Deep sea Cnidarian

There are approximately 9,000 species of Cnidarians. They are familiar to us as jellyfish and corals and one of the characteristics of the phylum is the nematocysts that can inject poison through human skin making the pelagic types the bane of swimmers worldwide. This toxin varies from the harmless moon jelly Aurelia aurita to the deadly box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri, Carukia barnesi and Malo kingi).

An interesting Cindarian, recently filmed, is the Scyphomedusa Deepstaria enigmatica.

The description and classification of the species can be found here. It has so far been found in the mesopelagic zone; since this zone strateches from ~660 to 3300 feet down, you are unlikely to encounter it anytime soon. Because of the relatively few sightings, worldwide distribution is unknown.

Here is a remarkable video of the strange, and relatively unknown animal.


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Bathroom Breaks in Movies

With Season 4 of the Game of Thrones behind us, we realize that people only use the toilet in movies when the plot demands it. In fact, without doing a count, I suspect people have sex more often than they urinate in movies.  Defecation is even more rare, probably because, as Tyrion Lannister discovered that day,  Lord Tywin Lannister did not, in the end, shit gold. 

Occasionally, a character will stop along the way for a bathroom break, but while many of us, especially as we age, can have our lives disrupted by overly frequent pit-stops, movie characters seldom have that weakness.  Continue reading

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The Dangers of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the more popular forms of CAM and is often touted by practitioners as being risk free. The truth is something else. The latest criticism comes from a study published in PLOS One.

The authors describe 30 cases (7 confirmed and 23 suspected ) of primary inoculation tuberculosis all from a single clinic in China over a 3 month period in 2011.  Continue reading

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The Need For Vaccines

A child with a deformity of her right leg due to polio – image from Wikipedia

Vaccine deniers are increasing in number in Canada and the US; countries that have not seen the major impact of preventable diseases in a couple of generations. In some parts of the world, people are not so fortunate. Polio was a scourge of the past that has been eradicated in most of the world. However, thanks to wars and superstition, it has been creeping back.

In 1988, when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was formed, polio paralysed more than 350 000 people a year. Since that time, polio case numbers have decreased by more than 99% (with only 406 polio cases reported in 2013).

Polio has been creeping back in Guinea; it experienced new cases in January after being free of polio since 1999, one of many Africans countries where the disease has returned after being contained. The virus was carried into Guinea from Cameroon, which was infected by migrants from Chad, which redeveloped polio as a result of vaccine refusal in Nigeria more than 10 years ago.

Now the polio virus has been found in Brazil. Just in sewage so far, but the danger for infection is present. Continue reading

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No physicists were harmed in the making of this video. 

Sarah Donner bills herself as a singer/songwriter/creative type. Her music is quirky and often related to science, in a roundabout peripheral way.

Here are a couple of videos from her YouTube channel.

The Rebuttal of Schrödinger’s Cat Continue reading

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Dumbo’s Feather

Many of us remember the Disney movie Dumbo starring the flying elephant.  Dumbo’s buddy, Timothy Q Mouse, realized that the only thing holding Dumbo back was his lack of self-confidence and tricked him into believing the power came from a magic feather. In the end, of course, Dumbo recognizes that power comes from within and flies on his own. Happily ever after. The End.

The idea is that we have the ability to accomplish great things if only we don’t allow negative thinking to hold us back. To a certain extent, that can be true, but we must recognize that even positive thinking has limits to its power. The book “The Secret” filled with tales of people acquiring riches, curing illness, or even reversing age related Presbyopia. CAM including prayer are often based on similar flawed ideas. If your treatment works, it’s sometimes claimed that the cure is based on the placebo effect; in other words, it’s all in your mind. It it doesn’t doesn’t work, it’s often because you didn’t want wellness hard enough. It comes down to personal failure. Continue reading

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More on MacKay

Here’s a bit of follow-up to the comments of Justice Minister Peter Mackay I wrote about yesterday.  It didn’t take very long for The Toronto Star to find some people who strongly disagree, not only with MacKay’s tone, but also with his facts.

Avvy Yao-Yao Go an Ontario lawyer, recently appointed to the Order of Ontario, was furious. Continue reading

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Peter MacKay Justice Minister. Is he racist and sexist?

My first introduction to Peter MacKay was back in 2003 when he became leader of the progressive Conservative party of Canada partly by making promises that he would not attempt a merger with the then Canadian Alliance party. That promise lasted about 3 months. Later, he showed considerable disrespect to Belinda Stronach after their relationship ended. He is not a man who has ever garnered much respect from me.

Today, The Star newspaper reports on some very disturbing statements from MacKay. Continue reading

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A Quick look at the effects of unintended pregnancies

I think it’s safe to assume that most women make the decision to terminate a pregnancy because the pregnancy was unintended. Some, of course, make the decision due to health concerns. Some of the reasons given for making the decision include:

  • Birth control (contraceptive) failure
  • Financial reasons,
  • Timing,
  • Partner related reasons,
  • Need to focus on other children
  • Inability to support or care for a child.
  • Pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.
  • Physical or mental conditions that endanger the woman’s health if the pregnancy is continued.
  • To prevent the birth of a child with birth defects or severe medical problems.

Continue reading

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Let’s Talk GMOs

Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of childhood blindness and death worldwide. While rare in the developed world, it is a chronic and severe problem in many areas.

 An estimated 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient and it is likely that in vitamin A deficient areas a substantial proportion of pregnant women is vitamin A deficient. An estimated 250 000 to 500 000 vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight.

An effort to assist in increasing dietary vitamin A, without forcing people to radically change their diet or areas of agricultural expertise, has been a major goal for decades. There have been three major thrusts to achieve this goal. Continue reading

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