Page 1

1


VR Vapaa Radikaali

THE OFFICIAL STUDENT MAGAZINE OF HELIX RY

#2/2021 Editor-in-chief Lilja Nikula Subeditor Timo Pihlajamäki Writers And Assistants Saku Mattila Mari Humalajoki Timo Pihlajamäki Hennamari Kupari Valtteri Leppilampi Lilja Nikula Rosa López Research groups of Viikki Loimu Cover Concept: VR editors Execution: Timo Pihlajamäki Illustration Timo Pihlajamäki Mari Humalajoki Lilja Nikula Rosa López Saku Mattila Rondo beer house Layout Lilja Nikula Timo Pihlajamäki Mari Humalajoki

2

Contents Editorial Chairperson’s Greetings Recently at Helix CoViikki-19 Uppsala screams Hide and seek - nature photographer edition Origin of Helix International student life in Helsinki Loimu is here for you! Kitchen chemistry Daring to Doubt Darwin Banter at Helix

3 4 6 8 14 16 29 38 40 41 47 51

The opinions presented in this magazine are primarily the writers’ own opinions and therefore don’t necessarily represent the official view of the association. This magazine receives HYY’s student organization magazine funds.

Print BookCover Oy Prints 40 pcs. Published on July 2021

Vapaa radikaali Helix ry PL 56 (Viikinkaari 9) 00014 Helsingin yliopisto


Editorial A Scientist Is Born Twice

W

hen I was a child, I dreamed about being a dozen of things. A doctor, a vet, a crazy scientist. Yeah, a crazy scientist. Like Gyro Gearloose from the Donald Duck, which was a character I deeply enjoyed. Today, I’m most definitely going crazy, and I’m almost a scientist. I’m happy that I got to fulfill my childhood dream. But what is it that makes you a scientist? Years ago, on my second year into my university studies, I heard the phrase “growing up into a profession”. That sounded really scary. Would I actually have to mature into a certain type of a person to be what I want to be? What does that even mean in the first place? Looking back, it actually doesn’t mean anything. It’s a natural process you don’t even notice after years and years of going trough pages upon pages of complicated details about the mitochondrial metabolic pathways you still don’t understand. But something inside you has awaken. It’s how you react to science. It’s how you talk about it. But mostly, it’s just how it makes you feel, ranging from the curiosity to know everything to the anxiety of not handling every single little detail.

questioning that “why on Earth did I choose this career”.

Growing up to become a scientist has been one of the toughest experiences in my life. Maybe someone can relate to the existential crises, the not knowing what you really want to do. The thing is, when you aspire to be a scientist, it’s not that easy to plan your life ahead. I don’t know where I am in five years, and it’s scary, it stresses me out. There is no balance, nothing certain to rely on. But on the other hand, it’s exciting. It keeps you fighting. You learn to be flexible and live in the present world. What I love about science, is that it never stays in place. It challenges itself all the time. Although it would be lovely to have a peace of mind about my future, I think I’ve adapted a mindset where the scary unknown is the door to endless possibilities. After all, science doesn’t give you an easy answer. Never. You have to build it yourself. Lilja Nikula Editor-in-chief

I love classical ballet. There is a saying: “A dancer dies twice.” The first time when they retire from the stage. So, maybe, just maybe, a scientist is born twice? Once when they actually enter this world, and the second time when they first walk into the lecture room, sit down and start 3


Text and Picture: Saku Mattila | Layout: Lilja Nikula

The Chairperson’s Greetings

Origin of… buttholes?

O

ne day, I was thinking about where all these interwebs morons, human buttholes and know-it-alls have come from. The generation of our parents would probably say it must be because of the internet, video games and teachers not allowed to smack you on the head. The seniors on the other hand, would say its the good old rock ‘n’ roll, radio, tv… I may disagree. In our romanticised mental images of the good old days, no human buttholes are to be seen. Only good, hard-working people living their life — wait, some dying from the plague, polio or other disease because of inequel partition of resources, some steeling the coin from the rich, some beating the crap out of people of different ethnicity, dragging the political opponents behind the sauna to face ‘muilutus’ (finnish; meaning the act of combined kidnapping and assault; from the times after the Finnish civil war), forcing chemical castration on queer people… It seems being an asshole is not only nowadays problem. But where do they come from? How far in history do we have to go not to find any of them? Well… ’asshole-ness’ seems not only to be a problem of our species; Chimpanzees throwing faeces, ants enslaving other ants,

4

cuckoos laying eggs to other birds’ nest to be taken care for, and many others. At least, for mammals, birds and related animals, we could hypothetise that assholes remain assholes all the way from gastrulation; even during the formation of the embryo, the asshole (‘blastopore’) forms before anything else, other than couple layers of cells. For more douchebag animals:

Kraus, Y. & Technau, U. 2006. Dev Genes Evol. But what defines being an asshole? Well, of course the term comes from the literal hole that animal bodie utilise to get rid of excess… biomass. But is the presence of the crap secretor the defining factor? Even some plants are truly shitty, stealing essential nutrients from other plants directly through parasitism or through


competition and chemical warfare, and then there are fungi that mind control ants and eat your brain… Is multicellularity the reason then? Can bacteria be bastardly? Yup… to other organisms and to other bacteria (if eating other bacteria counts as being an “asshole”)… And let’s not even think of the vivacious intracellular parasites, such as viruses, and pinhead prions, turning other proteins asshole-y as well. I have no idea why I ended up thinking and even writing about this… Life, and complex molecules, truly are a bunch of turds.

Saku Mattila Chairperson, helix ry

the storY behiND the cover Inspiration for the cover came from Kalevala, Finland’s national epic. In Kalevala, there’s a myth of the origin of the world. A pochard laid six golden eggs and one iron egg. From the broken pieces of these eggs became earth, sky, sun, moon, stars and clouds. The bird of the myth is thought to be a golden eye, which was apparently previously known as pochard in Finland (Fin. sotka). It is not certain whether this bird was actually a golden eye as it is a hole nester and the bird of the myth made its nest on ground (specifically on the knee of the goddes of air, Ilmatar).

Yes, we know that the bird on the cover is a male golden eye and the egg isn’t golden eye’s. But that is just some artistic freedom: it’s all about the story! - Timo Pihlajamäki

5


Recently at Helix W

abu (nickname for Vappu, 1st of May) came and wabu went away! Helix celebrated Vappu as a part of Biosfääri’s Vappu week. On 22nd of April Helix organised a remote sewing night with a “Wine and whine” theme.

On 3rd of July Biosfääri organised a Pride picnic where Helix was well represented! A Pride parade marched from Viikki campus to Viikinojanpuisto for a nice summer picnic in the name of love and equality.

Autumn will be a time for lots of events as new students arrive to the campus! Remote or not, that still remains a mystery. Information on events will be shared on websites and social media of Helix, Biosfääri and MMYL! 6


NEW LOCATION, SAME COOLHEAD VIBE!

Original Photo: Silja Minkkinen

CoolHead Brew welcomes all studentsinto our new taproom at Gardenia, Viikki. Craft beers from CoolHead, tasty wines, excellent food, massiveterrace… Koetilantie 1(Gardenia main building)00790 Helsinki Check our opening hoursfrom coolhead.fi.Follow our Facebook and Instagram for updates on current events @coolheadbrew.

7


CoViik T

he COVID-19 pandemic hit the world hard and science communities all around the world gave their contribution for the collective effort to beat the crisis. Here in Viikki, at our home campus, some research groups have worked day and night to bring solutions to unanswered questions. The editorial staff of VR gathered all the information they could find and get to present these groups’ hard work to the readers of Vapaa Radikaali.

Aerovirology Group Led by Prof. Martin Romantschuk, Emeritus Prof. Dennis Bamford and PhD Doc. Nina Atanasova Our interdisciplinary COVID-19 from the University of Helsinki, research aims to clarify the Finnish Meteorological Institute, significance of airborne transmission HUS and Finnish Institute for of SARS-CoV-2 in the spreading of Occupational Health. Results of the the pandemic and what kind of safety study will be published later this solutions can be developed to better year. protect people indoors from virus The most important discoveries of infection. We have studied the our recent research include the experimental aerosolization of observations that infective viruses SARS-CoV-2 in collaboration with are transmitted in small aerosol Associate Professor Tarja Sironen to droplets over distances of several measure the infectivity and size meters and that efficient air distribution of virus-laden aerosols. conditioning and mixing of air are The study was funded by the good means to protect oneself from Academy of Finland COVID-19 airborne virus transmission. special funding. In addition, our group used the non-pathogenic Text by Nina Atanasova, PhD, model virus Phi6 to simulate Docent of Microbiology, airborne transmission of enveloped Aerovirology Research Group, viruses in a real-life restaurant University of Helsinki and setting. This research was funded by Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling Business Finland and performed by a Group, Finnish Meteorological multidisciplinary research Institute. consortium including researchers

8

Text: Saku Mattila, Timo Pihlajamäki, Valtteri Leppilampi, Research groups of Viikki (men Illustration and Layout: Timo Pihlajamäki


kki-19 Macromolecular structure and function Group leader Prof. Sarah Butcher Our recent research has discovered a our understanding of the SARS-CoVrole for Neuropilin-1 (NRP-1) 2 infection and the host proteins enhancing SARS-CoV-2 infection involved, and in turn help in the (Cantuti-Castelvetri et al., Science design and improvement of SARS2020). Even though NRP-1 cannot CoV-2 antivirals. potentiate CoV2 infection alone, in This is part of a larger Academy of the presence of the CoV2 receptor, Finland funded consortium called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 “CoVIDD” led by Markku Varjosalo, (ACE2), it significantly increases the where we aim to unravel the uptake of viral particles into the cell. interactions of viral proteins with NRP-1 binds to a furin-cleaved their cellular factors and the host peptide in the spike protein and this pathways involved in SARS-CoV-2 has been confirmed by an atomic infection by a combination of model of NRP-1 domain bound to a modern technologies, genomics, short peptide from the spike protein proteomics, structural biology, (Daly, Simonetti et al., Science chemoinformatics and drug 2020). discovery. However, no knowledge on Text by Zlatka Plavec, ILS PhD conformational changes which may student, Sarah Butcher’s group in occur in the spike protein when MIBS, FBES, University of Helsinki bound to NRP-1 exist and how that increases SARS-CoV-2 infectivity. My work as a PhD student in the Butcher lab is to utilize cryo-elctron tomography and subtomogram averaging to obtain a structure of the whole SARS-CoV-2 virion bound to ACE2 and NRP-1. This may further

ntioned in the text) | Assistance: Lilja Nikula 9


Food and Environmental Virology Research Group Group leader PhD Leena Maunula We, together with trainee MScstudent Aurora Perez Diaz, have participated in the TUPA project, the leader of which is Dr. Nina Atanasova, in main collaboration with Ass.Prof. Tarja Sironen’s group, as well as HUS, FMI, and TTL. Our collaborative role has been in demonstrating SARS-CoV-2 RNA on hospital ward surfaces. Viral RNA was evident on various surfaces but only close to the patients which is in line with literature (Virtanen et al., manuscript). Primers in the RT-qPCR influenced the results suggesting there is still place for development of the assays. In addition, we were able to give a minor contribution in the simulation project lead by Dr. Atanasova that investigates the air transmission of SARS with help of

surrogate phage in a restaurant. At the department, we together with PhD student Emil Loikkanen have ongoing inactivating efficiency testing of disinfectants or active surfaces developed by industry, using infectious murine norovirus as a surrogate for viruses that survive well in the environment. Results generate information required on the survival of SARS-CoV-2 in similar conditions, which can be used to prevent the spread of viruses. Text by Leena Maunula, PhD, Doc, Food and Environmental Virology Research Group, Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki

Emerging Infections Research group Group leader Ass. Prof. Tarja Emerging Infections Research group of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine focuses on discovery of novel viruses, disease ecology and molecular epidemiology of rodentand bat-borne viruses. They are currently focusing on development of serological tests and antivirals for COVID-19 in collaboration with Prof. Olli Vapalahti group and they work on the origin of coronaviruses,

10

Sironen bats and inter-mediate hosts. Sironen group was also part of the interdisciplinary TUPA project. The research group didn’t deliver an introduction text to the editorial staff of VR. This text is based on the University of Helsinki’s COVID-19 and Emerging Infections Research group websites.


Viral Zoonosis Research Unit Group leader Prof. Olli Vapalahti Olli Vapalahti is a professor of disease [2]. For example, with clinical microbiology at the faculties reverse transcription polymerase of medicine and veterinary at the chain reaction (RT-PCR), the University of Helsinki. He is the detection proves to be relatively acting chairperson of the more sensitive than with rapid University’s multidisciplinary viral antigen detection tests (RADTs); zoonosis unit, which currently although less sensitive, RADTs still studies the phenomena related to the remain adequately sensitive to detect current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in the presence of viral particles and/or co-operation with HUSLAB. RNA in the much shorter time Vapalahti’s research group has available. worked on many of the zoonotic and viral diseases, like the SARS-CoV-2 and arboviruses. The research group didn’t reply to the editorial staff of VR. Text is Recently, the studies have based on the following sources: additionally included diagnosis methodology for the coronavirus and Website of the Viral Zoonosis factors affecting the severity of the Research Unit disease. For example, they have found through meta-analytic studies [1] Kifer D et al. (2021). Effects of of European and Chinese populations Environmental Factors on Severity that in some places and populations and Mortality of COVID-19. Front. over 80% of the infected do not show Med. 7:607786. any symptoms as the virus infection is mainly contained in the upper [2] Jääskeläinen, A. et al. (2021). respiratory track [1]. In the same Evaluation of three rapid lateral study, they observed the temperature flow antigen detection tests for the and humidity to positively correlate diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection. with the severity of disease, Journal of Clinical Virology, 137, connecting the rise of zoonotic 104785. diseases and increased fatalitities to global climate change. In the most recent study, they focused on development and evaluation of diagnosis methods of the coronavirus

11


ImmunoViroTherapy Lab Group leader Prof. Vincenzo Cerullo

12

ImmunoViroTherapy Lab in the division of pharmaceutical biosciences, led by Vincenzo Cerullo, is currently working on development of novel pan-coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine is based on previous and currently on-going research on anticancer vaccines done by the group. The vaccine in development is thermostable multitarget coronavirus vaccine.

against multiple types of coronaviruses. Another goal of the research group is to make the vaccine thermostable. Thermal stability of the vaccine means that no cold chain is required for storage and transportation of the vaccine. This feature could make it suitable for use in developing countries where the cold chain required for most vaccines is unattainable.

This SARS-CoV-2 vaccine under development is easy to adapt and modify, since the technology used is based on vaccine that targets rapidly changing tumor cells. The vector used in this vaccine is adenovirus vector. Unlike most SARS-CoV-2 vaccines that only use surface spike protein of the virion as an antigen, this vaccine contains multiple antigens that trigger the immune system. This means that the vaccine in development could give protection

The research group didn’t reply to the editorial staff of VR. This text is based on a talk Vincenzo Cerullo held at Tiedekulma 11th of June, 2020.


Viral Cell Biology Group leader Prof. Giuseppe Balistreri Viral cell biology group led by Giuseppe Balistreri focuses on researching cell biology with viruses. Viruses are used as a means of researching macromolecule assembly such as membrane vesicles. The aim of the research is to create new antiviral strategies and treatments. In fall 2020, the group published a paper about research on receptors that SARS-CoV 2 uses to infect cells. In addition to the main receptor ACE2, the group discovered that the virus has an ability to bind to neuropilin-1 receptor. The group discovered that binding to the neuropilin-1 is caused by additional sequence in the surface spike protein S gene. As the genome of the SARSCoV2 is available, group noted that the sequence contains “hook” structures in the S-gene. Similar sequences are present on other dangerous and contagious viruses, but these structures are not present on other coronaviruses. These “hook” structures are also present on other

hormones and cellular proteins utilizing neuropilin-1. This increases the infectivity of the virus as the ACE-2 is rare receptor in the nasal mucosa, but neuropilin-1 is relatively abundant in this area. Research done by the group also suggests that binding of the virus to the neuropilin-1 also enables the transportation of the virus to the central nervous system. When the neuropilin-1 receptors were blocked with antibodies in cell cultures, the viral infection was downplayed. However, this cannot be yet considered as a therapeutic approach for treatment or prevention of covid19, since side effects of blocking the receptor is poorly understood. The research group didn’t reply to the editorial staff of VR. This text is based on the research group’s University of Helsinki website and their publications.

13


UPPSALA SCREAMS F OR E I G N C OR R E S P ON D E NT ’ S C OL U M N

S

So, I’ve been living in in Uppsala, Sweden o, I’ve been living Uppsala, Sweden for afor year nownow studying forensic sciences. a year studying forensic I’ve been I’ve singing worn my sciences. beensitsit-songs, singing sitsit-songs, overalls been amazed the sheer worn myand overalls and beenatamazed at the volume of different crustaceans sold atsold sheer volume of different crustaceans grocery stores likelike your regular Swede at grocery stores your regular Swede with more ease than I anticipated. Even before moving here, I was vaguely aware that Sweden is actually the origin country for a lot of student-y things that we now consider Finnish. For example, the white graduation caps and the iconic overalls are both actually of Swedish origin, that have since migrated to Finland. Although, “Swedish origin” might be over-exaggerating a bit. Most traditions, like Valborg and sitsit have roots in European cultures ranging from Britain to France to Germany, but its fair to say Sweden has adopted these as university student traditions before Finland took note. Upon further inspection during booze-filled adventures there has been pretty much only one culture shock I wasn’t prepared for, and that is the allimportant 1st of May. The centre of the year student event Vappu in Finland, and the iconic Valborg in Sweden. I was so excited. With all the food and drinks, party games, smiles and good times it’s no wonder that Vappu is the most anticipated student event of the year. So, you can imagine my surprise when I found out that the Swedes do it wrong!

14

Not only do they celebrate it without graduation caps, but it’s also celebrated on the wrong day! The swedes celebrate Valborg on the 30th of April, as do Finns, but on the main day (the freaking name of the holiday) 1st of May, the streets were empty! Pubs a-closed! Parks unoccupied and the vibes non-existent! That’s just plain effed up, there was not even hungover-mölkky anywhere. You see, graduation caps are only worn on the Valborg of the year you graduate high school, which does explain the few “grattisar” I got by wearing my cap. After digging a little deeper I found out that apparently the 1st of May, which is commonly known as labour day, is more of a separate entity with political roots in Sweden than it is in Finland where its more or less a pagan holiday and continuation of the parties from the 30th. I suppose we took the possibility of having a two-day carnival and ran with it, and I’m not complaining. With all that said, there is still something about student life here that just feels different even with things being fairly similar on the surface level. I just cannot point my finger at it yet. Luckily, I still have time to figure that out. Text, illustration, layout Text, illustration, layout Mari Humalajoki


Finnish white student caps were modelled after the Uppsala University model for the University of Helsinki in the 1870s. In both countries the caps were originally worn through all of the summer months, but since then the use has been reduced to 1st of May and various academic events. Overalls that originally were worn just as protective gear were established as a “poor man’s petticoat” in informal academic events in the 1960s in the Royal institute of technology in Stockholm. They landed in Finland by the engineering students in Aalto university in the 1980s and were adopted by Helsinki University and other universities around Finland soon after.

The origins of sitsit are mostly unknown, but one theory is that they were modelled after the sit-down dinners of British mercenaries Sweden used during its Thirty year’s war in the mid-1600s.

Sitsit then migrated to Finland with similar toasting, singing and dress-code rules, although there are a few variations to the sitsit in Sweden, such as the more formal gasque and the informal late-night sexa.

Student nations were copied from a French system to Sweden’s oldest university, Uppsala University during its founding year in 1477, and the nations were and still largely are the main provider of student events and general student life with pubs, libraries, clubs, spex and housing. Nations were also adopted to the first Finnish university, Royal Academy of Turku, in the 1600s and nations followed when the institution was later moved to Helsinki and named the University of Helsinki in the 1800s. However, nations in Finland have to coexist in a sea of smaller unions and independent clubs and their presence in student life is remarkably smaller. 15


Text, illustration and layout: Timo Pihlajamäki

Hide photography is nature photographer’s ultimate test of knowledge, patience and, last but definitely not least, luck.

E

verybody has their own hobbies. Or like my father says, everybody has their own craziness. Sometimes that feels very apt in my case. What would you think about waking up at 3:00 am and going out to wander in the nature – and then just sit in one place for hours? Or maybe spend a few days in a small container in the middle of nowhere? That is the life of many nature photographers especially during the spring and summer. Well, photographing in hides isn’t as boring as I might have made it sound, but it does take a lot of patience and dedication. The effort is all worth it: you will learn a lot about nature and photography, witness some unique sights in the serenity of nature and you will also get some killer photos!

18

How to get started in hide photography? Before going deeper in the subject, a little disclaimer: I have learnt most of this stuff through my own experiences, and I am not a professional. But that’s also the bright side of this hobby. You don’t have to be an expert, and you don’t have to get award winning photos. The best part is feeling connected to the nature and seeing phenomena and animals that you wouldn’t otherwise see. Anyway, back to the topic. Before putting any hides anywhere, first you have to know where to put them. You need to know how the animal you’re after is behaving and then scout a good location. And if you’re going to


take photos too, it’s not enough that you know where the animals are. You need to find a good and clear camera angle with good light (sidelight is the best, it will cast nice shadows and bring depth to the image!). It’s not a bad idea to ask for help and tips either. Local residents, especially local nature photographers, bird watchers and hunters, usually have the most knowledge on where to find the best locations.

A tent hide is great for bird displays and you can also sleep the night in it (don’t worry about putting an alarm clock, horny birds will wake you up with their noise). Just a camouflage is great if you need to hike a long way to the location and your target isn’t so sensitive to movement. Take in consideration that if you’re planning to leave the hide in a location for a longer time, you must have the land owner’s permission.

Once you have the location, it’s time for the hide. Many manufacturers and stores sell hides which are great – if you have a few hundred euros to invest in them. You can also build your own hide simply by cutting some camera holes in a regular tent and throwing a camouflage net over it. Add an insulated bottom for extra comfort. The simplest hide is just a camouflage net hung on a couple of sticks or trees.

Photographing large predators, like bears, wolves and wolverines, requires a well built hide with ventilation tubes many meters up in the air to get rid of human smell. People usually spend many days in hides like this. Large predator hides are a popular commercial activity especially in the Northern Finland.

A tent hide

An “it ain’t stupid if it works” hide

19


You don’t always have to buy or build a hide. There are also some public ones that are free to use. The closest one to Viikki is at Pornaistenniemi, Vanhankaupunginlahti. It’s a great place take bird photos especially from spring to autumn. And if you go there early enough, you might have a chance to enjoy the area’s nature in solitude. Pornaistenniemi is a great place to witness awesome sunrises too. Now that you have the location and the hide, it’s time to wait. During the best bird display season you have practically 100% probability of seeing the birds during early morning or late evening. With other animals the odds are a bit worse. Sometimes you spend hours and hours without seeing anything interesting. This might go on for days or even weeks. A moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) photographed at Pornaistenniemi hide, July 2020.

If that is the case, you might want to reconsider your location. But for some animals this is just how it is. Especially prey animals are really shy and sensitive. And animals with a great sense of smell probably notice you before you can even catch a glimpse of them if the direction of the wind is on their favour. But when you finally come across what you are after, it makes the encounter feel even more special. And the waiting isn’t always a waste of time: you might meet some surprise guests every now and then.

Bearded reedlings (Panurus biarmicus) live at Vanhankaupunginlahti all year round. (September 2020) 20


A short checklist: 1. Location Scout a good location. Remember to think about camera angles and light.

2. A hide Make, buy or rent a hide that fits your needs. Or use a public one.

3. Wait When everything’s done, you just wait. The more you wait, the more likely you encounter what you’re looking for. Of course it’s necessary to know how your target behaves and when it’s the most active (what time of year and what time of day).

Also, here’s a little bonus tip that can make things a lot easier: trail cameras. Trail cameras keep an eye on your locations 24/7 and they don’t disturb animals with human smell. With a trail camera you can make sure that you have a chosen a good location. Nowadays you can get a decent trail camera for pretty cheap. Scan theQR codes below and check these videos that I caught with a trail camera while tracking beavers! On the following pages I will tell you more about two of my favourite species that I have been able photograph with the help of a hide.

Beaver at work!

Check out this surprise guest too, can you guess who paid a visit? 21


Beaver

(Castor fiber & Castor canadensis) When walking on a beavers’ territory, it’s hard not to notice it. Toppled trees, chewed sticks and muddy trails all over the river banks. Beavers are the largest rodents native to Eurasia and North America. There exists two separate species of these semiaquatic mammals: Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) and American beaver (Castor canadensis).

Beavers are strictly vegan and their diet consists mainly of bark, phloem and leaves of broad-leaved trees and roots of aquatic plants. They are also skillful engineers and build dams to keep the water level stable. These dams create unique ecosystems which are very beneficial for many other species as well.


Origin of beavers in Finland is full of twists and turns. Fossil records show that beavers lived in Finland already 6500–7000 years ago, but in the 19th century the native population was hunted to extinction. They were hunted for their fur, but also for castoreum, a secrete from their anal glands which apparently smells and tastes like vanilla. Luckily nowadays we have some artificial options...

In the 1930s, Eurasian beavers were brought back to Finland from Norway. Roughly at the same time American beavers were brought from the United States. At the time they were thought to be the same species. It wasn’t until 1970s when they found out the truth. These species appear to be phenotypically almost identical but they are genotypically very different. Eurasian beaver has 48 chromosomes, whereas American beaver has 40.

Jämijärvi, Finland | © Timo Pihlajamäki May 2020


Beavers have poor eye sight and hearing but their sense of smell is excellent. This makes it quite hard to photograph them as they will return to the water and stay alert immediately when they smell you. Beavers are a little bit clumsy on land which is why they seek safety in the water. I haven’t had any luck seeing these beavers on land. This is also because of the challenging environment with steep river banks and thick vege-

24

tation on this river, which is located near my parents’ farm in Jämijärvi. This area is located in Western Finland around the border of Eurasian and American beavers’ habitats and I have no idea which species these beavers are, it takes an expert to see the difference. American beavers are classified as invasive species in Finland. They are taking their Eurasian cousins territories as they breed faster and are bigger than Eurasian beavers.


Black grouse (Tetrao tetrix)

The sun has barely risen on a chilly spring morning when cooing and babbling have filled the countryside. Black grouse cocks have gathered on the lek located on an open area, like a bog, a field or even ice on a lake. Continuous tuneful babbling is interrupted every now and then with a loud and harsh whistle. Males spread their lyre-shaped tales and try to look as big as possible. Fights for the center of the lek can sometimes get very violent. Females observe males’ competition and choose the strongest ones with the highest testosterone levels and best spots at the lek to mate with.

Black grouses are also one of the most common fowls in Finland, even though their numbers have been declining for many years. Despite that even over 10% of the population is hunted every year.

Bird displays are some of the most spectacular sights In Finnish nature, and black grouses’ lek is one of the easiest to find. Their babbling can be heard even at a 1–2 kilometre distance! The lek is always on an open flat area. 25


Jämijärvi, Finland | © Timo Pihlajamäki April 2014


Sources: Alatalo R. V., Höglund J., Lundberg A., Rintamäki P. T. and Silverin B. (1996) Testosterone and male mating success on the black grouse leks, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 263:1697–1702 Lahti S. and Helminen M. (1974) The beaver Castor fiber (L.) and Castor canadensis (Kuhl) in Finland. Białowieża. 19. 13: 177–189. Mehtola J. (2016) Karvainen insinööri. Suomen Luonto. 2: 16–25. NatureGate, Black grouse. available at luontoportti.com/en/t/753/black-grouse accessed 22.7.2021

Would you like to learn more about different aspects of photography in like-minded company?

Join Biofilm! Biofilm is a photography club which was founded by Helix ry in 2020. Acticity of the club is centered at Viikki campus, but it is open for every student from all the campuses! Biofilm is a place for photographing students to learn more and share their experiences in photography. The club organises photowalks, workshops and hang outs. The pandemic has really hindered our activity, but hopefully on the upcoming semesters we will be able to really start doing all the things that we originally planned to. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, welcome to Biofilm! Stay tuned by joining our Facebook group and following Helix ry’s bulletins.

28

Logo by Saku Mattila


ORIGIN OF HELIX

text:Hennamari Kupari and Valtteri Leppilampi

29

Layout:Mari Humalajoki


HELIX DIGITALIsATION PROJECT 2021 Scanning my way through the history of Helix Report by Helix summer employee Hennamari Kupari

a

h summer, the time of vacation for some and working for others, usually both for many of us students. Also, the time for the Helix Digitalisation project this year. The idea behind this project was to preserve old documents, records, and magazines of Helix into a digital form so they could be easily accessible to people in a more organized manner.

Nevertheless, I have never seen it truly in its most lively state, full of students and life. Nor was I going to see that during this summer either. But something felt a bit different as I noticed the entrance door being open instead of closed as I entered Biocentre 1 building to start my work. It seemed more inviting although the hollowness of the empty halls haunted me.

As I arrived to the Viikki Campus to fulfil my duty as a part of this project, I noticed that the campus was not much different from the one I had experienced during my fresher year. One could say that it even seems haunting due to the pandemic causing less people to accumulate in the campus area, but there were some living beings present and hiding since some people are still working there during the summer as well. Here I would be spending the next couple of weeks scanning old archives into electrical form.

My expectations for this job were basic. I would be scanning a lot of old records which would probably be a very easy job to do. Reasons for taking this job were simple: I had nothing better to do, earning money would be nice and this was a good chance to get to know my student organisation’s history a bit more.

Until this point not much of digitalisation has been done which was sort of hard for me to believe as Helix has been around since 1969. But better late than never. The last time I was at the campus was about a month ago when I had my genetic techniques laboratory course. Although I have mainly spent my fresher year in my room studying, the campus and Biocentre 1 have become even slightly familiar to me through the laboratory courses. 30

I went into this project with curiosity, and I was of course hoping to find something mysterious or scandalous from the old files of Helix. When I was shown the cabinet where all the old top-secret Helix folders and archives were kept, a sense of overwhelm wiped me as I saw the great number of folders in need of a scan. I swallowed the lump in my throat and got to work. Also, to avoid a mess, we established a good folder system for the scanned files during the first day and I cannot emphasize too much of how important a good system for a job like this turned out to be.


So now a bit background about the one-year relationship between me and our student organisation Helix. I joined Helix as soon as my first semester started in the fall 2020. Later, I got more involved in the student organization activities. I have taken some smaller functionaries in Helix such as being part of the event organising team and being one of the international student coordinators. About the history of the Helix, I had no clue nor whatsoever did I know pretty much anything else besides the fact that Helix was a student organisation and that they took care of our rights among other things like providing the daily dose of caffeine at the Helix club room in Biocentre 1.

The two weeks flew by as I scanned page after page, from Helix board meetings to our organisation magazines. I tried come up with simple and concise file names to describe different types of documents (with varying degrees of success). I also scanned some financial documents, letters, and other papers. My expectations to find something completely mind-blowing were not met but I still did find interesting stuff. And of course, scanning through old records was even fun at times when the old Helix members had clearly too much time (or fun) in their hands while making these documents. Here are few of my picks from the historic archives of Helix. 1409 files, 101 folders and what felt like an endless number of pages later; I present you some of my findings. .

Opening of Biocentre 1 in 1995

Helicans playing tug-o-war ca 1980, context unknown

31


Founding of Helix ry Originally, biochemistry was part of scientific institute of chemistry and biochemistry students were part of HYK (Helsingin Yliopiston Kemistit), student association for chemistry students. During spring of 1969 discussion about own student association for biochemistry students sparked and later biochemistry students decided to form their own student association in fall of 1969, exact date being 24th of September. First chairpersons were Hand Söderlund and Reijo Vihma, who both lead the organisation in 1969. The reasons behind Helix ry formation were promotion of interests of biochemistry students. There were lots of concerns in biochemistry students about quality of education, state of the university, employment etc. Therefore, own student association for biochemistry was deemed necessary to take a stand in these types of issues.

1) 2)

3)

1) Opening lines from the founding meeting of Helix ry, 24.9.1969 2) An old unofficial logo of helix, date unknown 3) “Jorma”, date and context unknown, ca 1970-1980s.

32


Old covers of Katalyyttimagazine, 2/1971 and 1/1995

THE ORIGIN OF VAPAA RADIKAALI, THE STUDENT ORGANISATION MAGAZINE Let us start with one thing that new students like me certainly are not aware of. Before Vapaa Radikaali was the magazine we know today, it was known as Katalyytti. Before establishing its magazine form, it used to be a news bulletin with quite a simple look. First Katalyytti was published in 1971. Actually, during this year´we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our student association magazine. Stay tuned for more celebration in the next issues! Onto some more controversial things I came across while scanning. To point out the few that stuck to me was a joke about AIDS in 1995 Katalyytti which one could label dark humour and other an offensive joke. That would have definitely stirred some heated conversations and comments in today’s world. Vapaa Radikaali could have been in the danger of getting cancelled.

Also, the cover of second Katalyytti published in 1994 is, well, how to put it… provocative. Basically, it is very close to a Nazi-Germany symbol. Of course, when you read the magazine and come to see where the cover art idea comes from, you understand it more, but it is still quite a controversial choice for a cover, especially if you just see that. I strongly believe that these things would never ever be published in today’s Helix magazine if someone would suggest such a thing. Bonus fact: The name of the magazine could’ve been Hiiva (Yeast), Entsyymi (Enzyme) or Radikaali (Radical) instead of Vapaa Radikaali (Free radical).

33


HELIX TAKING ACTION In the 70s Helix seemed to have more political undertone in some of its actions. Helix decided to join to various clubs including the Finland-Chile club, The Finnish Peace Committee and Finland–Soviet Union Peace and Friendship Society. In the third Katalyytti of 1973, Helix announces its duties as a part of democratic students’ movement to do their part in the peace work and antiimperialistic action. It was interesting to see how Helix has been quite active since the beginning of times to take part in even political topics as well as more common things related to biochemistry students’ rights and studies. In contrast, nowadays student organisations are thought to be non-political, as I’ve understood it, and not looked upon well if they show political agenda. Of course, the political topics were different back then. This is no new news either since this topic has been pondered before for example by the chairman of Helix in the first Katalyytti of 1995. It is kind of weird to realise how students like me have lived through these significant different historical events and how some thoughts back then have been quite the same like ours today. Other thing that caught my attention was that the worries about the climate have considered among the Helix members for a long time too. In the second Katalyytti of 1980 there was an article “The problematics of climate protection” that discussed about the effects of the acid rains and carbon dioxide to environment and, surprise, surprise, the usage of fossil fuels too and their effects on the climate, our health, and our forests.

A poster for a lecture series about industrial work and environment organised in 1972 by Helix ry, HYK ry, MYY ry and Symbioosi ry

34


THE BOARD OF HELIX IN 1996 Most of the records of the board meetings from the earlier decades are appropriate and there’s nothing standing out which certainly makes sense since their function is to keep track of the meeting and what has been decided and discussed there. But I must say I had fun while scanning through the documents of the board meetings of the year 1996. That’s why I am giving a little shoutout to them. Whether it was utter craziness or just fun while working, the feeling was transferred to me through the documents of these board meetings. In surprisingly many of the documents, they changed the title of the chairperson from “puheenjohtaja” to “paheenjohtaja”. So straight translation of that would be the leader of the vices. The atmosphere at the meetings was even compared to be wilder and crazier than in the English parliamentary meetings…

Also, apparently the board of Helix kept a moment of silence for the memory of common sense due to some wild speculations that at the biochemistry department there might be a nuclear reactor. In 1996 records Vapaa Radikaali (Free radical) magazine was apparently at one point very unreactive too, no pun intended. The chairperson, or should I say the head of the vices, of Helix said some rather interesting comments at some of the meeting like “it is more hygienic to keep the carrots between your thighs while doing carrot pushups (porkkana-punnerrus) during the flu-season” This was related to a Christmas party Helix held. I guess it is more hygienic than keeping it in the mouth, but for me the mysterious action of doing carrot push-up remains unknown.

Banter at a board meeting, 1996 Vappu, ca 1990s

35


One of the best things about this project was that I didn’t have to do it “all by myself”. It would have been way more tiring without the occasional people that came to hangout at the club room. Sometimes people were asking how I was doing and as a new person entered the club room there was a hope that this person might be coffee-thirsty and would offer to make some coffee for all of us. Special thanks to our vice chairperson Timo for keeping me company, helping me with the workload and throwing overall badges at me while I was trying to work. Human contact was nice to have while working. Also, the heat wave was already present during this project so one definite plus while working was the air conditioning and coolness inside the club room. Moving onto not-so-pleasant parts of this two-week job. Too much of staring at the computer screen made my eyes dry up like pretty much anything at this weather we are experiencing right now. Also, yes, after a while the scanning does get very repetitive. As I routinely mastered the speed at it, it did get more tiring at the same time. In the start of this I was eager to dig deep into the old documents but it turned out that speed and efficiency of scanning versus looking for quality content in the history of Helix, were not to go hand in hand. In other words, they were inversely proportional.

36

If I wanted to look out for interesting stuff, I couldn’t scan as fast and other way around. In the end of the day, I needed to scan certain amount of documents and get things done, so I did not get the chance to take a dive deep into as many of interesting pieces of history as I would’ve maybe wanted. As for the challenges that stumbled on my way, I must start with the mess that some of the folders contained. I guess one might call it an organized mess, but for me it seemed more like just a mess. Unorganised different papers from different years. This caused me a great deal of headache. But I guess several things such as moving out and life in general happens, so who I am to judge. Other challenge I faced was the pace of the scanning which I could not do faster as I reached a certain threshold in speed. Third but not the smallest challenge was the fact that some records and such were simply missing from all the foldersby some mystical or less mystical force of disappearance to which we had no answers. For example, the first Katalyytti bulletin is still missing. In case someone has any knowledge about it feel free to share. Overall, there are many possible things you can find while scanning through the archives of your student organisation while your eyes get drier and drier from looking at the screen and you hear the sweet sound of the scanner over and over again. Seeing history through this project has been tickling my curious tendencies.


In case you find yourself interested about the archives of Helix from 1969 till this day I suggest checking out some of the fruits of my labour at Helix webpage where you can read and skim through our old student association magazines Katalyytti and Vapaa Radikaali. All this is unfortunately only in Finnish but there are pictures as well, from which you can catch the subtle vibes of the times with the immaculate fashion of Helix members from the decades. ———————————————————————————————– Digitalisation project wouldn’t have been possible without financial aid of Rondo Beerhouse, a huge shoutout to them!

IG @rondobeerhouse

Rondo is a beer house in Viikki with wide and varying selection in drinks. Especially the beer and whiskey selection is invested in. Rondo staff also organises different events like tastings, live music and dance nights. You can also play pool, watch sports or just hang out with your friends in the comfy lounge. Rondo Beerhouse is located the premises of the old Kaski bar at Latokartanonkaari 23. There’s a continuous -10% student discount on everything by showing your student card. Rondo’s staff welcomes everybody to hang out at their beer house, but they highlight that their activity is practised under the guidelines and restrictions of the Regional State Administrative Agency (Aluehallintovirasto, AVI). 37


International Student Life in Helsinki Text and picture: Rosa López Layout: Lilja Nikula

I

was born in Barcelona on 1997 and I lived there until 2019, when I decided to come to Helsinki as an exchange student. Since I came here, I get to answer very frequently the reason why I moved to Helsinki. Why, coming from one of the countries where the sun is shining all the time, I decided to come to such a cold and dark place? At the beginning, I used to say that Finland was the option that I got from the selection I made. But then, a stay that was supposed to be for only 5 months, ended up in being more than 2 years. And Helsinki was not anymore, a coincidence of the destine. I studied a Degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Barcelona, and I came to Finland to do my final degree project in a lab at the University of Helsinki. The experience I got in this lab was one of the main reasons to stay longer. Since the very beginning, I felt welcome in this group, I got to be independent in the lab and all my ideas were taken into consideration. During this time, I started getting an awesome feedback on Finnish education from my colleagues, so I decided to experience it myself. I applied for a Master’s in Genetics

38

and Molecular Biosciences and, right now, I think that was one of the best decisions I made in my life. First of all, I was impressed when I realized that all Finnish education is free if you are a European resident. Where I come from, we have something called “public education” which is supposed to be free, but it is not really the case. It was amazing that a foreign country was giving me better opportunities to grow myself as a scientist as well as a person. Regarding the studies, I knew the University of Helsinki was in a great world ranking position, and through the last yeast I have understood why. It could be summarized in a good combination of great teachers and a modern education. Of course, since last year, teaching has been quite uncommon due to Covid-19, but I think that it has been organized the best possible way. During my Bachelor’s in Barcelona, I used to have a hard time during the exams period, since most of the grade was dependent on one single exam. However, in here is slightly different. There are exams and some of them are hard, but there are different evaluation types as well. Group work is a very common method in this University, which I find essential to develop both social and teamwork skills. Overall, I


think in here teachers motivate you to think by yourself, to question everything, research arrive to you own conclusions. Nevertheless, this road has not been always easy and straightforward. One of the worst things was being away from home and see how the summer was ending. My fist winter here was demanding, I was not expecting the weather could affect me in such a negative way. Besides, at that point I did not know so many people. Probably, that was the second worst thing and a striking difference from Barcelona. However, I learnt that being alone did not always mean being lonely. Another considerable big challenge has been the language. Finnish is

not easy, and I tried to learn twice, although I was not successful on it. However, I am always moving in an international environment, thus I have never found it to be completely essential to live in here. Helsinki, and in my experiment, the University of Helsinki is a great place to study. I encourage everyone who is searching for a new adventure to come here. It is not only a place with great opportunities related to studies or work, but the city is charming. There is nature in every corner filling the air with oxygen, there is no need to go to the woods to breath fresh air. As I mentioned, it has not been an easy path, but each adventure must have some difficulties.

39


Loimu is here for you!

S

ummer vacations, summer jobs and internships are soon behind us and it is hopefully a time to get back to student colleagues on campus. Things related essentially to autumn are expectations for the coming semester, spending time with fellow students and various student events — not forgetting the studying itself. We at Loimu want to be present in your student autumn. Loimu supports the activities of Helix ry through diverse cooperation, for example by sponsoring overalls and working life excursions. In addition to supporting Helix and other subject organizations, Loimu has its own active student association on your campus, which organizes activities and work life events made for you! It is worth following Loimun opiskelijat-Viikki on Instagram and actively participating in the activities they offer. There is also a Loimu campus promoter in Viikki who you can contact in all kinds of matters and questions related to Loimu. Loimu is here to support your journey towards working life in various ways. Contact Loimun opiskelijat-Viikki or the campus promoter for example if you want to come up with ideas for events that relate to working life. Or maybe you want to propose an excursion to some

certain establishment on private, third or public sector! To put it short: if you have any questions about working life, come to us and we will help you! Autumn is often an active period of time for students. Have you already secured yourself and taken the appropriate insurances for yourself to cover your back in case of problems? If not, then no worries: by joining Loimu as a student member, you will also have access to significant insurance benefits. Check out the insurance benefits from our website! As winter approaches, various downhill, cross-country and other cottage trips will also become topical. You might not know, but for Loimu members these trips can be arranged more cheaply. Loimu is worth keeping in mind when making cottage reservations and trip plans. At the same time, it is worth getting to know other Loimu membership benefits and services and joining us as a student member. I wish you a very rewarding and enjoyable autumn! Henri from the student sector of Loimu office.

Makers of a brighter future, The Union of Professionals in Natural, Environmental and Forestry Sciences Loimu

40


Kitchen chemistry Text: Timo Pihlajamäki | Assistance: Lilja Nikula, Saku Mattila Illustration: Timo Pihlajamäki, Lilja Nikula, Saku Mattila Layout: Timo Pihlajamäki

P

laying with food while learning interesting organic chemistry through practical work in your own kitchen? Count me in. This time Vapaa Radikaali studied nature’s own products’ potential as pH indicators. Red cabbage (Brassica oleraceae) contains anthocyanins which are a group of phenolic compounds belonging to the flavonoid family. Anthocyanins give plants red, blue and purple hues. pH change triggers a structural change in these pigments causing a change of colour. The use of red cabbage anthocyanins as a natural pH indicator for food products has also been researched.

41


A half of a red cabbage was first chopped into decent sized pieces and put into a blender. 5 dl of water was added and the mixture was blended as smooth as possible. After letting the mixture sit in room temperature for fifteen minutes, it was filtered first with a strainer and then through a piece of cloth. Cutting and blending the cabbage breaks its cell walls and membranes releasing the contents of the vacuole, including anthocyanins, into the media. This liquid can already be used as pH indicator, but you can also make pH paper by applying this liquid to white porous material, like a filter paper, and letting it dry.

42


We tried anthocyanins’ pHindicating properties with five substances of different pH values: vinegar (acetic acid, CH3COOH), Sprite (largely citric acid, C6H8O7), tap water, sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3, baking soda) solution and sodium hydroxide (NaOH) drain cleaner solution. Equal amount of red cabbage extract was poured into five glasses. We then added each of the test solutions to the glasses. Our extraction turned out to be way too efficient and we had to dilute the solution quite a lot to make the colour change more visible.

deprotonation and shift of absorbed wavelengths, turning solution bright blue.. Finnish tap water is also slightly basic as it is alkalized to prevent corrosion in water pipes. According to HSY (Helsinki Region Environmental Services), pH of tap water is 8,4. In neutral conditions athocyanins are purple. To achieve this we should have used distilled water. And even distilled water isn’t completely neutral as carbon dioxide from air will dissolve in it making it weakly acidic.

In an acidic environment, anthocyanins gain positive charge which delocalises over the whole orbital system causing all the other wavelengths being absorped except red. pH of vinegar is around 2,5 and Sprite’s pH is around 3,3. In basic solutions, like sodium bicarbonate solution which has a pH of 8–9, anthocyanins become anionic as the hydroxyls in a phenylic, conjugated system are slighly acidic, allowing

43


With sodium hydroxide the colour change goes to pale yellow. This is because of a tautomerization reaction (all the reactions are illustrated in the chart made by Saku Mattila below). The tertiary carbon connected to the phenyl moiety of the anthocyanin is bound to a heterocyclic oxygen and in a basic environment, a hydroxyl group. The presence of these two highly electronegative oxygens decreases the electron density between the carbon and the oxygen of the cyclic structure, resulting in bond breakage. This makes the carbon more inclined in forming a

44

ketogroup which is more stable than individual carbon-carbon double bonds, causing tautomerization and formation of two cis-trans stereoisomers. It’s fascinating how much exciting chemistry everyday items contain. When you go deep down into the molecular level even food items tend to have qualities you weren’t expecting. But this is how nature is: full of surprises and ingenious systems. Wonder what all kinds of secrets there still lie...


Sources: Pourjavaher S. et al. (2017), Development of a colorimetric pH indicator based on bacterial cellulose nanofibers and red cabbage (Brassica oleraceae) extract, Carbohydrate Polymers, Vol 156, pages 193-201

HSY Water treatment laboratory: Average water quality at Pitkäkoski and Vanhankaupunki water treatment plants 1.1. 30.6.2021. Other than tap water’s pH-values: Wikipedia.org

Mattila, S. (2019), Antosyaanien biosyynteesi, sekä fysiologinen ja ekologinen merkitys, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Helsinki (unpublished) saku.mattila@helsinki.fi

45


Fuksikampanja! FuksivuonnaLoimuun liittyvät uudetjäsenetsaavat fuksisyksynjasitä seuraavan kalenterivuodenjäsenyyden ilmaiseksi!

OLEMME LUOTETTAVAKUMPPANI FUKSIVUODESTA AINA ELÄKEPÄIVIIN ASTI Me Loimussatiedämme,että omanammattiidentiteetin luominenjaensimmäisenomanalan työpaikanhankkiminenvoi olla työlästä. Siksi haluammeauttaa jatukeaalojemmeopiskelijoita heti opintojenalkuvaiheestalähtien!

Erityisesti opiskelijoille hyödyllisiä palveluitammeovat: • Loimun alojen uramahdollisuuksien esittely • Henkilökohtainen ura-ja työnhakuneuvonta

Teemmemielellämmeyhteistyötä myösainejärjestösi kanssa!Loimustasaatte tilaisuuksiinnepuhujiaja kouluttajia, jotka voivat auttaa alanneopiskelijoita eteenpäin omiensuunnitelmien jahakemustenkanssa. Ota yhteyttä omanjärjestösiaktiiveihin, Loimun paikallisyhdistykseesitaiLoimuntoimistoon, niin aloitetaan yhteisentilaisuudensuunnittelu.

46

Loimuun kuuluminenonfiksua!

• Juuri sinulleräätälöidyt työnantajalistat jauramahdollisuudet • CV:n, työhakemuksenja LinkedInprofiilin palautepalvelu • Työsuhteeseenliittyvä neuvontapalvelu


Daring to Doubt

Darwin T

he foundation of the present life lies in evolution. But for some, it still doesn’t make any sense, although it can feel a bit weird to be related to a mosquito. Biology is so complex it would be easier to invent a time machine than solve every mystery behind the beginning, development and continuation of life. It’s weird to think that there is an unstoppable line of life from millions of years ago, all originating to the same blink of movement in the middle of nowhere. It’s the story about the extreme survivor of the oldest memory disc ever: the DNA. Capable of beating five mass extinctions, extreme weather conditions and dramatic lack of nutrients, this wonder molecule has carried life from nothing to everything, from water to soil, and even air.

>>

Text and layout Lilja Nikula Illustration Timo Pihlajamäki

47


48

But how did life manage to survive, always having a backup disc somewhere, hiding in the bushes while dinosaurs were already rotting on the ground? I guess it’s like making sterile luria plates: sometimes a bastard of a bacteria manages to ruin your work. Basically, you only need one individual organism to keep life going – and it’s not that easy to sterilize the entire Earth. DNA is like the gentleman thief Lupin: always a step ahead, making fun of big and mighty destroying forces, managing to slide away from the back door with a new mutation.

about mutations linked to complex behavior, got really excited and asked me, how could this be explained with evolution. I actually didn’t have an answer at that time. My sister, present at the conversation, thought it would be a learnt skill, however, this wonderful, quite complex and mathematical skill called the waggle dance is truly something linked to genes.

I’ve had some interesting conversations with my relatives about the evolution theory. There was this one time I heard about my father’s friend having a bee garden. The friend was wondering, how did his bees make movements with their tails to the direction of the nectar. He had described this to my uncle. My uncle, who readily had his doubts

expect, like, as if bees would be dumb as hell after all this time. For me, it makes sense that evolution actually explains, rather than juxtaposes, the complex communication patterns. If there weren’t any sophisticated mechanisms, there wouldn’t be evolution. And on the other hand, would there be anything at all without evolution?

To best explain how it’s possible to develop this kind of a behavioral trait in such a simple species, we have to think about the scale of time. This is the behavior you would actually


>> 49


some muscle contraction, the tail drops right off. And of course, it grows back in its place, although that takes some time and patience. The question is though, how evolution made this happen. It’s definitely something complex, something very specific. How did the tail fall off the first place? What is the intermediate form? Some random lizard just had a weak tail that accidentally fell off and the lizard reproduced, and the rest is history? Or maybe it has been like that since the days of worms and other primitive creatures? The questions never end in biology. And that’s good. It keeps the science going and evolving. In fact, it’s only a good thing to question evolution. Doubting the very thing that defines the development of species, we find new evidence to prove it correct. We find new mechanisms and approaches, and we have a strong will to solve the most confusing mysteries of life. Evolution is actually considered a falsifiable theory. That means, you can try to

50

prove it false, as there is no smoking gun evidence it’s true all the time. However, the efforts to try proving something so apparent false, often leads to the opposite, as in the Netflix documentary about the Flat Earthers. But like in math logics too, trying to prove something false is one approach of trying to prove it right. So, keep doubting, keep asking questions. It’s completely healthy. My advice to anyone having hard time believing evolution: read biology. And to my father and my uncle: thank you. You really made me think outside my ecological tray. Sources: l’Anson Price R. et al. (2015) Why, when and where did honey bee dance communication evolve? Front. Ecol. Evol., 05 Clause A. R. et al. (2006) Caudal autotomy and regeneration in lizards J. Exp. Zool., 305A: 965-973. Wittlinger M. et al. (2006) The Ant Odometer: Stepping on Stilts and Stumps Science.Vol. 312, Issue 5782: 1965-1967


Banter at Helix Sometimes, not often, helicans let loose. Here is a collection of infamous overheard quotes, notes made at 3AM and a shopping list for a chicken coop. “Timo: Isn’t a child healthy when it plays? (A finnish proverb) Lilja: yea sure but you’re not a child Timo: I’m a man-child Saku: That’s true though”

"PCR is bullshit" -Cristiano Ronaldo, The Portugal News 28.10.2020

- Overheard at Helix clubroom when Timo threw overall patches at people

"Muut valmistui jo Mä hiihdän Muut sai kesätöitä Mä hiihdän Muut herää aikaisin Mä hiihdän Muut näkee kavereita Mä hiihdän" "Aamu - aurinko - nuoruus - uudet alut - krapula - kahvi" - Head of VR going through it, 2021

→ Chicken-stairs, absolute → Un-spillable food cup would be gr8 → A wider perch, rooster keeps falling over → A small bath tub → Melon peel → Cabbage - It’s like you could only hardly tell Mari got chickens

“Even the walls are sweating Or maybe they’re crying Tears of joy or melancholy Maybe you should ask? Or perhaps you should be the one who cares too much” Actually something thoughtful and beautiful by Heidi

Heard something funny? Let us know and we might publish it!

51


Ei munat mutahan joua, siepalehet veen sekahan. Muuttuivat murut hyviksi, kappalehet kaunoisiksi: munasen alainen puoli alaiseksi maaemäksi, munasen yläinen puoli yläiseksi taivahaksi; yläpuoli ruskeaista päivöseksi paistamahan, yläpuoli valkeaista, se kuuksi kumottamahan; mi munassa kirjavaista, ne tähiksi taivahalle, mi munassa mustukaista, nepä ilman pilvilöiksi.

52

Profile for Helix ry

Origin - VR 2/2021  

Origin was inspired by the origin of life and Finnish mythology. In this magazine we aim to study the origin different subjects, like our de...

Origin - VR 2/2021  

Origin was inspired by the origin of life and Finnish mythology. In this magazine we aim to study the origin different subjects, like our de...

Profile for helix_ry
Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded