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2/15/2006 Biology / Strange Happenings. Vietnam man handles three decades without sleep. (Hoax?)

"Sixty-four-year-old Thai Ngoc, known as Hai Ngoc, said he could not sleep at night after getting a fever in 1973, and has counted infinite numbers of sheep during more than 11,700 consecutive sleepless nights. ... His inability to sleep has not sleeplessonly made him famous, but also represents a “miraculous” phenomenon worthy of scientific study. ... You'd think going without sleep for that long may have its drawbacks, but not for the man in central Quang Nam province who has never been ill after decades of insomnia."

"... doctors gave him a clean bill of health, except a minor decline in liver function. ... Ngoc currently lives on his 5ha farm at the foot of a mountain busy with farming and taking care of pigs and chickens all day. His six children live at their house in Que Trung. “I have tried sleeping pills and Vietnamese traditional medicine but nothing helps, even to sleep for a few minutes,” he said. Ngoc often does extra farm work or guards his farm at night to prevent theft, saying he used three months of sleepless nights to dig two large ponds to raise fish." - thnews

I think this is probably bogus, but it would be pretty neat if true. There was a similar story about a 63-year-old man in the Ukrain a while back. The story is now pulled from the main source, but you can find it on blogs. Here is an authoritative source on agrypnia says one 27-year-old man with this disorder had virtually no sleep over a period of several months.

"A 63-year-old man who hasn't slept for more than two decades has been told there is nothing medically wrong with him by doctors. Ukrainian Fyodor Nesterchuk from the town of Kamen-Kashirsky said the last time he managed to doze off was more than 20 years ago. All attempts by doctors to put him to sleep have failed."

2/7/2006 Biology / Strange Happenings. First face transplant recipient doing well.

"HER speech heavily slurred and difficult to understand, Frenchwoman Isabelle Dinoire faced a room full of reporters and cameras and told how ground-breaking surgery had changed her life. "I can open my mouth and eat. I feel my lips, my nose and my mouth," Ms Dinoire said. ... A circular scar was visible where the face tissue was attached in the 15-hour operation on November 27 in Amiens. Ms [ Isabelle ] Dinoire appeared to still have great difficulty moving or even closing her mouth, which often hung open. But she said that she was regaining sensation. During the conference, while one of her surgeons was speaking, she lifted a cup to her lips to drink." - smh



Amazing. We can't yet "infuse the spark of life into non-living tissue", but using transplants from those who have offically died is an amazing accomplishment. How far will we go with this new ability? Any bets on the year of the first brain transplant? Will the idea of combining human parts ever reach the level popularly imagined in 1818?

1/25/2006 Biology. Really small fish ... the smallest.

"Individuals of the Paedocypris genus can be just 7.9mm long at maturity, scientists write in a journal published by the UK's Royal Society. But they warn long-term prospects for the fish are poor, because of rapid destruction of Indonesian peat swamps." - bbc



1/23/2006 Biology. A Fish Story


"BARCELONA, Spain -- A handout picture released Monday Aug. 1, 2005 shows Duncan Rooke, 32, left and Stephen Buss, 30, as they haul in a record-breaking catfish in the River Ebro, near Barcelona in Spain on July 6, 2005. The 7ft 7in, (2.3 meters) 212lb (96kgms) female fish isthe biggest freshwater catch ever made by a British angler and nearly pulled 32-year-old gas engineer Rooke back into the river once he had hold of her. After weighing the fish and burping her to get rid of the air in her stomach, she was released. (08/01/05 AP photo) "

1/23/2006 Biology. A baby aardvark.


"OMAHA, Neb. -- A two and a half week-old baby aardvark sniffs the lens of a television camera at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. The first aardvark to be born at the Omaha, Neb., zoo, is now on display. (09/28/05 AP photo)

smoke and flames high into the sky. (12/12/05 AP photo)"

1/13/2006 Biology. Human - Rabbit Hybrids raise legal questions.

Like it or not this tide is unstoppable. Humans are taking control of DNA and we are creating new life forms which are only partly human. Fbunnymanuture argument: If rabbits and humans are biologically similar enough to mix, why should human rights not apply to even rabbits with no human DNA?

"British scientists are seeking permission to create hybrid embryos by fusing human cells with rabbit eggs. The scientists want to use the embryos to produce stem cells that carry genetic defects. Studying those stem cells could help understand a number of currenctly incurable diseases in humans. Although made of rabbit cell material, scientists say the embryos would be controlled by human DNA. They would not be allowed to grow beyond an early stage in the laboratory, and would only be used to investigate stem cell development, genetic defects and disease, they say. Legal experts say it is not clear whether the embryos would be regarded in law as rabbit or human." - cnn


1/12/2006 Biology / Strange happenings. Taiwan breeds green-glowing pigs

"Scientists in Taiwan say they have bred three pigs that glow in the dark. They claim that while other researchers have bred partly fluorescent pigs, theirs are the only pigs in the world which are green through and through. The pigs are transgenic, created by adding genetic material from jellyfish into a normal pig embryo." - bbc


Green eggs and ham? Here we go... Combining Mammalian and Scyphozoan biology, two life forms separated by well over 700 million of years of evolution ... what could possibly go wrong? If this can be done with pigs, it can probably be done with people. Would you like some glowing green kids?

1/11/2006 Biology / Evolution

There are many good reasons we have two eyes ... not the least of which is contact sports.


1/11/2006 Biology / Strange Happenings.

Unfortunately this kitty didn't live very long, but wow. Makes you wonder if there really were a race of human cyclopses once.

"Cy, short for Cyclopes, a kitten born with only one eye and no nose, is shown in this photo provided by its owner in Redmond, Oregon, on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2005." - yahoo




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