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.