THE BIRDS ARE FALLING!! THE BIRDS ARE FALLING!!




I saw this on the news the other night and thought it was kind of CRAZY! I consider it Science related.

Scientists are still trying to find the cause of the death of the thousands of birds falling from the sky. On New Year's Eve, more than 4000 birds fell from the sky into Arkansas and they were dead! Just a few days later 500 birds dropped dead in Louisiana. It is still a mystery to what killed the birds.

In Arkansas, local scientists believe that the celebratory Fireworks that had been set off on New Years Eve probably sent the discombobulated black birds into a dizzy state which made them crash into their homes. Officials can't seem to pinpoint the real story as to why they all died.

I personally think that it wasn't the fireworks because other big cities have fireworks and thousands of birds don't plummet to their death in one city. I also wonder why so many birds were together, and why almost all the birds that died were blackbirds.

Another really strange thing is that the birds are the second mass wildlife death in Arkansas in the last few days. the week before about 83000 dead and dying drumfish washed up along the stretch of the Arkansas river. Wildlife officials say that the two deaths of fish and birds are not related because it was only one species of fish dead in Arkansas.

I wonder myself whether there is any connection to the deaths of the birds and fish in Arkansas. Please let me know if you hear more about this and what you think. In any case take a moment and explore the story about the Arkansas wildlife deaths!

references: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2011/01/04/blackbirds-beebe-fireworks.html
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/01/thousands-of-dead-birds-falling-from-the-sky-.html




MOZART AND THE BRAIN


Many studies have been shown that music has the power to affect memory as well as other things such as breathing, heart rate, or control your emotions. . I sometimes wonder if Mozart knew that his songs rhythm patterns would activate the left and right side of the brain. This can maximize learning and retention of information. Some musical activities such as singing or playing an instrument can engage both sides of the brain at once. Using both sidesbrain causes the brain to be more capable of processing information.

Researchers in Stranford University proved that music engages the parts of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions, and updating and working the memory.

Mozart can also help students in school. A simple way to improve test scores is by listening to certain types of music such as Mozart's Sonata before taking a test. This tupe of music realeases neurons in the brain that help the body to relax. After a test was done on three groups of college students. They were all writing the same IQ test for this experiment. The first group of students listened to a Mozart Sonata before taking the test. The secibd group listened to a relaxation tape before their test, and the third didn't listen to anything. The first group had the highest score with an average of 119/ The second group ended up with an average of 111, and the third group had the lowest score with an average of 110.

So, if maybe you want to try giving Mozart a chance and listen to a bit of him before exams, try it out and see how you do! Just remember that you still need to study and not just lay in your bed listening to sonatas!! Good luck with exams!

references http://www.cerebromente.org.br/n15/mente/musica.html
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070801122226.htm

NARCOLEPSY


I came across this video the other night and felt really bad for this poor dog.



Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder which is when someone or something has excessive daytime sleepiness. It can be found not only in dogs and other animals, but humans too! It's when you experience extreme fatigue and fall asleep.

Animals such as dogs who have narcolepsy usually trigger it when they get excited. They can fall asleep right away if excited by another animal or even trying to jump up next to you on a couch to sit by you.

Some narcoleptics experience cataplexy. This is a sudden muscular weakness brought on by strong emotions. This would be a reason why dogs with narcolepsy fall asleep when very excited.

Narcolepsy is not caused by mental illness or psychological problems. It is most likely affected by a number of genetic abnormalities that affect specific biologic factors in the brain, combined with a set off from environment, such as a virus.

reference:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2246380/?tool=pmcentrez
http://med.stanford.edu/school/Psychiatry/narcolepsy/




MOTHER IMPACTS CHILD'S SENSE OF SMELL


A new study shows that a pregnant mother's diet not only sensitizes the fetus to those smells and flavors, but physically changes the brain and impacts what the child will eat and drink in the future.

Researcher from the University of Colorado, have been studying mice and found that the pup's sense of smell is changed by what their mothers eat, which teaches them to like the flavors in their mother's diet. They also found significant changes in the structure of the brain's olfactory glomeruli, which processes smells, because odors in the amniotic fluid affects how the system will develop. Since this is the first study that addresses the changes in the brain that 101201095559-large.jpgoccur during steady exposure to flavors in early postnatal life when the newborn is receiving milk from it's mother. This research could have important public health implications.

Many diseases in society today involve excess consumption or avoidance of certain kinds of food. It's important to understand the factors that determine choice and ingestion, especially the early factors because it helps design strategies to enhance the health of a infant, child and adult.

This study highlights the importance of eating a healthy diet and not drinking alcohol during pregnancy and nursing. If a mother drinks alcohol, her child me be more attracted to alcohol because the developing fetus thinks that whatever comes from the mother must be safe. If this is true, then a mother who eats healthy food, could help their child prefer healthy food and make better choices on what they eat.

reference: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201095559.htm
http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/health_medicine/pregnancy_and_childbirth/



DUST BUNNIES


Have you ever wondered where our household dust comes from? Surprisingly, most dust inside the house actually comes from the outside. In a study that David Layton and Paloma Beamer did, they found that household dust is a potpourri (assortment) which can include dead flakes of skin from animals and humans, soil tracked in from outside, fibers from the carpets and furniture, and particles that have been blown in from the outdoors.

Dust_Bunny_2.jpgHouse dust can include arsenic, lead and other potentially harmful substances that come indoors from the outside air and soil that comes inside. This is something that has been concerning people and families. Parents are worried that their children will end up breathing in these toxins by sucking or licking dust particles found on toys or in the house.

After finishing their study, they came to the conclusion that over 60% percent of house dust actually originates from the outdoors. They also estimated that nearly 60% of the arsenic in floor dust could come from arsenic blown from the air!

I hope this makes you think about you're dust bunnies at home, and maybe next time do a little sweeping so that they are aren't just laying around to be inhaled!!

reference: http://www.macroevolution.net/dust-bunnies.html




MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS


I decided for my post to explore what Multiple Sclerosis is and if they have any treatments. I know someone who has MS and is going for a new treatment. This helped me understand better what they have and how they are going to help them with her MS.MS

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic neurological disorder that affects the nervous system (brain and spinal chord) The disease results in inflammation and damage to the insulating tissue and nerve fibers as well as other cells in the nervous system. This damage can result in sensations, movement, and thinking.

MS is usually diagnosed in young adults (15-40), but can also affect children. MS is unpredictable. It can affect vision, hearing memory, balance and mobility. A person with MS can have these symptoms for a period of time, and then they will disappear for a while. This is caused by patchy inflammation of the myelin along the nerve fibers. This interrupts the nerve pulses. The symptoms change according to what parts of the nervous system are affected.

Until recently, Multiple Sclerosis had no cure. There were medications you could take but they had bad side effects.

A man by the name of Dr. Paolo Zamboni thinks that the disease that damages the nervous system is caused by narrowed veins in the neck and chest that block the drainage of blood from the brain. If you opened the veins with the same balloons used to treat blocked heart arteries, then it can relieve symptoms. This is an experimental treatment he calls the "liberation procedure"

Many people are hoping to try this "liberation procedure" and hope that the symptoms of MS go away. Dr. Zamboni looked at MS in a different way then some scientists are and just might have found a treatment to Multiple Sclerosis.

references: http://mssociety.ca/en/information/default.htm
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/health/29vein.html




HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT - STEM CELL VIEWS


Before doing our section on Stem Cells in class, I really didn't give a lot of thought about Stem Cell research and I didn't have a personal view on the whole topic. After learning about the different ways to achieve stem cells and the different uses that researchers use them for; I began to think about them more.

stem-cell-harvest.jpgEXISTING EMBRYONIC STEM CELL LINES - I think that this group should be controlled. I understand that an embryo was killed to make the stem cell line, but they will continue to multiply and you don't have to get a hold of new embryos.

EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS FROM IVF CLINICS- I think that this group should also be controlled. In one of the groups presentations they made a good point about using all embryos that have been formed. If they have already been formed and aren't being used for fertilization then I think they should be used for research instead of being discarded. With this though, the donors should be aware that their left over embryos will be going towards stem cell research.

EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS SOLELY FOR RESEARCH- After much thought, I decided that embryos don't need to be taken just for the sole purpose of research. If you already have existing stem cell lines and embryos from IVF clinics, I think that we will have a decent amount of stem cells to use for research without having to kill more potential life solely for the purpose of research.

EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS USED FOR SCNT- I think that this group should be controlled for the most part. First off I think that reproductive cloning is wrong. Nobody should try to be cloned, that just isn't right!. As for therapeutic cloning, I think that scientists should be aloud to research on how to produce organs. In the future therapeutic cloning could be very helpful in the way of being able to make functioning organs that could replace non functioning ones in the body.

This section on Stem Cells really interested me about them. I really enjoy hearing about all the latest experiments and things scientists have found using stem cell research.





Why Does My Foot Fall Asleep?


You go to get up out of your seat, and your foot has this strange tingling sensation running through it. I personally hate when my arm or leg falls asleep. I have always thought that it happens because of the lack of blood circulation through your body. I did some research and learned that it isn't the case.
limbs-asleep.jpg
Usually your foot or arm would fall asleep after you've put pressure on that part of your body for an amount of time. When you apply pressure on it for a prolonged period of time, the communication from your brain the that part of your body gets cut off. The pressure squeezes the nerve pathways so that the nerves are unable to transmit electrochemical impulses properly. These nerve impulses carry sensation information from the nerve endings to the brain, as well as give instructions from the brain to the part of the body.When you squeeze the nerve pathways, you interfere with the transfer of these impulses. This takes away full feeling in that body part, and your brain has trouble telling the body part what to do.

This pressure can also squeeze arteries, which stops them from carrying nutrient to body cells. Without the nutrient, the nerve cells can behave abnormally, which also interferes with the communicating bodily sensations.

With both of these factors, the information transmitted from the body part becomes jumbled and the brain begins to receive strange messages. Some nerve cells don't transmit ANY information and others start sending impulses erratically. This causes the strange tingling sensation.

The tingling sensation actually serves as an important function. If your foot fell asleep for a few minutes, it doesn't pose any health threat, but if you cut off the circulation for an extended period of time (for several hours) you could suffer serious nerve damage! The tingling sensation tells you that you should readjust your position.

So though you may hate the tingling sensation you get when your foot or arm falls asleep, it is actually your body helping you out. If it didn't tingle, then you could possibly loose the feeling in that limb forever!


references: http://kidshealth.org/kid/talk/qa/foot_asleep.html
http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/parts/question552.ht




Should Creatine Supplement Be Band?

Bonus Mark Opportunity (October 21st)


2. Forming Your Opinion

After reading the article in the Biology text book and researching on the internet, I don't think athletes should be allowed to take creatine to enhance their performance. Though Creatine is a natural substance that's found in human cells, and foods, people don't seem to know enough about the supplement to consider it safe to use. Creatine has been known to put you in risk of water dehydration up to very serious effects like kidney failure or death. Since the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) hasn't determined it safe, I really don't think athletes should use it.
I also think that it isn't really fair if some athletes get to enhance their stamina with intense activity and others can't if they don't take the supplement. creatine.jpg

When looking around, I couldn't find any sports that have officially banned Creatine Supplement. In some sports organizations I read that coaches aren't aloud to give their athletes the creatine supplement, but that it isn't banned. I think that it isn't a banned substance because it isn't actually determined as safe or unsafe by the FDA.

What is Creatine and how it is used?
Muscles cells generate mechanical work from a energy chemical reaction called ATP. ATP is slpit into ADP and Phosphate. ATP can be used very quickly by muscle cells, but there is only a limited supply that can only last for a few seconds during high intensity. The body DOES have several ways to convert ADP back into ATP.

The fastest method to produce ATP is to move the Phosphate off of a phosphocreatine and onto a ADP molecule. This stops ATP which makes it available for muscular work and creatine. There's enough phosphocreatine to keep the ATP levels up for several more seconds then when only ATP is used. When ATP is used there's about 2-3 seconds available for all-out work, but when you use ATP + creatine, you can have about 10 seconds of all-out work energy. This ATP + creatine system is the fastest anaerobic system and is mostly used for power athletes.

The one down side the ATP + creatine is that when the body recharges creatine back into phosphocreatine, it takes quite an amount of time. (30-60 seconds.)

I think that until Scientists really start to understand the effects of this creatine supplement, and the short term and long term effects on the body, it should be avoided by athletes until more data is compiled.

references: http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/creatine.htm

Having Anemia


The other night I was talking to my parents at the kitchen table at supper about what we've been learning in biology. We somehow got onto the topic of red blood cells and my mom reminded my dad of my sickness that I had back when I was one. Now I had been told that I was a sick baby at one point, but nobody had ever told me in detail what I had. So now, about 15 years later I have found out that I had anemia when I was little. I didn't know very much about what anemia was so I decided I would research it a little bit and share with you.

Looking at the Discharge Summary that my doctor gave my parents (my mom kept it after all these years) they diagnosed me with Diamond-Blackfan Anemia. People had told my parents that I looked very pale I had been for the past few weeks so they eventually took me to the doctors.
bloodcell
Anemia is when the number of blood cells is below normal. As we know, red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen through the body. When the red blood cell levels are low, the body becomes very tired due to a lack of oxygen.

Diamond-Blackfan Anemia is when the body's bone marrow produces hardly any to zero red blood cells. The cause is unknown , but a genetic error in a gene called RPS19 is associated with about 25% cases.

So I had a bone marrow test done to be diagnosed. To get a sample of bone marrow they cut a hole in the lower part of my back and took a small sample. (That would explain the scar :P ) After being diagnosed I had a blood transfusion through a microfilter. After several hours I looked much more lively. The transfusion raised the hemoglobin (protein molecule in red blood cells).

After many blood tests over the years I have finally found out why I needed them done. I was getting checked to make sure that my bone marrow was producing blood cells. At first the doctor was thinking I may need several more blood transfusions. Diamond-Blackfan Anemia can last over a period of time and continually need blood transfusions to keep the numbers up. Luckily I was lucky and don't even need to worry about it anymore, I guess according to my parents I don't even have to know about it!. :P


References: what is anemia?
diamond-blackfan anemia
Discharge Summary from Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital






AMNESIA- The Man Without Memory


What is Amnesia?
Amnesia is when people loose their ability to memorize data, the inability to recall information that is stored in memory. Amnesia is usually caused by any disease or injury that affects the brain. Anything that affects the brain can interfere with the complexity of memory. The memory function engages many parts of the brain at the same time. When the brain structures that form the limbic system (controls emotions and memories), the hippocampus and thalamus, are damaged, it can lead to amnesia. People with amnesia find it hard to not only remember the past, but they can have trouble trying to imagine the future. This is because we construct future scenarios with recollections of our past experiences.

Our ability to recollect experiences and events is a very complex brain process. Experts say that we are only now starting to uncover the surface in understanding how memory works and how we retrieve data that is stored in our brain.

Being forgetful is completly different to having amnesia. Amnesia is a large-scale loss of memories that should not have been forgotten. For example people who are forgetful still remember important things in life such as parents, and family. Amnesia can make people forget important milestones in life, memorable event, key people in their lives, and vital facts that have been taught or told.

I came across this video on youtube about this man named Clive wearing who lost his memory 20 years ago. I did a little background information on this man to see how he got amnesia. He caught a virus (Herpes Simplex Encephalitis) that usually only causes cold sores, but it attacked his brain. Clive's memory span now is about 7-30 seconds. Anything after that he forgets. Clive Wearing is basically living in the present only.



    • The first 30 seconds or so of this video is just a talking with body builders in the background. Just wait patiently, or skip ahead about 27 seconds for the Clive Wearing story to start.

´╗┐references:

Medical News Today.com
Clive Wearing




THE LANGUAGE GENE


Biologists have discovered a "language gene" that they thought separated us from other animals. Recent discoveries show though, that our version of this of this gene is very close to the gene that many animals have, such as a mouse.


All humans have a gene in them called FOXP2 that many eager scientists named the "language gene" or "grammar gene". This was thought to set humans apart from other animals since it was involved with language, but actually it is found in many other animals. The gene has actually been around since the time of dinosaurs which shows that language and speech didn't just pop out of nowhere.

A team led by Wolfgang Enard from Max Planck Institute in Germany, were the first to compare FOXP2 from humans with other spe
zebra_finch.jpg
The Zebra Finch
cies of animals. Scientists found very similar versions of the gene in humans with birds. The zebra finch is a type of bird that lives in the wild. They found that FOXP2 in the zebra finch is 98% IDENTICAL** to ours. The finches use this gene mostly for their song learning. Scientists conducted an experiment of what would happen if you altered the gene to have less proteins in them. After changing the gene in the finch, the birds could no longer learn the songs to sing and they became garbled.

This gene is very important in humans. If the gene was to have a mutation on it, humans would have difficulties with language. Scientists have found that mutations to the FOXP2 gene can lead to having bad grammar, writing and comprehension problems, and can even make it hard to coordinate sequences of face and mouth movements used during speech.

Ed Young, . "New Scientist." More Than Words. August 16, 2008: Print.