Fun Science FRIEDay – Beauty Sleep

Happy Fun Science FRIEDay!!!

It’s the Turkey Holiday, and aside from eating and socializing, I suspect quite a many of you have also been getting lots of sleep!

Despite how little of it some of us get during our normal routine, sleep is important… right? We know that sleep has tons of benefits for the body such as allowing our muscles and bones to repair themselves, and keeping our immune system healthy. Sleep is also important for our brains, allowing for memories to be consolidated and other important functions to be performed.

Sleeping is like recharging your batteries. ^u^  (Photo credit: Chibird, http://rebloggy.com/post/cute-sleep-animation/42472951026)

Sleeping is like recharging your batteries. ^u^
(Photo credit: Chibird, http://rebloggy.com/post/cute-sleep-animation/42472951026)

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Fun Science FRIEDay – Death Star

Happy Fun Science FRIEDay!

While Ebola wreaks havoc on Homo sapiens in the terrestrial world, there has been an even more virulent disease causing the destruction of a marine animal, the sea star. Today we talk about this deadly condition impacting sea star populations and the recent discovery of just what is causing this affliction.

 

Royal starfish (Astropecten articulatus) on the beach. (Photo credit: TheMargue - http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2884079538)

Royal starfish (Astropecten articulatus) on the beach.
(Photo credit: TheMargue – http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2884079538)

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Fun Science FRIEDay – The Origin of HIV

Happy Fun Science FRIEDay

 

After a hiatus, I hope to get back to regularly writing these pieces. This week I was particular inspired to focus on an article I read about the discovery of the origins of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and subsequently the origins of AIDS.

Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 (in green) budding from cultured lymphocyte. Multiple round bumps on cell surface represent sites of assembly and budding of virions. Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 (in green) budding from cultured lymphocyte. Multiple round bumps on cell surface represent sites of assembly and budding of virions.
Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

AIDS burst onto the scene like a bat out of hell, wreaking havoc on an unsuspecting human population. First recognized in the early 1980s by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, better known as the CDC), AIDS went on to cause approximate 36 million deaths globally becoming one of the most devastating diseases in human history. But where did this affliction come from and what were the chain of events that led to the pandemic?

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Fun Science FRIEDay – Fasting Fights Cancer?

Happy Fun Science FRIEDay to everyone. FSF is back and with a new name!

After a brief hiatus to sort out some legal issues regarding the title of FSF, and a trip to the World Cup, I am hopefully back into the swing of providing you with mostly weekly, fun, and interesting science facts!

Up this week is cancer, and what we as a species are doing to kick its ass! … along w/ the involuntary help of the Mus musculus species.

Relatively recent work by Dr. Longo, of the University of Southern California, and his colleagues, has shown that a simple dietary adjustment may help combat the negative influence of chemotherapy and age on immune cell function! In short, their findings suggest that fasting, yes you heard right, FASTING, may provide benefits for cancer patients and the elderly by replenishing stem cells in the blood.

 

Conceptualization of the influence prolonged fasting has to promote stem cell regeneration and reverse immunosuppression. (Photo credit: Cheng et al. 2014)

Conceptualization of the influence prolonged fasting has to promote stem cell regeneration and reverse immunosuppression. (Photo credit: Cheng et al. 2014)

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Fun Science Friday – First Female Penis

Happy Fun Science Friday.

You did not mistakenly read the title, today we bring you the discovery of the first female penis in the animal kingdom.

Mating insects of the genus Neotrogla. Photo Credit: Current Biology / Yoshizawa et al.

Mating insects of the genus Neotrogla.
Photo Credit: Current Biology / Yoshizawa et al.

Yoshizawa, from Hokkaido University in Japan, and his team of researchers documented this phenomenon of sexual role reversal in 4 species of rather unassuming insects in Brazil’s Peruaçu River Valley.  When insects of the genus Neotrogla mate, the female mounts the male and penetrates his vagina-like opening with her penis.

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No, we didn’t find the Loch Ness Monster with Apple Maps

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a good debunking-random-monster-sighting post. The ready availability of global satellite image databases is a powerful tool for exploration and monitoring but has also led to a boom in pseudoscience “discoveries” by people not familiar with how these images are produced or just willing to suspend disbelief for their pet woo.

This morning my inbox exploded with articles about the definitive Loch Ness monster sighting. The accompanying image is a low-resolution satellite image of a boat wake, available, apparently, only on Apple Maps. There’s really no deconstruction needed, it’s a boat wake. Compare this image from Loch Ness:

Nessie? No.

Nessie? No.

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Fun Science Friday – “Trolls Just Wanna Have Fun”

I have to admit, I love this title, but cannot claim it as my own. It is the title of the research paper that forms the basis for today’s FSF, internet trolling.

They see me Trollin. Photo Credit: NineFiveZero

They see me Trollin.
Photo Credit: NineFiveZero

Anyone who has ever spent remotely anytime reading the comments section of pretty much anywhere on the internet has likely observed a Troll (why some of you reading may even have engaged in Troll-like behavior). While these Trolls do not physically hide under bridges and/or steal sheep, their actions parallel many of the annoyances of their fairy tale  counterparts.  As defined by wikipedia, an Internet Troll “is a person who sows discord on the Internet… with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

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Fun Science Friday – Using the Force to Detect Cancer…. Sorta

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish! What does that have to do with this week’s Southern Fried Science…. nothing! But that quote always makes me laugh.

This week we bring you another crazy break through in science that involves fruit flies and cancer. No, fruit flies do not cause cancer… that we know of. I am probably a little late on this, but the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is the newest weapon in the fight against cancer. Yes you heard that right, man has turned one of the more annoying creatures into something useful! Useful for humans that is. 😉

Side view of a  a 0.1 x 0.03 inch (2.5 x 0.8 mm) small male fruit fly. Credit: André Karwath

Side view of a a 0.1 x 0.03 inch (2.5 x 0.8 mm) small male fruit fly.
Credit: André Karwath

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Fun Science Friday – My Heart Will Go On

Valentine’s Day is generally filled with love, flowers, and lots and lots of anatomically incorrect hearts.  See —> <3  This week on FSF we revel in the spirit of VDay and bring you hearts, but the appropriately shaped kind.

For years, in order to transplant a heart or a lung, there is a narrow window between the death of the donor and the surgical input of the recipient. How narrow, about 5 to 10 hours! Yes, basically doctors have 5 -10 hours to surgically remove the heart from a donor, transport it to the recipient, and surgically implant it. Crazy! The Doctors are battling the period of time it takes for a heart or lung to stop beating once senescence of a person’s body is achieved.

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Fun Science Friday – Mars One

Theoretical schematic of the Mars One habitat,  Photo Credit: Mars One

Theoretical schematic of the Mars One habitat,
Photo Credit: Mars One

Maybe you have heard about it, or maybe you haven’t, but Man… Man is headed to Mars! …. or at least Man is going to try!

In recent years space expeditions have shifted focus towards reaching the red planet. Of the different campaigns to travel to Mars, Mars One has probably gotten the most press recently. As stated on their site, Mars One’s goal is to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Crews of four will depart every two years, starting in 2024, with a first unmanned mission in 2018.

For good or bad, Mars One is taking the Colonialism Era approach. Send out explorers without the guarantee of return and see what happens. And despite the obvious one-way ticket approach of their endeavor, there are an abundant source of participants ready to step up for this, literally and figuratively, ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.  Mars One had over 200,000 applicants, and recently whittled  that field down to a little over a thousand. Over the next few years these individuals will undergo training that should in theory prepare them for one of the most daunting missions mankind has ever undertaken.

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