Thursday, September 27, 2012


Now at over 20,000 visits to my blog - woohoo!!  I'm approaching 100 posts, and hoping to post #100 on the 1 year anniversary of Bio Geo Nerd, which will be in November.

I've been so busy studying and tutoring and being a mom that I haven't done posts on what I'm learning as much as I'd like.  Anyone paying attention would notice that I've made very sad-looking half posts that need to be completed.  So I have posts in the works on Cnidarians, Rotifers, Plant tissues, minerals, Foucalt Pendulum, and who knows what else.  I have to go through all my pictures and figure out what to put on.

I wish posts were faster- I take a lot of time to resize my photos, sometimes draw emphasizing marks and notes on them, research accurate information so I won't be misleading anyone who happens upon the post, and trying to make it visually appealing.  Sometimes I do a pretty good job but there are a lot of posts I wish I could go back and overhaul.

I wish I had better data on who is coming to my site and how the info is being used.  I don't know if people read the posts, click on links, just look at pictures, or what.  I guess no matter what their level of interaction, hopefully it's helping them somehow with learning so I shouldn't feel bad about that.

So, congrats Bio Geo Nerd for being cool... here's to the next 20,000!

Giant Pacific Octopus

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012


Here's a fun video I made from a clip I took through a microscope in Invertebrate Zoology lab yesterday.

Info about rotifers (more to come):

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cells - amazing little worlds

This is my absolute most favorite video ever... I've shared it on here before, but I want to share it again because it's so dang awesome!  Even if you have no clue what's going on in it (like I didn't the first time I saw it), it's astounding and beautiful.  (For a slightly better viewing experience than the video below- same video just better quality- visit the creator's website:

The Inner Life of the Cell
made by XVivo, for Harvard University:

Also, here is another fantastic one done by the same people, showing the amazing mitochondrion powering a cell.

Powering the Cell: Mitochondria

Did you see all that ATP flying around?  And the electron transport chain!!!  :D  It makes me a bit giddy, yes, because I'm a geek.  I hope I'm not the only one though.

What did you think?  Leave a comment!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Here are the basics of mitosis!  The red and white pictures are from onion root tips, which I took in my Plant Biology lab.  Onion root tips are a very easy and excellent thing to use to study mitosis, because it is a very active site of mitotic division in order to quickly grow.
I hope my labels are clear enough, click on the pictures to see them larger.

I know what you're going to say: Interphase isn't part of mitosis.  You are absolutely right!  But it should be mentioned because this is where most of the cell life happens, and it's also where the chromosomes and organelles are duplicated in preparation for mitosis.  In order to replicate, the DNA has to be in its loose form - chromatin.  Here's a diagram where the chromatin looks like a big bowl of spaghetti, or a mess of yarn:

If it were packed tightly into chromosomes, as the diagram shows, it wouldn't be possible to get at the genetic code to copy it.  So, during interphase, it's a bowl of spaghetti.  It will get packed tightly later.

Below, you see a slide of some onion root tip cells, most of which are in interphase.  I've pointed out the nuclear envelope which gives the nucleus a nicely defined round shape.  Also notice the slightly darker nucleolus inside the nucleus.

Prophase is the first stage of mitosis.  DNA was already duplicated during interphase.  Now is when the DNA gets condensed into chromosomes.  Each chromosome in this phase consists of 2 sister chromatids attached by a centromere.  While they are attached thus, they are considered ONE chromosome.  The nuclear envelope also dissolves so the chromosomes are in the cytoplasm.
Memory aid:  "pro" means before/ in front of.  The first phase!  Also think of "pre" - it's the prep for cell division.

During metaphase, the chromosomes start to line up in the middle of the cell in an orderly fashion so they can separate, and the spindle fibers are sent out to attach to the centromeres.
Memory aid: "meta" - middle - chromosomes are lining up at the middle.

Next, in anaphase, chromosomes are pulled to opposite sides of the cell by the spindle fibers.
Memory help: "ana" means against, or back.  The chromosomes are pulled against the back.  Or you could think "anti" which is opposite - chromosomes pulled to opposite sides of the cell to create 2 new cells.

Nuclear envelopes being to reform, cell plate (in plants) begins to form. This is done by Golgi bodies which send over vesicles to the middle and those fuse together.  The plasma membrane that makes up the vesicle then becomes the plasma membranes for each new daughter cell.  the contents of the Golgi vesicles become the new cell wall.
Memory aid: "tele" means far/ end.  It's the end phase!  Like telephone - talking to someone on the far end.
Telophase of mitosis

It may be hard to read the small text on the above picture, but around the sides of the cell plate, is what's called the phragmoplast.  (Please note, this process only happens in plant cells.)  This is basically a collection of microtubules that are guiding the process of making the plate, as seen in the following diagram:


After mitosis, the cell gets pinched off to form the 2 new cells.  That's what's starting to happen with the cell plate in plants.  Keep in mind, the phases are slightly arbitrary.  There's not really a specific instance where you could say, "anaphase is over, now this is telophase."  They overlap a little bit, but it's important to know what happens in each phase and just realize that sometimes the next phase might get a bit of a head start (like that cell plate forming while telophase is still going on).

In picture above, the post-mitosis nuclei are lighter colored because the DNA is unravelling.  When it's not as dense, it's harder to see.

I hope that was helpful!  Please leave a comment - I want to know what you used, liked, or any suggestions you have.  You can also join the blog, that would be sweet!  Thanks for visiting, and good luck with your studies!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Blog love

Yes, I love my blog, I'm not ashamed to say it.  It makes me happy that so many people come here to get information.  I wish more would comment to let me know if it was really useful.  All the hits I get could be people looking at a picture and leaving without reading anything, or maybe they find one of my unfinished posts and leave frustrated that it's not done.  Those things would be nice to know.  Stats are great, but personal comments are worth so much more.

So, my counter I just added says (as of now) I have 15,925 visits to my blog.  So, I should get to 16,000 very soon.  The one year anniversary of my blog is coming up on November 20 - it would be cool if I get to 20,000 hits by then!  20,000 for the 20th. :)  (Oh, and 20 members would be great too- despite the high usage of the site, I have a sadly low number of subscribers.)  I think I'll have to have a big science geek party that day..haha.  (Yeah right, who would I invite?)

But seriously, I feel like I should do something special for that day, I'm just not sure what yet.  This blog has been such a great learning tool for me and I have so much fun creating each post.  The fact that so many other people get good use out of it is a total bonus!

So, any suggestions for how to celebrate?  Some kind of really cool blog post is in order, but what kind of post is worthy of such an occasion?  Hmmm.....

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mountains: Rockies vs Cascades

I love mountains.  I plan to hike "my" mountain next year.  Actually, I planned to hike it this year, but then I went to Oregon instead.

"My" mountain is Mount Timpanogos.  This is my view from the front yard:

Mount Timpanogos
And from the "back" (east) side of the mountain, on a very popular canyon road, taken in the fall:
East view of Mount Timpanogos from Alpine Loop
Elevation 11,749 ft
Prominence 5,269 ft
2nd Tallest peak in the Wasatch range after King's Peak, but the most popular one to climb.
Right in my back yard (yup, pretty much literally)
Timp's highest point
Big Baldy is the hill in the foreground left- looks so big because it's much closer.
Big baldy is 8,756 ft

I love the mountains and canyons of Utah County and I explore them often.  See this older post if you want to see labeled pictures of the canyons.

Geology of the Wasatch Mountains
The mountains are made of sedimentary rock mostly, including a great deal of limestone, which was formed when Utah was mostly a shallow inland sea.  Limestone is mostly calcium carbonate which is the substance in shells and other parts of sea organisms.
Take a look at those layers!  This was a rainy day and I've never seen the layers on Timp look so prominent

Continued dropping of the valley floor with the regular Wasatch Fault created this mountain range from the lithified marine deposits.

The cascades are incredible mountains that are really volcanoes.  There are a number of awesome peaks in this range that extends from northern California into Canada, but here are some of those I saw in Oregon.

Mount Washington is a deeply eroded shield volcano, the main peak is a volcanic plug. Elevation 7,794 ft, prominence 2,554 ft.

Mount Washington - elevation 7,794 ft

Belknap Crater (6,877 ft) on left, Mount Washington on right

Three Sisters
Three Sisters (l to r) - Charity, Hope, Faith
North Sister "Faith" - elevation 10,085 ft, prominence 2,725 ft
  • Oldest and most eroded of the 3
  • Shield volcano
  • Last erupted over 100,000 years ago
  • Considered extinct
Middle Sister "Hope" - elevation 10,047 ft, prominence 1,127 ft
  • Stratovolcano
  • Last erupted 50,000 years ago
  • Considered extinct
 South Sister "Charity" - elevation 10,358 ft, prominence 5,598 ft
  • Youngest and tallest of the 3
  • Stratovolcano atop a shield volcano
  • Last erupted 2,000 years ago
  • Has a summit crater holding a small lake called Teardrop Pool - highest lake in Oregon

3 Sisters with Broken Top to the left
Broken Top is an eroded, extinct stratovolcano- elevation 9,177 ft, prominence 2,175 ft.

The beautiful Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake's elevation (of the surface of the water) is 6,178 ft
Lake depth is 1,148 ft - deepest lake in the US
Wizard Island is a cinder cone at elevation 6,932 ft
Wizard Island cinder cone in Crater Lake
Mount Scott is the highest peak at Crater Lake at elevation 8,926 ft.  It has what looks like its own crater, but this is actually a glacier-cut cirque.

Mount Scott, highest peak around Crater Lake

Geology of the Cascade Mountains
This awesome mountain range is formed by plate tectonics!  As the Juan de Fuca plate dives under the North American plate, that crust is destroyed by the heat of the inner layers of the earth.  That molten rock (magma), comes up to the surface creating a line of volcanoes parallel to the coast.
 The melting on the right where it rises to the surface is how the Cascades ^^ were formed

Plate tectonics of the cascades