Save Our Dogs, a grassroots effort to save working dogs from CA AB 1634/Now SB 250, mandatory spay/neuter
Visit Save Our Dogs
Dog & Cat Owners Say No to AB 1634 SB 250 ~ ROUND 18plus!
See for FACTS on SB 250
Love your Pets? Read my files on Label Animal_Control.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Science and Veganism

Realists celebrate the human/animal bond. Much of the quality of our lives depends on this relationship.

Public health is important. We would not have clean public water nor much commercial food for ourselves or for the animals we care for, without the use of the animal components in laboratory testing media. In the laboratory we prepare tests using media which helps to differentiate the different types of microorganisms, based on what we are looking for. Here's one page showing a type of media used for testing samples for coliforms.

Products cleared for public health standards must pass minimum requirements imposed via technology used in public safety. Restaurants (even "vegan" ones), canneries and more must be able to pass public health requirements with clean standards. Produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, legumes, some nut products, pet foods, as well as lemon festooned drinks (see video) have recently been in the news--for they were contaminated with bacteria that did not meet passing levels. This contamination cannot be determined by use of a coin toss. Coliforms are natural occurring. They are everywhere. On doorknobs, the skins of grapes or on the surfaces of any coinage in your pockets.

Here's an interesting dichotomy. Vegans actively seek consumables such as vitamins, foods and clothing that are not dependent on animal sources or which somehow fit their individual definition of "cruelty free". White sugar and over the counter pregnancy testing involve animal media, and are therefore not vegan. This viewpoint seems rather selective as the same vegan sips from a glass of water or can of soda, or uses public water in their bathing and cooking. Veganism clearly does not exist in reality. Vegans may mean well but tend to languish in scientific denial. I prefer the term, vegetarian. It is certainly more honest. I have vegetarian friends and family members and I do enjoy vegetarian dishes. This commentary only seeks to address the fact that selective denial as practiced by vegans should not be part of our policy making and political processes which influence the balance of good that we (including "vegans") all enjoy because of technology. Imagine if public water and food safety testing ceased.

Using this dichotomy... This denial of reality is used by Animal Rights political groups to condone their activities. These political groups and including Animal Rights Terrorists selectively make targets out of attention getting issues which they feel will not compromise the faith and following of their support groups. In other words, keep the ignorance there, use bad "science", but use this source of ignorant energy to attack others.

Divide, and conquer. What a shame. Imagine what we could accomplish by working together for the goals of human and animal welfare.

That H2O from the faucet or a plastic bottle; those frozen snow peas, cans of mixed vegetables and Wayne Pacelle's jar of 'vegan' peanut butter are clean foods because of animal products. Vegan irony? Or simple Reality? You'd probably be hard pressed to find a vegan that processes their own sewage using vegan technology and no coliform testing to produce potable water.

There's probably no question that it is good for businesses to find niches to support. Sellers of vegan goods are only doing what is right for them, for business and our economy by appealing to this population. Remember, when people wanted to use 'cholesterol free' vegetable oils, companies knew that putting the 'cholesterol free' label onto these veggie oils could make the difference between making a sale, and not.

So much technology! Why do we need animal testing when we can simulate some things? The answer lies in the complicated realities of unique cellular systems, epigenetics, genome and more. It is not possible to program computers for scenarios when we have insufficient data upon which to base predictions.

"Soybeans and Livestock blog" recently used the following list of charities to remind all, just how much we rely on animal testing and animal media. The charities below are purportedly working to help improve some aspects of life. I'm not making recommendations. Even charities need checks and balances.

If you support reality and research, please consider signing the petition at Americans for Medical Progress and sharing balanced knowlege to discourage ignorance and discourage support for organizations that play on the ignorance of the masses.

*Charities on the People For the Ethical Treament of Animals (PETA) “Do Test” (on animals) List:


1. American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMFAR)

2. Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

3. Pediatric AIDS Foundation


4. Alzheimer’s Association

5. Alzheimer’s Disease Research


6. Arthritis Foundation


7. March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation

8. Muscular Dystrophy Association

9. Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children

10. Shriners International Headquarters

11. The Smile Train

12. United Cerebral Palsy


13. Foundation Fighting Blindness

14. Massachusetts Lions Eye Research Fund

15. Research to Prevent Blindness


16. American Red Cross

17. Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation, Inc

18. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America

19. National Hemophilia Foundation


20. Shriners Burn Institute/ Shriners International Headquarters


21. American Cancer Society

22. American Institute for Cancer Research,

23. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation

24. Cancer Research Foundation of America

25. Children’s Cancer Research Fund

26. City of Hope

27. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

28. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

29. G & P Foundation for Cancer Research

30. The Jimmy Fund

31. John Wayne Cancer Institute

32. Lance Armstrong Foundation,

33. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America

34. Lombardi Cancer Center

35. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

36. National Cancer Research Center

37. National Foundation for Cancer Research

38. Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research/Lombardi Cancer Research Center,

39. The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund

40. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

41. Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

42. The V Foundation for Cancer Research


43. Boys Town National Research Hospital

44. Children’s Cancer Research Fund

45. Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation

46. Children’s National Medical Center

47. Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

48. The Jimmy Fund

49 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF),

50. Pediatric AIDS Foundation

51. Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children/ Shriners International Headquarters,

52. The Smile Train

53. Society for Pediatric Pathology

54. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

55. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Alliance


56. Boys Town National Research Hospital

57. Deafness Research Foundation


58. American Diabetes Association,

59. Joslin Diabetes Center

60. Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International


61. American Federation for Aging Research,


62. National Alliance for Research of Schizophrenia and Depression

63. National Alliance for the Mentally Ill


64. Epilepsy Foundation of America


65. American Heart Association

66. National Heart Foundation


67. Kidney Foundation of Canada

68. National Kidney Foundation


69. American Lung Association


70. Alliance for Lupus Research

71. American Brain Tumor Association

72. American Digestive Health Foundation

73. American Health Assistance Foundation

74. American Liver Foundation

75. American Tinnitus Association,

76. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALS)

77. BNI Foundation,

78. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America

79. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

80. Endometriosis Association

81. Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy

82. Huntington’s Disease Society of America

83. Lupus Foundation of America

84. National Multiple Sclerosis Society

85. Project A.L.S


86. American Paralysis Foundation

87. Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation

88. Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association

89. Miami Project to Cure Paralysis

90. Paralyzed Veterans of America


91. American Parkinson Disease Association

92. Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

93. National Parkinson Foundation

94. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, Inc.,


95. National Stroke Association


96. Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association/Paralyzed Veterans of America

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 5/29/2009 01:51:00 AM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Space.... the final frontier

Last frontiers? Just messing with images. The background is the Tarantula nebula, from a NASA shot. The golden double helix is from microsoft online graphics collection.

The idea was inspired by this link!
Link should resolve to a night view composite, with a house in the foreground and stars and constellations behind it.

When I look into the night sky, I sometimes imagine a sort of xray vision like that picture, which will let me see what else is up there beyond our hazy atmosphere. Just dreaming though. The night skyview scenes that I remember from Taiwan were so crisp and clear. You could gaze into the nighttime sky and see thousands of stars that just can't be seen in many other places. Tokyo and parts of California included.

While I think that Star Trek's opening narrative is intriguing, I'm convinced that the fields of genetics and that of deep space are equally unknowable. I spend time trying to understand fragments of code which construct and direct life forms, and which make so many organisms the same, and yet so different. The frustration of knowing we can never know or understand it all, is so humbling.


Semavi Lady woofed at @ 4/11/2009 02:05:00 AM | Permanent link | (2) Comments

Blogger Judy sent us a woof // April 11, 2009

I love your space posts. One of the reasons I moved out of the city was to have dark nights. I love looking up at a star-studded sky that includes the milky way. In my youth I remember seeing it even from Seattle. Light pollution is out of control!

And actually I delight in the not knowing - I enjoy that there are mysteries too big for us to unravel.

Great to have our blog roll working again!   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // April 11, 2009

I do agree, it's the mysteries that keep the juices going. It's just the motivation I have to seek answers, it results in a sense of awe... yet elements of frustration. :D   

Monday, April 06, 2009

April yet?

Free Hubble wallpapers!

The above image is an amazing composite shot which captures all of the stages of a celestial star's life.
Here's the info from HubbleSite.

In this stunning picture of the giant galactic nebula NGC 3603, the crisp resolution of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures various stages of the life cycle of stars in one single view.

To the upper right of center is the evolved blue supergiant called Sher 25. The star has a unique circumstellar ring of glowing gas that is a galactic twin to the famous ring around the supernova 1987A. The grayish-bluish color of the ring and the bipolar outflows (blobs to the upper right and lower left of the star) indicates the presence of processed (chemically enriched) material.

Near the center of the view is a so-called starburst cluster dominated by young, hot Wolf-Rayet stars and early O-type stars. A torrent of ionizing radiation and fast stellar winds from these massive stars has blown a large cavity around the cluster.

The most spectacular evidence for the interaction of ionizing radiation with cold molecular-hydrogen cloud material are the giant gaseous pillars to the right and lower left of the cluster. These pillars are sculptured by the same physical processes as the famous pillars Hubble photographed in the M16 Eagle Nebula.

Dark clouds at the upper right are so-called Bok globules, which are probably in an earlier stage of star formation.

To the lower left of the cluster are two compact, tadpole-shaped emission nebulae. Similar structures were found by Hubble in Orion, and have been interpreted as gas and dust evaporation from possibly protoplanetary disks (proplyds). The "proplyds" in NGC 3603 are 5 to 10 times larger in size and correspondingly also more massive.

This single view nicely illustrates the entire stellar life cycle of stars, starting with the Bok globules and giant gaseous pillars, followed by circumstellar disks, and progressing to evolved massive stars in the young starburst cluster. The blue supergiant with its ring and bipolar outflow marks the end of the life cycle.

The color difference between the supergiant's bipolar outflow and the diffuse interstellar medium in the giant nebula dramatically visualizes the enrichment in heavy elements due to synthesis of heavier elements within stars.

This true-color picture was taken on March 5, 1999 with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2.

This picture is being presented at the 194th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Chicago.

Object Names: NGC 3603, Sher 25

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: Wolfgang Brandner (JPL/IPAC), Eva K. Grebel (Univ. Washington), You-Hua Chu (Univ. Illinois Urbana-Champaign), and NASA

April showers are yet to come but they seem to be on their way. Got tax stuff done, what a pain.

While I wasn't paying attention to this blog, Google's RSS feed of this blog had given some strange hiccups. There was a one line post which said 'eeyore is cute' and dated April 3rd -- probably spawned then pinged google's RSS feed during a browser crash, mystery to me... and I don't even remember typing to the blogger database that day. Then there was an old post from last year that reposted itself the following day... it's still an old post. Annoying. Anyway, back to normal I hope. At least with taxes over, I can unwind and try to catch up with things.

Some fun. :)
Geno sent a few blackberry pics of Helmut sitting under a tree on a mound of snow. I wanted to snuggle! I put the pics on Facebook and you can see them there--from a side panel on the left column that goes to the facebook album.

I was playing with the somewhat grainy and darkish headshots of those two pics and came up with this digital painting below. Was fun to do, need more time and more practice. :)


Isn't he handsome?

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 4/06/2009 04:37:00 AM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vegans admit it's a religion

The following is both hilarious

...and sad.

From the standpoint of a microbiologist and medical technologist, the above argument (see PDF) is very selective and funny. Were I to judge this argument, I'd throw these nuts out on their glutei maximi. The man just doesn't want to get a shot, based on this. In my opinion, he should be able to have a choice on the shot but that might restrict where he can work in the hospital, as in the event of an outbreak, since people are so litigious in these times, it would help to protect the jobs of others at the hospital.

But to me... It puts flashing lights around the ignorance of vegans. NOW... if the man is truly vegan, he would not use public water nor use ice cubes manufactured for commercial use. If he were truly vegan, he would not used canned or processed foods, nor would he would eat commercial fruits and vegetables. Veganism is primarily a modern philosophical argument that does not have any strong basis in reality nor any context in human history--although some seem to believe that some primitive groups were vegan. 'Fraid not folks.

I think it might be possible to be a true vegan, and not one that just toys at the idea, if one were homesteading and lived in location where one could have control of all products utilized or otherwise consumed. Climate, diversity of life, a flexible appetite (strong stomach), and a lot of ingenuity and hard work would have to be considered. Maybe a vegan commune of sorts, where enough people could contribute their skills for vegan clothing, foods, putting things up for the winter and so on.

Want more? I generally haven't bothered to get into the mental dichotomy of the vegan philosophy. I have had family members and many friends who are vegetarian to some degree or for periods of time. The long term ones (30 years or so) are no healthier than those the same age, who lived off junk food and the vegans have actually aged faster. :( The women who were veggies prior to having a child, usually have kids with some unfortunate challenges. Younger, long term vegan mothers may not have a pelvis structure wide enough to have a baby without a C-section. And some babies from vegan moms sometimes spend some of the first days or weeks of their lives in the ICU, as they are born with various types of compromise to their health and immune systems.

Weston A Price Foundation has materials that show even the most primitive of societies ensured that women had a wide variety of food stuffs before becoming pregnant. June marriages were traditionally thought to be a favored time since the richness of nutrients in the springtime would contribute to the pregnancy to come. The richness of spring grass on dairy butter creates a naturally golden yellow product because of high level of grass nutrient early in the grazing season. Contrast commercial butter, artificially converted from ghostly white to a pale yellow with the use of annato.

Pre-pregnancy diet may be the period of time that is most critical for the development of ova (and sperm), letting the developing fetus have optimal chances to be perfect. Children, babies and fetuses are not 'lab rats' to raise on the newest vegan philosophies presented by a population of people representing between 1 and 4% of philosophical foodists... Give children every advantage--please. As I have worked in health care and clinical technology (blood & gore, analysis and diagnostic value in health care) I'm familiar with some of the patterns in some of the various dietary lifestyles, and the vegan ranks rather average or quite poorly in the long term.

Vegan IS GOOD initially, because it is an awareness training exercise; people become more aware of what they are putting into their bodies and that they begin to feel healthier because of this. They can opt to go low sugar/junk and seek nutrient dense foods, but some don't because they cannot let go of sugar and junk food habits. For some, it's easier to just generally avoid anything that seems to be animal related. ...although I have seen some enjoying marshmallow laced rice crispy treats and other animal containing foods -- oops! ...but that is okay. None of us are saints.

Older people regardless of diet may start to have less efficient absorption of some nutrients, just as all older beings can over time. Low levels of B12 with higher levels of folate in the diet can lead to rapid cognitive decline. Feel a little woozy or mental fog? ... sometimes B12 can help.

There is no such thing as a truly vegan commercial peanut butter, a truly vegan restaurant, canned food or other commercial product from a food processing facility that is properly licensed, inspected and periodically tested.

Every place has to meet inspection and cleanliness requirements. Products periodically have to be tested for coliforms and other such things and most places use water that has been tested for coliforms anyway.

This coliform testing is done by taking samples, sending them to a laboratory that plates out the specimen onto media.

Guess what this media is made of. It is an animal product.

Even ice machines, wells and sources of drinking water are periodically tested for coliforms. (remember all those lemon water scare videos on youtube?)

Your average fresh commercial tomato and lettuce is also periodically tested for coliforms using animal media. Did you hear about all that lettuce that failed coliform tests? Yes, peptone agars and broth media are not vegan.

What is this media? Here's just one recipe for laboratory media that tests water supplies & ice cubes, among other things.

Processed sugar is not vegan although that is counter intuitive to many. Processed white sugar and most processed brown sugar (is usually white sugar that is darkened with molasses) is made that way with non vegan processing. Any place that processes foods anyway, has to pass periodic inspection as mentioned above.

So, among our modern cohorts, there is not a single vegan that truly lives a "vegan" life. They are all, every single one of them, selective about what they consider big deals. Call them hypocrites or even better, hopeless idealists. But as long as they are not trying to 'evangelize' others to join their 'religion' with the use of misinformation, and as long as children and young women planning to have families get the nutrition they need, I'm just not overly concerned unless it's a member of my family.

Heart disease, insulin resistance, gut issues and high blood pressure as well as depression, some increased inability to think clearly are traits among vegans and some vegetarians, and are common long term effects of malnutrition.

What else isn't vegan? HIV testing, premarital testing, a culture for a sore throat, and even an OTC pregnancy test all require animal media. This is different than the peptone media used in water testing. For example, monoclonal antibodies don't come from carrots. ;) So... how many vegans are celibate? Do they screen their partners? What method do they use, coin toss or laboratory testing?

I can forgive people for being ignorant about these issues in medical science because science and critical thinking is not a strong point in our activist, "politically correct" society. Even news is part of entertainment media. I get more than a little annoyed when cult figures like pretty boy Wayne Pacelle and others, pose to be so educated and go on pulling the wool over the eyes of their dittoheads'. I'd rather see that those who choose "vegan" know its limitations and the fallacy of the existence of a 'vegan' lifestyle.

There's a lot of misinformation out there on veggie and vegan bulletin boards. Even nutritionists who may have taken some courses in nursing, generally memorize a script and stick with it to keep their credentials. Many have never made laboratory media, and are generally not involved with endocrinology and cardiology. Simple things such as peptone broth, sheep blood agar plates or brain infusion media, ELISA or Western Blot for different lab tests that their patients may require lose their context, and they forget that these tests are only possible with animal products.

The vegan lifestyle is a selective one but it is often talked about with passion. It's like any other religion where you pick and choose just how 'fundamental' you want to be. It will be interesting if veganism proves to be a valid excuse to avoid getting a shot. :)

Tangentally related to vegetarianism are issues concerning cholesterol in the diet. Veggie groups tend to make a huge fuss about cholesterol. Basic issues are that cholesterol is not what most people have been lead to think it is. This wrong thinking is encouraged via Pharma industries because statins make them so much money. Science has shown that cholesterol is important, has reason for the way it behaves and actually exists to do you good. I'm a huge fan of, Dr. Uffe Ravnskov and Dr. Malcolm McKully. The last doctor has done a lot to clarify issues in Cholesterol. Check out his link.

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 3/20/2009 02:28:00 AM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Saturday, November 29, 2008

UK Anatolian Hip scores and sad stuff about cognitive function

Excellent Hip conformation in an Anatolian Shepherd Dog
(this is Semavi Burali "Bertha")

Caroline Southen has some updates on her November blog about Anatolian health. She's also updated the complete list of UK Anatolians that have ever obtained BVA hip ratings. The ratings include pass and fail, not just the good ones. Sadly, there are not more breeders in UK that check hips, and dysplastic dogs are commonly bred together. An international comparison of hit ratings is here.

There was a heartbreaking article in The Scientist just over a week ago, about two little twin girls who have a rare genetic disease called Nieman-Pick Type C (NPC). You do need to sign in as a free account holder to read the free article... here is an excerpt from this one to get you started.

What can two little girls teach us about Alzheimer's disease?

By Alison McCook

When you meet identical four-year old twins Addi and Cassi Hempel, you might notice something about the way they walk. They used to run around like other toddlers, but now they are more wobbly, more uncertain, and walk with their legs somewhat wide apart, as if aboard a boat. They can sway in any direction, losing their balance. They fall more often than they should.

They will notice you, and smile. They don't say words but they talk, a rhythmic, nonsensical babble from which a crystal-clear sound occasionally escapes: "ice cream," "paddycake," "four." Their heads have a slight bobble, and they sometimes can't angle their eyes downward, so they fall again.

Unlike most children, who get better at things with time, Addi and Cassi's gait will get worse, and they'll reach more for railings and furniture for support. They'll fall more, adding to the bruises that already dot their elbows and knees. The few steps in their parents' newly renovated house will become impossible; when walking gets too difficult, they'll use a wheelchair. They're not potty-trained, and likely never will be.

They will stop saying words, and may stop speaking altogether. Soon, they'll start to forget things they once remembered; like which bed is whose in the room they share, or who their parents are. They may start to have seizures. As their condition worsens, their swallowing will deteriorate, and their parents may place them on feeding tubes. In several years, they will likely die - first one, then the other. [to see the rest, go here...]

Reading the whole article put me into such a reflective and sad mood. While it's not quite the same thing, I remember reading "Flowers for Algernon" in a science fiction anthology of best selling stories. It was in the sixties when I used to read just about anything that didn't wiggle out of reach if I'd grab it. I understand there was later both a book and a movie based on the short story and these had changes in some details of the story. But never mind them!! I want to read the short story again. ah... found a copy of the original short story (circa 1959). Yay. :)

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 11/29/2008 11:20:00 PM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Captioned Video Feed and more about hearing....

Bill Creswell finds captioned online videos or he captions many of them himself. He adds them to a VodPod feed via a widget which provides a constantly updating, wide variety of interesting pieces, from movie trailers, to music video with captioned lyrics, topics in disability, political stuff, oddball humor; many other things. He has another feed of his collection here .

So cool! Much appreciated. I told him so. :)

I added his vodpod widget to the left panel of this template. You can find it quickly by clicking here. Take a look at some of the vids in the feed. There are many more on his various webpages, and the widget box gives a link to one of these collections. Thanks again, Bill! :D

Jamie Berke at mentioned an interesting article about the idea of potentially using infrared to stimulate nerve cells in the ear to detect sound at a level better than that of current cochlear implants. The idea of being able to hear music again is very intriguing. The idea of ultra sensitive perception is something that transcends the imagination (or mine at least... I start thinking too much!)... I really wonder what it is that one actually senses when infrared is used this way. For some reason I get a weird vision of Telltale Hearts in the walls, alien communications, ticking watches, and peeling paint or other odd things I'd rather not be hearing. Time will tell if this technology will actually be useful.
Electrical stimulation of the inner ear by a cochlear implant produces blurred maps, but the light stimulation produced maps that were as sharp as those produced by sound in hearing guinea pigs, says Richter, who presented the findings at the Medical Bionics conference in Lorne, in the Australian state of Victoria, earlier this week.... [get the full article here at New Scientist]

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 11/26/2008 10:56:00 AM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


UPDATED: 17Sep2008- see at the bottom.
If you're not already familiar with it, there is way to get some popular magazines in digital form downloaded to your computer, which can then be read without an internet connection, or if you are roaming, you can use your internet connection to log into your account and read your stuff in online mode.

Above is a browser enabled peek at a beautiful magazine, click image to read the teaser while it is still available, and check out some of the recipes and glorious pics! (TIP: maximize the window that opens, click to toggle an individual page to maximize. Click and drag around pages & check out the hyperlinks that jump to articles/recipes or that hyperlink to a website).

Zinio's free proprietary software has more bells and whistles, requires a download, but you don't have to buy anything to check out complete issues of free sample magazines on your computer - and the freebies do change from time to time. Fun for grazing in foreign magazines and checking out book samples! The only fees you pay are just the subscriptions to the magazines you want and payment for ebooks that you download. I know, this is sounding a lot like an ad!! But honestly, I love this service because I get magazines and other stuff I want to read while reducing bookshelf and table clutter. The software remembers your last open page in each magazine, and by using a built in virtual highlighter and virtual sticky notes, it is that much easier to find that 7 month old Reader's Digest article or re-find a bunch of recipes that I thought I might adapt. Some people think using digital magazines is 'green' (is it?) but it certainly reduces some waste of trees.

A drawback in using digital literature include some aspects of computer portability -- like you probably won't be taking a digital magazine with you for a relaxing bubble bath (but you can print out most articles, oops- goodbye trees!). Also, occasionally there is a software security glitch and you can't open your stash of literature, so you have to go online and get another certificate. This doesn't happen often. I had more trouble with it when I was switching between computers, upgrading and setting up new ones -- and first learning the ins and outs of this kind of media. Of course it takes a bit of hard drive space. I have a few books downloaded and about 70 some magazines, so far it is taking about 2 gigs of space. But it's still cheaper than doing a room addition and battling with the local government for a building permit! Plus, you can always delete stuff, redownload and as of now, just read your stuff online.

If you scroll around some of the Zinio pages, you'll also find a link to textbooks. One fantastic freebie that as of this posting is still available, is a free genetics textbook download. The license allows you to have only one machine with a copy, but you can read it online if you are roaming.

Given my current budget
...anyone that feels awesomely generous is allowed to buy me a subscription to what looks like a fabulous New Zealand foodie magazine called Foodtown. Gosh the previews look fantastic, packed with eye candy and lots of ideas!

UPDATED: 17Sep2008 - WOW update!!!
YAY, Whee!! I am now getting Foodtown! Thank you!

Here are a couple more FREEBIES! VIV Magazine and classic literature!

1. There's a free subscription to an amazing digital magazine for women called VIV available at the time of this posting. It runs on the Zinio reader (older versions of software may need to be updated). You can sign up for for a free subscription at the magazine's homesite This magazine is quite a unique experience for the magazine lover. There are slideshows, animations and even short movie clips included as part of its medium. It covers topics of women's interest, health, exercise (with animated demos!) and there's cooking, recipes and fashions among other things. It seems to have a little bit something for everyone. It's free, so check it out.

2. The final Freebie that I want to add for this Zinio posting regards a least a hundred classics that can be found here. Some of you might remember Project Gutenberg, which is an ongoing effort to textify classics that are not copyrighted so anyone can read them online or download them. Zinio has "over 100 literary masterpieces, digitized and bound in the finiest electronic leather" hosted on their site for people to read in their browsers. Zinio customers can store the books in their online library (for roaming) or download these books to their own Zinio Library. Using the Zinio reader software will allow one to annotate and sticky note the classics. That is just so cool! I downloaded Edgar Alan Poe and also The Picture of Dorian Gray. Woohoo! :)

Thank you to Zinio's Adam Kadleck who answered some of my questions and was helpful to me in locating the Classics.
He mentions in comments to this post that Zinio has a facebook group. Check the comments!

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 9/16/2008 02:53:00 AM | Permanent link | (2) Comments

Blogger akadleck sent us a woof // September 17, 2008

Thanks for the great article about Zinio - we share your enthusiasm. I'd like to invite you and your readers to visit us at to try a free sample magazine or check out our library of Digital Classics. Feedback from our customers is critical to optimizing the Zinio experience. I also invite you to join our Facebook group, "I read, therefore I Zinio."

Read on,

Adam Kadleck
Director of Customer Service
Zinio, LLC   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // September 17, 2008

Haha! I love the catchy tagline, "I read, therefore I Zinio."
And for me, this is so true!

Thank you, Adam! :)   

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Play a Game and Win a Nobel Peace Prize?

I read a NewsBlog on about a protein folding game called Fold It.
I thought that was mildly interesting at first and somewhat amusing, but particularly because it combines science, puzzles and games, I became intrigued had to check it out!

My first laugh... It was amusing to find that they chose a domain name of FOLD with the country code (IT) of Italy. But you know how geeks can be. :D

Proteins are complex molecules in long chains that spring themselves into curly folds... and look like messy jumbles of utter chaos. The thing though, is that proteins operate like hardware or software in the body, depending on what the protein is and how it is folded, as well being affected by its environment. It is this manner in which proteins are structured that gives them the ability to react variably in their environment and do such things as keep us healthy, to make us sick, or to cure us of something. :)

I haven't tried the game yet but the ideas behind it are intriguing - as you can see from the beta version of game and site icon at the left.
"Solve Puzzles for Science"
"We're hopefully going to change the way science is done, and who it's done by," said Popovic, who presented the project today at the Games for Health meeting in Baltimore. "Our ultimate goal is to have ordinary people play the game and eventually be candidates for winning the Nobel Prize."
Hey, that Nobel Prize sounds a little far fetched but there is truth in the fact that some of us are strong on various types of puzzles. Some people are pretty genius at recognizing abstract patterns immediately in bundles of chaos and others have different strengths in problem solving, which together can crystalize innovative approaches. I see that the game is online and free. Apparently they are keeping track of how the game and its puzzles are played by its players.

The homesite for Fold It is here and more about the science of the game can be read in a FAQ. Here's a question from part of the FAQ...

How does my game playing contribute to curing diseases?

With all the things proteins do to keep our bodies functioning and healthy, they can be involved in disease in many different ways. The more we know about how certain proteins fold, the better new proteins we can design to combat the disease-related proteins and cure the diseases.

A short YouTube movie showing the game in action.

Last minute add, a writer on Gamezebo mentions how games can be more directly helpful in healing and therapy.

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 5/28/2008 12:11:00 AM | Permanent link | (3) Comments

Blogger euthymic sent us a woof // May 28, 2008

i think it is a nice idea to make games that also teach science in such an interesting way. i also like your 2 er... little? dogs   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // May 28, 2008

I agree about games that inspire and motivate.

Haha, about the little dogs. The pics of the dogs with Natalka are certainly impressive!   

Anonymous Anonymous sent us a woof // May 30, 2008

Do you think they would send my Nobel Prize in a bubble gum wrapper?


Monday, May 12, 2008

Chaiten Volcano, Chile

Awesome pic of electrical activity above erupting Chaiten Volcano, Chile. Click pic to enlarge.
Some media sources are reporting that the plumes of smoke and ash are going 20 miles high into the atmosphere.

Apparently these are accepted estimates as Smithsonian reports the following as sources:
Based on observations of satellite imagery and pilot reports, the Buenos Aires VAAC reported that during 3-6 May ash plume rose to altitudes of 7-10.7 km (23,000-35,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE, E, W, and NE. News sources indicated that about 4,000-5,000 people were evacuated from the town of Chaitén and surrounding areas as the eruption continued. On 5 May, ONEMI (Oficina Nacional de Emergencia - Ministerio del Interior) reported that evacuations took place in Futaleufú, about 65 km ESE, where about 30 cm of ash accumulated. One elderly person died during the evacuation efforts. On 6 May, ONEMI and SERNAGEOMIN reported that the eruption became more forceful and generated a wider and darker gray ash plume to an estimated altitude of 30 km (98,400 ft) a.s.l. All remaining people in Chaitén were ordered to evacuate, as well as anyone within 50 km of the volcano.
A geology link with lots of info


Semavi Lady woofed at @ 5/12/2008 09:16:00 PM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Our Dynamic Genome - Magnificent Software?

An article from October 2007 at Newsweek discusses the importance of a balance of microbes in our lives and their importance in our genetic make up and immune systems.

While this posting isn't about dogs, many of the basic ideas below do carry between species.

". . . What we need is more exposure to the good microbes, and the job of medicine in the years to come will be sorting out the good microbes from the bad."

"That's the goal of the Human Microbiome Project, a five-year multinational study that its advocates say could tell us almost as much about life as the recently completed work of sequencing the human genome. One puzzling result of the Human Genome Project was the paltry number of genes it found—about 20,000, which is only as many as it takes to make a fruit fly. Now some researchers think some of the "missing" genes may be found in the teeming populations of microbes we host." See more...
I'm not so sure we can really put all bugs into black and white categories, but the reality beyond doubt to me, is that we do need a balance of exposure to microbes. The whole idea probably doesn't seem all that alien to most, but germ exposure is probably far more important than most people think. Take a look some of Mike Johnson's musings on gut flora at Modern Dragons for another take on this perspective. I especially thought the bit about the fruit fly having another organism fused to its genome as particularly interesting examples of evolution. Fruit flies as natural genetically modified organisms? (having DNA of another species within) We know that cud chewing animals depend on the organisms in their gut which help them digest plant sources. Do they have bacterial genetic components that have become part of their genome? What about us? Our dogs? To what extent are we genetically modified in this way?

Another thing to look into regarding environmental influence on our genes is Comet Tail analysis, which gives some indication of how environment in the form of foods, drugs, pollution, and even FDA approved (Generally Recognized as Safe, GRAS) additives in our consumables affect the integrity of DNA in specific organs. Here's an example of comet tail analysis regarding the effect of phthalate on human sperm. How much of that sperm is still viable? I'm sure some of it may be damaged enough to die, but how much of it will bring new or damaging genetic information to a baby?

Pic at left from MSNBC article linked below - from Oct 2004 Nature.
I think that a lot of this is very important but the main thing to take away from all this is that our genes are not hard coded functional entities. They are dynamic and responsive to the environment. Why we don't have considerably more genes than a fruit fly probably has more to do with the complexities of the bulk of genetic exchange which occurs in our bodies through our lives, with our guts providing us with much of our immune function. Think of all the junk and medication that exert potential effect on DNA in our gut. They affect metabolism and make unknown changes to our normal flora. Speaking of normal flora, another favorite bookmark I often share is the fermentation page of Healing Crow which offers a lot of food for thought in the care of our normal flora and also discusses its importance.

Our genes seem to function in a manner similar to software in a computer. The ability of our genetic software to interpret internal and environmental data, to rebound from trauma and stress, and to find resources in order to generate pathways in order to survive, or simply to fail, are complicated and dynamic adaptations.

I'm baffled by this quote right at the end of this MSNBC article last year. Lander said he’s not concerned that the number of human genes has turned out to be so limited. “To the contrary, I think it’s great news,” he said, “because what it means is we already know a lot about most human genes.” I think I'll just chalk it up to an awkward closing to the article.

While we do have clear understanding of the exact number of chromosomes there are in different species, the actual numbers of different genes counted per species will continue to change. In part, due to refinement in how and which genes are counted, and how genes which are 'countable' are defined. (protein coding only? microRNA and apparently meaningless SNPs, etc - I think a lot of what has been called junk DNA may make some differences in disease resistance or survival as it relates to genetic diversity, but what do I know?) See Human Genome Project Information.

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 1/24/2008 02:06:00 PM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dogs Can Too! (LOL)

Famous Internet Dog cartoon
...but for how much longer? ;)

A pretty famous cartoon above. And it came to mind after I read this at Fox News.

Dogs Taught to Use Computers in Austrian Study
In order to test whether dogs can visually categorize pictures, and transfer their knowledge to new situations, four dogs were shown landscape and dog photographs, and expected to make a selection on a computer touch-screen.
. . . Doggie not used in the study . . . (Doggie not used in the study, but I thought he is cute!)
In this test, the dogs had to choose between a dog-on-landscape image and a landscape-only photo. Good doggies: They aced the test, selecting the images that included dogs.

The results indicate, according to the authors, the dogs were able to form a concept of a "dog." Whether the dogs recognized the pup pictures as actual dogs, however, is an unknown.
The scenarios that come to mind when I think of the Internet Dog cartoon above being used in this test just crack me up. :)

Of course, with dogs recognizing other dogs on the computer, Mr Cartoon Dog might not be so right after all. . . LOL ;) :D

Okay, a more serious perspective. I think that our dogs are a lot more aware and perceptive of things than we are prepared to recognize sometimes. They do amazing things in search and rescue and in more everyday facets of life. It's just that it is us humans are sometimes unwilling or unable to take notice. Or if we do, other people think we are nuts.

I think I'm in good company. Heehee.

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 11/30/2007 01:45:00 AM | Permanent link | (3) Comments

Blogger jan sent us a woof // November 30, 2007

It's always nice when those not familiar with the intelligence of dogs finally catch on to what we know. Humans just need to learn how to build good tests.   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // November 30, 2007

Boy, that's for sure. I remember reading the news about one you recently blogged, where some study tested to see if dogs would respond to emergencies. The testers staged fake emergencies and the dogs didn't fall for it.

I was wondering after reading that one, if there could only be a test to test the common sense of people who design such studies.

Of course, there are still pet lovers that seem to have the impression that if you fake a seizure or a diabetic coma, you can train a service dog to alert to a real one.

Yep, humans still have a long way to go. LOL :) :)   

Blogger dawn224 sent us a woof // December 05, 2007

I love that cartoon :)   

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Manna From Hell - The Scientist Daily

WOW, this is a fascinating piece by Julia C. Mead at The Scientist Daily. It is a very interesting and well written piece. A mystery about deaths that have swept selectively through certain regions of the Balkans; missing some people and villages while taking many others; people who tried to escape the black houses could be overtaken eventually. The folk explanation of it and the treatments which still do not result in a cure now have another layer of clues... molecular biology has added important elements to resolving the mystery. Fascinating!

Articles tend to go to pay per view or cache sometimes, so you have to move quickly on this if you want to read it. Like the mysterious illness in the novel The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, this article about a real and deadly disease captured my imagination about its ongoing tragedy.

You can catch the article now at this link.

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 11/27/2007 12:24:00 PM | Permanent link | (1) Comments

Anonymous Anonymous sent us a woof // November 28, 2007

Fascinating article! Thanks for posting it. A modern model of a similar endemic in the Middle Ages, Ergot in the grain.

Just goes to show, everything "natural" isn't necessarily good for you!


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mad Mad World of Scientists

One more post for today!

I wanted to blog this one a couple days ago, but today is a catchup day for some of this stuff so here we go.

From The Scientist, this article will probably tickle everyone. I do not know if/when the article might go offline but here is the link to the original, and the text for it is pasted below! I encourage you to visit the original article. There are often thought provoking comments at the end. ;)
Did they really do that?

Four decades ago, a group of scientists actually thought it was a good idea to give an elephant LSD
[Published 7th September 2007 02:22 PM GMT]

In a cartoon by former NASA roboticist Randall Munroe, a man reaches out and pulls a lever. Immediately a bolt of lightning strikes him from the sky. When the man is a "normal" person, he sensibly thinks, "I guess I shouldn't do that." When he is a scientist, however, he scratches his head and asks, "I wonder if that happens every time," and reaches again for the lever.

Curiosity is what makes scientists tick. This curiosity can lead to great discoveries, but it can also inspire bizarre experiments that appear highly peculiar to the rest of society. Such experiments come in a number of different varieties.

At one end of the spectrum are the experiments that, in the words of Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, "first make you laugh, and then make you think." The research is serious, but the subject matter contains hints of the absurd.

For example, a 2006 study at the University of Western Ontario sought to find out if the average dog would seek help in an emergency. Cooperative dog owners pretended to have a heart attack while walking their pet. At a pre-determined spot, they clutched their chest, cried out dramatically, then collapsed to the ground and feigned lifelessness. The dogs were not impressed. Most of them sniffed their owner a few times before wandering around aimlessly -- except for one toy poodle. This bold pooch rushed over to the nearest person, jumped up on her lap, and offered his belly to be petted. The researchers concluded that most dog owners should not expect their pet to turn into Lassie during an emergency.

Then there are the bizarre experiments that make you cringe, not laugh. The classic example is the 1962 elephant-on-acid experiment. A trio of Oklahoma City researchers became curious about what would happen if they gave an elephant LSD. There was just one problem. They had no clue how much LSD to give it.

Elephants are really big creatures, so the researchers figured their subject would need a really big dose. They settled on 297 milligrams, about 3000 times the level of a normal human dose. They shot the drug into the elephant's rump. It trumpeted angrily, woozily rocked back and forth, then keeled over. Soon, tragically, it was dead. In the article that appeared in Science a few months later, the researchers euphemistically noted, "It appears that the elephant is highly sensitive to the effects of LSD." The lesson is that having three researchers work on a problem does not make it three times more likely someone will display common sense.

And then there are the experiments that simply make you shake your head in disbelief and exclaim, "Someone really did that?" Stubbins Ffirth was a doctor-in-training who lived in early nineteenth-century Philadelphia. To gain his medical degree, he undertook to determine whether yellow fever is contagious. He used himself as the test subject, exposing himself to the disease in every way he could imagine. He smeared himself with the blood, urine, sweat, and black vomit of yellow-fever patients. He dribbled the vomit into his eyes. He even drank undiluted vomit fresh from the mouth of a patient.

Miraculously, Ffirth didn't get sick, prompting him to declare yellow fever non-contagious. Of course, he was wrong. It hadn't occurred to him to test for transmission by mosquito bite. Ffirth's experiment demonstrates the difficulty of identifying all the possible variables in a real-world situation.

The history of science is full of bizarre experiments. Many of them, for all their weirdness, display a touch of genius. In 1978, Russell Clark published results of an experiment in which students from his psychology class sexually propositioned strangers in public places to find out if men and women responded differently. No surprise, almost all men accepted the invitation, and all women rejected it. Initially ridiculed by the scientific community (journals refused to publish it for years), the study now earns widespread praise for demonstrating the importance of gender differences in sexual attitudes, something to which psychologists had previously paid little attention.

Unfortunately, if you're designing an experiment that makes your colleagues raise their eyebrows in surprise, it can be very difficult to know if you're heading down the path of genius or madness. The difference usually only becomes apparent in hindsight.

Alex Boese's book about bizarre experiments, Elephants on Acid from Harcourt, goes on sale November 5, 2007. He is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes, and lives near San Diego.

Alex Boese

Links within this article:
L. Walsh, "D'ya hear about the moon bison?" The Scientist, March 2, 2007.

Annals of Improbable Research

K. Macpherson and WA Roberts, "Do dogs (Canis familiaris) seek help in an emergency?" Journal of Comparative Psychology, May 2006.

RD Clark, "Gender differences in receptivity to sexual offers," Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, August 1989.

A. Boese, Elephants on Acid

Museum of Hoaxes

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 9/11/2007 05:19:00 PM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Natural Transgenesis, Adaptability, Evolution and Disease?

From Science News, more evidence of pathways for natural transfer of portions of genetic code between completely different species of organisms.

Specifically, a species of parasitic bacteria known as Wolbachia pipientis was studied. It afflicts cellular structures in 20% of the insect species (according to the text - how did they figure that out? we still haven't studied every species of insect?) and some other invertebrates. Small sections of genetic code from the bacterium was found incorporated into the DNA of several of its hosts. This bacteria has access to the eggs of it's host species and inserts portions of its code into the eggs, and these genes are then found in the offspring from those eggs. Very interesting successful adaptation!

While it is not completely new news... the essential concepts of natural transgenesis (naturally derived GMOs!) is especially interesting because now we can look beyond standard genetic selection (slow evolution using genes directly from each parent), and beyond (the rare) true mutations, to another source of genetic change that may have helped speed up select clades in the process of evolution?

Random effects of new code can result in nonfunctional gibberish, or 'junk genes' that don't seem to have a purpose. New code could result in beneficial adaptations which effectively give an increased potential of genetic diversity to help the host organism adapt to new environmental stresses. Randomness has it's potential problems as well, since genetic based disease results from code that leads to dysfunction in an organism's ability to adapt or survive - includes minor loss of function or maybe a gain that creates disease potential.

The realm of epigenetics and nutrigenetics is already mindboggling but more information about natural transgenesis may prove very interesting indeed.

Science News:
Week of Sept. 1, 2007; Vol. 172, No. 9 , p. 131

Share Alike: Genes from bacteria found in animals
by Patrick Barry

Some insects and roundworms pick up DNA from bacteria living within their cells, new research shows.

The DNA transfer occurs in the animals' egg cells, so the genetic modification passes between generations. The mechanism therefore provides an alternative to mutation of existing DNA as a way for the species to acquire new genetic traits.

Gene swapping is ubiquitous among bacteria and other single-celled organisms. Even plants and fungi are known to occasionally adopt a piece of foreign DNA. But scientists thought that multicellular animals picked up genes from bacteria only rarely.

"Our data are indicating that [DNA transfer] is going on all the time," says John H. Werren of the University of Rochester in New York, who led the research team.

The discovery challenges the prevailing view of animal evolution, in which genetic information is passed exclusively from parents to offspring. The transfer of DNA from bacteria means that an individual could acquire and pass on genes that it had not inherited.

"We're sort of on the edge of a transformation in the field" of animal evolution, comments Laura A. Katz of Smith College in Northampton, Mass. "These sorts of data allow us to redefine the field to capture this other process going on."

Werren's team looked at several species of insects and roundworms infected by a parasitic bacterium called Wolbachia pipientis, which afflicts about 20 percent of insect species as well as many other invertebrates. The bacterium lives inside the animals' cells, including their egg cells, giving it ready access to the chromosomes that are passed on to the animals' offspring.

"I think that physical access is the key to allowing this [DNA transfer] to happen," Werren says. The way in which animals' bodies insulate their eggs and sperm from foreign bacteria is the main barrier to heritable-DNA transfer in animals, he says.

The researchers compared the genetic code of the bacterium with the code of 11 other species: four roundworms, four fruit flies, and three wasps. The team found that all but three of the fruit fly species had segments of the bacterium's genetic code embedded in their DNA. The report appears online and in an upcoming Science.

Some of this transferred DNA is active in the host species' cells, the researchers found, but they didn't determine whether the genes serve a biological function in the host.

The team also scanned an archive of published genomes for 21 other invertebrate species and found bacterial genes in nine of them.

Such bacterial genetic code is routinely ignored during the sequencing of animals' genomes because most scientists have assumed that the foreign DNA is a sign of contamination, Werren says. However, the new research rules out the possibility of contamination, Katz says. "I think it's a really beautifully done, elegant study."

Julie C. Dunning Hotopp, a member of the research team and a scientist at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md., says that the mechanism by which DNA leaves the bacteria and becomes inserted into the host species' chromosomes remains uncertain.

While in-cell parasites such as W. pipientis are common among invertebrates, none is known to infect people or other mammals, Werren says.

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 9/02/2007 06:41:00 PM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Cold Spot" Turns out to be an Enormous Hole in the Universe

This report from University of Minnesota astronomers (UofM link of press release) heralds discovery of "an enormous hole in the Universe, nearly a billion light-years across, empty of both normal matter such as stars, galaxies and gas, as well as mysterious, unseen “dark matter.” While earlier studies have shown holes, or voids, in the large-scale structure of the Universe, this new discovery dwarfs them all."

The 'bullhorn' illustration at the top is from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory website. The black 'nucleus' in the bull horn image is the big hole. The graphic gives perspective on how the information from radio waves of the earthbound VLA Sky Survey (seen in blue square above) combined with microwave energy reported (from space by) the WMAP Spacecraft (the orange square) have both, using different perspectives, helped to locate this enormous hole devoid of any dust/matter in our universe.

A Void Within the Void -- Berardelli 2007 (824): 1 -- ScienceNOW-
A team from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, had been studying data from the Very Large Array Sky Survey, which is mapping the entire universe with radio waves. The team members focused on one part of the survey where the temperature of the CMB is lower than normal [the blue gap on the psychedelic looking pic]. This cooling is significant because interactions with both visible and dark matter warm the CMB slightly, and so the team suspected that matter [in the cold spot] was absent.

[NOTE: CMB is Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation - source WMAP NASA site:
WMAP timeline theory
"The CMB radiation was emitted only a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang, long before stars or galaxies ever existed. Thus, by studying the detailed physical properties of the radiation, we can learn about conditions in the universe on very large scales, since the radiation we see today has traveled over such a large distance, and at very early times."]
Further observations of the zone, located between 6 billion and 10 billion light-years away, revealed it to be not only devoid of galaxies but also about a billion light-years wide, the team will report in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal. "What we're suggesting is that there is no matter in this void, either normal or dark," says radio astronomer and co-author Lawrence Rudnick.

dark energy chart
The pie chart shows the generally accepted proportions of three components of our universe.
EDIT/added - Aug 31
- Pie chart above and previous cylindrical image are from the previously mentioned WMAP site where interesting graphics and other info can be found. Content of the Universe-WMAP data reveals that its contents include 4% atoms, the building blocks of stars and planets. Dark matter comprises 22% of the universe. This matter, different from atoms, does not emit or absorb light. It has only been detected indirectly by its gravity. 74% of the Universe, is composed of "dark energy", that acts as a sort of an anti-gravity. This energy, distinct from dark matter, is responsible for the present-day acceleration of the universal expansion.

Concluding that the zone is free of dark matter might be premature, cautions astrophysicist Harvey Tananbaum of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Making that determination is difficult and will require confirmation, he says. Meanwhile, cosmologist Paul Davies of Arizona State University in Tempe says the discovery is "potentially very important" for testing theories about the very early universe. The potential deviation from the inflation model is "a tantalizing pointer to some new physics at the dawn of existence."

To read more about current study of the Universe and the BIG BANG theory as these have been modified with recent information from WMAP, go here.

A funny quote from Wired's version of this story: Retired NASA astronomer Steve Maran said of the discovery: "This is incredibly important for something where there is nothing to it." :D

Now for something a little more down to earth.
Science News
has an article on a virus that seems to have some correlation with obesity in some people.
Magdalena Pasarica of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, who led the new work, stresses that obesity has many causes, including genetic factors, overeating, and a sedentary lifestyle. In some people, however, adenovirus-36 may be the culprit, she says. Adenoviruses cause colds, but adenovirus-36, apparently, does more.

In a 2005 study of 502 obese and normal-weight people, researchers reported that 30 percent of the obese group showed signs of previous adenovirus-36 infection, while only 11 percent of the lean group did. ...see Science News article above
I think this has the potential to tie in very easily (so far) with issues of epigenetics/nutrigenetics. The genetic factor seems to be that when certain triggers reach a threshold in individuals, who have lost certain protective alleles (which can make them a genetic variant), various degenerative cascades have the potential to happen in that population. A very interesting article I have bookmarked from The Scientist tends to go offline occasionally, so here is cache link to --

Eat Your Way To Better DNA
Why what your grandmother ate while pregnant with your mother might affect your children's health, and other findings from the growing field of nutrigenomics. By KATE TRAVIS

incubatorAnd next this piece from The Scientist is interesting to me, has to do with certain receptors of bacteria being sensitive to light, and this factor having something to do with changes in potential virulence.

It actually makes a lot of sense since it seems many living organisms from plants and even larger complex animals have responses to various wavelengths of light in our environment.

I never gave much thought to lighting for the bugs we grew in the various incubators and our tests were pretty standardized anyway, growing critters that preferred dark places in humans. Even the few incubators with small clear panels at the door seemed minutely important to me, just a way to see how full an incubator might be, and what might be in there without opening the door and letting the warm air out. We always had the lights off in microbiology lab if no one were in there doing stuff anyway. The heat in a laboratory in general can get pretty stuffy due to all the fridges, centrifuges, incubators and analyzers, etc. You can't use a fan due to potential biohazardous aerosol. Air conditioning is nice but is not always very efficient in rooms full of machinery.

EDIT: 25 Aug - Yeegads, had lots of trouble with internet connection lately, add on Blogger/FTP has been temperamental for the past day. grrrr...

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 8/24/2007 10:12:00 PM | Permanent link | (4) Comments

Blogger Diane sent us a woof // August 27, 2007

On a related note, have you tried Google Sky yet? It's part of the new version of Google Earth. Good for many hours of universe-browsing. Because of course that's what I should be doing with my time. :/   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // August 28, 2007

LOL, like I need more encouragement!!   

Blogger vrtulobjeq sent us a woof // August 31, 2007

That pie chart is rather daunting, ie to think that our visible universe just totals 4&, you sure about that ?   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // August 31, 2007

vrtulobjeq asks about the pie chart...
According to the WMAP project, this is the data they have so far. You can see images that we can all use from their project here.

I should update and post the text that goes along with that image, had connection problems that day as previously noted. Thanks for the visit and the point!
Content of the Universe

WMAP data reveals that its contents include 4% atoms, the building blocks of stars and planets. Dark matter comprises 22% of the universe. This matter, different from atoms, does not emit or absorb light. It has only been detected indirectly by its gravity. 74% of the Universe, is composed of "dark energy", that acts as a sort of an anti-gravity. This energy, distinct from dark matter, is responsible for the present-day acceleration of the universal expansion.