Toucan Play That Game

A blog about life...literally

Potential Cure Stems From a Special Kind of Cell

One of the most remarkable properties of the human brain is its plasticity, or its ability to adapt and repair itself from damage caused by disease or trauma. However, as humans age, the brain’s capacity for self-repair deteriorates. Some of the main causes of brain damage include stroke, physical trauma, environment, and neural degenerative diseases. These issues mainly occur in adults, when repair abilities have already decreased with age.

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Written by Shannon F.| Tagged | Leave a Comment

Are High-Protein Total Diet Replacements the Key to Maintaining Healthy Weight?

High diets and total weight loss plan replacements are getting more and more popular for weight reduction however, further research is wanted to explain their impact on the mechanisms involved in weight regulation.

Compared to the standard North American dietary pattern, the findings of this inpatient metabolic balance study revealed that the high-protein total diet replacement led to “higher energy expenditure, increased fat oxidation, and negative fat balance.” In particular, the results of the study provide further evidence that a calorie is not just a calorie. That is, a diet with a higher proportion of protein might lead to an increase in energy expenditure and fat oxidation compared to a diet consisting of the same number of calories, but with a lower proportion of protein as well as a higher proportion of carbohydrate or fat.

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Can a Simple Organelle Change Your Life?

While the field of Biotechnology is thousands of years old it feels new and unexplored. Over time our idea of what technology is has evolved into the new innovative iPhone, or any other gadget that helps support your lifestyle. However the greatest advancement in Biotechnology has been in the medical fields. The advancement of medicine with technology truly is revolutionary, in the way that it can advance our future. The possibilities are endless, we could find a cure for cancer, or the coronavirus. We could permanently end deafness, or blindness. All of these will hopefully occur at some point in the future, why not sooner rather than later?

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What Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?

An egg is defined as the membrane-bound vessel in which an embryo grows and develops until it is able to survive on its own. Prior to the arrival of what one would recognize today as a bird egg, most animals relied on water to reproduce in order to ensure their eggs would not dry out, laying their eggs in moist environments. However, throughout millions of years, a different kind of egg began to evolve. This egg, defined as an amniotic egg, has three extra membranes inside: the chorion, amnion, and the allantois. While each of these membranes have a slightly different function, the addition of all three extra layers provide an enclosed life support system for the embryo growing inside. This embryo is able to take in stored nutrients, respire (breathe), and store excess waste products without the need of an external aquatic environment. The tough outer shell of the amnion egg coupled with the extra fluids encased inside the egg provide extra protection for the embryo as well, allowing the egg to be laid and kept on land.

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Winged Wednesday – Gobble, Gobble!

Read more about the life and times of the turkey here.


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26.2 Miles: A Balancing Act Like No Other

Running is a common activity people partake in. It’s a great way to stay in shape, whether it’s by running two miles or training for a marathon. All that’s needed is an able body and willpower. A recent study however, confirms that running a marathon in under two hours requires more than just will power and legs. There is a necessary balance of VO2 max, efficiency of movement, and high lactate turn points that must be present to accomplish this ambitious goal.

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Written by Molly T.| Tagged | 1 Comment

“Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine is Strongly Effective, Early Look At Data Shows”

Life as we know it has been dramatically altered within the course of the last eight months of 2020. From the first case of the corona virus in the United States on January 20th, to 1.3 million deaths worldwide, one thing is for sure. CoronaVirus is here to stay. But – for just how long?

From the very beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, rumors of a vaccine have been spreading rapidly around social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. But, no one truly knew when a vaccine would be released; it was all just hopeful speculation.

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Water: The Molecule of Life: A Lecture

In AP biology Unit 1, Mr Mohn gave a lecture on “Water: The Molecule of Life,” by explaining generally what it is, what is does, what it effects, and why it is so important, in order to introduce students to the basics that segway into the upcoming topics of Unit 1. Mr. Mon hits the following ideas: cohesion, adhesion, pH, solutes, acids and bases, the solvent life, definitions and explanations of hydrophilic and hydrophobic, temperature, surface tension, properties of water, and of course, polarity. However, what I found the most intriguing were not the much needed key topics, but the little fun facts mentioned here and there, and the explanations beyond the curriculum.

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Mammal Monday – A Whale of a Tale

Did you know?

“About 55 million years ago, at the start of the Eocene epoch, a branch of artiodactyls (the even-toed ungulates represented today by pigs and deer) veered off onto the evolutionary line that slowly led to modern whales. The ancient artiodactyl Indohyus is important because (at least according to some paleontologists) it belonged to a sister group of the earliest prehistoric whales, and was closely related to genera like Pakicetus, which lived a few million years earlier.”

From About.com


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UCH37 Now Discovered to Regulate Waste Management of a Cell

To begin with, enzymes are proteins that act as biological catalysts. Enzymes are found within a cell and they create chemical reactions within the body. Catalysts are substances that increase the rate of chemical reactions without undergoing a permanent chemical change. Catalysts increase the rate of chemical reactions by lowering the activation energy for chemical reactions. Enzymes bind to reactant molecules and hold them in a way that the chemical bond-forming and bond-breaking processes take place more readily.

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Frog Friday – Callobatrachus

This extinct species is important because, according to the scientists who discovered this fossil specimen, Callobatrachus “is a linkage between aquatic and terrestrial life forms, representing a great success in evolution.”


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Zombie Spaghetti, YUM! Or maybe not…

Have you ever seen a plant that looked like a delicious spaghetti dinner? What if that plant was actually just an incompetent series of zombie vines that kills other plants? The Japanese Dodder plant, often called the zombie spaghetti plant, does just that. The Japanese dodder plant is a type of holoparasite; a plant which requires a host plant to survive off of.

This intricate plant resembles spaghetti with it’s tiny yellow stems and occasional red specks. The Japanese dodder can grow pale yellow or cream colored flowers along with scale-like textured leaves. The fruit that grows in these vines are small and capsule-like, each fruit carries only a few seeds each. The vines of a dodder plant can be hard to distinguish against regular vines, but farmers and gardeners should be on the lookout because the seeds can be very dangerous,they allow the plant to spread like a wildfire. The seeds can travel due to animals or water traveling to nearby areas. The Japanese dodder plant can also spread just with a part of the vine alone, for exampleIf the vine were to simply break off and land in the soil, it can grow and reattach to other host plants.

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Sunblock Won’t Fix That: The Effects of Coral Bleaching

Coral reefs are vital to ocean life. They’re known as the nurseries of the ocean due to many fish starting their lives there. These groupings of coral are vital to human life. We harvest the fish that live by these reefs, the reefs protect us by decreasing wave sizes that can result in floods near our coastlines, and we sell and eat what we’ve harvested from the reefs. Unfortunately due to the rising water temperatures as a result of climate change, corals are becoming bleached. This happens when the coral polyps, the individual coral organisms that join together to make larger and more complex corals, will expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues which in turn cause the coral to turn completely white. This is bad because the coral alone isn’t able to function properly. This symbiotic relationship between the coral and zooxanthellae is necessary for the functioning of the coral since the algae, through photosynthesis, can provide glucose, glycerol, and amino acids that the coral itself can’t make. This in turn is the very reason why corals can have such vibrant differentiating colors through that process of photosynthesis. But when ocean water temperatures began to rise, tides became lower resulting in a greater amount of sunlight exposure, or the increase in pollution, the algae got stressed and detached from the corals resulting in the coral dying since it needed a symbiotic partner to produce the things it could not.

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Should We All Actually Aim For 8 Hours Of Sleep?

For most of our lives, we have been told that we need at least 8 hours of sleep every night. However, now more than ever, it is difficult to even get 7 hours of sleep amidst all the procrastinated assignments, and not to mention, the Netflix shows that needed to be finished the day it was started. But, have you ever noticed that sometimes, the less you sleep, the less you feel tired? Well, that may potentially be the result of a mutated gene that leads to a natural short sleep trait in humans.

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Written by Yeanna M.| Tagged | Leave a Comment

Snooze You Lose…A Third of Your Life!

There aren’t many fascinating things snails can do, but they can stay asleep for three years! You might ask how is this possible…so I will explain the scientific reasoning behind this interesting fact.

Snails have a distinct sleeping pattern. They sleep for 15 hours and fall in and out of sleep seven times. After this, they do their activities for thirty hours. Human sleep periods range from twenty-four hours of sleep and activity. Snails are mostly awake during the night because of the humidity that time produces, a moist environment helps them produce mucus to move. When there is no humidity, as in the temperature is extremely hot or cold, this is what causes snails to stay in their shell for a longer amount of time. In rare cases, snails can sleep for three years to avoid a dry environment. In perspective, snails could end up sleeping ⅓ of its life away.

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