Amber Breau Biology 111 Wiki space!

Mitten sales may be going down!

Have you ever looked out the bus window on a cold winter day and wondered why that slighty over weight person wasn't wearing mittens? Well I have. Is it possible that a big waste line equals warm hands, well the answer's yes! The temperature of an average weight person fingers is 28.6 degrees celius, and an over weight person fingers have a temperature of 31.8 degrees celius. The obesity rate's way up there now so that a lot of hot hands out there!
So why is it that a big waste line equals warm hands? Well, when we sweat it's our bodies way of releasing heat so we're not as hot. Lets face it some over weight people may not be best friends with their exercise machine, so they don't sweat as much. However, that's not the only part to the equation. We have to keep in mind fat acts like an insluator in the body. Put two and two together, insluation plus no heat release, equals a hotter body temperature. I for one, would not want to wear mittens out to the bus under these conditions. Also, because obesity is on the rise less people want mittens so don't plan on investing anytime soon!

If you want to read the compleate article go to :
Raloff, Janet (2009). Obesity epidemic may threaten mitten industry. Science News, Retrieved from http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/47887/title/Obesity_epidemic_may_threaten_mitten_industry

Deadly H1N1 Cure?

So this is slightly disturbing, could what we've been hearing be untrue about a SAFE vaccine?
Well, Dr. Keny Holtorf thinks so. Studies have been done and the swine vaccine has a high dose of the same chemical that may cause autism in kids. There's also high doses of other not so safe chemicals. I wouldn't use the vaccine after seeing this, would you?

Fox news. Doctor Admits Vaccine Is More Deadly Than Swine Flu Itself & Will Not Give It To His Kids. September 24, 2009. Online video clip. www.youtube.com
Accessed on Septembe 29, 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1z7KSEnyxw

10 reasons why you may be overweight

For the record I'm not picking on overweight people here, I'm just a health freak. So you're overweight but not lazy and you don't have a bad diet, you're wondering why right? Well bad diet and laziness can factor in but their not the leading cause in the obesity epidemic. There's ten surprising reasons you may be over weight.
1) Not enough sleep - Studies have shown that people who sleep less then 7 hours a night have a higher bmi (body mass index). It's already known that obesity can cause a lack of sleep, well now it works the other way too.
2) Climate - Airconditioning in the summer and heating in the winter can it really make a difference? Yes it can. When we have a comfortable temperature we tend to use less energy. Two women were places in two different rooms with a difference of 2 degrees in temp. They had a difference of 27 grams of body fat each day. Also studies have shown the hotter it is, the less we eat.
3) Smokers are quitting - Yes, people who smoke do tend to be thinner and because nicotine is an appetite suppressant their metabolic rate goes up and they start packing on the pounds.
4) It's all our parents fault - Yes, now we can blame another thins on our parents. If a child has an obease mother chances are they will be too. Most of the reasoning is behinde genetics; however, some of the blame can be put on intrauterine programming.
5) Overweight = Fertile - It's been proven that heavier people have an average of .3 more children then normal weight women. We can't ignore the obvious having children alone does make us gain more weight.
6) Age and race - Some groups of people are just heavier adults 40 - 79 are 3X's more likely to be overweight than younger people. Also non white females tend to be on the heavier side. Mexican -American women are 30% more likely than white woman to be obese.
7) Drugs drugs are more drugs - It's no secret that the anti-biotics we take do cause us to gain weight. No there are no studies done but the amount of usages mirrors the obesity epidemic.
8) Older mothers - Having a childer when older then usual will increase a childs risk of obesity by about 14%.
9) Pollution - Pesticides, dyes, favoring, perfumes we swallow, inhale and abosrb all things every day without thinking if it'll make us fat. Well guess what, they can. These products have certain chemicals that will disrupts the workings of our bodies thus making us gain weight.
10) He's not my type - Well the person you marry actually has an effect on your weight. People tend to marry according to size. This itself isn't a problem untill you combine it with reason number 4 and 5.

Motluk, A. (2006, November 4). Supersize Surprise. News Scientist, 34-38

The Dangers (and advantages) Of Coffee!

We wake up in the morning and get our first few cups of coffee. Well, we may want to reconsider the coffee and pick up the OJ! Here are 10 shocking facts about coffee:

1)Caffeine Can kill you - It's take 80-100 cups one after another but yes, it would kill you or cause some major damage.

2) It can also be good for you - Yes, confusing right? Ibn the right amounts (being 1-2 cups a day) coffee can be good for your health. Coffee is packed full of antioxidants which is crucial for our bodies.

3) Sex drive boosting - Well it works on rats anyways. Scientist say that the caffeine found in coffe could boost the female sex drive and enhance your sexual experience, but only among females who do not drink coffee regularly.

4) Less pain - 2 cups of coffee can cut down on post muscle pain, but again this only works on non coffee drinkers.

5) Late nights - It's no surprise that coffee can keep you up at night due to the caffeine. Try avoiding drinking coffee at least 6 hours before bed.

6) Decaf has the Caf! - Caf being caffeine that is. You would have to drink 10 cups of decaf to eqaual 10 cups of regular, but it has caffeine all the same.

7) Decaffeination uses chemicals - The beans are steamed then the dissolved caffeine rises to the surface. Then it's washed off using an organic solvent called methylene chloride.

8) Caffeine is not the bitterness - Actually it's the antioxidents in the coffee that make it taste as bitter as it does.

9) Want good coffee? Roasting and brewing can make that happen - During the roasting oil locked inside the beans begins to come out around 400 degrees. The more oil there is the stronger the taste. The caffeine rises where as the water spends more times with the grounds. This means regular coffee usually has more of it than expresso or cappuccino. Darker roasts also means more caffeine.

10) Coffee, the drinks of the gods - About a millennium ago in Africa there were a few goats who kept their keeper awake all night by feasting on red coffee berries. The keeper later took the berries to some monks which caused them to go into very long prayer sessions. Long story short we have coffee today. (Well that's one story anyway)

Science, Live. (2008, May 8). 10 things you need to know about coffee. Live Science, Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/health/080519-coffee-facts.html

Agression On the Brain

Dopamine is the basic “feel good” signal that’s linked to food, sex and drugs. It’s suggested that dopamine can give a similar feeling from aggression. Studies have shown that if there is an intruder near a mouse it will turn sideways and rattle it’s tail as a threat, then run towards the intruder waving it’s paws, wrestle or biting. If the mouse is given a drug that blocks the dopamine receptors than that mouse will have a less aggressive response. However, when the drugs reached the mouse’s brain it than became sluggish and tired.
In this experiment Maria Couppis installed a tube to the nucleus accumbens, which is a part of the brain that dopamine signals make mice want to eat, have sex, and take drugs. Then, Maria dropped dopamine blockers in which allowed her to motor and separate effects from rewarding effects. She then learned with the dopamine suppression the mouse had no motivation to earn aggression as a reward. Researchers stared this experiment by teaching a male mouse to punch a button with its nose, which in return caused the intruder to appear. The mouse got great pleasure from intimidating and attacking the intruder. The mouse was able to learn how to produce an intruder by a nose poke in two days, which is only a little bit slower than learning to produce food by poking the button.

By now we’ve established that when a dopamine blocker is present there are no rewards like there usually is. However, we are humans not mice and there’s no proof that dopamine rewards aggression for us. Craig Kennedy is in the process of an experiment in which he will study college guys watching football. If the nucleus accumbens is used as it is in mice than the next step would be to look at the role of dopamine in human aggression. If you look at the carnage and horror in the 21st century it’s scary to think aggression can be rewarding; however, it does make sense. It’s possible that humans have a hint of animal instinct that makes us want to be aggressive. However, in our society aggression is not rewarded so, people have given into aggressive sports that allow us to tap into that type of mechanism. We’ve also heard of adrenaline rush, but it is possible that in some situations a dopamine rush, or both can cause this “rush”. The great thing about this is if you’re into watching Sunday night football or WWE well, at least now you have an excuse. “The dopamine made me do it”!

Tenenbaum, D. (2008). Aggression on the brain. The Why Files, Retrieved from http://whyfiles.org/shorties/252aggression_brain/

The magic Touch

We’ve heard that blind people have a better sense of touch the people we can hear, right? Well while Daniel Goldreich, an associate professor of neuroscience at McMaster University in Ontario was studying this he found some thing very different. Daniel Go​ldreich discovered that blind women have a finer sense of touch than blind men, the same does for sighted people. The only question is why, well the answer is relatively simple.
In a recent study the answer was found, one sensory neuron is closer together in smaller fingers, which makes it easier to detect very slight differences in shapes and objects. The researches looked static touch, the ability to sense shape while the finger tip is not moving. This sensation may occur when we attach a button or feel the "hand" of a piece of leather, although in reality we would want to move our fingers to get a better grasp on the object, this would gather other inputs from different sensory neurons.
There’s many different touch and sense detectors on our fingers like: Our free never endings (axons) which detect pain and temperature, pacinain corpuscles which sense deep pressure and high frequency vibrations, ruffini corpuscles which sense stretch, and many other detectors. During the study Daniel and colleagues created grooves in plastic plates gradually reducing the dimensions until they became undetectable. After that 100 Undergrads were asked it sit in a "tactometer" (I’m sure it has a scientific name, but it wasn’t included and it’s impossible to find). The "tactometer" pressed the plates against the subject’s fingertips then they were asked if the lines were parallel or perpendicular. Daniel found that women would detect ridges that were 10% or 0.18mm finer than what the man had detected. In these cases it’s the size that matters Daniel figured out that gender didn’t have a role in this test, but size did. People with smaller fingers felt grooves that were 0.7mm finer than the rest while an average person can only feel grooves that are 1.5mm apart.
The sensory nerve (Merkel Corpuscles) I’ve been talking about is sadly too small to find with a microscope, but is often located near sweat pores. Basically the bigger the finger is the further apart the nerves are, which is related to higher sensitivity levels. However, because these nerves are impossible to see the location is inferred, and we rarely hold our finger still while touching something and in the test the finger was still. In reality this test was a good starting but we usually rub our fingers across something which would set a vibration to activate the messner cells which may then activate the ruffini cells.

Tenenbaum, D.J. (2009). Test touches truth: tiny fingers tout terrific tactile talents!. The Why Files, Retrieved from http://whyfiles.org/2009/testing-touch-2/

Vitamin C, Cure Cancer and Cold
We all know about the first moon landing, but do we ever hear anything about the brilliant chemists that were alive back then? Linus Pauling: 2 time Nobel Prize winner, explorer of chemical bonds, quantum theorist, and advocate of vitamin C as a cure for many diseases. Linus Pauling was obviously a brilliant man, but his constant advocacy of vitamin C almost killed his reputation, and his career.
Everyone knows Vitamin C is an antioxidant, but do we know what that means? It can de active atoms or groups as atoms that damage molecules like DNA, this is also knows as free radicals. The idea is that if these antioxidants can protect DNA then they could fight cancer and prolong life. Sadly too much enthusiasm too early in time over these antioxidants has died down and studies as failed to show how beneficial these can be. However lately researchers from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions proved that some antioxidants like vitamin C can help fight cancer in mice.
Here’s the thing yes antioxidants do help kill free radicals, but they don’t fight cancer by protecting the DNA from any kind of damage. This report comes from a group lead by Chi Dang, a Johns Hopkins professor of medicine, cell biology and oncology. Dang researched the place of free radicals and antioxidants, and he knew that they had some antioxidants can inhibit some tumors. Free radicals had added to the cancers, but strangely enough the DNA damage wasn’t there. Ping Gao, also of Johns Hopkins had expected as much, he knew that id DNA damage was not in play well the antioxidants must be doing something other then protecting DNA.
To truly understand Dang’s view on antioxidants we need to know about the "survival protein" that cells use to stay alive when oxygen levels decrease. This "survival protein" is known as hypoxia-induced protein (HIF). HIF is a great helper when if comes to fast growing tumors, which kill local oxygen source and burn sugars for energy. When a cell is lacking oxygen HIF helps by converting sugar to energy without using oxygen. The majority of cells produce both enzymes and HIF; however, when oxygen levels are low and free radicals are there, the degrading enzymes fail and HIF levels rise. Therefore free radicals promote cellular survival and low oxygen areas, but what happens when the cancer is getting the benefits of this?
So we know free radicals cause cancer, but they don’t always start by damaging the DNA. We also know that antioxidants fight cancer and vitamin C, but what role do they play if free radicals don’t go after the DNA? Dang then learned that Vitamin C could help degrade HIF, could this be the answer? Dang and Gao gave two types of human cancers into mice then fed them food with antioxidants vitamin C and N-acetylcysteine. They noticed that the tumor shrank, but only in the mouse that got the antioxidant. This proved that antioxidants helped the destruction of HIF and in return the tumors stopped growing. Basically antioxidants kill cancer indirectly by reactivating the enzymes that kills HIF. Now, dang understands the mechanism of antioxidants and vitamin C, he is excited to start doing human trials.
Tenenbaum, . (2007). Revitalizing vitamin. The Why Files, Retrieved from http://whyfiles.org/shorties/242vitC_cancer/

Biblical Plague or Locust Life
Evolution is amazing, animals have adapted to survive is harsh arid environments by becoming active at night, plants made a waxy outer coating to slow evaporation. What about the Schistocerca gregaria otherwise know as the desert locust, they can spend months as a solitary insignificant grasshopper. The moment a rainstorm hits and greens up the otherwise dreary desert the locust switches into it’s gregarious phase (Another name for a billion-member Biblical eating machine that searches the land for anything green). The solitary phase and gregarious phase are so different they were once considered two different species. A simple thing like touch it’s hind leg or allowing it to smell other locust’s is enough for it to change phases into it’s gregarious phase. Science magazine published proof that the extreme make over the locust goes through is effected by serotonin, a carrier of never signals in all animals.
Desert Locust’s re exactly in key with their environment. When it’s dry they’re all alone, but when it rains they transform, swarm, and feed. What happens is when they come in contact with another they’re behavior changes. They’re hungry and need to eat, but disappearing food sources start drastic behavioral and physical changes. Because of their strong muscles, larger wings, and intimidating color the gregarious locusts can fly 60 miles in eight hours or less to somewhere with a better food source. This comes in handy because vegetation can shrivel very quickly and the locust will try feeding off a dying plant.
When the locust is no longer a solitary insect they will leave their homes and try searching for food. They will search for areas where few people live and the ground if more fertile. Farmers often wait for rainfall only to have their crops eaten by these insects. Yes insecticides do work some, but they can only shrink a swarm, not kill it completely. Within the past years there have been devastating swarms around Chine, Australia, and Africa.
Focusing on the chemical changes that take place scientists focused on the serotonin levels. They found if you block the serotonin levels you can tickle the hind legs or put them near others, they will remain solitary. We could block serotonin levels to decrease the number of swarms; however, that’s not a safe solution because all animals need serotonin for their nerves and brains. People who take anti depressants may know them as "selective serotonin uptake inhibitors" that cut down on anxiety and avoiding depression by keeping serotonin around; but no, no one is suggesting spraying serotonin from planes in order to keep the locust’s in their solitary stage. Serotonin acts by attaching itself to a protein (serotonin receptor) and if it’s unique to the locust we could block the serotonin. The problem is any program would need to detect swarms from the start and we need to know where the swarm forms so we can get the chemical there. Once you have a swarm it’s too late to control.

Tenenbaum, D. (2009). Life of the locust. The Why Files, Retrieved from http://whyfiles.org/shorties/276locust/

Road Raged Rats

We drive in our cars almost every day, and everyday we see that one person yelling and screaming at other drives. Have you ever wondered if it was something other than a bad temper causing road rage, well it could be the fumes. Studies have shown that breathing in petrol fumes actually make rats much more aggressive. So maybe that one guy in his car does have a bad temper, but he can blame it on the fumes.
Amal Kinawy exposed 3 rats to clean air, vapor from leaded petrol or vapor from unleaded petrol. When the rats that were exposed to petrol were dissected they showed huge changes in key groups of neurotransmitters which are chemicals used for exchanging messages between neurons. Also, the rat that was exposed to the unleaded vapor showed signs of neurological changes. The rats brain cells looked as if they were damaged by free radicals (rouge molecules). Both rats that were exposed to petrol showed an increase of aggression, they even carried out more attacks.
Kinawy notices that people are frequently being exposed to air that’s heavily polluted by traffic. This means that all these people may be prone to heightened aggression; however, more research is needed.

Petrol fumes cause 'road rage' in rats. (2009). News in science, Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2009/11/24/2751823

Happily Married

Marriage is actually good for you (with the exception of dysfunctional or abusive relationships). An international study found that marriage decreases the risk on anxiety and depression. The down side being if increases the risks of these disorders when the relationship is over. 34,493 people across 15 countries participated in a study led by Kate Scott that’s based on WMH (World Health Organization’s World Mental Health) surveys. The study found that the relation coming to an end increased the chances of mental disorders and substance abuse. The women are more likely to resort to substance abuse, and males will resort to become depressed.
Now were able to look at mental health during marriage in comparison with never getting married, and splitting up. Despite what old studies have shown new studies have proved that getting married is beneficial to males as well. The study also proved that males are less likely to become depressed in their FIRST marriage than a woman. This is probably due to gender roles at home because as women are becoming more educated depression is going down.
Another gender difference this study has proven is that getting married reduces the risk of substance abuse more for women than for men, this is due to the fact that women are usually the caregiver to the child. However like I said earlier ending the marriage has devastating effects on both genders.

Reuters, M.F. (2009). Marriage wards off the blues: study. ABC Science , Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2009/12/16/2773322.htm