Saturday, March 30, 2013

Game of Thrones Returns!!

Like many people, I can barely contain my excitement that Game of Thrones is returning with it's 3rd season tomorrow on HBO.  To celebrate, I'm offering up the House Posters I designed last year as free downloads again right here on my blog.  They make great iPhone wallpapers!!

Just click the one you want and it will take you to the hi-res file, right click, and save as... onto your computer.  Yup, that easy!!

Fire and Blood, yo.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Science Saturday 4.3: Invisible Fish, Growing Teeth, & More

A new species of wasp has been discovered in Thailand and was given the name Cystomastacoides kiddo. It was named after Beatrix Kiddo, the female ninja-assassin protagonist from Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies.  Not only is the wasp suited in yellow/black, but it also stealthily kills other insects by implanting it's eggs into their host.  When the larvae grow, they tear their way out, as switfly as The Bride wielding her Hattori Hanzo sword.


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It has been found that pirate perch have a special chemical camouflage that makes them "invisible" to their prey.  These fish are somehow able mask their scent from other animals.  Unsuspecting frogs will lay their eggs in ponds, thinking there are no predators around, all while the pirate perch remains undetected.  Then when the opportunity arises, they feast on their prey.  Researchers are hoping to discover more species that have this special ability, as well as determining the exact chemical process by which they can cloak themselves through smell.

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Scientists have been able to grow teeth with viable roots in the laboratory, using cells from human gum tissue combined with tooth cells from fetal mice.  The stem cells from the mouse signaled for growth in the human gum cells, resulting in growing roots, dentine, and enamel.
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As a lover of simple & clean minimalist design, this informational video about DNA is absolutely stunning!

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Little Housekeeping

If you are an avid reader of my blog (hahaha, i keed i keed), you may notice I changed up the layout and design a bit.  I also decided to go back to using Disqus for commenting.  I know some people have had issues when I used it before, but I think they've made the changes over the past year to make it very user friendly.  Let me know if you have any issues.  Also, with the news that Google Reader is sunsetting, I've been looking for other readers to keep up with all of your blogs, and so I started a Bloglovin' account.  If you use it, you can now follow my blog there.  Hope you had a lovely Monday!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Science Saturday 4.2: HIV, Mind Meld & More


The big science news from this week comes from about 20 minutes away from my apartment...at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, it was reported that a baby has been cured of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).  This is only the 2nd reported case of a patient being effectively cured.  30 hours after the baby's birth, they discovered she was HIV positive, so doctors began an intense treatment of three HIV antiviral drugs.  10 months later, there was no sign of an active virus - pieces of HIV DNA and RNA were still present, but the virus was not replicating.  This "functional cure" presents promising results for the future of antiviral therapies for HIV positive newborns, as well as giving insight to possible cures for adult patients.
Nanoparticles (purple) carrying melittin (green)
fuse with HIV (small circles with spiked outer ring),
destroying the virus’s protective envelope.
source

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Speaking of HIV, another study is showing that nanoparticles made with bee venom can kill HIV.  Bee venom consists of melittin, a peptide (essentially like a smaller protein) that functions by degrading the protective protein coating surrounding the virus.  Because it is specific to this viral coat, melittin does not degrade or harm normal healthy cells, only the virus.  This has future implications to combat other viruses such as Hepatitis B or C.

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Neuroscientists studying brain-machine interferences (BMIs) have demonstrated a "mind meld" of sorts in a pair of rats.  They were able to use microelectrodes in the brain to link up a neural network between the two rats.  Essentially, one rat's brain was stimulated (the encoder) and the other rat's brain received the information (the decoder). This study demonstrates the capability of an "organic computer," or multiple linked brainpower, being able to solve complex problems.  Resistance is futile.
"Researchers trained pairs of rats to press one of two levers, with the correct one indicated by a flashing light above, to get a drink of water. When the encoder rat pressed the right lever and got its reward, a sample of the brain activity that coded for that behavior was translated into a pattern of electrical stimulation and delivered directly to the brain of the decoder rat. The decoder faced the same lever setup, but got no visual clues, so had to rely on cues transmitted from the encoder to guide it to the correct lever and the reward."

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Lastly, check out this cool video of fluid knots, which physicists have simulated in the laboratory.  Unlike tying a knot in a piece of string, this mathematical knot has no ends, and is a continuous loop or closed entanglement. Being able to replicate this model can lead to further understanding of lead to better models of airflow around aircraft wings, or of strange quantum substances like superfluids.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Ra-ra-random

I always see cool things or experience something in my day that makes me think "oh, I should write a blog post about that!" and then I never do.  Haha.  So what you get is a mish-mash of randomness today!

1.) Had a lovely start to the week.  I woke up to this beautiful sight and was reminded of God's grace and mercy.  Nothing can compare to the beauty of His promises to us.


2.) Check out this amazing photography project I discovered on Instagram called #PantonePairings.  The artist David Schwen makes swatches out of commonly paired foodstuffs.  Clever, right?!


3.) Thanks to Brad Sherwood's AMA on Reddit, I scoured out a bunch of old Whose Line is it Anyway? episodes on YouTube and have been laughing my way through them.  These clips are probably two of my favorite moments watching the show...




4.) It's my first official spring break as an INSTRUCTOR and not a student, and I think I am even more excited about it. Haha. I'm planning on doing lots of reading, playing video games, watching movies, and working on some crafty projects.  Maybe I'll even find time to blog ;)