zoology-biology-benno-meyer-rochow-florian-nock-life-electricity-powerline-blog

Life, Electricity, Powerlines and Mobile Phones

Is there any risk?

At my last university I had a colleague who was very successful in obtaining research grants for projects related to possible adverse effects of mobile phones. Using rats, mice or hamsters he and his co-workers exposed the experimental rodents to stimuli that were hundreds of times stronger than what the ordinary human mobile phone users would be exposed to. And the result: as far as I remember, apart from some very minor effects no dramatic changes, no cancers, no untimely deaths, no fertility problems. —>

zoology-biology-benno-meyer-rochow-florian-nock-animal-culture-blog

Animal Culture

The way zoologists see it

Some people associate “culture” with washing your hands before you sit down to have your meal. Others see culture more in connection with literature, song and dance. And the zoologist? The zoologist defines culture as a kind of behaviour that is inherited from one generation of a species to another not genetically, but by learned transmission. In this sense the infamous blue tit individual from Swaythling near Stoneham, Southampton which started the habit of tearing open the aluminium caps covering milk bottles, was the founder of a “culture” that spread in a few years from its place of origin through the entire population of blue tits in England. —>

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Natural Asymmetries

When imbalances gain the upper hand

I have written about symmetry once and had pointed out that many animals (and humans) apparently exhibit an innate preference for symmetric over asymmetric patterns. And yet, if we examine Nature and her organisms more closely we find numerous examples of asymmetries. It starts already with the “Big Bang” and the atomic organization of matter and antimatter; you’ll find it with L (left) and D (right) forms of polarized light rotating sugars like glucose (the latter chirality very common, the former very rare). And you’d wonder why cells use only the L-forms of amino acids to build left-handed proteins, when the D-form is nothing but the right-handed mirror image of the L form. But we can move on to whole organisms and although most are at least outwardly symmetric, internal organs (as a look into the human body confirms) are frequently not. —>