Stem Cells
Although the discussion on stem cells can be an extremely hot and touchy topic, because I am not really religious in anyway, I believe that embryonic stem cells can and for sure should be used to save others' lives. I don't think it's fair to kill another life, however at the same time I don't think it is right that we know a cure for many of the deadly diseases, and people don't want to 'kill a potential life' in order to save another. I can see both sides of the arguement, however I believe there should be certain limitations on stem cell research.
Embryonic Stem Cells from Existing Stem Cell Lines-
I believe that taking embryonic stem cells that already exist is perfectly acceptable because you can save anothers life. Because they already exist, it's not like you are killing a potential life, or creating one simply to be wasted.
Embryonic Stem Cells from Discarded IVF Embryos-
THIS SHOULD BE ALLOWED! I believe that this is completely acceptable. These embryos are going to be discarded, so why waste these? They will not develop into an organism, so they will simply be wasted. Why not use them to cure deadly diseases and potentially save many, many lives in the process?
Embryonic Stem Cells Created by IVF Clinics Solely for Research-
I think that this should be restricted. I don't think we should create potential life for the sole reason of using them for research. I think this is cruel and unnecissairy and completely not right.
Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (Cloning)-
I think this is ok, if they are cloning organs for use to save lives. I do however think reproductive cloning is using stem cells unnecissairy.

Post #1

The Genetics of the White Horse Unraveled.

Riding White Horse - White Horse Picture
Riding White Horse - White Horse Picture


The white horse has a huge impact on human culture across the world. An team of International researchers at Uppsala University has figured out the mutation causing the glowing white coat. They also found out that white horses carry an exactly identical mutation that is traced back to the horses ancestors which lived thousands of years ago. This is a huge discovery because it proves that this mutation can carry melanoma which is a cancer found increasingly in white horses. The majority of white horses grey with age. A Grey horse is born either black, brown or chestnut, but the greying process starts at the young age of 1. By the time they are 6-8 years of age, they are normally completely white but the skin remains pigmented. This process resembles greying in humans, but happens much faster. Long ago when the first person saw a horse transform from black, to grey, to white, they were fascinated by it. They decided to use the horse for breeding so that the mutation could be passed on from generation to generation. Now, about one horse in ten carries this mutation of greying with age. About 75% of Grey horses older than 15 have a beginning form of melanoma, that can in some cases eventually lead to much more serious cases. So, this study reported has also given new insight about a molecular pathway that can lead to the developement of tumors. This study proposes that the Grey mutation stimulates growth of melanocytes. This leads to premature loss of the melanocyte stem cells that is needed for hair pigmentation. This mutation does not change any protein structure, but it does affects the regulation of 2 genes in a white horses body. It was found that white horses carry an extra copy of DNA located in one of these two genes.

University, Uppsala. (2008). The genetics of the white horse unraveled. Retrieved from http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2008/07/23/the_genetics_of_the_white_horse_unraveled.html

Post #2

Arctic Sea Ice Dwindling
This past September, the Arctic Sea ice met its minimum depth of the year 2010. Although it isn't as low as 2007, sea ice physicists at the Alfred Wegener Institute are worried about long term effects of the Arctic Ocean. The thickness of the ice is declining, therefor the mass of sea ice is rising. Scientists are currently measuring the ice thickness North and East of Greenland, using the research aircraft 'Polar 5'.
The big question is; when will the arctic be completely ice free in the summer? It has been in the minds of sea ice researchers for more then 30 years.
About 300 cubic kilometres of ice drift out of the arctic ocean each year. This measures out to approximately 2700 billion tons! This ice creates fresh water which reaches the Arctic Ocean by river or precipitation, however the Arctic Ocean maintains its salt concentration which has been evident for a long time.

The temperature rise has been noticed and taken into consideration worldwide, however the rise is much more substantial in the Arctic latitudes. Scientists have found that the ice has been thinning for several years now, possibly more. This results in less fresh water, aswell as the decline of salinity in the Arctic Ocean.

Theres a few ways you can look at this. One is that yes, it does influence all living things that have been needing to adapt to this drastic changes. On the other hand, the changes in salinity have had an impact on our patterns of global ocean circulation. In the TIFAX (Thick Ice Feeding Arctic Export) the researchers are firstly interested in ice that is a few years old years old, several meters thick, and occurs primarily on the northern coast of Greenland.

external image Arctic_SSMI1979-03.jpg

Evolution, Macro. (n.d.). Arctic sea ice dwindling. Retrieved from http://www.macroevolution.net/sea-ice-2.html

Post #3

The Yosemite Cave Pseudoscorpion

external image yosemite.jpg

An odd new species of arachnid was discovered underneath huge boulders that have been at the bottum of the cliffs at Yosemite National Park for thousands of years. This new species called the Yosemite Cave Pseudoscorpion or Parobisium Yosemite is about the size of a human's fingernail, and is found to be completely blind. This mysterious creature resembles a scorpion, but without a tail or stinger. It has venomous front pincers, but not nearly enough to do any harm to a human. This new species evolved in an incredibly short amount of time- sometime after the last glacial period which was near 20 000 years ago. They are believed to evolve in the black passageways of the Talus Slopes- an environment that was defined by very sudden and catastrophic change. The amazing rock formations in Yosemite were gently shaped by global erosion for the past several million years. 20 000 years ago, the glacial retreat exposed smooth, 3000 foot tall grantie cliffs. From these giant walls, chunks of rock have periodically cracked and crashed to the valley floor below. A park geologist at Yosemite began studying caves and rock crevices formed at the base of the cliffs in 2006. This new pseudoscorpian was found in granite sand, leaf litter and dirt in two of the caves. The average year round tempereature in these caves is 51 degrees. This bug is eyeless, and is reddish brown in color with narrow limbs. It's large pincers are used to tear appart its prey which includes mites, flies, small spiders, beetles, ants and millipedes. This species is only second pseudoscorion ever found in a talus cave. The other one was found in Texas.

Fimrite, Peter. (2010). Yosemite national park: new arachnid species found. Retrieved from http:[[http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/11/06/BA8A1G7837.DTL|//www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/11/06/BA8A1G7837.DTL]]

Post #4

Sapphire, The Ring Tailed Lemur


'Sapphire' was just a few days old when Adrian Warren first spotted him. Like your average newly born lemur, he was tiny and clung to his mother tightly. Instead of the greyish color of newborn ring tail lemurs, and average brown eyes, this lemur was something extraordinary. His soft fur was white, and his eyes were a glistening blue.
Albino lemurs do turn up, although they are extremely rare. Sapphire, however, isn't an albino because of the black skin around his nose and rings on his tail aswell as his bright blue eyes.
external image s-ringtail03.jpg
When Sapphire was discovered, it was September. September is the time of year that ring-tails give birth to their young. Ring-tails are normally found in large groups, the average would be about 60 lemurs in one group. Living in large groups such as this brings many benefits- there are more pairs of eyes and ears to sense danger aswell as more partners to choose from when the time comes for mating. This season was especially dry and hot. Research has shown that ring-tail groups is controlled by the females. These females are extremely fierce, defendent and protective over their young. Year round, even during mating season, the females have all of the power and the control. Each lemur has close 'friends' which they do everything with- eat, sleep and hunt.
external image lp-sapphire.jpg
At the best of times, life is no where near easy for baby ring-tailed lemurs. Almost half of infant lemurs die in their first year of life, most of these deaths are from injuries where the lemurs fall from high above in the trees. When first born, lemurs are almost completely helpless. They cling to their mothers fur underneath of their bellies where access is easy to milk. As they grow older, the lemurs switch and ride on their mothers backs. From here they can observe the other lemurs.

Warren , Adrian. (1997). A jewel in the crowd: a story of a white ring-tailed lemur. Retrieved from http://www.lastrefuge.co.uk/data/articles/sapphire_p1.html

As I was searching for articles to do my 5th wiki post on, I came across an article about a certain 'speed gene' in thoroughtbred race horses. I find this extremely fascinating, as I have my very own thoroughbred racehorse. Enjoy.

Post #5



As you may be aware, a thoroughbred horse is the fastest breed of horse in the world. The top speed record is over 45 miles per hour, with the top stride length being near on 30 feet long. But why are thoroughrbeds the fastest? Well for obvious reasons, one being that they are bred for speed.
The identification of 'the speed gene' isis the first known characterisation of a gene contributing to a specific athletic trait in thoroughbred horses. This has the potential to transform decision making in the breeding of thoroughbred horses industry.
This research was the first in the world to use genomics technologies to identify genetic contributions to the racing performance of a thoroughbred horse. It was funded by Science Foundation Ireland.
The throughbred industry in general is a multi billion dollar industry, the two biggest being thoroughbred racing and breeding. Now that scientists have discovered how to test for the 'speed gene' trainers and owners can know what type of horse they have before the even race them. For example, perhaps their horse will be a better long distance galloper then a sprinter. Maybe the horse will have the will to get to the front right from the beginning of the race, or perhaps he will come from behind. Whatever the case, this is a huge change in the thoroughbred horse industry.
With all this information, they can make decisions about their horses- sell; buy; breed; race?
For breeders, they will be able to choose their stallions and mares by having a 'speed gene' test, which will ultimately determine the fate of the offspring.

Dr. Emmiline Hill, the renowned Irish racehorse trainer and breeder says:
"Breeding techniques for thoroughbred horses have remained relatively unchanged for centuries. Breeders currently rely on combining successful bloodlines together, hoping that the resulting foal will contain that winning combination of genes. Until now, whether those winning genes have or have not been inherited could only be surmised by observing the racing and breeding success of a horse over an extended period of years after its birth. Using the Equinome Speed Gene test, a world first in equine genetics, it will now be possible to definitively know a horse's genetic type within weeks of a sample being taken, thus reducing much of the uncertainty that has been typically involved in selection, training and breeding decisions."
Dr. Hill presented this information about the Equinome Speed Gene on January 29th 2010 at the Irish thoroughbred Breeders' Association Expo for the first time.


Emmeline W. Hill, Jingjing Gu, Suzanne S. Eivers, Rita G. Fonseca, Beatrice A. McGivney, Preethi Govindarajan, Nick Orr, Lisa M. Katz, David MacHugh. , Initials. (2010). Genetic test for 'speed gene' in thoroughbred horses. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100202144204

Post #6

Got Jellyfish????

jellyfish swarm
jellyfish swarm

Massive swarms of jelly fish are a common occurance nowadays. They are transforming and taking over fisheries and tourist destinations which are now jam packed with these stinging, abnormal creatures. Current areas that are especially hard-hit by these large jellyfish swarms are Hawaii, the Gulf of Mexico, the east coast of the United states, the Bering sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Australia, the Black Sea and other European seas, the Sea of Japan and the North Sea.

These swarms of jellyfish sometimes cover hundreds of square miles. They have cause injuries and even death to those who dare come near them. Not only do they have a major affect on humans, but they have also caused serious damage to fisheries, fish farms, nuclear power plants, ships, marine mines and more. Since 1980, these jellyfish have forced the fishing and tourism industries to spend hundreds of millions of dollars.
The suspicion is that these massive swarms of jellyfish are caused by human activities. It has been blamed on pollution, climate change and overfishing. Although these may be fairly accurate assumptions, they are simply guesses because no one know the true reason why these jellyfish swarma have become apparent.

American Academy for the Advancement of Science, Initials. (2010). Massive jellyfish swarms. Retrieved from http://www.macroevolution.net/jellyfish-swarms.html

Post #7

Dust Bunnies

external image dustbunnies.jpg

Ever wonder where these disgusting balls of fluff, dirt, dust, hair, and other common household grime? The house, you might say, but you are not entirely right.

Arizona State environmental scientists have found the solution. Most of these disgusting balls of dust better known as 'dust bunnies' come not from the inside of your home, but the outside.

In the report published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, David Layton and Paloma Beamer say household dust is a form of potpourri. Potpourri is particles of dead flakes of skin from human and pets, fibers from the carpet and in furniture, soil that has been tracked in from outside and airborne particles blown inside from outdoors. Everyday household dust can contain lead, arsenic and other harmful substances that come
indoors from outside air and soil. This is a special concern for parents with children. Kids can ingest these toxins by sucking or licking dust on thier toys.

The scientists found that over 60 percent of house dust comes inside from outdoors. They also estimated that 60 percent of the arsenic in dust from the floor could come from arsenic blown in from the surrounding air.

Macro Evolution, Initials. (2010). Dust bunnies. Retrieved from http://www.macroevolution.net/dust-bunnies.html

Post #8

Do you have an uncommon name? Well, if you do, you're more prone to commiting crimes! Surprise!

external image 070119_handcuffs_jail.jpg

From Shippensburg University, David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee studied data by comparing first names of male juveniles to the first names of male juveniles in the enire population.
Scientists formed a system to compare this. It is called the popularity-name index (PNI) and they used this for each name. The higher the PNI, the more common it is and the lower the PMI, the less common it is.
The names that were less popular were more associated with crimes amoung all races. It is obvious the names aren't the cause of the crime, however researchers believe they are connected to factors of increasing tendency to commit a crime.
Another possible solution to why adolescents with these odd names are more prone to committing crime is because they may be treated differently by teit friends, family and peers. They may also act out because they dislike their names, or feel they are different.
Wiley Blackwell says “First name characteristics may be an important factor to help identify individuals at high risk of committing or recommitting crime, leading to more effective and targeted intervention programs."

Post #9

New Species of Ancient Flying Reptile Identified on British Columbia Coast

When Victoria Arbour was stumped when a piece of a small jaw bone was taken out of a fossil cabinet in the United Sates Of America's paleontology department.
Arbour thought it was either from a fish, a marine reptile or perhaps a dinosaur.

A PhD student in paleontology, Victoria says she got her first clue to the fossil's identity when she compared it to a species of pterosaurs. "The teeth of our fossil were small and set close together," said Arbour. "They reminded me of piranha teeth, designed for pecking away at meat."

This brought Arbour to believe that the new species was a scavenger descendent from the cretaceous. She named the species 'Gwanwinapterus beardi'
Arbour believes that "It had a wing span of about 3 metres and patrolled the sky and set down to feed on the leftover kills made by predator dinosaurs of the time such as Albertosaurus."
This was the first pterosaur of any kind found in British Columbia. It was found on Hornby Island off of the coast of Vancouver.
It is believed that the place the fossil was found has little to do with where the pterosaur actually lived. It lived 70 million years ago.