Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What is the Chemical Composition (Ingredients) of Ivory Soap?

Based on the analysis given in U.S. Patent No. 3,933,780 , the composition of Ivory Soap was determined to be 12.8% Lauric Acid, 7.5% Myristic Acid, 0.6% Myristoleic Acid, 21.8% Palmitic Acid, 3.7% Palmitoleic Acid, 13.6 % Stearic Acid, 31.6% Oleic Acid, 3.1% Linoleic Acid, and 5.2% Other (includes C6-C10). All these acids are as their sodium salts. The numbers are probably plus or minus 3% and vary with the species of animal rendered for tallow, and the time of year that either the tallow, or coconut oil was obtained. The mixture is optimized for cleaning. The coconut oil (cocoate) has C12-C14 sodium salts that give a good lather, but are not very good for cleaning. The tallowate is not good for lather, but is very good for soil removal. The acids are shown in their cis form. There can be some isomerization to trans, during processing. The ivory soap bar may also contain some glycerin, sodium chloride, and water. Taken as a whole, the average molecular weight of the sodium salts is 281 grams/mole. A wikipedia article discusses fatty acids. . A table of the GLC analysis and chemical stuctures of the fatty acids found in Ivory Soap (reg. trademark) are illustrated below:

Here is an activity for exploring the surface tension properties of water:
Surface Tension (Soap Boat)

You can buy Ivory Soap here:

If you find any links on my blog that do not work, please let me know by submitting a comment.  I would like to keep my blog up-to-date and relevant.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

GATTACA Movie and Designer Babies

Reading Questions – GATTACA and Designer Babies
Goldberg, Allen. “Parental vanity corrupts a lifesaving technology.” The News Journal,
[Wilmington, Delaware] 28 Feb. 2009: A11.,0,4288749.story

1. The movie, GATTACA, is copyrighted 1997. What services are the Fertility Institutes (Los Angeles) offering to patients that are similar to a scene in the movie?

2. From information that is written the news article, answer these questions:
a. What is “in vitro” fertilization?”
b. What is “preimplantation genetic diagnosis?”

3. What is Fanconi anemia?

4. In the author’s opinion, why would creating “designer babies” cause problems for families who are trying to have a baby free of fatal genetic deseases?

5. Most cases of Fanconi anemia are inherited as autosomal recessive traits (scientists are still researching the genetic inheritance of the disease – it’s more complicated than presented in this question). If “A” represents a normal gene and “a” represents a defective gene, show, in the Punnett Square below, how a child can inherit Fanconi anemia.

6. How can Fanconi anemia be treated? Update: March 5, 2009. The Fertility Institutes have backed away, for now, from offering designer baby services.

Wickelgren, Ingrid. “Designer Genes, Will DNA Technology Let Parents Design Their Kids?” Current Science, Weekly Reader Corporation [Riverside, New Jersey] 3 Dec. 2004: pp. 10-11.
ABC News. "Boy or Girl?" Couples Choose Unborn Children's Sex." 25 March 2006.

Here is a link to my posting with the reading questions that go with the movie GATTACA:

Teach With the Movies Lessons (free)

Another post of interest:

If you find any links in my blog that do not work, please let me know by leaving a comment.  I would like to keep by blog up-to-date and relevant.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Watching the Movie - GATTACA - Resources, Questions and Answer Key

Students watched the movie GATTACA (can be rented at a video store) and answered questions on a viewing guide.  There is a similar guide with questions at this web site:
This is part of our study of genetics.
The answer key for the viewing guide questions can be found here:

Here is another website that has questions about the movie GATTACA, and lessons about genetic engineering humans:

This is another website that has questions about GATTACA:

My students also read an article about designer babies, and I designed a question sheet that goes with the reading:

Another post of interest:

If you find any links on my blog that do not work, please let me know by leaving a comment.  I would like to keep my blog up-to-date and relevant.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Human Evolution Multimedia

Students watched a video clip: Did Humans Evolve? The video clip can be found at this web page:
However, the PBS video has become somewhat outdated.  So now, we watch this video about human evolution:

Great Transitions: The Origin of Humans — HHMI BioInteractive Video

Students also watched this video clip: Becoming a Fossil. The video can be found at this web page:

Human evolution was demonstrated by observing this online activity:

This website ( ) and note taking sheets are for an extra credit activity.

There is a list on hominin species and information about them on this web site:

Here is an interesting article, Neanderthals Conquered Humans, Why Not Us?

Another interesting article 05/19/09, 47-million-year-old human link revealed
Here is the original article that appeared in the Public Library of Science:
Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology

This online National Geographic article contains a video clip that tells about Ida, the 47-million-year-old fossil
The video clip is also available at:

This online article describes the genetics/evolution involved with lactose intolerance and adult milk drinkers: Sixty percent of adults can't digest milk
The original article about adult milk drinkers can be found online:

Here is the National Geographic online article about the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor (as of October 1, 2009):
This is the link for the AAAS video about the analysis of the Ardipithecus ramidus skeleton:
This web site has a video about the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor:
Here is a song about Ardipithecus ramidus:

DNA suggests Siberian find could be humans' long-lost relative (March 24, 2010)

Australopithecus sediba: A New Species of Homo-Like Australopith from South Africa (April 9, 2010)

9-Year-Old Kid Literally Stumbled on Stunning Fossils of a New Hominid

Updated information on how Australopithecus sediba walked, moved around, and ate:

Sequencing The Neanderthal Genome
Research raises doubts about whether modern humans and Neanderthals interbred

First Direct Evidence of Chalcolithic Footwear from the Near Eastern Highlands

The Evolution of Blue Eyes - Article - Darwin's theory of natural selection evolves

All Non-Africans are Part Neanderthal - Article - Genetic confirmation that our ancestors interbred

Smithsonian Magazine's article on Evo-tourism

A phylogenetic tree of human evolution

The Human Journey: Migration Routes

Male common ancestry and the Y chromosome

Mutation rates help estimate the age of our common ancestry
First migration from Africa less than 95,000 years ago: Ancient hunter-gatherer DNA challenges theory of early out-of-Africa migrations

Khoe-San peoples diverged before 'out-of-Africa' migration of modern humans

"The largest genomic study ever conducted among Khoe and San groups reveals that these groups from southern Africa are descendants of the earliest diversification event in the history of all humans -- some 100,000 years ago, well before the 'out-of-Africa' migration of modern humans."

Neanderthal fossils found in Greek cave suggest ancient humans and Neanderthals shared a common region with each other
More on Neanderthals and Homo species interbreeding with each other

Great ape genetic diversity and population history

Neanderthals may have taught modern humans to use tools

A new fossil skull find has the discovers suggesting that perhaps Homo species are variants of one species, Homo erectus

Human migration routes

What did Neanderthals eat?

Hominin footprints from early Pleistocene deposits at Happisburgh, UK - The oldest known footprints outside of Africa

The Oldest Neanderthal DNA Found

Fossil trove adds a new limb to the family tree - Homo naledi

The Google Doodle and Lucy  11/24/2015

Why Aren't Apes evolving into Humans - A Science Explanation

University of Texas at Austin. "Cracking the coldest case: How Lucy, the most famous human ancestor, died." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 August 2016.

The earliest know human ancestor lived 450 million years ago

An African American Paternal Lineage
Adds an Extremely Ancient Root to the
Human Y Chromosome Phylogenetic Tree

If you find any links on my blog that do not work, please let me know by leaving a comment.  I would like to keep my blog up-to-date and relevant.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Why Is Evolution Important Now? Understanding Extinction and Our Environment

Students read an article about the possible extinction of the Mexican axolotl, and answered the following questions:

Koop, David. “Scientists try to preserve Mexico’s bizarre axolotl.” The News Journal, [Wilmington, Delaware] 3 Nov. 2008: A5.

Reading Questions

Name _______________________ Period _______
1. What exactly is an axolotl?
2. The International Union for Conservation of Nature put the axolotl on its
annual list of threatened species. Why is the axolotl population declining?
3. Biologist Luis Zambrano says that if the axolotl goes extinct, it would be a great loss to:
4. Describe:
a. What an axolotl looks like.
b. How an axolotl moves around in its environment.
c. What an axolotl eats.
d. How the axolotl got its name.
5. How does the axolotl play a key role in laboratory research?
6. How can the axolotl be saved from extinction?

Here is another recent article about the axolotl and extinction:
Variation and Natural Selection -Variation in Wolves
A wolf bounty? Not in N.C. In a switch, there’s a reward for a human killer of rare red wolves

A celebration of Darwin Day and Natural Selection

News about the Global Food Bank

For more reasons to understand evolution, the following posts also address the question: Why is Evolution Important Now?

 Why Is Evolution Important Now? Understanding Extinction and Our Environment

Why Is Evolution Important Now? Disease Prevention

Why Is Evolution Important Now? Antibiotic Resistance

Why Is Evolution Important Now? Understanding Diseases and Food Production

Why Is Evolution Important Now? Understanding Predation

Why Is Evolution Important Now?  Battling the Bedbug Epidemic and Cockroach avoidance of bait - Pesticide Resistance