The Phoenix

Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Baby Tell Me How You Feel"

Autism is a neurological disorder, often diagnosed in young children. The cause of this affliction remains a mystery, and statistics show the number of cases is increasing. In fact, Austism occurs in 1 out of every 250 births in this country.

One problem with Autistic children is the inability to relate to other people. They aren't able to recognize certain facial expressions or even begin to understand another person's emotions. Researchers at MIT have been working on a solution for this:

The Emotion Dectector.

So how does this thing work?

A camera on a pair of glasses is hooked up to a handheld computer which is able to decipher the facial expressions of another person. The key to the Emotion Detector is the software running on the handheld. MIT researchers have created an image and emotion recognition program that decodes the images fed to it via the camera.

If you see a geek out there wearing camera glasses hooked up to a handheld computer, beware!

If computer believes a listener is bored or disinterested, the thing will vibrate and the camera wearing person can either change the subject, maybe tell some jokes, or run away in total embarassment.

This is a huge step is emotion recognition software, as prior technology could only detect very basic emotions such as anger, happiness, sadness, surprise, and disgust. This new software is capable of figuring out of a listener is thinking, agreeing, disagreeing, or totally bored.

So how was this software developed? The program's learning algorithm was primed by showing it 100 8 second clips of actors displaying certain emotions. It detected the movement of the eyebrows, eyes, mouth, nose - and also the head movements including nodding, shaking, or tilting. After "teaching" the software about what emotions looked like, researchers showed it a whole set of new footage, and the computer was accurate in detecting the correct emotion 90% of the time. Professor Simon Baron Cohen of the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, said: "It is a very clever application as a prosthetic device."

Imagine the possibilities once this program is perfected. You could use such a "Boredom Barometer" in many situations:

* Business...During meetings you can set up webcams feeding the images of all the people in the boardroom. If somebody is doodling or text messaging their mistress, BEEP BEEP BEEP! Either the boss can try to make the meeting more engaging, or just fire the slacker's ass right there.

* Education...This would be a teacher's best friend. You set up the system in the classroom, and whenever a kid starts to dose off or write love notes to his girlfriend's best friend, BEEP BEEP BEEP! The teacher can take appropriate action. She can either make her lessons more interactive and interesting, or she can snag that love note and read it in front of the entire class.

* Dating...The Boredom Barometer would be heaven-sent for guys in the dating world. You put on your camera glasses and keep the handheld in your pocket. As the date progresses, you go through your normal speel like exaggerating how much money you make or how sensitive you are to the world's plight against hunger. The moment she knows you're full of shit and just want to have sex with her, BEEP BEEP BEEP. You can split the check and go out and find another willing victim...uh...I mean date.

* Blogging...Maybe they can set up a similar system for bloggers! You're reading a blog, and the moment you get bored, the software immediately removes the blog from your browser and takes you to a much more entertaing blog to.....


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mice Balls To The Rescue!

Here's another reason to love Micky Mouse...
German scientists from Georg-August-University of Göttingensay (man, that's a mouthful) have discovered that cells from the testes of mice can behave like embryonic stem cells. If the same holds true in humans, it could provide a controversy-free source of cells for use in treating many diseases.

Why are embryonic stem cells so important in uncovering ways to treat diseases? Embryonic stem cells are super duper versitile. They can become any tissue in the body. Scientists believe they may offer treatments for diseases like Parkinson’s, diabetes, and spinal cord injuries.

Stem cell research has been a hotbed of controversy for many years. In order to harvest the cells, human embryos must be destroyed - human rights and religious groups have fought the practice for years. The debate continues to rage on - when is a life a life? When does the good of finding a cure that kills millions outweigh the life of an embryo?

But these new developments using mice testes offers a way to continue to do stem cell research without entering the ethical and moral battle. Lab research recently published in Nature found that the mouse cells closely mimicked the behavior of embryonic stem cells, Dr. Gerd Hasenfuss (pictured right) said Friday. He said he is optimistic about finding human testicular cells that will do the same. Work has already begun on that, he added.

If such cells are found in human males, “then we have resolved the ethical problem with human embryonic stem cells,” he said in a telephone interview.

Most recently, the mouse cells were able to develop into a variety of vital cells including heart cells that contracted and nerve cells that produced dopamine, the chemical messenger that Parkinson’s patients lack. Cells typical of the liver, skin, pancreas, brain, and blood vessels were produced as well.

The process would invovle removing testicular cells from a male patient, growing some tissue in a lab the patient needs, and transplanting that same tissue into the donor without fear of biological rejection, he noted. In other words, guys - your balls could one day save your life.

For the time being, scientists have yet to find such sells from women. Dr. Takashi Shinohara, of the Kyoto University says he has not been able to find a similar source of tailor-made stem cells in female mice. "Maybe we just missed it, but maybe it's not there." So it seems that this is a man-only procedure for now. (Sorry ladies). This is really an unfortunate situation, since most men become crybabies when they need any medical procedure. Personally, I would run faster than Flo-Jo when confronted by a heavy-set nurse and a needle.

I wonder exactly how they remove the cells from a guy's balls. I imagine it includes a very long and sharp needle, test tubes, and heavy-duty retraints.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Episode 2: The Phoenix's Bigfoot Expedition

(452 downloads and counting! Thanks so much for listening. I really appreciate it).

Listen to my adventure, hunting for Bigfoot in the California Redwoods...

There are three ways to listen to my lat
est podcast (running time approx. 10 min):

The Preferred Method:

This is probably the best way to listen to the show. Click the button below to go to my podcast page. There you can hit the green play button to listen to Episode 2. PodOmatic is great - on the sidebar, you'll find my hotline number to leave me a message. You can also leave one via your computer if you have a microphone. I just thought it'd be fun to put your messages in my next podcast.

Click the red button.

Also, for you iTunes people out there, the old feed seems to be taking forever to download. Open up iTunes, go to Podcasts. In the "Advanced" menu, click "subscribe to podcast." When the html window pops up, just copy and paste my RSS feed:

Another way is to just go to Podcasts and search for "The Phoenix." You'll see both of my feeds. Pick the one where it has my name under "Artist." If you click that feed to look at the show information, you'll also see my Phoenix logo. The old feed doesn't have that on it's description.

Make sure to delete the old subscription. I hope this helps, and sorry for the inconvenience.

Our Media:
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Having the player down below is very convenient, however Castpost is a very young podcasting hosting site. Many of you said that it wasn't downloading very quickly, or only playing the show in tiny little segments. It's prone to happen during peak usage. You can click the play button below like last time to listen, or go to: to listen.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spontaneous Slumber

Modern neurology and biology has come so far in such a short amount of time. However, there's one area that still manages to ellude us:


The nature of sleep is still a mystery. We all do it. We're told we need to get 6-8 hours of it. If you don't get enough of it, you become a zombie. Sleep is necessary. Many of us are insomniacs, and getting enough sleep is a challenge at times. The pharmaceutical industry comes out with all new kinds of pills to help us sleep.

But what if you fell asleep too easily?

At first glance, that might seem like a great problem to have. However, what if you spontaneously fell asleep without warning? Think about're walking around town, laughing at a joke, and suddenly you lose all muscle control and collapse to the ground. Spontaneous slumber.

This is a very real form of narcolepsy called cataplexy. What exactly happens to someone suffering from cataplexy?

A person with cataplexy can be watching TV, walking in a mall, or playing cards. Often times, strong emotions trigger this sleep disorder. Suddenly out of nowhere, the person loses all muscle control and experiences physical paralysis. They will slump over and collapse onto the floor. Their conscious mind is quite aware...but they cannot move, they cannot speak. This episode may last a few seconds...or several minutes.

How does a person develop this strange disorder? It seems about two-thirds of those suffering from narcolepsy get cataplexy. Interestingly, patients experience their first cataplexic episode in adolescence. Why? It's all part of the mystery.

Studies say that 140,000 Americans suffer from this affliction. But what is the cause? Researchers believe it all starts with the chemical hypocretin that's made by the hypothalamus in the brain. For some reason, the cells that create hypocretin are absent and this often leads to sleep disorders like cataplexy. There is a hypothesis that narcolepsy in general could be an autoimmune disease...a person's own antibodies attack the neurons responsible for hypocreatin. Researchers have not established the likelihood of cataplexy being genetic, although it seems to be inherited in other animals, like dogs for example.

What can be done? Is there a cure for cataplexy? At this moment, there is no cure. There is a lot of research and drug testing being done, and the best they've been able to do is treat the symptoms. Sodium oxybate is the first and only product approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of cataplexy. Patients have decreased attacks after taking this drug.

But those suffering from cataplexy must always be accompanied by others. Their lives are miserable. Think about the jobs they cannot do like being a surgeon, dentist, construction worker, speed skater, lifeguard, or ninja. Seriously, they are constantly dependent on others to help them while having an episode. If you want to see video footage of an adult man having a cataplexic attack, click HERE (avi format). This video is wild! You see him laughing and smiling, and the guy just crumples onto the ground while playing a game with the researcher.

Here's five other strange sleeping disorders:

1)Fragmentary myoclonus: These are people that continually jerk and twitch while they sleep, usually in non-REM sleep. It's harmless, unless the person accidentally hurts themselves in the process.

2)Night terrors: Children are more likely to suffer from these. Your child may start crying or screaming, usually during the first two hours within falling asleep. This is not the same as a nightmare. Night terrors result from a child coming out of deep sleep and somehow getting stuck. Most of us slightly wake up, adjust our covers, maybe even glance at the clock and go right back to sleep. These poor suffers aren't able to fully pull out of the deep sleep and it triggers an episode (my son suffered from this, so I did a lot of research).

3)Sleep choking syndrome: This just sounds so freaky to me. With this disorder, a person will have several episodes of choking while sleeping. They'll wake up with a feeling of anxiety or panic. They do not have obstructive sleep apnea or any other physical cause for choking.

4)Sleep walking: Interestingly, this disorder occurs in that same stage as the night terror. A person initially dives into a deep sleep and then slowly comes up after an hour or two. Sometimes, a person gets stuck between the two stages of sleep and weird things can happen. A person might sit up, get out of bed, walk around, maybe even get dressed...or they could suffer from:

5)Nocturnal eating syndrome: When you get stuck between deep sleep and lighter sleep, you might get out of bed, go to the kitchen, and eat raw meat or BBQ sauce straight from the bottle. These people are actually asleep when they do all this. Recently, several people taking Ambien are experiencing night eating. Not only do sufferers gain a tremendous amount of weight, but they feel emotional distraught and helpless.

6)Old Hag Syndrome: No, it's not a case where you wake up after a night of hard partying and find yourself next to the fugliest person in the universe. It's when a person wakes up, but cannot move. They feel the presence of pure evil in the room. Many say it's like the evil entity is actually sitting on their chest. The scientific explanation is that it's a case of sleep paralysis. It's when the brain has been dreaming, and for some reason, even upon starting to wake up, the brain continues to dream.

All of these disorders can be debilitating to various degrees, however cataplexy can strike at any moment. Cataplexy sufferers are held prisoners by this disorder, and they could injure themselves or others while having an episode. The complete utter loss of muscle control is what makes this disorder so dangerous.

Thinking back to elementary school, I swear my bus driver had cataplexy.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Project Serpo - Mystery Revealed?

Have you heard about Project Serpo? Did you happen to catch any of the buzz surrounding this big conspiracy on the internet lately? If you didn't, hold on to your seats...this is going to be a very interesting ride.

What is Project Serpo anyway?

It's an alleged government project that took place from 1965-1978. Project Serpo is one of those "black projects" you might have heard about. Super top secret...and super duper strange. The claim is this: 12 military personnel were specially trained and then involved in an exchange program with an alien planet, Serpo, in the Zeta Reticuli System (not to be confused with the Zeta-Jones Necrophilia System).

The chosen 12 represented three of the branches of the military, each highly trained in their respective specialty. The group consisted of 10 men and 2 women. In Nevada, the aliens came and picked up our 12, and left one entity behind. The original plan was for the exchange to last 10 years, and the Serpoians would return the 12 Americans.

But apparently, there was a delay. The aliens returned 3 years later than agreed, in 1978. Maybe it was a time zone issue??? Not all 12 made it back. 7 men and1 woman returned to Earth. 2 died on Serpo, and the other 2 decided to not come back. The remaining 8 Americans were isolated among various military installations until 1984.

Sounds like a bunch of science fiction, right?

Fast forward to late 2005, and suddenly Project Serpo has resurfaced. Apparently, a website created by a retired mathmatician Billy Ryan is home to incredible pieces of information being sent by some retired Defense Intelligence Agency person that calls himself "Anonymous." He's been sending bits and pieces of information to the website for a few months now, and the stuff he's revealing is just absolutely amazing.

If you want some good reading that I promise will make the hair on your neck stand up and captivate you for hours, go HERE and read it for yourself.

Since the website began receiving this information, two other DIA retirees have stepped forward with their own testimonies. It seems their experiences match up quite well with "Anonymous'." Then again, these guys could be playing an elaborate hoax.

Here is just a tiny sample of the revelations brought forward by these DIA retirees:

1) The 1947 UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico didn't happen as many believe. There were actually two crashes - one in near Corona, NM and the other at Pelona Peak, NM.

2) In the first crash at Corona, the military at Roswell investigated and removed all evidence. One entity was found alive, hiding behind a rock. It refused food, and was transferred to Los Alamos. The other bodies were taken to Roswell and the pieces of the craft were transported to Roswell, and then Wright Field in Ohio.

3) The second crash was discovered in Pelona Peak in 1949. Sandia Army base investigated. 6 alien bodies were recovered, and transported to Roswell.

4) From both crashes, one alien did survive. The military was able to establish communications with this being. The creature died in 1952. What communications were exchanged between this alien and the U.S. military? Go to to find out for yourself!

5) Ever see the Steven Spielberg movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind? What event do you think inspired this film? Hmmmmmm?

You can learn more about the exchange program, what the planet Serpo was like, what happened to the 12 person crew, and what amazing discoveries our government made about intelligent alien life from this and other clandestine projects at the website.

Is this a hoax? Is this truth? You be the judge. It could be a massive PSYOP, or psychologal operation, to confuse the public about what's going on. You take a little bit of truth, a little bit of fiction, wrap them up together and release it to the public. It creates great confusion, and makes us all just dismiss the entire thing alltogether.

A mix of accurate information and total disinformation is a very effective way to keep secrets. Many believe that the government is allowing this slow trickle of information as a way to soften the blow for us when they finally reveal the truth.

We are not naive enough to believe our government doesn't have any secrets...and of course, only certain people with the highest of clearance protocols have the proper authority and "need to know" such things.

Here's the we, as citizens, have a "need to know?"

(X-Files theme begins playing)

The Truth Is Out There...Do We Really Want To Find It?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Irish (Off)Spring

Earlier this year, Dublin scientists came to a startling conclusion: 3 million men of Irish descendance all over the world can trace their genes back to ONE man, Niall Noigiallach. Niall of the Nine Hostages, as he's also called, was a powerful Irish king in the 5th century. Imagine this: nearly 1 in 12 Irish men is related to this manwhore of a king!

The research was conducted by Laoise Moore at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics at Trinity. Ms Moore, tested the Y chromosome that is passed only paternally, from fathers to sons. She examined DNA samples from 800 males across Ireland.

The results were published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. Her findings: the highest concentration of related males were in north-west Ireland, where one in five males had the same Y chromosome. Fellow Trinity researcher, Dr. Dan Bradley, then consulted genealogical experts who provided an updated list of people with surnames that are genealogically linked to the last known relative of the "Ui Neill" family, which means "descendants of Niall."

The results showed the contemporary group of men had the same chromosome as those in the original sample, proving a link between them and the Niall descendants.

"The frequency [of the Y chromosome] was significantly higher in that genealogical group than any other group we tested," said Dr Bradley, whose surname is also linked to the medieval warlord. Other modern surnames tracing their ancestry to Niall include Gallagher, Boyle, O'Donnell, O'Reilly, O' Rourke and O'Doherty. O'Brother, lucky charms indeed!

To confirm, the scientists used special techniques to age the Y chromosome. This is done by tracking how many mutations had occurred in the genetic material over time. The number of mutations was consistent with chromosomes that would date back to the last known living relative of Niall.

Who was this Niall Noigiallach? (Pronouncing that last name produces a lot of flying spittle, by the way). He was the fourth and youngest son of an Irish High King and an enslaved daughter of the British King. He sired 12 sons, and all of them became powerful kings as well. He's often called Niall of the Nine Hostages because he took nine hostages: 5 Irish provinces and one from the Saxons, Britons, Scots, and French during his raids. On one of these raids, Naill captured who was to be the future St. Patrick. St. Patrick eventually escaped back to Britain, but returned Ireland and was central to it's conversion to Christianity.

While scientists were uncovering just how vast Niall's genetic reach had become, they were reminded of the recent research done concerning Ghengis Kahn (pictured right). Kahn was the 13 century conquerer of Asia, and it was found that more than 16 million men are descendants of this warlord. What's up with all these people TODAY tracing their genes back to these powerful individuals?

"It's another link between profligacy and power," Dr Bradley said. "We're the first generation on the planet where if you're successful you don't [always] have more children."

So all you people of Irish blood, have a great weekend celebrating your culture, your heritage, and the strong possibility that you're all related to an Irish stud known as "Hard as Niall."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Chicken Little Was Right

The sky is falling?

On June 30, 7:17 AM near the Tunguska River in Sibera, the sky did indeed fall. Something exploded with tremendous force, equal to 2,000 times the force of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It leveled 850 square miles, destroying approximately 60 million trees.

What exactly happened?

Obviously that part of Siberia was very remote, but there were several witnesses. They saw a column of bluish light, as bright as the sun, flying across the sky. Minutes later, there was a blinding flash and a series of loud explosions. Suddenly, a massive shockwave spread across the area - killing the natives' livestock, destroying barns, and even shattering windows hundreds of miles away. The shockwave was so tremendous, it even registered on seismic instruments in England.

40 miles from ground zero, people were literally knocked unconscious by the shockwave. Afterwards, fires burned for weeks. Natives believed it was Doomsday.

Semen Semenov: "At that moment I became so hot that I couldn't bear it, as if my shirt was on fire; from the northern side, where the fire was, came strong heat. I wanted to tear off my shirt and throw it down, but then the sky shut closed, and a strong thump sounded, and I was thrown a few yards. It damaged some crops. Later we saw that many windows were shattered, and in the barn a part of the iron lock snapped." Is his name really Semen? Yowza.

Russian scientist Leonid Kulkik lead an expedition to the site in 1927. Why is took nearly 20 years to finally investigate is a mystery to many. I'm thinking maybe some small distraction called World War I got in the way or something. He was expecting to mine some iron from the meteorite that everyone assumed caused the explosion. But they couldn't find a crater...and certainly there was no meteorite.

Several more scientific studies continued throughout the years, and they had some startling results from scientific study and witness testimonies. Strange findings included:

-disturbances in the magnetic field in the area
-local geomagnetic storm
-a reversal of soil magnetization
-an electromagnetic pulse, similar to what would be created by a nuclear explosion
-aurora displays before and after the event
-genetic mutations in plants and animals
-radiation-like burns and deaths of exposed people
-increased Vodka consumption by locals

OK, so I made up the last one. But the other findings are startling indeed. To this day, there is no conclusive explanation for what happened in Tunguska, Siberia. Scientists do have several interesting theories:

An Asteroid Air Burst: Considering the size of the destruction, scientists estimate the rock weighed 100,000 tons. Because there is no crater, an air burst is a logical explanation. But where are all the fragments? Scientists say they were vaporized. To this day, the only debris found at the site has been tiny glass nodules embedded in trees. Those who disagree with this theory remark how very little debris has been found.

A Comet: A comet is different than an asteroid, as comets are made of ice and stone. This would account for the lack of a crater and debris. A lack of evidence leads to this theory being widely accepted - it's like the default theory.

Geophysical Event: The area lies in an ancient volcanic zone. The massive explosion could have been from a build up of methane gas suddenly released from the earth.

Black Hole: This is a 1973 theory. A couple quacks said that a black hole passed through the Earth. I think the pair of scientists who came up with this was was smoking the 'wacky tabbaky.'

Antimatter: Conjured up in 1965, three scientists theorized that a chunk of antimatter fell from space and collided with Earth. I think maybe these guys were dropped on their heads when they were babies.

UFO: You knew these people were going to get in on this controversy. Some say it was a UFO crashing. Others believe aliens used some sort of weapon to create such an explosion. If I were to go with a UFO theory, it'd have to be the crash one. In fact, in 2004, scientists claimed to have found debris from an alien spacecraft.

Nikola Tesla: This is my favorite theory. Tesla was the great Russian-born scientist (born in Siberia actually). He became a U.S. citizen, and he's known as the greatest inventor in the world. Some believe the Tunguska Event was from a massive Tesla experiment gone wrong. Tesla built the Wardenclyffe Tower on Long Island, NY in order to see how to create and transmit energy from point A to point B. It's said Tesla told Robert Peary, who was leading a second expedition to the North Pole, to look out for some unusual aurora phenomon while out there. Witnesses recall Tesla working with sending the energy via the Tower on that date, but there's just too much room for speculation. Still, it's a pretty colorful theory.

The Tunguska Event continues to be a mystery today, and it continues to be a subject in the most imaginary of ways. X-Files, Ghostbusters, and even Star Trek have all incorporated the mystery of Tunguska somewhere. Even after nearly 100 years later, Siberians still look up to the sky, wondering "what if..."

I wonder how you say "The sky is falling" in Russian...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Beware the Fat Flu

With the world's focus on the Avian Flu, recent research on the "Fat Flu" has been largely ignored. For the last 6 years, scientists have been finding more and more evidence that one cause of obesity might just be a virus. Obesity might actually be contagious.

Obesity in this country is an epidemic. The rates of obesity has more than doubled for adults and tripled for children. Sedentary lifestyle and high sugar/high carb diets are to blame. Genetics also plays a very important part as well. Recent studies done by Richard Atkison and others at the University of Wisconsin found that 30 percent of the 500 obese participants were exposed to a certain virus. This virus, known as Ad-36, was just one virus associated with causing obesity.

In February of this year, scientists discovered another known pathogen linked with causing obesity: Ad-37 (pointed to at right). Researchers found strong evidence showing that Ad-37 caused obesity in chickens. Ad-36, Ad-5, and Ad-37 are all adenoviruses - which normally causes respiratory infection. Ad-36 has been linked directly to human obesity thus far. An earlier study found that identical twins of differing heftiness depended on the exposure to the Ad-36 virus. And you think a congestion and cough was all you could catch?

So is it possible that obesity can be linked to catching a "fat flu?" "The nearly simultaneous increase in the prevalence of obesity in most countries of the world is difficult to explain by changes in food intake and exercise alone, and suggest that adenoviruses could have contributed," the researchers conclude. "The role of adenoviruses in the worldwide epidemic of obesity is a critical question that demands additional research."

If scientists can identifiy the specific adenoviruses, is it possible to eventually create a fat virus vaccine? It sounds so messed up - having your kids take vaccines against rubella, mumps, chicken pox, and obesity. But is it on the horizon?

"If Ad-36 is responsible for a significant portion of human obesity, the logical therapeutic intervention would be to develop a vaccine to prevent future infections," Frank Greenway, professor at Louisiana State said.

Other than some sort of vaccine against the "fat virus," how about washing your hands? That could be another way to ward off becoming obese. Also, if you see a really obese person about to sneeze, you should get the hell away from them. A cold might be the least thing to worry about catching from this nasty spray of spit, mucus, and obese-causing viruses.

Perhaps these researchers should study other adenoviruses and see if stupidity is also contagious. We need a vaccine to protect us from that too.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Phoenix Podcast

It's been a long time coming...but Episode 1 of "The Phoenix" is finally up and running.

iTunes Update!!! For those with ipods and iTunes subsciption, here is how to subscribe to my podcast. Open up iTunes, go to Podcasts. In the "Advanced" menu, click "subscribe to podcast." When the html window pops up, just copy and paste my RSS feed:

OR, you can open up iTunes, go to "Podcasts," then click "Podcast Directory" at the bottom. You can run a search for "The Phoenix." You'll find me there, as I'm the only podcast with that title. The listing also has "The Phoenix" as the album and the artist listed as "Unknown." You can then subscribe there as well.

The easiest way to listen is to simply hit the play button below, or you can go to my podcast website HERE.

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Episode 1:
* Alien abductees stories told to the U.N.
* Arguing with your spouse can hurt your heart
* End of the world: May 4, 2102?
* The legend of Bigfoot
* My next adventure announced!
(approximate running time of podcast is 19 minutes)
Music credits: Heavy Troopers and Richard Allen

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Sex Can Save The World

Ever hear of the Darwin Awards? It's an annual list of people that die in the most incredibly stupid and idiotic ways. The logic here is that these peoples' deaths actually strengthen the gene pool by plucking themselves from the giant vat of humanity. It's tongue in cheek, but so damn entertaining.

Many would consider sex entertaining as well. But why do we do the deed? Biologically speaking, why do we have sexual reproduction anyway? If you were to be practical about making babies, it would be so much easier, faster, and more efficient for females to simply clone offspring. Let the women pop out babies on their own so us guys can watch us some football. Overall, asexual reproduction makes more sense. Just ask Michael Jackson!

Scientists believe there is a very important reason why we have sex, and it's connected to the premise of the Darwin Awards. The new theory is called the mutational deterministic hypothesis, or MDH.

The basic premise of MDH is pretty simple: the advantage to sex lies in the ability of recombination to purge harmful mutations from the gene pool. Sounds kinky, huh? It's just a hypthesis, and scientists have yet to prove it. However, Ricardo Azevedo and his collegues at the University of Houston believe they have created a computer model to show that MDH is a worthy hypothesis. Their findings are being published in Nature on March 2nd. I don't know what the title of their article is, but I recommend: "The World Needs Sex!" I think they'd sell a ton of more copies.

Azevedo's model created the following simulation: You take a group of organisms that reproduce through sex. Eventually, any harmful mutations are spread throughout the group. Through shuffling their genes, the organisms were able to dilute the mutations within their genes, and allow their own bodies' defenses fight off these mutations.

By mixing up our genes through sex, we create many different combinations of new offspring (genetic variance). This creates a sort of genetic robustness that's better able to fight off mutations. "Most mutations are actually harmful, so anything that helps populations get rid of their harmful mutations is going to be important," Azevedo said. "The more interesting side of evolution is all the beneficial mutations that leads to complex structures, but the dirty work of evolution is to get rid of bad mutations, and that's where sex seems to play a role."

Those idiots that kill themselves and thus winning a Darwin Award is quite an effective manner to rid the world of bad mutations. If the inferior genes keep recombining with other inferior genes, perhaps they will breed themselves into extinction. I doubt it, though. All the sex in the world isn't going eliminate all the nimrods.

Here's my favorite Darwin Award winner of 2005:

March 19, 2005...Missaukee, Michigan. 19 year old Christopher had gotten quite drunk. He soon noticed that his alcohol stash was gone and blamed it on a neighbor. So he got a knife and threatened him, but the neighbor just ignored the drunken bastard. Christopher went back home and decided on a great way to get revenge: he'll stab himself and call the cops - he'll say the neighbor did it. Sounds like a plan!

Christopher stabbed himself once, but it didn't do the job. Dumbass stabbed himself a second time - hitting his left ventricle. He did call 911, but died two minutes later. The neighbor was never blamed for the death, and the only thing Christopher got out of this whole thing was the icy cold hand of death brought upon by his own stupidity.

Thank you Christopher for purging your inferior genes for the betterment of mankind.

As for the rest of you out there, hummanity needs you.

Go save the world and have you some sex .

Established 2005...

Welcome to the blog that aims to examine the lighter side of science. From the paranormal to wacky inventions, to strange mysteries and goofy experiments, I cover it all. Thanks for stoping by science is always stranger than fiction


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