Wikipedia articles of interest

i. Coelacanth.

Coelacanth (pron.: /ˈsləkænθ/) is a rare order of fish that includes two extant species: West Indian Ocean coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) and the Indonesian coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis). They follow the oldest known living lineage of Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish and tetrapods), which means they are more closely related to lungfish, reptiles and mammals than to the common ray-finned fishes. They are found along the coastlines of the Indian Ocean and Indonesia.[1][2] Since there are only two species of coelacanth and both are threatened, it is the most endangered order of animals in the world. The West Indian Ocean coelacanth is a critically endangered species.

Coelacanths belong to the subclass Actinistia, a group of lobed-finned fish that are related to lungfish and certain extinct Devonian fish such as osteolepiforms, porolepiforms, rhizodonts, and Panderichthys.[3] Coelacanths were thought to have gone extinct in the Late Cretaceous, but were rediscovered in 1938 off the coast of South Africa.[4] The coelacanth is considered a “living fossil” due to its apparent lack of significant evolution over the past millions of years.[3] The coelacanth is thought to have evolved into roughly its current form approximately 400 million years ago.[5]


ii. Continued fraction.

iii. Progeria.

Progeria (also known as “Hutchinson–Gilford (Progeria) Syndrome“,[1][2] and “Progeria syndrome[2]) is an extremely rare genetic disease wherein symptoms resembling aspects of aging are manifested at an early age. The word progeria comes from the Greek words “pro” (πρό), meaning “before”, and “géras” (γῆρας), meaning “old age”. The disorder has very low incidences and occurs in an estimated 1 per 8 million live births.[3] Those born with progeria typically live to their mid teens and early twenties.[4][5] It is a genetic condition that occurs as a new mutation, and is rarely inherited. Although the term progeria applies strictly speaking to all diseases characterized by premature aging symptoms, and is often used as such, it is often applied specifically in reference to Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS).

Scientists are particularly interested in progeria because it might reveal clues about the normal process of aging.[6][7][8] Progeria was first described in 1886 by Jonathan Hutchinson.[9] It was also described independently in 1897 by Hastings Gilford.[10] The condition was later named Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS).”

iv. Dieppe Raid.

“The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter and, later, Operation Jubilee, was a Second World War Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe. The raid took place on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 a.m. and by 10:50 a.m. the Allied commanders were forced to call a retreat. Over 6,000 infantrymen, predominantly Canadian, were supported by limited Royal Navy and large Royal Air Force contingents. […]

Objectives included seizing and holding a major port for a short period, both to prove it was possible and to gather intelligence from prisoners and captured materials, including naval intelligence in a hotel in town and a radar installation on the cliffs above it. Although neither were completely successful, some knowledge was gained while assessing the German responses. The Allies also wanted to destroy coastal defences, port structures and all strategic buildings. The raid could have given a morale boost to the troops, Resistance, and general public, while assuring the Soviet Union of the commitment of the United Kingdom and the United States.

No major objectives of the raid were accomplished. A total of 3,623 of the 6,086 men (almost 60%) who made it ashore were either killed, wounded, or captured. The Royal Air Force failed to lure the Luftwaffe into open battle, and lost 96 aircraft (at least 32 to flak or accidents), compared to 48 lost by the Luftwaffe.[2] The Royal Navy lost 33 landing craft and one destroyer.”

So yeah, it didn’t go that well.

v. Obesity in the Pacific. The main figure from the article, click to enlarge:


In Nauru you’re pretty much a statistical outlier if you’re not overweight. “In the Marshall Islands in 2008 there were 8,000 cases of diabetes in a population of only 53,000.” That’s close to 1 in 6. There’s more data in the related article on Epidemiology of obesity.

vi. Fixed action pattern. Part of the fun of reading this article is derived from the fact that it makes use of an abbreviation which is quite often used, but usually means something else… (An example from the article: “Replicating the releasing mechanism required to trigger a FAP is known as code-breaking.”)


February 13, 2013 - Posted by | Biology, Diabetes, Genetics, History, Mathematics, Medicine, Wikipedia, Zoology

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