Update: According to a good work-up, there’s a very high probability this video is a hoax that just recently went viral. I blame the stout for my lack of reasonable doubt. Indeed even Yahoo news and Fox news have fallen for it. Anyway, I’ll leave this post here because the idea of lab-grown meat made from waste products is an interesting idea that has scientific merit. (Cheers to Bobster’s house)
Sorry again for the lack of activity on the blog. I am going pretty well on my thesis, thanks for asking.
Anyway, I was drinking with a couple of friends of mine who are doing their PhDs in environmental health and bioremediation the other night. Long story short, I wake up with this on my hand:
At least it wasn't a dick and balls. Picture taken by Thomas Tu
After some greasy food and coffee, I summoned enough courage to look up “shit burgers” on Google. Then it came back to me, we had been talking about a nutty bit of science where a Japanese team had created faux meat from sewage. While I’m not sure that it isn’t a hoax, here’s a video:
As our lifetimes get longer and medical science’s diagnoses get more sophisticated, we end up finding new diseases (e.g cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes). More often than not, we are unable to treat them because they’re unlike anything we’ve ever encountered. For this reason, I probably won’t become redundant, which is nice. What’s not so nice is that we’ll probably always have the sword of Damocles hanging above our heads, just waiting to be struck down by some intractable lightning bolt. Currently, prion diseases (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, Fatal Familial Insomnia and Kuru) are amongst the scariest.
As we’ve mentioned before, prion diseases are caused by misfolded prion protein. Prion protein is a protein produced naturally by nerve cells with no known function. Certain misfoldings of prion protein change its function: now mutated prion protein can convert normal prion protein into more mutated prion protein. Mutated prion protein builds up in the nerve cells and damages them. Depending on the misfolding, mutated prion protein produces different symptoms, which I’ll explain in the next couple of posts. First off, the incredible story of Kuru.
Anton Enus (man with the velvet-smooth voice), Michael Alpers (researcher of kuru), his son Ben Alpers and Robert Bygott (director of the documentary) all have a chat (Picture taken by Thomas Tu)
What really kicked the idea for this post off for me was watching Michael Alpers talk at the RiAus for the opening showing of a documentary on kuru (I highly recommend you watch it on SBSOne – Sunday, December 19 at 8:30PM). Alpers was an Adelaide medical doctor turned researcher when he heard about a “laughing disease” that was affecting the Fore people in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, then an Australian colonial outpost. What was causing this laughing disease? Why was it only the Fore people affected? This piqued his interest so much that he travelled up to PNG and lived amongst the Fore people for more than 40 years to investigate. Continue reading
I’m not writing about a disease this week. I know this, you don’t have to comment and chide on me about it. It’s not because I’ve run out of diseases to write about, but because my brain doesn’t work in a particularly directed kind of way sometimes. This is what it came up with this week.
I was reading my feed the other day and an article called “Having oral sex increases likelihood of intercourse among teens” came up. Naturally, the first thing that came to mind was “No shit”. The second was “How could someone get paid for researching this? With people dying everyday from both curable and incurable diseases, how can you justifiably look at what teenagers do with their private bits, then publish the completely obvious results?”.
The study showed that teenagers who engaged in oral sex by year 10 had a 50% chance of losing their virginity by the end of year 11, compared to 16% of teens who didn’t have oral sex by year 10; an obvious conclusion to anyone who went to high-school.
This study isn’t alone in the obviousness of its results (Thanks to NCBI ROFL for making compilation of this list easier):
Mind = blown (Picture taken by Wade Shiell)
Scientists usually take their money from taxpayers to do their research. So, do these studies that show ridiculously obvious conclusions deserve your money?
I find that the more we understand about the world, the less imaginative our names for diseases. Your stomach hurts? We can look at your blood work, X-ray your gut after a barium meal and, hey presto, you have appendicitis. LAME! Maybe you’ve got The Irritable Ghosts and what’s happening is that the ghosts that are inhabting your scrotum are banging on the roof because your lungs are too loud. Treatment is shutting up and dying prematurely. Let’s explore the names of other diseases.
My Latin dictionary is not only useful for DotW article photos, but also if I suddenly get transported into Ancient Rome (Picture taken by Thomas Tu)
Ok, I was typing up a quick Wednesday post, but I ended up not very happy with it and tore it up. So I’m just going to post up a previous DotW that I wrote for On Dit. It is also being syndicated here at Science Creative Quarterly, which you should also check out.
Spurting viruses from your crotch
I’ll start by saying warts irk me out. Perhaps not as much as jellyfish, but they’re up there. It really sucked researching and looking up pictures for this topic; I hope you all appreciate it. In fact, appreciate it even more that I didn’t include any pictures of any warts in this article.
Nevertheless, science is not about personal preference or being irked out; it’s about the truth, even if it makes you mildly nauseated. You must accept it warts and all, one might say. Not me though, I would never stoop to such a base level of humour. Continue reading
Merry Christmas edition of Disease of the Week. Christmas disease actually exists. It’s a form of genetic haemophilia, i.e. patients with Christmas disease have blood that does not clot very efficiently, which means they tend to bleed a lot. You need your blood to live. Turns out bedbugs also need your blood to live. Segue!
The bunk-beds of a backpackers' in France. Much sex has probably occurred in these beds, a lot of it may have included stabbing through abdominal walls. (Picture taken by Thomas Tu)
Disease has many definitions. Here’s one: a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms (from Merriam-Webster)1. Depending on your definitions of “condition”, “normal functioning” and “symptoms”, many things that fit this definition are not traditionally considered to be diseases. This means we can pretty much write about what we want in this blog, if we wrangle it right. Keeping this in mind, I will talk to you about bedbugs this week.
Someone (I’ve forgotten who) gave me Syphilis for my birthday (Picture taken by Thomas Tu)
Craaaazy for feeeeling… someone else
Syphilis is a well-known STD (sexually transmitted disease) because it has a funny-looking name and because it infected an estimated 11.8 million people in 1999 alone. Its street names include: “The Syph”; “The Great Pox”, distinguishing it from the other pox that was going around, smallpox; and “Disease that your mum has #17”.