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Science And Medicine | Respect Authority

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Posts Filed Under Science and Medicine

It’s a bird. It’s a bird covered in oil.

Filed Under: Politics, Pop Culture, Science and Medicine

Now that it’s become abundantly clear neither man nor machine can solve what’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico, I think it’s high time we start looking for alternatives. And no, I don’t mean collecting pounds of hair from the floors of high school gym showers worldwide and shoving them in the still-spewing rig. Rather, we need to think outside of the box, and in this case the box is reality.

It’s pretty obvious the oil spill is a job for a superhero. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of pseudo-natural disaster for which superheroes are uniquely prepared. Can’t get into space on a whim? Call Superman. Need to ascend that skyscraper in 30 seconds flat? Text Spiderman. And if you just need a quick fix of a woman in latex, I’m pretty sure Catwoman hasn’t done much of anything since the early 90s.

So who in our long parade of superheroes and villains is best suited to handle what’s arguably the biggest environmental disaster in our country’s history? Well we at RA thought of some ideas that, frankly, don’t sound all that batshit next to “throw tires in there.” (Note: Aaron thought of most of this. His knowledge of superheroes is unparalleled and, were it not so helpful to this post, I would be mocking him).


oilbatman-100x100BATMAN: BP may have a lock on the advanced technology surrounding offshore drilling, but I’m pretty sure Batman was behind everything from the Hummer to the Internet. Dude has mad gadgets. And the fact that the government (and therefore the massive companies to which the government pays endless lip service) is heavily involved in the industry suggests Wayne Enterprises probably has something up its sleeves for this. Some CIA oil-containing secret weapon that was in development in the 80s and then got scrapped because, well, not containing oil is certainly more profitable. Morgan Freeman would be all over this.


oilcyclops-100x100CYCLOPS: All things considered, an optic beam is a good thing to have laying around. After all, the rig is made of metal, and a good blast from old One Eye could probably seal the thing in a few seconds flat. Whether Cyclops can swim that far underwater is another question. I imagine this is where Storm would come in handy; she could probably part the seas for Cyclops and then, to quote Aaron, “make like a waterspout that sucks up all the oil and have like Professor X levitate that shit into space.”


oilmagneto-100x100MAGNETO: It’s ill-advised to rely on Magneto for much of anything that involves “saving humanity,” but even mutants can’t live on Sludge Planet. Seems it’d be fairly easy for him to pile a bunch of metal shit on that open pipe (think the electromagnetic/nuclear explosion that killed Juliet in LOST).


oiltheflash-100x100THE FLASH: This is a little grim, but so is watching herons and gulls wash up on the shores of Loiusiana looking more tarred than feathered. In one comic, The Flash ran around the world so fast that he went back in time, which would be useful for turning back the clock a month, killing everyone on the rig (whatever, they were going to die anyway) and preventing this from ever happening. As a side benefit, I’m not opposed to canceling out that intoxicated night of karaoke I had last week.


oilaquaman-100x100AQUAMAN: It stands to reason that the dude has some expertise when it comes to water-related disasters. That said, he uses creatures of the ocean to help him, which might be a lost cause right now. There’d have to be some sort of global outreach on the part of sea creatures to solicit help from those in far-flung places. Sort of like when Scuttle and Flounder got all the sea animals to ruin Prince Eric’s wedding to Ursula in The Little Mermaid.


oilspiderman-100x100SPIDERMAN: Not sure how useful Spiderman would be for the actual sealing of the rig, but assuming he was down for a collaborative effort, the cleanup work here would be massive. Some uniquely manufactured spider webs, designed to pick up oil and filter water, would come in mighty handy over the next, I don’t know, three decades.


oilsuperman-100x100SUPERMAN: It’s fair to say getting Superman involved is a surefire way to get this shit taken care of, and in time for him to go home and bang Lois. The options are limitless: traveling back in time, sealing the pipe with heat vision, freezing the whole area and throwing it into space, plugging it with Lex Luther. When you can pull off underwear outside the pants, you can pretty much do whatever the fuck you want.


Now I know what you’re thinking—what about Captain Planet? It’s true that the captain, whose job as a superhero is pretty much to prevent or stop this exact kind of disaster, should be on the task force. But to be honest, I haven’t seen him deliver on that whole “bring pollution down to zero” promise, so I’m willing to give everyone else a try first.

Got your own ideas? Let us know. But let’s be honest, they won’t be nearly as awesome.

 
kira

1:52 PM on June 4th, 2010 | 

Posted by kira

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Another Reason To Become a Vampire

Filed Under: Science and Medicine

walker-261x450Imagine this: you’re eighty. Why yes, those dentures do look realistic.

So you’re old, and you’re having some trouble walking and, convinced by your daughter that despite The Scooter Store’s very convincing commercials, scooters are not in fact easy to get around in, you snag yourself a walker, or cane. Safe, right?

Wrong! According to an article in the New York Times today, citing a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (who apparently are no longer particularly concerned with things like malaria, or AIDS), about 47,000 “older Americans” are treated in emergency rooms each year from “falls associated with walkers and canes.”

“It’s important to make sure people use these devices safely,” Judy Stevens, an epidemiologist (I’m not even sure what that is) at the CDC told the Times. “It gives them greater independence but, at the same time it can be a hazard if not used properly.” …Why am I reminded of kids’ first water wings? You can set those old people free, but never let them out of your sight.

The study found that 87% of fall injuries involved walkers and 12% involved canes, leading me to believe maybe 1% of old people are just tripping over their own orthopedic shoes.

It’s not like I don’t sympathize with old people — and I’m not saying, given the opportunity, I wouldn’t end up face-first on a sidewalk somewhere with my cane stuck in a street grate. Alls I’m saying is there’s only so much training one can give on “how to use” a fairly self-evident device.

Moreover, I’m tired of hearing about old people falling! You know what CDC, we all fall. I trip probably two or three times a week, sometimes in public, sometimes walking from the couch to the bathroom. It just so happens my bones are less fine than rare china and I know “shuffling” isn’t the most efficient form of transportation. Sorry old people, I’m still more worried about swine flu.

 
kira

5:44 PM on June 30th, 2009 | 

Posted by kira

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Live Long And Prosper

Filed Under: Pop Culture, Science and Medicine

vulcanpage-450x297

Larry Page is kind of what I imagine a Vulcan would look like after centuries of familial cross-breeding with humans. And if he were retarded. Because it stands to reason that a retarded Vulcan would still be capable of founding Google.

 
kira

4:00 PM on June 15th, 2009 | 

Posted by kira

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That’ll Do, Pig

Filed Under: Science and Medicine

swineflu-450x319

Available at your local Bed Bath & Beyond.

Fucking Mexico. I mean seriously. Fucking. Mexico.

Thanks to the national prowess of our neighbor to the south, we as a country are out thousands of jobs, I personally am addicted to sour cream, and now there’s swine flu.

On Wednesday, the U.S. reported that a 23-month-old Texas child became the country’s first death related to the virus. To put that number in context, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had received reports of 53 seasonal flu-related deaths in children during the current flu season. 53! Which isn’t to say that children dying isn’t inherently tragic, but is to say that one death can’t be analyzed in a vacuum. In addition to saying the darndest things, kids also have weaker immune systems. 

And while ‘Merica is just starting to feel the effects of “pandemicamonium,” which is in some way officially sanctioned now that we’ve actually had a fatality, Mexico is in absolute batshit SARS mask lockdown, with schools, restaurants and resorts closed or quarantined. 

In New York, officials say a recent school trip to Cancun may be the culprit for dozens of St. Francis Prep students getting infected, and subsequently bringing the virus to a tightly-packed city of 8 million. Which got me to thinking, if swine flu (pigs?) were making a conscious geographical decision, then at least it was a good one. More than once have I longed for some sort of medical outbreak to hit Cancun, preferably in the midst of spring break season and ideally when it’s populated by bikini-clad MTV groupies. If Carson Daly could be there too, well then I might die a happy woman. 

In all seriousness though, this is the last thing we need. I happened to, in a prophetic moment of movie renting, watch Quarantine this past weekend. If that movie told me anything about biological warfare — between man and man, or man and pig — it’s that we’re all going to die, probably in a pre-war apartment building, after being savagely bitten by our friends and family. Which makes sense, since that’s basically how things are in Mexico all the time.

 
kira

9:52 AM on April 29th, 2009 | 

Posted by kira

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The Cylindrical Test Tube Of Life

Filed Under: Science and Medicine

testtubebabyJust one glorious day after the mind-blowing season finale of Nip/Tuck, during which Dr. Christian Troy’s much-hyped battle with “terminal” breast cancer (yes, breast cancer) — which has been the subject of much debate, speculation and tentative sadness — took a surprising turn, equally bizarre shit is happening in the real world, where cancer is not so much considered a laugh riot. 

The parents of a 23-year-old New Jerseyan who died of cancer in 1998 are being denied their request to kidnap the boy’s preserved sperm in the hopes of creating a grandchild. 

Indeed, Mary and Antonio Speranza asked their son’s operator at the time of his death to preserve the sperm for the insemination of a surrogate mother down the line. (No word on how exactly the operator acquired said sperm posthumously). But a judge has since ruled that because the specimens were not screened for donation to a member of the public — as required by law — they cannot be used on a surrogate.

Coming just one day after news broke of a New York fertility clinic that will let parents custom-build their baby (blue eyes, brown hair, good at sports), I’m beginning to wonder whether, by the time my own biological clock starts ticking, it’ll be necessary to conduct any aspect of babymaking in a natural way. Rather, might I be able to ask a close friend or complete stranger to throw some sperm in the freezer until I’m ready to employ it by impregnating a one-off surrogate, who I will then drag over to Dr. PerfectBaby to get a lock on eye, hair and skin color (I’m aiming for purple on all counts). Perhaps then, so thrilled with my design, I’ll knock the surrogate up to the tune of octuplets, or dextuplets, or whatever denomination of tuplets has yet to be exploited by welfare moms, reality television and the mainstream media. 

In addition to not giving me stretch marks, morning sickness or a deep resentment of them for ruining nine consecutive months of my life, here are other things my custom frozen-sperm perfection babies won’t do: scream, cry, speak unless spoken, make messes and have any minimum requirements for food or sleep. 

On the other hand, they will laugh on cue, do as I say, be self-sufficient at a very young age (one week, tops) and have regenerative limbs and appendages in the event any one is damaged in some sort of childhood bike/fence/car/roughhousing/stair-related accident. 

Here’s to the future.

 
kira

9:36 AM on March 4th, 2009 | 

Posted by kira

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Thank You, New York Times

Filed Under: Science and Medicine

elephantsSo much about this makes me laugh.

 
kira

2:07 PM on February 27th, 2009 | 

Posted by kira

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Battacked

Filed Under: Science and Medicine

cocainebatsSo bats have been dying all over the country, and the FDA swears it isn’t another one of their unannounced efforts to rid the nation of some overpopulated species. No, in reality, the creatures of the night are being picked off en masse by so-called “deadly white nose syndrome.” 

According to Wikipedia, white nose syndrome is a “poorly understood” malady known for a distinctive ring of fungal growth around the muzzles of affected bats. First noticed in Albany, the syndrome has since spread to several states, and affected dozens of caves, in some cases with a death rate of 90%. Researchers don’t yet know its cause, or how it spreads, meaning that unless bat research jumps to the top of the list (beating out things like “global warming” and “AIDS”) they’re fairly doomed to continue dying in large quantities. Which spells doom for our ecosystem once the fruit population gets out of control. 

If you ask me, it’s pretty clear bats are doing cocaine. In fact, I know a couple of hipsters who suffer from white nose syndrome pretty much every weekend.

 
kira

11:35 AM on February 5th, 2009 | 

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Deflowered

Filed Under: Science and Medicine

flowervajayjayIf there is one thing I don’t like to read about in the morning, it’s vaginas. 

This isn’t a gender bias; I don’t think I’d particularly enjoy reading about penii in the a.m. hours either. But chances are good no one’s going to start removing kidneys through penises. 

Indeed, surgeons removed a woman’s kidney through her vagina this week, so she could donate the much-needed organ to her ailing neice, and so she could forever be known as “that woman who had her kidney pulled out of her vagina.” 

This type of surgery, in which organs and other removable objects are pulled through existing orifices, instead of created ones, is supposed to be gaining in popularity: it’s easier, and reduces pain, scarring and recovery time. But limited availability, coupled with the fact that no one wants to tell friends they’re going in for a “transvaginal kidney removal,” have kept the practice under the radar. 

“It was easier than childbirth,” said transvaginal-removal patient Kimberly Johnson, who has three children. Well Kimberly, that’s probably because kidneys aren’t as big as infant children, and you don’t have to, well, birth them.

Let this be known, friends, family and potential donors (to me) of various expendable organs. If it came out of your vagina, keep it.

 
kira

9:59 AM on February 3rd, 2009 | 

Posted by kira

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Eye For An Eye

Filed Under: Science and Medicine

kidneyunicornShould you ever donate a kidney to a family member in need, worry not – you can sue to get that shit back.

Perhaps not the kidney itself, but a New York doctor this week demanded that his estranged wife pay him a whopping $1.5 million in compensation for the kidney he gave her when their marriage was still rosy. Dr. Richard Batista’s wife filed for divorce in 2005 after five years of marriage and negotiations are ongoing. He claims she had an affair, and she – well she’s had three kidney transplants so it’s hard not to throw the sympathy vote that way. Moreover, the two have three kids.

At first glance this struck me as absurd – you donate a kidney, it’s gone, the same way I don’t call up homeless drunks asking for my three dented cans of corn back. The misappropriation of charitable giving is a part of life, even when it comes to organs; think of the lung transplant survivors found sneaking cigarettes out by the dumpster.

But kidney transplants are expensive (though perhaps not $1.5 million) and I can’t say I wouldn’t be more than miffed if one of my blood-regulating golden geese were wasted on a cheating spouse. My vote is for Batista to bypass the whole legal process – in turn doing his part to lessen the overall ridiculous plethora of stupid lawsuits in this country – by demanding not financial restitution but anatomical payback.

Former Mrs. Batista owes the guy a foot, or at least a boob.

 
kira

3:56 PM on January 7th, 2009 | 

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Time Travelers Save Planet, Again

Filed Under: Science and Medicine

time travel

"Behold! The future... where women have been rid of opinions and blacks have penises of a length and girth more appropriate to their social position."

The Large Hadron Collider’s world swallowing first particle smash has been “delayed” again to sometime in 2010, marking the umpteenth setback after a magnet quench lead to a debilitating nitrogen leak in early September.

CERN, in complete denial of the forces at work behind their technical difficulties, has vowed to get its machine working.

While I completely understand lots of money and reputations have been put on the line in the pursuit of this endeavor, I think its time these European geeks admit that they’ve been the victims of temporal sabotage.

All signs point to time travelin’ tomfoolery: an anomalous mechanical failure that cascades into a systemic crash which perpetually retards any effort to recover… barring a complete redesign of the entire system hinting at an omniscient understanding of the schematics that would have taken years to develop, and nerds.

Now, I’ve tried to imagine how we could recover from a scenario in which the LHC was turned on, the Earth destroyed by a Switzerland sided black hole, with all (if not most) of Earth’s population annihilated. In said situation, who would be our time traveling saviors? The crew of ISS Expedition 17 that’s who. They were in space when it happened, used their rocket boosters to fly into a solar flare and/or orbit the Earth backwards at an incredible rate, traveled back in time then snuck their way back onto terra firma embarking on a Ocean’s 13 style mission of scientific sabotage/Nazi art scalping.

You can forward your thank you notes to Astronauts Sergey Volkov (not American), Oleg Kononenko (not American), Garrett Reisman (American), and Gregory Chamitoff (also American).

[CNet News]

 
lou

11:00 AM on December 3rd, 2008 | 

Posted by lou

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There’s An Icebox Where My Heart Used To Be

Filed Under: Science and Medicine

heart1There’s hope for me yet.

Fourteen-year-old D’Zhana Simmons was released from a Miami hospital Wednesday, after living for 118 days …without a heart.

Last spring, Simmons learned she had an enlarged heart too weak to pump blood properly. After being admitted to the hospital and undergoing her first heart transplant, she found out it hadn’t worked, ostensibly when her heart stopped beating? In any case, needing to do something to keep her alive while they found a new heart, doctors replaced the transplant with a pair of artificial pumping devices that kept blood flowing until a new heart was found.

For more than 100 days, the girl had no heart in her body, just machines, proving that my fears of being heartless are completely unfounded – because I will totally survive anyway. Granted, were my experience anything like Simmons’, I would be unable to breathe on my own most of the time, and might also suffer from kidney and liver failure, but those are small prices to pay for the ability to be cold and uncaring 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Couple this with a story earlier this week about the proliferation of artificial ankles, and I’m pretty sure it’s only a matter of time before I can get that fully robotic body I’ve been dreaming about. It would undoubtedly be expensive—the average cost of a heart transplant is something like $150,000—but with a robot body, things like food, beer and my gym membership would become irrelevant, so I’m pretty sure I could afford it. 

 
kira

4:30 PM on November 20th, 2008 | 

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Making A Mammoth Mistake

Filed Under: Science and Medicine

mammoth1

"In real life, I'd eat you."

Perhaps inspired by Ice Age’s amiable Manny the Mammoth, scientists said this week that they’re once again looking into the ability to regenerate a living mammoth using DNA. Well, DNA and $10 million.

Apparently a team of scientists stumbled across a large swath of mammoth hair, from which they were able to extract a significant portion of the mammoth genome. By filling in the gaps from the animal’s nearest genetic neighbor – in this case, an elephant – scientists postulate that they would be able to create a living, breathing mammoth.

Considering how easy Jurassic Park’s tutorial video made it look (“Hi! I’m Mr. DNA!”), I frankly wasn’t prepared for the sophistication of the science involved in this process. And in part, the scientific procedure was immediately irrelevant for me because before we consider how to reproduce a mammoth, or any other long-extinct species, I feel it might be in our best interest to consider why we would ever want to.
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kira

3:15 PM on November 20th, 2008 | 

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