Sunday, July 19, 2009


I have made an internet discovery which will prove itself extremely useful in my upcoming microbiology class. It's called Microbe Wiki, and it's a great online catalog of microbes. It's certainly not complete, but for beginning microbiology, it is a very handy tool.
Check it out:

In other microbiology news, scientists believe that the microbe "Methanosarcina barkeri" may survive the martian atmosphere. M. barkeri is a methanogen (survives off of methane, which has been detected on Mars), is able to handle long dry spells and a wide range of temperature differences.
Learn more here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Time for Science!

Yay, science time!

- Exciting news first: Thirteen years ago, scientists at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research discovered a new element, Element 112, after bombarding a lead target with zinc ions in their particle accelerator. They have now finally decided to name it Copernicus (Cp for short), after Nicolaus Copernicus, who discovered that the earth revolved around the sun.
Get excited here.

- Scientists have tracked down the genetic mutation which lead to blue eyes. All blue eyed people (including yours truly) are descended from a common ancestor who lived about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. Before that, everyone was brown eyed. The mutation affects the OCA2 gene, which controls pigment production. It doesn't so much switch the gene off (which would cause albinism), but lessens the effect of the gene. Learn more here.

- It's been long known that, following an HIV-1 infection, women develop lower viral loads, yet suffer a faster progression of the disease. Researchers at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), MIT and Harvard discovered that a receptor molecule involved in the first-line recognition of HIV-1 responds to the virus differently in women. This causes a subsequent differences in chronic T cell activation, which doctors use to predict disease progression. (Their paper will be published in an upcoming issue of Nature Medicine). The researchers focused on focused on plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), which are one of the first immune system cells to respond to HIV-1. They discovered the higher progesterone levels of premenopausal women correlated with increased activation of pDCs in response to HIV-1. Thus, the same amount of virus induces stronger pDC activation in women than in men. Learn more about the study here.

- Also in HIV/AIDS news, Brazil has proven that developing countries can indeed successfully treat and fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Their secret lies largely with inexpensive generic drugs. They also saved more than $1 billion as a result of bargaining with multinational pharmaceutical companies, having them lower their prices dramatically and encouraging generic companies to develop low-cost alternatives for emerging markets. Go Brazil!
Read the good news here.

- In Alzheimer's news, a drug called PMX205 recovers memory in mice, and may be used one day for Alzheimer's treatment. PMX205 is similar to a drug used in clinical trials for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. It prevents inflamed immune cells from gathering in brain regions with amyloid plaques. Discover more here.

- Biologist J. Albert Uy (of Syracuse University) and his science minions have observed speciation in action, as two closely related populations of monarch flycatcher birds have split and are on their way to becoming two distinct species. Speciation has only been observed in action a handful of times, and is a central aspect of evolution (Bite me, creationists!). This is a fairly large endeavor, but it didn't phase Mr. Uy. Taking into account that the plumage of the two populations had changed (one is all black, the other has chestnut bellies), and that the males defend their mating territory and attack invading males, Uy and his team made models of the two bird populations. The all-black males attacked the all-black models, and paid little attention to the chestnut bellied models, and vice-versa. This indicates that the males do not consider the males of the other population a reproductive threat.
The birds also have a differing MC1R gene, which explains the change in plumage.
It's all gone to the birds here.

- Assistant Professor Li Hoi Yeung and Assistant Professor Koh Cheng Gee (along their team of science zombies) have discovered that during apoptosis (cell death) the cell's rescue mechanism is disabled when specific proteins can no longer enter the nucleus, which stops the cell from initiating it's self-repair process. This is actually a very important discovery in the world of biology, so be excited!
Oh, and they also discovered that the protein RanGTP, (involved in the transportation of certain proteins into and out of the cell's nucleus), is reduced greatly during the early stages of apoptosis. Just because they felt like rubbing in how smart and awesome they are.
Revel in the excitement here.

- In the boggling world of physics, Yale University researchers have discovered a light force with repulsive power. It can be used to manipulate silicon microchip components, and may means that one day, nanodevices could run off of light instead of electricity.
Get excited and learn more here.

- Dr. Daniel Malone, (UA College of Pharmacy) mailed a questionnaire to 12,500 U.S. pharmaceutical prescribers who were selected based on a history of prescribing drugs associated with known potential for drug-drug interaction. (The prescribers were physicians, physicians' assistants and nurse practitioners.) He found that, on average, perscibers only correctly identified 42.7% of drug pairs with potentially dangerous drug-drug interactions.
Oops. Looks like med schools are focusing enough on drug-drug interactions.
Follow the shame here.

While I have respect for NASA and all the contributions they have made towards understanding the worlds around us, I have to give them a hard time for this: As the last components of the International Space Station are installed in 2110, they plan to de-orbit it in 2016.
Seriously guys. What they hell??
Billions of dollars have gone into this, and the final cost is estimated at $100,000,000,000. This is one of humanity's greatest monuments, a symbol of international collaboration in the name of science. There is no reason to take it down. It is more useful up in orbit then it is destroyed in a million little pieces as it reenters our atmosphere.
Get angry here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Alaskan Mud Flats

Salt deposits from high tide

Moose Track

Wild peas

Sandhill cranes taking off. These birds visit the flats every summer.


Researchers of the Northeast England Stem Cell Institute have created artificial human sperm cells using embryonic stem cells.
Scientists claims that within 10 years this technique could also be used to allow infertile couples to have their own children. It could even be possible to create sperm from female stem cells which would ultimately mean a woman having a baby without a man. It may also prove useful for young boys subjected to chemo treatment which left them infertile.
This is the first time human sperm has been created in a laboratory. The experiment has proved controversial and threatens to reignite the fierce debate of embryo research. Professor Nayernia, who heads the research, says "This is very amazing and very exciting. They have heads, they have tails and they move. The shape is not quite normal nor the movement, but they contain the proteins for egg activation." {He also claimed that his team has already used the technique on mice, which have produced offspring. The mice all died shortly after they were born.}
"Soon we will be able to isolate stem cells from the skin to generate sperm cells," he said. "This would enable us to look at individual stem cells from an infertile patient and find out what is the cause...We hope that eventually this could help create sperm for infertile men."

Learn more Here.

The Stages of Mitosis

Saturday, July 11, 2009

More Feynman

Apparently today is Richard Feynman day here at Lab Geek.

Richard Reynman on Fire

I <3 Richard Feynman.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Today, July 10th, is the 153rd birthday of Nikola Tesla, the inventor of the radio, alternating current electric power, and at least 278 other inventions. He is considered on of the greatest electrical engineers ever, and was an adversary of Thomas Edison who refused to pay Tesla for several patents he developed for the Edison company. He had an eccentric personality and in his later years made some very outlandish claims, causing his peers to write him off as a mad scientist.
Tesla died of heart failure on January 7, 1943. His ashes currently reside in the Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia.

It was Tai Shan's birthday yesterday. Happy 4th birthday Tai Shan!

Tai Shan is the first panda to be born at the Smithsonian National Park Zoo and survive, making him the 3rd in the U.S. He is also a product of artificial insemination.
His four layer birthday cake is made up of ice, bamboo, shredded beets and beet juice, which took zoo nutritionists two weeks to design.

The Inner Life of a Cell

Here is a very beautifully animated video put together by the spiffy fellows of Harvard and BioVisions.

(The song is "The Man Who Doesn't Know Nothing" by Michael Elektrich)

Sciency Tid-Bits

Studies have already shown that monkeys can string together different sounds to create "sentences," particularly one of alarm or warning. A new study now indicates that can also recognize poor grammar. By introducing a nonsense word as a suffix, and then later using it as a prefix, the monkeys recognized the difference.
Learn more here.

One of the first things a science student learns about is Absolute Zero. But have you ever wondered about the range of known temperatures? How hot is the Sun? What is the hottest temperature achieved in a lab? How hot was the Big Bang?
To get a nifty idea of temperature ranges, check out Nova's interactive scale here.

Interested in the underwater lakes and rivers? Click here to plan your next spelunking adventure. The pictures are pretty amazing.

Need cancer information? Check out

They Say Sin Began With the Bite of an Apple.

And thus I have traversed to the dark side. I bought my first Mac. A 2.53 GHz Macbook Pro with a 13" screen, 4 GB memory, and 250 hard drive. (Yes, I was originally planning to go for the 320GB hard drive, but I figured I could just buy an external hard drive later to store old pictures and documents)
It also came with an 8GB iPod Touch, which, after 20 tense minutes, Ryan was able to coax to life.

So far I love it. It is small, light, fast, and efficient. I am still adjusting to the keyboard and controls though.

It is by no means a top-of-the-line Mac, but I expect it to last me for the next four years. I bought it a month sooner then I expected due to my current PC slowly becoming a worthless pile of circuit boards. I'm keeping it as a back up computer for those times when I really need a PC, but other then that, it is retired. Tomorrow I will start transferring files and pictures to the new computer, specifically all my lab notes and class lectures/presentations. This awesome computer will be overflowing with science!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Darth Vader Toaster

If you're stopping by San Diego's comic con this year, be sure to pick up one of these to spice up your carbs:

Bing Fail

This is an example of why is a bad idea.

Sorry Microsoft.
At least it isn't Vista.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

White Tiger

Six months ago a stripless, pure white Bengal tiger was born in an African zoo. Both her parents carry the gene for white coloring. Zookeepers suspected stripes would develop within six months, but so far the cub remains without stripes. Such tigers are not known to current exist in the wild.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sewer Blobs from Outer Space?

Or North Carolina.

Found during a sewer inspection in North Caroline, there was initial debate over whether these were bryozoans or tubifex worms. Most scientists agree now that they are tubifex worms, unless you are Sally Kern, who probably thinks this is a part of the homosexual agenda.

Here are more tubifax worms:

Aren't they adorable?

Bleeding Billboard

In response to an alarming highway death toll, the country of New Zealand decided to take action by posting bleeding billboards.
Creepy? Hell yes.
But also effective. There hasn't been a accident-related fatality in area since their posting.

Science Blurbs


- Queensland Institute of Medical Research scientists are in the final stages of developing a vaccine for Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria. Group A Strep, pictured on the right, is the cause of those annoying strep throat infections, as well as rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. A successful GAS vaccine would greatly increase the public health. Good luck QIMR researchers, may we see your vaccine soon!
Learn more @

Physics & Astronomy
- The world of physics is buzzing with the discovery of an outburst of "very high energy" (VHE) gamma radiation from the galaxy Messier 87, also known as M 87. The VHE gamma radiation burst was accompanied by a strong rise of the radio flux measured from the direct vicinity of its super-massive black hole. The gamma rays have energies a trillion times higher than the energy of visible light. An international collaboration of 390 scientists detected and reported the events, using three arrays of 12-meter to 17-meter telescopes to detect the gamma rays and the Very Long Baseline Array, which detects radio waves with high precision.
M 87 is 50 million light-years from Earth and contains a super-massive black hole that is more than six billion times more massive than our Sun.
Learn more @

- Sometimes laws fail us, even in physics. Dr Tony Roberts and PhD student Christophe P. Haynes have shown that the fractal-Einstein and Alexander-Orbach laws can fail in some instances. Don't panic though; they derived a new law to replace them.
The laws are used to describe how particles diffuse in complex environments, which affects big scientific questions. Dr Roberts said particles in diffuse in complex environments in much the same way and choose the easiest path. Thus their spread was not uniform, as the old laws predicted.
Enjoy the science @

- Leiden theoretical physicists have used string theory to describe a physical phenomenon, something which has never been done before. Despite the theory's popularity, this is the first time that a calculation based on string theory has been published in Science. The calculation may even reveal more information on high temperature super-conductivity.
Boggle your mind @

- Dr. Anatolij Horuzsko, a reproductive immunologist at the MCG Center for Molecular Chaperone/Radiobiology and Cancer Virology, has developed degradable microparticles which deliver the most powerful known form of HLA-G (a natural suppressor of the immune response) straight to dendritic cells. Dendritic cells usually tell the immune system to attack a new organ after a transplant, which leads to severe complications. Dr. Horuzsko's microparticles suppress the dendritic cells, which makes the immune system ignore the organ. This is a significant improvement over current anti-rejection medications and offers a specific tolerance.
Learn more @

- Losing your mind? Drink some coffee. Various new studies show that caffeine lowers the abnormal levels of a protein linked to Alzheimer's disease. 500 mg of caffeine boosts the memory of Alzheimer to the same level of non-Alzheimer. It did not, however, increase the memory of non-Alzheimer mice.
Check it out @

- Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) have proven to be quite successful in treating acid reflux, but new recearch indicates that a few months of prescription level PPIs can lead to a dependency. 44% of people in the study reported at least one acid-related symptom 9 to 12 weeks after stopping the PPI treatment, compared to 15% in a placebo group.
Learn more @

- By comparing the genes of slow growing abalone to those of fast growing abalone, the aquaculture industry hope to profit by creating a super-sized abalone. To learn more about the economical biology, go to

- Dopamine and serotonin are well known neurotransmitters which affect mood. Now MIT researchers, studying the little round worms known as Caenorhabditis elegans, have found that chloride channel receptors open and close quickly in response to the binding of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Researchers hope that these channels may become new targets for neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression.
Cheer up @

- University of Washington researcher are in the process of putting 200 seismometers in the Olympic Peninsula. They are designed to zero in on tiny tremors which may indicate disastrous earthquakes.

Cancerous Mondays

Nobody likes Mondays. Here is some cancer news to lift your mood.

Because I am a lab geek, the lab geeky news comes first: John Hopkin's cancer experts have developed a successful 3-way combination to better predict the return of prostate cancer. This method examines "the length of time it takes for PSA (prostate-specific antigen) to double, Gleason score (a numeric indicator of prostate cancer aggressiveness as seen under the microscope), and the interval between surgical removal of the prostate and the first detectable PSA level."
The combination of these three measurements accurately estimates return cancer risk more accurately then any currently known method.
To learn more about the study which developed the method, go to:

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center researchers have uncovered genetic variables which aid lung cancer's ability to quickly metastasize. To blame is a hyperactive WNT cellular pathway, which is surprisingly the same cellular pathway colorectal cancers use. Tumor-initiating mutations in the genes KRAS and EGFR depend on a hyperactive WNT pathway, as well as the genes HOXB9 and LEF.
For more information, go to:

Georgetown University Medical Center researchers has developed a drug which blocks the activity of the fusion protein responsible for Ewing's sarcoma. Today, most small molecule cancer drugs inhibit the intrinsic activity of a single protein. This drug take a different approach, by stopping two proteins from interacting. Because scientists have never been done before with a cancer-causing fusion protein, they hope to have a novel medical therapy in the future.
Learn more @

Lets face it: Leukemia is a bitch. Acute myeloid leukemia is even worse. Fortunately, there's hope. Dr. John Dick of the Ontario Cancer Institute, along with many other researchers from various nations, has developed a leukemia therapy which targets the protein CD123 on cancer stem cells which drive AML. This treatment is the first anti-cancer monoclonal antibody therapy that specifically targets cancer stem cells. Part of the therapy's success is that it targets the cancerous stem cells themselves, which are chemo-resistant and responsible for AML recurrence.
Enjoy the science @

A new breakthrough in melanoma research was made by scientists at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. They discovered two new genes which together double a person's melanoma risk. Alone, either gene carries a 25% increased risk. With 10,000 people diagnosed each year, Australia has the highest occurrence of melanoma in the world. In Queensland, an average of 7 people per day with this deadly skin cancer.
Follow the excitement @

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Underground Lair

Every nerd has long dreamed of having a secret, underground lair.
Sanford Laboratory scientists have one. Well, half of one, which is due to be completed by 2016. An awesome, Umbrella-Corporationesque lab dedicated to dark matter research is located 8000 feet underneath South Dakota mountains. Since any interfering radiation disrupts dark matter, scientists claim an underground lab is an ideal studying environment.
But we know the truth. They just want their own underground lair. ^_^

Enjoy the Science @
And @:

And a Few Thoughts Before I Go

I leave on a 12 hour ferry ride tonight to go celebrate Fourth of July with family, so I will be offline for the weekend. I know you'll miss me, but here is some news to keep you company on those long, lonely nights.

- Little kids know to fear two things: needles and ear infections. (Why? Because they hurt.) Good news for the little ones though: new research is paving the way for a vaccine for Otitis media. Not only that, it's completely needle free! Dr. Lauren Bakaletz, (director of the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital) is working in collaboration with John Clements (Tulane University School of Medicine) to develop the droplet vaccine, which has already had successful trial on chinchillas.
Learn how it works @

- Scientists have uncovered potential hope in Alzheimer medication development. They discovered evidence that a cluster of peptides may be responsible for the devastating disease. The peptide, Amyloid Beta 42, is part of the Amyloid Precursor Protein. It grows to form six unit rings, a pair of which is called a "dodecamer," which over time may rearrange itself into B-sheet structures. These B-sheets lead to the fibrils that form brain plaque, a tell-tale sign of Alzheimers and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Learn more @

- Alheimer's patients have even more reason to rejoice, as researchers at the University of South Florida and James A. Haley Hospital have discovered a link between memory decline and blood stem cell growth factor. Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (GCSF) is responsible for stimulating blood stem cell growth in the bone marrow. New evidence indicates that it also seems to reverse memory impairment.
Don't forget to check it out @
And @

- While some researchers are playing with peptides, or stimulating growth factors, Sanford researchers are looking for genes related to schizophrenia. Some diseases, such as Huntingtons, can be traced to a single genetic defect. Schizophrenia is difficult because it is believed to involve various interactions among a multitude of genes. But modern technology has finally pinpointed schizophrenia to a specific chromosomal region.
Follow the maddness @

- Do you love playing in the sun, but fear the deadly wrath of melanoma? Well, with a death toll of nearly 50000 a year, no wonder you're afraid. Hope is right over the horizon though, in the form of a knight in shining armor known as: Herpes!
It sounds like a pretty grim decision - herpes or skin cancer - but researchers are using a modified type of herpes virus in the fight against melanoma. Known as viral-gene therapy, they inject the virus into the tumor to kill it. So far, the results are fairly mixed, and the procedue is still undergoing clinical trials.
Learn more @

- Our poor DNA undergoes so much abuse throughout our life that it has developed an impressive repair system, which even goes as far as telling the cell to commit suicide if it cannot fix the damage. This unique biochemical system holds hope for cancer researchers who hope to learn the secret behind these suicide signals and apply it cancer cells, limiting their reproduction and growth.
To learn more about DNA repair, go to

- While we know that antibiotics disrupt our normal civilization of internal microbes, University of Michigan scientists are studying the extent of the disruption, and finding that it may take up to weeks before our internal microbes return to normal.
Enjoy the science @

American Athiest Fever continues

Late last night/early this morning I blogged about the New York atheists put an ad on 20 NYC buses claiming that "You don't need to believe in God to be a moral or ethical person."
While the ad has no doubt ruffled a few feathers, I doubt it received the amount of negative attention that its Florida counterpart, a billboard reading "Being a good person doesn't require God. Don't believe in God? You're not alone."
The billboard, posted by Free Thought Flordia, has received numerous complains and protests by those who claim the billboard is offensive to Christianity.

I will admit that this sign seems slightly more blunt then the NYC ads. However, I don't see how it can be offensive. It clearly falls within their freedom of speech. It doesn't bash or target any particular religion. I suspect the majority of the complaints are from the same evangelicals who hate gays and Planned Parenthood.

Astronomy Photo of the Week

A rising cresent Earth, as seen from Apollo 17 command module.

Find more beautiful pictures @

Glowing Salamaders

Today Nature magazine is publishing an article led by developmental biologist Elly Tanaka, (from the Center for Regenerative Therapies at the Dresden University of Technology), explaining the mechanics of salamander limb regeneration. Elly Tanaka genetically engineered an axolotl salamander with a green fluorescent protein in all cells of the body, which allowed her to visually trace the fate of cells during regeneration. Her discovery was quite startling and already the science blogging community is buzz with excitement.

Scientists have long observed the salamander's unique ability to regenerate not only limbs, but jaws, skin, and even parts of brain and spinal chord. Scientists originally theorized that regeneration occurs because cells at the amputation site lose their identities and turn back their developmental clocks and become "pluripotent" stem cells (capable of developing into many cell types in the body), which then recreate the lost limb.

This study explains that cells at the amputation site retain memories of their identities and regenerate to form the same type of tissue in the replacement limb. The concept of cellular memory is still wearily approached by scientists and researchers, but in the case of the salamander, it's what makes regeneration possible. It also means that instead of stem cells, the amputated cells simply reproduce more of themselves; muscles grow from muscles, and bones from bones.

Enjoy the science at:

Lets All Jump on the Atheist Bus!

New York City Atheists, Inc. placed a pro-atheist ad on 20 New York city buses which reads "You don't have to believe in God to be a moral or ethical person."

While I am sure it has stirred up its share of complaints, I like this ad campaign better than last year's atheist ad campaign in England, which stated "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." While London's atheist ad was amusing, it did stir controversy. The New York counterpart is far less contriversial; it doesn't focus on whether or not there is a god. It simply states that you don't need religion to be ethical. No one can deny that this fits within their rights of free speech, and gives encouragement to NYC atheists without (hopefully) drawing too much criticism.

Even Joseph Zwilling, the director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York, claims that the ads are not offensive to the Catholic Church, because of their careful wording.


...have you done anything about global warming yet?



If you happen to be a woman with £1,500 - £2,500 laying around and considering in-vitro fertilization, then you may check out this nifty new test. It's an embryonic genetic test called "Karyomapping," and it tests for over 15,000 genetic conditions, including Huntington's, cystic fibrosis, and some types of autism, metal retardation, and cancer. This method is also quicker than existing methods of genetic testing.
And that's not all folks! It also counts the number of chromosomes in embryos, which will help increase chances of impregnation, as well as cutting chances of miscarriage.

Being a Medical Technologist major, and a incurable lab geek, I have to admit that the news of this test excited me. I hope to see this test in the States soon ^_^

However, the tests is not without it's opponents. Some decry the test, saying the helpless embryos will be destroyed because they are not perfect enough, will encourage designer babies, or "savior babies," which are children genetically designed to be a match to a sick sibling. Jodi Picoult wrote a beautiful work of fiction about a girl who was designed to be a genetic match to her sick older sister. (This book, "My Sister's Keeper," is now a movie starring Cameron Diez). While ethics should not be ignored, I hope scientists will push for this test to become mainstream, giving hope to mothers choosing in-vitro.

If all goes well, we can expect to see this test by 2010.

Enjoy the science at:

Medical News

I went for a hike to explore some ruins of an old mine today, and need a break from processing pictures. So here's what has been going on in the medical world lately.

- We all know its good to eat your veggies. But more and more we're finding out that it not only matters what you eat, but also how you eat it. For example, it's healthier to eat whole fruit instead of their dried counterparts, which we consume more of in a single sitting, which causes us to intake more sugar. Or, as a Newcastle University study finds, cooking carrots whole seems to boost their antioxidant properties. I can hear the vegans rejoice!
Experience the deliciousness @

- Now, while some researchers are skeptic of the full effectiveness of antioxidants, people in general are looking more and more to antioxidant foods to boost their health. Well good news gentlemen, eating all those blueberries and cooked carrots is boosting your sperm quality and your manliness! (What woman can resist a guy seductively munching a carrot?) According to a study published in Fertility and Sterility, men who eat antioxidant rich foods have a high sperm quality than men who have a meat-heavy diet.It should be noted that this study was done mostly by survey, but it does show potential and I hope to see it studied more in the future.
Check out the details @

- Anyone who has experienced insomnia (like me) knows the toll it can take on everyday life. Doctors have preached the importance sleep for decades, and new studies occur every year which support their advice. The most recent of these studies is one lead by Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at MIT. The study displays a link between long term memory and sleep, specifically memory replay and memory consolidation. Translation: sleep helps us transform our recent, short-term memories into long term memories.
Follow the excitement @

- Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a nasty little critter, and tuberculosis was once a fairly common ailment. Even today it poses great risks among impoverished nations, and even among the homeless here in America. Researchers of Ohio State University are using the power of math to help fight the air-born disease, hoping a change in the natural switching time with result in a better immune response. It studies the complex relationship between the Mycobacterium, the human lungs, and immune system, and I'm not gonna lie, the article is pretty long and intense. But it's a great and thorough article, and hopefully will greatly impact the future of how we deal with TB and other airborne pathogens.
Learn more @

- Your brain is a remarkable organ, and one you want to take care of. Come on, who doesn't sing lullabies to their sweet little neurons when no one is looking, or occasionally spoil them with crossword puzzles?
Glioblastoma multiforme is a nasty brain tumor, which accounts for 52% of all primary brain tumor cases, as well as 20% of intracranial tumors. It is both the most common and most aggressive brain tumor; Definitely not something you want hanging around your innocent neurons. Good news, however: scientists have identified a specific biomarker which is effective (in animal trials) in gauging the response to a new gene therapy treatment for glioblastoma multiforme. The biomarker is a protein released by dying tumor cells, and it's effectiveness in animal trials means it will soon go into Phase 1 clinical trial, hopefully later this year.
Enjoy the science @

- Any way you cut it, it's still surgery. So when it comes to abdominal surgery, transverse and midline incisions shouldn't be that different. Or are they? While most abdominal surgery today is done with minimally invasive techniques ("keyhole surgery"), larger abdominal surgeries still require good old-fashioned incisions. So to satisfy the curiosity of doctors, Heidelberg University Hospital's surgery department conducted a study on the healing quality of both midline and transverse incisions. The results: wound infections were slightly higher in transverse incisions. Other then that, healing time, quality, and complecations were consistant and seemed to be unrelated to incision type.
Check it out @

- Scared of going blind? Munch on saffron!
This overpriced spice has been linking preventing certain common types of blindness by increasing the resilience of eye cells.
Learn more @

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Hope for HIV Vaccine

Lets face it. Canada is awesome.
Microbiology professor Yong Kang, from University of Western Ontario in London, has been working on an HIV vaccine for 20 years, and announced that the vaccine is ready for human trials in the U.S. It has successfully passed animal safety trials, and once they get FDA approval, they will perform 3 human clinical trials. If all 3 trials are successful, then we have a new vaccine.
Isn't it amazing how far we've come?
I hope that this vaccine works, it will completely change the medical world.
Over 33 million people have HIV, and half of those usually develop into AIDS. HIV complications kill 2 million people a year.

Learn more @

Straight From the Heart

Those geniuses from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute identified the earliest master human heart stem cell from human embryonic stem cells. This is particularly helpful in how congenital heart disease develops. Congenital heart disease is the most common heart defect in children all across the globe, and this new discovery will hopefully lead to new treatments and possibly a cure.
To find out more, go to

Quick, what does FMD stand for? Fetal Muscular Disorder? Fatal Medicine Diagnosis? Funny Monkey Day?
FMD is short for fibromuscular dysplasia. Ever hear of it? Probably not. Most people, even many doctors, are unfamiliar with the disease. Fibromuscular dysplasia is a disease where the artery walls expand, often cutting off blood flow and resulting in cardiac arrest, which is what happend to 10 year old Haley McWhorter. Doctors believe that FMD is a very rare disease, but new studies suggest that the disease is more common then once believed, possibly 3% to 5% of the population (about 10 million Americans.) Symptoms include "young patients with high blood pressure, or who have had a stroke or temporary symptoms of a stroke; patients whose blood makes a swishing sound indicating turbulent flow; or patients with brain aneurysms."
Learn more @

Science News.

Wow, second comprehensive science news posting in just as many days. The world of science has been busy lately.

- Pat Lukens, a Fermilab physicist, announced the observation of a new particle called Omega-sub-b, which contains one bottom and two strange quarks. It's observation will help physicists understand how quarks form matter.
Read more about the Omega-sub-b particle @

- The world of evolutionary biology, as well as archaeology, is going to be buzz with recent news that a new fossil primate found in Myanmar suggests that the common ancestor of humans, apes, and monkeys evolved in Asia instead of Africa, where scientists currently believe such evolution took place. The species, Ganlea megacanina, is approximately 38 million years old.
Check it out at @

- Is Mars also experiencing global warming? New photos from NASA's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) show geological landforms with indicate Mars is experiencing warmer weather, which is melting part of its permafrost. This brings hope to finding or even reviving Martian life ^_^
Learn more @

- More shocking developments on Mars: Scientists now have direct evidence of lightening on Mars! University of Michigan researchers found signs of electrical discharges during a Martian dust storm. This brings to mind the Miller/Urey experiment of the 1950's, where over a dozen amino acids were created when H2O, along with a few other elements, were combined with lightening.
Follow the excitement @

- Looking for an emissions-free mode of public transportation? We may one day have it. Geoffrey Barnett, a designer, came up with a monorail system powered by an abundant energy source: people! (Why didn't we think of that?) He incorporated his concept, "Shweeb," in a New Zealand amusement park, where people can ride his monorail, which moves via pedaling, which also makes for a great work out. Emission-free transportation and a cure for obesity? Goeffrey Barnett is a genius! I hope that we soon see this monorail our own cities ^_^
Look at the pictures @

- A new robotic vision system, based off of the workings of human vision, allows robots to successfully maneuvor through cluttered environments, helping overcome a huge obstacle in the world of robotics.
Check it out @

- Even more excitement in the world of Technology, as this week Toyota announced that they have developed technology which allows people to drive wheelchairs, simply by reading their brainwaves, at an impressive rate of 125 milliseconds. This quick timing allows for near-instant movements.
Learn more @

Sea Lamphrys are bizzare-looking fish which seem to be a distant relatice of the Arrakis sand worms (if you're a sci-fi nerd/Frank Herbert fan). The remaining three species of Lamphrys are also rare fish, due to the fact they need high water quality to live. So imagine biologists delight when they found 7 of the little buggers in a river in County Durham, Britian.
Learn more @

- Scientists have discovered the first "self watering" plant in an Israeli desert. The Desert Rhubarb has large leaves covered with microstreams of water. The ridges of the plant leaves help direct the streams of water and protect it against evaportation, thus allowing the plant to water itself.
Learn more @

- With droughts becoming more and more common, scientists hope that the future of farming lies in drough-resistant plants and crops. Thus, they transcribed the DNA of a tropical grass called sorghum, which thrives in hot, dry conditions. Maybe this humble grass will unlock the future of farming.
Check it out @

- Ever hear of labyrinthulomycetes? Can you even pronounce that? Well, four lucky species of these cute little marine microbes are going to have their genome sequenced. Microbiologists suspect that they are immensely important to organic breakdown, and are going to sequence their genome in order to learn more about these abundant critters.
Learn more @

Thinergy Battery.

Infinite Power Solutions Inc unveiled their THINERGY battery on June 9th. These unbelievably thin batteries are called micro-energy cells, and outperform Lithium coin cells, printed batteries, and other thin-film batteries, and are eco-friendly. According to their website, the battery is a soild-state chemistry design, which doesn't use liquid or polymer electrolye.

Learn more @

Light Up Your Life

I love technology.

A company called Electro-LuminX has come out with a product called Light Tape, a thin, flexible, all-weather lighting strip which they claim is visible for miles, even through rain, fog, and snow.
Light Tape uses a process known as Electroluminescence, which converts electrical energy into light by activating a phosphor layer with an alternating current, which excites the phosphors, causing them to vibrate, thus producing light. Even the Air Force uses electroluminescence for their planes. Cool, no?

You can check out further information on Light Tape, and even buy it @

Is the Swine Flu Drug Resistant?

When the Conflicker virus was due to strike thousands of computers, my computer geek friends were excited, waiting to see what would happen. My economy/business major friends are still excited over the state of the economy and spend hours theorizing how it will play out.
Me, being the medical sciences nerd, found my excitement in the swine flu. Sure, it's not as deadly or dangerous as SARS, or as annoying and painful as Lyme Disease, but the arrival of any new virus or disease excites my inner medical geek.

The latest development in the swine flu frenzy comes from Denmark, where doctors report that the flu is now showing resistance to the antiviral medication Tamiflu (oseltamivir). To date, the virus has only displayed resistance in one patient.

Actually, this really isn't unexpected. Drug resistant strains of various flus have occured before. The real exciting part is whether this is a one time thing confined to a few, isolated cases, or if it will develop into a new, drug resistant strain.

Learn more @

A few black and whites

Note to Self:

When tromping through the woods, beware of mud holes.

I had just washed these jeans, too. Oh well, nothing wrong with having a little fun and getting dirty.