"I am a slave to my genes. They made me kill him" ….riiiiiiight.

I was stalking my New Scientist magazine (as usual) when I came across this article that almost made my jaw drop. I managed to find it online so if you want to read it you can. You can find it here.

What this article talks about is pretty mind boggling. A murderer (Abdelmalek Bayout) went to trial in 2007 because he admitted to stabbing and killing a man. The sentence he received was 9 years and 2 months… sounds fair right? (well, not to you death penalty lovers…but deal with it) Evidently his lawyer did not think so. When it went to the court of appeals, the case fell upon the ears of Judge Pier Valerio Reinotti. When it was heard again, the lawyer introduced new evidence stating that Bayout  had a gene variant (mutation) that was linked towards aggression. Given this new evidence, the judge decided to reduce the killer’s sentence by a year. A YEAR! WHAT?!?!?

Number 1: while I understand people have predispositions to certain diseases and medical conditions, I hardly think that being predisposed to violence is ANY reason to have your sentence reduced. If the gene randomly started eating other genes (since it is violent, after all) and slowly took over your body… rendering you a useless zombie… THEN maybe I would care to entertain thoughts of sentence reduction. But after your sentence I would proceed to lock you up in a psych ward so you could not harm anybody. Number 2: HOW is the judge helping this man by saying, “Okay. You have a gene variant that leads you to be more prone to aggression and violence. THEREFORE let’s REDUCE your sentence so you can get out there faster and kill again! HOORAY!” At this point the judge, lawyer and convict should ALL be throwing a party, because he got way lucky.

If anything, this man should be kept behind bars longer. By admitting that you are prone to violence, you are basically pleading that you are not safe to be on the streets. That you are uncontrollable. That the beast killer within you could rear its ugly head at any moment. So sure, let’s reduce his sentence. Everyone in the immediate vicinity of this man can feel EXTREMELY safe when he’s released.

This man should receive his FULL sentence (if not more) as well as undergo psychiatric treatment and evaluation. Then, when he kills again (because once a murderer always a murderer… especially one with a predisposition to violence ::rolls eyes::) he has no excuse to be anywhere but sitting in his jail cell cursing the heavens for this “special” gene that reduced his previous sentence. That blessing would now be a curse.

…You bastards committing murder better be careful if I end up going to law school. I’ll make sure you’re locked up for as lonnnnnnng as possible… ;)

Anything you can do, a robot can do better//post-it note love affair

Introducing… the POLARIS prototype!

I love seeing what amazing concepts companies are putting out in regards to anything remotely robot-like. I was fascinated by the little vacuum robot that roams around a room and does the work for you. I was also fascinated by the alarm clock that takes off and flies so you have to actually chase it to turn it off.  Photobucket

THIS, however, is the first robotic creature I’ve seen that could possibly make my life easier, instead of spending its time running into the walls of my house or dragging me out of bed. This prototype, fondly referred to as Polaris, is a cell phone/robotic organizer! A secretary that is white, round and self-navigates on flat surfaces! This nifty little protoype works such that it monitors your behavior via cell phone [who you call, when, your contacts, dates and reminders etc] and extracts all that information when you put the phone into the dock. THEN! It takes that information, communicates with you via TELEVISION [poltergeist, much?] about things you should probably be doing, or to remind you of people you should probably be stalking calling. We also can’t forget the fact that I mentioned it navigates on flat surfaces. What, pray tell, might it be thinking when it does this? I’m not sure. No further info was provided regarding it’s movement… maybe eventually it can be trained to fetch you pens and post-it notes.

…SPEAKING OF POST-ITS!

I’ve tried EVERYTHING to keep myself organized. We’re talking E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. I started with pen and paper…. riddling my desk with post-it notes and various other items inscribed with my silly writing. But then I thought… what is going to remind me to look at the post-its? CAN I REALLY RELY ON THIS SYSTEM!??! So THEN, I started becoming [okay. who am I kidding… I have and always will be] obsessed with organizers/planners. But not those stupid big leather bound ones; I don’t need anything fancy schmancy because the chances of me liking it and using it past a week are slim to none. I know myself too well. I like the normal sized ones that have your week laid out between two pages. There’s enough space to write what you have to do, but not so much space that a whole day takes up half a page. It can fit in my bigger purses. I liked that system. I slowly started getting too lazy to write in there because I was ALWAYS on my laptop, so I figured.. HEY! Why don’t I use THAT???

I started using the calendar feature and realized it was just too annoying to go in there; will I remember to check it anyway? So obviously my next step was… why don’t I use my email? I started writing myself reminder emails and using google’s “task list” and feeling very accomplished! Then my OCD kicked in and I couldn’t deal with having all these emails from myself and not being able to delete them because THEN I would forget to do them! How could I inconspicuously delete these items I swore to do, so as to ease my OCD-like habits, but NEVER do them? What a vicious cycle.

I then progressed to an all in one GT’MF’D [Get Things Mother Effin’ Done] program called “midnight inbox” which is like trying to contain “The Riddler” in a small, compact ergonomic box. You open it, and you unleash hell. Now I’m back to just writing what I have to do on post-it notes and random pieces of paper hoping I remember to look. AND I DO! THAT’S THE GREAT PART!

The moral of that tangent was… maybe I’ll try Polaris. I can always use some assistance with those post its. Although I’m fairly sure if I ignore this little robot when it alerts me about my appointments I might just get robo-kicked in the head. Chuck Norris Style.

I’m still working on my video blog. Don’t hate. I just got over my cold and have some catching up to do. It will be posted this week. As always, you know where else to find me. You might note that I have buttons available below to share this post on other websites [IE: technorati, digg, delicious etc] so please take advantage of it. It’s a pleasure to write when I know it’s enjoyed. THAT IS ALL. Good night.

Shuttle Launch video!

Fortunately if we’re too lazy to drive a half hour to Cape Canaveral (like we were tonight) we can watch the shuttle launch from our street. i love seeing them- this one is our third one, and I hope to catch a few more before the year ends. There’s just something so spectacular about hearing the roaring thunder of the space shuttle… being blinded by the light…. feeling the ground tremble like there’s an earthquake… it’s amazing. It’s hard to find people to get on board with my science obsession… i could seriously drive to the beach for every launch and be in complete heaven. Video below. Enjoy :)

Date: Aug. 28
Launch vehicle: space shuttle discovery

Stars and moon and meteor showers, OH MY!

Upload.mn

Perseid Meteor Shower ’07 Credit: Marc Akemann http://www.flickr.com/photos/makemannphoto/

For those of you who LOVE science and star gazing (LIKE ME! even though I’m terrible at finding constellations in the sky… ask the boyfriend. He actually had to show me where the little/big dippers were. Yup. I blame my eyesight. Never mind the fact that I wear contacts…but that’s besides the point) you knew that there was a Perseid Meteor shower last night!!!! I tried to stay awake to catch it past midnight but it was kind of cloudy here and didn’t get to see much. It was very disappointing because we watched one last time and saw a few falling meteors. It was pretty amazing. My digital camera has apparently decided to not do the one thing it’s designed to do (take clear pictures) so I didn’t bother to take any. Thank you, little evolved touch screen cybershot that sabotages my pictures.

I did, however, find a few things on “twitcaps” where people sent in pictures of the shower last night (amongst other weird things.. ignore the random images, I don’t know how to filter them out. They must be tagged for the meteor shower) as well as a twittersearch for #meteorwatch. I stalked flickr too and managed to wrangle up some images there as well. You can see/read the events as they were unfolding, both with pictures and word. So for those of you early risers, you can appreciate the brilliance of the night sky without seeking out a time machine to transport you back to last night. Enjoy!
Perseid Meteor Shower Twitcaps

#meteorwatch twitter search

Flickr Perseid Meteor Shower images

Now when you tell people with barely any vision to "look" on the bright side, it will no longer be an awful and rude pun.

So we all know I am a HUGE supporter of stem cell research, and I was practically running in circles when I heard that they had lifted the ban on it. We should also know (most of you) that I am practically as close to blind as one can be while still having vision. I was over joyed when I found this article retweeted by FirstDigg.

To sum up the article, the scientists have worked their magic on three patients, with little or no vision, and waited patiently to see the results. Essentially what they have learned is that when they extract stem cells from the patient’s working eye, and culture them into a contact for 10 days, it can be worn by the patient. After it’s worn by the patient for 10-14 days, the stem cells will actually start to recolonize and repair the cornea. Two of the LEGALLY BLIND patients can now read the big letters on those little eye seeing chart thingys, and one who was pretty damn close to blind can now pass the vision part of the driver’s license exam. While this has only been involving three patients so far, I think it is safe to assume that this is an amazing breakthrough for science… especially for us ‘blind as a bat’ people. It has been 18 months since the experiment and they are still enjoying their miraculous vision.

I’m hoping that this is something that will keep improving as they work out the glitches. If I really think hard about this, since the body is using their own stem cells, there is an extremely low risk of the rejection like the kind that can happen with artificial corneal implants.

While I would like to say that this is something I would try, I can’t particularly vouch for it just yet. The improvement on the vision isn’t extraordinary enough to make me put some serious thought into it. I enjoy having perfect vision with my contacts and I don’t think I would sacrifice that and dish out the money for a surgery that will give me sub-par vision. I do agree that this is fantastic for extreme cases where the patients are next to blind and really want any kind of improvement at all. It is truly wonderful for them.

I really, REALLY wanted lasik, but I have a really bad astigmatism that isn’t even the same in both eyes, so I’m not sure if I can be an ideal patient for the procedure. That, and there’s still the risk of going blind or the surgery not working with that. I watched a video of it once and it is some seriously creepy and life scarring stuff. Imagine seeing a laser cut and fold over a cornea. I have a severe eye-phobia and I just wanted to throw up all over the place. Not to mention you’re only mildly sedated during the operation, and for the next few days you have to look like an old person that can’t drive correctly with the serious size of the blinders you get to rock. Really though, wearing contacts all the time is awful, and even having a pair of glasses is STILL just as bad because you have something attached to your face. I can only hope they perfect this procedure soon, because it can help a lot of people! ANOTHER WIN FOR SCIENCE! HOORAY!

PS: Stay tuned for my next post. It is completely unrelated to anything science or news worthy, but it’s pretty damn hilarious. It has to do with me, and old irate guy on campus, and getting the cops called. It will be a hilarious read, I promise you that.

Eyes; not just windows to the soul.

So we’ve all heard the saying- eyes are the windows to the soul. I love eyes. I am completely and utterly obsessed with eyes. Not for any weird creepy reason, but if you take macro photographs of different people’s eyes, the patterns and variances are just amazing. There are so many different things you can see in them. Like mine for instance (which I know better than anyone’s, because obviously they’re my own) are reddish brown with little gold and green  lines on the bottom under my pupil. After seeing this chart, I am now curious what those random lines are. They are probably nothing at all, but now that door is open!

Now, I definitely do NOT go around staring at people’s eyes, don’t get me wrong. If I did that I would be liable to be kicked in the head or some kind of equivalent. I use the handy dandy internets to find different medical websites that deal with the eye and specific conditions. There’s something I found called Iridology, which is basically the scientific analysis of the patterns in the eyes. What they have found out is that those little patterns and whatnot in your iris are actually reflective mirrors of different parts of your body. It shows body constitution, inherent strengths/weaknesses, as well as your health levels. There’s been studies where cleaning out your colon clears up certain lines of your eyes and all these weird things. I had no idea that there was even something that dealt with health conditions and iris’s! My obsession with the little strange squiggly lines have actually meant something all along!

I went on different websites and looked at different case studies and the differences are amazing. This one person had some cauliflower looking thing around their pupil that was cleared up when he was treated. I don’t recall what exactly his medical condition is. There have been cases of people with green eyes turning brown due to their health deteriorating, and with proper medical attention and medicine their eyes went back to their normal color. At the end of this post I have embedded the chart for all to see! It is way too complicated to even begin to look at what is on there (not to mention itty bitty) but I figure it will give you an idea of how complex this really is. There isn’t much in depth information on the internet about it because they want you to go see them. Like any good specialist or doctor, they will probably charge you an arm, a leg, and your first born child for information that you can likely understand yourself given the materials and the opportunity. Oh health care. It is awesome. ANYWAY! Here is the chart. If I find any other good things on it I shall post.


Photobucket

Shuttle Launch! Hoooray!

Another intermittent post- I’m sorry! I know, I know. I’ve been promising a physics post. I have it saved but I’m trying to make sure that everyone can understand it. I’m trying to break down all the physics-y stuff into laymans terms I guess. To tell you the truth, I think I’ve just been lazy. But anyway, there’s a shuttle launch tomorrow and we’re going to the beach with a friend to watch it :D HOORAY! It should be fun! Although, NASA is on my temporary hit list because they were supposed to have it yesterday but they moved it to today, and today we were prepared to go to the beach and it got effin changed to tomorrow. What were they thinking?! Why on earth would NASA think they could CHANGE a launch date? Geez, way to go NASA. Total dream crushing homewrecker. [Note: total sarcasm right there, in case you couldn’t see it].

Tomorrow night I should have a video of it, given that we get there on time and aren’t mobbed by tons of angry beach goers. Byes!

I'm a creative person! on paper!

I wanted to post this article from psychology today-
The Creative Personality
I won’t waste time paraphrasing it because the whole article is pretty rockin’. Basically, it describes the mind of a creative person (writers [read:me], designers, artists, physicists, scientists etc) and sums up how I feel a lot of the time. Of course, some of the things are completely off. It describes creative people as having a lot of energy but by no means hyper, they like to rest etc. THAT is totally not me, seeing as I always want to be doing SOMETHING. Aside from that though, it’s pretty on point. It’s not often you get to read an actual article from psychology today that demystifies the idea of the “creative” mind. Enjoy! And as usual… check back for the post I’m working on currently.

Science & Progress

I do have a post that I’m currently formulating (it’s about physics, so if you don’t care to read it don’t check back. But it shall be interesting!) BUT! I wanted to put this little post in here because…. OBAMA JUST ANNOUNCED THAT HE LIFTED THE BAN ON STEM CELL RESEARCH!! How exciting is that?!?!?! Hate me all you want, but I am a complete supporter of it. I know we all walk the fine line of “what is considered human” and “at one point does something feel” but… this is a necessary step forward in science to allow us to study and research things we weren’t before! I wrote a post on stem cell research last year so….hooray obama! thank you.

Please stay tuned in the next few days for my ACTUAL post. Bahahaha.

Cause or symptom? Unraveling the science of sleep

Sleep… a symptom or a cause?

*If you want to read the preface to this article (which explains what happened to me -the bloodwork, the symptoms, etc) and see WHY I was reading this article, please read the following introduction that I wrote.. if you want to get into the scientific goodness then just skip it-

As you’ve probably gathered from reading previous posts, I’ve had major sleeping issues in the past and recently, that evidently left me tired and drained during the day. I always felt like I was just on the verge of being able to pass out. I would black out when I stood up. I had NO energy and existed soley on caffiene. (sidenote: I still do that anyway- coffee is delicious). To make a long story short, I got some bloodwork done, everything was perfect, but she recommended me to go to a sleep specialist neurologist guy to get a consultation. She said there were 4 types of sleep disorders- none of which I fit in to because I can FALL asleep, I just don’t STAY asleep. I wake up very easily and feel like I’m always on the brink of wakefulness. I’ve studied sleep (not officially, just in my own time through research) for years and years because it’s just.. well.. bugged me. I knew I didn’t fit into the regular categories either. There’s sleep apnoea (yes, it occurs in people both big and small) which I KNEW I didn’t have, sleep wakefullness (narcolepsy) which I don’t have because I can’t fall asleep to save my life in the daytime or even nap… insomnia- which I don’t have because I can actually fall asleep at night, and idiopathic sleep disorder, which is what I evidently DO have. If you haven’t caught on, she totally made that last category up. It’s where they stick people that have weird sleep symptoms that they haven’t yet been able to classify. I like to say it’s the “what the hell is THAT” category. I have such a shallow sleep that I’ve speculated I don’t entireley hit REM sleep for however many cycles I should be going through. Maybe the sleep neurologist can tell me. With all the research I’ve done, I’m pretty sure I was able to diagnose myself. Lol. Anyway, that’s why I’m writing about this article.

When you think of sleep disorders or problems, do you automatically assume that they’re a symptom or a cause? When people have other physical ailments, mental disorders perhaps, do you attribute a sleep issue to those problems? Where do sleep disorders come from? What triggers them?

Those questions are what we all are asking and wondering… but what if the answer doesn’t lie in the research we’re performing? This article, entitled “Sleep well, stay sane” in New Scientist can open your eyes and really make you wrap your brain around the findings they exhibit. It’s like the looking glass; what if sleep disorders are causing these other disorders and not vice versa? We’ve always been treating sleep issues as a symptom; what if it’s a cause? The article introduces us to the idea that poor sleep may be causing some psychiatric problems, and people are being treated with prescriptions as if they HAVE that illness, when it’s merely an ailment of poor sleeping. Millions [including children] could possibly be taking psychoactive drugs to cure an illness that they don’t even have; it could only be the symptoms of a sleep abnormality. This is not only inherently dangerous, but also makes you analyze how exactly doctors prescribe medicine. Doctors have already crossed the boundaries and found that erratic sleep was indeed connected to plenty of disorders. Saying that poor sleep was a symptom was so crystal clear, and researchers/doctors so trusted that nobody even thought twice about it.

In one research study, presented by Clifford Risk, they took 34 adults who were diagnosed with sleep apnoea and did further tests on them. Of those 34, 16 of them had scores which implied a moderate/severe attention impairment. They would have been considered classic cases of ADD or ADHD. Once they started treating the sleep apnoea, there were substantial improvements in the results of their attention scores. The sleeping disorder was disrupting their attention. Had they gone to a doctor with those symptoms, they would have most likely prescribed them Ritalin after observing them. This study ALSO suggests that a sleep abnormality was causing the body to mimic the symptoms of another disorder. In other words, sleep was the cause, not the symptom.

Schizophrenia is considered somewhat of a medical mystery still to this day, because there are so many loose ends and unanswered questions. I’ve also read up on this disorder a lot. I won’t bore you with my musings (because it’s all so in and out, with the disorder, that we’d be talking in circles forever. Part of it is genetic, and if you’re related to somebody who has/had schizophrenia, you are more likely to develop it, however, the correct environment or atmosphere will trigger it, so not everybody with the gene will display symptoms and develop it. blah blah blah. It also goes into nature vs. nurture and all that good stuff. If you’re interested in it, click this link- Schizophrenia article 1 or this link- Schizophrenia article 2) It really is a fascinating disorder and I hope you decide to visit those sites. I totally got off track here, but I AM going somewhere with this. One common trait of somebody with schizophrenia is the inability to master “rote” tasks. One example would be operating machinery. Procedural learning [which is part way responsible for the ability to master such tasks] have a certain sleep dependent component. People with chronic schizophrenia cannot constantly improve such tasks overnight like people without the disorder. Lack of sleep can actually affect that component, therefore sprouting symptoms of schizophrenia. One might go to a doctor with such symptoms, along with the irritability, aloofness etc and may very well be a suspect of that disorder.

Stress hormone levels increase when you encounter sleep disruption. Having high stress levels produce anxiety during the day, which is common in MANY types of psychiatric disorders. Sleep issues can also interfere with the brain’s ability to react to emotional stimuli without being over the top of out of control. When you’re sleep deprived, your amygdala (the part of your brain that is emotionally reactive) is not communicating properly or effectively with the pre-frontal lobe, which is responsible for sending/controlling inhibitory signals to the emotional part of the brain. The inhibitor works just like it sounds- it gets in there and acts as a barrier, and “inhibits” that part to control what exactly it is doing. When this fails, it’s like opening a can of worms. Things can get out of control. Real fast.

While none of this is concrete as of yet, it’s a pretty damn good starting point for discovering what is really happening. I, of all people, know how important sleep is. If you read below (like the intro said) I have my own little story about what I suspect is going wrong with me. I’m malfunctioning. Lol. I know that not getting proper sleep can unearth a whole boat full of issues emotionally, physically, and mentally. Nothing is worse than “sleeping” for 9 hours and not ACTUALLY sleeping. I wake up feeling like I just fell asleep. My whole day is messed up. I guess you could say I feel like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Evidently I slept on the wrong side as well.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I was REALLY ecstatic to find this article. I had always felt as if a lack of gratifying and deep sleep was conducive to a lot of problems. I think it’s wonderful that researchers are finally looking into sleep as a cause, and not just a symptom. After all, sleep is the one of the most important cycles our body partakes in. You know, aside from the heart pumping blood through our veins, our brain waves, central nervous system etc. Sleep is the time when everything in our body is rehabilitated. It’s a spa day for our system that works with such clockwork that we don’t even realize what’s occurring in there. Sleep is important! How else will we rejuvenate and revive our body, day after day? I am so thankful for this article. You never realize how important something is until you see what happens when you’re lacking it.