Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Environmental Chemistry Inquiry

Works Cited
Andrews, Natalie. "The Uses of Hydriodic Acid." EHow. Demand Media, 06 July 2011. Web. 14 May 2013. <http://www.ehow.com/info_8700595_uses-hydriodic-acid.html>.
Ayelie. Old Paper Texture. Digital image. Deviantart.com. Deviant Art, n.d. Web. <http://fc02.deviantart.net/fs25/i/2008/064/b/d/Old_paper_texture_HUGE_01_by_Ayelie_stock.jpg>.
"The Element Iodine." Iodine (I). Jefferson Lab, n.d. Web. 16 May 2013. <http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele053.html>.
"Extracting Iodine from Seaweed." Nuffieldfoundation.org. Nuffield Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 May 2013. <http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/practical-chemistry/extracting-iodine-seaweed>.
"Iodine Element Facts." Chemicool. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2013. <http://www.chemicool.com/elements/iodine.html>.
"Iodine." En.wikipedia.org. Wikipedia, 10 May 2013. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine>.
"Iodine." Eoearth.org. Encyclopedia of Earth, 15 Dec. 2007. Web. 18 May 2013. <http://www.eoearth.org/article/Iodine>.
"Iodine." Iodine (I). Lenntech, n.d. Web. 14 May 2013. <http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/i.htm>.
"Iodine." QuickFacts. National Institutes of Health, n.d. Web. 14 May 2013. <http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-QuickFacts/>.
Norton, Amy. "How Much Iodine Is Too Much?" Reuters.com. Thomson Reuters, 17 Jan. 2012. Web. 16 May 2013. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/17/us-iodine-howmuch-idUSTRE80G1OZ20120117>.
A small pile of a crushed grey-metallic element called Iodine. Digital image. Wikipedia.org. Wikipedia Foundation, n.d. Web. <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c2/Iodine-sample.jpg>.
"Why We Need Iodine." Wyoming Area Kiwanis, 12 Dec. 2000. Web. <http://www.angelfire.com/wa2/wakiwanIDD/>.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Will Grayson, Will Grayson Synopsis

CSS Reads

The best thing about Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan is that it is honest. It is blunt. It does not hide behind a hyped up glamour that so many books do. No, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is that it is totally up front about life and the ups and downs of teenage-hood. It does not make life seem like something that is easy, because it isn’t. Life can be and is most often hard, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson does not hide that fact.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson shares the story of two high school boys both named Will Grayson – but what is really interesting is that they don’t meet until a quarter of the way into the novel, so instead you are enjoying the build-up to what you think is the climax. Not so. Just like real life – which, unsurprisingly, is the model for the book – there are many ups and downs. There are points where you want to laugh – Tiny Cooper, a friend of one of the Will Graysons, is definitely a person designed for laughs – and when you want to cry – the character development is astonishing.

Personally, Will Grayson, Will Grayson hit a lot of points close to home. It deals with need, abandonment, how complicated a lie someone can weave, and perseverance. I certainly shed a few tears when the going got tough, and I loved every moment of it. What I loved even more was how David Levithan depicted chronic depression. It is not something that you can cure with a laugh, it is not something that somebody says they are for attention – no, it is a real mental condition that affects real people. I loved how real Will Grayson, Will Grayson was. There was no hiding behind the skirt of an ideal life, of an ideal reality that you can attain if you wish hard enough. And that was amazing.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Letter To a Classmate

9.1 Homeroom
Room 30
November 2, 2012

Tyler, Student
9.1 Homeroom
Room 30

Dear Mr. Tyler:

My name is Katelyn; I am a grade nine student and a peer of yours. I am writing this letter in response to your editorial cartoon, which depicted the US Department of Energy and Celera Genetics in a snail race to map the human genome. I am responding with comments, suggestions and questions about it.

You were very successful in depicting the race in an amusing way, however at this point I am not entirely sure what your point is. Are you showing how the US is not as adept at accomplishing tasks as privately owned companies are? Or are you showing how privately owned companies are doing too well and should be shut down? However, I believe it was effective in making me think on what, exactly, you meant. You chose a controversial topic and you displayed it in a way that was easy to understand and interpret, even though it raised questions. To improve, I would suggest finding a more blatant way of displaying your opinion on the issue. In fact, I’m not entirely aware of what the issue is.

Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Synthetic DNA Capable of Evolution

DNA and RNA are the building blocks for life. They are the chemical structures that living units are based on. Now, scientists showed that artificial genetic material called XNA can be replicated in a test tube, similar to DNA and RNA. They have also developed a way to make XNA evolve with desired traits and properties, and that XNA can evolve and replicate itself just like DNA and RNA. Specifically, they have created XNA fragments that could bind to a molecular target in the HIV virus. Scientists believe that the discovery could create a new platform for devising targeted drugs to treat a variety of diseases.

Researchers have been working for years with DNA and RNA, and a limitation is that the nucleic acids break down easily in the body, as compared to XNA, which does not. However, a limitation of the XNA is that it isn’t entirely artificial and natural DNA is still required to begin the XNA copying process. The ultimate impact of the work won’t really be known until people have had a chance to try it out.

Science Behind XNA
            The “X” in XNA stands for “xeno”, the “xeno” prefix is there to indicate to scientists that one of the ingredients that would normally be found in either DNA or RNA is different. Foreign, if you will.

            The molecules that make up XNA are almost identical to RNA and DNA molecules, except that in XNA nucleotides deoxyribose and ribose sugar groups found in RNA and DNA have been replaced. Some of these replacement molecules have four carbon atoms compared to the standard five. There are some that have seven carbon within them, and it is these modifications that make XNAs function identically to RNA and DNAs, but they are also what makes the XNA foreign.

            Vitor Pinheiror, one of the heads of the research project into XNA and it’s abilities, says that: “Any polymer can store information. What makes DNA and RNA unique is that the information within them can be accessed and copied.” Information that you can copy from one polymer to another is genetic information that can be propagated, and it is when genetic information that can be propagated that is the basis for the passing down of traits from parent to child. At this, however, I wondered if this is identical to the sexual reproduction that humans, specifically, undergo. I guessed that it is, for they both accomplish the same thing.

            What Pinheiro’s team did was develop technique called compartmentalized self-tagging. What this does is it not only takes XNA and synthesize it into the DNA “language”, but also takes that synthesized DNA back into the XNA “language”. This results in the propagation of genetic information, which means that XNA can evolve and pass on traits to offspring. This is done with a high percent of accuracy, which Pinheiro says is essential for evolution. Without this accuracy, evolution would fail to happen.

            One of the issues with using XNA is that it is difficult to develop an XNA system within a cell, as it is not yet capable of self replication or evolving on it’s own. At this point I want to know what next steps are required to accomplish this, as the benefits of XNA are limitless.


Dell'Amore, Christine. "Synthetic DNA Created." News.nationalgeographic.com. National Geographic, n.d. Web. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/04/120419-xna-synthetic-dna-evolution-genetics-life-science/>.

Fecht, Sarah. "XNA: Synthetic DNA That Can Evolve." Popular Mechanics. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. <http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/genetics/xna-synthetic-dna-that-can-evolve-8210483>.

Gonzalez, Robert T. "XNA Is Synthetic DNA Thatâ  s Stronger than the Real Thing." Io9. N.p., 19 Apr. 2012. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. <http://io9.com/5903221/meet-xna-the-first-synthetic-dna-that-evolves-like-the-real-thing>.

Sample, Ian. "Artificial Genetic Material." Rawstory.com. The Guardian, 20 Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. <http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/20/scientists-create-artificial-genetic-material-xna/>.

"Scientists Create 'synthetic DNA' Capable of Evolution." Calgaryherald.com.
   Calgary Herald, 20 Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2012.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pipeline of Oil

Recently in class we have been studying the close to home issue of the Enbridge Pipeline. We have had the opportunity to view several articles, and two videos, each with a different point of view about the $6 billion dollar project. I believe that both points of view have very convincing and important arguments that need to be listened to. However, it is my personal belief--more or less--that the environment is more important than whatever money we might make. After all, we can have all the money in the world but if you live in a wasteland, is it worth it?

For example, Enbridge does not have a good track record of effectively cleaning up their spills. Oil spills from 2005 are still floating in rivers and oceans, they are merely contained. Enbridge does have a point that their technology and ability to monitor their pipelines have increased to the point where if a spill was to happen, it would quickly be cleaned up. Many people are hesitant to trust this, though. I believe I am among these people.

Enbridge promises that the revenue earned from this project would outweigh potential risks, and I do not agree. They are risking millions of species by going through the Spirit Bear Rainforest, not only risking the Spirit Bear but the avian species and the plant life that grow there. I understand that Enbridge will replenish the land they hurt afterwards, but in the three and a half years of construction, there is much that cannot be healed.

One of the most key and important arguments supporting the pipeline is that it will increase Canada's international market for it's oil and gas industry. I understand this, and I can say it makes a lot of sense. Canada depends on the United States of America as our sole buyer for our oil. And if and when the U.S.A.'s economy declines, our does as well. I agree that Canada needs to become more independent in the international market.

My final stance on this is if we can find a route that does not endanger millions of species, then Canada should go through with the project. A compromise is what is needed, because Canada needs to protect the animals that live within it's borders, but Canada also needs to be able to support itself.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ranger's Apprentice

This book, The Kings of Clonmel, which is the eighth book in the Ranger's Apprentice series, is definitely worth it. I am currently reading it, and enjoying it immensely. When you first glance at the book, it doesn’t look like much. Dressed in cheap costumes with cheap makeup, the kids stand wielding tiny plastic weapons and a traditional scroll-like title pasted on the bottom. White printed so-common words “the international bestselling series” displayed like a banner along the top.

The series itself is amazing. Descriptive imagery illustrated a land of Kings, Queens, magic and monsters. Roaming the library, my brother had recommended it to me. At a moment of “why the heck not”, I picked the book off of the shelves and I was thrown into a world of intrigue and danger. John Flanagan had wrote it, and I had not heard of him before, but that didn’t matter to me. I was willing to give him a chance.

Now, on the eighth novel I have not been let down. My enjoyment while reading it has rivaled previous novels. It was definitely worth the wait, and though there was no hype around it I am still so glad I took my brother’s recommendation. As far as I am aware, about two other people that I know are reading this series, but nobody is on the eighth book—which is the best one yet by far.

Not only will I finish this book, but I will definitely finish the series. I cannot wait for the next one to come out—though there will be next to nobody to share my excitement with.