Hello, you beautiful minds. Let’s take some brain candy, shall we? So put down your game controls for a brief yet splendid moment, and stuff your brain with tasty tidbits of information.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Than Just Buboes!

The illness caused by Yersinia pestis has had a few names, the Black Death, the Bubonic Plague, the End of the World. We all know the signs – painful pustules (buboes) near the lymph nodes, fever, chills, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and often death. But let’s not forget the other forms of plague. I’m speaking, of course, about septicemic plague and pneumonic plague.

When the bubonic plague invades the bloodstream, things go septic. Septicemic plague is even more deadly than the bubonic version. Victims can become delirious and their other symptoms are even more acute.

Ten to twenty percent of bubonic plague cases reach the lungs to become pneumonic plague. This is one of the deadliest and most easily transmitted forms of plague. Even with treatment, pneumonic plague kills about seventy five percent of its victims. Sufferers cough up blood, have difficulty breathing, and often develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

And now we know! Hooray!
Always Prepared!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Where Did Science Go?

Warning: This post is a rant.

I was in Barnes and Noble the other day when I happened upon a rather worrisome sight. My first stop at any book store is usually the popular science section, so I sauntered toward the giant "science" sign. There, I found biography, social science, and current events, but no actual science. This bothered me. Why was there no science in the science section? I didn't panic. I just asked one of the employees where the real science was. It was at the opposite end of the store...near the children's books and the sex books (tee hee). I'm hoping this was just a solitary case of mistaken sign placement (although it did bother me that they put science toward the end of the store, like they were ashamed of it. Poor science, I still love you.). Then, as I finished browsing, I noticed something else that was amiss. The entire science section was less than half the size of the teen paranormal area. Now that really bothers me. Books about teens who have paranormal crushes are fine and all, but since when is this subject trump ALL OF SCIENCE? Forgive me my bold capital letters. Surely this situation is a lone, silly mishap. If not, and it acts as a harbinger of where society is headed, then stock up on dry goods.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sexy Studs of Science: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Who’s sexier than Brad Pitt in his Thelma and Louise days? The answer is Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist extraordinaire. A graduate of Harvard and Columbia, Tyson is the current Director of the Hayden Planetarium. He is also a prolific science writer and has appeared on Nova, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and numerous television interviews. He was appointed by former President Bush to serve on two science committees and has won the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal – the highest award NASA grants to civilians. On top of all this, Tyson is also a wine expert and wonderful public speaker. And he has super powers. He destroyed Pluto. Seriously, look it up, Pluto is no longer a planet. This guy didn’t even need the Death Star to accomplish that. It is my theory that his power comes from his amazingly aristocratic mustache. Science should back me up on this.

Look into those eyes. You will get lost in those eyes. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dinosaur Victims

According to Hollywood and popular dinosaur reenactment shows, herbivores such as Protoceratops and Edmontosaurus existed for the sole purpose of being hunted and eaten in an entertaining manner. This is hardly fair. I mean, who wants their legacy to be “victim of awesome T-Rex.” And it’s not like these herbivores only died by getting hunted. They died in other ways too! They died from disease and mudslides and falls of moderate distances. The methodology of dinosaur death is a topic far too varied and exciting to confine. So I shall list a few herbivores often victimized by the media and provide an alternative death sequence for each. Enjoy!

Edmontosaurus: Often called the “Cattle of the Cretaceous,” these duckbills were rather numerous. They are often depicted being torn apart by Tyrannosaurus or a group of raptors. But picture this: An elderly male Edmontosaurus has lost the safety of the herd after being injured in a fight with another male. The injury has turned septic. So far, this story is predictable. But, instead our old pal getting torn apart by ninja raptors, he simply dies of infection. That’s right, infection. It happens.

Protoceratops: Protoceratops is constantly getting owned by Velociraptor. Ever since that discovery of a Protoceratops and Velociraptor fossilized mid-fight, these two dinos are almost always together in the public’s mind. And that’s fine. I mean, Velociraptor had to eat something. But Protoceratops were killed in other ways too. Imagine a nest full of cute little Protoceratops eggs. Now picture a rainstorm. Picture that rainstorm creating a torrent of muddy water washing away all those eggs. Boom. They never even get to hatch.
I'm not going to lie, these guys do look tasty.

Triceratops: Okay, we can be reasonably sure that Tyrannosaurus took down a Triceratops a time or two. But Triceratops was a tough-looking tank of a dinosaur, so T-Rex would have had its tiny hands full. I mean, if I were a predator, the Triceratops would have to be pretty sick or wounded for me to risk attacking it. So here is another scenario: A juvenile Triceratops is frolicking with its herd when a scary noise is heard. The herd panics and makes a run for it…in the juvenile’s direction. The young dino tries to keep ahead but lags a bit, trips, and gets crushed to death by its family.

So there we have it, three scenarios in which herbivores died in a manner not involving predators. Now, these dead hypothetical dinos were probably later torn apart and eaten by predators and scavengers, but that doesn’t count. Of course, I still love dino hunting scenes. I’d really appreciate one where any sort of Pachycephalosaurus gets torn apart. For some reason, I don’t really like the bone-heads.