Happy Fun Science FRIEDay – Change you DNA… One Step at a Time!

It’s around about this time of year when people begin to question their New Year’s resolutions to commit to better health. You know what I am talking about. Right after NYE the number of people at the gym swells to an unholy number of hopeful fitness do-gooders. Yet without fail, by the end of the month the gym population begins to stabilize back to its pre New Year’s resolution numbers. But maybe, just maybe, this article will convince you to stick with your commitment to better health, change your DNA regarding your approach to fitness, and keep on exercising! Because exercise, as a new study has found, does just that. Exercise changes the shape and functioning of our genes, an important step on the way to improved health and fitness!

Photo credit: precisionnutrition.com

Photo credit: precisionnutrition.com

Read More

Fun Science FRIEDay – Cell Hijack!

Happy Fun Science FRIEDay!!

This week we bring you work from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where they discovered a new method to “hijack” cells. Think about it, if we could make our own cells do our bidding, we could reprogram them to do all sorts of wonderful things for us, such as manufacture insulin, attack tumors, etc. But hijacking a cell is no easy venture. In nature viruses can be quite efficient at hijacking cells, and because of this current methods employed by researchers to hijack cells entails penetrating the cell’s wall with a virus. The biggest issue with this method is that it tends to inflict permanent damage on cell.

Image of a virus attacking a host cell. (Photo credit: dbscience3 @ https://dbscience3.wikispaces.com/Sienna)

Image of a virus attacking a host cell. (Photo credit: dbscience3 @ https://dbscience3.wikispaces.com/Sienna)

Read More

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)

Read More

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)

Read More

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?

Read More

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)

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More