Later Skaters! See You Around

This is my last blog post.

When I started this assignment all of those weeks ago, I was a total novice writer. Since highschool I had done exactly 0 creative writings up until this course. As it stands now, I am barely an amateur. With the end in sight, I decided to have a good look over my posts; survey the damage, so to speak.

My reputation as a writer

My reputation as a writer

I had my highs, and I had my lows. Boy did I have some lows. So low I had to change topics. A good move I may have not utilised well enough, but a good move nonetheless!

A few lessons for y’all out there in blog land thinking to make a blog or two:

  • Write what you love. I began with a blog about Nutrition, and although I am a big fan of the work the Nutritionists get up to, this was not me. And my writing suffered because. When you write about what you love you can put yourself into the work. People respond to honesty, and by that I mean honesty of the heart. Readers can tell when the writer is having a good time, or is weeping with you.
  • Go for QUALITY over QUANTITY. This should be a no brainer. A thick volume of bullshit is a whole lot less readable than a beautifully crafted short story. Post regularly, but if you are finding it hard to make oodles of material then post blogs you are proud of at greater intervals. Which brings me to…
  • Post regularly. Even if one every week, or two every three weeks, or five a year, keep up with yourself. Once you have figured out how quickly you can produce good material then post that often, at regular intervals. I didn’t do this and I imagine my viewership suffered.
  • Have fun? Unless you are writing a deep and touching sob story. Maybe the better advice would be: feel.

Well, I am out! Thank you so much for reading my poultry words! I will be back one day, though I am not sure if it will be via blogging.

The course continues, life continues, science continues, I will continue.


Let’s Get Temporarily De-animated

Some incredible shit is about to go down guys!

The internet always provides

The internet always provides

58 years after Walt Disney didn’t do it, the first human to undergo suspended animation is about to enter the history books. But they don’t even know it yet. And no, this isn’t sci-fi, and nor is it quite what you may expect.

UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh has been given FDA approval to undertake a small scale trial of a remarkable new, potentially life-saving technique. The spine tingling procedure, emergency preservation and resuscitation (EPR), will only be used in circumstances such as cardiac arrest or dire trauma. I say spine tingling as it involves inducing extreme hypothermia in the patient. By flushing cold saline solution into the body through the aorta, its temperature can be dropped to 10°C – which is an outrageous decline! Blood flow is severely diminished, so no bleeding out on the table. This state can only be maintained for two hours, as such it cannot be used for long space journeys or to lie in wait for a cure to an incurable disease, but it could very well save your life. Two hours gives surgeons an invaluable window of opportunity to conduct emergency procedures. The implications are very real and very positive.

And as the technique will only be appropriate at the drop of a hat, the FDA has decided that informed consent is not feasible. A website has been set up to give people a chance to opt out, but as yet no one has. Surprisingly?


Emergency preservation and resuscitation has been tried before. In 2000, 40 pigs were stabbed (“Uncontrolled lethal hemorrhage was induced in 40 swine”) just to have the researchers try to save them again. And save them they did. One group had a 90% survival success. This was the group that were reanimated at a medium rate, showing that speed of reanimation is a factor in survival. All survivors were reported to have normal brain activity and no lasting issues. The researchers seem to know their stuff!

Of course humans are a little different from pigs, and some of the side-effects may only be evident in us, but this is pretty ground breaking. I am mightily curious to hear how it pans out for the first few unfortunate people who require such extreme measures.

It shan’t be far away!

This Week In Science #5

Here we go! Back in for another glimpse of the ever changing world of science with the fifth edition of This Week In Science. Lindsey and myself have a thing or two to say about a newly designed experiment to test Einstein’s fabled e=mc² equation, wormholes, and results of a meta-study determining the link between vaccinations and autism (hint, there is none). So have a listen if you have a second to spare!

This Week In Science 28/5/14


A Curious Tale

Fredrick hurried. Not for any particular reason. Habit really. It’s not that he was getting anywhere very quickly, with his incessant rummaging. He only got very far very quickly when he was very scared. He wasn’t scared today. Hadn’t seen anything to make him scared.

Suddenly Fredrick stopped. His rummaging had rummaged up something very interesting, if a mouse can be said to be interested. Curious, perhaps? Curiosity had never killed the mouse, not to my knowledge, and Fredrick let his curiosity get the best of him. Really the only part worth giving, the best part. Whiskers twitching, nose twirling, nostrils flaring, Fredrick approached the object. Apparatus more like, a shiny thing. Tall. Taller than Fredrick even when he stood on his back legs and pushed his nose up as straight as possible. Standing like this is somewhat difficult for a mouse. After a wobble or two Fredrick gave up trying to be bigger than the thing. It smelt humany. A lot of the food Fredrick found smelt a bit like them. Have to stay away from humans, they kill mice. But there was no humans here, Fredrick knew that.

It moved when he touched it. Not responded, as would a creature, but moved nonetheless. It stayed in the same spot too, but it moved. This was very curious. And it was a shame too, that it moved, for it looked like a good place to curl up. Fredrick liked to curl up on curving surfaces. Fredrick was a little odd. Instead, though, when he jumped up it was shakey. Not stable enough to curl up at all. If he leaned that way, the ground moved the other way. It was extraordinarily curious. And he couldn’t climb up the sides. He was scampering but he wasn’t getting any higher. Now he was running but he wasn’t getting anywhere at all. Faster and faster he ran, he wasn’t even rummaging, but he couldn’t get anywhere. 

Fredrick didn’t mind though. In fact he was enjoying it. It is rather odd what a mouse enjoys.

Curious indeed. Some curious scientists went out of their way to find out if mice run in that wheel of theirs out of some kind of insanity from confinement, or a happier reason. And their findings were gladdening. This was deduced by placing wheels in locations that wild mice could naturally happen upon them. Heart warmingly the scientists recorded many mice, without incentive, enjoying long bouts on the wheels. The length of their stints were even comparable with those of captive mice. This “suggests that running wheel activity is an elective behaviour.” The paper’s author, Johanna H. Meijer at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, was overtaken by seeming childlike glee by the results“When I saw the first mice, I was extremely happy,” he said, “I had to laugh about the results.”


All About Urine!

Big news everyone! All of those years you’ve been pissing on your hands before preparing other people’s dinners, justifying the behaviour internally with a simple “oh well, urine is sterile” you were putting your friends and loved ones in jeopardy. Because, as it turns out, urine is not sterile after all. And also, that’s gross and utterly antisocial behaviour!

That’s right, urine is not sterile. Despite what you have been told literally all of your life, your lower urinary tract has a microbiota. In other words, there is an entire community of bacteria living in your urine. In the study they were able to culture many different species of bacteria from the urine of the participants. A group of a few dozen healthy woman were, between them, harbouring 33 different genera of bacteria.

This dispels a longstanding myth. In the 1950s doctors set a limit on the number of bacterial colonies that were allowed to grow from a patient’s urine before they were deemed to have a urinary tract infection. The unintended consequence was a perception that urine is sterile. But no longer.

So don’t piss in your food or drink. That would be a bad idea.

Pictured: Things best not pissed on

What’s in that wine glass?!

Aren’t Dogs The Best?

Boy howdy, do I love dogs. They are just the best.

Dogs were the first ever creature to be domesticated by humans, up to 33,000 years ago. During that time they have evolved along side us. Through our selective breeding over all of those millennia, dogs have become more than just our pals. It was recently discovered that dogs register human voices in a very similar way to humans, and can even detect emotion. Which is pretty cool. Also, of course, dogs are just super fun and cheerful basically all the time. They make us feel good. And they are extremely helpful and eager to please. They chase our sheep for us, lead the blind, find missing people, along with many other tasks they love to do, and we love them for doing.



And now, thanks to their outstanding nose (dogs have 40 times more olfactory cells than lowly ol’ humans) it has been discovered that dogs can help us more. And by more I mean in our fight against cancer. They can smell it.

Which will be a huge help to us. Currently, testing for many cancers requires slow and costly blood or urine tests. This makes them terrible for routine check ups. Getting a sniff from a dog is way quicker, potentially a lot cheaper, and it means seeing a dog at your check up! And the dogs are extremely accurate. One of the two dogs in the trial at the Humanitas Research Hospital in Milan was able to identify patients with prostate cancer 100%, and those without could be ruled out 98% of the time. The other could only identify the disease with a measly 98.6% accuracy, and rule it out a truly pathetic 96.4% of cases.

They pull it off by “smelling”, or should I say detecting with their olfactory cells in the nostril, certain volatile organic compounds (like petrol is volatile – readily evaporating). These compounds are associated with certain cancers and can be detected in urine samples or on the breath.

This has potential to revolutionise the cancer diagnoses process. Many cancers are not detected until they are nigh on certain to kill the patient. Routine sniffs from a dog at the clinic could seriously mitigate this. And no longer will prostate cancer require quite so invasive detecting techniques.

I guess it’s true, dog is man’s best friend.