Aristotle: Father of Biology

“In the 4th century BC the Greek philosopher Aristotle traveled to Lesvos, an island in the Aegean teeming, then as now, with wildlife. His fascination with what he found there, and his painstaking study of it, led to the birth of a new science — biology. Professor Armand Leroi follows in Aristotle’s footsteps to discover the creatures, places and ideas that inspired the philosopher in his pioneering work.”


Comments Nick Romeo on Aristotle in an article in The Daily Beast:

Shortly before his death in 1882, Charles Darwin received a letter from a physician and classicist named William Ogle. It contained Ogle’s recent translation of Aristotle’s The Parts of Animals and a brief letter in which he confessed to feeling “some self-importance in thus being a kind of formal introducer of the father of naturalists to his great modern successor.”

Aristotle is not typically remembered as the father of naturalists, but Darwin acknowledged a line of intellectual descent. “I had not the most remote notion of what a wonderful man he was,” Darwin wrote of Aristotle in his reply to Ogle. “Linnaeus and Cuvier have been my two gods, though in very different ways, but they were mere school-boys to old Aristotle.”

A fascinating new book by the evolutionary biologist and science writer Armand Marie Leroi claims that Aristotle fully deserves Darwin’s high praise. In The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science, Leroi argues that Aristotle developed many of the empirical and analytical methods that still define scientific inquiry.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Defends GMOs


Back in late August a brief clip was posted on Dr Tyson’s off the cuff response to claims against GMO foods. On the science aspects of GMOs he is pretty good.

Comments Tyson:

“Practically every food you buy in a store for consumption by humans is genetically modified food…There are no wild, seedless watermelons. There’s no wild cows…You list all the fruit, and all the vegetables, and ask yourself, is there a wild counterpart to this? If there is, it’s not as large, it’s not as sweet, it’s not as juicy, and it has way more seeds in it. We have systematically genetically modified all the foods, the vegetables and animals that we have eaten ever since we cultivated them. It’s called artificial selection.”

Mystery Science: Making Science a Child’s Favorite Subject

Mystery Science provides open-and-go lessons that inspire kids to love science — by making it easy for elementary school teachers to deliver an incredible science lesson without a science background.

Rather than following a textbook approach to science vocabulary, Mystery Science employs hands-on activities to engage students with the wonders of science and expose them to the joy of scientific inquiry at an early age.



The site, created by former Facebook product manager for News Feed Keith Schacht and former LePort Schools science director Doug Peltz, makes it easy for teachers to deliver an incredible science lesson without a science background. With funding from a seed round led by 500 Startups, Mystery Science aspires to bring the unique approach Peltz created to every classroom. Lessons are aligned with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards and designed to supplement existing curriculum.

“Elementary teachers are in an impossible situation, they’re expected to teach and be experts on every subject. Unfortunately the system too easily forces science to be an afterthought, given that few elementary teachers have a background in science and school funding is so tightly tied to test results in reading and math. Teachers understandably fall back on a textbook approach, which results in students being exposed to science vocabulary but never the mysteries behind the science. So we’re creating a new approach with less prep for teachers and more learning for students,” said Peltz, who taught science in the classroom for seven years before teaming up with Schacht to create the site.

Students in the United States rank 20th out of 34 countries in science, a situation that has not improved in the last five years despite a renewed focused on science and math education (PISA, 2012). “In spite of the national focus on STEM education, there is little focus on elementary science education. But these are the formative years when it’s most important,” said Schacht.

Mystery Science supports teachers in exposing students to the joy of scientific inquiry at an early age,” Schacht continued, “We want to create that perfect ‘a-ha’ moment for students while helping elementary teachers who often struggle to teach science on top of every other subject.” Online modules include everything educators need, from visuals and videos, to step-by-step activity instructions and click-to-order materials.

While participating in a limited pilot with elementary teachers across the country, Katy Hyatt from Walnut Elementary in Iowa saw a marked difference in her class: “After starting Mystery Science, we had parent-teacher conferences and a parent remarked that whatever I’m doing with science right now, it’s really engaging. This mom’s son was coming home each night and telling her what he learned that day, taking her outside to look at the moon and find the constellations.”

The Mystery Science website is now live at There, teachers can watch a video to learn more, explore a sample lesson, and sign up to participate for the upcoming school year.

Schmidt’s Nobel Prize Investigated By the TSA

From What It’s Like to Carry Your Nobel Prize through Airport Security | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network:

Among the many changes the Nobel Prize brought to Schmidt’s life: travel hassles. Here’s what he said it’s like to carry a Nobel medal aboard an airplane:

“There are a couple of bizarre things that happen. One of the things you get when you win a Nobel Prize is, well, a Nobel Prize. It’s about that big, that thick [he mimes a disk roughly the size of an Olympic medal], weighs a half a pound, and it’s made of gold.

“When I won this, my grandma, who lives in Fargo, North Dakota, wanted to see it. I was coming around so I decided I’d bring my Nobel Prize. You would think that carrying around a Nobel Prize would be uneventful, and it was uneventful, until I tried to leave Fargo with it, and went through the X-ray machine. I could see they were puzzled. It was in my laptop bag. It’s made of gold, so it absorbs all the X-rays—it’s completely black. And they had never seen anything completely black.

“They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’

I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’

They said, ‘What’s in the box?’

I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.

So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’

I said, ‘gold.’

And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’

‘The King of Sweden.’

‘Why did he give this to you?’

‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’

At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”