I’m going on indefinite hiatus from all AmoebaMike entities. 


Goodbye and thanks for all the support.


Change of Venue

After what is just under 3 years of blogging, I’m changing venues. And form. I think Tumblr is a better fit for me and what I want to accomplish as AmoebaMike now that I’ve had my run. I’m leaving this blog up because my images and posts still get lots of hits despite my lull in posting for the past 6 months. I may decide to post to it from time to time, but follow me on Twitter or Tumblr if you want more Amoeba in your life.

I wouldn’t call 50,000+ hits unremarkable, but FSM knows plenty of people get that in a week. I’m glad to have reached so many. Mainly with my science cards, my cell diagram, and the most popular: my spontaneous generation experiment image.

My move to Tumblr, will not be without changes. Besides the form, of course. My posts will become more varied and more adult–not necessarily pornographic, specifically I mean adult situations and language. There’s your fair warning.

AmoebaMike will continue to live on at Tumblr, on Facebook, and on Twitter. I will also keep making science swag, when I get the bug. Additionally, I plan to do some professional writing that will use the AmoebaMike pseudonym. You haven’t seen the last of AmoebaMike!

Mole Day — An Explanation

Happy Mole Day!

For many of you, it’s likely you have no idea what a mole is. Sure you know of a mole as a raised piece of skin that’s darker than the surrounding area. You also know a mole as a small underground-dwelling insectivore. It’s possible you even know a mole is a type of spy. There’s even the kind of mole that you put on your food, but that’s pronounced differently. “Mole-ay” sauce, as it’s pronounced, is a dark-red/brown chili-based sauce used in Mexican dishes.

But there’s also the mole used in science. A mole, whose unit is simply mol (mole : mol :: kilogram : kg :: meter : m), is a unit of measure used almost exclusively in chemistry.

A mole (mol) is an amount of substance that contains as many particles* as there are atoms in exactly 12 grams of carbon-12.

*By particles, I mean atoms in a sample (such as C) or molecules in a sample (such as H2O).

So 1 mole of carbon has the same number of “particles” as 1 mole of anything else, be it water, sodium, or gold.

Now what is that number? The short answer is, it isn’t important. lol

The slightly longer answer is 6.02 x 10^23, which is called Avogadro’s number. Yes, it’s a HUGE number.

So if you have 1 mole of Carbon (pure carbon 12), it will weigh exactly 12 grams and will have 6.02 x 10^23 number of carbon atoms in it.

If you had a mole of water, it would have the same number of H2O molecules, but would weigh 18 grams (16 grams for the oxygens and 2 x 1 grams for the hydrogens).

So just as a dozen diamonds (made of carbon) would weigh a different amount as a dozen gallons of water, so does a mol of carbon weigh a different amount than a mol of water!

If at this point, you’ve missed what mole day could be celebrating, I will tell you that today is October 23rd. Otherwise known as 10/23, a magical part of Avogadro’s number. 🙂 So scientists and numerologists unite! And at 6:02 am and pm, particularly, celebrate.

Rogue Amoebas Killing Swimmers! oh noes

You may have heard that there have been a few deaths from amoebas this summer.  As your friendly neighborhood amoeba, I can tell you that amoebas don’t intend to cause harm. However, sometimes they do. Here’s the lowdown:

When a natural fresh water source, such as a lake, warms up to about 80 F amoebas tend to get quite cozy. And that’s when they start to multiply pretty fast.  If a certain amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, makes its way up your nose, it can cause amoebic meningoencephalitis. Like any “mening” or “encephalitis” this is bad. It usually results in death.

Amoeba don’t want to be in your nose anymore than you want them there, so there a simple way to prevent them from getting in there: hold your nose–or keep it pinched shut.  Particularly when thrashing around in a way that would cause water to go up your nose–like diving bombing into the water.

It’s pretty darn rare to get this little guy in your brain, but it can happen, so have fun but take a little precaution in warm waters.



Note the article titles below… they seem to suggest these are zombie amoebas! lol

Another Miracle of Science!

The New York Times has a piece on the latest in science successes.  For only the 2nd time in history, the United Nations is calling a disease completely eradicated from the face of our planet. And like the first, smallpox, this one is a major killer.  Unlike smallpox, though, you probably haven’t heard of it.  It’s called rinderpest, which is German for “cattle plague,” and is a cousin of the measles virus.  The last case was seen ten years ago in a buffalo in Kenya.  You can read more about the monumental undertaking of eradication and more about  the thousand-year old rinderpest itself by reading the entire article.

World Tapir Day

April 27th is World Tapir Day. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the tapir, let me introduce you.

Tapirs are large herbivorous mammals about 7 feet long, 3 feet high and weigh a few hundred pounds. They live in South and Central America as well as parts of Asia. Some species can be found in rain forests, while others live up in the  mountains.  There are 4 species of tapir and the species have different colorings, with the Baird’s tapir being a dark brown, Malayan tapir being black and white, Mountain tapir being dark brown (but thicker fur), and the Brazilian tapir being dark grey/brown (babies are light brown with white markings).

But the thing you’ll probably notice first about the tapir is its proboscis, which is shorter than anteater’s. It’s very flexible and aids in grabbing foliage like an elephant’s.  As you can guess, the tapir has a very good sense of smell. It also has good hearing, both of which help compensate for the fact that tapirs don’t have excellent eyesight.

Like dogs and cats, and so much other wildlife, tapir are most active at dawn and dusk.  They are related to horses and rhinoceroses, which means they shared a common ancestor a long time ago.

Tapirs are big enough to not have much in the way of natural predation. When they are attacked, a tapir’s defenses include running away, hiding under water, and using its strong herbivore jaws to bite. Humans are the tapir’s biggest threat. They can live up to 25 years or more, but more research has to be done to learn more about their typical lifespan.

To the tapirs of the world, today, we salute you!

World Tapir Day card

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This post has the most monstrous image I’ve made to date.  I hope it will become more popular and useful than my current heavy hitters the cell and even Louis Pasteur’s experiment of spontaneous generation, which I’ve seen make the top ranks of both Google and Bing image search!

In this image, I’ve covered energy as it passes from the sun in the form of light to the chloroplast of plants. In the chloroplasts, there are structures called thylakoids where the magic happens. This is where photosynthesis takes place in two parts, 1) light-dependent reactions and, 2) Calvin Cycle.

The waste products here are eliminated and the useful products are then sent to the mitochondria.  The first step is 1) glycolysis, followed then by 2) the Krebs cycle (also called the Citric Acid Cycle) under aerobic conditions OR, 2) fermentation (under anaerobic conditions)

There’s a LOT of stuff that happens here. These are the basics.  This stuff can get extraordinarily complicated–the guy the Krebs cycle is named for won a Nobel prize for his work!

I’ve never, personally seen an image that attempted to go from the sun to photosynthesis to cellular respiration but I tried to keep it as simple as possible. That said, if you feel something’s missing, its probably because it is. Some steps weren’t explicitly mentioned for simplicity’s sake.

One final note: ATP gives you a burst of energy. If you need energy to do anything for longer than about a minute and a half, you want sugar. Sugars provide longer-lasting energy.  ATP (which makes up about a half-pound of your total body weight) doesn’t store, in other words, it gets used shortly after it’s made. ATP actually gets recycled over 1,000 times a day by humans!

Energy path thumb

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