Archive for March, 2006

Does my blog own me?

25 %

My weblog owns 25 % of me.
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Fan predicts 7-0 win

I just read it on the BBC Sports website. That’s pretty amazing.

PREDICTION
38 secs: Alonso 40-yard strike
10 mins: Alonso again
22 mins: Crouch with a 40-yard header
46 mins: Reina scores from goal kick
77 mins: Carragher gets his first goal in three years
79 mins: Emile Heskey og
90 mins: Cisse out runs every Brum player to finish
REALITY
55 secs: Hyypia nods in the opener
5 mins: Crouch heads in
38 mins: The England striker makes it two with neat finish
59 mins: Morientes scores three minutes after coming on
70 mins: Riise smashes in from outside the area
77 mins: Olivier Tebily og
89 mins: Cisse’s goal completes the rout

Liverpool FC

You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Dunk Malaria Day

Apparently last Sunday was Dunk Malaria day. Obviously I’m late but better late than never, right? Actually below is everything a Biology University of Cambridge A-level student should know about Malaria.


Malaria can be caused by a variety of the protoctist Plasmodium, namely Falciparum, Vivax, Ovale and Malariae. The protoctist is transmitted by an insect vector: the female Anopheles mosquito.The annual incidence worldwide is reported to be 300 million and the annual mortality rate worldwide is estimated between 1.5 to 2.7 million. Malaria occurs mainly in tropical and subtropical countries of the world, where the conditions for mosquitoes to breed is more favourable than elsewhere on the planet.

The female Anopheles mosquito feeds on human blood to obtain the necessary proteins of their diet. If the female Anopheles mosquito bites a person who suffers from malaria, and therefore carries Plasmodium in his blood, the mosquito will take up some Plasmodium gametes. The gametes fuse (sexual reproduction) inside the mosquito’s gut to form the germs themselves. These move into the mosquito’s salivary gland.

During another blood meal, when the mosquito bites another person, the salivary gland secretes an anticoagulant, just like it does all the time. This is done so as to prevent clotting of the blood in the mosquito’s mouthparts. However while secreting the anticoagulant, the Plasmodium germs are also injected into the bloodstream.

The Plasmodium germs, when in the body, move to the liver cells where they reproduce asexually. The consequent amount of germs produced finally leave the liver cells and migrate into red blood cells. By fission, the Plasmodium again reproduces asexually inside the red blood cells until those can no longer hold them inside its membrane. The red blood cells explode releasing a fluffy of Plasmodium together with their secreted toxins into the blood.

Symptoms:

  • Shivering and clattering of teeth occurs during the cold stage.
  • 40oC body temperature and increased heart rate and breathing rates, usually accompanied by headache and nausea. This is the hot stage.
  • Heavy sweating cools the body down during the sweating stage.
  • Fever occurs again at different intervals, depending on the species of Plasmodium.
  • Anaemia, liver damage and swollen spleen are all possible.

Control:

    By making use of a proper drainage system and insecticides, the vector may completely be eradicated. Drainage ensures that there are less breeding grounds for the mosquitoes while insectides simply exterminate them.

      Vaccines can also be used although because of the different species of Plasmodium, there are some difficulties in producing efficient ones.

        Precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes should be undertaken. These include making use of the appropriate equipments (mosquito nets) and propellants.

          That’s exactly what I handed over for my assignment on Infectious diseases for Biology, earlier this month. I got top marks for this one.

          Man, not woman, is the second sex

          “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
          And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
          And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.?
          (Genesis 2:21-23)

          Biblical tradition tells the story of creation with man as the first sex, and woman the second, fashioned from Adam’s rib. Biology conveys a different tale for the evolution of the sexes, however, revealing that man, not woman, is the second sex. Recent research in genomics and molecular genetics has shed much light onto the elusive human Y chromosome, suggesting that man may not only be the second to arise, but the first to disappear.

          Those two first paragraphs of this article, written by Andrea Lam, over at The Science Creative Quartely are gripping. I haven’t proceeded till the end of the essay yet (it’s kinda long) but it does seem interesting, as RPM from Evolgen says here.

          Andrea Lam is in her fifth and final year at UBC, completing a BSc in Integrated Sciences and a BA in English Literature. In addition to her academic life, she enjoys playing the piano and organ, working with children, and trying new foods. Her interests range from medical genetics and Darwinian medicine to 19th century fiction and Harry Potter.

          Umm? Impressive, isn’t it?

          Chikungunya science

          In case you didn't know about it, there is an outbreak of Chikungunya in Mauritius. It caused problems during this same period of time, last year and caught the eye of many people but now it's back. And it's creating panic to a certain extent, not just here in Mauritius but also in Reunion Island (20% of the population caught the disease last year), the Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros, Mayotte and even in the southern parts of India.


          Aedes Aegypti

          Chikungunya, which means “that which bends up” in Swahili was first described in Tanzania in 1952. It is caused by a virus and is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito – recognisable by its distinct white patches. The Chikungunya virus is transmitted by vector propagation. It should be noted that human transition is not possible and a person who is infected with the virus is not contagious.

          The symptoms of the disease usually appear after 4 to 7 days after having been bitten by the Aedes Aegypti. It's only then that the frightening things happen. High fever that can go up to 39oC is achieved and some skin rashes appear on the skin. Afterwards, the infected person suffers from muscular and joints pain. In acute cases, the patient finds himself in the incapability to walk or even talk. Although death follows in extreme cases only, some 150 people succumbed to the disease in Reunion Island according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

          Unfortunately there exists no treatment for Chikungunya yet. There are no vaccines nor any treatments but only painkillers and some Paracetamol for the fever. In order to prevent the propagation of the virus, it is thus logical to prevent proliferation of its vector: Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

          Photo courtesy: Univers Nature

          Update: This blog entry makes my latest column for Not Scientific Science at backwash.

          Music Collection

          American Idiot, Dean Gray

          I really started listening to music about a year ago. I was introduced to the mainstream music craze by a friend and the first mp3’s that got saved on the laptop were those of Avril Lavigne. Nowadays, I still listen to Avril but I listen to other bands as well. Type of music? Well, it depends really: rock, pop and alternative mainly.Anyway I wanted to share my relatively small 2.47 G.B music library arranged in alphabetical order:

          1. Athlete [Album(s): Tourist Rating: Good]
          2. Avril Lavigne [Album(s): Let Go, Under My Skin Rating: Ok]
          3. Coldplay [Album(s): X & Y Rating: Good]
          4. Cranberries [Album(s): Best of Rating: Hell YEAH]
          5. Dean Gray [Album(s): American Edit Mash-ups from American Idiot Rating: Hell YEAH]
          6. Evanescence [Album(s): Fallen Track, Unknown album title Rating: Ok]
          7. Fiddler on the Roof [Album(s): Fiddler on the Roof Rating: Good]
          8. Franz Ferdinand [Album(s): Various Rating: Hell YEAH]
          9. Gorillaz [Album(s): Gorillaz Collection Rating: Ok]
          10. Greenday [Album(s): American Idiot Rating: Good]
          11. James Blunt [Album(s): Back to bedlam Rating: Good]
          12. Kasabian [Album(s): Kasabian Rating: Sometimes really good]
          13. Katie Melua [Album(s): Various Rating: Sometimes really good]
          14. KEANE [Album(s): Hopes and Fear Rating: Hell YEAH]
          15. Keren Ann [Album(s): Not Going Anywhere Rating: Good]
          16. The Killers [Album(s): Hot Fuss Rating: Hell YEAH]
          17. Kyo [Album(s): Le chemin, Other album Rating: Good]
          18. Maroon5 [Album(s): Songs about Jane Rating: Hell YEAH]
          19. Misty Murphy [Album(s): Circles Rating: Umm ok, I guess]
          20. Nickelback [Album(s): Silver Side Up Rating: Yuk, no way!]
          21. Oasis [Album(s): Various Rating: Good]
          22. Queen [Album(s): Unknown album title Rating: Sometimes really good]
          23. Red Hot Chilli Peppers [Album(s): Californication Rating: Didn’t like]
          24. The Corrs [Album(s): Various Rating: Good]
          25. Travis [Album(s): Various Rating: n/a]
          26. U2 [Album(s): Title Rating: n/a]
          27. Within Temptation [Album(s): Mother Earth, The Silent Force, Unknown album title Rating: Hell YEAH]

          Obviously I’ve also got some “stand alone? songs like Greenday’s past songs and some tracks from here and there, including Liverpool’s mythic “You’ll Never Walk Alone.?

          Song I’m listening to most for the time being: Track 6, Songs about Jane, Maroon5
          My personal best song: Nine Million Bicycles, Piece by Piece, Katie Melua
          Song I’ve most thoroughly enjoyed: On top, Hot Fuss, The Killers
          Song always saved on my mp3 player: Walk Away, You could have it so much better…, Franz Ferdinand
          All-time favourite band: Oasis
          Cool band: Kyo
          A must try: Kasabian
          I’m looking for: Arctic Monkeys, Maximo park, Kate Tunstall, Kelly Clarkson

          Yes to music!!!

          Biologically insomniac

          It’s 22:32 as I’m typing this entry, in my room, on an HP laptop. And I’m feeling sleepy which is no surprise at all. I went to sleep at night at about 01:00 this morning to wake up due to the exasperating beeps of the alarm clock at 06:25. On a closer look 5 hours and 25 minutes isn’t that bad (I know, doctors do recommend more) but then I’ve been going to bed late everyday of the week as well.

          Thing is there’s a lot of work to be done, completed and started. Yesterday night for instance, I had to work on my biology assignment on infectious diseases (cholera, malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS) to be handed in the following day – that is to say today itself. I know that I should not wait till the last minute to do the work but my timetable is already real packed the way it is right now, itself.

          Let’s see, on Monday I had to do my physics tuition work on Charged Particles and their deflections in a magnetic field. On a side note, it’s amazing how those moving charged particles travel in a perfectly circular path when placed in a magnetic field, isn’t it? Logical but amazing nonetheless. I had like, fifteen multiple choice questions on this topic through which I could, more or less, work my way out. Then there were some short questions, which were easier than the multiple choice ones in the sense that they were basically the same questions over and over again, being rephrased and set in different wordings. Obviously the long questions that came later on were characteristically hectic, to say the least. But coming to think of it, I don’t think I worked them out at home that Monday night. Instead I did them at school the following day during my supposedly Biology class. (Don’t ask, long story.)

          Maybe on Tuesday I did take a break from work although that doesn’t mean I went to sleep early. Well relatively early actually: 11:30. What did I do during all this time? Watch the week-end’s football highlights and read some articles from the latest QEC magazine, which I found personally gratifying – especially the photo pages.

          As I said yesterday I worked on my Bio assignment yesterday and I learned some quite interesting statistics along the way. For example, did you know that in Zimbabwe, 1 out of 4 people are infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)? And did you know that the average life expectancy in South Africa has decreased from 65 to 55 years of age in a period of 4 years, from 1995 to 1999?

          Biology might be an immensely interesting subject – the most appealing academic subject according to me – but it comes with a lot of hard work. I’m now trying to find my bearings in the chapter, “Respiration,? where all sorts of oxidation steps (Krebs cycle, oxidative phosphorylation) are intermingled to form complex array of equations and theory, which eventually shows how energy is being produced from the oxidation of sugar in the body. Complicated, you think? Well, I have to admit that it indeed is to some extent although it is undeniably absorbing once you’re in the subject. “Once you pop, you can’t stop,? as Pringles states. Actually I suddenly have this urge to open my biology textbook and learn a bit more about this “Respiration? quagmire.

          In any case, it does look like I’ll be staying up till late again today. Blame me or not, but that’s the way things are in my life: messy and exhausting and yet enriching and satisfying. Ah well, I’ll sleep in the bus while on my way to school tomorrow, I guess.


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          What’s up in my life?

          1. Best friends: I love you people.
          2. My own company: sky media
          3. Science is so very cool
          4. 6 month sabbatical.

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