Ellen's Wikispace

Post #1: Malaria Drug Resistance

Four summers ago when I went on a mission's trip to Kenya was the first time that I learned about the disease, malaria. So when I came upon this journal article in New Scientist about malaria I decided to dig a little dipper into this disease. Caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, malaria is transmitted by bites of infected mosquitoes. While I was in Kenya we took prevention measures by sleeping in bug nets and taking medications to avoid contraction of this disease.
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In the journal, "If you have malaria, then pass it on," researcher Carol Sibley from the University of Washington wants to create a database of historical information on malaria to predict when and where strains resistant to particular drugs will strike next. By analysing DNA samples of this disease from around the world, Sibley hopes to discover information about drug resistant gene development, showing how they evolve and spread. He believes that by comparing recent samples to the historical ones, that you will be able to find patterns that could possibly determine when another area will be hit with a drug resistant strain. This will benefit third world countries, so that they will be aware of when the need to switch drugs.

Barrdy, P. (2006). If you have malaria, then pass it on. New Scientist, 191(2559), 15.

Post #2: Happy Partridge Hunting Season

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I would just like to be the first person to say to you, HAPPY PARTRIDGE HUNTING SEASON. Right now you are probably like, what the heck, Ellen knows when partridge hunting is and probably the even bigger question is does she carry a gun??? The answer to your question is yes, I do enjoy hunting and I carry a gun. So to all of you nature loving people out there who go on long relaxing strolls through the woods my suggestion to you is, STAY OUT OF THE WOODS, ELLEN IS GOING HUNTING! This year's season officially starts tomorrow, so I thought that a great way to commemorate this wonderful day would be to write a post on this magnificent bird, THE PARTRIDGE!

When someone tells you that they are going partridge hunting what do you think that they are going to kill? Well most of you would have probably said partridge, but in reality they are hunting Ruffed Grouse. Can you believe this, all this time I've been eating grouse, not partridge. What lead to all of this confusion was when the European Grey and Hungarian Partridge were introduced to Canada. Even though the Grey Partrige and Ruffed Grouse are distantly related the greatest difference is that Grey Partridge live in open areas, were as Ruffed Grouse lives in woodlands.

The Ruffed Grouse is found in all parts of Canada, extended down in certain areas in the United States. Considered one of the most popular game birds, the Ruffed Grouse has adapted to cold Canadian winter's and does not migrate. Their feet have an almost snowshoe like quality to them and during those hard winter months they travel over the deep, fluffy snow with ease. Eating a diet consisting mostly of buds, leaves and twigs, Ruffed Grouse live among broad-leaved trees for shelter and food. Nicknamed the "drummer", Ruffed Grouse attracted females by cupping their wings and beating them in the air, this sound also warns male grouse to stay away. Ruffed Grouse come in different colours depending on their surroundings. Grouse that live in dense parts of the forest become dark-brown, were as grey grouse live in light bush. One of the most distinct differences in the appearance of male and female Ruffed Grouse is that males have an unbroken dark line going through their tail.

Now that you know a little bit more about the Ruffed Grouse you may be thinking to yourself, how could Ellen participate in such a heathen-like activity. My anwser to you in that it is very enjoyable and shooting a gun is a great way to release all of that stress that you have bottled up inside of you. Just for the record hunting has little or no effect on the population of the Ruffed Grouse, so if this species becomes extinct don't blame me!

Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Services. (2010). Bird facts sheets: ruffed grouse Hinterland Who's Who. Retrieved from

Post # 3: Frozen Livers Could Bring Hope to Transplant Patients

Organ donors have been saving people's lives now for decades, but sometimes because organs, especially livers, deteriorate so rapidly that the organ can be ruined before it is reconnected to a blood supply. There is a scientist, though, how lives in Israel, how believes that he has fixed this problem that arises during liver transplants. He has done a test on a pig's liver, which has many of the same characteristics as a human liver, that he believes can prolong the time that a liver can be outside of the body and still function when transplanted into another. By freezing a pig's liver to prevent it from dying, this Israeli scientist then cooled the liver at a rate of 0.3 degrees Celsius per minute to ensure that no damage to the cell occurred. Once the liver's internal temperature reached -20 degrees Celsius, it was then thawed for 20 minutes before it was transplanted into the pig. The liver was successfully transplanted into the pig, expressing both signs of health and normal function. The pig was killed two hours later and the liver was analysed revealing that it was functioning just like any other liver would. There are a few factors that other scientists worry about when it comes to this experiment, though. One is that the pig's actual liver was still attached to the pig, the thawed one was added onto the side. Some scientists say that there is no evidence to prove that the thawed liver actually supported the pig. Another factor that greatly impacted this experiment was that the pig only lived for two hours before it was killed due to animal rights, so they don't know for sure if the liver may have failed at a later time. If they can get all of the kinks worked out of this research, though, they may have discovered something that could save many people's lives in the future.

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Coghlan, A. (2008, October 4). Frozen liver raises transplant hopes. New Scientist, 200, 11.

Post 4: Clenching your Muscles Increases Willpower

This evening when I decided that it was time to do another wiki post I looked up today's news in the science world and discovered a really neat journal on Science Daily. The article that I read was about will power and how if you clench your muscles you can achieve more of it. Researches Iris W. Hung and Aprana Labroo recently put together 4 different controlled experiences that if by tightening your muscles you could gain more self control. These experiments entailed one group that would clench their muscles while making choices during the experiment and another group that would not. The 4 different experiments included people who put their hand in really cold water to show pain resistance, those that clenched muscle could stand the pain for a longer amount of time. Also they had groups of people drink disgusting vinegar water, while other resisted temptations in the cafeteria, those with tightened muscles could stand drinking more of the drink and people in the lunch line made healthier choices. The last experiment that they conducted was one that showed participants devastating photos and information about the children in Haiti and if they would donate money to help. After observing all of the data that was collected from these experiments, the researchers were able to conclude that no matter what muscle that the participates tightened they were able to demonstrate self control better. Muscle clenching only works, though, if it aligns with your overall goals and helps only in the moment when you are faced with a situation. To end off their experiments, the authors wrote, "The mind and the body are so closely tied together, merely clenching muscles can also activate willpower. Thus simply engaging in these bodily actions, which often result from an exertion of willpower, can serve as a non-conscious source to recruit willpower, facilitate self-control, and improve consumer wellbeing."

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University of Chicago Press Journals (2010, October 19). Does clenching your muscles increase willpower?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 19, 2010, from­ /releases/2010/10/101018163110.htm

Bonus Opportunity Post: Should Creatine Supplements Be Banned?

Analyzing and Viewpoint

After researching about creatine supplements for just a short amount of time, one thing is clean, the effects for taking them are very unclear! I have read over arguments that have been expressed by both the proponents and the critics, but after analyzing all of the information that I accumulated what stood out to me the most was the unknown side effects that these supplements possess. There are many things about creatine that are unknown to the consumer. One of the major unknown factors is what are actually in these supplements. There are no manufacturing regulation standards put on creatine, so each time you buy this supplement you may be getting something a little different the last time and toxins have even been found in them from time to time. The creatine supplement has never even been tested by the FDA for safety, effectiveness or purity. What we do known about creatine supplements is that they come with a variety short-term and long-term effects, that may or may not be damaging to your body.

You may be saying to yourself right now, well with so many negative factors that come along with the use of creatine, why would anyone take it? Well even though there are many negative effects to this supplement there are some benefits from taking them too. Your muscles are said to generate more energy at a faster rate and they are believed to improve your athletic performance. Also creatine will reduce your production of latic acid and there will be less reliance on glycolysis. One study that was recently conducted suggested that taking creatine supplements could help treat patients who had diseases that caused muscles to shrink and fail. Even though there are quite a few benefits, there are also many risks for taking creatine supplements. Probably the greatest risk in using creatine is the fact that no one really knows the effects that this supplement will happen to your organs and other body systems in the long run. Not enough research has been conducted about them. The most serious short-term effect that occurres when using this product is dehydration and you may also get diarrhea, nausua or have seizures. Muscle cells become very vulnerable to injuries when taking creatine supplements because they retain lots of fluids. After looking over all of the information, I believe that the risks for taking creatine supplements outweigh the reasoning for taking them.

The Connection Between ATP and Creatine

The connection between ATP and creatine is that they both provide energy for your cells. Since when we exersice we begin to use up all of our available ATP, the phosphates form the creatine phosphates are transferred to ADP to make more ATP. When we have more creatine phosphate in our bodies, we are able to do intense activities for longer periods of time.


Creatine supplements. (2000)., Retrieved from

Post # 5: Why Does Are Skin Itch?

Even since I have been little I always tell people that my nose is itchy and then I tell them that I thought that they would like to know. The other day, though, when I was telling somebody that I thought that they would like to know that my nose was itchy, I began to wonder why it exactly is that our skin becomes itchy. Serious itch may be the cause of something more serious like allergies, diseases, emotions or infections. But what is it that causes all those little irritations to our skin that make us not able to resist the temptation to scratch our skin.

Since our skin is the only organ of our body that is always exposed to the outside world, we are bound it get an itch every once in awhile. Bugs, dust, clothing fibres and hair act as an external stimulus that first initiates the act of itching. Itching is a built-in defense mechanism that warns your body of a potential risk. When any type of substance lands on our skin, the surface layer will soon get scratched, irritating the receptors in our dermis, which is a part of our skin. These receptors when irritated send signals to the spinal cord through skin fibres that in turn send the signal to our brain. Our response to this signal is to itch the spot of irritation and you will feel some relief after doing so. Your brain will then recognize that the itch has been relieved and the signals will stop being sent to the brain.

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Reference: When you have an itch, what is happening under your skin?. (2010). Dicovery Health, Retrieved from

Homework Post # 2: My views on stem cell research!

Even though I have been pretending to be a scientist for the last couple of weeks when working on this stem cell project, I actually have a very different point of view on stem cell research. I guess that most people would call me a very religious person and I believe that all life is sacred to God. I believe that even those tiny cells in the inner cell mass of the blastula God put there for an specific purpose. I believe that He knows who that little group of cells is going to turn into and that He has a great plan for their life. Since I believe these things, I feel that stem cell research should not be conducted. Here are my views on each specific way of obtaining stem cells.

Existing Cell Lines- I believe that if stem cell lines are already created then they should not be destroyed, but at the same time I don't believe that any more should be made. If you destroyed the already made stem cell lines you are just wasting stem cells that have already been destined to die, so that they can't be used for some good.

Obtain stem cells through IVF- Even though it is better to use excess stem cells through IFV, then making them solely for research, I believe that it would be better to freeze all excess stem cells, so that they can be used to help others conceive. I feel that creating stem cells through IVF solely for research is wrong and it actually makes me sad to think of all of the blastulas that have been destroyed to obtain them.

Therapeutic Cloning-Since in therapeutic cloning they turn a stem cell which is a potential life into only a part on the human body and not into a whole person, I also believe that this is wrong.

I know that some might say that what I think is a little old fashion, but this is what I believe and I believe very strongly in it. I know that medical advancements could come out of stem cell research, but I just feel that killing another life for this cause isn't right.

Post # 6: Haiti's Cholera Epidemic

As of Wednesday, November 10, 2010 over 3 million people have been affected by the Cholera Epidemic that is sweeping over the entire nation of Haiti. With already taking the lives of 580 Haitians, health officials say that cholera has now spread to the capital city of Port-au-Prince. They had been hoping that this disease would not make it to the capital city, so that hundreds of lives could be speared. In Haiti today, over 10 million lives or in danger of getting this devastating disease. With many people now living homeless due to the earthquake in January, medics say that since the city of Port-au-Prince has miserable sanitation facilities and water systems there is no way that this country can escape from cholera. Cholera is spread by contaminated food and water which is infected by fecal matter. Even though health officials are trying to spread the word about washing your hands and cooking food well, they say that the spread of this disease is inevitable. Cholera in its self is very easy to treat. You must begin by rehydrating the patient with water mixed with salt, sugar and potassium or intravenous fluids and give them antibiotics. The problem is that most Haitians would get medical treatment or they will wait until it is to late. This devastating disease with such a simple cure will take millions of lives because most people will not be given an opportunity too seek help. "But health officials also warned that cholera will be part of the Haitian landscape for a long time, taking its place among the other challenges in one of the world's most difficult places to live."

City ripe for infection: A man bathes with water collected from a puddle in a street of Port-au-Prince
City ripe for infection: A man bathes with water collected from a puddle in a street of Port-au-Prince

Daitly Mail Reporter, Initials. (2010, November 13). Haiti cholera epidemic spreads. Mail Online, Retrieved from

Post # 7: Poisonous Poinsettias

I've been getting really excited for Christmas now, for the last two months and just last weekend my family went to this weird place that was selling like a million poinsettias. Every year my family buys a poinsettia for Christmas, but this year when I asked my mom if she was going to get a poinsettia for her daycare she told me that poinsettias are poisonous to children. I thought that this was very interesting and I wanted to find out more about why and how these plants can be so dangerous to children.

external image poinsettia.jpgAfter doing some research on the poinsettia, I was very pleased to find that for the first time in my

entire life my mother was wrong. The idea that poinsettia's are poisonous is only a myth that originates back to 1918 when a Hawiian boy fell ill and died after he apparently eat a piece of a poinsettia plant. People have believed for many years that this plant when consumed had a toxin in it that could possibly lead to death. In recent years, though, research has been conducted at Ohio State University and they have discovered that there are absolutely no parts of this plant that contain toxins. Researchers do say however that children may experience diarrhea, upset stomach and vomiting if they eat too much of this plant, but that it would be the same symptoms that you would get if you have eaten any type of non-food product. Also all of these symptoms can be treated with over the counter drugs and none would lead to death.

Poinsettias could however cause skin irritation and if you rub your eyes after touching a poinsettia they could also become irritated. Both of these irritations are treated by flushing out your eyes or washing skin with soap and water.

The only major cause for concern about having poinsettias around the house is that they could be a choking hazard for young children, however the belief that poinsettias are poisonous for children and could lead to death is 100% a myth.

Miller, T. (2002). Are poinsettias poisonous?. Scientology , Retrieved from

Post #8: World's Healthies Foods

I thought that since we are headed into the Christmas season where we are going to be eating lots of unhealthy treats that I would do a post on some healthy foods that we could be eating between all of your sugar fixes. Many dieticians and nutritionists debate about what the healthiest foods are, but here is a list of some foods that dieticians and nutritionists would say are some of the healthiest foods out there.

1) Spinach- Is a high source of iron and calcium. It contains several beneficial antioxidents

and is a good source of omaga-3.

2) Broccoli- Is high in vitamin C, E and fiber. Also found in broccoli is dinndolylmetane, which is a compound that plays in anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity.

3) Cauliflower- Contains low amount of fat, but hight in fiber, folate, water and vitamine C. It also possess sulforaphane which is an anti-caner compound, released when you bit into a piece of cauliflower. Indole-3-carbinol prevents tumor growth in the breat and prostate is an anit- estrogen that is also found within cauliflower.

4) Sweet Potato- Is considered a food with one of the hightest nutrutional values. Its rich in simple starches, complex carbohyrates, vitamin A, C and B6 and contains dietery fiber. Sweet potatoes help stabilize blood sugar levels and lowers insulin resistance.

5) Tomato- Contain powerful antioxidants and are benefical for your heart. They possess vitamine C, A and also a compound called lycopene that improves skins ability to block out UV rays and prevents prostate cancer.

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10 healthiest foods in the world. (2008). Bukise, Retrieved from

Post # 9: Why Do I Have Freckles?????

So just in case no one has noticed recently, but I have an enormous amout of freckles on my face. And even though in the past I have been called freckle face and little children have asked me why I have spots all over my face I have come to love my freckles. I believe that it makes me how I am and someone told me once that freckles where angle kisses and I've decided that the Lord must have liked me better than all of you when He made me because He let all of the angles kiss me. The other day when I was putting some make-up on I noticed that my freckles where fading and I knew that could mean only one thing: I was not getting enough sunlight! So I know that my freckles come out more in the summer when I am outside in the sunlight,but what is the reasoning behind this, I decided to find out.

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Most common among children, freckles can also be found on adults although they usually begin to fade when teens hit puberty. Freckles are genetic and are most often seen on people who have fair skin and usually lighter hair, red or blonde. Freckles are more likely to appear on a person's face or shoulders because sunlight is exposed to these areas of skin more often. Known as ephelides in the scientific world, freckles are pigmented skin cells. These clusters of tanned spots contain more melanin than other cells which make them stand out against the lighter tones of your skin. In the presence of sunlight the body creates more melanin for skin protections and as the body produces more melanin freckles get darker. It is due to frequent sun exposure that a fair skinned person's freckles become more define. People with freckles have lower amounts of photo protective melanin and are more susceptible to harmful UV rays and should take extra precautions.

Reference: What are freckles?. (2011). Wise Geek, Retrieved from

Post # 10: An Educational Christmas Present!

For Christmas my dad received the Old Farmer's Almanac 2011 from Santa Clause. The other day I decided that I would read a little from it and discovered that there were a lot of neat articles in it. There was one section called Plantimals on Parade that I found very interesting. The entire section was about different types of plants that resembles kinds of animals. I thought that it was really neat and decided to share a few that I thought were the coolest.

Toad Lily: Tricyrtis hirta is a type of perennial that blossoms in late summer or fall. This Asian species that are found in pink, purple or magenta, resemble a toad possessing amphibian like splotches and have three "warts" (small swellings) on its back. This plant is poisonous if eaten.

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Lamb's Ears: Stachys byzantina is a type of flowering plant. Early in season these fuzzy like plants bud pinkish purple or white flowers that only last for a short time. This species spreads very quickly and could take over and entire garden in a couple of seasons, due to this it is important to divide the plant every 2 to 4 years.

external image Lambs%20Ear2.jpgCanary Vine: Tropaeolum peregrinum is a species found within the nasturtium family. This flowering vine is given the common names of canary creeper and canary bird vine. It will grow up to ten feet and produces beautiful yellow flowers. These vines are grown either in a widow box or along a fence; they can also grow within scrubs or hedges. The flowers on the canary vine are edible and have a peppery taste to them.

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Reference: Van Hazinga, C. (2010). Plantimals on parade. Old Farmer's Almanac 2011, 47-48.