Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Can't do the time...don't do the crime!


Friday, December 26, 2008

In case you missed it...and that you care about checkers

"One of the world's best-known strategists on the game of checkers passed away in November. Richard Fortman was Illinois state champion six times, and in the 1970s and 1980s published a seven-volume handbook on rules and tactics. Many people now considering the game would be astonished to know that, as in chess, there are masters and grandmasters, and international rankings, that experts actually study historical opening moves and endgames, and that some play, move-by-move, via the U.S. Mail. A New York Times obituary noted that Fortman played as many as 100 games simultaneously, and won games blindfolded. Until the end, according to his daughter, Fortman spent "hours each day" playing checkers online. [New York Times, 11-30-08] "

Via: www.newsoftheweird.com

Oops! Survival of the fittest among bacteria...competition kills the weakest one!

Genetically engineered bacterium kills plants instead of helping them!

As far as the intended goals were concerned -- eliminating rotting organic waste and producing ethanol -- the genetically engineered bacterium was a success. But when a doctoral student named Michael Holmes decided to add the post-processed waste to actual living soil, something happened that no one expected. The seeds that were planted in soil mixed with the engineered Klebsiella sprouted, but then every single one of them died.

What killed them? The genetically engineered Klebsiella turned out to be highly competitive with native soil micro-organisms. Plants are only able to take nitrogen and other nourishment from the soil with the help of fungi called mycorrhizae. These fungi live in the soil and help make nutrients available to plant roots. But when the genetically engineered Klebsiella was introduced into living soils, it greatly reduced the population of mycorrhizal fungi in the soil. And without healthy mycorrhizal fungi in soils, no plants can survive.

Via: findarticles.com/

Wood on Mars....give me a break!

Ah come on! Some want to believe in anything but the real....they imagine conspiracies, want us to believe "The Government" is making stories up....but what about them? Why should we believe such non-sense????

Now there is a piece of wood on Mars and the Moon is an alien ship.....ah ah! What a crock!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Please BE CAREFUL!!!

Please, take responsible measures so that it does not happen to you! Please be careful!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Are you cold...DO NOT COMPLAIN!!!

Do not EVER complain about the cold....it is NOT cold!!!!! (it's relatively quite warm)

Here is what it looks like right now (Tuesday, Dec23rd, 2008)

And this weather guy is hysterical....

Via Radio-Canada's website

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Squid

Meet Orbea....my very own virtual squid. She was born on Dec, 21 2008. I worry about her new friendship with a vampire squid though......Do I worry too much as the parent of a new squid??? Maybe! Jealous...make your own.....this one is MINE!!!

Did we escape from a new Ice Age ?

Interesting news from Science Daily

Using three different climate models and removing the amount of greenhouse gases humans have injected into the atmosphere during the past 5,000 to 8,000 years, (Stephen) Vavrus and Kutzbach observed more permanent snow and ice cover in regions of Canada, Siberia, Greenland and the Rocky Mountains, all known to be seed regions for glaciers from previous ice ages. Vavrus notes: "With every feedback we've included, it seems to support the hypothesis (of a forestalled ice age) even more. We keep getting the same answer."

Another article published in 21st Century Science and Technology Magazine (2004) came up with this interesting data:

The geological requirements for an Ice Age are the presence of a large landmass around the Polar Circle and extending southward. A look at the globe, or world map, shows that those conditions exist in the Northern Hemisphere, but not in the Southern. Therefore, the important thing to look at is the climate conditions in northern and far northern regions. Some of the indicators:

• Since 1980, there has been an advance of more than 55% of the 625 mountain glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring group in Zurich. (From 1926 to 1960, some 70-95% of these glaciers were in retreat.)

• A comparison of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 1965 and 1990 Plant Hardiness Zone Maps, shows a southward change of one zone, or 10°F, between 1965 and 1990.

• Careful measurements of the oxygen isotope ratios in German oaks, which are rigorously calibrated to temperature data, show a 1°C temperature decline from 1350 to 1800 (the lowpoint of the Little Ice Age). Temperature thereafter increased by 1°C from 1800 to 1930, and has been declining since then.

• From weather stations in the Alps, and in the Nordic countries, we find the temperature decline since 1930 is also 1°C.

• Satellite measurements have shown growth in the height and breadth of the huge Greenland ice sheet, the largest in the Northern Hemisphere

Global warming a good thing? A bad thing? Global warming or cooling....one thing is sure....climate change as it is now called!

Pure beauty

Dolphin Play Bubble Rings - Watch more funny videos here

Saturday, December 20, 2008

That device is scary

The teaser.....

And the prototype (hover test)

Friday, December 19, 2008

How to import Scarlett Johansson's pathogens

Yes she is famous. Yes she is a gorgeous actress. Yes she is human....SHE IS! What does that mean? That means that like any other human being, she has a bacterial flora. Nope...Scarlett's skin and mucosal secretions are NOT free of pathogens. You need a list of some of pathogenic bacteria that inhabit the upper respiratory tract? Here it is:

Because she admitted that she is recovering from a cold, apparently acquired through interacting with "The Spirit" fellow actor Samuel Jackson, her mucus-filled tissue now auctionned on eBay could contain potential pathogens. Because I am curious, I wanted to know if it was possible at all to buy Johansson's tissue and have it shipped (Free of charge according to the website) here in Canada. I made a few phone calls here and there (mostly to Health Canada) without a real answer...I was constantly referred to the Communications Officer. Then someone sent me a link that offers a few answers - Human Pathogens Import Regulations.

According to this document NO RISK GROUP 2, 3 or 4 pathogens can be imported. Just for your information, a risk group 2 pathogen is:
"A pathogen that can cause human or animal disease but is unlikely to be a serious hazard, and, while capable of causing serious infection on exposure, for which
there are effective treatments and preventive measures available and the risk of spread of infection is limited."
Every Streptococcus and Staphylococcus belongs to this group.

According to the Human Pathogens Import Regulations document:

No person shall import a human pathogen that belongs to Risk Group 2, 3 or 4 unless

It looks like it can be very difficult to import Scarlett's snotty tissue. I feel bad that I am the bearer of such bad news....after all it's almost Christmas and that tissue could have been on a loved one list.....Happy Holidays! :o)

Jay Leno stole my idea....but for a good cause!

Jay leno and Scarlett Johansson PROVED MY POINT...Art value depends on demand. A kleenex filled with ...whatever nasal/pulmonary secretions is worth more if it comes from a celebrity, it's even better if it's a good looking celebrity (like Brad Pitt or Scarlett Johansson).

In my February 20th, 2007 post I argued that Brad Pitt's used kleenex could fetch top dollars on eBay. Looks like I was right....the highest bid for Scarlett Johansson's used tissue is now (at the time I was writing this blog post) valued at US $3272 (FREE SHIPPING) (Link to auction HERE).

Now coming back to the value of art....I hope I will never hear a complaint about the fact that Barnett Newman's "Voice of Fire" was purchased for $1.8 Million. NEVER!!! (Right... C?)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nobel prize of corruption????

Ah.....I really don't like stories like this! Bad PR! Really bad PR!!!!
Find the original story HERE

The integrity of the Nobel prize was called into question last night after it emerged that a member of the jury also sat on the board of a pharmaceuticals giant that benefited from the award of this year’s prize for medicine.

Prosecutors were studying whether AstraZeneca, the London-based multi-national pharmaceutical company, could have exerted undue influence on the award.

The joint winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Medicine, Harald zur Hausen, was recognised for his work on the human papilloma virus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer. AstraZeneca has a stake in two lucrative vaccines against the virus.

IMAGE SOURCE: http://www.libertassociety.org/HPV.JPG

Mind reading?

That is really cool....

1) Look at an image
2) A computer analyses brain activity
3) Computer recreates images from the signals

Hey....that could be used to cheat at Poker.......!!!

See a very good image and explanation at Pharyngula!

Adolf Hitler cake?????

I have seen everything....nothing can shock me anymore.....

The sstory can also be found HERE

Sperm can out race Coca-Cola (Good to know!)

Taken from the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2008;337:a2873 )

Coca-Cola douches were a part of folklore about birth control during the 1950s and 1960s, before effective contraceptive methods were readily available.1 It was rumoured that the acidity of Coca-Cola killed sperm, and the classic coke bottle provided a convenient "shake and shoot" applicator. Recently, an old study from our group confirming the spermicidal effects of various Coca-Cola formulations2 was awarded the 2008 IgNobel prize in chemistry.3 The press releases surrounding our IgNobel award might have repopularised this method, and soft drink douches are apparently still used to prevent pregnancy in resource-poor settings.4 There are, however, many reason why women should not rely on this method.
That's old news. An article published in Human Toxicology already dealt with this myth in 1987 (Hum Toxicol. 1987 Sep;6(5):395-6).
The inhibitory effect of Old Coke, caffeine-free New Coke, New Coke, Diet Coke and Pepsi-Cola on human sperm motility was studied with a trans-membrane migration method. None of them could decrease sperm motility to less than 70% of control within one hour. A previous study which claimed a marked variation of spermicidal potencies among different formulations of Coca-Cola could not be confirmed. Even if cola has a spermicidal effect, its potency is relatively weak as compared with other well-known spermicidal agents.

PIP: Testing of various cola formulas on sperm motility using a trans-membrane procedure did not decrease motility to less than 70% control in a 1-hour period. Diet Coca-Cola had the strongest spermicidal effect followed by Classic Coca-Cola, Caffeine-free Coca-Cola and New Coca-Cola. Since there are no known substances in cola that effect cellular membranes, the results of these tests were not unusual. Other tests have been done using higher dilution of cola which could effect sperm motility and give different results for spermicidal potencies. The results show that cola has little if any spermicidal effect. Its use in postcoital douching is ineffective and could cause complications such as infection.
Via Radio-Canada's website!

UPDATE: Pepsi and Coca-cola used as pesticides......

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No microchip for HIV / AIDS patients

Do not get me wrong...I not against microchip implants for willing guinea pigs. Microchips are cool and the more people experiment with them, the better we will understand Human-Machine interaction and Human 2.0 development. New technologies will eventually improve memory and, maybe, let us connect to networks (think internet) without computers. Disabled people will see, think, get more balance etc....I embrace new technologies in and out of the body...after all I am a fan of Kevin Warwick.

Having said that, it seems like this same technology can have a dark side. I actually should say that it's not the technology but rather the use of that technology that has a dark side...it can be used as a tracking device. Humans are NOT cattle and I am very happy that this HIV / AIDS patient-tracking microchip business will not go ahead in Indonesia's

"Papua's parliament agreed Tuesday to drop a section of the health development bill that supported the tagging of some HIV patients with small computer chips inserted beneath the skin — part of extreme efforts to monitor the disease"
I also wanted to comment on a recent article published in Retrovirology (PDF version HERE). According to an article by Dr. Mark Wainberg, a McGill professor (HIV transmission should be decriminalized: HIV prevention programs depend on it) people might decide not to get tested because, down the road, they do not want to get charged if they ever transmit HIV. Ignorance would then protect you.
"...the consideration of being potentially charged with wilful HIV transmission may be a significant deterrent for being tested for HIV infection in the first place. After all, an individual who does not know that he is HIV positive cannot logically be accused of its transmission"
I agree BUT I really doubt that decriminalizing HIV transmission will have the opposite effect...In other words, it is quite unlikely that we would see an increase in HIV testing if wilful transmission should be decriminalized. Human behaviour is a strange creature and when it comes to sexual behaviour it becomes unpredictable. It's not as straightforward as people might say it is. I argue that decriminalizing could, in fact, cause a surge in wilful transmissions.....I hope we never have to prove that.


I can not believe this....are we in the dark ages???? How can something like this happen????

Seclusion rooms, sometimes called time-out rooms, are used across the nation, generally for special needs children.
Read this CNN story by clicking HERE

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What a joke...

I am from Quebec....I am used to drive in the snow but here...I am scared....of other drivers! Total lack of organization for just a bit of snow! What a joke!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Ironman Kona 2008

Via Mike Neil's Blog site: http://humanpoweredracer.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 01, 2008

Higher Ed Prostitute

My students are well aware that I am a big fan of podcasts. I walk to work almost everyday and as I cross streets and boulevards I am learning something. I teach for a living and I try to learn something new everyday. I really like this podcast: "On The Media"...always interesting stories about how the media affects us, the way we think and the way we work. As I was walking this gloomy morning I listened carefully to this story, The term paper artist. It is about something that affects my field...education. It is about cheating and plagiarism....in it's own way, it is also about prostitution! Intellectual prostitution.

You can find the article here: http://www.thesmartset.com/article/article10100801.aspx

Here is the segment on "The Term Paper Artist"

And here is a link to the On The Media podcast....chances are you will become a fan too.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Facebook from space....in 3D!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Obama's doodle...

I doodle all the time! Maybe I should watch it...someone might analyse my doodles....interesting anyway!

Educating for the future

I came across this YouTube video thanks to this blog. As educators, I think it is important to make a priority of "teaching for judgement" or "teaching for critical thinking". Some of us, educators, do not want to use the so-called "new technologies" for various reasons. Let's remember that our students are avid users of this technology, let's also remember that this generation of instructors is probably the last one to refrain from using that"not-so-new-technology".....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Eye jewelry

Tiny beads, or crystals or whatever are directly attached to contact lenses.... In a way I hate stuff like that, but art and design should make me think. Mission accomplished but this is a nice way to open the door to bacterial infections! Sigh!...It's quite amazing what people will do to look different, yet everybody eventually looks the same!

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...the more that things change, the more they stay the same...

(Neil Peart, Circumstances 1978)

Design from Eric Klarenbeek

Via: http://www.newsoftheweird.com/archive/index.html

It actually reminds me of another crazy thing....related to eye jewelry. The next YouTube video is even more extreme (and stupid if you ask me)....I warn you...graphic images!!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chinese Imports will finally be tested!

"Chinese products that contain milk or milk powder will be detained until the manufacturer or its customer has the product tested and found to be free of contamination, or they show documentation indicating that the product does not contain milk or milk-derived ingredients."

It is about time...don't you think???


A tracking device in your razor?

Wow, that is serious business. I know blades are extremely expensive....way too expensive and for that reason I am happy to let it grow a little and only trim when necessary. But these tracking devices are, if they really work, a threat to privacy. Click HERE to access an interesting but scary site...

MY CAMOSUN contest winner.

A contest, MY CAMOSUN, was launched a few weeks ago. Anyone, faculty or students could submit a one minute video explaining what Camosun College represents to them. Here's the winner. Enjoy....enjoy!!!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Molecular dance

A colleague sent me this link today:http://gonzolabs.org/dance/

Briefly, if you are a Ph.D. student of if you have a Ph.D. you can enter the contest. The goal is to engage the public and express a science concept through dance. Nicely done and interesting idea if you are open-minded!

The title of this dance is: "The role of folate in epigenetic regulation of colon carcinogenesis"

Friday, November 07, 2008

Revenge of the test tubes???

When I was involved in research I never kept anything in plastic containers because I thought something could leach out and affect my results. I wish I did this research 15 years ago....arrgh!

The compounds [leaching out of plasticware] can have "potent effects" on enzymes and proteins, inhibiting the activity and binding properties of molecules
This potentially means that many scientific conclusions are in fact not true at all...THIS IS HUGE! What about forensic evidence????

To read the whole story, click HERE

Thursday, November 06, 2008

In case you missed it! CNN holographic interview!

Geography - New world order?

The picture can be found here:

When are we going to understand????

I am happy about the outcome of the American elections....I like Obama, probably because of is extreme charisma, we will see how he does.

There is one thing I am quite disappointed about: California voters decided to overturn same sex marriage....so now what happens to people that are already married? Why do people care so much about gay marriage? It seems to me homosexuality has been part of every civilization, there are heterosexuals and homosexuals.....why different rights???? WHY??? I have many gay friends...some of them are my best friends and it crushes me everytime I think of their struggles!

This is 2008! Move on!

A green idea for you lawns...

Annie Booth, a professor at UNBC studied the impact of goats on weed growth and, probably, invasion in an urban setting. The conclusion? Goats rule!!!! Goats seem to think weeds are very good...they eat everything, from dendelions to thisle (ouch)! To me that's good news!

I got that story from CBC.ca and read a few of the comments and, again, I am disappointed at some of us trying to discredit any new ideas.... look at this (narrow minded) comment:

Although it sounds like a great idea, this obviously hasn't been researched properly. Considering this person is a "professor" at a university she didn't account for a number of factors.
1.What do you do with the goats in the winter?
2.How do you control the goats along roadsides?
3.What do you do with the goat "poo"? (If dog droppings are a problem, what would a herd of goats leave behind?)
4.If goats are not herded properly they will destroy all the vegetation in an area.
5. There are existing grazing programs in Canada.
For a more informed idea about this check out the city of Fort Saskatchewan (in Redneck Alberta) which has a sheep grazing program for city properties.

Come on people......!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

That's harsh.....

During today's big American poll, a group called The Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is asking voters for their opinion on this very important topic: Changing a name... the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Facility could become the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. I can't wait to see the results.....

Picture source: http://presidentialmemorial.wordpress.com

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

If the world coud vote

Click HERE and help this site reach A MILLION VOTES. Maybe you want to vote as well....or just see the results?

A link for you Sarah....

A reaction to Sarah Palin's ignorance of fruit fly science......Read on Sarah! Don't you have people working for you? Listen to them, you'll look better in front of a microphone, and I am not talking about your physical look if you wonder....

As many scientists have pointed out since Palin heartlessly mocked the insect, fruit fly research has been key in understanding autism, a subject about which Palin perpetually broadcasts her interest, as she has an autistic nephew.
Source: Salon

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/neowy/112928378/

Sports and bugs...the story of an infection!

Sports...hockey, football, baseball....big guys, tough guys. And who is the toughest guy of all? Not who you might think! Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) IS the tough one!

Recently, many pro athletes have been plagued by MRSA, short for methycillin resistant S. aureus. This type of bacteria is resistant to many, too many, antibiotics and can lead to desastrous infections and permanent conditions....death being one of them!

MRSA spreads quickly among athletes, especially those involved in contact sports, because many of us are colonized by this bacteria. YES WE ARE! We are covered by bacteria, in fact for each human cell there are 10 times as much bacteria...and not just S. aureus. The problem starts when S. aureus invades the skin, mostly where abrasion occurs. After sticking to damaged tissue, the bacteria starts to grow and invade the tissue a bit deeper causing boils. These boils eventually drain and pus comes out...it can be just a bit of pus...or it could be a lot! Pus contains bacteria and can then be transmitted to the next person through contact. If the bacteria is an MRSA then you can be in big trouble....

Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts was revealed to have a staph infection, the Indianapolis Star reported Friday. University of North Carolina-Asheville fans also recently learned that Kenny George, the 7-foot-7 center on the basketball team, had a staph infection complication that led to part of his foot being amputated.

Picture from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ihp/216070044/in/photostream/

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fruit fly research is useless!

Why spend so much money on fruit fly research? Ah ah....I can almost hear the ignorant public in the background...."Yeah...lets ban fruit fly research!".....Poor Sarah...you really need to learn a bit more about everything......but what a hoot for the rest of us! It seems to me she is showing more and more of her ignorance. Good thing there are only a few days left before she falls in oblivion! So stupid....it's almost cute!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rest in peace dear Jillian

I had you for only a semester....you were a bright student! I told some of your fellow students and they were shocked! So young......

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Beautiful microscopic world

Click on the Image to follow link!

Monday, October 20, 2008

IronMan - Human 2.0

Mind over body, mind over matter....against adversity these guys triumph! You are my heroes!!!! Click HERE to see more!

Friday, October 17, 2008

If you find one of these, buy a lottery ticket!

This is a very rare Blue lobster....1 chance in 2 million you'll ever find one!

Fortune tellers and politics

Saera Kahn is a Norwegian politician for the Labour Party of Norway. Recently she was forced to resign over a bunch of phones calls (793 to be precise) she made to fortune-tellers. The total amount comes to approximately $7500,00 CDN. Should we be surprized by this? I am not. After all Nancy Reagan hired Joan Quigley, an astrologer to advise the president on such important things as Air Force One flight schedules. Here is what I found on THIS SITE:

  • She devised elaborate horoscope charts that showed dates and times - down to the last minute - that were both good and bad for the president. Nancy would provide Quigley with the president's itinerary, she would calculate the times most advantageous for success, and then Nancy would pass along the scheduling requirements to the White House staff.
  • She contributed to the timing of international summits, presidential announcements and even the flight schedule of Air Force One.
  • Shortly after Reagan was shot by John Wayne Hinckley, Nancy learned through Merv Griffin that Quigley had told him that Reagan's chart showed that this would be a bad day for him. She could have warned him that his life was in danger. Of course, this was after the fact of the shooting.
  • Nancy Reagan had special private phone lines installed in the White House and at Camp David expressly for talking to Quigley.
  • "I was the Teflon in what came to be known as the Teflon presidency," Quigley later wrote, taking credit for the timing of his actions that would deflect criticism.
Normally, when people hear about psychics, astrologers and fortune-tellers, they laugh and make sure you know they do not believe it....but what they do is a different thing.

I guess my point is that we trust politicians, scientists and MD's with our economy, our future and our lives and then some of them ask for advice to a bunch of charlatans.....who should we trust?

Picture source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/designwallah/2414830087/

Canucks will win the Stanley cup!

Ah ah....please excuse me while I laugh! The Canucks need more sleep? Yes, of course, that was the problem...how was I so stupid that I did not think of that? Luongo, with a new child is necessarily sleep deprived and that little watch-like device from Sleep Performance will, for sure, help the team...big time!

Why not a taser too instead of old school clean body checks? Maurice Richard, Jacques Plante, Boom-Boom Geoffrion and all the other hockey heroes must be laughing...interrupting their eternal sleep! What a joke!!!!

Here is a little bonus for you....a very informative video on sleep deprivation. All the Canucks players should be aware of that important information!

VIA Vancouver Sun

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bad memory or observation?

This video is quite interesting. At first I thought that people "forgot" simply because they did not pay attention in the first place. But the last bit is quite incredible! Watch for yourself and let me know what you think!

And again and again and again it goes!

How many times was the "END OF THE WORLD" predicted? No aliens came on Oct 14, and on Dec 22nd I will be late in my X-Mas shopping as usual!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I am not a fan anyway but...

Ringo Starr is such a big star he does not have time to sign anything anymore. Poor Ringo, my heart bleeds for you, you are probably saving lives somewhere or obviously you are making a difference in your community with your precious, precious time. Peace and love....what a great message indeed!

Carbon footprint calculator

If you are interested to know how much you are hurting the planet...click HERE

The Aliens are not here.....

The Mothership, Blossom Goodchild predicted, did not hover over Alabama. We are October 15th, and nobody saw anything. No aliens will come, we are alone!

I am amazed by predictions like this. It is hard to believe that someone, of at least average intelligence, can put himself/herself under so much public scrutiny. How do you get ANY credibility by making stuff up? Blossom Goodchild is not the only one guilty. Many people believe that the answer to human problems, misery and greed will come from outside. We like to rely on "saviours", it was like that 2000 years ago and it is still like that today!

We want our leaders to be almost perfect as if we were perfect ourselves. How come nobody seems to understand that we cannot change the world if we refuse to change ourselves first? Why do we rely only on external help? How come we cannot fix minor things within ourselves and make a difference for others. The problem is lazyness, the problem is greed, the problem is narcissism, the problem is that most people I know do not take responsibility for their own mistakes.

WHY???? Because we wait for others to do the job!

Dear Blossom, help will not come from another galaxy, help will come when people realize THEY can make a difference in their own (and sometimes stupid) life!

I know such a change will not happen during my lifetime.This, I can predict but nobody will believe me because the solution I suggest is way too simple!

Cartoon by Gary Brookins

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Students of the nation: "Go out and VOTE!!!!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

No UFO? Do not bet on it!

Thanks to this article I will not watch CNN all night to see if any UFO will hover over our blue planet tomorrow (October 14th).....no UFO! And I wanted to see one so, so bad!!!!! But wait...that black out last night...is still unexplained....It has to be THEM!

I know some people are really hoping THEY do not come because they will have to pay....big time!

Bookies William Hill have taken a £1,000 bet from Lawrence Trout, of Wiltshire, which will win him £1million if Ms Goodchild is correct.

And they have also taken bets from Ms Goodchild's UK relatives. Her Surrey based niece Rebecca Simpson bet £100 and her step daughter Kelly Mosedale wagered £50.

Via: http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_3046840.html

I took the image from: http://www.ufodigest.com/news/1008/images/no-ufo.jpg

Mr. Dolphin or Ms. Dolphin????

Ever tried to sex a dolphin? Me neither! But it seems like it is a difficult task for obvious reasons. A team of researchers decided to compare visible features (!) sizes, and scars! For those of you who get the wrong idea (admit it) I am talking about fins.

Via Nature News

"Rowe and Dawson found that male fins had significantly more scars than female fins, probably as a result of fighting. Male fins had a median of 15% scar tissue, whereas in females this was just 3.9%. Conversely, female fins tended to have a greater number of patchy skin lesions than male fins, with a median of 12.1% coverage compared with males' 6.8%.

The two then used a statistical analysis of scarring, number of fin nicks and fin size to correctly predict the sex of 93% of the 43 dolphins in the group. This laser-sighted technique could potentially be applied to other, less-studied populations of dolphin or even to other species, the scientists say."

It was a turkey "brown-out"

Yesterday 200,000 people on the Vancouver Island got their turkey roasting cut short. At 5:44 PM the power went out! We were lucky, our turkey was cooked! A (funny) logical explanation for this was: "Too many people were roasting their turkey at the same time"....from my Father in law! We had a good chuckle!!!!

Almost there....ahhhhh!

My personal best at a half-marathon was 1h 34 minutes 10 seconds...that was in Comox last March. After my bad results at the Lands End half marathon a few weeks ago I thought I was getting out of shape but I had no reason for that. At the Royal Victoria Half Marathon 2008 I realized, once more, that long distance running is all about pace....I missed my PB by a few seconds....15 seconds total! That's 0.71 seconds for every km....AHHHHHHH! Oh well....I was 26th in my age category which makes me quite happy!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Is this girl for real? You decide...

via:Cognitive daily

Hockey Night in Canada Challenge - My choice

Here is what I would like to hear at the beginning of every hockey game!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Gallo, not the first one! Nobel snubs!

Top 10 Nobel Snubs from SciAM. Interesting. I just wanted to say that Rosalynd Franklin did not receive the Nobel because she died before, it should not be counted as a snub!

The other ones

Want to know what the IgNobel prize is? CLICK HERE! Want to know who won this year CLICK HERE....chuckles garanteed!

To be fair...

I just wanted to come back on my last posting to be fait to Dr. Robert Gallo, a great scientist nevertheless. I found THIS ARTICLE that makes a good primer to Gallo's career.

"For the record, here is what Gallo did achieve: He first described retroviruses, which is the class of viruses to which HIV belongs, and he linked a retrovirus to a rare leukemia--this alone is deserving of the Nobel. (In an interview that I read, he considers this his most significant scientific achievement). Then, his lab discovered a "T cell growth factor" that turned out to be pivotal in sustaining the growth of T cells in culture, cells that are the target of HIV."

Gallo must be fuming, oh well...too bad!

Viruses are cool. Not because some of them kill people but because they are relatively so simple, yet so efficient! Viruses can make you famous, if you are working hard on the right project, at the right time, in the right place you can score big. The Nobel prize of physiology/medicine was awarded to virus researchers: Harald zur Hausen for his work on the papilloma virus and to Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier for their discovery of HIV. The reason why Gallo must be angry is that the science that helped link HIV to AIDS was developped by Gallo's team.

If you followed the story you might be aware that Gallo surrounded himself with a shroud of controversy, he was originally accused of science misconduct regarding samples from which HIV was identified, this was overturned after an appeal....but doubts are very resilient, I guess that's what happened to this scientist.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Human nature explained by science: A slippery slope?

I am a person of great skepticism and I almost never believe anything unless I experiment it by myself but I am convinved that human behaviour can be explained in plain scientific terms. Genes regulate many aspects of our personnality but the extent to which the gene effect will be measured involves social interactions and other things that cannot be explained in biochemical/genetic terms.

Yet, bot aspects of who we are are connected through genes, mind, conscience, perception, stress etc.... (May I propose a very good podcast about the effect of a crowd on human behaviour? CLICK HERE to access it) and the scientific community seems to be reluctant to create relationships between Science and Human Nature. According to an article from the Skeptical Inquirer there are two reasons that explain the distance observed between "hard science" and "social sciences":

"There are two overly concise reasons for the segregation of social science from biology.

The first has to do with a broad allergy to “reductionism”—in effect, trying to explain a social phenomenon by a physical or genetic cause."

The second and perhaps more significant reason for the segregation of the two sciences has to do with the appropriation of some biological and many nonbiological materials by various fascist groups, especially the Nazis. Consequently, there was plausible and understandable suspicion of attributing to genes any major social or cultural phenomena."
In an interesting intellectual twist, the author (Lionel Tiger) refers to a set of behavioral "vitamins" that explain our needs, when these "vitamins" are missing, problems seems to emerge. Curious about the nature of these "vitamins"? Read HERE

Conspiracy theories and stress in the population

As you are all aware, we are now facing times that are extremely stressful for many people here in Canada and in the US as well. Both countries are facing elections, both countries are involved in armed conflicts and losing soldiers, both countries are impacted by the financial crisis and the stock exchange meltdowns of the last few days....and we are allies and neighbours.I was reading my Vancouver Sun today and came across an interesting article about conspiracy theories and the reason why they become popular in times of stress (see my recent post on a supposed alien Mothership, predicted for Oct 14th, 2008).

It seems that when people's confidence is shaken, the same people will try to understand and many will start to see patterns when, in fact, there are none. This was replicated in the lab with the same conclusion:

"A quest for structure or understanding leads people to trick themselves into seeing and believing connections that simply don't exist"
Speaking of conspiracy theories I have to admit that I am a big fan of Adam Curry's Daily Source Code and it's podcast. I am a proud "Chucklehead" (Adam Curry's fan) and religiously listen to every single episode while walking on my way to work to Camosun college. I like Adam Curry (see picture above), he is a bright guy and quite funny but lately I think he gets a bit delusionnal, he seems afraid of everything and sees an amazing conspiracy against the freedom of everyone. I am not saying he is totally wrong and I think he is probably right on many issues....but he talks like a person that's really afraid.

Illustration source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lloyd-davis/308659540/

Thursday, October 02, 2008

How old is HIV ?

This is from Nature news. I knew that an AIDS-like disease has been described way before the term AIDS was GRID. For sure the HIV has been around for a while.

Using a database of HIV-1 sequences and an estimate of the rate at which these sequences change over time, the researchers modelled when HIV-1 first surfaced. Their results showed that the most likely date for HIV's emergence was about 1908, when Léopoldville was emerging as a centre for trade.

Curious about the Large Hadron Collider?

Via: http://drop.io/dailysourcecode

So what is going to happen on October 14th, 2008???

I recently heard about October 14th, 2008....A mothership should come and we should be in contact with "beigns" from another dimension. Many websites are actually devoted to this event, whatever that event will/would/could/should be. This event is predicted by Blossom Goodchild, an Australian psychic.

We wish it to be understood that on the 14th day of your month of October in the year 2008 a craft of great size shall be visible within your skies. It shall be in the south of your hemisphere and it shall scan over many of your states.

We give to you the name of Alabama.

It has been decided that we shall remain within your atmosphere for the minimum of three of your twenty four hour periods.

During this time there will be much commotion upon your earth plane. Your highest authorities will be intruding into ‘our’ atmospherics that surround our ship. This ‘security field’ is necessary for us, as there shall take place a ‘farce’ from those in your world who shall try to deny that we come in LOVE.

Do you want them to come?....you can vote! Your votes will be tallied through telepathy!

Click HERE for more info! Keep posted!

Once again,lets apply the general rules of critical thinking...shall we???

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Death by hot sauce

I was looking at one of my favorite blogs....the Bayblab blog and found an interesting post on pain perception. It appears that eating too much hot chili sauce can be lethal. It is not known how hot sauce can kill you but if you ever go a a shop where they sell hot sauce you will find these silly bottles covered with skulls, fire and whatever reminds us that in comes in as hot and goes out with the same burning sensation.....

Read this article

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

To study bacteria without growing bacteria

It is a well known fact: Bacteria are very diverse and adapted to a very specific niche. If that niche disappears some bacteria will adapt and a new niche will be found and exploited. There are only so many bacteria that can be studied in the lab and often these studies can be flawed because one cannot replicate the conditions under which the bacteria normally strive....and then comes metagenomics.

Metagenomics is the study of gene expression and genome organization in a specific environmental condition. This is quite useful when studying microorganisms that live in extreme conditions impossible to fully replicate in a lab setting. I found this article at the Science Daily site. It is about an article published in Nature by Philip Hugenholtz and MIT researcher Gene Tyson.

“By employing the techniques of metagenomics we can go beyond the identification of specific players to creating an inventory of the genes in that environment.”

“We find that genes occurring more frequently in a particular community seem to confer attributes beneficial for maintenance of the function of that particular ecological niche.”
I really think bacteria hold the secret of our long term survival on this planet, studying these wonderful cells will allow us to identify specific solutions to very complex problems....if we can only survive long enough as a species.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dressing up for disease....

I have been saying that for a long time to my students including nursing and medical students. This article was publised on the New York Times website

"In 2004, a study from the New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens compared the ties of 40 doctors and medical students with those of 10 security guards. It found that about half the ties worn by medical personnel were a reservoir for germs, compared with just 1 in 10 of the ties taken from the security guards. The doctors’ ties harbored several pathogens, including those that can lead to staph infections or pneumonia.

Another study at a Connecticut hospital sought to gauge the role that clothing plays in the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. The study found that if a worker entered a room where the patient had MRSA, the bacteria would end up on the worker’s clothes about 70 percent of the time, even if the person never actually touched the patient."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

And I am working so hard!

On October 12th I will be running the half-Marathon in Victoria (Royal Victoria Marathon. I would like to reach a new milestone...a new personal best but I am afraid it will be impossible and it seems my VO2 Max is to blame for this. What is VO2 Max? In a nutshell it is the amount of oxygen my body can use and it is measured in ml/kg/min. Right now, my VO2 max is estimated at 56-58. Not bad at all but not enough....far from enough! I would like to achieve 1h 30 minutes...but my VO2 Max would need to be at least 62....I am almost there!

Last year, during the Island Race Series, I raced every other week. I had a lot of practice, a lot of speed work and also I was 8-10 pounds lighter (I am now 172 pounds). During one of those races, the Comox Half Marathon, I ran 21.1 km in a time of 1h 34 minutes 10 seconds. I tried to do this two weeks ago at the Lands End Half Marathon only to find out that I am not running fast enough, not because I am not trying but because my body cannot. I need more training, more speed work in order to increase that important VO2 Max value!

By the way, a new record was set today for the marathon distance....42.2 km in 2h 03minutes 59 seconds....that's 2minutes 56 seconds per kilometer....for 42.2 km. Haile Gebrselassie is a running machine, a biological machine with a VO2 max of about 82.....but he is way lighter than me (that's my excuse) ;-)

Friday, September 26, 2008

I will not complain again!

Everybody has to read THAT STORY

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Genetic diversity can have an ugly side (I guess)

Sweaty T-Shirts and Immunity

A corny question to ask a prospective mate might be: So...what is your zodiac sign? A better question could be: So, what's in your HLA? A few studies suggest that people tend to choose their mates based on MHC dissimilarity. A paper by Chaix et al. published in PLOS Genetics demonstrates that European American couples are really dissimilar when MHC loci are compared....way more different than what is expected by pure randomness. Although this selection could be a semi-counscious choice as stated by the following:

"In a less direct way, other studies have focused on odor preferences: in “sweaty T-shirts experiments”, in which females were asked to smell T-shirts worn by different males, it was shown that females significantly prefer the odor of T-shirts worn by MHC-dissimilar males, although such preference was not found among females taking the contraceptive pill. However, in another sweaty T-shirts experiment, in which males where chosen from a different ethnicity from the females and females were not aware of the nature of the smell (contrary to the two previous studies), females significantly preferred the odor of males having a small number of HLA alleles matching their paternal inherited alleles than the odor of males having fewer matches."
The authors also mention that this selection could be totally up to the egg to "choose" the right sperm cell....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A little advice can go a long way!

Here is something I found on LifeHack.org. They post a list of important things that can help students get ahead after college. A very important one is the 4th one....Craft your own personna.
Here's what they write:

"In today’s world, one of the worst ways students damage their future careers is by sharing too much of the wrong kind of information online. Assume that everything you post online is going to be available to prospective employers, clients, or investors, all of whom increasingly turn to the Internet to research potential employees or partners. Keep the drunken stories either anonymous/pseudonymous, or marked as “private”, and be sure to build out public-ready profiles, under your own name if at all possible."
So always be very careful about what you decide to post on Facebook and other social websites.

Picture from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/87704480@N00/192719734/

May the best of ideas win

Google if offering up to 10M$ for an idea or ideas that will have an impact on the world....can you think of something? Click HERE to be redirected to their site!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A true inspiration

I do not consider myself as a religious person at all but Sister Madonna Buder inspire me, what a character and a warrior!

Science tattoos

I know a few students that have, somewhere on their body and I do not care, a tattoo of a molecule. For instance a known carcinogen or the famous double helix....anyway...if you are thinking of getting one or if you already have a science tattoo, THIS SITE might be of interest to you.

Picture source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/_tim/149500684/

Monday, September 22, 2008

What's in your feces?

There is a very interesting theory in immunology: the hygiene hypothesis. Basically, if you are too clean and not exposed to enough dirt, scum and bacteria...you will suffer eventually. Our immune system has evolved to detect, recognize and eliminate millions of different molecular structures found among other things, on viruses and bacteria. Early exposure seems to be a key to a healthy immune system and a allergy-free life. This is, once more, confirmed by a new study published today (Sept 22nd, 2008) Clinical and Molecular Allergy. Fecal samples collected from 21 infants showed that a poorly diverse gut microbiota is associated with eczema development early in life.

"We found a significant inverse association between fecal bacterial diversity and eczema in early life. In addition, we found a significant increment in fecal bacterial diversity from ages 1 to 4 months in healthy children, but not in children who developed eczema by age 6 months."

To understand these findings, it is important to realize that our immune system is often "educated" through the gut, in fact more than 70% of the immune system is gut-associated. Experimental mice models show that a sterile gut leads to an abnormal immune system geared towards the development of allergies. In their article, the authors mention a reduced microbial diversity has also been implicated in various diseases including Crohn's disease and coeliac disease.

Click HERE to find a .pdf version of this very interesting article

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How we learn

I am fascinated by this simple fact...our brain changes daily and when we go to bed at night the connections are not quite the same as they were when the alarm clock buzzed too early in the morning. Just imagine learning again EVERYTHING we know, having to use a fork again, riding a bike etc...Of course there are conditions that will steal away from your knowledge and abilities but children, of course, have to learn everything. Just using this little game where you have to place a cube in the square opening of a container seems to be quite a challenge...and it is!

I found this on one of my favorite blogs, Cognitive Daily. I think if you are into cognition, learning and behaviour...you will like this posting!

Here is the link:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Une similitude?

If you are from Québec, chances are that the picture on the left is embedded in your brain! Yes, it is the little house in Chicoutimi that stood up to torrential rains and a crazy river....When I compare this picture with the one on the right, a house that survived hurricane Ike, I can only imagine what the people of the Saguenay went through in July of 1996!

Want to know more about the Saguenay floods? Click here (From Radio-Canada Archives)

First PICTURE of an exoplanet...pure beauty!