Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Poisoned dolphins, Einstein's Brain and Face transplants- Links of the week

Welcome (back) to Weirdbeautiful. My pick-of-the-latest science and wildlife stories starts with the tale of the Bataria Bay Dolphins...

Dolphins- mother and calf - photographed in Israel by Faraj Meir, 2006. This image has a GNU Creative Commons attribution 3.0 license (details here) and was taken from wikipedia [here].

The New York Times has quoted America's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as having "suggested" that Dolphins in Barataria Bay off Louisiana are seriously ill and that their ailments are probably related to toxic substances in the petroleum , which was released in that area by the BP oil spill in 2010. The full article is online here-->


Unfortunately, the New York Times is starting to restrict online readers to only viewing 10 articles per month without paying, so there will probably be a lot few links to their reportage and their stories from this blog in the future.This is a shame, because their coverage of science stories- in my opinion, at least- is generally the best of all newspapers; however, they are not the first newspaper to take this route- The Times (of London) has been charging for online content for some time. It will be interesting to observe how this move affects their visibility and the online "chatter" about their articles, since so many people, bloggers and writers now access newspapers online and I suspect many will favour free papers over their pay-per-view rivals.

I believe that one of the most interesting developments in medicine in recent years has been the advent of face transplants. The remarkable improvements in the surgical techniques- quite literally from one individual patient to the next- are plain for all to see. The most recent and extensive such transplant is the case of Richard Lee Norris: a man from Virginia, USA who had been badly disfigured in a gun accident. As well as the face transplant; surgeons at the University of Maryland's medical centre gave Mr. Norris teeth, a tongue and upper and lower jaws from a donor. You can read more details of the case online in a yahoo news article [here].

In February, The New England Journal of medicine published a paper by Bohdan Pomahac and colleagues reveiwing three such transplants- unfortunately, the ful text is not available without payment to the journal, but the abstract is online [here]

                                                    Andrea Versalius's "Base of the Brain" from "Fabrica" (1543)- copyright lapsed due to age- image taken picture uploaded to wikipedia here by Ancheta Wis.

Final link-of-the-day today is to this article by Shernah Noah in today's Independent newspaper, reporting that Albert Einstein's brain is to go on show as part of the "Brains: The Mind As Matter" exhibition in the Wellcome Collection on London's Euston Road. According to the Wellcome Collection's website The Exhibition runs from 29th March to 17th June 2012 and admission is free.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Link of the day- Electro convulsive therapy and how it works....

Welcome (back) to Weirbeautiful.

Link of the day today is this tabloid article describing a recent study that sheds light on Electro Convulsive Therapy- an effective, if very drastic and unpleasant treatment for severe depression.


Friday, 2 March 2012

Giant insects- past and present

Welcome (back) to Weirdbeautiful.

This week's links are both to popular science articles about giant insects- 
the first-
- tells the story of  the world's largest stick insects being found on an isolated rocky outcrop near Lord between Australia and New Zealand, some 80 years after the species was thought extinct.

Meanwhile, scientists in China have unearthed the fossilized remains of giant prehistoric fleas-three or four times larger than modern fleas. As the yahoo news-article explains, "Nine perfectly preserved fossils were unearthed from 165-million-year-old Jurassic deposits in Daohugou, northeast China, and the 125-million-year-old Cretaceous strata at Huangbanjigou, China." You can find the full text here-