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December 20 2006 Biology Newsletter

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Rosalind Elsie Franklin, 1951 – 1953
How does that saying go? Behind every great man is an even greater woman?


*Tropism and the Holidays*

Tropism is growth of a living organism as a response to an environmental stimulus. For example, plants that growth towards a light source, if the light source is not directly overhead or is blocked for some reason, can grow sideways or twisted in attempt to reach that light source.

Another example is the way people's arms grow into nearly independent beings during the holiday season. The environmental stimulus of wrapping presents and cooking 17 dishes at once causes this common phenomenon.

Becuase tropism is dependent on the direction of the stimulus, the placement of such common environmental objects as a stove, scissors, wrapping paper and gift bags, and storage of pots and pans can cause arm length to be uneven and even cause the not-so-unusual twisting of the back.

Nastic movements, on the other hand, are non-direcetional responses to the environment-- things that happen no matter what the stimulus are doing. The same plant from above will grow leaves, no matter where the light shines.

That means that no matter what, our arms will flail around this holiday season, as people are affected by the winds of preparation and vacation, and the family gales.

May your tropic growth be beneficial to your health, your happiness, and all the other organisms in your environment this holiday season!


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