The key levels of organization involved in breathing.

Breathing is something an organism can do consciously or sub-consciously.  It’s not questioned, you simply must breathe in order to get oxygen to your body, and you must get oxygen to your body in order to survive.  The advanced mechanisms of breathing, and the gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, are more detailed and complex than just letting air in and out..

When a human first inhales, the air enters through the trachea, which is located behind the esophagus.  The trachea is lined with various cilia and mucus, the mucus traps dust particles, while the cilia transfer particles to the pharynx, so that they may be swallowed into the esophagus.

The trachea divides into two bronchi, which then separate into bronchioles.  Like the trachea, bronchi are also lined with cilia and mucus to pick up any remaining particles.  the division continues; the bronchioles are divided into even smaller tubes.  Ultimately the division stops in tiny air sacs called alveoli.

The alveoli are lined with the capillaries for the actual exchange of gases.  The oxygen rich air that was just inhaled, is dissolved into the moist lining within the alveolus.  The surrounding capillaries contain blood with low oxygen (O2) and high carbon dioxide (CO2).  The difference in partial pressure causes the O2 to diffuse into the blood capillaries and the CO2 to diffuse out of the blood capillaries and into the alveoli. exhalation releases CO2 from the body and allows for inhalation of more oxygen.

This advanced mechanism takes place every time you breath.  There are many levels of organization that must function properly in order for this whole process to work.

Hungry and satiety: a deeper look.

It’s natural to feel hungry when you need to refuel your body, or to feel satisfied when you are refueled.  But think deeper, how are we able to feel hunger and satiety?  Various organs, chemicals and mechanisms contribute to the feeling you get when either hungry or satisfied.

Hormones signal the satiety (satisfied)  part of the brain, depending on whether the body needs nutrition, or whether it’s satisfied.  The hormone called Ghrelin, sometimes known as the “hungry hormone” is the chemical released by the stomach when the stomach is empty, and it is continued to be released until the stomach is stretched out or satisfied.  When you miss a meal, and begin to feel hungrier and hungrier, it is when ghrelin is collectively released by the stomach.

What about the feeling of satiety?  The hormone insulin, is released by pancreas when blood sugar is too high, and it actually suppresses the appetite.  Figuratively, insulin is telling the brain that it has consumed too much sugar for now, and sending signals for it to not consume anymore until further notice.

There is another hormone called Leptin.  Leptin is released by adipose (fat) tissue, and this chemical also suppresses appetite.  Levels of leptin are actually decreased with loss of weight, which could explain why it is hard to maintain a diet with the intent to lose weight.

Another important hormone is Peptide YY, or PYY.  PYY is secreted by the small intestine when the organism finishes consuming a meal.  PYY counteracts the effects of ghrelin, and suppresses the appetite.

In conclusion, hunger and satiety are much more than just a growl  in the stomach.  There are a lot of chemicals and mechanisms that signal the brain and tell it what the body needs.



What does it mean for a creature to be intelligent?

On a general day-to-day basis, you encounter a variety of people, each who have a different impact on you.  One of the main factors that determines this impact is their overall intelligence.  What is meant by intelligence?

According to the Oxford dictionary, intelligence is defined as, the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.  So thus, for a creature to be intelligent, that creature must possess the ability to acquire knowledge and skills, and apply them in relevant circumstance.  There are many different classes of animals that have intelligent behavior, and it is a fascinating topic.

One of the most intelligent group of animals are elephants.  Elephants are known for their incredible memory, and they are also known to show sympathy when members of their herd die.  Their sympathetic nature is very human-like.  It is incredible that these animals possess that kind of caring nature.  They are able to learn and use creative skills, such as painting.  They have been significant in agriculture, especially in Africa in ancient times.  They possess unique strength and intelligence, which is fascinating to mankind, but also helpful in the wild.

And probably the most intelligent group in the animal kingdom, are primates, specifically the clade simians.  This group includes monkeys and apes, some of which have similar DNA to humans.  Some species of simians can actually teach each other basic skills, that vary among their different tribes.  Some apes are able to recognize individuals in their group, and they understand the levels of authority within their own community.  They are able to utilize tools in the wild, and also while in captivity.  Most apes are able to communicate to humans, via sign language, which is truly an amazing ability.

The intelligence of animals is a topic that we do not, and really cannot fully understand, but it has been studied for centuries, and will continue to amuse us as we make new discoveries.

Should all the species in phylum Arthropoda be classified under one group?

Arthropoda is the largest phylum in the world, with over 1,000,000 known species.  This group of creatures possess multiple common characteristics that justify them to be classified in the same group.

On the Linnaean scale of classification, phylum is the classification directly below the kingdom classification.  Among arthropods, there are multiple different classes and sub-phyla. Some of these include: crustaceans, insects, and arachnids.  Some common classes of arthropods are lobsters, crabs, beetles, winged insects, etc. Sub-phylum, chelicerata, contains the class arachnid, which includes spiders, ticks and scorpions.

There is tremendous diversity within this phylum, however, they all share a basic body plan. There are variations among different classes and species (and especially the sub-phylum arachnids), but they all follow one basic blueprint.  Each further classification is specialized with different vices, but still share basic characteristics.  What is this body plan? Arthropods have a full body exoskeleton, and jointed limbs, and three separate body cavities: a head, a thorax, and an abdomen. –With the exception of arachnids, that have a joined head and thorax, called a cephalothorax.

As many species as there are within this phylum, one can imagine the incredible diversity of arthropods.  There is so much detail we already know, and there are so many details mankind has yet to discover.

All these species being classified into one group poses the question: should they all be classified in just one group?  Yes, they should all be classified together.  Why?  Because they all share the same basic structure, and engage in similar behaviors.  This body plan gives them similarity, and even though the basic structure varies tremendously, the species all have similar behaviors and metabolic processes.  The body blue print of arthropods preserves the relationship between all the species within the phylum.

The Relation between Adoption and Inheritance in Paul’s thoughts, according to the Epistles.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul wrote a series of Epistles to various peoples, to teach them the word of God.  He uses language that is effective in persuading his audience of the idea of Christianity.  Paul structured his messages in a way that they could be understood.  They were understood in that time, and have become critical literary tools in understanding the early formation of Christianity.

Paul displays a unique relationship between adoption and inheritance and argues this relationship in his Epistles.  His opinion is essentially this: adoption of Christianity; adoption by God, leads to inheritance of the kingdom of God.

Because of the original sin of Adam, men are not automatic heirs to the kingdom of God.  All of mankind are sinners, and Paul categorized himself in this group.  Because of the sins men commit, they are not worthy of inheritance.  Christ, however, enabled mankind to be adopted by God, so that they may be worthy of inheritance.  Death came through sin; death was overcome by Christ.

Paul states that he was once a grave sinner, and he calls himself the chief of the sinners.  Pail once persecuted the Christians; he was a sinner, as are all of mankind.  His eyes were opened by God, and by the grace of God, he adopted the faith, and thus was adopted by God.  He was redeemed and then recruited to do they work of God.  Like Paul, men must be redeemed from their sins, and this happens through a process of adoption, and then they are worthy to be heirs.  Different branches of Christianity believe multiple variations of how an individual participates in this adoption.  Regardless, from Paul’s perspective, as he writes in his Epistles, adoption must take place in order for inheritance to be possible.

Because of the sins of Adam, men are disinherited.  Adoption is the way do undo this disinheritance.  Christ, through his passion, paid the ransom for our sins so that we may be allowed to be adopted children of God.  However, individuals are still given the choice in whether or not they will earn their inheritance.  Christ paid the debt through his passion, but the individual must still obey and live the word of God to earn inheritance.

Everyone is guilty, those who remain guilty, undergo the wrath of God.  The only way out for the guilty (aka everyone) is adoption.  No one has an excuse, and there is no one that can be righteous without God.  Paul motivated his audience by informing them that they must take action, and adopt Christianity, so that they may become adopted children of God, and this is something they must do on their own behalf.

This inheritance is not only available to the Jews, but to the Gentiles and to all peoples throughout the world.  Paul preached of a universal inheritance.  All peoples of the world are able to become heirs to the kingdom of God, but they must do this through means adoption.

In conclusion, the relationship between adoption and inheritance in Paul’s thoughts, is that adoption leads to inheritance.  Christ enabled us to be adopted children of God, through his passion.  Men and women are able to adopt Christianity and become heirs to the kingdom of God.

Chordates, and how they are different from Vertebrates.

What is a chordate? How are vertebrates different from chordates?

A chordate is a member of the animal kingdom, and categorized in the phylum Chordata.  Chordates have several characteristics that define them, and set them apart from all other animals.  Some of these traits are only present during embryonic development, but nonetheless, they do serve a crucial purpose within the organism.

Chordates have a notocord, which is essentially a long, flexible rod placed within the organism between dorsal nerve cord and the digestive tract.  The notochord serves many purposes, as it is built out of stiff, fibrous tissues.  Aquatic animals push muscle against this to help them swim, for example.

Chordates also have a dorsal nerve cord, which is a hollow nerve cord.  This dorsal nerve cord, in a human, becomes the spinal cord and brain after the process of embryonic development.

Another characteristic of chordates is the pharyngeal cleft.  The pharynx is the head/neck region of the animal right behind the mouth.  The pharyngeal cleft is a cleft, or pouch like structure in the pharynx region.  The form the pharyngeal cleft takes, and the function it carries out, depends on whether the animal is terrestrial or aquatic.

Chordates also have a muscular tail.  This tail may only be visible during embryonic development, but it is an essential trait during embryonic development.  Depending on the species, it may shrink if the species no longer depends on it.  The muscular tail extends beyond the digestive tract, and for aquatic chordates especially, this tail is important to propel the animal.

How are chordates different from vertebrates?  The vertebrate definition is a craniate with a backbone.  What is a craniate?  Craniates are all the members of the phylum chordata that have a head.  A head contains a brain at the front end of the dorsal nerve chord, as well as the common sensory organs such as nose, eyes, ears, mouth.  There are actually many invertebrates that have a head, however, a craniate is exclusively a chordate with a head.

To conclude, a vertebrate is a chordate, if, and only if, the chordate is a craniate with a backbone.  A chordate must possess a head and backbone in order for it to be a vertebrate.


(Biology, Lesson 100 essay.)


Soil is much more than just “dirt” that holds up the plant.

“Soil is just dirt to hold the plant up.”  — This is a statement that I, and many other individuals can easily disagree with.  However, it seems that a majority of the population agrees with this statement. It is actually fairly easy to adopt the idea of soil being just dirt, intended only to support the plant, but soil is much more than that.

It is easy to overlook soil, and how crucial it is to all levels of life, because it’s not something we notice on a day-to-day basis.  Plants, bodies of water, animals, etc., perform events crucial to the environment that we can, for the most part, see and feel.  The soil, however, is essentially just the dirt under our feet.  If an individual does not want to go into the details of the complexity of soil,  it is easy to adopt the opinion of it being simply dust underfoot.

Soil has so much complexity, that someone could dedicate their entire life to studying it through pedology, or edaphology, and still only cover a small portion of study.

Why is soil so important?  Aside from water, what do animals and humans need for survival? Nutrition. Some of their nutrition comes from other animals, but those animals have to eat something.  Plants support the entire animal kingdom,either by primary or secondary consumption.

What feeds the plants? Plants utilize energy from the sun to perform photosynthesis, and this is their main nutrient, but there are nutrients in the soil that act as supplements for the plant, and affect the production of the plant. Like people, plants benefit from supplements in their nutrition.

There are several biotic and abiotic factors that affect the characteristic of the soil and will determine the plants ability to grow.  Soil supports plants, that’s a mutual opinion, but soil does more than just that.

There are many layers of soil that perform important functions, however the most important of these is the layer of top soil.  The top soil is the layer from which plants absorb minerals and receive benefits from other living organisms.

The soil in an ecosystem is important, it affects plant growth, which then significantly affects the population of other animals and organisms. Soil also supports many organisms such as earthworms, that need the soil environment to survive.  Soil does not just support plants, it supports the entire ecosystem.


Why were the Sadducees and the apostles unable to find a way to reconcile their rival opinions?

In the book of Acts, there was a conflict between the Sadducees and the apostles.  This conflict was repeated throughout the book of Acts, and they were ultimately unable to reconcile their rival opinions.  Why?

The Sadducees practiced and taught the Mosaic law, while the apostles were preaching the new ways of Christianity.  The apostles were introducing new ways, and reforming old Mosaic law, and this was a threat to the teachings of the Sadducees and priests.

The Sadducees, and other religious officials, were doing everything in their power to prevent the message of Christianity from being spread.  They attempted to arrest and threaten the apostles, so that they could quiet the bearers of the message.  This included the Martyrdom of St. Stephen, and the imprisonment of the disciples; this was a threat to the apostles.

The Sadducees were the group of Jews in charge of maintaining the temple.  The Sadducees appointed new priests, and managed multiple political and religious affairs.  However, as stated in the previous paragraph, they expressed major opposition toward the message spread by the apostles.  They opposed the shift of attention that was happening, from Mosaic law, toward the teachings of Christ spread by apostles.

This issue was not something that could just be taken in council and reconciled, because of the nature of the apostles’ message. The Sadducees and priests believed in ancient Mosaic law, and they were not open to any kind of change or reform.  The apostles, on the other hand, preached in the name of Jesus, who the religious officials had crucified.  It was the religious officials who had persecuted Christ, and prophets before his time.  St. Stephen challenged them with this before they stoned him to death.

The Sadducees had arrested the apostles, twice, and both times, they warned them to stop preaching in the name of Christ. They continued to preach in the name of Christ, and continued to heal and perform miracles.  The apostles were engaging in a transition away from Mosaic law, and religious officials could not come to accept this.

Ultimately, Christian leaders pursued in preaching the message, and Christianity survived this conflict.  However, the religious leaders, primarily the Sadducees, and the apostles were unable to reconcile this conflict.  The Christian leaders, in my opinion, had valid reason to avoid the Sadducees and other religious leaders at all costs.

The religious leaders were the ones persecuting the Christians.  It wasn’t that these people weren’t allowed to join Christianity, Saul, who was a persecutor of Christians was converted and became a very influential Christian leader.  The Sadducees, opposed the teaching and forbade it in the region.  The apostles would not conform to this restriction given to them by the Sadducees.

From the point of view of the Sadducees, they believed in the teachings of the Mosaic laws, and they were not open to the new messages that contradicted, or “updated” their life-long beliefs.  They would not reconcile with the people who spread the message that they believed, was in a sense, contradicting their ancient tradition.


Islam from the Koran, and The Procopius portrayal of Justinian.

1) What do you learn about Islam from the Koran selections you read?

The Koran is the collection of speeches given by Muhammad, the founder of Islam.  It is believed by Muslims that Muhammad is not the author of the Koran, but the author was God, Allah, who directly gave the word to Muhammad.  The Koran is divided into chapters, or surahs, the selections provided in the lesson were from surah 1, and surah 47.

In the selections of surah 1,  it is stated that Allah is the sovereign being.  It is straight to the point, it immediately communicates to the reader that Allah is God, who possesses absolute sovereignty.

In surah 47, the author poses that one must believe in, and worship Allah, to attain life.  One that does do the will of Allah, will receive freedom from their sins, and from my understanding, his followers will receive eternal life.  It states that in battle, if a Muslim is confronted with someone who does not believe, the Muslims have the right to kill the non-believers.  It is also stated that those who kill in the name of Allah will essentially be pardoned.  Allah is protector of his followers, and those who do not follow him, do not have protection.

Overall, the message I take from these selections of the Koran, is that Muslims are general peaceful people–mainly among themselves.  They are permitted by Allah to kill people who do not believe in their religion.  The only instances in which they are not peaceful, is when confronted, in a battle atmosphere, with non-believers, or civilizations of non-believers.
2) What kind of person emerges from the Procopius portrayal of Justinian?

Procopius was a Greek-Byzantine historian, who wrote a portrayal of the most well-known Byzantine emperor Justinian (r.527-565).   This is the most accurate account of Justinian that we have today.

He begins by describing the physical characteristics of Justinian, not a bad looking guy.  Then, goes on to describe Justinian’s personality, in which he made him sound like an easy-to-manipulate, dishonest man; a moron.  He describes Justinian as someone that would be difficult to be friends with, he was two-faced, he was deceitful, and he lied.  He was described as too ignorant to fully hear out accusations, and too quick to punish.  This description does not exactly portray him as someone who would be a good, or even decent emperor, however, he did make significant impact.

Upon gaining the office of emperor, he turned a lot of things around.  He changed law codes, he removed old political offices and introduced new ones.  He did however, have good ambitions, and he wanted to recapture and unify Africa, Italy, Spain, Gaul and Britain with a single religion, orthodox Christianity.  He had some successes in this, but he did not achieve all of his goals.

The kind of person that emerges from the Procopius portrayal of Justinian, is somewhat of a crude individual, however, also an individual with goals and ambitions to help serve his people.



According to Mark’s gospel, what was main issue dividing Jesus from the leaders of Israel?

There are four gospels in the New Testament, the shortest of the four, is the gospel of Mark.  In the gospel of Mark, the main issue dividing Christ from the Leaders of Israel,  was a form of envious fear; fear on behalf of the leaders.  The leaders of Israel possessed significant fear of the power and authority Christ had.  Christ rejected the commandments of men, but rather honored and reinforced the commandments of God.  Christ was one of the few individuals, this early in time, that successfully challenged, and threatened the power of the Israelite leaders, and this inspired both envy and fear among them.

Christ had authority over many things of which the leaders of Israel did not have power over. For instance, he had authority over sicknesses, diseases, and demons, he had authority over nature, he possessed the ability to walk on water, etc.  Christ had authority over things that humankind could not possibly imagine having authority over.  This made the Israelite officials fearful.

Because of Christ’s authority, he attracted large crowds of people, many of which who traveled great distance to see him.  The population began to recognize Christ as their leader, rather than the Israelite leaders.  The idea of the leaders losing their authority was a very daunting thought to them.

Christ had the ability to distribute this power, given to him by God the Father, to his disciples.  They were then sent out to perform miracles in Christ’s name, and spread his message.  In the mind of the leaders in the synagogue, Christ was expanding his authority, which rapidly became more of a threat to their own authority.  One of Christ’s main reasons for sending out his disciples was so that his message could be spread to the people in as many regions as possible.  The Israelite leaders saw the teaching’s of Christ as a threat to their society, rather than what it actually was; a purification of their society.

The accusations against him were made mainly because the Israelite leaders felt threatened by his authority.  Christ was undermining their law, with the law of God, and they could see that he was making a substantial impact on the population.  There were multiple efforts to turn him in, but many of them lacked validity.  Even Pontius Pilate could see no offense that was enough to condemn him to persecution for.  In Mark 15:10, the author writes, referring to Pilate, “For he knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over.”

He called thousands of people to repentance and renewed the mosaic laws which they had practiced for ages, specifically the law of divorce.  Again, this inspires fear in the leaders of Israel.  Christ had the authority to renew laws given by Moses, only the Son of God could have power like this, and that contributed to the fear and envy amongst the officials.

There were several different issues that divided Jesus from the leaders of Israel, but the main one is the envious fear possessed by the Israelite leaders.