Science doesn’t need help being strange. Anyone with curiosity knows strange things happen every day. Here are a few of them.
In the fall of 2015, it rained blood in northwestern Spain. No one knew where it had come from and guesses ran from murder to the bible. It wasn’t until the level-headed Joaquin Perez gathered samples of the water colored blood red and sent them to the University of Salamanca for analysis that they found an answer. What did they find? A microscopic organism called Haematococcus pluvialis that is common in the northern hemisphere — just not northwestern Spain where it hadn’t been seen before. In fact, there had been a similar scare in Kerala, India (2001). OC Reservoir in Texas had a similar episode in 2011 but the bacteria found there was called Chromatiaceae.
We can tell if a dog is happy to see us by their tail waging faster than we can reach down to pet our family member. But, dogs see something more. Their is a difference to a dog if another dog is wagging to the right or left. What does that difference mean? We haven’t a clue — yet.
Having a baby is normal, isn’t it? Well, not the way we might be able to in the future. Right now, the only way we have to create a baby is basically a heterosexual process. With in vitro gametogenesis (IVG) that may all change. The possibilities could include hetero couples who can’t procreate for physical reasons, same sex couples, a woman past menopause, pre-menstrual females and parent groups of three or more may all be able to create their own baby together using their own DNA.
The studies have been advancing through mice in the laboratory giving hope that it may eventually reach humans down the road. Scientists have taken either pluripotent or embryonic stem cells and created their own gametes based on the parents’ own DNA. Surrogates will no longer be needed.
Testing in humans is still a long ways off. There are not only many steps in the labs that need to be taken but also many moral and ethical decisions will need to be made by our society before it will be allowed.
Biohacking is being the ultimate DIYer. A biohacker is someone who experiments on themselves. Gabriel Lucina (above) volunteered to be a test subject for a biohacking group. An unknown amount of Chlorin e6 (C6) was combined with a second chemical and injected into his eyeballs to possibly create “super-hero night vision.” C6 is an organic compound that has light-amplifying capabilities. Science For the Masses is studying this process; C6 has been previously used for cancer patients. It has recently been discovered it can also help those with night blindness. It turned out to be a success. Gabriel was able to see under low-light conditions almost 150 feet into the dark. No side effects were reported and the condition only lasted for several hours.
Everyone knows about the dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, a comet or asteroid hit the Earth somewhere around the Yucatan peninsula and wiped out around a fifth of all land species and almost half of the marine species. But, did you know about the other four? Or that a sixth has already started?
Each one has had its own specific origins. The first one happened around 440 million years ago when freezing and then global warming erased 25 percent of sea life and 60 percent of land animals. Second was the Late Devonian extinction around 365 million years ago. The least is known about this event but it is theorized to be similar to the Ordovician-Silurian before it. The big difference is we lost about half of the marine species and very little of land life.
The third happened 250 million years ago and is called the Permian-Triassic extinction. It was followed 50 million years later by the End-Triassic extinction. That brings us to the dinosaurs.
But the sixth one will sound the scariest because it has already started. We are losing species a thousand times faster than normal non-extinction periods or about 25 every year. The biggest reasons are: loss of habitat, pollution, over-population and over-harvesting. Yes, it all boils down to us. Not asteroids or comets. Not global warming or cooling. It is humans causing it this time.