Monday, June 28, 2010

Mitochondria and their Origin

Mitochondria are organelles located in the cells of eukaryotic species. They provide these cells with most of their supply of cellular energy (which is derived from dephosphorylation of the chemical ATP [adenosine triphosphate]). They have many other purposes as well, but to delve into them would stray too far from the point I'm trying to show. While the human genome has been largely the more popularized aspect of genomics (for good reasons), each mitochondrion within a cell has it's own genome. The DNA sequences within these mitochondrial genomes are very similar to the genomes of many bacteria. As a result, it has been postulated (and is now largely accepted) that the mitochondria in our cells were once endosymbiotic prokaryotes. Endocytosis allowed these ancient prokaryotes to become "embedded" within the eukaryotes without killing them. This hypothesis is also supported by the size of ribosomes within the mitochondria and the membrane of the mitochondria. This endosymbiotic hypothesis is also accepted for plastids within plant and algae cells.

This site is the coolest mitochondrial genome site I have ever seen. It is the reason I posted about this topic:

Read what wikipedia has to say about mitochondria:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

General Information on M13 (Messier 13) Cluster:

Alternative Designation: NGC 6205
Distance from Earth: 25,100 light-years
Radius: 84 light-years
Mass: 10^36 kilograms
Age: 1.4*10^10 years

The following passage was taken from NASA's main website,

"Like a whirl of shiny flakes sparkling in a snow globe, Hubble caught this glimpse of many hundreds of thousands of stars moving about in the globular cluster M13, one of the brightest and best-known globular clusters in the northern sky. This glittering metropolis of stars is easily found in the winter sky in the constellation Hercules and can even be glimpsed with the unaided eye under dark skies.

M13 is home to over 100,000 stars and located at a distance of 25,000 light-years. These stars are packed so closely together in a ball, approximately 150 light-years across, that they will spend their entire lives whirling around in the cluster.

Near the core of this cluster, the density of stars is about a hundred times greater than the density in the neighborhood of our sun. These stars are so crowded that they can, at times, slam into each other and even form a new star, called a "blue straggler."

The brightest reddish stars in the cluster are ancient red giants. These aging stars have expanded to many times their original diameters and cooled. The blue-white stars are the hottest in the cluster.

Globular clusters can be found spread largely in a vast halo around our galaxy. M13 is one of nearly 150 known globular clusters surrounding our Milky Way galaxy.

Globular clusters have some of the oldest stars in the universe. They likely formed before the disk of our Milky Way, so they are older than nearly all other stars in our galaxy. Studying globular clusters therefore tells us about the history of our galaxy."

This site is a fascinating catalog of all the Messier Objects:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kinetic Sculptures of Arthur Ganson

Arthur Ganson is a truly amazing person. I don't know whether to call him an artist or an engineer, but his work is evidence to his true creativity.

This is his main site:

This is one of my favorites of his ingenious machines:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Artistic Samplings of Ken Wong

"Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot; others transform a yellow spot into the sun."

~Pablo Picasso

I can't say much in particular, except that I'm a huge fan. I find the art quite unique and thought-provoking. I rather enjoy the birds and fish. Below are some of my favorite works by Ken Wong, but please check out the site, as this is but a small sampling.

His main website is:

Seriously amazing stuff!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The E8 Group of Lie Algebra

"To most outsiders, modern mathematics is unknown territory. Its borders are protected by dense thickets of technical terms; its landscapes are a mass of indecipherable equations and incomprehensible concepts. Few realize that the world of modern mathematics is rich with vivid images and provocative ideas."

~Ivars Peterson

In mathematics, there is a subject known as Complex Simple Lie Algebra. There are four infinite families and five exceptions. It is a 248-dimensional object (of the Platonic sort), and has a rank 8 root lattice. I can only show 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional projections, as it is somewhat difficult to experience the higher-dimensional cases. The E8 group is the largest of the exceptions. This is difficult stuff and I have barely looked into this subject myself, but it is all very beautiful looking. It has symmetry such that it can be rotated in any direction of a 248-dimensional space and still appear as the same shape.

This has been recently associated with a "Theory of Everything" in physics discovered by the surfer and physicist Garrett Lisi. The validity of this theory has been eliminated, and it has been shown to be incorrect. But that doesn't take away from the mathematical and geometrical beauty of this construct.

Here it is projected on the 2-dimensional plane:

And here projected on the 3-dimensional plane and rotated:

The other exceptional Complex Simple Lie Groups are G2 (rank 2, dimension 14), F4 (rank 4, dimension 52), E6 (rank 6, dimension 78), and E7 (rank 7, dimension 133). Those with smaller ranks can be shown as subgroups of those of higher ranks.

G2 (3-D projection):

To see other 2-D projections, check out Wikipedia.
3-D projection videos were obtained from:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Aquatic Bioluminescence

Bioluminescent Creatures of the Sea (A Small Selection)

Bioluminescence is the emission of light by a living organism. This includes animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria. It has (by current estimates) likely arisen independently 30 times in the evolution of life on Earth. It is not synonymous with fluorescence or phosphorescence. It appears in many different colors.

Edith Widder's Glowing Life in an Underwater World

Image obtained from:
Video obtained from:

I endorse the latter of these sites in particular for any sort of educational endeavors. Wikipedia is also a worthwhile site to check out for more information on just about anything mentioned.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Current Extent of Our View of Space and Time

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

~Carl Sagan

The Known Universe

What can possibly be known? Is there a limit to the ability of any conscious being to touch upon reality? Is there a fundamental limit to knowledge itself? I think these questions are of importance. I have my own opinions on them, but I think it can safely be said that there is not a complete answer to any of these questions.