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Hadean Eon – Earth, Moon, proteins, RNA

By |2018-09-06T07:09:44+00:00June 24th, 2017|Geology|

In the Hadean Eon, Earth was covered with active volcanoes like this one. Why is it called the Hadean Eon? Scientists named the Hadean Eon after the Greek god Hades, who ruled the underworld. That's because during most of the Hadean period the surface of the Earth must have been like the Christian [...]

What is plastic? Organic chemistry

By |2018-04-08T11:21:49+00:00June 2nd, 2017|History|

Plastic water bottles There are thousands of different kinds of plastic, from shopping bags to Fisher-Price toys to photographic film, CD's, and plumbing pipes. Some plastics, like chewing gum or rubber, grow as part of plants, but people make most of the different kinds of plastic. We call them "plastics" because they are [...]

What is a protein? Organic chemistry

By |2017-06-02T23:46:07+00:00June 2nd, 2017|Biology, Chemistry|

Proteins are a type of molecule made mainly out of hydrogen and carbon atoms. They are combinations of smaller molecules called amino acids. The first amino acids probably developed into proteins more than four billion years ago on Earth, possibly with the help of ribonucleic acid, or RNA. We don't know whether this process has happened on [...]

What are amino acids? Organic chemistry

By |2017-06-02T23:31:28+00:00June 2nd, 2017|Biology, Chemistry|

A model of the amino acid molecule glycine (red is oxygen, black is carbon, yellow is hydrogen, and blue is nitrogen atoms) Amino acids are molecules made out of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen atoms (and a little sulphur). The earliest amino acids formed in space, about 14 billion years ago, before our solar [...]

What is a virus? Evolution and biology

By |2017-05-30T10:58:32+00:00May 30th, 2017|Biology|

The virus that causes AIDS (greatly magnified) HIV image copyright Russell Knightley Nobody is quite sure whether viruses are living things or not. The first living things may have come from viruses. But it's also possible that viruses evolved from living cells and got gradually less complex and more dependent on their hosts to live. [...]

What are proteinoids? Thermal proteins – Biology

By |2017-05-29T00:59:08+00:00May 29th, 2017|Biology|

Thermal proteins seen through a microscope Around four billion years ago, some of the amino acid molecules that were on the planet Earth began to join together into bigger molecules with hundreds of atoms in them, called themal proteins. Probably this happened in places where the water in the oceans on Earth was [...]

What is a protein? Cell biology

By |2017-05-29T00:53:03+00:00May 29th, 2017|Biology|

When the first amino acids came to Earth from space inside chunks of ice about five billion years ago, the ice melted on the hot Earth and turned to water, and the amino acids were still floating around in those early oceans. Once in a while, some of those amino acids bumped into each other [...]

How did cells evolve? Cell biology and evolution

By |2018-04-16T00:35:42+00:00May 28th, 2017|Biology|

One cell of a plant (magnified 22,500 times) Thanks to Ohio State University A cell is the smallest living thing (unless you count viruses), and all bigger living things are made of cells. Both plants and animals are made of cells. We don't know yet whether there are cells on any other planet [...]

What’s an eyespot? Evolution of eyes – Biology

By |2017-05-28T23:15:05+00:00May 28th, 2017|Biology|

Euglena with red eyespot (thanks to Sharon Mooney) About two billion years ago, or maybe a little later, some eukaryote cells developed the ability to see. The cells that had evolved the ability to photosynthesize needed light in order to make their food. So it was important to these cells to be able [...]