From Dinosaurs to Microbes: From Earth To Mars Group Name: WESAYSO (aka WEHOPESO)

The primary group consisted of Jim, Matt, and Mark who are the only geology graduate students taking the course. Subsequently, Kaplan, an undergraduate geology major, was added after he mentioned to us that he was looking for a group with similar interests to his own. The fifth member, Shannon, was added when we answered her ad which indicated she was looking for a group to join, and since we were running out of geologists in the class, we felt a biologist would be the next best choice.

Group Members
Clementz, Mark
Hurtgen, Matt
Luepke, Jim
Williams, Shannon
Yalcin, Kaplan

Group Meetings

WeSaySo, Inc. has met formally four nights for times ranging from an hour to two hours during which we discussed the development of the group project as well as questions that may have been raised about the class in general. Since four of us are geologists, we have opted to meet in the Geochemistry Lab as well as in the Geological Sciences Library. Some documents were posted over E-mail to the group members for reference and/or editing.

Project Title and Description

From Dinosaurs to Microbes: From Earth to Mars.

Organic chemistry needn't be the terror of University education. It can be as exciting as T-Rex roaming the Jurassic plains or todays search for extraterrestrial life. Carbon, and its building block partners, form the common link between ourselves and unbounded exploration and discovery - an unbounded journey into understanding. To that end, let's take a brief tour from dinos to microbes and from Earth to Mars starting with the crucial common thread; DNA. We selected this topic in an effort to utilize our backgrounds in geology and biology. Most of the material was located by running searches on Yahoo, Excite, and Lycos using the following keywords: dinosaur, DNA, microbes, and Mars. Initial searches spawned additional links to relevant sites.

To begin the tour, we first selected the Genetics Links Home Page, which provides a comprehensive background of our present understanding of genetics. To illustrate this visually, a second site of DNA images was added which includes several different molecular representations of helical strands of DNA, including some animated versions. The earliest microbes on Earth as well as contemporary microbes were based on this material, and a recently discovered meteorite suggests that similar lifeforms may have existed on Mars. Further research is required to substantiate this evidence, including a possible space mission to Mars to collect additional samples indicating extraterrestrial life. However, organic chemistry has also been utilized in the research of past life here on Earth as well. Recent genetic studies indicate the potential for the resurrection of extinct organisms, including dinosaurs, if complete strands of DNA are available. Yet, other studies suggest the search for dinosaur DNA may be futile. The mass appeal of the movie (a href="">Jurassic Park, however, suggests that the search will go on. (What would a page on dinosaurs and DNA be without a reference to Jurassic Park?) As an ending for our tour, we would like to add one final site, Create your own Creature, which allows a bored net-surfer the opportunity to engineer a new beast without moral or ethical responsibility.

Group Dynamics

Scheduling has been the only critical problem WeSaySo, Inc. has faced as a group. But, that is where email has proved advantageous; once we met and discussed each members responsibilities, individuals could work whenever they had free time and email their results to the entire group for critique. In addition, the ability to discuss problems encountered in the class in an informal manner was beneficial and aided in preparation for the first exam. Thus, we all agree that we would be willing to partake in similar group activities again.