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Vaishnavism differs from other traditions of Hinduism by recognizing Vishnu as the supreme deity (read more)

Featured Article: Phoenix

The phoenix from the Aberdeen Bestiary.
The phoenix, or phœnix as it is sometimes spelled, has been an enduring mythological symbol for millennia across vastly different cultures. Despite such varieties of societies and times, the phoenix is consistently characterized as a bird with brightly colored plumage, which, after a long life, dies in a fire of its own making only to rise again from the ashes. From religious and naturalistic symbolism in ancient Egypt, to a secular symbol for armies, communities, and even societies, as well as an often-used literary symbol, this mythical bird's representation of death and rebirth seems to resonate with humankind's aspirations.

Although many cultures have their own interpretation of the phoenix, the differences in nuance are overshadowed by the mythical creature's more homogeneous characteristics. The phoenix is always a bird, usually having plumage of colors corresponding to fire: yellow, orange, red, and gold. The most universal characteristic is the bird's ability to resurrect. Living a long life (the exact age can vary from five hundred to over a thousand years), the bird dies in a self-created fire, burning into a pile of ashes, from which a phoenix chick is born, representing a cyclical process of life from death. Because it is reborn from its own death, the phoenix also took on the characteristics of regeneration and immortality.

Popular Article: Bacteria

Escherichia coli
Bacteria (singular: bacterium) are a group of microscopic, single-celled prokaryotes—that is, organisms characterized by a lack of a nucleus or any other membrane-bound organelles.

Although among the most primitive organisms, bacteria reflect many universal features of life, including that they are composed of cells, transmit genetic information via DNA, and need energy from the environment to exist, grow, and reproduce; even sexual reproduction has been exhibited in some species of bacteria. Bacteria are often viewed negatively, given this group's connection to diseases. However, bacteria perform invaluable, beneficial functions in ecosystems, and also reflect harmony between living organisms in a number of ways. These include conversion of atmospheric nitrogen to forms that plants can use, exhibiting mutualism (a type of symbiosis in which both organisms in two interacting species receive benefit), and recycling nutrients through bacterial decomposition of dead plants and animals. Bacteria also provide an aid in digestion for many organisms, and are helpful in yogurt production, sewage treatment, and as sources of medicinal drugs.

Bacteria are the most abundant of all organisms. They are ubiquitous in both soil and water and as symbionts of other organisms. Many pathogens (disease-causing organisms) are bacteria. Most bacteria are minute, usually only 0.5-5.0 μm in their longest dimension, although giant bacteria like Thiomargarita namibiensis and Epulopiscium fishelsoni may grow past 0.5 mm in size. Bacteria generally have cell walls, like plant and fungal cells, but with a very different composition (peptidoglycans). Many move around using flagella, which are different in structure from the flagella of other groups.

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