BIO 11(1) Felix's Wiki

7 fictional "Health" tips:
This slideshow by LiveScience highlights 7 once-believed-to-be tips on maintaining good health, that aren't so true.

1. Runner's Knee: Not for thee
- Maybe you've heard that swimming and walking are better ways of exercising than running, because running supposedly destroys knees. Studies published in Skeletal Radiology and carried out by Stanford University reveal that running can actually strengthen and protect your knees.

2. Suntan: Popularity is fadingultraviolet_light.jpg
- In the early 1900's, scientists discovered that ultraviolet rays could help prevent vitamin D deficiency, and could cure a disease called rickets. Today, ultraviolet rays cause radiation that causes skin cancer. The sun is now in the highest-risk category of agents that cause cancer (along with such attractive things such as asbestos and tobacco).
"No longer is ultraviolet radiation a probable carcinogen. It is a carcinogen, period."

3. Eating healthy: Don't get carried away
- No such thing as eating TOO healthy, right? Unfortunately scientists have recently discovered an eating disorder (orthorexia nervosa), caused by health junkies becoming too obsessive and compulsive over eating healthy.

4. Margarine: From bad to good to bad, bad, bad margarine.jpg
- Margarine is commonly seen as a healthy alternative to butter. Now it is known that the trans-fat found in margarine raises bad cholesterol, and even lowers the good cholesterol. Margarine is heavily processed, which is always bad.

5. Eggs: Deviled but no longer demonized
- Eggs, which are loaded in cholesterol and fat, have been demonized by doctors. Nowadays, more and more doctors are seeing eggs as essential for a healthy diet. The studies that said eggs greatly increase the risk of dying of any cause have been found to be unsupported. Larger studies such as the Framingham Heart Study and a large-scale study in Japan find this result to be false. Eggs have cholesterol that doesn't have as much effect on blood cholesterol levels as the saturated fats in butter and red meat. Eggs are actually high in essential vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, etc.


6. Multivitamins: Don't stop, don't startgeneric_pills_tablets_02.jpg
- Multivitamins were once hailed as miracle cures for vitamin deficiency diseases. However in 2006, the National Institutes of Health revealed there was no convincing evidence that taking multivitamins is a good way to get a healthy amount of vitamins and minerals.

7. Aspirin Therapy: Sometimes not worth the risk
- An aspirin a day keeps the doctor away? Probably not, according to the very large Aspirin for Asymptomatic Atherosclerosis (AAA) study, based in Europe. Aspirin keeps blood platelets from clumping together, creating blood clots. However clotting can actually be good, like when you want to stop bleeding. The AAA study found that aspirin does nothing to prevent heart disease in people that are normally healthy. Taking aspirin daily can actually increase the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke or internal bleeding.

Wanjek, C. (2009, September 18). 7 solid health tips that no longer apply. LiveScience, Retrieved from

Retrieved January 2nd, 2010

What would being sucked into a blackhole look like?

The article:
The video:

Andrew Hamilton and Gavin Polhemus have built a computer code, using the descriptions of space and time found in Einstein's general theory of relativity. The video shows what someone would see if they swooped into a black hole, 5 million times the mass of the sun. The central singularity is described as the point all matter is sucked into. Unfortunately, once the observer reaches the central singularity, everything that takes place after that is still a mystery, so the video cannot go any further.

Battersby, S. (2009, April). What would it Look like to fall into a black hole?. New Scientist, Retrieved from

Retrieved January 2nd, 2010

Video simulation shows ENTIRE known universe
The article:

Using decades of data collected at the Hayden Planetarium, researchers have created a simulation that includes every ever observed in space. The YouTube video starts in Tibet, and zooms out until you are looking at the whole known universe (which spans 13.7 billion light years).

Fox, S. (2009, December 17). Video: simulation renders entire known universe. Popsci, Retrieved from

Retrieved December 24th, 2009

Dogs VS Cats - which is better?
The article:

It might seem unfair, but I think you'll be surprised how close it is

This article tries to use science to determine which one of our furry friends is the "superior" species. In a world divided into dog and cat people, this argument can quickly get intense. They conducted 11 different tests on both animals. Whichever animal won in the most categories was deemed to be better. Here's a summary of the 11 tests:

1. Brains -
Winner: Cats
Going by size alone, dogs win. But if you calculate how much of the body's mass is brain, the cats win by a small percentage. Also, cats contain 300 million neurons in their cortex, or executive brains, compared to the dog's 160 million.
Cats 1 - 0 Dogs

2. Shared History -
Winner: Dogs
Dog remains have been found dating back 31,000 years ago, while cat remains have been found only around 9500 years ago.
Cats 1 - 1 Dogs

3. Bonding -
Winner: Dogs
The scientists argued that while both love staying in their homes, dogs have more of an instinct to bond with human beings, while cats tend to be loners.
Cats 1 - 2 Dogs

4. Popularity -
Winner: Cats
This result surprised me, according to NewScientist cats are much more popular than dogs.
Cats 2 - 2 Dogs

5. Understanding -
Winner: Dogs
Both pets seem to understand hand motions, but dogs recognize that human beings will show them how to do certain things while cats tend to keep trying in vain. Dogs also generally have a better vocabulary (Rico the border collie can recognize over 200 words).
Cats 2 - 3 Dogs

6. Problem solving -
Winner: Dogs
Both dogs and cats have been found to be pretty terrible at solving basic problems. So both animals aren't spectaclar problem solvers, but dogs are better at collabarating with a human partner to solve a problem. A good example of this is the partnership between seeing-eye dogs and their blind owners.
Cats 2 - 4 Dogs

7. Vocalisation -
Winner: Cats
Dogs have more vocal flexibility, and can express their emotions well with the tone of their bark. However, cats seem to be able to purr in such a way that we automatically feel like we want to nurture and help the cat. The purr of a cat is much more ensnaring.
Cats 3 - 4 Dogs

8. Tractability -

Winner: Dogs
The clear winner was dogs. Both pets respond to rewards for carrying out tasks, but dogs are far more "trainable" than cats.
Cats 3 - 5 Dogs

9. Supersenses -

Winner: Cats
Cats have a more acute sense of smell than the average dog, can see in light levels 6 times as low as we can compared to the dog's 5 levels, and cats have an auditory range from 45,000 to 64,000 hertz, while dogs only hear between 45,000 and 76,000 hertz. Cats win in all three senses.
Cats 4 - 5 Dogs

10. Eco-Friendliness -

Winner: Cats
A medium-size dog requires 0.84 hectares of land to feed it, every year. The average cat needs only 0.15 hectares. Cats have a much smaller ecological pawprint.
Cats 5 - 5 Dogs

11. Utility -

Winner: Dogs
Dogs are used for a variety of things; hunt, herd, guard, sniff out drugs, guide blind or deaf people, pull sleds, find a person stuck in an avalanche, and it has even be hypothesized that dogs can predict earthquakes. Meanwhile, cats kill rats.
Cats 5 - 6 Dogs

Douglas, K. (2009, December 9). Dogs vs cats: the great pet showdown. NewScientist, Retrieved from

Retrieved December 11th, 2009

Water found on moon
The article:

NASA sent an aircraft crashing into a crater at the moon's south pole. Seems like a crazy idea, but the impact from the crash sent up at least 100 kilograms (25 galloons) of water vapor and ice. The two spectrometers on the space craft (called LCROSS) recorded the presence of water just before it hit the crater.

Image of the crater (Cabeus)

As of now, the scientists at NASA aren't sure how much of the water was ice or vapor. This is an important discovery because water could be a vital resource for space explorers. Now, NASA is trying to figure out how and when the water came to the moon. Some theories include the water being delivered by comets, or chemically created from solar winds. The crash also revealed the possible presence of carbon dioxide, methanol, and sulfur dioxide, to name a few.

Cowen, R. (2009, November 13). Moon crash reveals crater held water. Science News, Retrieved from

Retrieved November 19th, 2009

Biodegradable batteries?
The article:

Scientists in Sweden have invented a battery made of salt and paper. As of now, it can only hold 1 volt of electricity, but soon they hope these disposable batteries will be able to power remote, biodegradable sensors.

The battery itself is made of several layers of cellulose; it's as thin as a piece of paper. A conductive polymer coats the cellulose, and the whole thing is sandwiched between layers of filter paper. Then, they wrap it in plastic. Scientists say getting more voltage can be reached by stacking more layers. An interesting fact about these batteries is that they charge faster than batteries that use lithium, cobalt or nickel.

Other than being composed of harmless eco-friendly products, the paper used for these batteries is taken from a noxious marine algae.
Noxious marine algae
This algae clogs up harbours, so using it to make these batteries actually helps solve an environmental problem.

The scientists hope to one day use these batteries to power things like pacemakers, nanomotors, and optical displays, just to name a few. Don't expect to see these batteries on the shelves anytime soon; there is still a lot of work to be done before they can used in commercial products.

Bland, E.B. (2009, October 19). Salt and paper make disposable batteries. Discovery News, Retrieved from

Retrieved November 3rd, 2009

The science of music

It would be hard to find a person who doesn't listen and enjoy a certain genre of music. I've always wondered why music is so popular in human beings, and why it has remained so all this time. I found an article in the February 23-29, 2008 edition of NewScientist, that tries to answer these questions.

The magazine I chose

Brain scans done on human beings show that the same parts of the brain that respond to food, sex and psychoactive drugs also respond to music we enjoy. The melodies in music that we enjoy are almost always based on differences in frequency (intervals); human beings tend to enjoy frequency ratios that are simple, like 2:1 and 3:2.

When we listen to music, we involve nearly every part of the brain in some way:
  • The actual listening part starts at the subcortical structures, and then the process moves up to the pair of auditory cortices (on both sides of the brain).
    Parts of the brain
  • We remember certain genres or styles of music using the hippocampus (memory centre) and subsections of the frontal lobe.
  • Every time you find yourself tapping the beat with your foot, you're using your cerebellum's timing circuits.
  • People who play music use their frontal lobes for planning and the motor and sensory cortex to provide tactile feedback.
  • We use the visual cortex, at the back of the brain to read music.
  • Ever sang along with a song and realized you remembered every lyric? Thank your language centres in Broca's area, Wernicke's area, and in your temporal and frontal lobes.
  • Every time a song evokes an emotion in us, we involve the structures deep in the cerebellar vermis and the amygdala. This area is also responsible for emotional processing in the cortex.

A man enjoying his carp a little bit too much. Carp are known for their sensitive hearing
In earlier times people thought that our species was unique, in our appreciation for melody in music. Now, we know this is false. Animals actually have a relatively good grasp on music; carp and Java sparrows can pick apart different styles of music, rhesus monkeys can transpose certain melodies like Happy Birthday. Even humpback whales combine phrases ("units" of music) of about 15 seconds into themes around 2 minutes long; they eventually combine these themes to create songs that can be as long as 21 hours long.

Christine Kenneally, C.K. (2008, February 23). The music enigma. NewScientist, 197, 28-37.

Retrieved October 18th, 2009

H1N1 nasal and injection vaccine released
The article:

After a relatively quiet summer, 37 states have now reported cases of H1N1, compared to the 27 states that reported it earlier.
A nasal spray vaccine has thankfully left the factories and is ready for clinics. A vaccine for injections will soon follow. High priority targets, such as pregnant women and health care workers will be targeted first.

Anne Schuchat, a CDC physician and flu expert predicts the H1N1 outbreak could continue all the way until spring. H1N1.jpg
The director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, said that based on clinical trials the injected vaccine for the H1N1 flu can be given with the vaccine for the seasonal flu. He tested 800 people; 400 were elderly and 400 were typical adults. Results showed that taking in both shots didn't impair the effects of the vaccine.

Here's a short video that gives a few quick facts about the nasal spray vaccine:

Seppa, Nathan, S.N. (2009, October 9). H1N1 flu is back and found in 37 states, CDC reports . ScienceNews, Retrieved from

Retrieved October 15th, 2009

Cell phones: Safe or not?
The article:

I thought this was a very interesting and relevant article. Cell phones boomed into society not too long ago; around 4 billion people use cell
phones today. Thnokia_radiowave.jpgese phones function by changing the sound of your voice into radio waves. These radio waves (which can be absorbed by the tissues in your head), are a type of radiation. The radio waves of the speaker are picked up by the receiver's antenna, and changed back into sound waves.
A group of scientists conducted a study and found that people who used cell phones frequently had a 50 to 60 percent increased risk of getting a certain type of tumour.

Now, don't go throwing out every cell phone you see; most studies about the effects of radiation emitted by cell phones so far are inconclusive. Some studies show a relation between cell phone use and effects of radiation; others don't. Dariusz Leszczynski, a scientist from Finland’s Radiation and NuclearSafety Authority recommended that children stay away from cell phones. He says children are more susceptible to the radiation.


He also advised people to text instead of call (this keeps the cell phone waves farther from the head). I read in another article that health ministries have warned people away cell phones, for now at least. Cell phones are such a relatively new product, that scientists aren't sure if the effects of radiation are going to come later in life; that's why they try to warn people away from them for the time being.

Ornes Stephen, . (2009, October 8). Are cell phones safe?. ScienceNews, Retrieved from
Retrieved October 8th, 2009

Genetic experiment changes the way two monkeys see the world:
The article:

Sam and Dalton, both squirrel monkeys), were born with a color deficiency that
prevented them from viewing green and red colors. This can be a problematic
On the left; what Dalton may have seen before the experiment. On the right; what Dalton may now see thanks to genetic therapy.
condition, because today you see both of these colors everywhere. Thankfully, through experiments at the University of Seattle, both monkeys seem to have been cured of their disability.

Proteins in our eyes are how we see different colors from light. When some proteins fail to function, we lose the ability that the protein gave us. Sam and Dalton have the proteins necessary to see blue and yellow, but lack the proteins that help to see red and green. The scientist who led the research on the monkeys, Jay Neitz, was probably surprised when he realized the experiments worked. The experiment, which basically consisted of injecting a virus that contained a protein-creating gene, was not supposed to work. We usually think of viruses as harmful things, but scientists can now use them to help with animals and people.

Dalton taking the color vision test.
The gene in the virus that was injected into the monkeys became part of their DNA. The gene's function was to create a red-detecting protein, and after a few weeks, the monkey's body began producing these proteins. They passed their color-detecting tests; they were shown a grid of dots, some gray and some colored, and had to pick out which ones were blue, yellow, red, and green. The scientists concluded that in order to see certain colors, all you need is a specific gene for that color.

How can we use this experiment to help mankind? Unfortunately the scientists aren't sure if the monkeys are seeing red and green (as we perceive them), or other shades of yellow and blue, but maybe someday we can use this genetic therapy to help people who are afflicted with this same condition, or even cure blindness.

Ornes S., (2009, September 30). Two monkeys see a more colorful world. ScienceNews, Retrieved from

Retrieved October 4th, 2009