Friday, January 30, 2009

Diatoms


One of my favorite creatures in the world, is one that almost no one has ever heard of. In fact, it may not even be a creature, no one really knows whether they should consider it a creature or a plant. I'm talking about diatoms.

Diatoms are tiny, single-celled organisms that are shown in the picture to the right and are extremely important to our world. They live in the ocean, lakes, streams, and wet spots and produce much of the oxygen that we breathe. Prehistoric diatoms also produced much of our fossil fuels as well. Their benefits to the world don't end there either.

Millions of years ago, in the Pliocene and Pleistocene, diatoms flourished. Great inland seas were everywhere, and the diatoms took advantage of the expanded range by breeding prolifically. As they died, their shells settled to the bottom. Over time, the diatom shells built up into layers hundreds or thousands of feet thick. These layers compressed into a rock, called diatomite, which is mined to produce a material called diatomaceous earth. The picture to the right is that of a diatomite mine.

Diatomaceous earth is used in numerous products, including cake mixes, animal feed, toothpaste, and pool filters. It kills bugs non-chemically, so it's also important to the organic industry. It's not dangerous to people or animals, unless they breath in too much and then it can irritate the lungs, but it does a great job of killing bugs through dehydration. It is considered one of the best desiccants available.

The key to the diatoms' usefulness are their specialized shells, called frustules. Their frustules are made up of silica, so it's almost like the diatoms live in quartz or glass houses. These siliceous shells are covered in tiny spikes that are so small, we large animals can't feel them at all, but they are just the right size to stick bugs and viruses. This makes them great for feeding to animals with worms and sprinkling in the garden to get rid of garden pests and using as a natural pest deterrent. It also makes it a great abrasive which makes it useful in toothpaste. The pile of Diatomaceous Earth in the picture is just a small amount from the diatomite mine in the previous picture.

I love diatoms so much, and they're so important to the world that I've decided to share info on them with everyone. I'm making a Squidoo lens called The Wonderful World of Diatoms and another about Diatomaceous Earth, simply called Diatomaceous Earth. I'm hoping I can share my love of these little organisms with everyone that is interested. Here's what I have done already:

The Wonderful World of Diatoms
Diatomaceous Earth

Check them out and let me know what you think so far. I've barely scratched the surface but eventually I hope to really reveal the secrets of the mysterious diatoms.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Do you, Squidoo?

If it seems I haven't been posting enough here, I have a reason. I've been making something called a Squidoo Lens. Actually, I've been making three with more on the way. Squidoo is an interesting site that allows one to discuss a subject or an idea with the world in an easy to use fashion-even for me, the perpetual internet idiot.

I've been doing it primarily to promote my articles on eHow and expand what they say in an easier to read format but I also love the freedom it gives me to share other stuff. I made one lens about my cats, who they are, where they came from. I added some cute kitty YouTube videos and linked to the two cat articles I've already written. As I write more articles on cats or related subjects I'll just add them to the page.

I also made a lens or page about Gem-O-Rama. It tells a bit about the event, has a bunch of pictures, and will eventually have more information added when I have a chance to write it up.

The newest lens is one I wrote just the other day is called Camping Fun. I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with that one. I may make it about how to start camping but I may also make it about camping tricks I've picked up through the years. It will probably evolve to be a sort of compilation of both with some of the cute stories about things that have gone awry on friends and my camping trips.

Check them out and see what you think:


AlishaV's Cats
Gem-O-Rama
Camping Fun