Review: Logitech MK270, the cheapest-ass wireless keyboard and mouse combo

The Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse set was just twelve dollars and fifty cents!

It's sometimes $16.99 or even a bit more, but that's still pretty damned cheap.

I expected it to be about as bad as the Amazon Basics Keyboard, which is the same price, but wired, and you don't get a mouse. You know those nasty squidgy roll-up rubber portable keyboards? Imagine one of those in a rigid plastic case, and you have the Amazon Basics Keyboard.

This, though, is a perfectly decent full-size rubber-dome keyboard, as good as most of the tat in, say, a Best Buy or Staples. The special keys worked, including a calculator key that actually brings up the system calculator. Fucking witchcraft! Read the rest

THC in marijuana reverses learning and memory problems in elderly mice

While THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, seems to cause memory and learning impairment in young mice, surprising new research suggests that it actually reverses cognitive decline in elderly mice. From Scientific American:

Researchers led by Andreas Zimmer of the University of Bonn in Germany gave low doses of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, marijuana’s main active ingredient, to young, mature and aged mice. As expected, young mice treated with THC performed slightly worse on behavioral tests of memory and learning. For example, after THC young mice took longer to learn where a safe platform was hidden in a water maze, and they had a harder time recognizing another mouse to which they had previously been exposed. Without the drug, mature and aged mice performed worse on the tests than young ones did. But after receiving THC the elderly animals’ performances improved to the point that they resembled those of young, untreated mice. “The effects were very robust, very profound,” Zimmer says...

When the researchers examined the brains of the treated, elderly mice for an explanation, they noticed neurons in the hippocampus—a brain area critical for learning and memory—had sprouted more synaptic spines, the points of contact for communication between neurons. Even more striking, the gene expression pattern in the hippocampi of THC-treated aged mice was radically different from that of untreated elderly mice. “That is something we absolutely did not expect: the old animals [that received] THC looked most similar to the young, untreated control mice,” Zimmer says.

The findings raise the intriguing possibility THC and other “cannabinoids” might act as anti-aging molecules in the brain.

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How to make a simple pipe mousetrap

Chris Notap likes to make humane mousetraps. He's a recreational trapper, I guess. This is the fifth one in his series of homemade traps.

Another of my best and easiest homemade humane mouse traps! The 5th in a series! Easy to build, easy to bait, easy to release and best of all, it's humane and there's no springs or levers to wind up or load! The mouse or vole cannot escape or chew his way out of this mouse trap. Mice are not harmed in any way during capture. As a matter of fact, the mouse or vole remains very calm since there is no snapping latches to scare him! Mice can be released calmly and easily without fear of getting bitten even by the most "fearful of mice" person!! Simple operation makes this diy homemade vole mouse trap fun and easy to build and adjust for easy trapping and best of all easy release. Just use a dab of peanut butter to bait the trap. It's the best do it yourself homemade humane live release vole mouse trap you'll find! A few common items is all you'll need. I'll be building a humane squirrel trap next so you can capture and release squirrels easily too so subscribe and don't miss my upcoming "diy humane squirrel trap". Thanks for watching. I also have a "diy humane rat trap" coming soon too!

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Scorpion vs. Mouse: Who wins?

The Arizona bark scorpion is the deadliest scorpion in the continental United States. But the Southern grasshopper mouse happily munches on the scorpions. How? The scorpion's venom actually triggers the mouse to numb itself to pain.

From KQED Science:

The scorpion venom contains neurotoxins that target sodium and potassium ion channels, proteins embedded within the surface of the nerve and muscle cells that play an important role in regulating the sensation of pain. Activating these channels sends signals down the nerves to the brain. That’s what causes the excruciating pain that human victims have described as the feeling like getting jabbed with a hot needle. Others compare the pain to an electric shock. But the grasshopper mouse has an entirely different reaction when stung.

Within the mouse, a special protein in one of the sodium ion channels binds to the scorpion’s neurotoxin. Once bound, the neurotoxin is unable to activate the sodium ion channel and send the pain signal. Instead it has the entirely opposite effect. It shuts down the channel, keeping it from sending any signals, which has a numbing effect for the mouse.

"Stinging Scorpion vs. Pain-Defying Mouse"

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Gene therapy restored hearing in deaf mice

Researchers partially restored hearing in deaf mice with a certain kind of genetic hearing loss by inserting working copies of the mutated genes. Eventually the technique could lead to gene therapy for certain causes of human deafness. Read the rest

Scientists still trying to figure out how added sugar affects your health

Here's a crazy fact: Thanks to soda and the sneaky added sugars in store-bought foods, 25% of Americans consume a diet that is 25% sugar. In fact, all it takes to hit that is three cans of soda on top of an otherwise sugar-free diet. What does eating like that mean for your health in the long term? Scientists are still trying to figure that out. Scicurious breaks down a recent study in mice that successfully demonstrates both why our sugar intake has health experts concerned AND why we don't yet know exactly what we're doing to ourselves. Read the rest

Why new cloned mice can help scientists treat lab animals more humanely

This week, scientists cloned a mouse from cells found in a drop of mouse blood. That's different from other cloned mice, whose creation relied on more invasive sampling from the liver, bone marrow, and lymph nodes (read: the original animal was euthanized). Cloning mice is valuable for scientific research — it's handy to have your subjects be as alike one another as possible. Now, scientists have a way to do that without having to kill the original mouse. Read the rest

Serotonin found to influence sexual preference in mice

"When Yi Rao of Peking University in Beijing, China, and his colleagues genetically engineered female mice so that they could no longer make or respond to serotonin, it appeared to affect their sexuality. Although they would still mate with males if no other females were present, given the choice, the rodents preferred sniffing and mounting females." [New Scientist] Read the rest

Mice guilty of arson

An inquest found mice responsible for burns found on a dead 55-year-old woman in England, but was unable to determine the exact cause of death. Though the rodents nibbled through cabling and started a fire, Linda Wyatt suffered no smoke inhalation and may therefore have already succumbed to other ailments. [Court News UK] Read the rest

Yogurt-eating mice have larger testicles and "mouse swagger"

A study at MIT involving mice fed a diet of vanilla yogurt with probiotics yielded interesting and unanticipated results:

First, the scientists noticed that the yogurt-eating mice were incredibly shiny. Using both traditional histology techniques and cosmetic rating scales, the researchers showed that these animals had 10 times the active follicle density of other mice, resulting in luxuriantly silky fur.

Then the researchers spotted some­thing particular about the males: they projected their testes outward, which endowed them with a certain “mouse swagger,” Erdman says. On measuring the males, they found that the testicles of the yogurt consumers were about 5 percent heavier than those of mice fed typical diets alone and around 15 percent heavier than those of junk-eating males.

More in SciAm. The fact that these manly-mouse-man results were achieved from girly-vanilla-yogurt is not lost on me.

But I want to know is, how exactly does one go about weighing the mice's testicles? Your thoughts in the comments. (via Ed Yong) Read the rest