Thursday, 31 May 2012

Project finished

I declare this 5 month project finished!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Cannibal eats homeless man's face in Miami

Cyclists and passersby rode past oblivious to the horror of Rudy Eugene.

Eugene pounced on a homeless man and for over 18 minutes gnawed at his face, taking his eyes, lips and nose.

The victim has been identified as Ronald Poppo, a man who has lived on Miami's streets for the last three decades.

Poppo is in critical condition and the attack is thought to not be targeted, he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

After several 911 calls by bystanders, police arrived and ordered Eugene to back down.

He reportedly turned around and growled before returning to the attack.

Police shortly after gunned him down.

Before                                                                                                                                After

Reportedly over 75% of the Poppo's face is missing after being cannibalized.

Sgt. Armando said: "He had his face eaten down to his goatee. The forehead was just bone. No nose, no mouth".

'Bath Salts'

Containing mephedrone and and other amphetamine-like chemicals, they are known to induce a psychotic insanity.

Eugene suffered from cocaine psychosis, which builds up an intense heat internally leading to the need to strip off clothes in order to cool down.

The attack has been likened to that of a zombie attack with some relating it to scenes from 'The Walking Dead', a hit show on AMC.

A detailed toxicology report will take several weeks.

Piecing evidence

Police found that the night before Eugene partied wildly and may have taken drugs then.

Eugene's girlfriend said that he acted strangely the night before the attack.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Chemical extracted from seaweed may combat arthritis

The Hawaiian coral reefs are under invasion from these so called 'nuisance' seaweed.

Arthritis is the inflammation of one of more joints, usually in the hands.

After analysis, scientists found that the seaweed is a cyanobacterium.

Through the evolution progress of millions of years, these species have undergone a rigorous adaptation which has allowed them to evolve complex and numerous strategies for competition with similar species.

The species undergoes rapid growth under what is usually stressful condition.

The cyanobacteria organism has accelerated growth when exposed to UV, high solar radiation and high temperature.

Biologists took samples of the seaweed after observing it was dominating the ocean floor and bleaching the coral reef.

When they analysed it, it contained hanaucins, a natural potent anti-inflammatory.

Researchers say: "They could be used in the future to treat other chronic diseases from arthritis to cancer to heart trouble."

Friday, 25 May 2012

Exams are over!

Finally, after a lot of hard work, the dreadful exams are now finished, so week commencing on Monday, I'll be writing for you guys!

However from June 1st - 16th I will be in Africa so for half of June I'll be away and you'll have to wait that bit longer :)

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Exam time!

It is now exam season so there will not be many articles being posted.

I will try to get some out though when I have time, thanks and I'll see you all in a couple weeks!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Blonde hair evolved independently in Pacific islands

A new genetic line for blonde hair has been discovered among the Solomon islands and Fiji.

The locals have a striking unique characteristics- their hair.

People often thought that the gene was introduced by trading, locals thought it was due to the sun beating on their hair.

But in fact, it is a mutation independently.

Blonde hair is not believed to be due to a single incident, as it has been discovered that blonde hair evolved separately at at least two independent times.

One thing which startled researchers was that the blonde hair had only one shade.

You either had blonde hair, or you didn't. There was no streaks or variations.


Scientists tested 2 groups, one with blonde hair, the other with dark.

They found that they had different versions of a gene called TYRP1, involved in the color of hair.

One letter of the code coded for the color, switching C to T resulted in changing the color to blonde.

The gene is recessive, so both parents must have this gene.

This explains why this shade is distinct to the people from the islands as the population is low.

Some mutations will die out, some will stay, for example blonde hair.

This shows us that mutations happen anywhere, independent and can sometimes be isolated.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Scientists find oldest human blood

A bit about Otzi

Otzi the iceman lived roughly 5,300 years ago.

The mummy was found back in 1991 and is Europes oldest mummy.

Last Thursday scientists discovered what they believe to be the oldest traces of human blood ever seen.

Otzi was examined and found in a glacier and was discovered to have been felled by an arrow wound.

Professor Albert Zink said "So far, this is the clearest evidence of the oldest blood cells."

Over the last 2 decades scientists have probed Otzi's body for clues to his enviroment.

Scientists have examined his stomach, teeth and bowels.
A reconstruction of what he may have
looked like

Otzi has type-O blood and was roughly 45 when he died.

Doughnut cells

While examining Otzi, Zink said he found 'doughnut shaped' cells, much similar to today's red blood cells.

To confirm his results, Zink and his team used another method called the Raman spectroscopy method.

A laser beam illuminates a tissue sample and analysis of the spectrum of the dispersed light allows molecules to be identified.

The second experiment confirms Otzi's blood as the oldest documented human blood discovered.

Zink hopes his team can probe Otzi further for analysis on his enzymes, proteins and immune system also.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Dinosaurs passing wind may have induced climate change

Cows are known for their contribution to global warming- namely the large quantity of methane (90 million tonnes annually). But how about dinosaurs?

Sauropods were around about 150-160 million years ago.

Recognizable by their long necks and huge bodies, they were herbivores.

Some of them, particularly the Diplodocus (weighing up to 45 tonnes) , are the largest mammals to walk the earth.

Using a mathematical model structured from cows, they estimate that dinosaurs produced over 500 million tons of gas every year.

The key is in the vast number of microorganisms in the gut of the dinosaur.

These microorganisms ferment the plant in the dinosaur producing the potent methane gas.

Professor Graeme Ruxton, St Andrews University said the herbivores spent over 150 years exuding these gases.
Methane is a greenhouse gas, it absorbs radiation from the sun and traps it.

Compared to carbon dioxide, methane absorbs 20x more radiation.

The dinosaurs looks down at the industrial age, where roughly man produced about 180 million tonnes of gas annually.

The study suggests these gases were essential in maintaining the warm climate the dinosaurs lived in.

The calculations actually imply that the dinosaur population emitted more methane than we do currently in modern times on the whole.

The study was published in the journal Current Biology.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

10 Things you didn't know 5 minutes ago! (Part 9)

10. We are running out of helium

You may be thinking 'what on earth do we need helium for?'..

Helium is used in most technologies, from cooling down super magnets to producing LCD screens to keeping kids happy at fairs.

9. The universe is beige

Back in 2001, astronomers confirmed the universe as a kind of white brown.

Astronomers posted an article on it and asked for suggestions as what to call it, many people submitted ideas and 'Cosmic Latte' was chosen.

8. Nearly all commercial banana trees are clones

A perfect example of selective breeding, we all want the longest, curviest, tastiest bananas of them all (no pun intended).

But if a deadly virus emerges, it's sure to wipe out our favorite fruit.

7. You might be able to tell how aggressive someone is by the length of their finger

Finger length is linked to testosterone exposure in the womb.

The shorter the index finger is compared to the ring finger, the more rowdy the person may be.

6. Giant squids are cannibals during sex

Giant squids are known for their (obviously) giant size.

They can grow up to 25m in length, have eyes the size of your head and boasts a 1.5m penis.

But however they have a brain weighing 15g..

Giant squids have been found to have tentacles from their own species in the gut, suggesting cannibilsm.

This is because males must command their endowment with a tiny brain, and while plunging it into the females arms, they often miss and hit the beak. (ouch)

5. We blink 25 times a minute

Now I've said that, you're going to concentrate on how much you're blinking and it's going to annoy you.

4.  Spider silk varieties

There is not just one type of spider silk, there are thousands. Each species of spider has about 7 different varieties, each made by their own secret recipe of proteins.

Darwin's own

3. Spider silk strength

The strength of spider silk is comparable to high quality steel at the same thickness.

However the silk can suffer a lot more strain, able to stretch nearly 50% more than the original length. 

The strongest spider silk is 10x more durable than kevlar, and is produced by the Darwin's Bark spider.

2. Decaying meat smells worse than decaying vegetables

This is because back in prehistoric times we didn't know what was good, what was bad.

What smells disgusting to us is heaven to flies.

This is because decaying meat is more dangerous than vegetables and so our bodies have adapted to stay away

The way it does that is do make the smell absolutely reek.

1. It takes 2 and a half months for sperm to mature

Sentinels from the matrix!
Each sperm cell takes 2 and a half months to be ready for the big journey! (the long 175 millimetres).

Where do they stay you ask? There's a sperm nursery at the top of the testis called the epididymis where they are stored until they grow up.

Please share your comments below!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

There will be a post tomorrow!

Laptop is just being finished off now, should be up and running tomorrow, see you then!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Fear of not having enough to eat may lead to obesity

Obesity is becoming a growing concern over recent years, as youth obesity skyrockets, general population obesity is climbing also.

While too much food causes obesity, lack of it seems like it'll head that way too.

Low income families who struggle to put food on the table (often called food insecurity) often correlate with obesity.

Previous studies indicate the problem starts during infancy.

Researchers Dr Gross and her team assembled 201 mothers with toddlers from poorer background to undergo the study.

They asked them how often they regulate food, napping and various other activities.

Results showed that they fed their infants at irregular times.

When infants were hungry, they would receive no food.

When infants ate and became full, parents pressured them to eat even more resulting in obesity.

This is also seen by mothers who control their child's eating times, instead of the child being able to have food when they want.

"This work suggests that in addition to addressing hunger and malnutrition, it is critical that policy efforts be made to work with food-insecure families to prevent the opposite problem; obesity" Dr. Gross said.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Monday, 30 April 2012

No post today

My laptop has broken, and I only have just enough time just to post this. Sorry!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Africa Malaria Parasite now immune to the best anti-malarials

Malaria is a big killer, the deadliest being falciparum malaria.

Malaria is a protozoan parasite, and invades red blood cells.

Not only does it digest haemoglobin, but also makes the cells stick to the walls of capillaries, and is especially serious if it affects the brain, obstructing blood flow

And now scientists have discovered a strain which is immune to the best anti-malarials.

The majority and best type of anti malarials are called artemisinin.

Most anti-malarials use several drugs combined to form a more powerful defence.

However scientists have observed mutations in the parasite that gives it a resistive gene against artemether; one of the best drugs for malaria.

A study carried out by a team from St Georges, London found that 11 out of 28 infected patients could not be cured by antemether.

They delved a bit deeper and found that all the parasites shared the common resistive gene.

The strain was found near Thailand and will spread quickly.

India records 1.5m Malaria cases each year, 50%.

Scientists estimate it will reach Colombia in about 6 years.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

10 Things you didn't know 5 minutes ago! (Part 8)

10. Animals can naturally explode

In 2004, gas buildup inside a sperm whale (17m long) caused it to explode in Taiwan.

Obviously, this resulted in blood and guts flying everywhere.

9. The Great Wall of China cannot actually be seen from space

Many people have succumbed to the myth that the Great Wall is visible from outer space. NASA tested this and found that after lower earth orbit the wall blends into its surroundings.

8. Humans use way more than 10% of their brains

This is a huge myth, as it's the focus point for several movies such as Inception.

The fact is that humans use most of their brains, but use different parts for different activities.

For example, if you compare it to a factory, packaging and processing is used to package and process, not for product research.

7. Cutting a worm in half does not result in 2 worms

A common misconception is that worms have 2 brains, but in fact, it's just the two hemispheres broken up into 2 sides of the worm, it's just like our brain, but our 2 halves are side by side, whereas worm's have them in different areas of the body.

Cutting a worm in half does result in 2 moving bodies, but one is actually alive (and also in a great deal of pain) and the other is just twitching from nerves.

6. Ants use slave labour

Biologilists have named this rare species of ant the 'Slavemakers' as they often imprison rival species and force them into petty labour work and stealing their eggs.

5. What causes thunder?

Lightning is the stream of electrons flowing either from cloud to cloud, or cloud to ground.

  1. The air around the lightning is heated to 28,000 degrees celsius (or 50,000 fahrenheit).
  2. As the air around it cools, it produces a partial vacuum around the path of the lightning. 
  3. The nearby air then expands and vibrates producing that sharp crack you're all familiar with.
4. Daddy Long Legs are not extremely venomous

This one's a famous myth and follows that apparently daddy long legs are poisonous but haven't got fangs strong enough to break human flesh.

In fact, there are 3 types of daddy long legs.

The first is called Opilones. These have no venomous glands and so do not pose a threat.

The second is called Cellar Spiders. These do have poisonous glands. Adam Savage from Mythbusters tested this and exposed himself to a Cellar spider bite. He reported to just feeling a burning sensation around the bite which quickly went away.

The third is called Pholcid spiders. These are also not very venomous, and there is no scientific proof to show that their fangs are too short to penetrate human flesh.
Hidden Giant

3. The world's largest organism is in Oregon

It takes form as a fungus, and spreads across 2384 acres.

It's believed to be around 2,400 years old, but may actually be as old as 8,650 years.

2. Lightning can strike the same place twice

Through various speculations, NASA decided it wanted to show everyone how this is done. 

So through a series of very expensive tests, they found not only can lightning strike the same place more than once, it's 45% more likely to than any other spot.

1. Sugar does not cause hyperactivity

When kids say that sugar is making them so hyper, they're lying.

Sugar actually has no positive effect on hyperactivity, it is even thought to have the opposite effect.

Perhaps it's the fact that sugar is a well known accomplice with caffeinated drinks that gives this impression.

Please leave your comments below!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Sorry no post

There will be no post today as I'm keening out revision tonight :) Sorry!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Eating dinner as a family improves health in later life

Do you have dinner with your family?

'Come and get your dinner!' is a phrase not unknown in family households, particularly american ones.

40% of american food budget is spend on eating out.

Meals out usually tend to be unhealthy, so when a lot of meals are spent eating out, it all adds up.

Researchers surveyed family households how often they dined as a family, and the food they ate.

Results found that those that ate as a family more often consumed healthier meals, not only because they ate out less often, but also that parents were more concious about what they fed their children.

Upon measure BMI rates, children in families who have family meals tended to be in the healthy range more often, and children in families who ate out a lot tended to be overweight frequently.

Hidden effects

Communication is key
Not only is there a dietary impact, but there is also the relationships inside the families and some other aspects.


Conversations during dinner allow discussions of recent topics, and allow the family or unify, it also adds a feeling of belonging. Remember, your family will be with you your who life.

Model manners

Think of it as a test drive or training, you'd rather sort your child's bad habits at a family meal than at a proper meal with their work colleagues.

A long term study of 20 years explored habits which were carried to adulthood.

Families were asked whether or not they ate dinner as a family.

20 years later, these families were asked about their children who are now adults.

The children who ate dinner as a family tended to eat more fruit and vegetables and drank less unhealthy drinks as adults.

Not only does this offer control in food, but also across other areas.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Bringing water into exams may improve grades

Before I start, please see the poll on the right and choose yes or no!

Researchers from East London University and University of Westminster teamed up to deliver a study which suggests students who bring water into the exam achieve higher grades on average.
Clearly, most do not bring water

Dr Chris Pawson, a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of East London said: " The results imply that the simple act of bringing water into an exam was linked to an improvement in students' grades".

The reason why wasn't broken down in the study, but Dr Pawson speculates that it could be psychological and physiological.

The psychological argument was that having access to water allowed them to think water calmed students down and reduced anxiety, a notorious killer in an exam.

The physiological side offered a direct relationship between hydration and thinking ability.

While both sides are credible, more research must be done.

The study

447 undergraduates were randomly chosen and monitored whether they brought drinks into examinations. They also noted what type of drink.

The study found that first year undergraduates were less likely to take drinks into the exam than their higher year peers.

On results day, the students who took water tended to do better than their classmates who did not bring water.

The study will be continued and additional observations will be taken.

Perhaps water does give you an advantage, or maybe it's the fact sign of preparation that gives you the edge.

But either way, Dr Pawson recommended students bring water, as it will not have a negative effect, if any.

Monday, 23 April 2012

5 Things you eat without knowing

5. Human hair

Duck feathers and human hairs are dissolved to make what's called Cysteine, an ingredient used in dough to make your bread.

This is the cheap option, and since the processed way is quite expensive, most companies opt for the Cysteine.

4. Arsenic

Arsenic is a notorious poison to multicellular life. However it is used as a food additive given to chickens which serves as an antibiotic.

Half the arsenic passes out of the chicken and is then used as a fertiliser to grow your vegetables!

The FDA not only approves this, but also approves the next 3!

3. Ground up bugs

Derived from beetles and other creepy crawlies, the lovely tone of their shells is used as food colouring in our food.

Carmine is the main one, and is extracted by boiling insects in ammonia.

Good job it's only red, ..oh wait is strawberry your favourite flavour?

2. Bug poo

Mostly used to make things shine, this is better known as shellac. Used in furniture polish, wood polish, shiny hard boiled sweets, jelly beans, chocolate, the list goes on.

Listed as 'confectioners glaze' or 'resinous glaze' it's also used to make your apples shiny. Didn't see that one coming did you!

1. Beaver anus glands

Castoreum is used as 'natural flavoring' in food and beverages.

Most commonly used in vanilla and in many raspberry flavoured sweets. It's natural alright!

Please leave your comments below!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Huge water reserve discovered under Africa

Despite accounting for 15% of the world population, Africa remains a largely third world continent and the population lives in poverty.

300 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, and that population continues to grow.

Researchers for UCL (University College of London) have mapped Africa and carried out continent wide analysis and discovered a basin on water (mostly in the Northern region) beneath the surface.

The total capacity of water is about 75m of thickness. When you relate that to the area of the top half of Africa,  the amount of water is huge.

Scientists say that the climate changes which created the Sahara desert pushed the water into the aquifers below, creating a vast resource of water hidden beneath the surface 5000 years ago.

The researchers confirmed this by relating to hydro-geographical maps of the continent.

What are aquifers?

  • Aquifers are a layer of permeable rock underground. 
  • They can hold water and are the basis of wells.
  • Like a giant sponge, they soak of ground water
Ground water is water which has trickled through gravel and soil and becomes deposited beneath the surface.

The catch

However scientists do not recommend drilling as the groundwater is not yet researched and must be tested.

If they give the all-clear, geologists say instead of large scale extraction, small scale sites should be established such as wells, as they are more efficient.

But also, rapid use of these aquifers will result in the deposits being rapidly depleted without any recovery.

However the future is still looking bright, as the UK government are hoping to set up a project to use this resource to aid some of the world's poorest people.

Please leave your comments below!

Friday, 20 April 2012

10 Things you didn't know 5 minutes ago! (Part 7)

10. Earth is the only place we have observed fire

This is because of the fantastic abundance of oxygen, anywhere else there is just simply not enough.

9. The tongue map is wrong

During primary school (or roughly 4th grade for you americans), you learn about the tongue map how different areas of the tongue suit different tastes. This is wrong, the tongue can sense the 5 different tastes all over it, just in different sensitivities.

8. Celery, truffle mushrooms and pork contain androstenone

This compound is aromatic and heavily influences flavour.

50% of people cannot smell it, roughly 15% find it woody and the rest think it smells like urine. Nice.

7. Why you actually set your clock forward in march

Benjamin Franklin created this as a joke. He said that getting people up earlier on brighter mornings saved the number of candles needed to light up the workspace.

This idea started near 1920 and then went viral around the world.

6. According to quantum physics, the shortest time that can exist is 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds

This is known as planck's time, or the time taken for light to move a plancks length which is 1.6x10^-35m

To appreciate how small this is, the diameter of a proton is 10^20 times larger than this length.
The dinosaurs know this

5. Each day, 8 billion meteoroids hit the Earth

Meteoroid is the fancy name for meteorite but not yet in Earth, they are so tiny that no one notices them whizzing to the ground.

4. Counting sheep is a baaaaaaa'd idea

Scientists have proven that counting sheep to cure insomnia is ineffective, the subjects got so bored their minds turned to more engaging subjects.

3. How much can your pencil hold?

Scientists estimate the average drawing distance of a pencil is 35 miles long. However no one yet has tested this claim, want to be the first?

2. There can never be such things as vampires

Vampires are supposed to die by sunlight so they appear in the night.

However moonlight is just reflection of the sun, and hence counts as sunlight which means the vampires would burn in the night as well.

1. The diamond planet
I wish.

Astronomers have spotted a planet made entirely of diamond just 4,000 light years away. The scientists estimate the density and amount of carbon results in a complete diamond planet.