Posted tagged ‘Biology’

Invisible toxins in your home

December 6, 2010

Exposure to indoor pollution is associated with allergies, severe asthma, hospitalizations for cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and even heart attacks.

Having a clean home doesn’t keep the toxins and pollutants away.  According to the EPA, pollution in the home is often 2 to 5 times higher than it is outdoors.  “The air in your house contains pollen, mold, and ozone that leach in from the outdoors, as well as pet dander and pollutants from household cleaning products,” says Ted Myatt, ScD, a senior scientist at the consulting firm Environmental Health and Engineering, Inc.

Come winter, weatherproofing combined with heated, dry air can boost indoor pollution levels even higher by sealing in airborne toxins and lowering levels of humidity. The combination of the two can pose an even greater risk. “Exposure to indoor pollution is associated with allergies, severe asthma, hospitalizations for cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and even heart attacks,” Dr. Myatt says.

Considering we spend about 60% of our lives in our homes, it’s time to clear the air. Check-out this article to find out what you can do help reduce the toxins and pollutants in the home.


Glowing trees may soon replace street lights

November 30, 2010


Biologically based LEDs could be used to make trees illuminate city sidewalks. Grant Faint/Getty Images

Scientists from the Academia Sinica and the National Cheng Kung University in Taipei and Tainan have implanted glowing gold nanoparticles, known as bio light emitting diodes, or bio LEDs, inside the leaves of a plant. These  nanoparticles will hopefully one day replace electricity powered street lights with biologically powered light that removes CO2 from the atmosphere 24 hours a days.


“In the future, bio-LED could be used to make roadside trees luminescent at night,” said Yen-Hsun Su in an interview with Chemistry World. “This will save energy and absorb CO2 as the bio-LED luminescence will cause the chloroplast to conduct photosynthesis.”

The gold nanoparticles are the key to turning a material that normal absorbs light into one that emits it. When shorter wavelengths of light hit the gold nanoparticles, they get excited and start to glow violet. That violet light strikes the nearby chlorophyll molecules, excites them, and the chlorophyll then produces red light.

The benefits of massages…improved immune system?

September 21, 2010
Benefits of Message

Benefits of Message

A recent study that measured the biological effects of deep-tissue Swedish massage and light massage showed the biological advantages of message.  Deep-tissue massages are not only great at helping relieve neck and back pain and tension, they also reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol and increase the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system.

The volunteers of the study who had the light massage experienced greater increases in oxytocin, a hormone associated with contentment, than the Swedish massage group, and bigger decreases in adrenal corticotropin hormone, which stimulates the release of cortisol.  Too bad there wasn’t a masseuse on everyone’s payroll!

The Science of Football

September 10, 2010
The Science of Football

In this segment, NBC's Lester Holt looks at the role vectors play every time an NFL quarterback throws a pass.

Just in time for the start of the football season, scientists and sports stars are taking to the field with a 10-part video series that explains the physics and biology behind football.  Several sports stars play starring roles in the videos, including Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, Dolphins place kicker Dan Carpenter and former Saints running back Deuce McAllister. “When we can energize our students to learn through physical fitness and sports, it’s win-win for everyone,” McAllister said.

The scientists explaining the principles behind the game include physicists and engineers, a mathematician and a nutritionist. A high-speed Phantom camera captures the athletes’ movements at up to 2,000 frames per second to show Newton’s Laws of Motion at work. Each video has some lesson plans to via Lessonopoly.  Are you ready for some football physics….

Science Cafe – Fear of Snakes

July 8, 2010

Is a person’s fear of snakes an evolutionary response or learned behavior, maybe both? Myths about snakes causeFear of Snakes - Cafe Semolino many people to fear these beneficial and highly misunderstood animals; however, some researchers report that this fear is ingrained in our DNA. The next Science Cafe is Tuesday, July 13 at 7:00 pm at Cafe Semolino in Hays, KS.

Steamed Dinosaur Eggs

June 30, 2010

Photo Credit: Gerald Grillet-Tinner/Lucas Fiorelli

A paper in Nature Communications stated certain dinosaurs created nesting habitats near geothermal vents in order to lay their eggs. Much like migratory birds, some neosauropods had specific nesting grounds. A study conducted in northern Argentina revealed that 80 clutches of dinosaur nests were located within 3 meters of geothermal conduits. This discovery assists scientists in exploring the selection and environment of dinosaur nests.

Scare Tactics

June 21, 2010

Credit: Daniel H. Janzen

The physical appearance of caterpillars and chrysalises can be used as protection against insect-eating birds.  A researcher has dedicated 32 years of his life to studying the phenomenon in Costa Rica. Dr. Janzen and his colleagues have studied over 450,000 caterpillars representing 15,000 species and the results revealed how these helpless creatures ward off birds through creating snake-looking eyes along with other physical attributes.