Thursday, March 30, 2006

Repackaged Notes II

` Here we go again. I have more junk information I’d like to throw out, but I just don’t have the heart. It is largely from Nature and The Straight Dope - unless otherwise stated. Enjoy.

` Again with a random and alleged quote:

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down – Robert Benchley

* If you speak Mandarin – a language in which words have different meanings depending on the tone you emphasize on them - you are nine times as likely to have perfect pitch than if you speak a non-tonal language.

* If you've ever wondered, denatured alcohol is nothing more bizarre than regular alcohol plus particularly toxic ingredients. You see, regular alcohol is subject to federal excise tax, so they add things to it, such as kerosene.
` Completely denatured alcohol cannot be drunk. Specially denatured alcohol is in things like Listerine and may contain wood alcohol, which can cause blindness, organ damage, and death.
` Listerine - made by Pfizer - is probably not as dangerous: SDA formula 38-B can contain eucalyptol, menthol, methyl, salicylate, and thymol. Since these substances are active ingredients of Listerine, this is probably what it contains.
` But don't think that this mouthwash is particularly safe to drink either: One man actually died after drinking three liters of the stuff, according to the Journal of Emergency Medicine. Eucalyptol, menthol and thymol "may contribute to a severe anion-gap metabolic acidosis and osmolar gap, multiorgan system failure, and death."
` It's also not cost-effective - though Listerine is 54 proof, with 26.9% alcohol - because crappy vodka can be found at 1.4 cents per mililiter of alcohol while Listerine is 1.9 cents per mililiter.

* Whoa! According to a Nature article, this guy accidentally stuck himself with a hypodermic needle in the spinal cord in the side of his neck, injecting it with heroin. This caused an infarction and he was paralyzed. What did the scientists conclude? That self-inflicted spinal cord injury with a small needle is difficult, but not impossible.

* The first capital of the U.S. was Philidelphia, but in Dec 1776, the early delegates fled to the mudhole of Baltimore to escape British forces until March 1777 when they returned to Philly.
` But then, when Philly was about to be captured, the delegates fled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for one day. Then they went to York, also in Pennsylvania which had 286 houses total. Not many people lived there.
` Lotsa interesting stuff happened, then they went to Princeton, Annapolis, Trenton, New York, Philly again, and wound up staying in another mudhole called Washington DC in 1880.

* Mice have two thymuses! The second one looks like a lymph gland, and so it has never been noticed before. So, in 2006 another piece of mouse anatomy has been discovered!
` ...This is not good upon reflection of certain mouse model medical studies.

* Massospondylus eggs - found in 1978, were recently discovered to have embryos with a quadropedal frame. Adults were bipeds,
like so. Juveniles were in between. Throughout life, the animals' neck grew swiftly compared to its head and forelegs. Also, these baby dinosaurs had no teeth, so it would have been tough to bite off parts of plants. Perhaps their parents fed them?
` For more information and photos of the embryos, P.Z. Myers has
long since written about them.

* Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan that causes Chagas' disease, has two nearly-identical genomes, fused end-to-end. Judging by the rate of change, apparently a few million years ago, two strains added their genes together.

` From a Scientific American Science News March 16:

* Something very unusual has been discovered - rather than a feathered dinosaur, as is generally now expected, a scaly dinosaur has made news! Juravenator starki is its name, and it lived 151 million years ago.
` The discovery is of utmost interest to scientists who are studying feather evolution:

` This could mean that feathers evolved, were lost and then regained in the lineage or that the creature shed its coat during different seasons, the researchers write. Or it could be that Juravenator is more primitive than they suggest, argues Xing Xu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing in an accompanying commentary. "Whatever the explanation, our knowledge of early feather evolution has been enriched by the discovery," Xu writes. "Juravenator may complicate the picture, but it makes it more complete and realistic."

* The myelogenous Leukemia vaccine was tested on people who only had less than three months to live. It had tremendous effects for most of them - some patients lived for four years! Sometimes, the leukemia even went into remission! It works by making the immune system recognize the leukemia cells, and so it attacks them.

* From 1969 to 1977, the 6,000-some moonquakes as measured by seismic stations were actually determined to be caused by earth's gravitational pull.

` Whoa! I found a partial Nature abstract! It shouldn't be too difficult to decipher for most people, though:

* The Ornithorhynchus (platypus), the Caribbean Solenodon and a few shrews (insectivores) are among mammals which have the ability to inject predators and prey alike with venom.
` Although classified within Eutheria, these mammals are phylogenetically remote from modern Insectivora4 and have evolved specialized teeth as salivary venom delivery systems (VDSs) that differ markedly from one another and from those of Solenodon and shrews.
` Our discoveries therefore show that mammals have been much more flexible in the evolution of VDSs than previously believed, contradicting currently held notions that modern insectivorans are representative of the supposedly limited role of salivary venoms in mammalian history. Evidently, small predatory eutherians have paralleled colubroid snakes5 in evolving salivary venoms and their delivery systems several times independently.

` And lastly, a humorous observation:

` I was once thinking of calling giving the name 'Mortimer' to the character in my book who is meant to represent my psychotic dad, so when I saw this, it made me laugh:

“Mortimer cannot express two contiguous thoughts that follow logically one from the other.” – Dr Language, 6/26/2004

` That's all for now, kids! I'd better go, anyway, as there is a Strange Nymphomaniac Person who is collaborating with me in my plot for world domination... I mean... putting together a bookcase. Yeah, that's it.


Galtron said...

It's the bookcase of DOOM, isn't it?

S E E Quine said...

` Quiet, you!