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

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

2016年3月28日 星期一


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.


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)。



2016年3月15日 星期二








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?




角長在鼻子上(nose horn)! 有趣吧!


Wikipedia. Rhinoceros.
Online Etymology Dictionary