Apr 27 at 3:03pm by Aileen
Jimmy Rogers over at the blog Geeks are Sexy has taken a liking to writing about science, and launched what we hope will be a regular feature entitled Science is Sexy. First offering is a look at what cancer is, and why there’s no single cure for this ailment.
Rogers is a PhD student in microbiology and he’s pretty good at explaining deep concepts in easy terms. So go on over and check out how both geeks and science can be sexy!
A “Unique” Strain of Flu
They’re calling it Swine Flu [H1N1], but the virus that began showing off its late season virulence in Mexico City last week sports DNA from three varieties – swine flu, bird flu and human flu. Within days it had spread to California and Texas, then New York City, Kansas, Ohio and such far away places as New Zealand. On Sunday, April 26, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control [CDC] declared a Public Health Emergency, other nations have issued travel advisories to avoid the U.S. and Mexico, and the words “global pandemic” are being tossed around on news shows and discussed everywhere. Stockpiles of Tamiflu [Roche], which has been shown effective against this virus, have been released and will be quickly shipped anywhere in the United States that the illness appears.
There in no reason to panic, though officials are watching the outbreak closely and trying to contain it. This is an influenza Type-A virus that apparently incubated in pigs before making the jump to humans, but the virus is now being spread person to person. The CDC Swine Flu Fact Page has lots of good information about the virus and lists ways people can minimize their chances of infection. Despite some nations imposing emergency bans on pork imported from the U.S. and Mexico, this flu is not spread by eating properly cooked pork.
Advice to avoid crowds, wear disposable face masks, using tissues when coughing and sneezing to avoid spreading germs, and washing/sanitizing hands often are standard. This illness is striking healthy adults rather than targeting the very young or very old, and there is no current vaccine. If you get it, stay home from work or school to avoid spreading it to others. Those who had a Type-A flu shot this past season will still be susceptible to this infection.
Oct 23 at 6:06pm by Aileen
The 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to the discoverers of the ‘green fluorescent protein’, known as GFP.
This remarkable protein was first observed in a species of jellyfish in 1962, and in the years since has become one of the most important biochemical tools. by attaching GFP to other proteins of interest, such as nerve cells and cancer cells, those proteins can be followed in their actions allowing scientists to map the activities of biological functions. And while that type of research may be fairly obscure for regular people to understand and follow, the GFP protein and some engineered brother proteins have been put to a commercial use most of us can relate to…
If you have an aquarium and pay attention to the very latest in cool tropical fish, you’ve no doubt heard about GloFish. These originally engineered zebrafish (that now pass their glow onto their offspring naturally) come in the standard ‘electric green’, but also in ‘starfire red’ and ‘sunburst orange’! Yes, they do faintly glow in the dark, but are best shown off under a fluorescent black light.
You could see these in your dentist or doctor’s office waiting room if you don’t have any already, so impress your care-giver by talking about the GFP protein and how the discoverers finally got their Nobel Prize! It probably won’t get you a discount on that filling or check-up, but it’ll give you something besides your sore knee or the increase in your insurance premium this year to talk about.
Jul 24 at 9:09pm by Aileen
In an unprecedented move, the head of a prominent cancer research institute issued a warning to his faculty and staff on July 23, that cell phone use may pose a cancer risk to users.
There is no consensus in science that electromagnetic radiation in radio frequencies – such as is emitted by cellular phones and is absorbed by the user’s head – causes or increases the risks of brain tumors. Yet Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, said he issued the warning because the question is still being researched, and it is better to err on the safe side than to be sorry later on.
Of particular concern to Herberman is the increasing use of cell phones by children, whose brains are still developing. The body of research on the question is ongoing, but so far has demonstrated no firm link between cell phones and cancer. The fact that it takes a relatively long time for cancers from environmental sources to show up in a population leaves risks of cancer from long term exposure to the radiation an unanswered question.
One bit of interesting research on cell phone radiation recently came from Clermont-Ferrand University in France, where it was found that…
…tomatoes, when exposed to the magnetic waves of mobile phones, get stressed within ten minutes. They start secreting a molecule which usually only occurs when they get damaged.
If tomatoes can physiologically go into stress mode when cell phones are present in their vicinity, it’s certainly possible that physiological effects may occur in animals – including humans. I’d like to see some mouse studies. But in the meantime, remote use of the device (so it’s not sitting on your ear) isn’t that bad an idea.
A pretty strong warning can also be made that if you grow tomatoes, don’t take your cell phone when tending them. The world won’t stop turning if you’re out of communications availability for a little while. Honest.
Dec 31 at 5:05pm by Aileen
Earth scientists have managed to discover a lot of not-earth planets in the last couple of decades, though none of them look to be very much like Earth. Now Eric Ford, a University of Florida astronomer, has published a paper in the Astrophysical Journal that suggests To Curious Aliens, Earth Would Stand Out as Living Planet…
If they could measure our planet’s rotation, its atmospheric gases, the presence of abundant water, and calculate what our temperature range must be, our planet would definitely stand out as life-friendly. To intelligent life forms a lot like us, anyway. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it kind of neat to consider myself as ET. Even though I doubt we’d qualify as cute enough or friendly enough to other ETs for them to want to actually meet us.
Aug 22 at 6:06pm by Aileen
A new study from the University of Georgia Cancer Center reports that the fruit and vegetable fiber known as pectin actually kills prostate cancer cells.
“What this paper shows is that if you take human prostate cancer cells and add pectin, you can induce programmed cell death,” said Mohnen, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. “If you do the same with non-cancerous cells, cell death doesn’t occur.”
Most home gardeners and canners are familiar with pectin, using commercial concentrations usually derived from citrus peels, apples, crabapples as additives to set jellies, compotes and jams to desired consistency. Pectin is naturally abundant in fruits and vegetables as well as algaes and seaweed.