Category Archives: Science

Eternal Sunshine of the spotless Mind…to become reality?

I don't know if you have seen the Jim Carrey movie called Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  It is supposed to be a comedy according to the movie poster, but is really pretty sad and has some interesting science fiction in it. There is a procedure people can undergo to erase their memories when their relationships turn sour. A similar feat is seen in Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  In this movie, one of the neat things is that if you want to take a vacation to Mars, and you don't have the money to go, they can implant you with the memories so you will feel like you have been there (they can even provide someone for you to meet or put you in the role of a spy, etc).


 


At any rate, we all know that science fiction often ends up becoming reality (after all, we all know our cell phones resemble early Star Trek communicators).  Scientists have long been trying to understand the hippocampus and how memories can be augmented (for example in diseases that affect memory, like Alzheimer's).  Well, they have made a tremendous breakthrough by being able to erase memories in rat brains (now don't get too upset for the rats, the lost memories can be replaced by new memories and short-term memory is not affected). They did this by inhibiting synaptic strengthening in the hippocampus.  For complete understanding, here is the link to the rest of the article.


 


Now, I ask you, which vacation trip do you want implanted? And what memories do you want erased?

The World’s Longest Running Experiments


 


I have heard of pets that you have to make provisions in your will for due to their longevity (some birds, alligator snapping turtles…), but I didn't realize there are scientifc experiments that have been in progress for 100 years or more. The pitch drop experiment is one such example.


 



When he set up the pitch drop experiment at Australia's University of Queensland in 1927, physicist Thomas Parnell had to know he would expire long before his test did. Examining the viscosity of the tar-like substance by the speed at which it flows from a funnel into a jar, the experiment has seen just eight drops fall in the eight decades since it began.


 


Parnell died in 1948, just two drops in.


 


Now these are some dedicated scientists! Read the rest of the article for some great links and more information on other long running experiments!

Blood is Thicker than Water…or is it just family ties?


 


I  honestly don't know if amoebas have blood flow. My thoughts would be no, but I don't want to state it as fact. I do know that I have long heard the saying that “blood is thicker than water” meaning that people will stick by blood relatives before they will stick by anyone else. Well, it turns out that even the simplest creature, the amoeba, will turn to family in times of trouble and will sacrifice themselves for other family members! So assuming that a single-cell organism doesn't have a circulatory system (where would it have room for it?), then I think the saying needs to be changed…”Family Ties are Stronger than Friendships”…hmmm, not quite as catchy is it? Feel free to make your own suggestions!

Ancient Minty Painkiller Worked!

I have rough feet. I am not sure why? Maybe it is because they carry too much weight around. Maybe it is because I don't wear socks often enough. Maybe it is because I have a disease called 'crusty foot'…well that's what my husband calls it!  At any rate, whatever it is, when I use foot lotion on my feet, I prefer the ones with a strong mint base to them. The cooling effect feels awesome. And it turns out that an ancient minty concoction is being revisited as a pain killer!  Those Greeks were pretty smart!  Here is the rest of the story about a new pain killer that will be used externally and works better than morphine without the side effects (for arthritis and diseases affecting nerve endings).

RediRipe Coming to a Store Near You!

Don't you hate it when you go to the store, pick what looks to be the perfect peach or tomato, you bring it home, cut into it and discover it is not ripe! Or that it is too ripe!  Well, a University of Arizona professor has created a RediRipe sticker that will be available to growers this coming year and we should see in the stores on our fruits in a couple of years.  These stickers measure the amount of ethylene gas which is released as fruits ripen. They will become darker and darker blue as the fruit gets riper and riper! What will they think of next?

Our Desires Influence our Perceptions

It would appear that we really do see the world around us the way we want to. In other words, if we want to believe that people like us, we are more likely to see strangers smiling at us instead of smirking at us. If we want to believe we are not that overweight, we will see a better vision of ourselves in the mirror, focusing on the good parts.


 


A study at Cornell of 412 people showed that these people who were motivated to get yummy fresh-squeezed orange juice saw the 'right' picture instead of the 'wrong' picture which would lead them to lumpy veggie smoothy (yuck).  As Spock would say…fascinating!