Inner Nature: Digestion and food processing

By Vidja Rajan, Columnist, The Times The previous group of Inner Nature articles were loosely organized around how organisms sense the external environment using vision, sound, touch, taste and smell. What is most remarkable about this cluster of what appears to be completely different mechanisms is the profound underlying similarity. This similarity is due to the outcome of notionally different...

Inner Nature: That sense of smell

By Vidja Rajan, Columnist, The Times When preparing a body for embalming, the Ancient Egyptians carefully entombed organs considered necessary for the afterlife with the body. The brain was considered dispensable and was pulled out of the skull with a hooked rod inserted through the nose (http://legacy.mos.org/quest/mummy.php). In this, the ancient Egyptians discovered something significant: it’s...

Inner Nature: Gustation, the sense of taste

By Vidya Rajan, Columnist, The Times Lead in paint and gasoline was banned in the 1970s because it causes brain damage by downregulating the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) [1]. BNDF is an important growth factor for brains to grow and develop properly. Therefore, banning lead from gasoline makes sense – after all chemicals in fumes get breathed in, enter the circulation,...

Inner Nature: Getting touchy-feely with Somatosensation

By Vidja Rajan, Columnist, The Times Somatosensation is the ability of the body to sense stimuli, but is not as straightforward as it seems. For example, touch can range from being barely perceptible to being excruciating; an itch that is scratched can go from feeling pleasurable to painful. Percussion and loud music can can be felt as a physical sensation. How does this happen, and is it touch...

Inner Nature: Good Vibrations – The Science of Hearing

By Vidya Rajan, Columnist, The Times A disturbance in any medium except vacuum causes vibrations whose energy is transmitted from atom to atom in all directions from the epicenter. These waves encode the amplitude (intensity) and frequency (pitch)(see Figure 1) of the disturbance thus broadcasting information to anyone who can decode the vibrations. Animals, whose very existence depends on whether...

Inner Nature: Eye see colors

By Vidya Rajan, Columnist, The Times Eyes harvest light reflected from objects. Optic nerves transmit that information to the brain. The brain turns that information into an image. Thus eyes are the intermediary between an object and its perception. Let’s look at them more carefully. Don’t shrink from anatomical detail or biochemistry – this is fun stuff. It’s fun because delving into biomechanical...

Inner Nature: Metamorphosis – Buggy Development

By Vidya Rajan, Columnist, The Times The growth of a single cell from a fertilized egg, or zygote, to an adult composed of trillions of cells is amazing and magical. This process which scientists, with their knack for understatement, call “development” happens with most eukaryotic organisms – those that have cells with a nucleus and other membranous compartments. Nucleated eukaryotic cells...

KEF’s and district’s ‘Consistent Persistence’ leads to STEM program

District announces the implementation of STEM curriculum at the annual Kennett Education Foundation Dinner By P.J. D’Annunzio, Staff Writer, KennettTimes.com Kennett Education Foundation donors celebrate raising money for the Kennett Consolidated School District — and a new math and science focused curriculum. PENNSBURY — For the Kennett Consolidated School District educators and Kennett...

KCSD considers implementation of STEM curriculum

School board looks at adding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program to district’s curriculum By P.J. D’Annunzio, Staff Writer, KennettTimes.com KENNETT SQUARE—In a time when the nation faces a shortage of engineers, doctors, and scientists, the STEM program may prove to be invaluable in fortifying the country’s industrial and medical sectors. Seeing the value of this,...