Truly Amazing Mangroves

Truly Amazing Mangroves

Adaptions allowing mangroves to populate intertidal areas including aerial stilt roots, pneumatophores, ways of disposing of excess salt and ways of conserving water. Features of red, black, white mangroves and buttonwoods and their zonation in mangrove forests. Seedlings of different mangrove species and their dispersal. How seedlings grow on parent trees before dropping off. How mangroves benefit communities.

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Origins of Plants on Land

Origins of Plants on Land

The evolution of prokaryotic bacteria in ancient seas 3.8 billion years ago; how cyanobacteria evolved to use visible light as a source of energy; the appearance of stromatolites in ancient seas; how the evolution of eukaroyotic cells led to the appearance of sea algae; how sea algae adapted to living on land to form the first land plants, the bryophytes. Some adaptions that prevent the dessication of bryophytes.

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Discovery of Circulation of Blood

Discovery of Circulation of Blood

The ancient greek Galenist view of the movement of blood round the body; Versalius, Fabricuius and Fallopius and their studies of human anatomy. The emergence of William Harvey and how he drew on the work of his predecessors to discover how blood circulates in the human body. A description of some of Harvey’s practical experiments including tying a ligature around a forearm and interpreting the outcome.

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The Beagle- from Rio to Montevideo

The Beagle- from Rio to Montevideo

The Beagle sails from Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo; Darwin reads John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Volume II of Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology; upheaval and anarchy in Montevideo; arrival of new ship’s artist Conrad Martens; fraternising with the gauchos and discovering the bones of an extinct megatherium; the story of the three Yaghans from Fitzroy’s first voyage on the Beagle; leaving Montevideo for Tierra del Fuego.

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Mammals, Endotherms and Warm Blood

Mammals, Endotherms and Warm Blood

‘Warm blood’ and an explanation of what it means to be endothermic. How homeothermic endotherms are able to maintain a constant body temperature within a narrow temperature range; the strong relationship between ‘mass specific basal metabolic rate’ and body mass; surface area to volume ratios; mechanisms by which the body loses and gains heat; abandoning endothermy by hibernation and torpor.

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Copernicus and the Universe

Copernicus and the Universe

Summary of the Ptolemaic Earth centered view of the Universe; how the Earth centered (geocentric) view held currency for more than 1000 years; Copernicus and the sun centered (heliocentric) view of the Universe; why Copernicus harbored doubts about the sun centered model; an explanation of the stellar parallax; using the geometry of the Earth to calculate distance. ‘De Revolutionibus’ goes into print in 1543.

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Reptiles, Ectotherms and Cold Blood

Reptiles, Ectotherms and Cold Blood

What makes reptiles ‘cold blooded; why ‘ectothermic’ is a more accurate description of reptiles than ‘cold blooded.’ How ectotherms ‘thermoregulate’ their core temperatures by adopting different types of behavior. Physiological adaptions of ectotherms including changing skin color, freeze avoidance and freeze tolerance. Why ectotherms make excellent ambush predators. The hearts of ectotherms.

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Brown Dwarfs – What Are They?

Brown Dwarfs – What Are They?

Difference between brown dwarfs and stars; how brown dwarfs’ early evolution is similar to that of protostars; gravitational contraction and how brown dwarfs burn deuterium and lithium; how matter inside brown dwarfs becomes degenerate; electron degeneracy explained and how this electron degeneracy impacts on size; difficulties in discovering brown dwarfs. Weather systems of brown dwarfs.

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The Force of Tension

The Force of Tension

Tension force and horizontal pulling forces. How Newton’s Laws of Motion can explain the force of tension; how tension remains constant when the forces pulling on a rope from opposite ends and in opposite directions become unbalanced; tension and vertical pulling forces ; explanation of tension in a cable which is attached a light to a ceiling; tension in the cable of an escalator; tension at the molecular level.

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Darwin Explores Rio de Janeiro

Darwin Explores Rio de Janeiro

The Beagle reaches Rio de Janeiro in April 1832. Darwin visits a slave plantation in the interior and is disgusted by what he sees of the treatment of black slaves. Darwin is captivated by the rainforest and all the specimens he observes for the first time. Darwin returns to Rio where he spends time discovering more new species including many invertebrates which he collects and preserves. The Beagle sets sail for Buenos Aires.

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