Earth and Natural Sciences
Living things and rocks.

If you are a biology person, you will know that organisms are classified into groups based on similarities. These similarities can be found in cell structure, appearance, as well as ancestral lineage. All organisms on earth fall into these categories: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. However, these are constantly changing. For instance, about 200 years ago, organisms were plants or animals. This was not descriptive enough for some scientists, though. They decided to divide organisms into 6 kingdoms. Each kingdom has its own unique characteristics that separate it from the others.

Plantae- Multicellular organisms with a nucleus, cell wall, and chloroplasts

Animalia- Multicellular organisms with a nucleus and can move on their own

Protista- Mostly unicellular with a nucleus; multicellular have simple cell structure

Fungi- Mostly multicellular with cell wall and nucleus

Bacteria- Unicellular organisms without nuclei

Archaea- Unicellular organisms that have no nucleus, distinctive chemical makeup, and can withstand extreme conditions

Humans fall under the category of Animalia, and are related (very broadly) to dolphins, apes, and even jellyfish. This is where the other classifications come in. They separate us from dolphins, jellyfish, and apes, and group us with other humans. The full name of a human is Animalia Chordata Mammalia Primate Hominidae Homo Sapiens.

Recently, scientists have added yet another division of classification. These are called domains. A domain is the most broad classification of an organism, and there are only three domains. Any multicellular or mostly multicellular organisms are fall under Eukarya. Bacteria and Archaea have there own domains to themselves. The reasoning for this is just to show that certain organisms are related to each other, even if they seemingly have no connections. It is kind of like saying that you sister's friend's aunt's cousin's dog's neighbor's foreign pen pal is related to you. I see no actual point in this addition, unless you are into confusing biology students.

There is actually another way to classify organisms, but, it is not widely accepted. It is called Tribe. Humans belong to the Tribe Hominini. Tribes fall under family, and are more specific in an organisms DNA. It is commonly used in zoology, and not often taught to students.

Punnett square Solving

In genetics, alleles are notated with capital and lowercase letters.  For instance, a dominant trait might be A, with a recessive trait a.  A Punnett Square will find all possible child genotypes from two parent genotypes.

For example, if the parents have Aa and aa genotypes, the Punnett square looks like this:

In each box, you write the allele from the column and row its in. This gives the child possibilities.

Possible Punnett Squares

This leads to only a couple of possible Punnett Squares. The possibilities are:
ZZ * ZZ
ZZ * Zz
ZZ * zz
Zz * ZZ
Zz * Zz
Zz * zz
zz * ZZ
zz * Zz
zz * zz

But several are mirrors of others. Of course, genes are rarely this simple. This is a good basic skill for genetics and biology, and another example of math in science.

Terms used

allele: variation or possible value for a gene, denoted by a capitol(dominant) or lowercase(recessive) letter
child: offspring when two organisms reproduce
dominant allele/trait: a trait that is shown in the phenotype even if only one allele is present, shows up in ZZ or Zz
gene: unit of heredity, trait
genotype: what alleles make up an organisms trait
heredity: passing on of traits from parent to offspring
heterozygous: containing one dominant and one recessive allele, Zz, which produces a dominant trait in the phenotype
homozygous: containing both of either dominant or recessive alleles, ZZ or zz, which produces a dominant or recessive trait in the phenotype
phenotype: actual physical appearance of a trait
Punnett Square: a figure used to determine possible child genotypes
recessive allele/trait: trait shown in phenotype only if two alleles are present, shows up in zz

Related:
Introduction to Geneticcs
Chemical Equations Quiz

Fold.it is a popular computer game in which players fold proteins into the most efficient shapes. The game actually helps scientists find new proteins. It is an example of using the mass of people to solve real problems.

Fold.it is a free download and available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Creating a membership is also free.

Players first work on practice puzzles that illustrate concepts, such as closing voids and not putting parts too close together. Players have a variety of tools, such as the “wiggle” tool, which helps find the correct shapes. As soon as you pass the practice puzzles, you are given a real problem.

Fold.it has found several helpful proteins so far. Players can work in groups, which are collaborations of several players. Groups can communicate through a chat area, and can view problems others in their group are working on.

Fold.it may seem like science, but it turns out to be a lot of fun.

Join METSplorations Fold.it team! Mention that you came from this blog to automatically get accepted.

Time for some more Misconceptions! Lets think about how we think:

The “10%” myth: It’s completely a myth that we only use 10% of our brain at any given time. Our brain is constantly using full capacity, controlling the body as well as conscious thought. And the stuff about Einstein? As real as unicorns (believe if you wish).

Multitasking: It’s not possible. What we think is multitasking is actually our brain switching back and forth between two tasks really fast. This obviously is not good.

Multitasking is strengthening: No, it doesn’t help. In a short-period, multitasking gives each task a huge performance cut. Over long-term, it wears your brain out. In fact, it has been proven that someone texting while driving drives similarly to someone with an illegal alcohol blood content!