Friday, August 26, 2016

Yeast, Coke, and Sugar Water

I'm taking a high school biology class, and one of the assignments for this class was to design an experiment involving yeast and three liquids with three different sugar concentrations. For the first experiment, I chose Diet Coke, regular Coca-Cola, and the real-sugar Coke Life and put 1/4 ounces of yeast into each soda. There was a balloon attached to each bottle and at certain intervals, that balloon was measured to get an idea of how much carbon dioxide the yeast had produced. Now, I know that a lot of people who follow me on the Twitterverse are strongly anti-Coke because they use plastic. I know that plastic and Coke bottles are really, really bad for sea life. After liquids were emptied out of the bottles, the bottles were put in the recycling bin. Anyway, here's my data.

Diet Coke
Regular Coca-Cola
Coke Life
Anyway, my hypothesis was that Coke Life would have the most growth, even though regular Coca-Cola had more sugar because, as I theorized, the yeast had evolved to eat sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup. I was wrong. Diet Coke seemed to produce the most gas before it stopped, but in the graphs, regular Coke was pretty much identical to Coke Life. And I had not expected Diet Coke, which contains no sugars at all, to have any growth. As it turns out, the balloon was being inflated by residual carbon dioxide from the soda and not from the fermentation. And about the extreme jumps in Regular Coca-Cola and Coke Life, it's because until 1 hour, I was recording the radius of the balloon, not the volume. OOPS! But the radius was correct.

To try to remove the external variables involved in doing Coke (like artificial colors, caffeine, and carbonation), I did a second experiment with just water and the same concentrations of sugars as the Coke. It worked much more as I had expected the Coke experiment to work. Here is my data from that experiment.

0 grams of sugar
7 grams of sugar
11 grams of sugar
Apparently it isn't more sugar that impacts the yeast growth. Apparently there's a "sweet spot" (pun intended) around 7 grams that seems to provide optimum yeast growth. Stay tuned for experiments including stuff like how yeast react to artificial sweeteners, brown sugar, and other sweeteners. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Random image I made

Since 75% of the Twitterverse is dedicated to associating the Pokemon Go teams with other stuff, I did this. No offense intended to any team or wireless network.

Oh, and by the way, I'm on Team Instinct. But I won't make fun of you or trash talk you if you're on Valor or Mystic. If you respect my views, I'll respect yours! And besides, gyms are a sidenote. I'm in this Pokemon thing for the herps.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Biology Blitz:4D Science Animal Cell Model-Photos, Sketch, and Review

This isn't aquatic biology or an Entomology Exploration, but simply general biology. Today's project was 4D Science's Animal Cell model.

First of all, the term "Animal Cell" is inaccurate. Thousands of organisms have cells very similar to or identical to the one depicted, and very few of them are animals. And branding single-celled eukaryotic protists as "animal-like" borders on racism. So, this is not an "Animal Cell". It's a eukaryotic cell. Anyway, the parts themselves are very well-done, with bright colors to make them stand out from the cell itself. Each one is rather realistic except for the Technicolor hue and the arrangement in the cell is very accurate. The only drawback of this model (and almost all 4D Science models) is that it does not snap together very well and the parts are fairly easy to lose during construction. It took some serious force to get the plastic shell on the cell and during construction, one of the lysosomes came loose and was discovered rolling around loosely in the cell. The study guide is very nice, too with detailed illustrations of processes like meiosis and the anatomy of the cell. Although, the instructions were not particularly clear.

Overall, this is a fairly good model with well-done parts and an informative guide. But its issues with snapping together and instructions mean that I can't give it a 5-Unicode heart rating. My rating is 3.5 out of a possible 5 Unicode hearts.
(As far as I can tell, there isn't a half-heart Unicode character Windows can render without specialized fonts, so I figured a hollow heart would be a good representation.) 

Here's my sketch of the model.
And here's our completed model.

Add-On:Plant/Photosynthetic Eukaryote Cell

Friday, August 12, 2016

I made some social media herps

Yesterday, I was perusing a fine issue of Reptiles Magazine, my monthly source of information, care tips, and reptilian eye candy. I noticed that a certain albino monocled cobra's hood resembled the gradient on the new Instagram logo.

definitely looks like

So before long, this happened.

And it didn't take too much time before I noticed a certain Nosy Be panther chameleon that was more than a little Facebook-esque.

reminds you of

So this happened.

And then I figured that if I was going to do Facebook and Instagram, I needed to do Twitter to finish up the Big Three. And I did an Azureus dart frog because it's blue and who doesn't love frogs?

When this

meets this
this happens.

You can use my social media herps as your social media icons as long as you give Alli's Snakes or My Little Python credit and you aren't personally making money off of them. Selling them for charity is fine. 

Aquatic biology-DiY @GIANTMicrobes #Homeschool

Materials used:

Fabric markers
Yarn (for paramecium silia and euglena flagella)
Hot glue gun (for putting microbes together)

The Python Mom (Great Snake's mom and main social media manager at My Little Python) found an old sheet and figured that for The Great Snake's aquatic biology focus this year, she could do some cell models of unicellular organisms. So we did. Here is a bit of information about our DIY Giant Microbes.


Image from
Amoebas or amoebae are very familiar and popular unicellular organisms. The amoeba species this DIY Giant Microbe is based on is Amoeba proteus, named after the Greek god Proteus who constantly changed his shape to avoid capture. Amoeba proteus changes its shape and color to escape predators or ambush prey. Its psuedopods are tentacle-like structures used to engulf prey and move. The average amoeba lives for approximately 2 days but they, like almost all protists, reproduce by dividing or fission, creating hundreds of clones of themselves, which can then divide to make even more clones. This makes amoebae essentially immortal.

Blue-Green Algae (Cyanobacteria)

Image from

Algae seem to be innocent, unassuming photosynthetic bacteria. Most pond scum consists almost entirely of them and they get energy from the simplest food-carbon dioxide and water. These innocent creatures are the deadliest killers in the history of life. Billions of years ago, most life could not breathe oxygen. So, when the algae came along, the toxic oxygen they breathed out killed almost all other forms of life. It also formed an atmosphere and rusted rocks. The algae paid for this dearly. The ecological catastrophe they caused resulted in the evolution of the first animals-cells that breathed oxygen and ate algae. Assuming that you're on Earth, you are probably a distant descendant of these first oxygen-breathing cells. So next time you see some pond scum, thank it for your existence.


Image from
This was one of the most challenging DIY Giant Microbes to create, because due to all the cilia having to be cut out from yarn and glued on, not only is it probably the coolest-looking of our microbes, but it was the most time-consuming to create. Paramecia are some of the most common and popular protists, found in almost all freshwater environments. Paramecia are the most complex microscopic organisms and move via huge numbers of cilia, hair-like structures that propel the organism through the water. Another awesome feature of paramecia is their trichocysts. These spikes are used for porcupine-like protection but can also be shot like harpoons at unsuspecting bacteria or other protists. Seriously. Think about that for a second. It's a microorganism that shoots freaking harpoons. 

Image from
Euglena's name sounds rather pleasant. This is because it's from the Greek root eu-, which means good and is the same root found in words like "euphoria", "eurythmic", and "Eugene". Euglena's name literally translates to "good eye", referring to Euglena's red eye spot, which is really just used to detect changes in light but provides some of the best vision of any microscopic organisms. Euglena have many of the aspects of paramecia, often referred to as "animal-like" protists. But they are photosynthetic, an aspect often used to refer to plants. This shows how much trash the "plant-like" and "animal-like" labels are for protists. Protists predate both plants and animals and should not be compared to either. So, Euglena are neither "plant-like" nor "animal-like". They're simply "protist-like".