Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Beauty



Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture. An "ideal beauty" is an entity which is admired, or possesses features widely attributed to beauty in a particular culture, for perfection. The experience of "beauty" often involves an interpretation of some entity as being in balance and harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being. Because this can be a subjective experience, it is often said that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." There is evidence that perceptions of beauty are evolutionarily determined, that things, aspects of people and landscapes considered beautiful are typically found in situations likely to give enhanced survival of the perceiving human's genes.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Gesneriaceae


Gesneriaceae is a family of flowering plants consisting of ca. 150 genera and ca. 3,200 species in the Old World and New World tropics and subtropics, with a very small number extending to temperate areas. Many species have colorful and showy flowers and are cultivated as ornamental plants.

Most species are perennial herbs or subshrubs but a few are woody shrubs or small trees. The phyllotaxy is usually opposite and decussate, but leaves have a spiral or alternate arrangement in some groups. As with other members of the Lamiales the flowers have a (usually) zygomorphic corolla whose petals are fused into a tube and there is no one character that separates a gesneriad from any other member of Lamiales.

Gesneriads differ from related families of the Lamiales in having an unusual inflorescence structure, the "pair-flowered cyme", but some gesneriads lack this characteristic, and some other Lamiales (Calceolariaceae and some Scrophulariaceae) share it. The ovary can be superior, half-inferior or fully inferior, and the fruit a dry or fleshy capsule or a berry. The seeds are always small and numerous. Gesneriaceae have traditionally been separated from Scrophulariaceae by having a unilocular rather than bilocular ovary, with parietal rather than axile placentation.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Evolutionary developmental biology

Evolutionary developmental biology (evolution of development or informally, evo-devo) is a field of biology that compares the developmental processes of different organisms to determine the ancestral relationship between them, and to discover how developmental processes evolved. It addresses the origin and evolution of embryonic development; how modifications of development and developmental processes lead to the production of novel features, such as the evolution of feathers; the role of developmental plasticity in evolution; how ecology impacts in development and evolutionary change; and the developmental basis of homoplasy and homology.

Although interest in the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny extends back to the nineteenth century, the contemporary field of evo-devo has gained impetus from the discovery of genes regulating embryonic development in model organisms. General hypotheses remain hard to test because organisms differ so much in shape and form.

Nevertheless, it now appears that just as evolution tends to create new genes from parts of old genes (molecular economy), evo-devo demonstrates that evolution alters developmental processes to create new and novel structures from the old gene networks (such as bone structures of the jaw deviating to the ossicles of the middle ear) or will conserve (molecular economy) a similar program in a host of organisms such as eye development genes in molluscs, insects, and vertebrates. Initially the major interest has been in the evidence of homology in the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate body plan and organ development. However more modern approaches include developmental changes associated with speciation.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Commercialism


Yep, I admit it - I'm all about the commercialism of Christmas. That's why husband spent most of last night trying to get the kids' new FP3 players to work with stupid @#$% Vista software - at least now they won't have to wait while we break through the super-hermetically-sterile plastic and wire packaging tomorrow morning.
I'm also about the commercials of Christmas. I am notoriously affected by said commercials, often actually tearing up at the particularly pseudo-emotional ones. When I was a little kid, there were two in particular that stand out in my memory - and now, thanks to the wonder of YouTube, I can see them again :)