Polypompholyx

Author's details

Name: Steve Cook
Date registered: 16/04/2012
URL: http://www.polypompholyx.com

Biography

Nerd of this parish.

Latest posts

  1. Organism of the week #31 – Tardigrades — 19/05/2016
  2. Organism of the week #30 – Sticky situation — 19/05/2016
  3. Adaptations evolve in populations — 05/05/2016
  4. Recursion — 08/01/2016
  5. Bark — 07/01/2016

Most commented posts

  1. Educational RCTs — 17 comments
  2. The magnolia misunderstanding — 5 comments
  3. A brief history of rubbish — 5 comments
  4. The Michaelis-Menten model is not applicable to most enzymes in a cell — 4 comments
  5. Moose objects and roles — 3 comments

Author's posts listings

May 19

Organism of the week #31 – Tardigrades

Tardigrades [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

Tardigrades make me squee. These little relatives of the arthropods and velvet-worms are found in the water around mosses, and they are quite easy to find if you have a cheap microscope and a little patience. Like spiders, they have eight legs, but unlike the legs of a spider, they’re plump and stumpy, and end in the little ‘fingers’ …

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May 19

Organism of the week #30 – Sticky situation

Passiflora foetida bud [CC-BY-3.0 Alex Lomas]

All science is either physics or stamp-collecting. This rather mean-spirited dismissal of chemistry and biology as “stamp-collecting” is attributed to Ernest Rutherford, the physicist usually (not wholly fairly) credited with discovering the atomic nucleus and the proton. Shortly after Rutherford’s death in 1937, particle physicists discovered the muon, pi mesons, kaons, the electron neutrino, the anti-proton, the lambda baryon, xi cascades, and …

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May 05

Adaptations evolve in populations

Pisum sativum (purple) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Rasbak]

Organisms evolve adaptations to increase their fitness There are few ideas in science that explain as much of the natural world as does natural selection, but there are few ideas in science that are more frequently misunderstood. Often the misunderstandings are deliberate or disingenuous, but I’ve seen quotes like the one above even in undergraduate essays and …

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Jan 08

Recursion

Recursion [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook, Andreas Thomson, Frank Vinzent]

Jan 07

Bark

Bark [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

Jan 06

Wisley in Winter

RHS Wisley heather garden [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

It’s not really a botanic garden, but the Royal Horticultural Society’s gardens at Wisley is near enough as makes no difference. We visited in what should have been the dead of winter, but which in reality was this weird sprautumn mash-up that is now December in the UK. The heather garden was particularly pretty, despite the wind: At £12, the entry …

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Jan 06

Imposter

Euchlanis rotifer [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

Most years the pond-water microscopy practical throws up an exciting ciliate (or two, or three), but this year, the only ones we saw were duplicates, or too bloody fast to photograph. Ho hum. So this year you’ll have to make do with an imposter. It’s still got cilia, but it is not a ciliate, and although it’s no bigger …

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Dec 22

Bagging botanical Brussels

Brussels botanic gardens [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

The last time we went to Brussels, I got terribly excited that the hotel we were staying in was right next door to the Botanical Garden of Brussels. Unfortunately – as we discovered in short order – at some point in the 1930s the plants had mostly been shipped off elsewhere, leaving the garden not very botanical, and Dr …

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Oct 06

Organism of the week #29 – Galling

Andricus quercuscalicis on Quercus robur [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

Today is the first day of the new (academic) year at $WORK, but – aside from a couple of intro lectures – this is the calm before the real storm, which arrives in the form of a deluge of biological chemistry in November. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a few mugshots of some weird ciliate or other around …

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Sep 17

Organism of the week #28 – Fractal art

Humata tyermannii [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

Flowers are essentially tarts. Prostitutes for the bees. (Uncle Monty, Withnail and I) Our tiny garden has only passing acquaintance with sunshine, so about the only plants that really thrive in its dingy clutches are shade-loving ferns. This Japanese painted fern is my current favourite: who needs flowers anyway, when leaves look like this? The colour is spectacular, but …

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