News Archives | Strange Ideas
12/5/2005 Strange Happenings / Biology. First view of face transplant.
"one week after the surgery, she's apparently doing well. London Newspapers released the latest photo of the 38-year-old woman who received the nose, lips, and chin from a brain dead donor." - abc
Wow. Amazing. Good lips. The whole thing is just odd. Not sure how I feel about face transplants yet. How long until we have brain transplants?
12/5/2005 Biology / Dark Humor? BrainTrans, Inc. Sign up for a new body, keep your soul.
"1999, 2000 -- BrainTrans, Inc. started practice brain transplantation on regular basis."
... Just for $499,000.00 you will get completely new human body, any age, race or gender you will choose. This price will include medical preparation, legal preparation, microsurgical procedure, post surgical care and recovery.The price is right. But act now, join our waiting list and you will receive 10% discount.
... Because of the ethical aspects we do not discuss how and were we getting new human bodies for brain transplantation. "
12/22/2005 Strange Happenings / Biology. Man plans to eat mutant fish.
"Clarence Olberding, 57, wasn't just telling a fisherman's fib when he called over another angler to look at the two-mouthed trout. It weighed in at about a pound. "I reached down and grabbed it to take the hook out, and that's when I noticed that the hook was in the upper mouth and there was another jaw protruding out below," said Olberding. He said in his 40 years of fishing, he's never seen anything like it. Don Gabelhouse, head of the fisheries division of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, said a two-mouthed fish was new to him, too. "It's probably a genetic deformity," he said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with it." The second mouth didn't appear to be functional, Olberding said. He has plans for the fish, which don't included mounting. "I'm going to smoke it up and eat it," he said. " - yahoo
12/21/2005 Biology / Technology / Archeology . Mammoth plan for giant comebackWhat entirely new large life forms will we create in the next 100 years?
"DNA was extracted from a well-preserved 27,000-year-old specimen found in the Siberian permafrost. So far, about 30 million "letters" of the genetic code have been read, albeit in small pieces, representing around one percent of the entire code.
The team says it could take as little as a year to finish the estimated 2.8 billion-letter code that provides the genetic wherewithal to create the animal.
Scientists in Japan and Russia have announced plans to attempt to clone woolly mammoths with the help of living relatives and, despite scepticism (sic) that they will be successful, today's work will renew interest in the idea.
Dr Stephan Schuster of Pennsylvania State University, one of the team that announced the new work in the journal Science, said last night that it may also be possible to genetically alter an elephant to turn it into a mammoth." - telegraph
12/16/2005 Biology A mystery of human skin color revealed, by a fish.
"Most of the color in human skin comes from the pigment melanin, which protects against ultraviolet rays from the sun. Melanin is packaged in special cellular containers called melanosomes. Differences in the number, size and nature of these tiny pigment-filled packages are responsible for the many shades of human skin color.
... apparently thanks to some ancient creature that both zebrafish and humans claim as an ancestor [there is both a human and a zebrafish version of ] a gene called SLC24A5. ... The human and fish versions of the gene share nearly 70 percent of the same protein sequence. When the researchers injected the human gene's protein-making instructions into golden zebrafish embryos, the pigment cells from these golden embryos returned to normal pigment levels. This finding strengthens the idea that the SLC24A5 gene may work in a similar way in humans and zebrafish. This gene is thought to play an important role in the formation of pigment-holding melanosomes.
... The SLC24A5 gene, however, cannot explain all the differences in skin color in humanity. For example, Asians and Africans have the same version of the gene but quite different skin tones. More research will likely uncover other pieces of the genetic puzzle of human skin color." - msnbc
Red fish, blue fish. We are already able to select a baby's gender. How soon before skin color is an option? Eye color? Height? IQ? Strength? Health?
12/15/2005 Blog / Biology. Taking control of human evolution
We will be hackers of own DNA. By borrowing traits from other life on Earth and by creating new traits we will take conscious control of human evolution. This is unavoidable given human nature. We already give plants new traits by adding genes from other plants. This same thing has been done in animals as well.
If the experiment of life on Earth continues without a massive natural disaster or human fear/war/greed destroying us, I predict amazing genetic improvements in our species in the next 200 years, more than in the last 200,000 years.
There will also be some genetic disasters, but in the end: life, health, strength, peace, creativity, joy.
Imagine a world where we evolve/engineer the ability to consciously alter our DNA to make real time physical changes. (Grow some wings. Fly somewhere, then un grow them, for example.) Science fiction for now... but the idea of shape shifting is fun to consider.
"Single genetic changes can double life span in many species." - morethanhuman
12/14/2005 Strange Happenings / Health / Biology. Docs Removing 16-Pound Face Tumor.
"A 14-year-old Haitian girl was undergoing a groundbreaking operation Wednesday to remove a 16-pound tumor-like mass from her face. The operation, which began around 8:30 a.m., is the first of many Marlie Casseus must undergo. The teen suffers from a rare form of Polyostotic Fibrous Dysplasia, a nonhereditary, genetic disease that causes bone to become "like a big a bowl of jelly with some bone inside," according to University of Miami School of Medicine's Dr. Jesus Gomez, one of a team of nearly a dozen specialists performing the 14-hour procedure. " - cbsnews
Click icon to enlarge photo. Warning: shocking to some. Mutations in human DNA can have dramatic results. This condition is usually caused by a postzygotic mutation in a gene called GNAS1 which cases a chemical abnormality in the protein of the bone. What causes the mutation? DNA damage or mistakes during translation are caused by environmental agents UV light (sunshine), nuclear radiation or certain chemicals (plastics, pesticides, chemical cleaning agents, etc.). How is Haiti doing with regard to pollution?
"Amphibians are good "indicators" of significant environmental changes that may go initially undetected by humans. ... Haiti has the highest percentage of threatened amphibians, with 92 percent of its species at risk of extinction." - solcom
This girl's mutations happened when she was an unborn zygote in the year 1991.
"In 1991, the Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education (FASE) began a project to document the extent of the trade in hazardous pesticides, through the analysis of US Customs shipping records. ... among those compounds that could be identified, it was found that extremely toxic and US- banned pesticides were exported at a rate of nearly 60 tons per day." - fase
"In this poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, 80% of the population lives in abject poverty" - ciafactbok
It is not unreasonable to guess that this girl's mother was a poor agricultural worker who was exposed to banned US pesticides in 1991. There is nothing "environmentally wacko" about clean air and water. In fact, it is essential to human health.
12/12/2005 Biology. Bees can recognize faces
"[A] ...new study shows that [Bees] can recognize human faces better than some humans can—with one-ten thousandth of the brain cells." - physorg
How many brain cells in one bee? One estimate says 950,000.
12/1/2005 Archaeology / Biology. Ancient man-sized scorpions in Scotland.
" Tracks made 330 million years ago by a six-legged water scorpion [ Hibbertopterus ] bigger than a human have been found in Scotland. Martin Whyte, the geologist at the University of Sheffield in northern England who discovered the tracks, said on Wednesday they were left by a scorpion that measured 1.6 metres (5 ft 3 inches) in length and one metre across. "To my knowledge, this is ... the largest terrestrial trackway of a walking arthropod to be found so far," he said in a report in the journal Nature. Arthropods include insects, spiders, crabs, shrimps and lobsters. They have a body divided into distinct parts, an outside skeleton and jointed legs. Whyte said the now extinct giant scorpion had at least three pairs of appendages of different lengths. Its lumbering movement indicated the creature could have survived out of water. "The slow, stilted progression, together with the dragging of the posterior, indicates that the animal was buoyant and that it was probably moving out of water," Whyte added. " - alert , natgeoYikes. I thought there were size limits for creatures with exoskeletons. Just because it was moving slowly at the time doesn't mean it couldn't also move quickly. Click pic above for the big view of a scary modern water scorpion.
12/1/2005 Strange Happenings / Biology. First face transplant
"Surgeons in France have carried out the first face transplant, it has been reported.
The woman had lost her nose, lips and chin after being savaged by a dog. In the controversial operation, tissues, muscles, arteries and veins were taken from a brain-dead donor and attached to the patient's lower face.
Doctors stress the woman will not look like her donor, but nor will she look like she did before the attack - instead she will have a "hybrid" face." - bbc
A leading plastic surgeon in the US says the operation is not particularly groundbreaking in terms of technology. "We are using well established microsurgical techniques from the 1980's." See this VIDEO. As of Friday, the photo below is the only one I've seen released of the woman:
11/30/2005 Biology. Sensor listens to cells, may aid cancer research
" A tiny sensor that can hear the subtle electrical signals naturally emitted from cells could be used one day to listen for cancer. ... We literally listen to the electrical activities of the cell. We can detect if something is changing," said electrical engineer Mihri Ozkan, an assistant professor at the University of Riverside. ... Whether or not cancerous cells give off electrical signals that differ from healthy cells has yet to be demonstrated." - discovery
11/29/2005 Biology. Secret of bees' flight revealed
" The flight of the humble bee was once so baffling that mathematicians famously concluded it was impossible. ... The scientists unravelled the bees' flying tactics by diverting them into a clear plastic box fitted with three high-speed video cameras which took 3D snapshots of the hovering insects 6,000 times a second. They found that a honeybee typically flaps its one-centimetre-long wings 240 times a second, each beat covering an arc of only 90 degrees. Other insects flap at no more than 200 times a second, with each stroke beating over a 165-degree arc. " - guarduk
11/28/2005 Biology. Baby born with unique blood circulation
Richard A. Jonas, a heart surgeon at Children's National Medical Center: "We see a lot of unusual things. But this was out there."
... This exotic misassembly was good enough to get the baby through gestation. It would not be good enough to get him through life.
... [His] heart muscle was living off blood that went up the vertebral arteries to the brain, around a structure called the "circle of Willis," and then down the carotid arteries in the opposite direction of the normal flow." - buffalonewsThis is another example of the mechanism of evolution in action. Nature is constantly trying new things and at times, drastic changes show up out of the blue. Some beneficialchanges are passed on. And that's it. That's evolution!
11/23/2005 Biology. Mysteries: Why did the ocean go 'boing'?
"It's a mystery that has puzzled submarine sonar operators for more than 50 years, but now the culprit has been found: male minke whales. The boing was heard in winter around the Hawaiian islands, but its source remained hidden in the area's choppy waters, says Jay Barlow of the US National Marine Fisheries Service. His colleague Shannon Rankin finally pinned down the whale as the source of the noise with a detector that uses three underwater microphones to triangulate animal locations." - newsci
I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Hawaii and I saw some whales during my romantic adventure get-away. I purchased some glass whales in a gift shop so I would always remember that experience, but now my glass whales have vanished! Another mystery that may not be solved for 50 years.
11/16/2005 Biology. 175 year old tortoise.
The hare lost, probably 165 years ago. Wabbits live only 8 or 10 years, if lucky!
"A zoo in Australia has held a 175th birthday party for one of the world's oldest known living creatures, a Giant Galapagos tortoise. Australia Zoo, where the tortoise has lived for the last 17 years, marked the day with a pink hibiscus flower cake. Although the animal's exact date of birth is not known, DNA testing has indicated its approximate age.
Some people believe the tortoise, known as Harriet, was studied by British naturalist Charles Darwin. Darwin took several young Giant Galapagos tortoises back to London after his epic voyage on board HMS Beagle. DNA testing has suggested the giant creature was born around 1830, a few years before Darwin visited the Galapagos archipelago in 1835." - bbc
11/15/2005 Biology / Strange Happenings. Indian girl born with heart in hand fights to live
RAIPUR, India (Reuters) - Indian doctors are struggling to save a baby girl born with an external heart which she was holding in one of her hands at the time of her birth, a doctor said on Sunday. "The baby has a fully developed external heart between her neck and collar bone. She was holding her heart in her right hand when born," S.K. Pambhoi, a senior government doctor, told Reuters. Doctors said they separated the hand from the heart, but the baby born to a poor family in Korba town in the central state of Chhattisgarh on Friday would die if she did not have immediate surgery. "Her heart is connected to the inner body through arteries and veins. Surgery is the best option to insert her heart and fix it at the right place," Pambhoi said. "There is a strong possibility of the heart getting infected, so a quick operation is needed." Doctors said her parents were too poor to afford surgery.
I'm starting to think that human oddities like this have been happening for millions of years. It is only now, with our large population and Internet news, that we are becoming aware of nature's constant random experimentation with human form and function that is the fabric of evolution.
11/10/2005 Biology / Strange Happenings. Scientists Aim to Revive the Woolly Mammoth." Scientists with the Mammoth Creation Project hope to find a frozen woolly mammoth specimen with sperm DNA. The sperm DNA would then be injected into a female elephant; by repeating the procedure with offspring, a creature 88 percent mammoth could be produced within fifty years.
"This is possible with modern technology we already have," said Akira Iritani, who is chairman of the genetic engineering department at Kinki University in Japan and a member of the Mammoth Creation Project....Woolly mammoths became extinct about 10,000 years ago as warming weather reduced their food sources. Although only about a hundred specimens have been found, as many as ten million mammoths are believed buried in permanently frozen Russian soil." - more
10/27/2005 Biology / Technology DNA computers: data storage for millions of yearsWhat secrets from past forgoten civilizations might already be encoded in existing earthly DNA? Song lyrics, perhaps?
A mere pound of DNA could hold all the data that has ever been saved on any computer. ... DNA in organisms is constantly evolving, but error-correcting machinery keeps messages from degrading over time. Pak Chung Wong, a researcher at Pacific National Laboratories, points out that some strains of bacteria have kept their DNA pretty much intact for millions of years.
He and his colleagues have developed a technique for implanting as many as 100 words into an organism's genome and marking it off so that the message is protected against errors.
Wong and his colleagues showed that they could implant a message (they used lyrics from “It's A Small World After All”) into the genome of bacteria. A whole family of bacteria with the message can be created, and even after hundreds of generations, the message was still intact.
Wong notes that it would be possible to send a message to the future in a particularly hardy organism--such as a bacteria or a cockroach, that would survive a nuclear war. " - forbes
10/25/2005 Biology/ Strange Happenings. 12-year-old Brooke still looks like an infant
Brooke Greenberg, 12, weighs 13 pounds and is 27 inches long. "When you look at photographs of, she appears virtually unchanged. Even her mother has trouble sometimes recognizing how old Brooke is in snapshots.Holy fountain of youth Batman! What is stopping the growth process? Is she aging in other ways!? Could we someday take a pill and freeze at our current age?! Fascinating! Is Brooke perhaps part of an alien-human hybrid experiment? Will she outlive her parents? If this could be done without compromizing her health perhaps we could some day have a race of slow growing humans that reaches 500 years old. Of course, first we'd have to reduce the Earth's population to safe levels. Ah... now I see it... This is all part of the Big Plan. (wink).
... Brooke remains exactly the same size, despite the fact that she's now 12 ½ years old. Her health remains precarious. She spent much of this past winter sick with respiratory problems and recently was hospitalized. ... Brooke can't walk or speak, but manages to get around by crawling." - dateline
10/17/2005 Biology. Stemcells without Embryos. The Keys to Immortality?
"Reporting today in the journal Nature online, scientists at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass., and another team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have developed methods to produce stem cells, side-stepping thorny ethical issues that have overshadowed stem cell research.
Dr. Robert Lanza, vice president of medical and scientific development at Advanced Cell Technology, said in an interview that his technique not only is a first in biological research, it is a method that would allow an embryo to implant and develop into a healthy fetus -- even after viable stem cells are extracted. No one has ever done this before," Lanza said. "What we are trying to do here is to create a stem cell line without injuring an embryo. Our cells can go on to become a healthy, kicking baby."
Scientists have long known stem cells can develop into virtually any kind of tissue. However, no one has conducted clinical studies showing whether stem cells actually will help sprout new nerves or beating-heart cells in patients suffering devastating diseases. ..." more
The ability to regenerate our organs and to grow entire new organs with stem cell technology is a key to human immortality. In the underreported news is the fact that you can create human stem cells from human muscle cells (google reversine). It was done years ago with HUMAN cells, not just mice. See below.
10/5/2005 Biology. Discovery turns adult muscle cells back into stem cells
Wow, this is several years old and I missed it. Exciting! From a practical standpoint, it might make the debate on the use of embryonic stem cells obsolete.
"A group of researchers from The Scripps Research Institute has identified a small synthetic molecule that can induce a cell to undergo dedifferentiation--to move backwards developmentally from its current state to form its own precursor cell.
This compound, named reversine, causes cells which are normally programmed to form muscles to undergo reverse differentiation--retreat along their differentiation pathway and turn into precursor cells. These precursor cells are multipotent; that is, they have the potential to become different cell types. Thus, reversine represents a potentially useful tool for generating unlimited supply of such precursors, which subsequently can be converted to other cell types, such as bone or cartilage.
"This [type of approach] has the potential to make stem cell research more practical," says Sheng Ding, Ph.D. "This will allow you to derive stem-like cells from your own mature cells, avoiding the technical and ethical issues associated with embryonic stem cells." - BBC
9/16/2005 Biology. Origins of life easier than first thought
" In the primordial soup that produced life on earth, there were organic molecules that combined to produce the first nucleic acid chains, which were the first elements able to self-replicate.
An investigation led by Mauro Santos, from the Department of Genetics and Microbiology at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain), alongside two Hungarian scientists, has shown that the error threshold, that is, the maximum number of errors that may occur during the replication process of ribozymes without this affecting its functioning, is higher than was previously calculated. ...In practice, this means that the first riboorganisms (protocells in which RNA is responsible for genetic information and metabolic reactions) could have a much bigger genome than was previously thought: they could contain more than 100 different genes, each measuring 70 bases in length (bases are the units that constitute the genes and codify the information), or more than 70 genes, each measuring 100 bases. It is worth remembering that tRNAs (essential molecules for the synthesis of proteins) are approximately 70 bases long.
The discovery has greatly relaxed the conditions necessary for the first living organisms to develop. "This quantity of genes would be enough for a simple organism to have enough functional activity", according to the researchers. Recent analysis into the minimum number of DNA genes required to constitute bacteria, the most simple organism today, considers that around 200 genes is sufficient. But in riboorganisms there can be much fewer genes, since DNA genomes include a number of genes that have the role of making the RNA translation system (which enables proteins to be produced) work, which would not be required in RNA-based organism. " - mednews
9/12/2005 Biology / Religion. No such thing as evolution? You wish! Here come the super bacteria.
It would be really nice if there were no evolution, wouldn't it? This is an example where a wrong belief can be deadly. If you don't believe in evolution, perhaps you wouldn't mind getting an infection by the new super bacteria which have evolved a resistance to antibiotics? After all, evolution doesn't exist, so these bacteria can't be real, right? Sadly, they are real. They are spreading and they are killing people.
"Strains of E. coli bacteria that are resistant to most types of antibiotics and may be spread in food are increasing rapidly in England, the government's health agency said Monday. ... In a report to a health conference in Warwick, central England, the HPA said the new E. coli strains produce an enzyme called Extended-Spectrum Beta Lactamase, or ESBL, which makes them more resistant to antibiotics and therefore makes the infections harder to treat. In many cases, only two oral antibiotics and a few intravenous antibiotics remain effective." - washpost
Oh, you believe in small changes, just not big ones? Is it so hard to believe that big changes such as different species result over the course of millions of years from small changes? The world is dynamic and changing, not static. Random changes over time lead to a wide assortment successful biological entities.
The idea of Irreducible Complex Systems is simply more wishful thinking and ignorance. For example, it points out that a beetle requires a special combination of chemicals to be produced as it exists in its current state today. The irreducible theory says evolution is wrong because there is no benefit to the beetle for developing each part.
"Step 1: beetle learned to produce Hydrogen Peroxide
Question: what's would the beetle use Hydrogen Peroxide for ???? Bleech its wings ????
Net result: Zilt... Beetle is no more "better off"
This is so wrong. Hydrogen Peroxide is beneficial because it is anti-microbial. It protects animals and is essential for life. Our bodies produce it, as do insects. Even plants produce Hydrogen Peroxide because it kills microbes (virus, bacteria). (See: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) The Christian "Irreducible" author did not understand bio-chemistry and leapt to a wrong conclusion in order to support his pre-existing belief. In terms of faulty logic this is an argument from incredulity.
9/9/2005 Biology / Technology. Embryo may be created using material from 2 moms
"Britain has granted permission to scientists to create a human embryo with genetic material from two mothers, officials said.
Scientists from Britain's Newcastle University plan to transfer the pro-nuclei — the components of a nucleus of a human embryo — by a man and woman into an unfertilized egg from another woman to prevent mothers passing certain genetic diseases to their unborn babies.
The application was initially rejected because of legislation prohibiting the alteration of the genetic structure of a cell while it is forming part of an embryo, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority said in a statement Thursday." - more
9/8/2005 Biology / Evolution / Aliens Human Brain Still Evolving.This evidence supports the odd idea that "aliens" and UFOs seen today may be our own further evolved species from 10 or 20,000 years from now coming back in time to ... do ... something. Who made the alien crop circle above?
" ... researchers concluded that [ based on the recent evolutionary history of two genes -- microcephalin and abnormal spindle-like microcephaly-associated (ASPM) -- which appear to regulate brain size] there is evidence that the brain is most likely still evolving in terms of size and complexity.
"In another 10,000 or 20,000 years, I think the human brain may acquire a form that is quite different than the human brain today," [ Bruce T. Lahn, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator ] said.
"Not necessarily in its shape, which may remain relatively the same. But the function may be different. It ... may acquire certain skills that in its current form it isn't well-equipped to handle -- advanced cognitive abilities such as abstract reasoning. We don't really know for sure how -- but we are still evolving." - forbes
9/8/2005 Panspermia / Biology. How comets may have 'seeded' life on Earth
If scientists really found complete organisms in comets if we would hear about it? Would that information be too much for some people? See our article on panspermia for more.
... Some scientists have long held the notion that comets delivered many of the chemical building blocks of organic life. NASA's Deep Impact mission to comet Tempel 1 has substantially strengthened their case. This week, at a meeting in London and in results published in Thursday's edition of Science Express, Deep Impact scientists say they have found high levels of organic chemicals beneath the surface of Tempel 1's core. ... what they've seen so far makes it "more likely" that comets seeded Earth with the chemical precursors for organic life, says Michael A'Hearn, a University of Maryland planetary scientist and the mission's lead researcher.
... One surprise: The team has detected an unexpectedly high concentration of methyl cyanide. Biologists say methyl cyanide is a key player in reactions that form DNA. "If methyl cyanide is a particularly abundant component, it would suggest that comets could have delivered an abundance of these highly reactive compounds to the early Earth," notes Tom McCollom, a researcher at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics. - csmonitor
9/7/2005 Strange Happenings / Biology . Deep water fluorescent animals surprise Gulf of Mexico divers
"This is incredible because these animals are found down at 1,800 feet (550 metres)," said chief scientist Tammy Frank. "As far as we know there is no ultraviolet light down there," Frank added in a telephone interview from aboard the team's ship in the Gulf of Mexico. "If they are ultraviolet-sensitive the question is what the heck are they doing with it?" said Edith Widder of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Ft. Pierce, Florida and the private Ocean Research and Conservation Association." - alertnet.org
8/30/2005 Biology. Scientists create 'Miracle mouse' able to grow back lost limbs, heartPoor mouse. Just because you can regrow limbs doesn't mean you'd enjoy doing it.
"SCIENTISTS have created a 'miracle mouse' that can regenerate amputated limbs or badly damaged organs, making it able to recover from injuries that would kill or permanently disable normal animals. The experimental animal is unique among mammals in its ability to regrow its heart, toes, joints and tail. The researchers have also found that when cells from the test mouse are injected into ordinary mice, they too acquire the ability to regenerate. The discoveries raise the prospect that humans could one day be given the ability to regenerate lost or damaged organs, opening up a new era in medicine. Details of the research will be presented next week at a scientific conference on ageing, Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, at Cambridge University.
... Ellen Heber-Katz, professor of immunology at the Wistar Institute, an American biomedical research centre, says that the ability of mice at her laboratory to regenerate appears to be controlled by about a dozen genes. 'We have experimented with amputating or damaging several different organs, such as the heart, toes, tail and ears, and just watched them regrow,' she said. 'It is quite remarkable. The only organ that did not grow back was the brain.
'When we injected foetal liver cells taken from those animals into ordinary mice, they too gained the power of regeneration. We found this persisted even six months after the injection.' ... The self-healing mice, from a strain known as MRL...'We have found that the MRL mouse seems to have a higher rate of cell division,' she said. 'Its cells live and die faster and get replaced faster. That seems to be linked to the ability to regenerate.' The researchers suspect that the same genes could confer greater longevity and are measuring the animals' survival rate. The mice are, however, only 18 months old and the normal lifespan is two years so it is too early to reach conclusions.' - goodnewsblog
8/17/2005 Biology. Scottish scientists grow pure human brain cells
"Human brain cells have been grown artificially in the laboratory in a world first for Scottish scientists. A team at Edinburgh University managed to turn embryonic stem cells into stable nerve stem cells used in the brain by adding a cocktail of chemicals.
The "brain in a bottle" will assist in developing drugs to combat diseases like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's and may eventually enable doctors to repair damage to the brain.
The process has already been patented and an Edinburgh-based company is set to develop commercial applications for the research.
However, other scientists said it would be "highly irresponsible" to create the false hope for patients that the research was even close to growing transplants for such a complex organ as the brain." - more
8/8/2005 Biology / Technology. Researches find gene sequence for spider silk
We are the hackers of the codes of life.
With the DNA information for this silk, researchers are working to develop body armor, rope, and micro-sutures for use in surgery." - livesci
"The strength and elasticity of spider silk makes it the toughest natural fiber. ... only a fraction of the known silk types have been identified at the molecular level. ... Garb and Cheryl Hayashi, a UC Riverside biology professor, isolated a protein called TuSp1 used by 12 types of orb-weaving spiders to make egg case silk.
The egg case silk was shown to be composed of nearly identical, repeating sequences. These gene repeats also share strong similarities across spider species that diverged more than 125 million years ago... As Wheeler, of the American Museum of Natural History, noted, there are "hundreds of million of years of biological experimentation in the tens of thousands of spider species we have today." " - natlgeo
"While "five times as strong as steel" sounds more impressive than "just as strong as nylon", both are accurate. The notion that spider silk is stronger than any other fiber now known is thus erroneous, especially considering current research with carbon nanotubes that have yielded stronger fibers. Nonetheless, there is much interest in duplicating the silk process artificially, since spiders use renewable materials as input and operate at room temperature and low pressure." - wikipedia
Yikes! There are groups that claim "aliens" have helped our evolution at several points, doing genetic manipulation to make us more intelligent. If you want to go way out, read about how aliens are here now and have infiltrated our military and intelligence communities. I don't know about all of that, but here is a certain fact: our own scientists are now doing experiments that may "accidentally" evolve "lower" primates to our level of intelligence.
"SCIENTISTS have been warned that their latest experiments may accidentally produce monkeys with brains more human than animal.
In cutting-edge experiments, scientists have injected human brain cells into monkey fetuses to study the effects. Critics argue that if these fetuses are allowed to develop into self-aware subjects, science will be thrown into an ethical nightmare." - news.com
Actually, experiements already show that animals are self-aware. We are just in denial. We like to ignore the facts so we can do experiments ... and so we can eat cooked animal corpses. Well, it's true.
7/12/2005 Biology / Strange Happenings (NewYorkTimes). Neuron Network Goes Awry, and Man's Brain Becomes an Unstoppable IPod.Each day, the music returns. "They're all songs I've heard during my lifetime," said Mr. King, 83. "One would come on, and then it would run into another one, and that's how it goes on in my head. It's driving me bonkers, to be quite honest." ...
Dr. Victor Aziz, a psychiatrist at St. Cadoc's Hospital in Wales ... belongs to a small circle of psychiatrists and neurologists who are investigating this condition. They suspect that the hallucinations experienced by Mr. King and others are a result of malfunctioning brain networks that normally allow us to perceive music.
... Musical hallucinations were invading people's minds long before they were recognized as a medical condition. "Plenty of musical composers have had musical hallucinations," Dr. Aziz said.
Toward the end of his life, for instance, Robert Schumann wrote down the music he hallucinated; legend has it that he said he was taking dictation from Schubert's ghost.
... Dr. Tim Griffiths, a neurologist at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in England ... used a scanning technique known as PET, which involves injecting radioactive markers into the bloodstream. ...Dr. Griffiths discovered a network of regions in the brain that became more active as the hallucinations became more intense. "What strikes me is that you see a very similar pattern in normal people who are listening to music," he said.
The main difference is that musical hallucinations don't activate the primary auditory cortex, the first stop for sound in the brain. When Dr. Griffith's subjects hallucinated, they used only the parts of the brain that are responsible for turning simple sounds into complex music. For most people, these spontaneous signals may produce nothing more than a song that is hard to get out of the head. But the constant stream of information coming in from the ears suppresses the false music.
(Which is why musical halluciations are most common among older people "living alone, and thus were not getting much stimulation" and also deaf people.)
"What we are seeing is an amplification of a normal mechanism that's in everyone," Dr. Griffiths said.
6/21/2005 Biology / Technology Science creates sperm and eggs
News.com has this interesting story. The process hasn't been perfected yet, but when it is, if you could get someone's hair (including a root) you could illicitly produce a child from that person and yourself. Freaky, isn't it? See our song, "I'm growing your clone."
6/23/2005 Brain / Biology. Single brain cells show selective response to specific celebrity photos. '
"Is a single cell in your brain devoted to Jennifer Aniston or Bill Clinton? Maybe so, according to new research. ... Rodrigo Quian Quiroga of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and his colleagues [investigated] single neurons in the brain, to find out how devoted they might be to single people or objects. ... experiment showed that single neurons in people's brains react to the faces of specific people. Researchers see the findings as evidence that our brains use fewer cells to decode a given image than previously thought. ... Other cells were found to respond to images of characters in The Simpson s or members of The Beatles." - nature.com
6/2/2005 Biology / Strange News. Oxytocin: ‘Trust' Hormone Identified. A Real Love Potion.
Breathe and believe: Swiss researchers show that inhaling a hormone called oxytocin makes you a more trusting investor. ... The findings published in the journal Nature suggest that if organizers of an investment conference were to spray the hormone through the air, they could increase the deal flow between attendees.
Oxytocin has been known for many years as an important promoter of maternal behavior . When given to virgin rats it spurs them to build nests, and when neutralized with antibodies it can prevent mother rats from accepting their offspring. It is also known as the “love hormone” because its concentration in the fluid bathing the brain spikes during sex and breast-feeding." - rh
Recall, a few years ago in 1999 we saw this:
In a preliminary study, the hormone oxytocin was shown to be associated with the ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships and healthy psychological boundaries with other people. The study appears in the July issue of Psychiatry . "- oxytocin.org
Remember, the love/trust potion is oxytocin, a natural hormone. Don't confuse it with OxyContin aka 'Hillbily Heroin', the drug that Rush Limbaugh famously abused. There are claims that oxytocin is responsible for bonding and that vasopressin is responsible for monogamy.
My question: If you sniff Oxytocin intended for animal use will you trust dogs more than people? Should mail carriers sprinkle some on? Only $5.50, worth a try.
5/25/2005 Strange Happenings (sltrib). Attack of the Arizona SWAT Monkey!
"The East Valley Tribune reported in April that the Police Department in Mesa, Ariz., was still awaiting word about its $100,000 federal grant request to buy and train a capuchin monkey for its SWAT team. Capuchins are now used as assistance animals for the disabled, in that they can be taught to fetch things off of shelves, and the police want to see if one can be trained to unlock doors and search buildings on command. The Pentagon's visionary research agency, DARPA, is considering the proposal."
Click to view the amazing Karate monkey video. This video is not an Arizona SWAT monkey as far as I know, but it gives an idea of complex training potentials. Of course, if the point of a SWAT monkey is that monkeys are more expendable, then this is a cruel thing to do. Good luck explaining the risks of each new dangerous situation to a chimp. Humans should fight our own fights. Anyway, you crooks out in Arizona had better keep some bananas handy in your hideouts. These attack monkeys have serious spinning kicks! (Actually, I shouldn't tell you this trick, but just plug the monkey's ears so he can't hear the guy outside yelling "Spinning kick! Spinning kick!" and you'll be fine.)
5/23/2005 Biology. 2050 - Immortality is Within our Grasp. Is becoming immortal immoral?
'If you draw the timelines, realistically by 2050 we would expect to be able to download your mind into a machine, so when you die it's not a major career problem,' Pearson told The Observer. 'If you're rich enough then by 2050 it's feasible. If you're poor you'll probably have to wait until 2075 or 2080 when it's routine. We are very serious about it. That's how fast this technology is moving: 45 years is a hell of a long time in IT.' - guardianuk
Here is another form of immortality, but this one is no good. People without bodies will go crazy. That makes putting someone's mind into a machine an immoral act, a form of enslavement. I predict that once it happens and we see the results, it will be outlawed. My idea below of cloning replacement parts makes more sense.
5/20/2005 Biology. Scientists take a giant step forward in human cloning. Immortality knocks?
"To the dismay of opponents of such research, the Koreans have succeeded in the efficient creation of more than 30 cloned human embryos - regardless of the age, sex and infirmity of the person being cloned. They then dismantled the embryos to grow the first lines of patient-specific embryonic cells. This marks the start of what many scientists believe will be a revolution in medicine." - telegraphuk
This will lead to a perverted form of immortality. If the research progresses, a person may live forever by growing and replacing old organs with new ones from cloned stem cells. Some big hurdles such as regeneration in the brain, however, will need to be overcome. This is the beginning of what I call the Frankenstein Age where we can replace human body parts in the way that we replace worn out car parts. This means that death may be curable in our lifetime.
5/20/2005 Biology. Cow Oddities. "This photo provided by rancher Shane Jennings shows a 5-legged, 6-hooved calf that was born last week on a ranch east of Tucumcari, N.M. The calf, a Limousin heifer owned by Orlando Romero of Sapello, N.M., was delivered naturally and is in otherwise good physical condition." - tricity
Atomic testing in New Mexico is certainly not responsible for any genetic defects in plants, animals or people.
5/18/2005 Biology. US scientists push for go-ahead to genetically modify smallpox virusThe start of secret emergency population control measures? Or just anothercase of eventually terminal morbid curiosity? Anything we can do, however dumb, someone eventually will do. Human nature. [ Warning: gross link, pics of small pox. ] Trust me, this virus is NOT something we want people to start experimenting with.
"US scientists are awaiting World Health Assembly approval to begin experiments to genetically modify the smallpox virus, one of the most lethal organisms the planet has known. ... Campaigners, backed by some scientists, have launched a late attempt to stop the assembly approving GM experiments on smallpox. They fear that the experiments would make the use of smallpox in bioterrorism more likely..."
4/19/2005 Biology. Strange Eyes. See the strange eyes web site. Here you can learn " The south american douroucouli is the only nocturnal primate, and its eyes are so sensitive to light that it can go blind with prolonged exposure to daylight. "
4/18/2005 Biology / Strange Happenings. What do you get when you cross a whale with a dolphin? A wholphin. "Kekaimalu, the world's only known living wholphin, swims next to her baby calf (bottom left) in this photo handout from the Sea Life Park Hawaii."
4/7/2005 Biology. What Animals Are Most Like Us?
"Humans, chimpanzees and bonobos share 98.4 percent of the same DNA sequence
Gorillas share 97.7 percent of their DNA with humans, chimpanzees and bonobos
Orangutans share 96.4 percent of their DNA with humans, chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas" - iowag
Check out Dr. Block's photos with a bonobo chimp. What is a bonobo? A bonobo is an ape. Apes are not monkeys. Unlike monkeys, apes have no tails and they have versatile shoulder joints. Apes have brains about twice the size of monkeys. While human brains are larger, there are "no differences in the relative size of the frontal cortex in humans and great apes."
"also known as pygmy chimpanzees , were the last ape species to be identified (in 1926), some three centuries after the other apes were known to science. That's because they only live in one small and shrinking place, the swampy equatorial forests of the left bank of the Congo River (common chimps are the Right Bank Chimps, extending from Tanzania and Uganda all of the way to West Africa). Bonobos walk upright somewhat more easily than the chimps can. Still, walking on all fours is less tiring for both bonobos and chimps." -wcalvin
4/7/2005 Biology. Would You Eat a Chicken if it Had 60% Human DNA?
The answer is: Yes, if you've ever eaten any chicken. Chickens and Humans share 60% of their genetic make up naturally according to UCSD Researchers. The similarity may make avian flu a human concern. Would society allow lab experiments on a human-rat hybrids with 88% human DNA? Again, this is a trick question. The answer is yes, because all rodents have about 88 percent their DNA codes in common with humans.
4/6/2005 Biology / Humor (stimes). Animals Laugh: Is Your Rat Laughing at You?
"Professor Panksepp, of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, US, explains that neural circuits for laughter exist in "ancient" parts of our brain, whose general structure is shared amongst many animals."
Rats emit chirps when they are at play
Most humans believe they have an immortal essence that all other animals lack. Other animals, we are learning slowly, are more like us than we thought. Now we know that they laugh. Non-human animals also have basic language, some can learn our sign language, some can speak English words, use tools, exhibit trickery and intelligent pre-planning. They learn from each other. They get sad, depressed, angry, happy, fearful, etc. They even have forms of culture, that is, traits passed on within geographic groups. Our scientists have also started mixing genes from different animals to create strange hybrids, including part-humans. Speaking of hybrids ... one reader sent this picture below and asked: Is this art, or the product of some secret government genetic experiment? Art, I think. See the big picture.
Will the next century see a new kind of discrimination? If our scientists keep mixing human DNA with DNA from other animals, will "part humans" be living and working among us? Perhaps the above art illustrates a future where creatures are 15% pig, 15% cow, 15% dog and the rest human?
3/31/2005 Biology / Strange Happenings. The Discovery Channel's show "Joined for Life" about conjoined dicephalic twins Abigail (Abby) and Brittany (Britty) is just amazing. See it. I watched the first half this morning. The girls share one body from the belly button down, including large intestines and female organs, but they have separate hearts and lungs and heads. They appear on the outside to be one normal girl with two heads. The show about them showed them swimming, playing baseball, riding a bicycle, attending school, and pretty much carrying on as normal girls would. The fact that this unique combination of biology works is astonishing.
"Though they share many organs, including a single large liver, a bladder, intestines and a reproductive tract, their nervous systems are distinct. Tickle Abby on her side anywhere from head to toe, and Britty can't feel it--except along a narrow region on their back where they seem to share sensation. The girls experience separate hungers and separate urges to urinate and sleep." - mun
More photos and information: try this google search. See this interesting history of conjoined twins. Mind boggling. Can both twins move both legs? If they argue, can one prevent the other from going somewhere? Does either twin have greater control of their shared lower body? Will they be capable of having children? Will they have two separate driver's licenses? So many questions...
3/28/2005 Biology / Strange Happenings. Blood vessels and cells from T. Rex? "A 70-million year old Tyrannosaurus rex fossil appears to contain elastic soft tissues, blood vessels and cells, say US palaeontologists. A team led by Dr Mary Higby Schweitzer of North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences reports the find in the current issue of the journal Science . Not only is the soft tissue, isolated from the femur of the 68-million-year-old T. rex , intact, it's still transparent and pliable. Tiny interior structures resembling blood vessels, and even cells, are still present in the tissue, according to a university press release. ...
Genetic material? The fact that the soft tissues were preserved for tens of millions of years turns on its head what palaeontologists used to think about fossils - that any soft tissue should not last beyond 100,000 years. ... Schweitzer intends to direct her research to what the soft structures isolated from these bones are made of, and specifically, whether they still hold genetic information about the dinosaur.
Early indications are that fragments of original molecular material may still be present, according to the university press release. "
This is interesting from many strange perspectives. With actual T-Rex DNA, could we create human-dinosaur hybrids? For you loveable oddballs who believe Satan put dinosaur fossils into the earth to confuse people about the Bible, what is up now? Why is the devil adding flesh?! Bizzare, isn't it? And for those hungry scientists in the lab late at night with this sample and a Bunsen burner ... "Hey, T. Rex tastes like chicken."
3/8/2005 Biology / Strange Happenings. Scientists to make 'Stuart Little' mouse with the brain of a human. "It will look like any ordinary mouse, but for America's scientists a tiny animal threatens to ignite a profound ethical dilemma. In one of the most controversial scientific projects ever conceived, a group of university researchers in California's Silicon Valley is preparing to create a mouse whose brain will be composed entirely of human cells. ... Henry Greely, the head of the ( university's ethics ) committee, said: "If the mouse shows human-like behaviours, like improved memory or problem-solving, it's time to stop."
Yes, making part human animals is unethical. Yes, it should be stopped. Will we do it anyway? Of course we will. Humans attempt EVERYTHING right or wrong because we are, on the whole, more curious than moral.
"... The musician, known as ES, is a synaesthete, a person who involuntarily experiences a crossing over of the senses for certain types of stimuli. But not only does ES see certain colours when she hears specific notes - which is quite common among synaesthetes - but she also associates specific tastes with different pairs of notes, or intervals.
The fact that a minor second tastes sour to her and an interval of a fifth tastes of pure water gives ES a definite advantage in her profession, say Lutz Jncke and colleagues at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. In tests where different tastes such as salty, sweet, cream and even low fat cream, were placed on the musician's tongue she was able to identify the correct interval faster than five musician non-synaesthetes."
This makes sense given that our brains start out randomly wired. Each person grows different maps to solve puzzles of identification. Still, most of us share common senses, so there must be some pre-determined wiring. Seeing sounds, tasting touches, smelling words, etc. shows the amazing freedom and intelligent adaptability of our brains.
As a musician I'd love to be able to switch this ability on and off.
Taste Minor second Sour Major second Bitter Minor third Salty Major third Sweet Fourth Mown grass Tritone Disgust Fifth Pure water Minor sixth Cream Major sixth Low-fat cream Minor seventh Bitter Major seventh Sour Octave No tasteSome interesting synaesthete pages: 1, 2, 3, 4
"The science writer Alison Motluk, a synaesthete, has remarked that "The astonishing realisation is not that these characters are imbued with colours but rather a world could exist in which they were colour-free, neutral, characterless. It would be like finding out one day that, while you have been savouring the smells of freshly baked bread, of brandy, of chocolate, all your life, your friends have only been able to taste them". - wwwords
3/2/2005 Weird Science / Biology. Oscillatory Chemical Reaction / Model for Human Memory Circuit. Below is the formula for a very unusual chemical reaction. This solution, if stirred continuously at 25 degrees C will be red but will flash blue every 18 seconds for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes! See the video here. Pretty amazing to see.
Belousov-Zhabotinsky-Reaction: "In 1951 the Russian scientist Boris P. Belousov discovered that if citric acid, acidified bromate and a ceric salt were mixed together the resulting solution oscillated periodically between yellow and clear. He had discovered a chemical oscillator. The scientific community was united in believing this to be impossible. Some years later another Russian biophysicist, Anatol M. Zhabotinsky ... refined the reaction, replacing citric acid with malonic acid and discovering that when a thin, homogenous layer of the solution is left undisturbed, fascinating geometric patterns such as concentric circles and Archemedian spirals propagate across the medium. Therefore, the reaction oscillates both in space and time, a so-called spatio-temporal oscillator.
Four solutions are prepared:
Solution A: 6.75 g KBrO 3 in 80 mL dist. water
Solution B: 15.6 g malonic acid in 100 mL dist. water
Solution C: 1.3 g KBr in 70 ml dist. water
Solution D: 14 mL conc. H 2 SO 4 in 65 ml dist. water. The mixture is allowed to cool to room temperature.
The four solutions are placed into a crystallizing dish, filled with 400 mL dist. water, while stirring on a magnetic stirrer. After the yellow-brown color (bromine) has disappeared, 2 mL of ferroin solution are added to the mixture.
So? This reaction is visible proof that oscillations (changes over time) happen if random systems have the right positive and negative feedback loops. Random systems (in this case molecules in a liquid) when given energy (stirring) will self-organize on a big scale (Red, then Blue) as a result of the rules governing each small part of the system over time.
Extending this idea, life is the inevitable result of the way vast random collections of energized particles react over time to their neighbors. There is no plan! This liquid did not plan to be red and then blue. The scientists didn't work out an equation with the goal of making a fluid red and then blue. This formula was just stumbled upon. There was no plan! This reaction has no useful purpose! It just is.
The key to life and our amazing brains: complicated changing phenomena happen because they must. The molecules have properties and they interact with their neighbors. The result, on a large scale, of this chaos is self-organization into a system with the property of red with blue flashes.
(Graphic adapted from here, and diagram p52 of "The Quantum Brain" by Jeffrey Satinover.
Canonical here means "reduced to the simplest form that still functions." )
Even more interesting, the BZ-Reaction, with its positive and negative feedback loops, is the chemical equivalent of a simple but powerful circuit that repeats over and over in our brains. The "Canonical microcircuit" of the cerebral cortex consists of fundamentally of three nerve cells each connected to itself and to the other two (see above diagram). Two cells excite the circuit (+), one calms it (-). This arrangement has an amazing property: A bunch of these circuits combined will spontaneously record a "map" of input they are given. In other words, this is the wiring diagram for the most basic unit of human memory! These memory circuits form by themselves as the random wiring in our young brains encounters stimuli from the environment due to a fundamental fact: random systems self-organize.
Xenophilia.com: Wrap your head around what goes on inside your head. It's good to know you.
"Some will think it a romantic gesture, others will find it grisly. But one willing couple in the UK is about to get the chance, thanks to a government-funded project intended to promote awareness of the issues surrounding tissue engineering.
A model of the ring using a combination of cow marrow-bone and etched silver.
The inscription reads Ab Intra, "from within".
"It's for people who want to give a bit of their body to each other," says Nikki Stott, a jewellery designer at the Royal College of Art in London. She and her colleague Tobie Kerridge are collaborating with Ian Thompson, a bioengineer at King's College London.
The tricky part is that the lucky couple will have to provide bone cell samples, for which the team will get ethical approval only if both people already need surgery. The most likely scenario is that both will need to have a wisdom tooth extracted.
Sounds sort of biblical, doesn't it? How about a ring from a rib? Why stop there? Why not just grow a whole wife or husband from one of your ribs? How many years until we are really able to do this? Well, if science keeps moving forward, this will be possible one day soon. Have you ever thought of Eve as Adam's gender switched clone? You may really love yourself, but I believe marrying your clone will remain illegal in most states ... even in the future.
2/25/2005 Biology. (msnbc). Creatures frozen for 32,000 years still alive. Bacteria found in Arctic tunnel come to life in the lab . "A new type of organism discovered in an Arctic tunnel came to life in the lab after being frozen for 32,000 years. ... The bacteria, called Carnobacterium pleistocenium, might also be interesting to medical researchers.
"The enzymes and proteins it possesses, which give it the ability to spring to life after such long periods of dormancy, might hold the key to long-term, cryogenic or very low temperature storage of living cells, tissues and perhaps even complex life forms," ... Richard Hoover, an astrobiologist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. said.
"NASA astrobiologist Richard Hoover takes ice samples from the permafrost deep inside the U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory near Fox, Alaska."
"The new bacterium thrives under a microscope despite having been thawed from ice dating back some 32,000 years, to the Pleistocene era. Living bacteria are stained green."
"The discovery process goes back to 1999, when Hoover and a colleague started a search for extremophiles in a tunnel north of Fairbanks, Alaska. The tunnel was dug by the Army Corps of Engineers in the mid-1960s to help scientists study permafrost prior to construction of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline."
2/15/2005 Biology / Odd Exits. (news) Cryonics: Please don't call customers dead. Having your head only frozen by "Alcor ... costs $80,000; if you freeze your body, the price rises to $150,000. The Cryonics Institute charges much less: $28,000 for a full body. ... They're no different than a flat-lining patient who gets a defibrillator to bring them back to life," said Joseph Waynick, Alcor's chief executive. "With our patients, the only difference is length of time."
"Cryopreservating humans is already done in cryonics. This process first invented by Robert Ettinger is about cryopreservating humans who are legally dead (although there were a few cases where persons could have been frozen alive) in the hope that one day they might be young and living again. This process, unfortunately, with today's technologies severely damages the body, which means that it will take huge steps for science e.g. nanotechnology to make these persons healthy and living again." -sen
2/8/2005 Biology / Strange Happenings (ce.cn | bbc ) Peru's rare 'Mermaid' baby to have risky surgery Nine-month-old Milagros Cerron -- her name means miracles in Spanish -- is one of only a handful of the estimated 1-in-60,000 to 100,000 people born with sirenomelia, or mermaid syndrome, to have lived more than a few hours, experts say. ... Doctors believe there may only be one other surviving "mermaid" -- 16-year-old American Tiffany Yorks, whose legs were separated when she was a few months old.
I post biological oddities from time to time to make a few important points. 1) We are each the result of a DNA program. 2) Our program code (pool of genes) as a species is constantly changing and can be radically "messed up" in some individuals by genetic mutations caused by environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, viruses, etc. 3) Genetic mutations DO happen in humans. They can result in visible trait changes. The Theory of Evolution says that from time to time those mutations give the "mutant" a reproductive advantage. New traits get passed on. This is why families look alike. Like it or not, from the perspective of science, Milagros Cerron is living proof demonstrating the mechanism of human evolution. This is how it works: random changes happen and some are passed on to become part of the general DNA code of humanity. Strict Bible-believers: Do you doubt your own eyes? This is evolution!
2/2/2005 Biology / Strange Happenings (Statesman) Geese die in droves in Keizer (Oregon, USA) experts baffled. About 150 Canada geese were found dead Friday at a private pond off Wheatland Road owned by Morse Bros. rock products in rural Marion County. Thirty ... "Reports of one bird here or one over there is not cause for alarm," said Will High, a wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "But when you have 10 or 20 or 30 or 100 of them all of a sudden die in one day, well, that's just not normal."
2/2/2005 Biology / Strange Happenings (SPtimes) Girl hit by lightning loses recent memory function. 19-year-old aspiring marine biologist, Erin Ellickson, struck by lightning and knocked unconsious five months later still has no recent memories. She was struck by the lightning bolt five months ago and has recovered 90% physically. She can recall her childhood, but she can't remember things she did yesterday ... or being hit by lightning.
Acording to disasterrelief.org, "About 90 percent of those who are struck by lightning each year survive, but usually with life-long injuries, such as memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, numbness, dizziness, stiffness of joints, weakness and depression. "
1/20/2005 Odd Happenings / Biology (bbc) "Wildlife experts in Britain are stunned in March by the apparent discovery of a frog with three croaking heads and six legs... The frog was reportedly found at a children's day nursery in the English village of Weston Super-Mare in Somerset. The staff at the Green Umbrella nursery first thought it was three frogs huddled together but after closer inspection they realized the frogs were joined together."
You know, in a way, we are like this frog ourselves. We humans are each group of billions of little cells. In any given tissue, the cells are quite similar to one another.
1/22/2005 Strange Happenings / Biology. Mr. Deuel has now lost around 500 lbs which is the weight of several of most of us. One doctor said he might be a motivational speaker one day. I'd say nearly everyone has something big he/she is fighting to overcome. Patrick's big thing was the bigness of himself. Rock on Patrick, congratuations. I hope you reach your target of 250 lbs one day.
"A man who weighed about half a ton when he was admitted to a hospital was recovering in late October from obesity surgery. Doctors said he was "doing very well," moving around and even cracking jokes. Patrick Deuel, 42, underwent the procedure to reduce the size of his stomach four months after being admitted to the hospital at 1,072 pounds."
1/18/2005 Biology: This reminds me of the Far Side cartoon with the deer with the bullseye and another deer saying, "Bummer of a birthmark Hal." The story did not say if Goliath died a natural death. Hope so.
"A white-tail buck deer named Goliath stands in the field of Rodney and Diane Miller's farm in Knox, Pa., Aug. 5, 2003. Goliath, a massive buck with a huge rack and worth perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars, died, Dec. 6, 2004. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, file)"
"Ukrainian Fyodor Nesterchuk from the town of Kamen-Kashirsky said the last time he managed to doze off was more than 20 years ago. ...
KIEV, January 14 (RIA Novosti) - Fyodor Nesterchuk, 63, of the town of Kamen-Kashirsky, Ukraine's Volynsky region, has not been asleep for the past 20 years. No soporific can do the job and no doctor has managed to put him to sleep even for half an hour, reports the Ukrainian private ICTV channel.
Having survived such a long period of ailment, the Volynsky resident has already reconciled himself to it: the pensioner works as an insurance agent in the daytime and reads at night. "I start with periodicals, then pass to fiction. When the eyes get tired, I switch off the light and keep dozing in the vain attempt to fall asleep," says Nesterchuk who has already re-read the whole home library for several times.
Nesterchuk's insomnia is treated as an exception from the rules and explained by physicians as a side-effect of the past diseases. "If one feels comfortable, this is no pathology," said Fyodor Koshel, chief of the Lutsk city health department. "Nesterchuk does not look exhausted because of insomnia."
Local doctor Fyodor Koshel who has examined Nesterchuk extensively and has been unable to make him fall asleep, said he has no idea of the cause of the insomnia and added medically there is nothing wrong with him.
"We have no idea why he can't sleep, maybe it's the result of a past illness. But pathologically speaking, he's not in any pain and so there isn't anything actually wrong with him," said Dr Koshel.
We do now know a few things about about the molecular and brain systems involved with normal sleep.To get this guy to sleep, you might inject some muscimol into his posterior hypothalamus. Works for cats. Then again, he'll have more waking life than most people ever will, why change him at all?
"Another finding in the early years of this century was that injury to the base of the brain, at a region called the preoptic area, could produce long-lasting insomnia."
1/17/2005 Biology / Strange Happenings. It's A Girl For World's Oldest Mom. "66-year-old woman has become the world's oldest to give birth, and she and her day-old baby daughter were in good condition in intensive care, doctors said Monday. ... Adriana Iliescu, who was artificially inseminated using sperm and egg from anonymous donors, delivered her daughter Eliza Maria by Cesarean section, doctors at the Giulesti Maternity Hospital in Bucharest said. The child's twin sister was stillborn, they said. "
1/14/2005 Biology / Strange Happenings: Fish Discovered with Human Face. "Sinister eyes seem to peer out from the head and a broad nose tapers down to the mouth. But, in fact, the nose is just a marking on the carp's skin as are the "eyes" in front of its real eyes. ... The features belong to two 19-year-old female carp in a pond in Chongju, Korea. And the patterns could make the pair very valuable. ... Rare markings or colourings on fish are considered a good omen in many Asian countries, Professor Brendan McAndrew, of the Institute of Aquaculture at Stirling University, said."