. Caption John Taylor invented this word on his invention for using for air horns to communicate with vessels in foggy weather. Johann Philipp Reis invented Reis Telephone in 1860, which was the first instrument that can convert voice into electrical impulses.

參考文獻 References:

Wikipedia. telephone

2016年6月8日 星期三

口臭 halitosis

圖片來源:Wikipedia

halitosis這個自來自於拉丁文的halitus,這個字第一次出現是在1874年,意思是呼吸,不過比較強調呼氣的部分(breath, exhalation, steam, vapor);它與拉丁文的 halare (意為呼吸,一樣是著重在呼氣的部分: to breathe, emit vapor)。而字尾 -osis第二十三課(一)學過,是與疾病有關的字尾。一樣跟呼吸有關有個字尾 -pnea,它是由希臘文的 pnoia來的,意思也是呼吸(breath),在第二十五課(二)有學到。

The word "halitosis" was first appeared in 1874. Halitosis means "bad breath". The word is originated from Latin halitus, meaning breath, exhalation, steam, vapor. It is related to halare (to breath, emit vapor). There is a suffix "-pnea" also meaning breath and it is originated from Greek pnoia (breath). We learn that in Lesson 25-2.

根據維基百科的資料,口臭是看牙醫的第三名的理由;第一名是蛀牙、第二名是牙齦問題;世界上大約有兩成的人有口臭的問題,使得任何可以消除口臭的東西(口香糖、breath mint)都大行其道。

According to Wikipedia, halitosis is the third most frequent reason for people to seek dental care, following tooth decay and gum disease. Because about 20% of the general population are reported to suffer from it to some degree, anything that claim to be able to reduce halitosis (chewing gum, breath mint) are quite popular.

並非所有自認為有口臭的人都有口臭的問題:大約有5-72%因口臭而求診的病患,在專業檢查時並沒有真正的口臭。真的有口臭的人,往往是在齦或舌頭背面的細菌造成的。其他10%是由鼻腔、鼻竇、咽喉、肺、食道、胃或其它地方疾病造成。

Not all who think they have halitosis really have it. Significant percentages (5–72%) of people who suspect that they have halitosis have been reported not to have genuine halitosis when examined by professionals. Most of the occasion of halitosis (about 90%) is caused by bacteria present below the gumline and on the back of the tongue. The remaining 10% could be resulted from disorders in the nasal cavity, sinuses, throat, lungs, esophagus, stomach or elsewhere.

參考文獻 References:

Wikipedia. Halitosis.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Online Etymology : halitosis.

2016年5月11日 星期三

1042有邊讀邊學生物英文期末考試~最後確認與試場規則公佈


報名到今天全部截止,表單已關閉。

報名表已經以e-mail寄出!

報名場次請看所附表單,請大家核對。

5/27 是晚上七點到八點
5/25與5/26都是中午12:30-1:30
三場都是在校本部D602考試。

試場規則:

一、有排考座位,請依照排考座位入座。
二、考試有畫卡,請帶2B鉛筆。
三、未報名者不得參加考試。
四、由於本科目為線上課程,老師跟助教從來沒有看過您,考試請攜帶學生證以便查核,未攜帶學生證不得入場!
五、擅自更改考試時間者,監考人員(我以及助教)會拒絕讓您入場。

※如因緊急狀況需更改考試時間,請儘速與老師聯繫。※

2016年5月10日 星期二

What's the relationship between oxygen and sour?

In Lesson 17-1, we learned the prefix of oxygen. They are:

ox-, oxy-

We also learned that the prefixes for sour or sharp taste are the same. How come?

Antoine Lavoisier. Source: Wikipedia
The reason why oxygen and sour/sharp taste use the same prefixes has a lot to do with Antoine Lavoisier.

Although other scientists like Joseph Priestley and Carl Wilhelm Scheele complained that Lavoisier was not the first one who found oxygen, he was the first person to conduct the first adequate quantitative experiments on oxidation and give the first correct explanation of how combustion works.

He discredited the 'phlogisticated air' theory, noting that after he burned elements like phosphorus, mercury and sulfur, the overall weight did not change at all. When he heated red calx (mercury oxide, HgO), this substance is being released back into the air.

Because the compound generated from burning phosphorus, mercury or mercury are acidic, he named this 'vital air' to 'oxygen', mistakenly thought oxygen is the constituent of all acids. Chemists in 19th century proved that hydrogen is the component of all acid, but by then the name is too well established.

Lovoisier was killed in the French Revolution. According to a (probably apocryphal) story, the appeal to spare his life so that he could continue his experiments was cut short by the judge: "La République n'a pas besoin de savants ni de chimistes; le cours de la justice ne peut être suspendu." ("The Republic has no need of scientists or chemists; the course of justice cannot be delayed.")

中文版

2016年5月9日 星期一

1042有邊讀邊學生物英文期末考試

目前報名表已經初步整理完畢並寄出,請大家找尋您的資訊並核對。

統計到目前共有115位同學報名,

5/27(五) 19:00-20:00(主時間):47人
5/25(三) 12:30-13:30 :23人
5/26(四) 12:30-13:30 :49人

由於不同時段有重複報名的現象,已報名主時間(5/27 晚上)同時也報名其他時間的同學,請以主時間為主。

另外,有一位同學在5/4的晚上10點14分報名,但是完全沒有留下姓名與學號,只有寫「可以」跟「不太行」....= =(請看下圖) 請快點跟我釐清您的身份。



請注意,上次給大家的是「報名表」不是時段調查,三個時間都會排考試,所以不能來的時間就不要留下任何資訊給老師!

請大家核對所附檔案,檔案有三頁,每頁代表不同時段,請務必確定您的名字與學號有在上面!

由於每場考試的試卷不同,老師會根據報名人數印製考卷,頂多只會多一兩張,不要以為可以不報名就隨便選一場參加,現場會排考位置,所以如果您沒有報名,不會有您的座位也沒有考卷!

要換時間請跟老師聯絡,請不要自己換時間,那樣就不會有你的考卷!

下次預定開課時間:1052學期。

2016年5月3日 星期二

What is the relationship between halogens and salts?

In Lesson 17-4, we learned that functional groups containing chlorine (Cl) are using the prefix hal(o)-. As a matter of fact, fluorine (F), chlorine (Cl), bromine (Br), iodine (I), and astatine (At) are called the halogens or halogen elements collectively.

However, we learned that the suffix hal(o)- meaning sea or salt in Lesson 18-2. Are they using the same prefix? Why is that?

The reason why elements fluorine (F), chlorine (Cl), bromine (Br), iodine (I), and astatine (At) are called the halogens is because when they react with metals they produce a wide range of salts, including calcium fluoride, sodium chloride (common salt), silver bromide and potassium iodide. Therefore, they are name halogens, meaning 'salt-producing'. The suffix -gen means 'produce', which we learned in Lesson 16-5.

Jöns Jakob Berzelius. Source: Wikipedia

This name was suggested by Swiss chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius in 1842. However, the term halogen was created by Johann Salomo Christoph Schweigger at 1811. It was suggested for naming chlorine at the time, but it was not used. Later, the term was used by calling all of the element of  group 17 -- including chlorine.

中文版

Why cyanide and blue share the same prefix?

After learning Lesson 17-4, you may become curious why cyanide and the color blue share the same prefix. It is:

cyan(o)-

The reason why they share the same prefix is because it is being firstly obtained by the heating of the pigment known as Prussian blue.

Prussian blue. Source: Wikipedia

Prussian blue is a dark blue pigment with the idealized chemical formula Fe 7(CN) 18. To better understand the binding situation in this complex compound the formula can also be written as Fe 4[Fe(CN) 6] 3 · xH 2O. It is the first synthetic dye. It also called Berlin Blue or Persian/Paris Blue. It is the traditional "blue" in blueprints.

Prussian blue can be use to treat thallium poisoning. It was synthesized by the paint maker Johann Jacob Diesbach in 1706.

Because cyanide was obtained from Prussian blue at first, it was named cyanide as a reference of blue. The Greek for dark blue is kyanos.

中文版

Reference:

Wikipedia. Cyanide - Nomenclature and Etymology.

2016年5月2日 星期一

This suffix is making me dizzy: -oate

In Lesson 17-4, there is a suffix -oate can be used in :

dissociated type of carboxylic acid (COO-), and also in ester (R-O-R).

We get confused with acid because the suffix of acid is -ate.

I found that even Google translate has a hard time to differentiate. Last time I was reading an article regarding to 3-methylbutyl pentanoate, 3-methylbutyl 3-methylbutyrate,  3-methylbutyl 2-methylbutyrate, butyl pentanoate and propyl hexanoate. When I checked these five compounds in Google translate, it translated them as acid or ester. Fortunately, they are referred as esters in that article.

Those compounds are the five esters that can be detected in dead and decomposed human cadavers.

Source: Wikipedia

However, -oate is not the worst one. The worst chemical suffix is -ane!

Reference:

E. Cuypers et. al., 2015. The Search for a Volatile Human Specific Marker in the Decomposition Process. PLOS One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137341

中文版

2016年5月1日 星期日

Why chlorine and color green use the same prefix chlor(o)- ?

After finished learning Lesson 17-2, I am sure all of you noticing that chlorine (Cl) and color green share that same prefix. It is

chlor(o)-

Why do both of them share the same prefix? There's a story.

The element chlorine was firstly discovered by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1774. When he treated the pyrolusite with hydrochloric acid over a warm sand bath, a yellow-green gas with a strong odor was produced. The reaction is indicated as below:


4 HCl + MnO2 → MnCl2 + 2 H2O + Cl2

However, he did not realize what he got is an element. He thought it is an oxide (also a lot of people at that time), although he did notice this yellow-green gas can make the litmus paper turning blue. He also noticed that this gas can kill bugs.

Humphry Davy. Source: Wikipedia

Humphry Davy repeated his experiment in 1810 and he reckoned it is an element. He named it chlorine because its color. In Greek, chlōros means yellow-green color. Although Johann Salomo Christoph Schweigger suggested that it should be named as halogen, but it is named chlorine. The term "halogen" was later being used to name all of the elements that have similar characteristics as chlorine -- they can all form sea salt-like compound with metals.

Chlorine gas in an glass container. Source: Wikipedia

中文版

2016年4月24日 星期日

Hydrogen and water

You may find it interesting that hydrogen and water use the same prefix. It is:

hydr(o)-

Actually it is related to how hydrogen was discovered.

Hydrogen was discovered by Henry Cavendish. He collected the air bubbles from metal-acid reaction and found this air to be inflammable. He named it "inflammable air", which later was given the name hydrogen by Antoine Lavoisier. Lavoisier name it hydrogen because he obtained water after burning hydrogen. The word "hydrogen" means "substance that produces water" (please refer to Lesson 16-5 for the suffix -gen).

 Cavendish's apparatus for making and collecting hydrogen. Source : Wikipedia
Henry Cavendish was a notoriously shy man, some even postulated that he suffered from autism. However, he achieved a lot.

Henry Cavendish. Source: Wikipedia

Although Cavendish was not the first person to discovered the air bubbles from metal-acid reaction, he was the first person who collected the air and characterized them. Therefore, he was recognized as the person who discovered hydrogen. He also discovered carbon dioxide by dissolving alkali in acids.

中文版

2016年4月19日 星期二

dendroprovenance and dendrochronology

Pueblo Bonito. Source: Wikipedia
Anasazi Indians, who mysteriously "vanish" from the present-day Four Corners region of the United States, comprising southeastern Utah, northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado in 12 and 13th centuries, left many huge architectural structures in the desert. The biggest one, Pueblo Bonito, is a five-floored building with 500 rooms.

All of those buildings were made by wood. How did Anasazi Indians find so many logs in that region?

Actually, they gathered logs from mountains that are far away. In order to determine where they obtained their building materials, research team checked the strontium (Sr) content in those logs.

Strontium is a decayed product from rubidium (Rb). After rubidium is decayed and strontium is produced, because it is similar to calcium (Ca), it will be absorbed into plant just like calcium. The Rb content in the soil is different in different areas, so scientists can deduce the origin of plant from the Sr content.

From the Sr data, research team determined these logs were from Chuska and San Mateo Mountains. However, dendroprovenance results said otherwise.

Dendroprovenence is a new method developed from dendrochronology. The prefix dendr(o)-, meaning tree, is taught in Lesson 19-1. The middle part of the word, chron(o)-, meaning time, is taught in Lesson 24-2. The last part, the suffix -logy, meas study, science.

Putting them together, dendrochronology means to study the time of the tree.

Source: Ms. Lin
Dendrochronology is used by scientists to study the amount of precipitation in the past. When we chop down a tree (tree A), the outmost ring of tree A represent the amount of precipitation of this very year. Then we can count the rings of the tree. The number of rings tell us how old this tree is. If it has 100 rings, then this tree is 100 years old.

Say we find a log (tree B) also from the same area as tree A. Because precipitation varies year by year, the patterns of thick-and-thin rings in trees that grow in the same area around the same time will be similar because the climate is the same. So if we find one section of tree B is almost identical to one section of tree A, then we can take a good guess about how old tree B is. We can even figure out how long ago tree B was chopped down! This method is called dendrochronology.

As of dendroprovenance, it looks for much smaller details. We knew that precipitation varies year by year and the patterns of tree rings growing in the mountain ranges that surround the same area are similar because the climate is the same. However, each mountain range has its own microclimate. So, if we look more closely to these growth rings, we will find that growth patterns of trees from one mountain range are not identical to those of trees in nearby ranges.

The word provenance means origin or source. Because this method can help scientists find the where are those trees from, it is named dendroprovenance.

In this report, scientists found that some of the trees Anasazi Indians used were obtained from Zuni mountains. However, they switched to Chuska Mountains after 1020 A.D.

Dendroprovenance can be very useful for illegal logging. If we can establish the "fingerprints" of trees in every area, then we can catch those illegal loggers with indisputable evidences!

Reference:

Jared Diamond. 2006. Collapse.(大崩壞)。p.186-7(廖月娟譯)

2015/12/7. Unexpected wood source for Chaco Canyon great houses. Science Daily.

中文版

parthenogenesis: female reproduction without male

What is parthenogenesis?

This word can be split into two part.

The prefix partheno- is from Greek word parthenos, meaning virgin; and the suffix -genesis means production. Put them together, parthenogenesis means sexual reproduction with development of a gamete without fertilization.

Parthenogenesis can be found in some plants and invertebrates, especially arthropods. For vertebrates it was only observed under captivity.

However, in a study done by Stony Brook University, they found that about 3% of the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) underwent parthenogenesis.

Smalltooth sawfish. Source: Science Daily
Smalltooth sawfish is one of the large fish living in Florida. It was listed as endangered in 2003 because the population decreased to 1-5% (about 200 individuals left) of 1900.

Concerning about inbreeding, the scientists started to do their DNA fingerprinting. Surprisingly, they found some of the females were reproducing without mating.

There were five of them that are extremely close to each other, according to the DNA fingerprinting result.

In the past, parthenogenesis only happened for sharks in captivity, not to mention those sharks weren't healthy at all.

Perhaps it is a way to preserve the population when the population size is so low. Although parthenogenesis does not help with genetic diversity, it will help to maintain the population size.

Reference:

Andrew T. Fields, Kevin A. Feldheim, Gregg R. Poulakis, Demian D. Chapman. 2015. Facultative parthenogenesis in a critically endangered wild vertebrate. Curr. Biol. 25(11):R446-R447

中文版

2016年4月17日 星期日

What is hypercapnia?

In November 22, 2015, a woman felt uncomfortable while she was driving through Highway No.3 in Nantou, Taiwan. Because her daughter was fainted in the same vehicle, she called the police.

When the police arrived, they found that she did not turn on the air-conditioning. She switched to circulation, which did not allow fresh air to come in.

I often found it curious why our car has a setting "circulation". Although it can prevent bad smell coming from outside to enter our car, but it also prevent fresh air from coming in. If we drive for a long time and leave the setting on "circulation" (like this woman did), you may suffer from hypercapnia.

What is hypercapnia?

The prefix hyper-, we is from Lesson 6-1, meaning above.

The prefix capn- is introduced in Lesson 17-1, meaning carbon dioxide. It can also be written as capno-, depending on what letter connecting to it.

The suffix -ia is introduced in Lesson 16-4, meaning condition.

Putting them together, hypercapnia is a condition of abnormally elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the blood.

According to Wikipedia, hypercapnia normally triggers a reflex which increases breathing and access to oxygen, such as arousal and turning the head during sleep. A failure of this reflex can be fatal, for example as a contributory factor in sudden infant death syndrome.

Symptoms and signs of early hypercapnia include flushed skin, full pulse, tachypnea (abnormally rapid breathing), dyspnea (difficult in breathing), extrasystoles (a heartbeat outside the normal rhythm), muscle twitches, hand flaps, reduced neural activity, and possibly a raised blood pressure. According to other sources, symptoms of mild hypercapnia might include headache, confusion and lethargy. Hypercapnia can induce increased cardiac output, an elevation in arterial blood pressure, and a propensity toward arrhythmias.

Recently, a research paper suggested if the carbon dioxide in the ocean keeps rising, the fish will also suffered from hypercapnia too!

Source: Wikipedia

Hypercapnia is also called carbon dioxide toxicity. It will happen within 30 minutes when the concentration of carbon dioxide reach 6%.

Next time when you are going for a long ride with your family, please remember to check the air-conditioner's setting!

Reference :

民視新聞。2015/11/22。國道驚魂!車內只開循環 女副駕缺氧昏厥

Wikipedia. Hypercapnia.

Ben I. McNeil & Tristan P. Sasse. 2016. Future ocean hypercapnia driven by anthropogenic amplification of the natural CO2 cycle. Nature. 529, 383–386

2016年4月13日 星期三

What is homeopathy?

From the news of BBC in 2015, the NHS of United Kingdom was going to move homeopathy to the blacklist, meaning NHS will no longer pay for it.

However, it was the first time I've heard of homeopathy. What is it?

According to Wikipedia, Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann, based on his doctrine of like cures like (similia similibus curentur), a claim that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people.

Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. Source: Wikipedia
The explanation sounds kind of hard to comprehend. For example, if you are allergic to pollens, most of the doctors will prescribe antihistamine. However, the doctors who practice homeopathy, they will give you some solutions which is consisted of diluted pollen. The factor of dilution is usually 1012, some will even dilute to 1060!

Although homeopathy was created by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, the concept -- like cure like -- was originated created by Hippocrates in 400 B.C. For treating mania, Hippocrates will prescribe a small dose of mandrake root. However, mandrake root will produce mania in much larger doses.

According to modern search, doctors found that the effect of homeopathy is not significant comparing to placebo. Because NHS of Great Britain had paid 4 million pounds to homeopathy, so the test results brought serious consideration for not including homeopathy anymore.

The word "homeopathy" clearly explained the concept of this treatment. When we take this word apart, it becomes homeo- and -pathy.

The prefix homeo- is the same as home-. It is originated from Greek homoios, meaning like, resembling. In addition to homeo-, there is another prefix hom(o)-, which we learned in Lesson 16-2. It is originated from Greek word homos, meaning common, same.

The suffix -pathy is also having a Greek origin. It is written as pathos in Greek, meaning feeling, suffering, emotion, disorder or disease. We will learn that in Lesson 23-1.

When we put together these two words, then it become like cures like. Isn't it interesting?

References:

Wikipedia. HomeopathySamuel Hahnemann
Oneline Etymology Dictionary. Homeopathy
Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary.
2015/11/13. James Gallagher. Homeopathy 'could be blacklisted'. BBC.
中文課程:順勢療法(Homeopathy)

Archaefructus : not the oldest angiosperm anymore

In 2015, an ancient plant fossil named Montsechia vidalii has claimed the throne of the oldest angiosperm. Before its discovery, Archaefructus liaoningensis was believed to be the oldest angiosperm in the world.

Archaefructus liaoningensis Source: wikipedia
The flowers for both of them do not have petal nor sepal. For Archaeofructus, the scientists found its fruit and female flowers. There was no male flower to be found. Both of them seem to produce unisexual flowers.

The word Archaefructus is also a combination of prefix and suffix. Try to figure it out before you see the rest of this article.

The prefix, archae(o)-, is the same as arche(o)-. We have learned it from Lesson 16-2. Both of them are originated from Greek word archaios, meaning ancient, old.

The other part of Archaefructus, -fructus, is also having a Greek origin. It is originated from fructus, meaning fruit.

Putting them together, Archaefructus, meaning "ancient fruit".

Archaeofructus was dated back 125 million years and Montsechia was dated back 130 million years. Therefore, Archaeofructus is no longer the oldest angiosperm anymore.

However, both of them are water-borne plants. The research team for Montsechia also suggested that its pollens are probably carried by water.

Although only 5% of angiosperm live in water, the discovery of Montsechia suggested a possibility that the primitive angiosperms could be all water-borne.

As a final note, the second part of Archaefructus' name, liaoningensis, is a memoir of the place it was discovered. It was found in the Province of Liaoning, China.

中文課程請點:Archaefructus 遼寧古果

2016年4月12日 星期二

Oophila : an interesting unicellular algae.

In Lesson 16-1, we introduced many suffixes related to attraction. They are :

-phil, -phile, -philia, -philic, -tropin, -tropism.

There's a unicellular algae named Oophila amblystomatis, which live symbiotically with spotted salamander (Amblystoma maculatum) and hence its name "amblystomatis".

spotted salamander. Source: wiki
How about its genus "Oophila"? Well, it is a combination of one prefix and one suffix.

The former part oo is originated from the prefix  oo- , which comes from Greek ōon, meaning egg.

The later part -phila is originated from the suffix -philia, which is written as philein in Greek. It means "like, loving".

Putting them together, Oophila meaning egg-loving.

Is this algae egg-loving? Apparently so. It is living with the embryo of spotted salamander symbiotically. As a result, the embryo of spotted salamander looks greenish. The special thing with this relationship is the algae is actually living INSIDE the cell. This is the first time scientists discovered such a thing. Usually, the adaptive immune system of vertebrates will attack the foreign tissues (in this case, the algae). However, it seems that the algae has made peace with the salamander's immune system.

Scientists discovered that the salamander cells have arranged their mitochondria alongside with the algae, so their mitochondria can use as much oxygen from the algae as possible; and the salamander algae (Oophila's nickname) can use the metabolic waste (CO2) from salamander's mitochondria.

Scientists also found that spotted salamander can pass the algae through generations. Isn't it cool?

References:

Anna Petherick. 2010/7/30. A solar salamander-Photosynthetic algae have been found inside the cells of a vertebrate for the first time. Nature News.

Ryan Kerney, Eunsoo Kim, Roger P. Hangarter, Aaron A. Heiss, Cory D. Bishop, and Brian K. Hall. 2011. Intracellular invasion of green algae in a salamander host. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 108(16):6497–6502, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1018259108

2016年4月10日 星期日

Achilles tendon

In Lesson 15-1 we learned the prefixes for tendon: tend(o)-, tendin(o)-, ten(o)- and tenont(o)-.

In this article I want to tell a story about Achilles tendon.

Achilles tendon. Source: wiki
Which one is Achilles tendon? Achilles tendon is the one that labelled as tendo calcaneus. It is the thickest tendon of human body.

Well, why is this tendon called Achilles tendon? In Homer's Iliad, it was told during the Trojan War, Achilles was struck on his unprotected heel (right on this tendon!) by a poisoned arrow shot by Paris, that killed him.

The story also told that in the same war, after killing Hector (the Prince of Troy), Achilles is said to have cut behind Hector's Achilles tendons, and threaded leather thongs through the incisions in order to drag him behind a chariot.

Achilles drag Hector's body behind a chariot outside Troy after killing him.
Source: wiki
It was said that Hector predicted Achilles death while he was dying. In Greek mythology, Achilles' mother, the goddess Thetis, received a prophecy of her son's death. Hearing this, she dipped him into the River Styx to protect his body from harm. However, she kept hold of his heel, meaning that the water did not touch this part of his body and it was therefore vulnerable.

After Hector's death, his brother Paris shot Achilles right on the only vulnerable spot.

Because Achilles has only this only weak spot and hitting this spot cause his death, the phrase "Achilles heel" becoming a phrase referring to the vulnerable spot for anyone.

The oldest written record for Achilles tendon is in 1693, written by Philip Verheyen, the French/Dutch anatomist.

Reference:

Achilles tendon. Wikipedia.

2016年4月7日 星期四

New way of protein modification: stearoylation

We learned the prefixes for lipid in Lesson 14-3. They are:

adip(o)-, lip(o)-, pi(o)-, pimel(o)-, stear(o)-, steat(o)-

One of the prefixes, stear(o)- is used in stearic acid. There is a paper on Nature that is related to stearic acid in 2015.

In this paper, the research team discovered that the activity of human transferrin receptor 1 (TFR1) can be affected by stearoylation. The stearoylated TFR1 cannot activate JNK protein so mitochondria will not become fragmented.

Because fragmented mitochondria is poorly functional, stearoylation is actually a good thing in this aspect.

What is stearic acid? Stearic acid is a long-chain fatty acid, with 18 carbons with no double bond. We usually express fatty acid as "C18:0", meaning this fatty acid has 18 carbons with no double bond. The structure of stearic acid can be seen in the picture below:

Stearic acid. Source: wikipedia
Stearoylation is a whole new way of protein modification. We knew phosphorylation, ubiquitination and glycosylation can affect protein activity. But stearoylation is the first time.

To make this story more interesting, the whole discovery was started on a mistake. So making mistakes isn't so bad sometimes, huh?

Reference:

Teleman A.A. et. al., 2015. Regulation of mitochondrial morphology and function by stearoylation of TFR1. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature14601

2016年4月5日 星期二

小扁豆(lentils)與水晶體(lens)

第十四課(一)裡面我們學到水晶體(lens)。用來形容水晶體的字首是lent(i)-

不過,小扁豆的英文名稱是lentils。或許讀者會覺得,為什麼要提到小扁豆呢?

長在田裡的小扁豆。圖片來源:wiki
這就要看小扁豆的學名了。小扁豆的學名是:Lens culinaris。注意到屬名了嗎?跟水晶體一模一樣呢!為什麼小扁豆會使用水晶體作為學名呢?

原來是因為小扁豆的種子的形狀(如下圖)。

小扁豆的種子。圖片來源:wiki
看到了嗎?小扁豆的種子的形狀,跟水晶體以及透鏡都很像!所以就借了lens這個詞來給小扁豆啦!學到現在同學不知道有沒有發現,語言,不論是英文或中文,借詞借字是很常見的事情。只是因為英文不是我們的母語,我們認得的字沒有那麼多,所以就不那麼清楚了。

lentil and lens : are they related?

In Lesson 14-1 we learned a tissue in our eye called lens. The prefix for describing lens is lent(i)-.

However, there is also a plant, a legume which is named lentils. If we check the scientific name for lentil, you will find is very interesting. The scientific name for lentil is Lens culinaris.

How come a genus of a plant use the tissue of our eyes as its name?

Well, it's very simple. The seeds of lentils look very similar to the lens in our eye and also the lens we use for observing objects.
lentils. Source: wikipedia
Therefore, it is named lentils. It is very common to borrow words here and there to describe new things.

How come iris can be related to both eyes and plants?

We have learned iris in Lesson 14-1. The prefix for iris, irid(o)- is derived from rainbow (please referred to Lesson 5-3).

However, iris also meaning a plant.

Iris. Source: wikipedia
Iris plant is a monocot with beautiful flowers. The artist Van Gogh drew a famous painting for it. How come tissue in the eye become a plant?

Well, as we mention in this article first, the tissue in our eyes get the name iris because different people has different color of iris. Therefore, the Greek word for rainbow, iridos, is borrowed for describing the tissue in our eyes.

How about the plant iris? Isn't all iris blue?

Actually not. Because that famous painting from Van Gogh, we thought all iris are blue. Actually there are many different shades of colors for iris.

Different colors of iris. Source: wikipedia gallery
Source: Wikipedia Gallery
Source: wiki
Because iris has so many shades of colors, Greek named it iris. That's why the word iris can be used for the tissue in our eyes and also a plant!

Reference.

Wikipedia Iris (anatomy)_Etymology, Iris (plant)

2016年3月30日 星期三

Why both "gymnosperm" and "gymnastics" have the same beginning?

During studying biology, we encountered two words in the botany part:

gymnosperm and angiosperm

While -sperm is not officially a suffix, we can still refer to the word 'sperm'. Sperm is from Greek sperma, meaning seeds. The prefix for sperm including sperm(o)-, spermat(o)- and spermi(o)-, which we just learned in the second part of Lesson 13.

The prefix angi(o)- is originated from Greek angeion, meaning vessel. Because the seeds of angiosperm are enclosed, hence its name. We learned angi(o)- in Lesson 8-1.

How about the prefix gymn(o)-? The prefix gymn(o)- is originated from Greek gymnos, meaning naked or pertaining to things that are naked.

Well, it makes sense for gymnosperm since their seeds are not enclosed. Gymnosperm meaning "naked seeds".

What about gymnastics is also using gymn(o)-? Is there anything related to naked in gymnastics?

gymnastics. Source: wiki

According to Jonathan Silvertown's "An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds." and I quote from Wikipedia, "The word gymnastics derives from the common Greek adjective γυμνός (gymnos) meaning "naked", by way of the related verb γυμνάζω (gymnazo), whose meaning is to train naked", "train in gymnastic exercise", generally "to train, to exercise". The verb had this meaning, because athletes in ancient times exercised and competed without clothing."

So that's why gymnastics using the prefix 'gymn(o)-'.

However, it is only applied to Western worlds. In China, the martial arts performers do not practice naked.

Chinese martial arts. Source: Wiki

2016年3月29日 星期二

Why is orchid and the prefix for testis so similar?

In Lesson 13-1 we learned the prefix for testis is orchid(o)-.

I was wondering if anyone got curious why this prefix looks very similar to the plant orchid? Is it coincidence or not?

Source: left, upper right, lower right
 So I did some research. The interesting thing is that they are actually somehow related. There is an orchid called Salep (including Orchis mascula and Orchis militaris). The tubers of Salep look very similar to testis. That's why we use orchid for these plants.

Salep. Source: 林芷佑
The tuber of Salep is rich in glucomannan. Salep flour is consumed in beverages and desserts, especially in places that were formerly part of the Ottoman Empire.

drinks served with Salep. source: wiki
Ice cream sandwich with Salep favor. Source: wiki
References:


Wikipedia. Orchidaceae. Salep.
Dan Saunders. 8 Everyday Words With X-Rated Origins.Cracked.

2016年3月28日 星期一

Coprolith

Source: Wiki
Last year there was a news about a lady who suffered chronic constipation. She took laxatives for years but did not improve much. One day she had really back abdominal pain and checked in hospital. Doctor in the hospital said that she had peritonitis. Due to chronic constipation, lots of food residue has formed coprolith, which completely clogged the end of the large intestine. As a consequence, the proximal end of the large intestine burst, resulting to peritonitis.

During the surgery, doctor cleared nearly 3000 c.c feces and coprolith. Because the patient's colon is ruptured, doctor need to use a temporary artificial anus until the situation is improved.

Coprolith meaning "a mass of hard fecal matter in the intestine" (Merriam-Webster). It can also be written as fecaloma, fecolith, and fecalith.

In Lesson 12-2, we introduced the prefix copr(o)-. This prefix is originated from Greek korpros, meaning feces.

The suffix -lith is also originated from Greek lithos, meaning stone. We will see this suffix again in Lesson 19-2.

When we put these two together, we have coprolith. Chronic constipation or some disease will result in the formation of coprolith. We can avoid coprolith formation by drinking adequate amount of water everyday. Exercise will also help.

2016年3月27日 星期日

The Organ Song ~

We have finished organs from head to toe.
Now I have a song to share with all of you.
This song is related to some of the prefixes from our body parts.


cephalo-, omo-,      gono-, dactylo-
head,       shoulder,  knee,   digits

gono-, dactylo-
knee,   digits

gono-, dactylo-
knee,   digits

cephalo-, omo-,      gono-, dactylo-
head,       shoulder,  knee,   digits

oculo-, oto-, naso-, stomo-
eye,      ear,   nose,   mouth

2016年3月26日 星期六

Bilophila wadsworthia - the harmful anaerobic rod

Bilophila wadsworthia. Source: Lu-Shu Yeh
Our main character today is Bilophila wadsworthia, a Gram-negative anaerobic bacilli.

The word "bilophila" can be split into two parts, bilo- and -phila. The first part of the word "bilo" is originated from bile and that's what it means. It is usually written as "bili-".

The suffix "-phila" is originated from Greek philos, meaning "like".

So the word "bilophila" means "like bile".

Does this anaerobic rod like bile? Yes. Scientists found that the growth of Bilophila wadsworthia can be stimulated by 20% of bile salt and 1% of pyruvate.

According to a paper published in 1997, this anaerobic rod is the third most common anaerobe recovered from clinical material obtained from patients with perforated and gangrenous appendicitis. It is also related to inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn‘s disease and ulcerative colitis. So it is better for us if we don't have too much of it in our bowels.

Although there is no way to eliminate it from our intestines, studies for intestinal microbiome suggest that eating less fat and more fiber will keep its number low.

References:

Bennion RS. 1990. The bacteriology of gangrenous and perforated appendicitis--revisited. Ann Surg. 211(2):165-71.

 David L.A. et. al. 2014. Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature. 505: 559-563

2016年3月25日 星期五

鋨(Osmium)- 因為氣味而被命名的金屬

鋨。圖片來源:wiki
第76號元素鋨(Os)是所有自然界元素中密度最高的,每立方公分達到22.59克。

鋨在1803年由史密森‧特南特(Smithson Tennant)與威廉·海德·沃拉斯頓(William Hyde Wollaston)共同發現。當時科學家們在研究鉑(Pt,platinum)時,每次用王水(aqua regia)溶解鉑之後,最後都會出現一些不溶於王水的黑色渣滓。約瑟夫‧普魯斯特(Joseph Louis Proust)認為這些黑色的渣滓是石墨,後來也有幾位科學家試圖研究,但都沒有意識到渣滓中含有新的元素,直到特南特取得了更多的渣滓,從中發現了鋨與銥(Ir,iridium)。

特南特把黑色渣滓與氫氧化鈉加熱到紅熱後,再以酸處理得到四氧化鋨(OsO4)。四氧化鋨聞起來有灰煙的味道,於是特南特將它取名為鋨(Osmium)。Osmium來自於希臘文的osme,就是氣味(smell,odor)的意思(參考第十八課(二))。

鋨在自然界常跟鉑、銥等鉑族金屬一起出現,常與鉑、銥等形成合金用於鋼筆的筆尖,可以使筆尖兼具有硬度與耐久力。

2016年3月15日 星期二

幾何(geometry)與土

第十九課(二)裡面學到ge(o)-是土(soil)的意思,但是幾何(geometry)的英文開頭幾個字竟然也是「土」耶!

而且,geometry的字尾-metry,在第二十二課(二)裡面也有學到,是測量(measurement)的意思。
幾何學圖形。圖片來源:wiki

所以,幾何=測量土地?為什麼幾何會跟測量土地扯上關係呢?

原來在古埃及時代,因為尼羅河每年定期氾濫,在水退去以後,原先的地界地標可能都不在/或是被移動了;因此在氾濫期結束後,就會需要重新測量土地劃定界線。也因此,使得古埃及人要常常測量土地、計算土地面積,因此,測量土地(geometry)就成了一門蓬勃發展的學問,而geometry這個字,到了中國就被翻譯成了「幾何」了!

圖:wiki

犀牛(rhinoceros)與鼻子

我們在第九課(二)學到鼻子的字首是rhin(o)-
但是,如果看過犀牛(family Rhinocerotidae)應該會注意到,為什麼犀牛的英文rhinoceros,它的開頭也是rhino-呢?

其實,rhinoceros這個字是從希臘文來的,原來是寫作rhinokeros。

rhin(o)-當然就是鼻子,而keros則是動物的角的意思,這個字尾可以回溯到古印歐語的ker,是角、頭的意思(不是「角頭」喔!)

所以,rhinoceros是在形容犀牛的長相:

圖片來源:wiki
角長在鼻子上(nose horn)! 有趣吧!

參考文獻:

Wikipedia. Rhinoceros.
Online Etymology Dictionary