Friday, April 30, 2010

What Can You Tell Me About The Electic Eel?

The eel is really not an eel - it is closer to a carp and yes, it does generate electricity!

These awesome freshwater predators get their name from the huge electrical charge they can generate to stun prey and avoid predators. Their bodies contain electric organs with about 6,000 specialized cells called electrocytes that store power like tiny batteries. When threatened or attacking prey, these cells will discharge simultaneously, sending out a burst of at least 600 volts, five times the power of a standard U.S. wall socket.

If you want to see these fish in their natural habitat you need to travel to South America. There they grow to be over 8 feet (2.5 meters) in length and 44 pounds (20 kilograms) in weight.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Do Fish Have Saliva?

A fish does eat with its mouth and has many organs that are similar to a human so your question is logical.

The buccal cavity of the mouth secretes mucus to aid in the swallowing of food, but there are no salivary glands. This mucus is a only a lubricant, it contains no digestive enzymes like mammalian saliva. So no food is chemically altered in the mouth.


Is there something special about a Snook's gills?

The Snook is a spectacular fish with extreme fighting power.A snook may be as long as 48 inches and weigh up to 38 pounds. In a fight with an angler, snook often swim toward structures, such as docks, rocks or pilings, using these structures to tangle and break fishing lines. These fish also have razor-sharp plates on their gills. During a struggle, the snook will twist and turn, fighting to cut the fishing line with its sharp gill plate.

This fish puts the sport into Florida fishing!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Do Blind People Have Images in Their Dreams?

Several scientific sleep laboratory studies have shown that dreamers who were born blind and those who became blind in infancy do not have visual imagery in their dreams, whereas those blinded in adolescence or young adulthood often retain visual mental imagery in their waking life and in their dreams.

These controlled experiments confirm what has been reported in a number of earlier self-report studies reviewed by Kirtley (1975), who concluded that individuals blinded before the age of about 5 report no visual imagery in dreams as adults, whereas those blinded after about the age of 7 are likely to retain visual imagery in dreaming.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I know most starfish have 5 arms but can they have more?

Starfish come in lots of different varieties, one recent count numbered the species in this class at about 1500! So, to answer your question, some starfish have more than five arms, in fact one, the Helicoilaster has 50 arms which all radiate from the central body part.

In addition to arms in multiples of five, many echinoderms have the remarkable ablitity to regenerate lost arms. In some cases, lost arms have been observed to regenerate a second complete sea star.


Monday, April 26, 2010

What causes an itch?

Many itches have medical causes like dry skin, insect bites, allergic reactions and psoriasis. If itching is caused by one of these it is best to refrain from scratching the site. As you may have experienced, scratching feels good for only a second and then the area itches worse than ever. Also, the bacteria under your nails may be enough to cause an infection at the site of the itch.

It appears that cold and itch travel the same nerve pathways so you can stop an itch by blocking the pathway with cold. Ice packs and menthol may temporarily stop an itch and can be reapplied frequently.


Friday, April 23, 2010

If I get stung by a jellyfish what is the best treatment?

I think we will bust a commonly held myth with the answer to your question.

Several years ago a TV show recommended urine after a jellyfish sting. In reality, urine could make the sting situation worse. Jellyfish, those bulbous Medusa-like creatures, float near many of the world's beaches. Some of the jellyfish's skin cells are stinging cells, or cnidocytes. These specialized cells have organelles called nematocysts that contain venom. Cnidocytes are spread along the entire length of the jellyfish's tentacles.

Once stung, angry, red, whiplike lash marks appear on the skin. The pain radiates from the sting site and starts to itch, burn and throb as it blisters. Scratching it, though, can make the pain worse, because rubbing activates the nematocysts, which release more venom. The best treatment is to rinse off the nematocysts with salt water. Urine may be too dilute and not contain enough salts to be effective in getting rid of the stingy darts, in fact, dilute urine may cause the nematocysts to fire causing even more pain.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Can you tell me more about jellyfish?

Jellyfish are interesting animals but not ones that you would want to get real close to.
During their life cycle, jellyfish experience an alternation of generations in which one generation (the medussa) reproduces sexually and the next generation (the polyp) reproduces asexually. The medusa form is the dominant and most recognized form of the jellyfish.
In the first part of a jellyfish's life it is a stationary polp and is attached to a substrate. A polyp is cylindrical and stalk-like in form. At its base is a disc that adheres to the substrate and its top is a mouth opening surrounded by small tentacles. The polyp feeds by drawing food into its mouth. It grows and begins to bud new polyps from its trunk. As it does, the polyp develops into what is called a polyp hydroid colony. Members of the polyp colony are linked together by feeding tubes. The entire polyp hydroid colony, like the originating polyp, is sessile. The polyp colony can grow for several years. When polyps within the colony reach an adequate size, they are ready to begin the next stage in the jellyfish life cycle - the adult medusa.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What Causes Headaches?

Headaches are fairly common and are caused by tight, contracted muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp, and jaw. These are called tension headaches. They are often related to stress, anxiety, overworking, not getting enough sleep, and missing meals. Some headaches can be triggered by chocolate, cheese, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). People who drink caffeine can have headaches when they don't get their usual daily amount, these are referred to as "caffeine withdrawal" headaches.

Other common causes of headaches include:

Holding your head in one position for a long time, like at a computer, microscope, or typewriter
Poor sleep position
Overexerting yourself
Clenching or grinding your teeth


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What requires more energy, brain or heart cells? GUEST BLOG

Today's guest blogger is Mandi.

The brain cells need two times more energy than any other cell in the human body. The cells that communicate with each other, neurons, have a high demand for energy because they are always in a state of activity. Even while we are sleeping, neurons are at work fixing and rebuilding components. They manufacture enzymes and neurotransmitters that have to be sent out to the nerve branches. Bioelectric signals responsible for communication throughout the nervous system demand the most energy from neurons. This action alone accounts for half of all the brain's energy. The heart, however, only requires the same amount of energy as other muscle organs.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What is Bacopa monnieri?

One of the body building magazines mentioned this as an ingredient - what is it?

This botanical is found in the southern United States and has been tested as a memory enhancer and has been found to improve cognitive function in the older adult (J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Jul;14(6):707-13).

In body building, the impact on the thyroid was probably the sought after function. Research in India indicated that this botanical may be used as a thyroid stimulating drug which some body builders may want to use to increase energy(J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Jul;81(2):281-5). This product should not be used to self-treat thyroid conditions. The normal thyroid secretes enough hormone and you risk hyperthyroidism if you regularly ingest this plant.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why Is Yawning Contagious? GUEST BLOG

Todays blogger is Kristen

Yawning has to do with your brain. When yawning it bypasses the known brain circuitry.
This circuitry is called the “mirror-neuron system,” because it contains special type of brain cells or neurons that becomes active when either the owner does it or when he or she senses someone else doing so. Mirror neurons typically happen when a person consciously imitates an action of someone elses. But they seem to play no role in yawn contagiousness.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

What is Silly Putty Made Of? GUEST BLOG

Todays guest blogger is Trent.
It said that silly putty was made of polymethylsilicane molecules crossed-linked with boron-based molecules, essentially silicone oil mixed with borax.
Polymethylsilicane sounds impressive but it's simply a polymer, a very long molecule consisting of a series of small identical molecules linked end-to-end in a chain, in other words: plastic. Think of it as a piece of spaghetti. A large quantity of these spaghetti-like molecules flow like a liquid because they are able to slip and slide around each other.

But, mix some of this oily liquid with boric acid (almost the same thing as water with a little Borax laundry booster in it) and some of the Borax molecules will stick to the sides of the long plastic molecules and in so doing create bridges (cross-links) between them that mechanically bind them together. Think of the Borax cross-links as pieces of very sticky rice. These rice particles glue the long spaghetti strands together and prevent them from slipping past one another. If there is a small amount of cross-linking the result is a slimy goo the consistency of honey. If the amount of cross-linking is very high these bridges between the long molecules lock everything up and you have a block of hard plastic. But, if the amount of cross-linking is just right the resulting material is soft enough to mold and you have Silly Putty.

So far so good. The spaghetti and sticky rice analogy gives us an idea of what Silly Putty looks like on a molecular level, but that doesn't explain its unusual abilities to slowly flow like a liquid, stretch to incredible lengths, bounce like a rubber ball and shatter like glass if struck with a hammer.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What is a stress fracture and how does it happen?

A stress fracture is a common overuse injury most often seen in athletes. A stress fracture occurs when the force of an injury is lower than say a car accident or bad fall, but happens repetitively for a long period of time; these injuries are also known as "fatigue fractures." Stress fractures are commonly seen in athletes who run and jump on hard surfaces, such as distance runners, basketball players, and ballet dancers.
Stress fractures are usually seen in athletes who increase their level of activity over a short period of time. The increased demand placed on the bone causes the bone to remodel and become stronger in the areas of higher stress. However, if the response of the bone cannot maintain the pace of the repetitive demands, a stress fracture may result.


What is a Coelom and who has one? GUEST BLOG

Todays guest blogger is Taylor.

A Coelom is a body cavity that encloses organs in the visceral layer, allowing organs to develope.The Coelom forms when the lateral plate mesoderm splits and it seperates the body into an inner tube and outer tube. Animals that have Coeloms include earthworms and other annelids. Arthropods and mollusks also have a coelom, however theirs is more simplisitic and reduced.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My dog has worms, how do the pills work? GUEST BLOG

Todays guest blogger is Blake

Anti-worm pills are anthelmintics, and work by paralyzing the worms or starving the worms to death. Worms have no way of storing energy, so they must continuously eat. If you interfere with their eating process for about 24 hours, most adult parasites will die, and if they are paralyzed, they will not be able to eat temporarily, leading to death.


Monday, April 5, 2010

If insects that fly only use two wings to fly, why do they have two sets? GUEST BLOG

Todays guest blogger is Mandi.

What advantage does that give them over insects with a single set of wings? Flying insects typically have 4 wings: a set on the mesothorax and a secondary set on the metathorax. While normally, only one set of wings is necessary for flying, the insects use their wings for an array of different uses.

Some secondary sets of wings are used for protection. These types of wings are generally much thicker and denser than the feathery flight wings; beetles, for example, have tough wings for added protection. Other wings are designed to act as an insulator or temperature regulator for the insect. A more common and logical use of the second set of wings however, is an in-flight stabilizer. The wings not flapping in flight can be used by certain insects to prevent uncontrolled spinning, teetering, wobbling, or falling while flying in strong winds or difficult circumstances.

Other winged insects such as grasshoppers or crickets use their legs and hind wings to make their chirping. The coordinated efforts of rubbing the legs and hind wings produce mating calls and facilitate reproduction. Similarly, the appearance of wings can allow easy recognition of species and attraction of potential mates. Hind wings rarely flap to keep insects in flight; insects second set of wings are another example of how structure fits function.