Friday, December 10, 2010
Adventurous and epic morning indeed: got up early, had an epic shower, left to pick up my favorite childhood book from the post office, intalnire cu controlorii in tramvai. M-am strecurat din plasa lor fara sa-si dea seama, mi-am ridicat cartea de la posta. Euforia deschiderii coletului si the wonderful sight of that old, tattered book cover? Priceless. Sentimentul eschivarii controlorului? Something like this:
Posted by seamus at 11:56 AM
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Our cells are weird chimeras
Perhaps a billion years ago, a single-celled organism arose that would ultimately give rise to all of the plants and animals on Earth, including us. This ancestor was the result of a merging: one cell swallowed, imperfectly, another cell. The predator provided the outsides, the nucleus and most of the rest of the chimera. The prey became the mitochondrion, the cellular organ that produces energy. Most of the time, this ancient symbiosis proceeds amicably. But every so often, our mitochondria and their surrounding cells fight. The result is diseases, such as mitochondrial myopathies (a range of muscle diseases) or Leigh’s disease (which affects the central nervous system).
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/The-Top-Ten-Daily-Consequences-of-Having-Evolved.html#ixzz17dFQXyV5
Posted by seamus at 6:19 PM
Hiccups: The first air-breathing fish and amphibians extracted oxygen using gills when in the water and primitive lungs when on land — and to do so, they had to be able to close the glottis, or entryway to the lungs, when underwater. We descendants of these animals were left with vestiges of their history, including the hiccup. In hiccupping, we use ancient muscles to quickly close the glottis while sucking in (albeit air, not water). One of the reasons it is so difficult to stop hiccupping is that the entire process is controlled by a part of our brain that evolved long before consciousness, and so try as you might, you cannot think hiccups away.
Posted by seamus at 6:16 PM