Rants and Musings About Science

Monday, October 16, 2006

Golden Delicious Apples


What makes them deserve that name?!? You can't just make me think that that apple is delcious just because you named it "delicious!" I'll friggin' decide if they are actually delicious.

Thank you.

Back To Hiatus ... (EXTREME working for 7 more weeks ... SEVEN MORE WEEKS EVER!)

Friday, September 15, 2006

HIATUS #2: THE ERA OF SCIENCELINE.ORG




Hello, People of the Internet. Check out Scienceline.org where I will be posting blog entries. I am announcing THE SECOND "CROSSTOWN" HIATUS! Once I am done with school, and interning at Science World (Scholastic, Inc.), I will have some free time to devote here. For now, I leave you with a link to my most recent blog.

I will no longer carry on as a "nostalgia act," but do not fret, for "Crosstown Science" (I) will return from the ashes, fire and brimstone-amassed with student debts-REVITLIZED!

I leave you with this picture (above) from the June 2000 edition of Pediatrics. It's an x-ray of Festus in fetu, a condition in which a parasite-like twin grows inside its sibling. And you can read more about it in my blog for Scienceline! Farewell, until I graduate in December!!!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Corn to Run


I had a barbecue last weekend. It was pretty fun. We had all the regular food offerings: hamburgers, hot dogs, some steak, and I grilled some corn on the cob.

I love grillin’ up some corn on the cob. I like it slathered with some garlic and butter, but some people like their corn prepared as fuel, though I wouldn’t eat it!

Results published in the July 11 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that corn grain ethanol and soybean biodiesel are efficient fuels, debunking criticism that it takes more energy to make the fuels than they produce.

To prove their point, the researchers from the University of Minnesota recorded all of the energy used for growing and converting corn and soybeans into the environment-friendly fuel. They also compared how much fertilizer the crops needed and how much greenhouse gases, nitrogen, phosphorus, and pesticide pollutants each released into the environment.

The researchers found that both corn grain ethanol and soybean biodiesel produce more energy than is needed to grow the crops and convert them into biofuels. The soybean biodiesel returns 93 percent more energy than the amount it takes to make it and corn grain ethanol returns 25 percent.

Not only that, but the soybean fuel also produces about 41 percent and corn 12 percent less greenhouse emissions than gasoline.

A common argument from those who love getting their fuel from fossils is that it takes more energy to make the green-fuel than it produces, making it an unrealistic to think that it could replace the energy needs of the US.

Those oil lovers may be right about one thing: it is totally unrealistic to think corn and soybeans can supply enough energy for the US’s needs.

The researchers found that all current corn and soybean supplies in the US would only account for 12 percent of the gasoline demand and 6 percent of the diesel demand.

This may sound disheartening, but things are looking up!

The study helps support the fact that using environmentally friendly fuels are efficient and shouldn’t be counted out. The scientists believe there are other possible sources.
Prairie grasses have great potential,” says David Tilman, Regents Professor of Ecology and a co-author of the study, in a press release. He suggests prairie grasses, which can be produced on mediocre farmland, for cheap, and have the potential to produce even more energy than the corn or soybean fuels.

Let’s hope that prairie grass can work better than those niblets!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

What a Prick!


Porcupines are quite the feat of evolution!

Apparently, those spiky guys love to climb trees, but there’s one problem: they are clumsy climbers.

You would think that is a bad habit to have. Like jumping out of a plane sans parachute , driving on the autobahn sans driving ability, eating sans teeth … well, maybe that one isn’t so much dangerous as it is messy.

Not only do these rodent pincushions fall and hurt themselves from the sheer impact, but they also impale themselves with their own spines. DOH!

You would think that this would mean big trouble for an animal that doesn’t have the any peroxide and Band-Aids at hand. Don't worry, the porcupine has it covered.

The porcupine secretes a greasy substance from its skin, which coats the spines, and acts as an antibiotic to prevent infection.

Through a gabillion years of evolution, these critters had this advantageous trait selected for through natural selection. What porcupine wouldn’t want this nifty feature? The ones that didn’t have this trait probably died out, falling off tress, and succumbing to their wounds, while the advanced model keeps on truckin’.

The coating on the spines also prevents predators, who get jabbed by the spines, from dying from their wounds. But the porcupine doesn’t really care. All they want is to be left alone so they can climb up some trees and ... BAM!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

HIATUS!

I havn't updated the site in awhile because I've been super busy - full time work and 4 nights of class - so I am officially announcing a "Crosstown Science Hiatus." The said hiatus will end once summer class (hell) is over (i.e. July 2006). I know EVERYONE is busting for something new.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

SPAM!


Sorry if you would like to post from now on you must be a registered user. This is the reason why ...

:::Cue Spinning Red Light and Siren Noise::::::


ATTENTION! BONUS "Late-Night" LINK:

Check out this page the relationship between a pearl fish and sea cucumber! Wild Stuff!

Essence of Ovary


I’m always amazed at the power of certain animals' senses, like a bat’s sonar , a cat’s night vision,elephant’s hearing or a dog’s sense of smell. It turns out that SPERM have a sense of smell, too!



Results published in this week’s Analytical Chemistry show that mouse sperm can detect even the faintest trace of an ovary’s scent. The phenomenon that allows cells to sense certain molecules in their environment is known as chemotaxis.

When mouse sperm are placed in a liquid environment they were observed to swim straight towards extracts of a female mouse’s ovary. The report details the biochemical processes that allow the sperm to pick up on the ovary’s odor.

This may explain how sperm find their way to the egg and may give scientists an understanding of reproduction problems in humans and aid in the development of fertility drugs and treatments.

"Defects in sperm chemotaxis may be a cause of infertility, and consequently, sperm chemotaxis could potentially be used as a diagnostic tool to determine sperm quality or as a therapeutic procedure in male infertility," said Stephen C. Jacobson an Indiana University Bloomington Associate Professor of Chemistry and author of the study in a press release.

Though the scientists did not find the specific molecule that the sperm can sniff-out, they did find that they swam right to the desired target even when the exact of a mouse ovary was diluted 100,000 times.

The study helps to confirm previous knowledge that odor receptor cells found on sperm serve a function.

Check out this video of the li’l buggers swimming right towards the ovary’s aroma!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Shocked By Monkey


I love monkeys – definitely one of my favorite animals. I've always dreamed of having one as a pet (my Dad had one in college named 'Kong') – so when I read this announcement I thought it was really cool.

A new species of monkey, originally discovered a year ago by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, has been found to be unique enough that it deserves to be categorized as a new genus. The discovery was published in this week’s journal Science, as is said to be the first new genus of monkey discovered in 83 years (the last being Allen’s Swamp Monkey in 1923).

When the scientists examined the DNA of the monkey they knew they found a unique primate different from any other genus.

The new genus is called Rungwecebus, (pronounced rung-way-CEE-bus), and refers to Mt. Rungwe , in Tanzania (not Tasmania) where the monkey was first observed.

The monkey is called a Kipunji monkey. It is brown with a sort of mohawk hair-do, has long cheek whiskers, an off-white tummy and tail and is around three feet tall.

While it’s always pretty neat to discover a new species, attention to this find should be given more practical consideration. The scientists of the study stress that the monkey is already endangered and risks being wiped out by logging of their habitat. They believe that only 500 remain in the wild.

"It would be the ultimate irony to lose a species this unique so soon after we have discovered it," said primatologist Dr. John G. Robinson director of WCS's International Programs in the press release. "This is a world treasure and as such, we urge the world community to protect it."