Here's also from a book I was writing, "Darwin for Young Beginners"
(publisher went belly-up, so grab it if you like!): Lots of possible
EVOLUTION FOR THE HELL OF IT!
Look at your face in the mirror. How odd it would seem if your tongue
was not in your mouth but came out of your nose instead. Imagine that!
And yet some animals, such as anteaters, have exactly that -- a
tongue in their nose!
What if both eyes were where your ears are, on opposite sides of your
head instead of the front of your face -- the way they are with
horses? [Graphic of a Picasso painting, with a blurb about him.] Some
fish (the Starry Flounder) even have both eyes right next to each
other on the same side of their head. How would that change the way you see?
What if your brain, instead of being in your head, was at the end of
an armored spiked tail like some dinosaurs? I wonder what the
stegasaurus would think of people: "Look at that strange-looking
creature. Not even a tail! Where do they keep their brain? In their
head? Give me a break!"
Or, what if you ate through your skin instead of your mouth! How
strange that would be. And yet, plants eat through their skin as well
as through their roots, turning sunlight into energy.
Feel the skin poke in on your cheeks, or be stiff as a board over
your skull. Your skin, which stretches over your whole body, is the
body's largest single organ. As with all living things, skin is made
up of millions of tiny cells that you can't see without a microscope.
Each cell lives and dies, and gives rise to new cells to take their place.
Each time you bathe you wash away hundreds of dead cells. (Now
there's a great excuse to give your parents next time they want you
to take a shower!) By the time you're 14 years old your skin is made
up of completely different cells than when you were seven. Totally.
Not a single cell is the same. But you are still "you." You still
recognize your whole self in the mirror. People still call you by
your name -- "Hi Malika! Hi Dante! Que Pasa?" But in reality, you're
not the same person. Every cell is different. And still you are you.
"Evolution," first off, is about the relationship between certain
kinds of Wholes (which we call "species") and Parts (the variation of
individuals within a given population). The Whole could be human
beings and the Parts could be individual people. Or, the Whole could
be a single organ -- say human skin -- and the Parts could be the
millions of cells that make up your skin. That's not the only thing
evolution is about, but it's a start. It's about how you got to be you.
Touch your face. Are you smiling? It takes 17 separate muscles in
your face to form even the slightest of smiles, while 43 separate
muscles are needed to scowl your face into a frown. So save energy,
be Green: Smile.
Need something to smile about? All right: Feel your arms, your legs,
your head. They feel pretty solid, right? Stand on a scale and weigh
yourself. No matter what you weigh, no matter how solid you feel --
100 pounds, 60 kilograms, 130 pounds, whatever -- 72 percent of that
weight is water! If you weigh 100 pounds, 72 pounds of it is water.
That includes bones, which are, like all living tissue, made of
cells. Even skin. Although different kinds of cells make up the
tissue of various organs -- eyes, toes, blood, intestines, muscles --
our bodies are, nonetheless, 72 percent water.
Whoops! Don't feel so solid anymore? Feel yourself suddenly leaking
puddles of emptiness, desire, confusion? Writers sometimes talk about
"drowning in their sorrows." Alice in Wonderland cried herself a
river. My friend Ilze once complained: "How dare a man cross my floor
and leave his puddles behind?" Water! Who would imagine that our
bodies are 72 percent water?
Can you feel it -- the roar of the Atlantic, the gnash of its icy
teeth against the shore, the beat of its four billion-year-old waves
inside your heart?
The story of evolution begins with the story of water -- oceans of
water, a planet full of water -- and the first living organisms --
single-celled "prokaryotes" -- that first grew in them billions of
years ago. It is from such humble beginnings that, over these many
many years, life in all the varieties we see today evolved.
At 03:30 PM 4/10/2008, you wrote:
>Quick thoughts: what are real mutants like? How do birds know it is
>time to migrate? How far can ants see (or other beasts close to the
>ground)? How long do different kinds of things live? What do plants
>do in the dark? How can pathologists figure out how long someone was
>dead? What sicknesses do we share with other animals? Why are there
>occasional animals born with two heads? Asian cooking now uses hot
>peppers, tomatoes. But these are American plants. How come? Best
> >>> Frank Rosenthal <[log in to unmask]> 4/10/2008 2:57 PM >>>
>I have to run off to class. But some topics that come to have the students
>read, write, present and debate about.
>- New highly efficient vehicles for energy conservation
>- Maglev trains
>- time travel -- fact and fiction
>- physics of mass/individual transportation
>- physics and physiology of running/ bicycle riding
>- perpetual motion - does it work?
>Frank S. Rosenthal, Ph.D.
>Associate Professor of Occupational and Environmental
> Health Sciences
>Purdue University School of Health Sciences
>550 Stadium Mall Dr.
>West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA
>tel: 765-494-0812, fax: 765-496-1377,
>e-mail: [log in to unmask]
>From: Science for the People Discussion List
>[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Claudia Hemphill
>Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 2:08 PM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Request for ideas, lesson samples, etc. for teaching writing to
>at-risk students entering science majors
>All of a sudden (yesterday) I've been invited to submit a proposed
>curriculum -- tomorrow afternoon! -- for teaching writing and other
>communication skills to students in my university's summer "Upward Bound
>Math/Science" program. A writing course syllabus is no problem - but for
>assignment topics and ideas that speak to the Math/Science (and Engineering)
>theme? I'd love your help, because the 3-week intensive course needs to
>2008 Theme "EXPLORE motion"
>This year's Upward Bound Math Science summer program will address the
>physics of motions, construction of vehicles or instruments that move, the
>changes of environmental elements in relation to place through movement over
>time, creation of maps depicting places and tracks of motion for
>environmental elements, organisms or humans.
>The theme is the guiding topic to correlate instruction for the participants
>and each course offered should contain an element of the theme.
>So, I'm looking for ideas or better yet, inspiring quotes, sample lesson
>plans, resource materials or syllabuses that will help me tie the writing to
>these students' physics (and other science) learning. I've taught a ton of
>writing skills, especially technical and science writing, to students in the
>contexts of environmental science, ethics, film studies, anthropology, and
>human biology... but I'm eager for ideas on how to tie into physics and
>engineering of motion.
>I want to use Thomas Georges' free online "Analytical Writing for Science
>and Technology" as the main "textbook", because it's fun, short, and focuses
>not on write as a science student, but in the real world, in science or
>engineering jobs. What I need are sample syllabuses and or lesson plans and
>concepts that could focus directly on this "Science of Motion" theme.
>These will be mainly Native American and Hispanic high school juniors and
>seniors whose families are classed as low-income and non-traditional (no one
>with a college degree). Upward Bound is a longtime (ca. 35 years) U.S. Dept
>of Ed funded program to help get them into college and equipped to stay in,
>The time frame is nuts, and I'm going to be up late sandwiching this in
>between other jobs -- but I'd LOVE to get this job. I not only need summer
>work to keep finishing my diss, these are exactly the students I love to
>teach, the ones our capitalist and class-structured system would happily
>write off. A great SftP opportunity, if I can get past the Education
>Bureaucrats at the gate...
>Any ideas? Examples? Links? Emailing me off-list is fine!