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Wes Dingman

Stories by Wes

Gazing at your dog | Notes from Planet Earth

In a previous column I wrote about some research with a very small worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, which has proven extremely valuable in helping us discover some of the intricacies in the development and physiology of higher organisms.

Mosaic Organisms | Notes from Planet Earth

Mosaics exist in places other than on the retaining walls of Main Street in North Creek and in architectural decorations found in buildings and monuments throughout the world.

Culture & agriculture | Notes from Planet Earth

Studies of the prevailing psychologies of different cultures have been ongoing for the last few decades.

Tiny Brains Are Not Simple Brains | Notes from Planet Earth

Three recent research articles support the notion that some tiny animals, evolutionarily much older than we humans, nevertheless possess brains with some of the same capabilities and chemical activities as our own brains.

Preserving large carnivores | Notes from Planet Earth

Seventy-six European conservation scientists from twenty-five countries have recently pooled their efforts and reported that the numbers of lynx, wolves, brown bears, and wolverines living in various regions of Europe (exclusive of the British Isles, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia) have stabilized and begun to increase in number.

Manna from Heaven? | Notes from Planet Earth

Well, not really, ‘Money from Mars’ would be closer to the truth.

Knockout humans | Notes from Planet Earth

In genetic research, animals with “knocked out” genes have been extremely valuable.

Two philosophies and a hope | Notes from Planet Earth

As a nation, we appear to be struggling as to which of two competing, yet often compelling, philosophies we will follow as we head into the future.

The charm of crystals | Notes from Planet Earth

Few children can hold a crystal in their hand and not be fascinated.

Mammals, males and monogamy | Notes from Planet Earth

In the course of developing research projects biologists often ask themselves questions and their questions are frequently concerned with energetics.

Capacity of our senses | Notes from Planet Earth

The tremendous capacity of our senses to discriminate what’s going on around us is not often something we take the time to think about.

Three-parent children | Notes from Planet Earth

It is now possible for a child to have three parents: One parent, a male, contributing half of a full nuclear genome via a sperm by means of in vitro fertilization, the second parent, a female, contributing the other half of a full nuclear genome using just the cell nucleus from one of her egg cells

The Elixir of youth | Notes from Planet Earth

Ponce de León may have been born 500 years too soon if some of the recent research in mice is confirmed and holds true for humans as well.

Crafty parasites | Notes from Planet Earth

Our general understanding of parasites is that they are generally small organisms that infect specific animals or plants.

Glacial/interglacial cycles | Notes from Planet Earth

Glacial/interglacial cycles, at least those that have occurred over the past million years, have been considered to be largely the result of the natural increases and declines in solar radiation striking the higher latitudes on Earth (those regions closer to the North and South Poles).

Personhood for Chimps? | Notes from the Planet Earth

Recently filed lawsuits, in three New York counties, have the potential to interrupt a variety of biomedical research programs.

Cooperators and Defectors | Notes from Planet Earth

Cooperation among individuals in human societies is well known.

Does Capitalism Have a Nature? | Notes from Planet Earth

In my June 2012 column I asked “Does Capitalism Have a Nature?” because, if it did, perhaps it might be mutable just as are other forms of life.

Notes from Planet Earth

Health Check for Our Nation

Notes from Planet Earth

Not so Lady-like Ladybugs

Notes from Planet Earth

Strange life in stranger places

Markets and Morals (or a Tale of Mice and Man)

Notes from Planet Earth

The effect of markets on human morals has been a source of debate and concern for centuries.

Notes from Planet Earth

It’s About Time!

Notes from Planet Earth

Maternal behavior of a different sort

Can we learn from a worm?

Notes from Planet Earth

The short answer is yes — most decidedly. In fact this worm, known as Caenorhabditis elegans has played an important role in biologic science since 1974.

Complications in causes, cures of cancer

Notes from Planet Earth

Humans have been struggling with cancer for centuries but it has been only in the last 100 years that many of the root causes of cancer have been revealed.

Do fungi deserve more respect?

Notes from Planet Earth

As far as we know, fungi have been around at least as long as plants have and both apparently originated as marine organisms perhaps as much as a billion years ago.

Talking Trash

Notes from Planet Earth

Trash, prominent in the aftermath of the holiday season, is not a pleasant topic, but neither is it a hopeless topic

Planet Earth: Should we assign humans to a new Geological Epoch?

Notes from the North Woods

As earth scientists began to better understand and read Earth’s history from the detailed chemistry and ages of various rock formations and the fossils within them, they found that Earth’s history could be divided into different ages which they called “Eras.”

Does life have its lessons?

Notes from Planet Earth

The natural world seems to make the most it can out of apparent waste (in the form of animal excrement and dead organisms) by recycling it all very efficiently and effectively.

What does it take to alter one’s offspring?

Notes from the North Woods

Given that our current understanding of the mechanisms of inheritance has undergone major revisions over the past fifty years, I thought a brief review of our current knowledge was in order.

Can we build a brain?

Notes from Planet Earth

In the late 1950s, a colleague and I installed a biochemistry lab for the purpose of doing research in brain biochemistry in a building devoted to the teaching of psychiatry.

Can we bioengineer a renewable fuel?

Among alternative renewable fuels currently being researched for efficacy, algae has sparked considerable interest.

Does capitalism have a nature?

Notes from Planet Earth

Myths, rituals, languages, and other culturally determined behaviors that have been always been part of human existence are rightfully considered to be in some way rooted in our biology.

What makes a Parasite?

Notes from Planet Earth

Symbiotic organisms that live on and within us are rarely discussed, in spite of their benefits for our survival.

Just what are we humans?

Notes from Planet Earth

With the recognition that our resistance to disease is based on more than just our immune systems and often involves the activity of the many different, usually symbiotic, microorganisms that reside on and within us, increasing research is being focused on determining just what these organisms are and what t

Can we control our aging?

Notes from Planet Earth

As it turns out, there are good reasons to believe we can or will be able to control our aging, at least to some extent and within the limits imposed by our genetic endowment.

Will we ever make contact with aliens?

Notes from Planet Earth

For centuries, humans have wondered if there might be intelligent life on other planets. With the goal of turning this wonder into a scientific pursuit, the SETI Institute was founded in 1984.

Do humans possess “free will?”

Notes from Planet Earth

In human discourse the concept of free will is usually taken to mean that, absent external coercion, a human has the freedom to consciously choose a course of action in accordance with the individual’s interests and values.