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Lou FCD



Posts: 5378
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 30 2008,20:41   

Quote (Albatrossity2 @ Aug. 30 2008,21:09)
Lou

I think that your understanding of the basic material may be better than some of my students.  Here is an email, rec'd tonight, from a student in my intro bio class. The name is withheld to protect the innocent...
 
Quote
I was reading the textbook and I am now confused.

On page 4, it defines Atoms as "...the fundamental building blocks of all substances, living and non-living."
Then on page 22, it goes on to say that ... "Atoms differ in the number of subatomic particles, but all have a nucleus..."
--- Back on page 8, it told me that bacteria & archaea are single-celled organisms, but that they are prokaryotic, meaning that they have no nucleus..
..Farther back still, on page four, it says in short : atoms join together to make molecules, and molecules (become organized into?) make cells...

So as I said I am confused.  Is the textbook saying that some molecules are formed without atoms?  If so, what are they made of?

..Or is page 22 incorrect about all atoms having nuclei or is there something else ?

Thanks for clearing this up

*headdesk*

LoL, thanks for the chuckle.

--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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Henry J



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 30 2008,21:35   

Chemistry atomic nucleus != Biological cell nucleus !!

:p

I suppose though that somebody first learning two different fields at once could get confused when those two fields use one of the same words but for different things.

Henry

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2008,04:23   

Quote (Albatrossity2 @ Aug. 31 2008,02:09)
Lou

I think that your understanding of the basic material may be better than some of my students.  Here is an email, rec'd tonight, from a student in my intro bio class. The name is withheld to protect the innocent...
 
Quote
I was reading the textbook and I am now confused.

On page 4, it defines Atoms as "...the fundamental building blocks of all substances, living and non-living."
Then on page 22, it goes on to say that ... "Atoms differ in the number of subatomic particles, but all have a nucleus..."
--- Back on page 8, it told me that bacteria & archaea are single-celled organisms, but that they are prokaryotic, meaning that they have no nucleus..
..Farther back still, on page four, it says in short : atoms join together to make molecules, and molecules (become organized into?) make cells...

So as I said I am confused.  Is the textbook saying that some molecules are formed without atoms?  If so, what are they made of?

..Or is page 22 incorrect about all atoms having nuclei or is there something else ?

Thanks for clearing this up

{Blinks}

{Cries}

{Sound of Louis' heart breaking}

Wow...just wow.

Look, I don't want to come over all elitist or anything but the concept of an atomic nucleus and the concept of a biological nucleus were things I understood before I went through puberty. This might explain a few things dammit! On the other hand it might not! ;-)

It's really hard to think back to a time where the concept of an atom (for example) was not something I understood to some useful degree. So whilst I might come across as unsympathetic to this student (and others), believe me I'm not, I just NOW have a hard time intuitively, initially, grasping the "before atom" thinking, my failing, not the student's. I think it's a little terrifying that a college freshman doesn't have that understanding tucked away, but that aside, whoa!

Lou, you seem to be going through the "Bohr atom"/basic idea of orbitals and bonding stuff atm. Have they mentioned s orbitals/p orbitals etc yet? Pauli exclusion principle etc? If not, I hope you get to learn about it because it will make better sense of some of the questions I'll bet you have about atoms/molecules when presented with the "Bohr atom" version. Any chem help or conversation you desire, I'm happy to help with.

Louis

--------------
Bye.

  
Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2008,06:13   

This raises the distinct possibility that George W. believes that Nuke-U-Lar weapons of which he has control are packed with eukaryotes.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Albatrossity2



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2008,06:52   

Quote (Henry J @ Aug. 30 2008,21:35)
Chemistry atomic nucleus != Biological cell nucleus !!

:p

I suppose though that somebody first learning two different fields at once could get confused when those two fields use one of the same words but for different things.

Henry

Yeah, I am used to these cases where a word, as used in biology, needs to be distinguished from the usage of the same word in everyday parlance (e.g. fitness). This is the first time that I have had a student get confused about a word which you really only encounter in science!

The sad part is that college prep tracks in KS high schools have a year of chemistry and a year of biology. Either this student did not graduate from a KS high school, or some school someplace is doing a truly wretched job of evaluating the learning of their students. Or both...

Anyhoo, I did have to wait a bit before replying, just to staunch the bleeding from the site where my head hit the desk a few times. Here's what I wrote back  
Quote
It seems that your confusion comes about because the word "nucleus" is used for two different things, in two different fields (biology & chemistry).

The word "nucleus" comes from a Latin root meaning core, center, or kernel, The word "nut" comes from the same root.
In chemistry the nucleus of an atom is the core, consisting of protons and neutrons, around which the electrons orbit.

In biology the nucleus of a cell is the highly organized DNA-containing center of a eukaryotic cell, which is visible in a light microscope. Prokaryotes also have DNA, but it is not as organized, and is not visible in a light microscope.

So the word means a different thing in these two different contexts. I'm sorry that is the case, but sometimes biologists and chemists can use the same word to mean different things. In fact, even in astronomy the word means something else. The "nucleus" of a comet is the central core of that structure as well.

hope this helps

See, I'm not a mean atheistic professor all the time  :)

--------------
Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.
                        - Pattiann Rogers

   
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2008,07:18   

Quote (Albatrossity2 @ Aug. 30 2008,20:09)
Lou

I think that your understanding of the basic material may be better than some of my students.  Here is an email, rec'd tonight, from a student in my intro bio class. The name is withheld to protect the innocent...
 
Quote
I was reading the textbook and I am now confused.

On page 4, it defines Atoms as "...the fundamental building blocks of all substances, living and non-living."
Then on page 22, it goes on to say that ... "Atoms differ in the number of subatomic particles, but all have a nucleus..."
--- Back on page 8, it told me that bacteria & archaea are single-celled organisms, but that they are prokaryotic, meaning that they have no nucleus..
..Farther back still, on page four, it says in short : atoms join together to make molecules, and molecules (become organized into?) make cells...

So as I said I am confused.  Is the textbook saying that some molecules are formed without atoms?  If so, what are they made of?

..Or is page 22 incorrect about all atoms having nuclei or is there something else ?

Thanks for clearing this up

I know that I shouldn't, but I do laugh. Although it is sad, it is also kinda funny that we are becoming more stupid.

Actually it isn't. It is damned wrong that pupils are getting less educated at the same time that the sum of human knowledge is increasing.

  
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4238
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2008,07:54   

No way I wasn't aware of this distinction by some time in elementary school.

Your student's question reflects an astonishing and dismaying level of ignorance. Period.

If this is at all typical we are in real trouble.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Albatrossity2



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Joined: Mar. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2008,09:26   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Aug. 31 2008,07:54)
No way I wasn't aware of this distinction by some time in elementary school.

Your student's question reflects an astonishing and dismaying level of ignorance. Period.

If this is at all typical we are in real trouble.

Thankfully it is not typical; I ported it over here because it was, in my 10+ years coordinating our intro course, unique.

Frankly I wondered for a bit if the student was just kidding me. But I figured I had to answer it just in case it was a serious question. I think it was...

Is there a corollary to Poe's Law for college students?

--------------
Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.
                        - Pattiann Rogers

   
csadams



Posts: 124
Joined: June 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2008,09:43   

Quote (Albatrossity2 @ Aug. 31 2008,06:52)
The sad part is that college prep tracks in KS high schools have a year of chemistry and a year of biology. Either this student did not graduate from a KS high school, or some school someplace is doing a truly wretched job of evaluating the learning of their students. Or both...

. . . or some KS schools have mis-labeled courses as "chemistry" or "physics" for purposes of Qualified Admission, when in fact they're general physical science courses geared toward prepping students for the KS state assessments.

If a KS high school graduate hasn't completed the Regents college prep track, the student can still enter a state university with an ACT composite >= 21.  Or the student can graduate in the top one-third of their high school class and be admitted to a state university.

Alb, I'm not sure how the QA requirements have helped get more students ready for college, with the requirements being so low.  But if(when?) your science-impaired students hail from out my way, let me know and I'll get right on it . . .

*********************
Lou - wow!  What an experience you're getting!  You might think about checking out some summer workshops out your way.  GLOBE has a lot going on in Hampton, VA; essentially, you get paid to learn.  How sweet is that??

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Stand Up For REAL Science!

  
Lou FCD



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2008,09:47   

Quote (Louis @ Aug. 31 2008,05:23)
Lou, you seem to be going through the "Bohr atom"/basic idea of orbitals and bonding stuff atm. Have they mentioned s orbitals/p orbitals etc yet? Pauli exclusion principle etc? If not, I hope you get to learn about it because it will make better sense of some of the questions I'll bet you have about atoms/molecules when presented with the "Bohr atom" version. Any chem help or conversation you desire, I'm happy to help with.

Louis

Thanks Louis. If I have any questions, it's good to know I have back-up I can call on. I really appreciate having all you guys standing by.

The p shells and s shells are on deck, in the next section of this chapter of our book.  I imagine we'll get to them on Wednesday (Monday is a holiday here).

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Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2008,09:49   

Quote (csadams @ Aug. 31 2008,10:43)
Lou - wow!  What an experience you're getting!  You might think about checking out some summer workshops out your way.  GLOBE has a lot going on in Hampton, VA; essentially, you get paid to learn.  How sweet is that??

Hey awesome! Getting paid to learn can't be anything but good.

--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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Henry J



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2008,19:09   

Quote
Have they mentioned s orbitals/p orbitals etc yet?


Didn't sound like it. I thought about mentioning that in the transition metals the electrons are added in the next to highest shell instead of the highest, but decided to wait to see if that was the next chapter. (Also in the "rare earths" the new electrons are added to the second shell from the top.) It's because those orbital have the next higher energy level, and additions are made to the lowest still empty energy level, even when that's not the top shell. It's also why the transition metals aren't overly different from each other chemically - their outer shells are all 1 or 2 electrons (with 1 (or is it 2?) exceptions where the "outermost" shell is actually empty).

Henry

  
Henry J



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Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 01 2008,19:21   

Addendum to my previous post: it's Palladium, symbol Pd, atomic number 46, that has no electrons in its "outermost" (5th) shell.

Henry

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5378
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 01 2008,20:58   

Quote (Henry J @ Sep. 01 2008,20:21)
Addendum to my previous post: it's Palladium, symbol Pd, atomic number 46, that has no electrons in its "outermost" (5th) shell.

Henry

Now you're just trying to confuse me, Henry.

Besides, I don't care 'bout no damned Palawhocaresium because it's not in the first 18 elements and is currently irrelevant to the material.

Now stop trying to screw up my head with your materialist trans-Argon nonsense!

:)

--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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Henry J



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 01 2008,21:07   

I just thought of something else. Some biological species have lost traits considered normal for members of the containing clade. So palladium is sort of analogous: it's to the periodic table what those species are to their clades.

Henry

  
Henry J



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 01 2008,21:08   

Quote
Now stop trying to screw up my head with your materialist trans-Argon nonsense!


Name a non-materialistic element! :p

Henry

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 02 2008,06:21   

Quote (Henry J @ Sep. 02 2008,03:08)
Quote
Now stop trying to screw up my head with your materialist trans-Argon nonsense!


Name a non-materialistic element! :p

Henry

Narativium? Terry Pratchett's element of fiction.

Randomium? An element very useful for "explaining" why some reaction has or hasn't worked.

Crossfingersandhopelikehellium? An element in the same group as Randomium. Principle component of dusty crap that desperate students leave/place in flasks of reactions that repeatedly fail in the vain hope that some hitherto unheard of catalytic effect occurs. Not to be confused with molecular sieves or solid state catalysis.

Technecium? Well, it was made (up).

Louis

--------------
Bye.

  
dogdidit



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 02 2008,07:42   

Unobtainium has many popular uses in engineering.

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"Humans carry plants and animals all over the globe, thus introducing them to places they could never have reached on their own. That certainly increases biodiversity." - D'OL

  
dogdidit



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 02 2008,07:50   

Quote (Henry J @ Aug. 31 2008,19:09)
 
Quote
Have they mentioned s orbitals/p orbitals etc yet?


Didn't sound like it. I thought about mentioning that in the transition metals the electrons are added in the next to highest shell instead of the highest, but decided to wait to see if that was the next chapter. (Also in the "rare earths" the new electrons are added to the second shell from the top.) It's because those orbital have the next higher energy level, and additions are made to the lowest still empty energy level, even when that's not the top shell. It's also why the transition metals aren't overly different from each other chemically - their outer shells are all 1 or 2 electrons (with 1 (or is it 2?) exceptions where the "outermost" shell is actually empty).

Henry

SPDF!! I thought I had succeeded in forgetting all that. Thanks for nothing.

I'd imagine Reese and Campbell would cover just enough QM to understanding the how's and why's of chemical bonding, but never haven studied biology I am ignorant of just how much QM and chemistry foundation would be needed. Certainly an understanding of bonding energy would be important.

I've been eyeing up Lou's textbook; would all agree it's a pretty good choice for an autodidact self-learner?

--------------
"Humans carry plants and animals all over the globe, thus introducing them to places they could never have reached on their own. That certainly increases biodiversity." - D'OL

  
Albatrossity2



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 02 2008,08:11   

Quote (dogdidit @ Sep. 02 2008,07:50)
I've been eyeing up Lou's textbook; would all agree it's a pretty good choice for an autodidact self-learner?

Campbell et al. is a good textbook; there are a number of good textbooks in introductory biology.

I have been reviewing intro bio textbooks for a number of years. IMHO the best one (and it may be out of print) is Burt Guttman's Biology (McGraw Hill). It is a comprehensive tome, written in an engaging style, and very suitable for auto-didactery. Burt taught for many years at Evergreen College in Olympia WA, and is by all accounts an excellent teacher. He is also a good birder, so he has many useful talents :-)

--------------
Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.
                        - Pattiann Rogers

   
Henry J



Posts: 4058
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 02 2008,14:18   

Quote (Louis @ Sep. 02 2008,05:21)
Randomium? An element very useful for "explaining" why some reaction has or hasn't worked.

Is that related to randomonium?

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 02 2008,14:45   

Quote (Henry J @ Sep. 02 2008,20:18)
Quote (Louis @ Sep. 02 2008,05:21)
Randomium? An element very useful for "explaining" why some reaction has or hasn't worked.

Is that related to randomonium?

One period above, two above pandemonium.

Louis

--------------
Bye.

  
deadman_932



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 02 2008,15:33   

Quote (Louis @ Sep. 02 2008,14:45)
Quote (Henry J @ Sep. 02 2008,20:18)
 
Quote (Louis @ Sep. 02 2008,05:21)
Randomium? An element very useful for "explaining" why some reaction has or hasn't worked.

Is that related to randomonium?

One period above, two above pandemonium.

Louis

Pfft. More like "Bolognium." Wretched Brits.

BTW: MY GENES R NUKULAR!!

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AtBC Award for Thoroughness in the Face of Creationism

  
Lou FCD



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 02 2008,19:31   



My notes and thoughts from Biology 111, for Friday, August 29, 2008. The entire series can be found here.

Forgive the delay, but I've had a ton of stuff to work on.

On Friday, we started out with a review of covalent bonding. Doc re-stressed that in covalent bonding, atoms are sharing one or more pairs of electrons.

Let's take another look at our covalent bonding notation:



Now note that the two Oxygens share two pairs of e- and the two Nitrogens share three pairs of e-, as noted by the lines and by the dots between them. Also note that in the Lewis Dot diagram, all valence e- are depicted, regardless of whether they are involved in the bonding.

Let's throw some more elements together with covalent bonds:



And to really point out the sharing, I've circled and colored to highlight which e- belong to which element:


In this diagram, we can now really see that each element now has a full valence shell, by sharing e- part time with its neighbor.

Electronegativity

Electronegativity can be defined as the ability of an atom to attract e- to itself when in a compound.

Ignoring the Noble Gases (because they have full valence shells and don't tend to interact with other elements), we can roughly divide our Electron Distribution diagram into three parts. To the left side of the diagram we have elements that are very electropositive. It's much easier for them to lose a few e- to wind up with a full valence shell than to grab six or seven e- from somewhere else.  In the center, elements are electroneutral, where they can sort of go either way. To the right of the diagram, are the electronegative elements, which only need an e- or two to fill their valence shell, and thus are more likely to take than to give.

This becomes important especially when we start discussing ionic bonds.

So if atoms are fairly close in terms of elelectronegativity, they will tend to share e- equally, and there is an even distribution of charge around the molecule. We call that a nonpolar colvalent bond.

If the atoms are further apart in terms of electronegativity, the more electronegative atom will tend to pull the shared e- more towards itself, and the distribution of charge around the molecule will have a very slight uneveness to it. We call that a polar covalent bond.



Water is a good example of a polar covalent bond. Because the Oxygen atom is highly electronegative and the Hydrogen atoms are very electropositive, the shared e- spend more time around the oxygen atom than the hydrogen atoms. Although the molecule maintains a net charge of zero (10 p+ and 10 e- in total), it does have a very slight negative charge on the Oxygen end and a very slight positive charge on the Hydrogen ends. That charge is denoted with the lower case Greek letter delta (?). Note that the atoms of a water molecule do not line up in a straight line like the atoms of a Carbon Dioxide molecule.

Ionic Bonds

Attraction between a cation and an anion.

Ionic bonds form when the difference in electronegativity between two atoms is great.



Sodium, for instance, is very electropositive, being way over on the left side of the diagram and having only one e- in its valence shell.



Chlorine is very electronegative, being way over on the right side of the diagram and having seven e- in its valence shell.



Sodium and Chlorine, side by side for a good look.



When they get together, Chlorine doesn't share an e- with Sodium, it steals one completely. This of course upsets the normal balance of an atom, where it usually has the same number of p+ and e-. When this happens, the atom becomes an ion. Because the Sodium ion has one fewer e- (10) than it has p+(11), it now has a net charge of +1, and it's called a cation. The Chlorine ion has one more e- (18) than it has p+(17) , so it has a net charge of -1 and is called an anion.

Remember that opposite charges attract each other. The Chlorine anion will now attract the Sodium cation, and they will form an ionic bond. This is not actually a molecule, but rather an ionic compound. Bonds only form molecules through covalent bonds.

Chapter 3

Water and the Fitness of the Environment

Water has several emergent properties that make it essential for life on Earth.

Hydrogen Bonds



Water is a polar molecule, and can form Hydrogen Bonds. That very slight polarity we mentioned earlier now becomes very important, as we begin discussing how water molecules attract each other, with what's known as Hydrogen Bonding.

This is where the lecture left off, to be continued on Wednesday, 3 September.
 
Quote
From whence came the art:

The first image is of our textbook, Biology, Eighth Edition, by Campbell & Reese et al. The electron distribution table is from page 36 of that textbook, and I have highlighted portions of it in the various images above to assist in visualization.

The Periodic Table of the Elements is from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST.

Other images by me and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial- Share Alike 3.0 License.


Edited by Lou FCD on Sep. 02 2008,22:10

--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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Henry J



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 02 2008,22:37   

Quote
When they get together, Chlorine doesn't share an e- with Sodium, it steals one completely.


THIEF! Somebody call the copper! Otherwise those ions might a salt somebody.

Henry

  
Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 02 2008,22:41   

Chemistry puns. You're like a high-brow version of my Dad!

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"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Henry J



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 02 2008,23:40   

I wonder if that's good or bad?

Henry

  
Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 02 2008,23:45   

Quote (Henry J @ Sep. 02 2008,23:40)
I wonder if that's good or bad?

Henry

It would make you a genetic precursor to me.

I can think of no worse insult!

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Assassinator



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 03 2008,06:13   

Quote (dogdidit @ Sep. 02 2008,07:50)
I've been eyeing up Lou's textbook; would all agree it's a pretty good choice for an autodidact self-learner?

I won't say per definition. I've been discussing with someone over ID and evolution for about a year now. The guy also has read Biology from Campbell and calls himself an auto-didact, but if you see him talk about evolution and all the subjects around it... Imo, you should always keep some experts on the field around to clearify things. Especially with things like biology and evolution, which include so many other subjects (nuclear physics for example) and the sometimes necessary backgrounds, it's incredibly difficult to teach yourself. But still, I can recommend Campbell. It helped me understand a lot of stuff about various subjects.

PS: I'de like to thank Lou for this 'blog'. Because of this, I can make better notes during class and see the value of typing them over. It will really help me getting my Bachelor ;)

  
dogdidit



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 03 2008,07:41   

Quote (Assassinator @ Sep. 03 2008,06:13)
     
Quote (dogdidit @ Sep. 02 2008,07:50)
I've been eyeing up Lou's textbook; would all agree it's a pretty good choice for an autodidact self-learner?

I won't say per definition. I've been discussing with someone over ID and evolution for about a year now. The guy also has read Biology from Campbell and calls himself an auto-didact, but if you see him talk about evolution and all the subjects around it... Imo, you should always keep some experts on the field around to clearify things. Especially with things like biology and evolution, which include so many other subjects (nuclear physics for example) and the sometimes necessary backgrounds, it's incredibly difficult to teach yourself.

A valid point. Truth to tell, unless I intend to work in the field (and I don't) there is really not much chance of me reaching the level of understanding of even a bachelor's degree candidate. Books are fine but the social transactions of mentoring relationships (starting with professor-student and going on from there...and lasting a lifetime) are absolutely essential. That is partly why I struck out "autodidact"; this is not at all the same as picking up a manual on LISP or perl and banging out some code, and even in engineering there is essential knowledge that can only be gained with the help and guidance of mentors. Not everything is written down in books. And the relative importance of all that is written is not always evident.

What I am looking for is a deeper undertanding that what can be gained from reading books written for the lay public. I can withstand a higher level of technical detail. Engineering is not much help but I do have a Physics bachelors that I dust off from time to time. The fundamentals never change; that's why they are called...well, you get the idea.

 
Quote
But still, I can recommend Campbell. It helped me understand a lot of stuff about various subjects.
Dank u wel, Assassinator!

ETA: Thank you Albie as well for your recommendations.

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"Humans carry plants and animals all over the globe, thus introducing them to places they could never have reached on their own. That certainly increases biodiversity." - D'OL

  
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