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Featured Article: Henry David ThoreauHenry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862), born David Henry Thoreau was an American author, naturalist, pacifist, philosopher, and transcendentalist. Like his peers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Thoreau believed nature to be an expression of God and a symbolic reflection of the transcendent spiritual world that works beyond the physical realm.
Thoreau was not a systematic philosopher but advanced his thought by embedding his ideas in the context of descriptive narrative prose. He is best known for Walden and Civil Disobedience, but wrote many other articles and essays. He was a lifelong abolitionist and delivered lectures attacking the Fugitive Slave Act, praising the writings of Wendell Phillips, and defending the abolitionist John Brown following Brown's assault on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Thoreau's Civil Disobedience influenced later nonviolent reformers, particularly Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thoreau studied a wide range of philosophical literature, from classical Greek and Roman authors to modern philosophers and the writings of his contemporaries. He was one of the few Western writers to explore ancient Eastern thought. He studied the Bagavad Gita, the Vedas, and the Upanishads, and his journals were full of personal responses to these Hindu scriptures. He also gained insights from Taoism and other ancient Chinese traditions. Nevertheless, Thoreau developed his own unique philosophy, particularly through his "experimental" austere life in nature.
Popular Article: AlgaeAlgae (singular alga) are a large and diverse group of photosynthetic, eukaryotic, plant-like organisms that use chlorophyll in capturing light energy, but lack characteristic plant structures such as leaves, roots, flowers, vascular tissue, and seeds. The designation algae includes diverse phyla, including diatoms (golden algae), green algae, euglenoids (flagellates), brown algae, and red algae, and range from single-celled organisms to giant seaweeds. The name alga (plural algae) comes from the Latin word for seaweed. The study of algae is called phycology or algology.
Algae range from single-celled organisms to multi-cellular organisms, some with fairly complex differentiated form and, if marine, called seaweeds. Some of the single-celled organisms may be as small as one micrometer. Multicellular algae may consist of a row of cells, appearing as a filament, or as a thin plate of cells, or even some larger ones may have bodies with a rudimentary division of labor. The multicellular giant kelp reaches 60 meters in length. Seaweeds themselves have many forms, including those that appear as if terrestrial plants with leaves and stems, looking like moss, mushrooms, leaf lettuce, or even palm trees.
The various types of algae play significant roles in ecology. Algae are the base of the aquatic food chain. Microscopic forms that live suspended in the water column—called phytoplankton—provide the food base for most marine food chains. The photosynthetic work done by algae is believed to produce more than three-quarters of the oxygen in the earth's atmosphere; far more than that produced by terrestrial plants.
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