Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Extreme Weather Rages Worldwide

Biology                                                                                                       Michael Crawford
Current Events 2                       4/23/13

            This article was about the extreme weather that has been present recently in the world. It talked about how lately; there has been extreme weather throughout the world. There has always been extreme weather, but until recently there has not been as much extreme weather seen at the same time. As Omar Baddour put it, “ Each year we have extreme weather, but it’s unusual to have so many extreme events around the world at once.” Examples of these extreme weather events are seen all over the world such as the constant flooding in Britain in the recent 2000’s. The flooding in Britain has been so bad that one pub owner had his pub flooded eleven times in just two months. Also, in Australia, bush fires have been seen all over and the heat wave came after two of the country’s wetter years, which is strange that they came right after one another. The article also mentions extreme weather patterns in Northern Europe, Siberia, China, South America, and the Middle East. One thing that it also explains is that extreme weather isn’t only growing in frequency but in intensity. Extreme weather is becoming more dangerous and has resulted in deaths throughout the world.

            The topic of this article affects humanity gravely and worries me as a human. The topic that it is related to, global warming, is one of the most controversial and important topics of science at this time. There is so much that is said about our dangerous environmental conditions and this article talks about some of these conditions that should worry humanity. These conditions could occur anywhere and for that reason they affect everyone.

            I thought that this article was mostly written very well and was very interesting. The article talked about a topic, which interests me as well as most readers and gave information that interested me as well. The extreme weather example such as the one in Britain were all very interesting to read because of their oddness and irregularity. One thing that I think this article could’ve done better was I think it could’ve offered a reason for this extreme weather pattern that is occurring. It talked a lot about the pattern, but didn’t really explain why such a thing would happen. Also, after explaining a possible reason why it was happening, I would’ve liked to see a suggestion for helping stop these events because I believe that it is very important too. However, overall I think this article was interesting and well worth the read!

Works Cited
Janeiro., Sarah Lyall; Reporting Was Contributed By Jodi Rudoren From Jerusalem; Irit

            Pazner Garshowitz From Tzur Hadassah, Israel; Fares Akram From Gaza City,            

            Gaza;  Ellen Barry And Andrew Roth From Moscow; Ranya Kadri From            

            Amman, Jordan; Dan Levin From Harbin, China; Jim Yardley From New Delhi;            

            Anne Barnard From Beirut, Lebanon; Matt Siegel From Sydney, Australia; Scott            

            Sayare From Paris; And Simon Romero From Rio De. "Heat, Flood or Icy Cold,            
            Extreme Weather Rages Worldwide." The New York Times. The New York Times,            
            11 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

See-Through Mice Brain

Matthew Bettino                                                                                                        4/13/13
Biology Davies C
New technique gives see-through view into mouse brains

            I read an article that told of a new method scientists have discovered in the observation of the brains of mice. The new method is based around removing light-blocking fat molecules that surround the brains of mice. This new method allows scientists observe the brains circuitry in entirety. Before this new method was discovered, scientists had a surprisingly difficult time observing the brains of the mice they conducted tests on. Usually, a full or thin slice of brain is observed under a light microscope by researchers. However, the lipids in the brain scatter the light penetrating them, causing an unclear image. To overcome this blockage, Karl Deisseroth invented a new way to observe thin brain samples. First, the brain samples are soaked in a cocktail. When heated, the plastic-like substance stuck to everything except the fats in the brain. Once separated, the lipids are drained out. This leaves a clear, transparent brain. However, all of the important parts of the brain are left intact. This entire process is called CLARITY. Scientists are excited because they will be able to map out the entire long-distance connections of the brain. Also, scientists are hopeful that they will be able to use this method on other organs of test subjects. However, they are a bit concerned with the use of Clarity on other organs because lipids play more important roles in these organs.
            This breakthrough in the observation of mice shows obvious importance towards science. This ability to remove the light-blocking lipids from the samples of the brains of mice allows scientists to make more detailed and accurate observations in their work. The clearer brain image will also allow scientists to map out an image of how the inner circuitry of the brain of an animal functions. Even though this aspect is very interesting, there is a more important and broad importance of Clarity. Mice are used in many lab tests. These tests include the study of vaccinations, medications and other cures for high profile diseases in our society. Like Mrs. Davies told us in class, she and her lab partners use rats and mice in their studies of cancer. These mice are under close observation, and are the sole data of many of these tests. Scientists believe that they may be able to use Clarity or other similar methods to clarify the image of other organs in mice under a microscope. If these organs were able to be viewed more precisely, the tests of life saving medications and vaccinations could see improved accuracy. Improved accuracy only leads to better data. Better data leads to better end results. If the idea of Clarity could be applied to other lab tests on mice, scientists could improve the disease preventing and curing medications already in existence. Also, there is a possibility of some kind of cure being found.
            I thought this article was very well written. The author got to the point right off the bat, explaining how Clarity works and how it is important to the scientific world. However, there are two things that I believe the author could have added to make this article even better. First, I would have liked to know a bit more about the direct and specific impact of Clarity. The author did say it would help scientists map out a better circuitry image of the brain of a mouse but why is that important? Also, I would have liked to know a bit more background about the topic at hand. The author gave the reader no idea of what a pre-Clarity brain sample would have looked like. This would have enhanced the readers understanding of why Clarity is so important to science. However, with these two comments aside, I did find the article to be both informative and interesting. The article really showed me how such small breakthroughs in science can have such a profound influence on our society.

"New Technique Gives See-through View into Mouse Brains | Genes & Cells | Science News." New Technique Gives See-through View into Mouse Brains | Genes & Cells | Science News. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2013. <>.

Two Locally Extinct Sharks Revealed

Jack Braumuller                                                                                                          4/16/13
Two Locally Extinct Sharks Revealed                                               Core Bio Current Events

            In this article, the author writes about the discovery of shark tooth weapons in the Gilbert Islands in the South Pacific, and how the discovery of these weapons led to the realization that certain shark species once lived in the surrounding water.
The islanders only used the teeth of certain types of sharks to make their weapons. Weapons were important because battles for land were frequent on the small  island. Of the approximately seventeen shark species whose teeth were used for weapons, two of the teeth were recognized as the teeth of species who were not known to have ever lived in the area. The spot fin and dusky sharks had never been known to live in the water surrounding the Gilbert Islands until the analysis of the weapons.
This discovery does not seem like a major or important discovery, but it allows scientists to better understand the wildlife in the Gilbert Islands area. If these sharks have gone extinct, why not others? Now scientists must find out why the spot fin and dusky sharks went extinct and how to keep other sharks from following suit. Shark populations grow very slowly and are difficult to control, but they are a key part of the habitat in the ocean and especially the food chain in a reef setting.
Overall, I liked the article just because it was on an interesting and exotic topic. My critique is that the way in which the teeth in the weapons was discovered was not given in great detail. I would like to know why scientists were analyzing the weapons in the first place.

Than, Ker. "Shark-Tooth Weapons Reveal "Lost" Shark Species." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2013.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Silas White                                                                                                                                      4/15/13                  
Bio-C Block Davies

Citation: University of Michigan. "Building better blood vessels could advance tissue engineering."ScienceDaily, 4 Apr. 2013. Web. 5 Apr. 2013.
One of the major obstacles of growing human tissue is the difficulty of keeping the blood vessels that nourish them alive.  Andrew Putnam is a researcher at the University of Michigan, and he and his colleagues seek to find the solution to this problem.  He and his team believe research into building better blood vessels could lead to curing disease that affects the circulatory system, such as diabetes.  The most common reasons lab grown blood vessels fail is that they are unstable and leak blood.  Putnam demonstrated how adult stem cells could fix this problem.  Traditionally, researches have used and developed drug compounds that would signal existing vessels to grow into new tributaries, but other researchers including Putnam and the University of Maryland team are using a cell based method.  “This technique involves injecting cells within a scaffolding carrier near the spot where you want new capillaries to materialize. In Putnam's approach, they deliver endothelial cells, which make up the vessel lining and supporting cells. Their scaffolding carrier is fibrin, a protein in the human body that helps blood clot,” as directly stated in the article.  According to Putnam, this new process is as easy as injecting the cells and then in a few days new capillaries have grown.  Of course, it isn’t that simple.  While it is easy to grow capillaries using this new cell based method, the vessels don’t always thrive.  Of order to remedy this, or at least collect helpful data, Putnam designed an experiment where he mixed four different blood vessel solutions that were each identical to each other, but one had cells from lung fibroblasts, one had adult stem cells from fat, and one had adult stem cells from bone marrow.  The fourth solution acted as a negative control, and therefore had no supporting cells at all.  They injected these solutions into mice, and found that the control and lung fibroblast groups produced leaky misshapen capillaries, and both groups containing different types of adult stem cells produced healthy capillaries, that didn’t leak blood.  Putnam envisions that in the near future, doctors will be able to take these support cells from the patients themselves and use it to inject them where the new blood vessels are needed.

Finding out how to effectively grow human tissue is a very important field of biology because it can lead to curing disease and being able to easily perform organ transplant.  For example, doctors could perform kidney transplants without needing a kidney donor because they could just grow the kidney themselves.  Being able to grow blood vessels only is a far cry from being able to grow a fully functional organ, but it does bring them one step closer.  According to Putnam, we may even be able to cure diabetes using this research, and that would be very exciting news!

       One critic for this article is that it was hard to comprehend at times because it used a lot of scientific terms that are hard to comprehend for someone without an advanced understanding of biology, but I also understand it may be hard if not impossible to explain something this complicated without using a lot of language specific to biology.  For the most part though, the article was easy to follow.   This article seems promising and hopefully Putnam’s research is expanded on soon.