Monday, December 14, 2009

A pack of measures to promote scientific vocations among young students

Committee for the Promotion of Science, Villa Certosa, Sardinia, Italy

The crisis of vocations for scientific research is becoming a chronic problem of our cultural institutions. A scientific career is often despised by gifted University students on the basis of its reputation for providing low and uncertain incomes to highly qualified people. Also, some people are discouraged by the remoteness of the possibility of getting a stable position as professor or researcher in the long term. Thus, potential Nobel prizes are diverted from a promising track of international recognition and success, being led towards the slavery of working for a greedy firm which provides higher salaries in the short term. Although such incomes can indeed be translated into fancy cars and clothes, accessibility to mortgages, and other perishable charms of the pointless society we live in, these are superficial items that cannot compare to the inner elation and satisfaction of devoting an entire life to Science. Here, we propose a programme for the promotion of Science, to be considered by politicians in charge, that aims to make more appealing for young fellows a career devoted to research:

1. Free psychological health care policy to cover the costs of visits to psychologists and/or psychiatrists for possible depressive seizures after repeated experimental failures.

2. Free alcoholic drinks and spirits at the laboratories and libraries, under the slogan “Every hour is happy hour” to help graduate students fight putative frustrating obstacles found through their career.

3. Installation of panoramic TV screens in the labs, to show all sport events and pay-per-view programs requested by the fellows, so they enjoy and perform crucial experiments at the same time. Commercials would be cunningly substituted by full screen Scientific articles in pdf format (a motivation strategy called “paper-view” that will make Science more entertaining)

4. Contracting an actor playing an idiot (or contracting a real idiot) at the lab so that research fellows can reassure their self-esteem by comparing themselves to this dummy.

5. Organization of monthly Lab meetings and Discussion sessions at tropical beach resorts.

6. Decoration of the lab walls with appealing posters and calendars to cheer up the mood of researchers and lessen the feeling of claustrophobia. Sexy calendars such as those typically hanging at car mechanics could be more motivating than those given free by providers of flasks or antibodies.

7. Public funding of TV series based on laboratory intrigues in which the actors and actresses would play the role of researchers in pursue of outstanding scientific results. Broadcasting of such series would considerably rise public consideration of the scientific collective, as it has happened recently with Forensic professionals.

8. Assigning to researchers a generous percentage of the benefits derived from their patents, if any.

9. A commitment from the Association of Editors of Scientific Journals (AESJ) that guarantees the publication of a paper, as a first author (IF > 6), for every year spent in the lab, independently of the experimental results obtained.

10. Firing out all the administrative personnel from research institutions that makes every stupid bit of paperwork so unbelievably difficult.

Although we only include ten measures in our pack, we are aware of the existence of many others. You are welcome to add your own as a comment. We hope that the implementation of these measures will help in the recruiting of a novel generation of brilliant scientists worldwide. Young lads and ladies: Science needs you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How to write a lay scientific summary

B.A. Bell and M. Ute
Esperanto Academy of Sciences, New Haven, USA

The professional survival of scientists in modern life imposes the necessity of outstanding skills in a wide range of human activities, including business management, accounting, oratory, handcrafting, manipulation and repairing of small machines, computing, invention and refutation of theories, and writing of scientific reports for highly specialized journals (see CurrRevol 22/05/09, CurrRevol 27/05/09), among others. In addition, twenty-first century scientists need to know how to explain their daily work to the lay public, being on risk of global isolation and virtual vanishing when not doing that properly. However, few experimental approaches have been taken to improve the methods by which scientists present a summary of their investigations to the general public. Here, we have performed an in situ analysis of public perception of science, intended to build a very basic vocabulary to be used by scientists when communicating science to lay people. Informative booths were displayed, on a Sunday bright morning, all around the country on public parks, mall parking lots, and the surroundings of baseball stadiums. Normal people of all ages, races and sexual preferences, was randomly selected by attendant volunteers and challenged with Dr. Bean’s Comprehension Test for commonly used scientific terms, that includes five hundred words and abbreviations (from ABS to Zootype) that everybody should know by heart. The response of the people was monitored as the combination of induced cortical brain activity (measured by standard electrophysiology techniques) and eyebrow’s admiring spontaneous movement (determined by careful visual examination with an OJIMETRIXTM device), which were processed using the UnderStand? software. In addition, a modified prototype of the Eisenbud’s Psychic PollaroidTM thoughtography camera (see CurrRevol 25/11/09) was used during the tests to better discriminate for false positives. Results obtained from subjects that ended the session by sudden fainting were discharged for further analysis, and reliable recorded data were processed in an iterative manner to incorporate into a database those words which really meant something for the lay people, as scored by the UnderStand? algorithm. After two rounds of selection, no words remained in the database under creation, demonstrating that the five hundred scientific words used in our study are not as commonly used by people as expected. Furthermore, our results indicate that either scientists do not wander around public premises on bright Sunday mornings, or that scientists also ignore the real meaning of most scientific words. To sustain this conclusion, a selected cohort of expert scientists from different disciplines were offered to be challenged with Dr. Bean’s Comprehension Test. Unfortunately, the chosen scientists refused to participate in the experiment on the basis of jeopardizing seriously the future funding of their research. We conclude with the pessimistic feeling that is really difficult for scientists to communicate their investigations not only to the general public, but also to their own colleagues. Experiments are ongoing to test the ability of lay people to explain, in a brief summary, the interest of their working activities to scientists. Meanwhile, we suggest to scientists to check the list of the five hundred most commonly used words in the English language (see 500words), to incorporate as many as these words as possible in their scientific summaries for lay people.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Evidence for thoughtographic phenomena may open novel technological fields

Mumler III Jr., W.H., Ghostbuster, J.W. and Eisenbud Jr., J.J.
Jule Eisenbud Institute for Thoughtographic Research, Denver, USA

In the 1960s, Ted Serios, a bellboy who worked as elevator operator at the Chicago Hilton hotel, became famous for being able to obtain photographs of his thoughts on Polaroid film. Although Serios was not seriously considered by most scientists and academics, he was highly esteemed by believers in psychic powers. In the sessions organized by Serios, he seemed to enter into psychic trance by heavy beer drinking, which urged him to run half-naked cursing and yelling around the room of the gathering while attendees shot pictures of him with his Polaroid following his instructions. When developed, films often revealed objects and scenes different from the room where they had been taken, instead of Serios’ own image. He claimed such representations as his own thoughts. It is not clear how Serios impressed films with psychic images. A plausible hypothesis is that he materialized ectoplasm out of his own inner self as subtle photons in a manner similar to the process of ghost embodiment by mediums at spiritism sessions. To test whether thoughtography was indeed achievable, we used state-of-the-art technology to improve a Polaroid camera by adding detectors to capture infrared radiation and low energy hertzian waves, while limiting its sensitivity in the visible range of the spectrum. We call this prototype the Psychic Pollaroid™ (PP). The first experiment was conducted on non-human primates, and results were encouraging: PP-pictures from a group of chimpanzees at the Denver zoo showed strange bent shapes that could be interpreted as bananas, as well as some basic blurred shapes reminiscent of men being harassed by monkeys. Then, we decided to test the device on human beings. Disguised as journalists, we took some pictures of politicians holding a debate at the Parliament. When developed, all pictures were black, leading to the frustrating initial conclusion that thoughtography on humans was not feasible. Moreover, when some Hollywood film stars were photographed with our PP device, normal images of the subjects, such as those taken with a regular camera, were obtained. When the project was about to be abandoned, a member of our research team suggested that the experiments performed thus far may not have been a failure, because politicians could be expected to have nothing in mind and film stars may only think about themselves. In consequence, the PP device might still have taken real pictures of immaterial thoughts. Thus, we took PP pictures of a target population more inclined to have diverse thoughts, such as University professors. Amazingly, PP-pictures taken at an academic convention, instead of representing the physical image of the lecturers, displayed a chaotic variety of random subjects, such as naked young girls, football players, ham, sausages, scenes from TV reality shows, bottles of French red wine, race cars, Caribbean seashore landscapes and Disney features. Interestingly, a picture taken of a professor and a young female student during a tutorial displayed fashion items (fine leather boots and fancy jewels) where the young lady should be and the same young lady naked occupying the spot of the professor. As an example of thoughtography from our sessions at the Campus see the Fig., representing, from left to right, the captured thoughts of the Deans of Chemistry, Biology, Medicine and Economics.

Furthermore, PP-pictures of University students often displayed computer games and beer bottles, while those of Theologists and religious fellows invariably depicted sinful scenes. We believe that our experiments prove that thoughtography is viable. We are currently developing digital PP cameras, that would provide a quicker developing method than Polaroid, allowing the prediction of the future behavior of photographed individuals by visioning their thoughts, as well as PP-video cameras, that could provide real-time reproduction in images of a written story if a person is recorded when reading. Beyond the demonstration of psychic forces, our inventions could have multiple potential applications that might greatly influence human relationships in the future.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Genetic evidence that Elvis is alive

Colonel T. Parker, Jr.
Genome King Inc., Tupelo, Mississippi, USA

One of the major cultural pop icons of the twentieth century worldwide, Elvis Presley, has been the subject of numerous hagiographic and musical studies since he was officially deceased, by obscure causes, in 1977. In parallel, many real events, fortuitous encounters, and true visions have been widely documented since that year, which propose that, actually, Elvis Presley is still alive and spends his days with all of us, as an extra-ordinary person, in the material world. However, no experimental evidence to support this hypothesis has been disclosed so far. Here, we have performed a genetic population analysis of Elvis Presley associated-single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to test the possibility that Elvis is alive. A collection of items that belonged to Elvis were obtained from volunteer donors, including Elvis’ male and female fans, putative girlfriends, army comrades, distant relatives, and surviving bodyguards. Elvis’ mementos covered distinct aspects of his personal and artistic life, from a portion of the velvet that covered the microphone touched by him once in the rehearsal of his reappearance at the International Hotel in Las Vegas in 1969, to a foreskin sample rescued from one of his genuine underwear pieces, kept in the safe of Graceland’s vaults. Highly pure DNA was isolated from the collected samples and subjected to fingerprinting using an array of Star-SNP markers, which is enriched for markers for famous and very famous celebrities (Holly Good Deals Inc.). The results were filtered to get rid of residual normal-people markers, and a final fingerprint was obtained that represented Elvis unique SNP profile, with a confidence higher than 99.99%. To search for Elvis candidates, routine blood samples were obtained from seventy-four-year-old male individuals confined to asylums, hospitals for the mentally-ill (where many residents claimed Elvis’ identity), and Evangelic churches in the five continents, as well as from undercover FBI, CIA, and DEA veteran agents. Up to a total of 3,333,333 samples were collected, and run to match the Elvis associated-SNP using the Memphis algorithm. Three control samples, obtained from the scarce individuals of the same age that assured not being aware of who Elvis was, were also included in the study. Remarkably, one hit was produced from the query samples that fulfilled all the requisites to come from the real Elvis. DNA sequencing of the whole genome of the putative Elvis (elvis.1 assembly; under patenting) revealed that, in fact, it contained major Elvis phenotype alleles, including the one responsible of his deepest voice registers and those that helped in the sexual swinging of his pelvis on the stage.

As expected, the selected candidate denied being Elvis Presley at all, and asked insistently to be left alone, refusing also to give his consent for disclosing any personal image or information about him. In summary, our study provides the first genetic evidence that Elvis is alive, and demonstrates that life without Elvis is not possible. Current efforts are in the direction of engineering clone copies of Elvis for their eventual distribution among the general public, in prevention of Elvis’ real death.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Are scientists honest? A blind study

J.L. López-Vázquez, J. Conrado and J.L. García-Berlanga
Plácido Foundation, Navalmoral de la Mata, Spain.

Scientists have long suspected that many colleagues do not faithfully reflect their experimental methods in published articles, omitting important issues for reproducibility or, worse, deliberately hiding ethically unacceptable dirty tricks that were used through their research aimed to enhance its impact. In order to find whether such practices were common among researchers, we induced a cataleptic pseudo-hypnotic state in the minds of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and senior investigators from several public institutions in Japan, the United States, Germany, UK, Israel and Spain. A cohort of 333 individuals were examined. Catalepsy was induced by moderate alcohol ingestion (2% v/v in bloodstream, Garrafón Enterprises, Cazalla de la Sierra, Spain), monitored drug administration (700 mg intravenous barbiturates, Shootes-Barbate Pharma, Cadiz, Spain), and visioning of a video displaying a routine session at the European Parliament (3 min). Confessions were recorded with confidentiality so that they could not be used against the individuals. 67.3% of graduate students claimed to have teased on results and cheated on their supervisors. Irreproducibility of expected results was the main cause for this behaviour. Being distracted by sex-appeal of opposite sex labmates was a common trigger for experimental failure. In other cases, proper incubation times were neglected as researchers were entertained chatting at the computer. Fake results were most commonly elaborated by using Adobe Photoshop manipulation of blots and micrographs. One individual regretted having cooked with rice the rabbits he was using to produce polyclonal antibodies before bleeding them. Other, frustrated by not being sure of having mistaken samples #36425 and #36426 in a high-throughput screen, trashed the whole experiment and made up all the dataset out of his imagination. Postdoctoral fellows cheated less (34.5%), but often redacted incomplete or misleading experimental details on the Materials and Methods section of their scientific reports intentionally. A Japanese postdoc attempted to flood their competitors’ labs by changing the real scale of his experiments from microliters to liters. A researcher from Israel only used Kosher reagents to hamper reproducibility of his experiments in foreign labs. Other case dealt with adding irrelevant obnoxious components to buffers, like mercapthanes, just to cause disgusting odours in the competitors’ labs. A remarkable confession revealed that Bioinformaticians mostly drive conclusions from their experiments by discarding all the data that they do not understand, which amounts to 99.6% of the output of their research. Surprisingly, a high percentage of senior researchers made use of voodoo dollies to appease or punish referees and journal editors. Some wet their pants when they receive an e-mail from the journal. A widespread unethical practice was to lock postdoctoral fellows at the lab with a limited supply of food (see figure) when the journal asked for experiments to be performed in a limited time.

We found three cases of fake submissions, e. g., the principal investigator pretended to have submitted a paper and he made the negative comments of two false reviewers himself in order to manipulate the feelings of his fellow researchers in a particular direction. The good news is that about 10% of researchers had never failed to produce honest rigorous and exemplary Science. However, we cannot be sure of this result. For a start, you would have to trust our study.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Parascientific analyses of the human genome favor the hypothesis of a Creator Goddess

Del Oso, J. and Lugosi, B.
Center for Astrologic Technology (CAT), Babylon Hanging Gardens, Utah, USA

The so-called “Post-genomic Era” has notably changed our perspective on Biomedical research. In the latest years, the analysis of all the genetic information encoded by the human genome has been the subject of multiple scientific analyses that bring new expectations on short- to medium-term applications to human health, such as personalized therapeutics, early diagnosis of severe disease based on molecular techniques, etc. It also brings philosophical questions about the genetic identity of the individual, the influence of genetic traits in personality, or even theosophical problems such as aspects derived of an eventual understanding of the molecular basis of intelligence, rationality or even spirituality. However, no parascientific approaches have been endeavored so far to understand hidden messages in our genes that may provide important clues into the aforementioned questions. Here we present the first and pioneering astrological analysis of the human genome. First, based on the well-known fact that cats are the faithful pets of renowned Astrologers, we search for the mystic word CAT in the sequence of the human genome. We found 163,624,049 CATs in the human genome, about 80% of those estimated in the cat genome itself (202,792,379, although this figure may not be exact because the cat genome is not fully assembled yet), proving a strong genetic esoteric link with this mysterious feline. [This bioinformatic analysis was partially funded by the Catalan Government (Generalitat de Catalunya), who was interested in the same topic for linguistic reasons; see gencat]. Next, we tried to find messages written in the genome by a putative “creator”. Finding such messages would not only prove the existence of a superior intelligence, but reveal important messages left by Him (or Her) for us to decipher. By using the Basic Genome Reader algorithm (Palau & Rubio, 1970), combined with visual reading of the human genome sequence by our team of researchers, we were not able to find sensible messages, unfortunately. We found, however, as a side observation, that reading the whole genome triggers in researchers the Baby Tongue Syndrome, a neurological disorder that consists of loss of language abilities in such way that the patient can only say GA-GA, CA-CA, TA-TA and TACA-TACA, being able to communicate only with 6 month- to 1 year-old children. We can conclude from this esoteric genome lecture experiment that either no Creator or God exist, or that if he or she exists, his or her language development is very limited. Alternatively, a hidden code to decipher the genomic messages may be too complicated for our simple minds to understand. If a creator exists, we favor the hypothesis that it is a Goddess rather than a God, because she left her signature “AGATA” several hundred thousand times along the genome. This is in accordance to ancestral Mother Goddess cults in the Bronze Age. We must remark that cats were often associated with female deities in ancient civilizations. We are currently associating zodiacal constellations to certain chromosomal loci in order to find out clues for interpreting important messages from Her that may help us to define the fate of our civilization. Preliminary findings, such as linkage to the Y Chromosome of a Capricornio ascent on Taurus and Aries male individuals who had bad marriage experiences, does not foretell very good news.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Newspaper ink promotes a sun tanning-like phenotype in nude mice

Paul Kammerer, Jr. and Benjamin Coppertone
Neues Biologische Versuchsanstalt, Vienna, Austria

The Amazon rainforest is the richest region on Earth in terms of biological diversity, with an estimation of around 5 millions of different living species of plants and animals, including humans. This high biodiversity makes the region a suitable source of organic compounds with applications for mankind. Examples include the sticky additive used for chewing gum, the neuro-excitatory drugs included in commercial cigarettes, and the secret component of CokeTM, among others. To search for novel natural compounds with utility in human health, we have performed a systematic high throughput phenotypic screening of unbiased crude extracts from organic samples collected randomly all along the Amazonia, from Ecuador to the French Guiana, using as the readout phenotype variations in hairless nude mice. The Amazon Jungle was divided in 33,333 sectors of 150 square kilometres each. About 33% of the sectors were eliminated from the study due to the lack of natural material because of severe deforestation, and biological samples were systematically obtained from the remaining 22,222 sectors using an ACME (Accurately Calibrated Machines for Everything, Inc.) robotized harvester. This procedure avoided human manipulation during the collection of samples and guaranteed the obtaining of uncontaminated mixtures of natural substances. The samples were homogenized, encapsulated, and sterilized using a standard pet-dry food processor, and tested for induction of phenotype changes in nude mice after their administration in combination with the regular food. Real-time video survey of the mice cages certified that the animals really enjoyed eating the Amazonian food tablets. A diverse array of novel phenotypes was obtained in the mice, which will be described in detail elsewhere. Here, we briefly summarize the most frequent of these phenotypes, which displayed a high level of penetrance and consisted in mice showing a dotted sun tanning-like pattern.

Several rounds of fractionation and purification steps from the crude extracts from positive samples allowed the isolation of the active compound causing spotted sun tanning phenotype, and its identification as plain newspaper ink. Subsequent experiments performed with ink purified from a large pile of different newspapers, from The New York Times to Las Provincias, demonstrated that newspaper ink promotes a UV-independent sun tanning-like phenotype in mice. Importantly, nude mice treated with newspaper ink did not get sunburnt and were more resistant to skin cancer promoters, in comparison to UV-irradiated tanned mice. Furthermore, direct consumption of sterilized newspapers in the diet conferred a mild greyish but consistent dotted sun tanning appearance to the animals, which was also accompanied by skin cancer protection. Although studies addressing the effects in human populations of eating newspapers or newspaper ink have not been documented, we propose newspaper ink as a safe, cheap and reliable sun tanner for humans. In addition, considering the global economical crisis situation, the benefits of introducing used newspapers in human diet are currently under analysis. Further work will be necessary to explain the unexpected abundance of newspaper ink in natural samples from the Amazon rainforest resources.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Unexpected results of shortening or extending R&D budget

Z. P. Garmendia et al.
IEPS (Institute for Excellence in Poverty Studies), Tijeruelas de Abajo, Spain

During episodes of global economical crisis, some unconsidered governments seriously threaten to restrain or limit the Research and Development budget of their public National programmes (see CurrRevol 07/10/09). This causes uneasiness to most senior researchers and draws back potential vocational trends among young fellows. However, no proof-of-principle has been provided to date that a shortening of funds should necessarily lead to a shortage of scientific productivity in qualified research teams. To provide insight into this topic we selected three cohorts of scientific teams working in Biomedical Sciences in public institutions, such as Universities and public Research Institutes, and devised the following experimental layout: For scientific teams in group A, we cut down 37% of their running budgets during 12 months; group B was provided with an extra 37% of budget with respect to the current figures; and the budget of group C was left untouched, as control. Several parameters of scientific excellence were subsequently measured. Researchers in group A showed an enhanced ability to improvise to situations of stress and react to problems. For instance, upon a fake fire alarm behavioural experiment, they chose to save their pipettes, whereas the control group did not. Also, they changed their providers from the usual Biotech companies to second-hand flea market facilities, and the Nespresso machine at the office was substituted by an economic removable-filter coffee maker in a significant number of cases. In addition, they tended to shift from ‘–omic’-based approaches to classic Genetics and Biochemistry (one gene, one enzyme, one reaction, one paper). They diminished their expenses in fungible, reagents and software, but spent more money on pencils, tape, toothpicks, aspirins, alcohol and toilet paper. No suicides were recorded among these researchers, but nervous breakdowns were more frequent than in the control group. As a consequence, hair loss was more acute in male researchers of this group than in the control, whereas females manifested a relatively high frequency of alterations in their menstrual cycle. Communications to congresses were rarely observed, unless appointed as invited speakers. They published approximately the same number of papers through the period studied, but somehow they managed to reduce in 37% the impact factor of the journals that dared accepting their work. We conclude that cutting down funding to researchers impairs their yield but stimulates their creativity, although not always in the right way. Surprisingly, the group B did not produce more Science or increase its quality either. Principal investigators attended meetings, workshops and congresses in exotic locations, such as Hawaii or the Seychelles. In consequence, these researchers were more sexually promiscuous than those from the control group, leading to loss of concentration in their research projects and, in some extreme cases, to changes of sex. Reagents and fungible material were abundantly purchased by these groups but stored without apparent usage and never used. Upon a fake fire alarm experiment, they chose to save only their wallets. Genomic, proteomic and metabolomic approaches were often followed, but only to accumulate bulky sterile datasets in their computers. In the end, most publications produced by these teams were review articles. Furthermore, one suicide was recorded. Apparently, the deceased had tried in vain to bribe a Nature editor by offering him a huge amount of money to get his work published in the journal. In sum, we conclude that money does not make happiness, but limiting it may be a threat to the sanity of our most gifted researchers at public Research Institutions.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Deciphering the genetic code of Legrands’s gold-bug resolves the mystery of Captain Kidd’s buried chest

Edgar LaMorgue and Virginia Pale
Charlestonian Gravedigging Institute, Charleston, USA

Since its discovery in the mid-nineteen century by Dr. Legrand (see the tale), the gold-bug (Scarabaeus caput hominis) remains as one of the major biological enigmas in natural history, being the only specimen found of its species. Comparison of the gold-bug genome with that of other beetles or related insects has not been possible, since the gold-bug genome is encrypted under a unique and exclusive genetic code of outstanding mathematical complexity. Efforts to decipher the gold-bug genetic code have failed to date, the only output of these investigations being a bunch of alcoholic and paranoid PhD students that had to be secluded in the madhouse before concluding the initial experiments of their thesis projects. Based on the previous work by Vientre et al. on the reading and translation of the DNA sequence from short-genome alien organisms (see CurrRevol 21/04/09), we have fully deciphered and patented the genetic code of Legrand’s gold-bug. Here, we report the preliminary analysis of a part of the genome sequence of this scarabeid beetle, which has been instrumental to resolve the mystery that had obscured for decades the gold-bug’s popular tale, namely the number of blows that Captain Kidd gave to his coadjutor pirates with the mattock, to shut them up in hell, after the treasure chest was deep buried and secure, aside the famous tall tulip-tree that marked the spot of the booty hidden place. Some authors have speculated that perhaps a couple of blows, perhaps a dozen, would be sufficient for such a criminal act. Our shrewd reading of the gold-bug DNA sequence provided us with the exact number of beats received by the heads of the two incautious pirates. The anatomical and molecular inspection of the skulls from Kidd’s comrades found in the pit, on the treasure chest, corroborated with accuracy the estimations attained from the analysis of the gold-bug DNA ciphered message. The complete interpretation of the gold-bug genome awaits further studies, but we can anticipate seminal discoveries regarding ambiguous or cryptic passages from other inspired tales by E.A.P.


Spanish Science does not need scissors

Blunt Scissors Spanish Science Consortium, Spain

Science in Spain has undergone a steady but constant progress along the twentieth century. In Ramón y Cajal’s old times, the enthusiastic neurologist from Petilla de Aragón carried by himself, all the way to a meeting in Berlin, his home-made preparations, his microscope and his hand-drawing depictions of neurons, just to show his results to his sceptical European colleagues beyond the Pyrenees. Afterwards, he was laureate with the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Later on, during the obscure and silent times of the mid-century, the devoted Amador worked out tireless in the outskirts from Madrid to obtain reliable supplies of animals intended for basic research on mice oncogenesis. Some years later, thousands of strains of transgenic mice fill up the animal houses from several Spanish research institutes of excellence, and the cure of cancer and many other diseases is getting closer and closer in this country according to the newspapers. At the end of the century, the Homo antecessor was discovered in Atapuerca, Burgos, proving that the very first hominins in Europe were Spanish. More recently, the improvement in social- and science-related achievements has made of Spain one of the more important European countries in terms of international notoriety, the spectacular winning of both the 2008 European Football Championship in Austria and the 2009 Eurobasket in Poland being the culmination of it. This successful progress would have been impossible without a proper and maintained investment in Research and Development (R&D) along these years. Thus, shortage in R&D funding would jeopardize the prospective of Spain in the twenty-first century competitive modern world. The Blunt Scissors Spanish Science Consortium (BSSSC) was spontaneously created in September 2008, as a result of the prediction by the Spanish Scientific Community that the Spanish Government was going to announce, sooner or later, a severe cut down on the R&D budget, under the excuse of the financial crisis in the world, which was starting to affect strongly to Spain. As expected, the announcement was made real in September 2009. Scissors being the more important administrative tool to cut down on budgets, the first task of the BSSSC was to test the necessity of scissors in Spanish Science. Representative disciplines covering all scientific areas, from Sacred History to Aeronautics, were selected, and kits containing different varieties of scissors, including kitchen-, surgical-, moustache-, toenail-, dressing- and garden-scissors, were sent out to the appropriate Spanish laboratories or research facilities for their use in the research routine work. Sets of protocols in the distinct official languages of Spain, together with a professional scissor sharpener, were included in the sending. The scientific productivity of the laboratories and research departments using scissors was scored along one year, and compared with that of matched control research teams, in which scissors use was substituted by teeth-cutting. Although the statistical analysis of our data is not yet complete, mainly due to the misuse of the teeth in the control group, the preliminary examination of our results indicates that scissors did not improve, but rather slowed down, scientific productivity in Spain.

We conclude from our study that Spanish Science does not need scissors, and provide two good reasons for not diminishing the investment in R&D in Spain: 1/ Spain is still far from the average investment in R&D in Europe; and 2/ being Spain the favourite team for the upcoming 2010 World Cup in South Africa, it would be a pity to lose, just because of a handful of euros, this opportunity to become, for the first time, football world champions. More good reasons at aldea-irreductible.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Horizontal gene transfer of intelligence traits between phylogenetically distant species

Darwin, C., Zhu, X., Xi, Z. and Conrado, D.
Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Harvard Morgue for Nerds (HMN), Massachussets, USA

Horizontal gene transfer is well characterized among bacteria, and this mechanism is known to be responsible for genetic diversity and evolution in these organisms. However, no evidence of gene transfer between higher species, including humans, has been reported to date. In consequence, horizontal gene transfer is not considered a major event in the evolution of higher organisms. The evolutionary events that led to development of intelligence in humans are not yet understood at a genetic level. We hypothesize that some sort of horizontal gene transfer must have contributed to the appearance of rational beings in our planet. To test this possibility, we have devised a simple experiment by co-cultivating in the same culture flask amoebas (Acanthamoeba polyphaga) and human neurons freshly obtained post-mortem from the brain of a Bioinformatician (Homo sapiens var. linux) that had died from severe exposure-to-nature stress (kind gift of the busy HMN facilities). A control flask inoculated with amoebas alone was maintained in parallel. After 7 days of co-cultivation, amoebas from both co-culture and control flasks were implanted into the brain of adult mice by standard surgical means. Mice harboring control amoebas suffered severe neurological damage signs, likely due to in situ phagocytosis of local neurons by the implanted amoebas. In contrast, mice implanted with amoebas from the human neuron co-cultivation flask not only did survive, but also showed some traits of intelligence that are not commonly observed in mice: i) they seemed to read with interest the news in the newspapers used to absorb urine at the bottom of their cages, especially Disneyworld adds; ii) when placed in a mace, they signaled their way out with a permanent marker stolen from the animal facility technician and drew on the mace walls some simple calculations related to the distance walked; iii) when placed on a computer keyboard, they were able to perform some basic operations, such as playing Windows games (Mines being a favorite), accessing to Shakira videos in YouTube and formatting the hard disk afterwards, always in that order (p<0.0001); and iv) they knew how to use alternative locomotion devices (see Fig.) although they sometimes crept as if trying to emit pseudopods.

One adverse effect was observed: when shown a picture of an amoeba, these mice would suffer a hormonal shock characterized as unstoppable desire to mate. We conclude that intelligence can be transferred among amoebas and isolated neurons by a TSPMLH (Todo se pega menos la hermosura: named after a Spanish saying “All passes on except beauty”) gene transfer mechanism. Experiments are under way by separating both populations in culture by a porous membrane to check whether direct contact is necessary for TSPMLH gene transfer. We propose that growth of different species in the same culture pot, in early-life natural conditions, may have been of capital importance for the evolution of intelligence from simple to very simple organisms.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Premature truncation of Talkative proteins causes Elevator Muteness in humans

C. Otilia and B. Sazo-Mari
Centro de Investigación de Proteínas Fútiles, Valencia, Spain

Talkative genes are highly abundant genes responsible of chatting behaviour and sensitivity to kissing in humans. Our previous studies on a cohort of gossiping subjects identified the tandem Talkative-A genes (TakA-Taka) as the major Talkative genes induced along mid-morning working hours in the staff from administrative and governmental premises in the Western Europe Mediterranean area. TakA-Taka genes are specifically expressed at the tip of the tongue in a stimulus-dependent manner, and fluctuations in sexual hormone levels play a key role in the precise control of the functions mediated by the TakA-Taka proteins. Transgenic honey bees (Apis mellifera iberiensis) overexpressing human TakA-Taka were able to use a novel communication code, pheromone- and dancing-independent, to inform to the colony about the localization of the more attractive and delicious pollen and nectar sources around. Unfortunately, TakA-Taka-overexpressing bees were non-viable at the long term, as a result of the never ending exchange of information between the worker females in their way to the flowers, which made impossible the maintenance and successful development of the hive. Here, we have analyzed the involvement of TakA-Taka in the etiology of Elevator Muteness Disease (EMD), a highly penetrant human disease triggered by the abusive use of elevators, which affects to an increasing percentage of the population in developed countries. When untreated, EMD may aggravate and produce severe misbehaviour manifestations, including spitting in public, repugnancy-to-the-others, and profound wishes of self-annihilation. Shot-gun DNA sequencing of the complete TakA-Taka genes from a random Spanish population revealed the existence of two groups of samples regarding the status of the TakA-Taka genes: group 1, displaying intact TakA-Taka genes; and group 2, displaying premature stop codons in any of the two TakA-Taka genes. Remarkably, an exquisite correlation was observed in the two groups in terms of elevator usage: whereas group 1 individuals claimed not using elevators at all, or only using them scarcely, individuals from group 2 declared being daily users of elevators, both at work and at home. Subjects that harboured TakA-Taka genes with stop codons at the very beginning of their coding sequences were interviewed for further familial- and life habits-background examination, but most of them did not have anything to say after the complementary salutations, specially when asked about their kissing preferences, and the study had to be aborted. Our observations indicate that the use of elevators is a strong risk factor for deleterious mutations at the TakA-Taka genes, and that premature truncation of the TakA-Taka proteins may be causative of EMD, likely by sudden interruption at the tongue’s tip of the thoughts elaborated in forspoken language at the brain cortex. Further experiments will be necessary to ascertain the putative relationship between the absence of EMD symptoms and the compulsive kissing desire suffered by many while in the elevators, under the stimulating proximity of other persons’ sensual lips.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A functional role for vault particles in body snatching

Lydia Vilanova, Nuria Delajara and José Conrado
Finca El Palmeral, Elche, Spain

Body snatching is one of the worst experiences that alive beings can suffer, since snatched bodies usually end up devoured by their predators, confined in dark holes has a food reservoir for insect larvae, or transformed in an unemotional new being with no memory of oneself. Examples of body snatching are multiple in the animal kingdom, from the cruel chase of preys by spiders and wasps to the nocturnal snatching of lambs by the ferocious wolf. In addition, human body snatching has been widely documented along the last decades. In fact, a retrospective search using the 1001-DVD-Science Fiction Movies online database has revealed that body snatching after alien invasions is a recurrent theme in the recent human history, with more than a dozen of different versions and remakes of Invasion of the Body Snatchers currently in the video market (for an example of title transgression, see ultracuerpos). However, serious studies addressing the molecular events that take place during the process of body snatching are lacking. Vaults are highly organized ribonucleoprotein particles present in eukaryotes, whose function remains enigmatic. Our previous three-dimensional analysis of vault particles led us to hypothesize the possibility that vaults could play a role as molecular coffins for dead, snatched bodies (see CurrRevol 14/05/09). Now, using refined last generation OJIMETRIXTM ultrasensitive technology, in conjunction with DVD additive visualization in a high-definition 40-inches TFT plasma screen, we have compared the shape of vault particles at 3.5 A resolution with the shape of pods and other devices used for body snatching in movies from the recent past:

As shown, the visual combination of the movie artefacts analyzed in our study, including a corn pod-like and a cocktail shaker-like snatching gadgets, rendered an image with all the structural and geometrical properties of vault particles, as recently reported (EMBO J. 2009 Sep 24). Our observations indicate that: 1/ body snatching pods have evolved in the recent years from a rough corn-like pod shape to a more efficient cocktail shaker-like structure, which may recapitulate early vault evolution in the Earth; and 2/ modern vaults are the result of the endosymbiosis of ancestral body snatching alien beings with terrestrial engulfing phagocytic organisms. We propose a functional role for vault particles as intracellular body snatching molecular devices. The possibility exists that those molecules within the cell with more physiologic relevance and stronger personality, such as phosphatases (see CurrRevol 19/06/09), could be snatched into the vaults during invasion by foreign agents and converted into boring, dull-specificity enzymes whose only finality would be alien self-propagation.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Aberrant overexpression of XTINK genes triggered the extinction of dinosaurs in late Cretaceous

T. Arzán, T. Rex, T. Existe and J. Weissmuller Jr.
Unidad de Extinción de Especies, Dinopolis Amusement Park, Teruel, Spain

Dinosaur massive extinction at the end of Cretaceous period is a favourite recurrent theme at educational institutions, Science museums, and story-telling colloquia (see, for instance, Jindetrés). The knowledge about the causes of dinosaur extinction moves from the absolute ignorance for most of the normal people to the catastrophic Geologist’s theory on the impact of an asteroid with the Earth crust a few millions years ago. In addition, a group of Biologists and Mathematicians defend as a reasonable hypothesis to explain this extinction the lethal unbalance between the short intelligence and the big size of most dinosaurs, when compared with the attributes of their smarter competitors, the archaic shrew-like mammals. Here, we have followed an un-biased molecular approach, based on the search for extinction-specific reptilian genes, to ascertain the genetic basis of dinosaur extinction. A comprehensive gene expression analysis was performed using mRNA samples from alive individuals from two current crocodilian species, American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), in comparison with archival samples from African crocodile specimens that had been slaughtered during the filming of Tarzan movies, several decades ago, while fighting for survival against this famous wild hero. Blinded OJIMETRIXTM analysis of the microarray chips, followed by in situ toothpick-substractive hybridization, identified thirteen highly related genes, XTINK-1 to XTINK-13, which were aberrantly overexpressed in samples from extinct crocodile specimens, in comparison with samples from alive animals. XTINK-13 gene was the more frequently overexpressed gene in Tarzan’s movies crocodiles, and a good positive correlation (p<0.000001) was found between the XTINK-13 mRNA overexpression levels and the number of stabs that the crocodile received from Tarzan during the fight. Measurement of random, non-selective interspecies variation of XTINK genes, using the XMELT algorithm, indicated that XTINK gene family diverged from its nearest gene ancestor about 60 millions years ago, which fits quite well with the time of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event. As expected, transgenic mice expressing XTINK-13 were not reproductively viable, and repeatedly died of unfortunate incidents, such as lack of water or food in the cage, intoxication during routine fumigation of the animal house, or lethal mishandling by non-trained technicians. As a matter of fact, the functional experiments with XTINK-13 had to be interrupted, after several PhD students working with this gene abandoned the laboratory as a consequence of the concatenation of sad events attributable to very bad luck, including continuous deep punctures with biologically contaminated needles, embarrassing slips on dry floor, painful head bumping against half-closed glass doors, and severe electric shocks caused by their computer keyboards. We conclude from our studies that XTINK genes possess extinction prone-like properties, and propose that extinction of some reptiles, including dinosaurs in the late Cretaceous, may have been the consequence of aberrant and inopportune overexpression of XTINK genes along evolution.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

FAZ: a novel franchising A-to-Z concept in scientific journals

In Diana and Jones
Inpress Forsure Press, Bollywood, India

Publishing in specialized scientific journals has become one of the major professional challenges for modern scientists, since the percentage of rejection of submitted manuscripts has risen dramatically along the last years. The abusing in papers rejection by scientific journals is known to sink the self-esteem and leadership abilities of senior researchers, making them unhappy, always-complaining grumpy people which do not adapt to live in society. Concomitantly, young researchers that do not get their work published after several years of intense dedication are candidates to suffer chronic personality disorders, severe depression, and sexual impotence. Because of the diversity of journal policies to reject manuscripts, the time of rejection can fluctuate from minutes to months after submission, making the life of scientists an insufferable, continuous waiting-for-rejection time in front of the e-mail entry screen of their computers. In addition, the capricious and variable rejection strategies used for the monitoring editors make the reading of the rejection letters self-exercises of practical empathy, with recurrent thoughts such as “let’s see what excuse is going to use this time the poor editor…”, which are often the preamble of serious and irreversible religious conversions by the scientists involved. Here, we present a franchising A-to-Z platform, FAZ, for safe and reliable publishing of scientific reports in due time. The FAZ journal platform is intended to tailor in scope and format, according to the manuscript you are ready to submit, each new journal you are ready to launch, from A to Z. More importantly, FAZ imposes pre-established editor and referee’s decisions, regarding your manuscript of interest, to the policy of the brand new journal, from immediate priority acceptance without changes to a two-week time positive response recommending some minor corrections in the discussion and figure legends. The franchising system of FAZ provides you full coverage to maintain your journal on-line as a publication from our virtual Editorial Press, Inpress Forsure, with more than thirteen hundred of thousands of specialized journals currently running. The personal choice of editorial board members among your best friends and colleagues, and the liberty to pick favourable, even virtual, referees for your report, gives you absolute control on the timely acceptance decisions of your journal for all your submissions. As an attractive option, Inpress Forsure offers you the HARD FAZ service: a rapid and high-quality service for full-color printing of hard copies of your FAZ journal, which can be used at your convenience as complementary gifts or as professional promotion items. To create your own FAZ journal, check with our administrative office for available journal names, from FAZ-A to FAZ-ZZZZ, send us your most irrelevant results in a suitable manuscript format and the full number of your non-expired credit card, and we will make the rest for you. FAZ journals are a WYWIWYP (what-you-write-is-what-you-publish) service to the scientific community worldwide. After PubMed rejected indexing our Journals, we are considering launching our own FAZ-PubMed in the near future.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Severe Post-Congress Shock displays different symptoms in young and senior researchers

Venue McFarland and Ke Liu
Hospital for Congress-Induced Neurodegenerative Diseases. Toronto Conference Center, Canada.

Attending to scientific congresses, workshops, conferences and meetings usually provokes in delegates severe neurological disorders that become manifest a posteriori. These include bipolar behavior, poor cognition, loss of concentration and awareness, and general mental collapse. The overall syndrome is known as Post-Congress Shock (PCS). Although it is well known that PCS is rather common in attendees to Molecular Biology congresses, few serious studies have been made to define the critical parameters that characterize the disease and/or its prevalence. Here we present a study on the timing and severity of appearance of PCS-related symptoms in fifty ambulatory patients that attended to a particular meeting on Genetics, Molecular Biology and Genomics. In order to correlate the progress of the disease to the stage of the patient’s career and the consumption of alcohol during the meeting, we chose thirty graduate students or postdocs (hereafter referred as ‘young researchers’) and twenty senior scientists (hereafter referred as ‘principal investigators’ or PIs). Furthermore, we divided the PI population into compulsive alcohol consumers during the meeting (over eight pints of beer or six spirituous drinks per day) and non-drinkers (below that threshold). Unfortunately, a non-drinker young researcher cohort could not be recruited because of lack of volunteers. To evaluate the performance of young researchers suffering PCS, the wrong-tip test (WTT) was performed. This test consists in checking the times that students try to insert the wrong tips to automatic pipettes (e. g., yellow tips to the P1000 pipette or blue tips to a P100). Over a control population (n=10) that had not attended the congress, delegates failed to get the right tip in the WTT 10 times more frequently the first day after the congress, and it took 15 days for them in average to drop WTT values to levels comparable to those of the control population. A particular individual was diagnosed with chronic PCS, because three months after the beginning of the study he maintained a 20x WTT failure rate. He was kept out of the study to avoid bias, because he claimed to have felt sexual attraction towards a Swedish female delegate during the congress. PIs were followed for three months after-meeting, and their scientific performance was quantitatively evaluated by the keyboard hit index (KHI). The index is measured by introducing a counter in their personal computers that scores the times that keys in their computer keyboards are hit per day. KHI figures dramatically rose immediately after the meeting in non-drinkers. We call this stage ‘after-meeting euphoria’. Three days after the congress, KHI dropped dramatically to a point of crisis. Often, at this stage, many keys were hit at a time and held for hours, implying that the PI had fallen asleep on the keyboard. From that point on, there was a gradual recovery of KHI to control levels. Interestingly, PI drinkers showed only modest changes in their KHI as compared to non-drinkers.

Our study brings the important conclusion that failure to get drunk in the meetings does not affect the overall scientific performance of senior researchers, but rather triggers an early frustrated-hangover response. On the other hand, our results indicate that young researchers develop an acute and strong form of PCS syndrome in response to alcohol consumption at meetings, which may lead to an intolerable wasting of laboratory consumables at the short term and to poor scientific yields during the rest of their career.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


LABPOOLTM, a novel bench-applied refreshing system for researchers working during summertime

Karl Littos-Kurtz, Fairygu Gargi, Wilhelm Bones
Tremendous Institute of Tip-technology (TIT), Almería, Spain

Research in the summer months is one of the most complicated and energy-consuming activities. In this period, the difference in temperature between exterior and interior of research facilities can be especially high in some Mediterranean countries, and it has been documented more than one spontaneous combustion of researchers coming in and/or out of their laboratory premises in such hot areas. In this short report, we present a novel device, LABPOOLTM, with proved utility of refreshing researchers and created with cheap and re-usable materials. A prototype of LABPOOLTM is shown in Figure 1, and its versatility is illustrated in Figures 2 and 3. In Figure 2, we propose a seashore-like pool variant, and in Figure 3 we show one of the multiple picturesque backgrounds which can make the bathing experience at the lab even more enjoyable.

We are currently working in the design of bigger, personalized versions of LABPOOLTM, suitable for PIs, Postdocs, PhD students, and visiting fellows, who can find in LAPBPOOLTM an excellent opportunity to enjoy the typical Mediterranian summer holydays without even leaving the laboratory. A preview of our LABPOOLTM invention has been released at Jindetres 21/07/09.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Recirculation of researchers with Chronic Fellow Syndrome is highly dependent on self-recognition at homing compartments

J.C., Jr
MPI, Munich, Germany

The pathology of Chronic Fellow Syndrome (CFS) leads to young scientists working at foreign countries to a non-saturable, stationary state, in the progress of their professional achievements, which has been correlated with their incapability to maintain the proper growing-rate of their curriculum vitae after the first, naive years, of their research career. Epidemiological and histopathological post-mortem studies have shown that CFS etiological agent is brain specific, since foci of infection are exclusively found in the minds of the affected individuals. Triggering of CFS is dependent on both environmental and godfather-inherited factors, and its development has been suggested to be associated with the acquisition of related disorders, such as Friend-Sick Syndrome. In addition, previous reports have pointed out the importance of committed overseas recirculation suffered by patients with CFS in the aggravation of the disease (see CurrRevol 08/06/09), which may ultimately direct them into an irreversible erratic stage of gypsy-like professional behaviour, loss of friendship-related feelings, early-morning acute laziness and, eventually, the big sleep. In an attempt to understand at the topological level the routes of progression of the syndrome, we have analyzed the fine specificity in the trafficking of a CFS patient committed to recirculate at home country institutions. To this end, the possibility has been tested of bypassing the previously acquired commitment through an alternative allocation pathway which involved a fellowship application at a neighbour country that, otherwise, showed no cultural direct bonds with the patient´s native land. To avoid results which could be due to a lack of professional merits in the applicant, the patient was primed with a boosting dose of high quality publications just before the application process was carried out. As a recipient of such application, a very reliable European research organisation was chosen. As expected, on the basis of a standard foreign agent rejection response, this organisation could not award the fellowship to the patient. Interestingly, in situ analysis of the future prospects of the patient`s non-self new allocation, revealed a remarkable short-term involution of such compartment, which will likely be followed by homeostatic reabsorption or the essential self-materials, wall decay, and vanishing. Thus, although alternative pathways of allocation can momentarily divert fellows with CFS through non-self locations, our results indicate that self-recognition at homing compartments is necessary for the aberrant recirculation of researchers with CFS.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Creation of antilife within a microcosmos of antimatter

Giarc Retnev and Trabla Nistsnie
Dravrah School for Antigods, Massomenosschuches, NOUSES.

While matter is physically composed of particles, antimatter refers to the extension of the concept of the antiparticles to matter. For example, an antielectron or positron (an electron with positive charge) can combine with an antiproton (a proton with a negative charge) to form an antihydrogen atom. By performing basic antichemical reactions, we successfully combined two antihydrogen antiatoms with antioxigen to produce antiwater. This was an opaque liquid that tasted dry. As expected, combination of 10 L of antiwater with the same amount of water led to the annihilation of both and subsequent death by asphixia of the goldfishes that inhabited the latter. We took advantage of the empty aquarium resulting from this experiment to support a microcosmos of antimatter with the aim of creating antilife. We added 10 L of antiwater to a layer of antiminerals (basically an assorment of minced antisilicates and anticalcium anticarbonate). Then, by combining antiatoms of anticarbon from antimethane to antinitrogen antiatoms from antiammonium, we created diverse basic organic antimolecules, including antisugars (that we call bitters), antilipids (that we call slims), as well as basic antiamino-acids, and antinitrogen bases, such as antiadenine, antiguanine, antithymine, antiuracyl and anticytosine. Interestingly, building up antimolecules required energy, which we applied by electric pulses by dipping a plugged shaving machine into antiwater containing the soup of pre-organic antimolecules. This discards that antienergy may exist or, at least, is required for antimatter antiatoms to assemble. We verified the assembly of antiDNA molecules in the antiwater microcosmos by throwing into it DNA minipreps and verifying their annihilation. Creation of antiRNA molecules required two orders of magnitude less energy than that of antiDNA, suggesting that the disappearance of RNA that normally occurs in Molecular Biology laboratories could be attributed to its annihilation by spontaneously generated antiRNA rather than to the usually blamed ubiquitous RNases. Addition of a plugged electric toothbrush to the microcosmos allowed the formation of antiproteins with antienzymatic activity. Slims combined to form double layers with their antipolar heads buried and their antihydrophobic tails exposed. Thus, primordial anticells were produced that could divide by replicating their antiDNAs with a 3’ => 5’ directionality. The antibiology of these cells was studied by mounting all the lenses of a microscope upside down and illuminating the samples with antiphotons, that were easy to produce because photons are their own antiparticles. Finally, additional energy was provided by soaking in the antiwater a plugged old ABIPrism automatic sequencer. Annotations in the notebook of the graduate student who made this experiment describe that the surface of the antilife microcosmos looked then like a very appealing mirror, which neatly reflected features from the normal material world. That is the last time anybody ever heard of him.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Experimental evidence that drinking water does not mitigate paralysis caused by English TEA

D. Simón and V. Blanco
Cooperativa Vinícola Los Peñascales, Toledo, Spain

Thesis examiner anxiety (TEA) is a recurrent syndrome affecting to professors and academic researchers that form part of doctoral thesis tribunals too often. In its mild form, TEA manifests in the examiner as an emotional distress caused by a self-demand to elaborate smart and interesting questions on the obscure and unknown subjects of the next day-thesis. English TEA is a strong form of TEA that occurs under circumstances in which foreign languages have to be used by the examiner. English TEA usually leads to acute throat stinging and cough attacks, cold sweat, short-term paralysis, and, eventually, to uncoupled perception of reality, deep feelings of self-pity, and complete loss of judgement. In the official ceremonies for thesis defences, it is customary to provide thesis examiners with a small bottle of mineral water, to be drunk during the questioning of the examinee about the grand discoveries and the small faults of the thesis work. It is well documented that, in such difficult moments, the thesis examiner, surrounded by expert colleagues and by emotive relatives of the young aspirant to doctor, feels absolutely alone, and it is assumed by all that drinking water alleviates stress and helps to circumvent the eventual burst of a TEA episode. However, no experimental proof of such an hypothesis has been provided so far. Here, we have tested the role of drinking water as a preventive therapy for English TEA, using a behavioural rat model of permanent paralysis that mimics this disease. After two weeks of training in a Y-shaped labyrinth to find a source of dry food, rats were challenged to find the food in a I-shaped labyrinth, from which food had been removed. Under these conditions, rats stress, get annoyed, and fall into a permanent paralysis, in which cerebellum neuronal circuits are fully collapsed. We have compared the response to I-labyrinth food retrieval of rats that were challenged with the test in the absence or in the presence of drinking water at the beginning of the experiment. Different brands of mineral water were used, as well as regular tap water from different geographic locations. No statistical differences were found in the number of rats that suffered permanent paralysis irrespective of the water supply, the water brand, or the water source. Furthermore, high doses of drinking water, pumped into the mouth of the rat at different times during the test, did not diminish the frequency nor the intensity of the induced paralysis. We conclude that drinking water does not attenuate English TEA paralysis. Our results indicate that alternative beverages, such as cold beer, or a good glass of wine accompanied with olives, could be more advantageous for doctoral thesis examiners in the prevention of episodes of English TEA at thesis defence official ceremonies.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Can nonrelevant phenomena be of interest to scientists? The Frog Paradox

S. S. Splash
Arawaho Fishing Reservoir, Oregon, USA.

If a frog is disturbed when sunbathing at the shore of a pool it will jump into the water (p=0.999 + 0.001, unless the frog is dead). This is a well known fact, an expected move that may pass unadverted to idle watchers. However, intelectual people may derive interesting conclusions. A philosopher may wonder whether the frog is a frog or the concept of a frog in the mind of the watcher, or whether the jump was a proof of the existence of the frog, the watcher himself or even God. A mathematician would wonder if it is possible to calculate the interval of time (in msec) that took for the frog to reach the water by integrating the trigonometric values on the variable angles described along its parabolic trajectory through the air. Someone versed in Physics would wonder, if the frog could jump at a speed faster than light, could it travel to the past without the aid of a wormhole in timespace, if that could be done in other places than blackholes? A systematics biologist would simply wonder whether it was a specimen of Rana temporaria or the rather rare in these latitudes Rana pyrenaica subsp. pyrenaica, whereas a mere dreamer would just wonder if it was a charmed prince (actually, that frog looked very much like the Prince of Wales, in appearance). A cellular physiologist would interpret that the light-sensing cells in the frog retina had been stimulated by the shadow created by the bypasser, leading to a conformational change in transmembrane receptors and ion channels, thus generating a potential that stimulated intracellularly a series of phosphorylation cascades that ultimately accelerated exocytosis at the presynaptic membranes by allowing interactions or particular SNARE complexes, leading to the activation, by similar though not exactly equal events, of a particular circuit within the neuronal network that liberated at the neuromuscular synapses the cocktail of neurotransmitters that eventually triggered actomyosin contraction in the muscle fibers with the corresponding hydrolysis of ATP. Many sensible persons in the same scenario, however, including several Nobel awardees, would not give a damn. If the frog had not jump by itself (p=0.001 + 0.001) they would have kicked it anyway…

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Earth free of Evil BoundPhosphates through the action of SuperPhists, a novel superfamily of superhero SuperPhosphatases

Miranda Dual and Victoria Bond
Molecular Marvel, Andromeda

Natural selection has favoured along evolution the prevalence of phosphorylation over other postranslational modifications suffered by proteins, such as acetylation, nitrosylation, or sumoylation, among others. As a consequence, Evil BoundPhosphates have enslaved the organic world and occupied every phosphorylatable protein residue on the Earth, from the ozone layer to the deep oceanic pits, mastering on life as cruel tyrants. Since no other modifications are permitted under the oppression of Evil BoundPhosphates, billions of differentially-modified polypeptides are imprisoned on the surface of the Moon, whereas many others hide in the exile in remote parts of the galaxy. Meanwhile, on the Earth, a dull and boring universe of phosphorylated macromolecules impedes diversity, and evolution is exhausted forever... Forever?

We proudly launch here SuperPhists, a novel superactive superfamily of superhero SuperPhosphatases with substrate specificity toward all kind of Evil BoundPhosphates. SuperPhists have been created at Marvel´s lab by random, high-throughput recombination of genes encoding the most promiscuous members of all known phosphatase families in model organisms, from the simple serine/threonine phosphatases in yeast to the highly complex triple specificity-protein tyrosine phosphatases in mammals. SuperPhists phosphatases differ significantly in amino acid sequence, but all share the presence of a compact and robust, fist-shaped (Phist) phosphatase domain. Phist domains dephosphorylate any Evil BoundPhosphate by a rapid one-step, punch-and-run mechanism. SuperPhists supergenes have been integrated into the genome of many transgenic and genetically modified species, including test-tube babies, where they have been proved to release most of Evil BoundPhosphates in less than three or four cell divisions. A novel superhero SuperPhosphatase superfamily is ready to liberate the Earth from the brutal dictates of the Evil BoundPhosphates. Will the Evil BoundPhosphates mutate their bonds to escape to the revenge of SuperPhists...?

Monday, June 15, 2009

FeedMeBlogTM: a program to keep blogs updated with genuine entries

Adalberto Dimonaco
Real Thoughts Institute, Monaco

The lack of entries to feed with assiduity personal blogs is the cause of anxiety and distress in internauts. The chronic manifestation of such psychic perturbances leads to Blog Addiction Disease (BAD), characterized by profound behavioural uncoupling and conduct changes, which drives the patient into chronic solitude and oblivion (see
CurrRevol 14/04/09). In the more severe forms of BAD (VERY-BAD), these symptoms are usually accompanied by additional, some times subtle somatic alterations, such as finger tremor, back pain, eyes irritation, and erection problems (in males), which ultimately turns the patient in an useless person. Current therapies for BAD and VERY-BAD fail in 99.9% of cases, making prevention the major point of intervention for these diseases. Here, we present FeedMeBlogTM, a program that operates on-line to feed automatically with novel and genuine entries, in a personalized manner, private blogs. FeedMeBlogTM takes into account both the blogger virtual and real autobiographies, to assemble a connective, web-based network of personal life affairs, such as breakfast time-, dog walking- or neighbour quarrel-related events. In addition, the program browses for all kind of cookies connected with the routine web-tracking of the blogger, and incorporate the links into the blogger profile in an iterative manner, to build a blogger superbiography, which gets updated every morning. The network operates as a dynamic interface, which searches for unique and original themes, ideas, images, or any accessible item on the web, and downloads them regularly in the blog as personal and genuine creations, in a highly specific and personalized manner. The program incorporates a last-generation navigator tool (SwallowMe.1) that automatically collects input from the most visited and fashionable blogs, as well as from the marginal and freaky ones. This guarantees variety and state-of-the-art output of comments and annotations to feed the own blog. After a few weeks of operation in the web, FeedMeBlogTM is able to perform biographic predictions for the blogger, which can be very useful to avoid unfortunate accidents and to win when playing lottery. Running personal blogs with FeedMeBlogTM saves time, improves the quality of the entries, and may provide some extra money. More importantly, the regular use of FeedMeBlogTM by the risk population may prevent the initiation of severe blog-related human diseases, such as BAD and VERY-BAD. To download FeedMeBlogTM now, click here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Popomel and Vagimel, probiotic yogurts from novel Lactobacillus human isolates

J. Coronado, J. Conrado, J. Cornudo and D. di Danone
Dannon Institute for Rational Diary Products Research, Milkwackee, USA

Bacteria from the genus Lactobacillus are known to efficiently ferment carbohydrates producing lactic acid as their predominant primary metabolite. This property has been empirically used for centuries by mankind in the production of diary fermented products, such as cheese and yoghourt. The species L. acidophilus, L. casei and L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus are reportedly the most widely used in food biotechnology for these purposes. A particular isolate of L. casei, a bacterium that dwells in the oral cavity of men and animals, named for commercial and marketing purposes L. casei Immunitas, has become popular among consumers in the recent years, after scientific evidence has been presented relating consumption of the resulting dairy products (Actimel or Danactive) and beneficial effects on human health. In this report, we investigate the ability of randomly isolated strains of Lactobacillus to produce yogurt and the impact of its consumption in the health of consumers. Two environments are the preferred natural habitats for L. acidophilus: the intestines of milk-fed infants of 0-6 months and the vagina of women in fertile age. For those who ever tasted, L. acidophilus is responsible for the typical low pH of both environments. First, we isolated three strains of L. acidophilus from baby faeces, by printing a sterile cotton pick-up sampling kit (DigItTM, BetterThanASpoon Technologies Inc.) on fresh dirty diapers. Each strain was isolated from poo from a different individual and named after its origin: Susie, from the chubby daughter of farmers from Arkansas; Ayako, from a coughing Japanese doll from an industrial Tokyo suburb; and Julito, from an orphan found at a roadside among rotting melons in Villaconejos (Spain). We also isolated strains from the human vaginal mucosa, choosing vaginas from individuals of different ages and social conditions, namely Maripuri, a self-claimed virgin teenager from Móstoles (Spain); Deborah, a freelance prostitute with rich and promiscuous sexual activity; and Clotilde, the old-age amenorrheic landlady of the graduate student who was in charge of taking the samples. Except in the latter individual, who was a voluntary and generous donor of bacteria, the vaginal sampling was taking by applying a CunningTM device from ThingsYouCanHideInATampax Biotech Inc. In a blind tasting, experts noted some interesting qualities of the yogurts produced by natural fermentation of cow milk with these newly isolated ferments, regarding their organoleptic properties and general effects in health status and fitness, that are summarized in this table:

We conclude that new ferments of human origin, such as those used in the fabrication of our new Popomel and Vagimel yogurt varieties, should be tested in order to enhance the potential beneficial properties of probiotic yogurts. It is disgusting to think that products like Activia, made with Bifidobacterium animalis, a bacterium that finds its natural habitat in non-human animal mucosae is already in the market, while similar ferments from human mucosae have not been thoroughly tested.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Researchers with Chronic Fellow Syndrome are committed to overseas recirculation

J.C., Jr
DFCI, Boston, USA

Chronic Fellow Syndrome (CFS) is a pathological aberration suffered by young and early-mature scientists working in a foreign country, which leads to the patient´s failure as a successful researcher. The major symptoms of CFS are recurrent dizzying thoughts about one´s uncertain professional future, and feelings of doubt about validity of experimental results, scientific method and fairness of life. CFS is triggered by unknown causes, but both personal and environmental factors appear to be involved in the initiation of the syndrome. The fact that CFS is often suffered by research fellows having lunch together on a regular basis has led virologists to hypothesize that a virus (CFSV) is involved in the pathology, and different CFSV types together with bad eating habits (as a predisposition factor), have been proposed as the origin of the disease. In addition, environmental conditions favoring CFS are believed to be hormone- and weather-dependent, because they are found in the patient´s body in a random, non-stochastic manner on any given day of the week. Such mediators are likely to act by blocking at an uncertain stage the normal progression of young and early-mature postdoctoral researchers towards the happy-life status of independent, group leader scientists. In this study, we have evaluated the possibility of overcoming the CFS on an otherwise-healthy, successful early-mature fellow, by administration of a strong therapy of funding and fellowship applications, which lately could revert the disease and push the patient into the competitive selection pathway followed under normal circumstances by pre-independent scientists. Thirteen highly reputable funding organizations were chosen as the recipients of the application fellowships. Research projects were carefully written that fulfilled all the literary, scientific and administrative standard requirements, including well-supported sponsoring, fashionability, fanciness, therapeutic application of the discoveries, and correct spelling. To rule out the possibility that the applicant´s own personality as a CFS patient could affect the assessments of the advisory scientific committees at the funding organizations, recommendation letters by two influential senior scientists, strongly supporting both the candidate and the research project, were included in the documentation before sending it out. Sadly, all organizations regretted that funding could not be provided. Since this result could be due to an extreme degree of competition for the awards between very highly qualified candidates, the very same institution where the CFS patient was allocated was challenged to directly fund the project. Also, no funds were available at this level for the patient. Because the CFS patient chosen for this study had an excellent background as a successful immature, naive scientist, we conclude from our work that the fate of researchers suffering CFS is to recirculate overseas at home country institutions.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Differential response of American and German cockroach to foot stamping

Jesús M. Garrido, María J. Garrido and José M. Garrido
Calzados Hnos. Garrido, Alcorcón, Spain

Cockroaches are one of the major pest insects in the modern world which propagate parasites and pathogenic microbes to humans. Autochthonous cockroach species inhabit public or domestic premises, such as filthy hotels, restaurant kitchens, and student apartments. In addition, colonization of human niches by new cockroach species has aggravated, along the last decades, the infestation problems by this pest. Cockroaches are known to be highly resistant to death by physical or chemical agents, including radiation and toxic junk food, which makes almost impossible their extermination. We have previously reported that foot stamping is one of the more effective and inexpensive methods to get rid of cockroaches at home. In our study, we verified experimentally that cockroach barefoot stamping is not a good idea, since it often courses with allergic and vomiting side effects. On the other hand, foot stamping wearing house slippers was safe and convenient enough as to account for the virtual extermination of home cockroaches, if routine chase for the insects was made, in the middle of the night, during the summer months:

However, the study was performed on a mixed cockroach population, and no distinctions were made between related species regarding sensitivity and response to the stamping. Now, we present a brief comparative study of the response of American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) and German cockroach (Blatella germanica) to foot stamping with slippers at night. Positive escape response, measured as FSFT (Failure in Stamping at First Try), was significantly higher in German cockroach, likely due to its more rapid and zigzagging flight. On the other hand, relative survival index, as determined by TSS>2 measurements (Time of Sustained Shaking of more than two legs after the stamping), was higher in American cockroach. In fact, a significant number of American cockroach specimens were still shaking their legs in the early morning after the nocturnal stamping. This can be explained by the finding that German cockroach, in spite of the smaller size of its abdomen, responded to foot stamping with a much more disgusting ejection of fluids, which likely results in lethality after a few minutes. Both German and American cockroaches displayed a similar crunchy noise response to the stamping, indicating that this parameter does not discriminate well between the two species. In summary, our study reveals important differences in the foot stamping response of two of the major cockroach species associated to human habitats. Our findings will help in the design of customized house slippers that help in the species-specific extermination of German and American cockroaches at home.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Unhealthy habits in Molecular Biology laboratories: learning to separate lunch-time from research-time

Karl Kurtz
Deutsche Kommissionen für Gutten Habiten im Researchen, Pönensieguanten, Germany.

Experimental research in Molecular Biology laboratories has always been characterised by the utilisation of a large amount of weird reagents which constitute a threat for human health. These products are usually of chemical or biological nature, and their effects range from death-causative illnesses, such as cancer, to other lesser nuisances such as uncomfortable attacks of diarrhoea or irreversible staining of personal clothes. A methodical and painstaking observation of laboratory security procedures is absolutely crucial for the healthy and correct development of research. In this short assay, I shall document the main bad habits commonly observed in Molecular Biology laboratories, and provide some simple and useful recommendations regarding laboratory safety practices. The major concerns of researchers in terms of lab security seem to be completely focused on the manipulation of ethidium bromide (see bitesizebio). The rest of chemicals, such as methanol, phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride or sodium azide are happily handled as if they were innocuous. A common but non-advisable practice often seen in many labs is the use of methanol as a substitute for ethanol in the preparation of energetic beverages, such as the half-morning carajillo (coffeecognac) or the solysombra (sunandshadow). The habit of baking bread (with lunching or almuerzing purposes, of course) with strains of yeast used for research, although undoubtedly money- and time-saving for research fellows, may not be completely secure. It is nowadays common to find incubators filled with baguettes and ciabattas resting aside Petri plates. The proximity of other microorganisms such as bacteria in this kind of incubators is probably the cause of colitis found in the labs were these habits exist. Other apparently harmless uses of laboratory material, like boiling potatoes in such devices as those used to denature protein preparations (commonly rich in 2-mercaptoethanol or other stinky reducing agents) are strongly discouraged, unless for decoration purposes of otherwise healthily-prepared dishes (e.g. complementing Russian salad or Bratwurst). A similar practice is often found involving the preparation of lunch (e.g. heating of home-made Spanish omelette or other egg-derived products; see CurrRevol 04/16/2009) in microwaves which are also used for melting agarose solutions that contain ethidium bromide. Given this short summary of unhealthy habits, which surely does not cover the whole spectra of dangerous vices and manipulations in Molecular Biology research premises, we recommend that hereafter researchers simply continue working in their labs as usual, but observing the rule of covering themselves in a clean lab coat, gloves and mask when going out to public spaces and private homes. That may be the easiest way to avoid the spreading of genetically manipulated organisms, harmful chemicals and other bizarre products by researchers from the place where these fellows should always be confined: the laboratories.