Autumn 2006 Schedule


Sorry, I just find that a good way to get my mind rolling for typing purposes. In fact, before I write papers I always write a prepaper which consists of a random train of that that goes here and there and everywhere and always starts with BLLAAARRRGGGHHH!!! or something similar. Seems to work, I don’t know. Just a warning: my brain is currently floating around in space and not really monitoring what it spits out, so much of this post will be poorly written, and I will not even double back to check on it. Some might even be unintelligible. Good luck.

I haven’t been here for a while. I got caught up doing nothing and doing work and weighing in my mind which one I should do at any given moment of the day. So far it has mostly been nothing. Since I never left the school I’m having some trouble getting back into school mode. I just need to sit down this weekend and force myself to study a large amount so I can begin to get myself back into work mode. I will definitely need to be in that mood soon.

So here’s my class lowdown thus far:

BIOS 20184 (Biologicial Diversity)
At first, I thought this class would be tedious and a lot of work with little educational reward [Note: I don’t recall why I thought this]. It seems now, however, that it will be a great class. It will be tedious, but it is damn fascinating so that it is okay. The question we are trying to approach through the quarter is, essentially, “how did all of the present biological diversity develop?” Turns out that there is, of course, no easy answer to this question.

We started with discussing the origins of the earth and moon and the earliest point at which life could have started (after a period of intense bombardment by huge rocks flying through our solar system). Really cool stuff that I didn’t know. We also talked a bit about selection and Darwinian evolution, just so the class was using the terms and ideas correctly for the rest of the quarter. Things that should have been obvious that I have never thought of were how people have been selecting for traits in other organisms that end up being really bad things to select for. Such as the use of low-level antibiotics in livestock. Constant low-level amounts just select for those E. coli that have some resistance to the antibiotic. Over time, then, you end up with strains of E. coli that can kill people because livestock are being given antibiotics, which is a pretty indirect and terrifying thing.

Also, insects and plants were co-evolving for 80 million years before we came around and tried to kill insects. What does this mean? This means that plants have constantly come up with new chemicals to kill the insects that eat them, and insects have continuously found ways to not be killed by these chemicals. Then we come along and say “hey, you know what sounds like a good idea? Spraying chemicals on insects! They won’t have any idea what to do with them!” That is, clearly, idiotic. Only with the “hind-sight bias” of course, though there were people at the time saying “maybe this isn’t such a good idea…” Now we have insects that are immune to every insecticed known to man.

Back to bacteria. The number of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains has increased basically linearly since penicillin was introduced, so that shortly after each new antibiotic appears, resistant strains also appear. But here’s the scary part: since drug companies don’t make much money from antibiotics, the rate of new antibiotic discovery is decreasing linearly with time. Resistant strains increasing, new antibiotics decreasing… seems pretty bad doesn’t it? It is. So bad, in fact, that soil bacteria have been found that are resistant, simultaneously, to all major antibiotics. Soil bacteria! We don’t even try to kill those with antibiotics and they have still developed resistance!!! Terrifying terrifying. I don’t know why everyone is so scared of viruses like the bird flu when it is much more likely that we will all be killed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Ah well.

BIOS 21236 (Genetics of Model Organisms)
My first upper-level bio class, this one will prove to be fascinating. We have five different professors, one for each of five of the seven model organisms used in genetic study. We are given scientific papers every weed to discuss at the end of the week. I think I’ll get a lot out of this class, but so far have nothing to report [Note: This was my favorite class, and the one I got the most out of, at the UofC.].

CHEM 23300 (Intermediate O-Chem)
First upper-level chemistry class. It is actually a biochem class, and will cover things I did third quarter last year in extreme detail. The pace of the class is already incredible, so we’ll see how that goes.

PHYS 13100 (Physics)
Similar to gen. chem. I would suppose. This will be a good class for me to actually get down all of those physics principles that I have never bothered to learn. Nothing to report yet, however.

Okay, so that was my class line-up thus far. I am sure I had other things to talk about, but have now gotten tired of writing and will have to do that some other time. Good day!

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