This video was made by the University of Utah Brain Institute to teach medical students about what a brain looks and feels like before it gets preserved in formalin and takes on the texture of a hard rubber ball.
The big takeaway message: Your brain is seriously squishy. So squishy, in fact, that a finger can dent it. As professor Suzanne Stensaas explains, this is one of the reasons why cerebrospinal fluid is so important. Your brain has to float in that fluid. If it didn't, it would come to rest against the side of your hard skull and quickly end up deformed.
Seriously, this is a fascinating (if extremely graphic) video. (Hilariously, given that fact, it opens with an image of a student eating.) Definitely worth watching!
Last week, I linked you to a piece pointing out that three New York Times
op-ed pieces linking bacterial exposure (or lack thereof) to autism, celiac disease, and allergies were all written by the same guy
, Moises Velasquez-Manoff. His ideas are interesting, but there's also good reason to be skeptical. If you want to get a better idea of the arguments for and against Velasquez-Manoff's thesis, I'd recommend checking out this post at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker
, which links to several critical stories and to Velasquez-Manoff's response to them. — Maggie
A Greenland shark found beached on Nov. 16. (CBC/Derrick Chaulk)
A tragedy was averted in Newfoundland when two men rescued an 8-foot-long Greenland shark that had managed to both partially beach itself and get a 2-foot-long hunk of moose lodged in its mouth. The men pulled the moose bits free and then towed the shark back into deeper water. The shark survived and, hopefully, learned some valuable lessons about hubris.
Researchers taking a core sample of sediment beneath Cape Charles, Virginia, found something surprising sandwiched between the layers of mud and ooze. Locked inside a rocky layer 5000 feet down, they discovered water — water from the early Cretaceous period
. — Maggie
In March 1938, writer Maryn McKenna's great uncle died, horribly, from an illness that began with just a couple of cuts and scrapes on his shoulder. He was only 30 when he died. If his injury and infection had happened just five years later, penicillin would likely have saved his life. McKenna uses this story to lead us into a piece about a post-antibiotic world
... what it would look like, and what's already happening to the people who come face-to-face with antibiotic resistance. It's a chilling read. And a necessary one. — Maggie
It's impossible to dive in front of a bullet and play the hero. Likewise, you can't really dodge a bullet either (unless you get a big
lead on the fact that it's heading towards you). Kyle Hill explains why the stuff that looks fancy and flashy on TV doesn't work in the real world
. — Maggie
After you spent all that time in grade school conditioning yourself to know that snakes stick out their tongues in order to smell
things, it turns out that those tricksy animals were also tasting with their tongues
, all along. — Maggie
The crazy part about NASA's Asteroid Initiative isn't so much the part where we land human beings on an asteroid
. That's cool and all, sure. But the bit that precedes it is actually a little bit more mindblowing. To make that landing work, we'll first have to send out robotic spacecraft to essentially capture an asteroid and tow it into a stable orbit around the Moon. Yeah. Seriously
. Welcome to living in the future, dudes. — Maggie
Among the belongings interred with dead Egyptian royalty for their long trip to the afterlife: Dinner
. Some meat mummies — preserved cuts of animal carcass meant to be used as food — were dried with salt, like a kind of jerky. Others were preserved with balms and beeswax. — Maggie
An interesting study on female aggression points out the trouble with making declarations about inherent human nature based on speculation about sexual dynamics. New studies, including this one, are finding that women can be plenty competitive and aggressive
. At The New York Times
, John Tierney points out that old ideas about female passivity were based on "an evolutionary analysis of the reproductive odds in ancient polygynous societies in which some men were left single because dominant males had multiple wives". — Maggie
In which a graduate student in cancer genetics regales us all with a tale of the disgustingly horrific things that can end up growing in a cell culture plate
if you aren't careful. Do not read while eating. — Maggie
We've talked here before about the Office of Planetary Protection
and efforts to make sure that we Earthlings don't contaminate the rest of the galaxy with our bacteria, viruses, and other assorted detritus. Now, some scientists are arguing that we've done this job too well
, effectively barring ourselves from exploring the parts of Mars that are most likely to be hospitable to life precisely because they could also be hospitable to tagalong life from Earth. — Maggie
Venus is not exactly a hospitable-sounding place. The planet's surface can reach temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The atmospheric pressure is close to the psi found in a hydraulic car crusher
. None of the landers that touched down there lasted more than an hour. Generally, it's a not a place that sounds very friendly to humans. But that's all on the surface. Just 30 miles up, conditions on Venus become incredibly Earth-like. In fact, the upper atmosphere of Venus is home to the most Earth-like conditions in our entire solar system. — Maggie
If paleoeschatologist Karen Chin is right, then the 2.4 liter fossilized fecal mass
she found Saskatchewan could have been the work of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. — Maggie
Pneumatic tube systems — little canisters shot through a series of tubes via the power of compressed air — have been around since the 19th century when they were briefly popular as a way to quickly deliver mail in big cities. Today, they're probably most familiar from their use in drive-through banking, but the tubes also turn up at libraries (the one at the main branch of the New York Public Library is particularly steampunky), in scientific laboratories, and in hospitals.
Last month, I spent an inordinate amount of time in one Minneapolis area hospital, waiting for an induced labor to kick in. How do you entertain yourself between the insertion of the IV line and the beginning of serious contractions? Turns out, you go on a lot of short walks, you watch some TV, and (if you're lucky) you convince the nurses to let your husband "mail" his cell phone from the labor/delivery department to the post-natal department, using the hospital's pneumatic tube system.
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