The Issus Bug’s “Mechanical” Gears

gears

Well Wonderguests, Nature has done it again! Humans with microscopes have recently discovered the use of organic moving gears on a life form. This find proves that, while humans are a resourceful bunch, the natural process of evolution has accomplished a great deal more than we previously thought. In this instance a clock-like mechanism was first created by a creature other than humans.

Related article: Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears

To find these mechanical gears we have to take a close – very close- look at the Issus insect. This little bugger is most common in Europe and the surrounding area. It spends a lot of time living off of the precious phloem sap from plants like the European climbing Ivy. Generally speaking, the Issus are considered to be nondescript and rather uninteresting but, if you look closely, you’ll find a whole lot more than you expected. Specifically the use of mechanical gears. If you expect to find these gears on just any of the Issus insects you’ll be sorely disappointed.

The Issus nymphs, or insect “children,” use the gears in a similar sort of way that people use training wheels to ride bikes. At a certain point they no longer need them for balance. From the published abstract in Science magazine:

The nymphs, but not adults, have a row of cuticular gear (cog) teeth around the curved medial surfaces of their two hindleg trochantera. The gear teeth on one trochanter engaged with and sequentially moved past those on the other trochanter during the preparatory cocking and the propulsive phases of jumping. Close registration between the gears ensured that both hindlegs moved at the same angular velocities to propel the body without yaw rotation. At the final molt to adulthood, this synchronization mechanism is jettisoned.

These gears encourage proper jumping from the adolescent Issus bug. Without the organic apparatus, the nymphs would rotate uncontrollably along their y-axis (see Yaw Rotation). This would cause the Issus younglings to land facing a different direction.

The strangest part is how effective the gears are! From the University of Cambridge website:

The gears in the Issus hind-leg bear remarkable engineering resemblance to those found on every bicycle and inside every car gear-box.  Each gear tooth has a rounded corner at the point it connects to the gear strip; a feature identical to man-made gears such as bike gears – essentially a shock-absorbing mechanism to stop teeth from shearing off.

Related Article: Surprises of the Amazon

To get a better idea of exactly how these gears work, check out this video! It truly is amazing that such a mechanism can exist in an organic setting.

 

Sources:

http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/functioning-mechanical-gears-seen-in-nature-for-the-first-time
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6151/1254.full
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedera_helix
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Issus_(genus)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phloem
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaw_(rotation)

Stem Cells Created Using Urine

stem cells pee

memegenerator.net

Researchers have discovered and outlined a way to create generations of stem cells using just your mellow yellow. 

Breakthrough after breakthrough has been made regarding stem cells, and this is the newest one.  Using ‘exfoliated renal epithelial cells present in urine,’ researchers have designed a method to create stem cells that is:

“simple (30 ml of urine are sufficient), cost-effective and universal (can be applied to any age, gender and race)… reasonably quick—around 2 weeks for the urinary cell culture and 3–4 weeks for the reprogramming—and the yield of iPSC colonies is generally high—up to 4% using retroviral delivery of exogenous factors.”

As capabilities have expanded and advanced, there are simply no valid arguments left, ethical or logical, against using stem cells. The American Medical Association explains why stem cells are medically important:

For decades, researchers have been studying the biology of stem cells to figure out how development works and to find new ways of treating health problems. Because stem cells can give rise to any tissue found in the body, they provide nearly limitless potential for medical applications.

Save a life, pee in a cup.

 

Sources:

Generation of human induced pluripotent stem cells from urine samples

American Medical Association: Basics of Stem Cell Research

 

If Alcohol Were Discovered Today Would it Be Legal?

 

That is the question Professor David Nutt from Cambridge University has asked his country.  Alcohol is undoubtedly the most widespread, destructive drug on the planet, and yet, it is socially accepted and even encouraged in nearly every culture.

Professor Nutt begins by pointing out that in many people’s minds alcohol is not even a drug.  When people ingest alcohol they get drunk, yet, when they ingest any other ‘drug’ they get high.  Society has classified alcohol as something completely different than any other mind altering substance.  It is harmless, and only a problem for a remote minority of the world.

This is simply not true.

Professor Nutt points out the annual statistics concerning Alcohol in the UK alone:

  • 40,000 deaths, including 350 just from acute alcohol poisoning and 8,000 from cirrhosis of the liver. More than a million hospital admissions in 2007/8 (including 13,000 under-18s), costing the NHS £2.7 billion.
  • 7,000 road traffic accidents, including 500 deaths.
  • 1.2 million violent incidents and 500,000 crimes, costing the police £7 billion. In addition:
  • 40% of domestic violence cases involve alcohol, as well as 50% of child protection cases.
  • 3.5 million adults in the UK are addicted, and up to 700,000 children live with a parent with a drink problem. 6,000 children a year are born with fetal alcohol syndrome each year.
  • Globally, the main burden of disease in 15- to 24-year-old males is due to alcohol, outweighing unsafe sex, illicit drug use, and physical accidents combined.
  • The total economic cost has been calculated as £30 billion a year – though some calculations estimate it may be as high as £55 billion.

Does this sound like a substance society should be lining the super market shelves with?  Professor Nutt explains that the alcohol industry is much to blame for the double think we practice regarding alcohol.

In rebuttal to negative rhetoric regarding alcohol, the industries always find a way to defend themselves.  The major points of argument/propoganda are:

  1. Consuming alcohol is normal, common, healthy and very responsible.
  2. The damage done by alcohol is caused by a small group of deviants who cannot handle alcohol.
  3. Normal adult non-drinkers do not, in fact, exist.
  4. Ignore the fact that alcohol is a harmful and addictive chemical substance (ethanol) for the body.
  5. Alcohol problems can only be solved when all parties work together.
  6. Alcohol marketing is not harmful. It is simply intended to assist the consumer in selecting a certain product or brand.
  7. Education about responsible use is the best method to protect society from alcohol problems.

With a copious amount of information, Professor Nutt explains the fallacies of each of these statements in detail.  Alcohol is undoubtedly dangerous for those who drink and those that choose not to.

It’s time to rethink all substances.  We need a paradigm shift in the way we view drugs and medicine.  A shift that involves science and experience, rather than profits and hysteria.

Alcohol Discovered Today: Would it Still be Legal?

alcohol fail

The wonderful world of alcohol. http://www.failhero.com

That is the question Professor David Nutt from Cambridge University has asked his country.  Alcohol is undoubtedly the most widespread, destructive drug on the planet, and yet, it is socially accepted and even encouraged in nearly every culture.

Professor Nutt begins by pointing out that in many people’s minds alcohol is not even a drug.  When people ingest it they get drunk, yet, when they ingest any other ‘drug’ they get high.  Society has classified alcohol as something completely different than any other mind altering substance.  It is harmless, and only a problem for a remote minority of the world.

This is simply not true.

Professor Nutt points out the alarming annual statistics in the UK alone:

  • 40,000 deaths, including 350 just from acute poisoning and 8,000 from cirrhosis of the liver. More than a million hospital admissions in 2007/8 (including 13,000 under-18s), costing the NHS £2.7 billion.
  • 7,000 road traffic accidents, including 500 deaths.
  • 1.2 million violent incidents and 500,000 crimes, costing the police £7 billion. In addition:
  • 40% of domestic violence cases involve alcohol, as well as 50% of child protection cases.
  • 3.5 million adults in the UK are addicted, and up to 700,000 children live with a parent with a drink problem. 6,000 children a year are born with fetal alcohol syndrome each year.
  • Globally, the main burden of disease in 15- to 24-year-old males is due to alcohol, outweighing unsafe sex, illicit drug use, and physical accidents combined.
  • The total economic cost has been calculated as £30 billion a year – though some calculations estimate it may be as high as £55 billion.

Does this sound like a substance society should be lining the super market shelves with?  Professor Nutt explains that the alcohol industry is much to blame for the double think we practice regarding the substance we love so much. In rebuttal to negative rhetoricl, the industries always find a way to defend themselves.

The European Centre for Monitoring Alcohol Marketing recently published a report called the Seven Key Messages of the Alcohol Industry,

and they are as follows:

  • Consuming alcohol is normal, common, healthy and very responsible.
  • The damage done by alcohol is caused by a small group of deviants who cannot handle it.
  • Normal adult non-drinkers do not, in fact, exist.
  • Ignore the fact that alcohol is harmful and addictive chemical substance (ethanol) for the body.
  • Marketing is not harmful. It is simply intended to assist the consumer in selecting a certain product or brand.
  • Education about responsible use is the best method to protect society from drinking problems.

With a copious amount of information, Professor Nutt explains the fallacies of each of these statements in detail.  Alcohol is undoubtedly dangerous for those who drink and those that choose not to.

It’s time to rethink all substances.  We need a paradigm shift in the way we view drugs and medicine.  A shift that involves science and experience, rather than profits and hysteria.

 

Sources:

AlterNet: If Alcohol Were Discovered Today, Would it be Legal?

Professor Nutt: Drugs – without the hot air

Huffington Post: Finally, Drug Education Gets Real: Drugs – Without the Hot Air

The Economist: Reefer Madness Plain Speaking on a Highly Coloured Issue