How To Instantly Guess Someone’s Age

As we age, certain things happen to our primary senses. By testing this ability, you can instantly guess just how old someone is! I won’t say too much more than that, because the video explains it beautifully…

Video Source: “How Can You Instantly Guess Someone’s Age?” Uploaded by Science Channel to YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFDQDbXGYlk

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Today’s Sciencey LOL

Scientific explanation for what happens when you choke…

funny science jokes

15 Awesome Human Superpowers

Some people work hard, train hard, educate themselves and push themselves to the very limit to gain some kind of notoriety in life (and the money it tends comes hand-in-hand with). This video is proof that, in addition to being inherently gifted, there are other ways to become famous… be exceptionally stupid. Eating metal screws makes you an idiot. Just because you survive your diet of cars, wheelchairs and bad life choices doesn’t make you special.

Having said that, there are some incredible cases of human superpowers in this video, such as the “human calculator” and the man who learned conversational Icelandic in just one week. My only superpower is being able to make my one eye squint – actually I have two if you count the other one, but that’s far too lascivious to mention here – and so my concluding question to you is: what’s your superpower?

Video Source: “15 Real Life Human Superpowers” Uploaded by Planet Dolan to YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=dM3_s0rKBVc

Virus Apocalypse: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Sneezes 

Ebola Virus outbreak 2

There is little else on this Earth quite as chilling as hearing that there has been an outbreak of the Ebola virus. It brings crashing to mind all of those terrifying movies depicting a world ravaged by a fierce virus for which there is no vaccination, no cure and a meagre chance of survival. Almost two years ago, however, the horror of Hollywood imagination made its real life debut in a handful of countries in West Africa and this appearance by one of the world’s worst viruses known to man has left the local population shattered and terrified.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), we faced the worst outbreak in recorded history and the death toll increased daily. With this shocking realisation in mind come many questions: what is the Ebola virus? How at risk is the rest of the world to contracting this pathogen and what actually happens to the body once it’s infected? Let’s take a look at the microscopic douche bag that effortlessly, in as little as a few short weeks, showed up mankind for our frailty.

Now Might Be the Time to Cancel that Trip to West Africa 

west-africa-Ebola outbreak distribution-map

Source: World Health Organisation (WHO), Ebola Response Roadmap, February 11th 2015

If you have impending travel plans for Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Guinea and Liberia, now might be the time to reconsider. Your journey of a lifetime might just become your last. At the last count (December 27th 2015) WHO reported that 28,637 people had been officially diagnosed with the Ebola virus in these countries, with 11,315 having succumbed to it.

A 40% death rate might not seem like the apocalyptic scenario you’d associate with an end-of-the-world type virus… that is, until you put yourself in the worn sandals of some poor West African soul. Imagine your doctor telling you that your chance of surviving your illness is 60%! I’d give up all vestiges of civilized behaviour and kill myself with red wine and tequila before that miserable virus could have a chance to get hold of my internal organs. If you think 40% is bad, however, consider the fact that the death rate of the Zaire Ebolavirus has been as high as 90% in the past:

  • 71% in 2007: 187 people dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 90% in 2003: 128 people dead in Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 75% in 2001-2002: 44 people dead in Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 88% in 1976: 280 people dead in Democratic Republic of Congo

I don’t care how democratic it is, I’m SO removing Congo from my travel plans!

So, while it might sound completely ridiculous to say, the people in the affected areas are at least a little lucky in some glass-half-full kind of way. I do understand this is hard to appreciate when you are bleeding out your bum.

This brings us to the profile of a pathogen so nasty and malicious, it would have had a glittering career in Hitler’s SS.

Profile of a Serial Killer

Ebola virus under microscope

The Ebola virus belongs to a nasty, sadistic family of pathogens called the Flioviridae that essentially cause the body to haemorrhage uncontrollably – that is, to bleed internally and externally and all-aroundernally. There are five different species of Ebola virus, because for some God-forsaken reason one isn’t enough. They are:

  1. Zaire Ebolavirus (EBOV)
  2. Sudan Ebolavirus (SUDV)
  3. Bundibugyo Ebolavirus (BDBV)
  4. Reston Ebolavirus (RESTV)
  5. Taï Forest Ebolavirus (TAFV)

Historically, the three problematic strains of this virus have been the Bundibugyo, the Sudan and the Zaire ebolavirus, the latter of which has been wreaking havoc in West Africa since February 2014. The other two species are, interestingly enough, not typically associated with large outbreaks. In fact, RESTV in particular hasn’t been known to kill anyone ever. Amateur.

A Little Aside: The Ebola virus was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was here in 1976 that the first recorded outbreak occurred.

How Is Ebola Transmitted?

Ebola virus outbreak

You catch Ebola by somehow ingesting the bodily fluids of an infected person. This, given the virus’ tendency to cause flu-like symptoms, uncontrollable diarrhoea and vomiting, is mighty difficult to avoid, especially if you are living in close proximity to the sick person. And this is precisely why the virus tends to spread so quickly amongst family members and to the medical physicians who are trying to treat these patients. Given the lack of proper, sterile medical infrastructure in these poor West African countries and the strange burial ceremonies honoured there (involving kissing and touching the corpses of loved ones passed), this virus is having an utter field day.

Thankfully, in the midst of all the carnage, there’s the fact that the Ebola virus isn’t airborne. That means you can’t get it from breathing in the same air as someone who is infected, so you don’t need to fear the zombie apocalypse the next time some stranger sneezes. Just keep your mouth close and wash your hands regularly.

Symptoms and Signs Your Wife Might Be Cashing In Your life Insurance Policy Soon

Ebola Virus outbreak 4

Once infected, it could take you as little as a few days or as long as three weeks to start showing symptoms. You’ll feel like crap and probably think you have some kind of flu with symptoms that include achy muscles, a monster headache, fever and a sore throat. Meanwhile beneath the surface of your skin all hell is breaking loose…

Ebola takes up residence inside your body’s cells where it begins its merry task of replicating. Once one has become two, they erupt out of their host cell, completely destroying it in the process. This tiny asshole then starts secreting a kind of protein known as “ebolavirus glycoprotein,” which coats the interior walls of your blood vessels, disintegrating them and leaving them more leaky than a submarine with air vents.

Ebola also impedes your blood’s ability to clot, so you essentially become haemophilic… unable to stop bleeding. One sneeze can initially cause your nose to erupt in a crimson plume of infection, while an accidental bump could leave you looking like you escaped a marriage with Mike Tyson. Eventually, if you survive the fever, dehydration, rashes and swelling long enough to experience the next merry phase of the illness, your blood will start to seep out of your blood vessels in a whole-body internal and external haemorrhage. That’s right. You’ll have blood seeping out of your eyes, nose, gums, ears and other unmentionable bodily orifices.

The next few stops on the Ebola train include disseminated intravascular coagulation, shock and then death.

It’s utterly terrifying.

Where Are Your White Blood Cells When You Need Them?

White blood cells

The reason the Ebola virus has such a high death rate is because it is as keen a master of offence as it is of defence. It actually prevents the white blood cells from “hearing” your body’s natural defence alarm. So while the virus completely destroys your body, your white blood cells – the little guys responsible for protecting your body – are just hanging out, playing cards, drinking beer and hitting on platelets. But wait, it gets worse (or more hilarious depending on how morbid your sense of humour is): the Ebola virus remains so undetected by your immune system that it will actually hitch a ride on your white blood cells to other parts of the body. This explains its rapid spread to all of the body’s major organs and systems.

Sweet Jesus, tell me there’s something modern medicine can do to treat it!

Unfortunately, no. There is no cure and no vaccine for the Ebola virus. In fact, scientists are only now beginning to understand how it works, spreads and wreaks so much havoc on the body. I can imagine that the response from lab technicians willing to volunteer to do the necessary research on live virus specimens must be underwhelming.

I know I’d bunk work that day.

Homer Simpson Woohoo!

The only thing doctors can do for Ebola virus patients is keep them comfortable, hydrated and clean. It’s up to your body to do the rest, which is why it’s the strong who typically survive this virus.

Where Did the Ebola Virus COME From?

There is a very important field of specialty dedicated to understanding the origin and spread of harmful pathogens and it’s called “epidemiology.” By pinpointing the origin of a particular virus, we can understand HOW it spreads and therefore how to minimize this spread. It is also possible to infer from the point of origin the necessary clues to develop a treatment or vaccine.

In the case of the Ebola virus, the origin is believed to be fruit bats of the family Pteropodidae and genera Myonycteris torquata, Epomops franqueti and Hypsignathus monstrosus. What causes such devastation to us humans bumbles around quite harmlessly within the living tissues of these rodent aviators. The actual transmission of the virus occurs when someone gets the bright idea to have a bat barbecue or sandwich.

Unfortunately, bats are quite popular on the menu in West Africa.

Cute fruit bat

How could you eat that face?

The Ebola virus has also been documented in monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees and even certain antelope. The problem here is that uneducated people from the villages in these remote areas have no idea of the danger they put themselves in when they come across a dead animal in the forest. They don’t see the harm in prodding it, eating it, or bringing it home with them for whatever reason. They have no idea that swimming around within the coagulating vessels of this deceased creature is a deadly virus that could lay complete waste to their village in a matter of weeks.

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

Ebola Virus outbreak 3

When diagnosing the Ebola virus, doctors are instructed to first rule out a host of other potentially fatal illnesses, including the PLAGUE. You know a sickness is really bad when it could be confused with the plague, for crying out loud! And bad the Ebola virus is. To date and at the time of writing, more than 28,000 people are estimated to have been infected in the outbreak in West Africa.

The take-home message of this particular blog on the Ebola virus could pertain to any lethal virus, I suppose. While there are things we can do to help patients fight off infection and emerge victorious (with one hell of a story to tell the grandchildren), we have to be fully cognisant of the irony that something so small – something invisible – could utterly destroy one of the most successful species on the planet. All we can do is hope that a virus similar in action to the Ebola, but deadlier and more uncontrollable in its spread never, ever makes it out of the dark recesses of our planet.

So, kids, wash your hands before you eat and no matter how tempted you are to try new things, never order bat off the menu.

Revolutionary Gel Stops Bleeding Immediately

In this fascinating TED Talk, medical inventor and a fellow of TED Joe Landolina, explains his amazing innovation, which is a gel that can instantly stop bleeding. And we’re not talking about knee grazes and cat scratches. We’re talking about life-threatening arterial wounds that could cause certain death unless stopped within minutes. Blood pumping out of an open wound at TWICE the normal arterial pressure can be instantly staunched with the application of this gel, which is surely an incredible breakthrough in modern medical science. What this means, particularly for soldiers in battle, is a much better chance of survival for the otherwise mortally wounded. And also, no stitches!

By the way, the bleeding wound in question was merely a sliced side of pork with a tube feeding blood into it, so don’t worry about being disturbed by any imagery.

Video Source: TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) at YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-5wqwp64MM

Why Your Brain is a Total Jerk…

Funny science pictures

Meet The Girl With Two Vaginas

No, this is not the title of a Stieg Larsson novel…

YouTube viral star Cassandra Bankson (22) was diagnosed with a rare medical condition during a routine kidney scan: she has TWO vaginas! Oddly enough, Cassandra gained notoriety from her YouTube videos (DiamondsAndHeels14) helping other people with bad skin like hers to use make-up to cover up evidence of acne, pimples and blemishes. It was only after she had been experiencing pain in her kidneys that she went to the doctor for a diagnosis, which is when she discovered that she has two chochas!

Since she hit puberty, Cassandra has suffered from an abnormal menses involving excessive bleeding, sometimes for more than three weeks at a time, crippling cramps, mood swings and more. She sometimes even has two periods per month! Watch this  video to meet this Internet sensation and find out what a day in the life of a woman with two ham wallets is like.

Amazing Science Video Source: “YouTube Star Reveals She Has Two Vagina’s” Uploaded by Barcroft TV on  YouTube channel https://youtu.be/7Yq4-n1hogs

Hasta la Vista Hangover!

Beautiful blonde in a bar

It’s happened to the best of us. You wake up in a room you don’t recognize, next to a person you don’t recognize, wearing pink floral shorts you DEFINITELY don’t recognize. Your head feels like it has an iron cannonball rolling around in it, thumping against the delicate pink tissue that lines the inside of your skull. And it tastes like a large animal – a carnivorous animal – relieved itself inside your mouth at some stage while you were asleep. If your tongue didn’t belong to you, you would spit it out.

Oh alcohol! Such a bitter-sweet, love-hate relationship we have with this hydrocarbon.

Booze gives you the gumption to chat up all the pretty birds in the bar. It makes you feel indestructible, sexy and powerful. It gives you the energy to dance for hours, with the occasional push-up set right there in the middle of the club. It sharpens your conversational skills, sense of humour, wit (pre-tequila) and confidence. Alcohol is awesome!

So then why did you wake up next to Jabba the Hutt? What is that massive red welt down the side of your face? WHY IS THAT DAMN ANT MAKING SO MUCH NOISE?! And why do you have to refer to the bottle of pills next to Jabba the Hutt’s bed to remember her name?

Lithium? What kind of name is that, anyway?

Prevent a hangover

Hangovers are NO fun. So, what can science tell us about them? Is there a way that we can enjoy our booze without the morning after banging headache, breath that could melt cement, crippling nausea, stiff joints and signed marriage papers to your cousin?

Yes! Sort of…

“I’ll Just Have One Glass and then Head Home”

two drunk friends with a bottle

Not even the prospect of the Harvard bar exam has prevented law students from uttering these famous last words. So you can be forgiven for your weakness. What we all would like to know is what you can do to prevent the hangover you KNOW you’re going to have tomorrow. Well, the best way would be to abstain from alcohol altogether.

Hahahahahaha!! Relax, I’m just kidding!

The best way to prevent a hangover is to understand what alcohol does to your body and to then mitigate this damage as best as you possibly can. Let’s examine the anatomy of a hangover, starting with this very scientific question… why does alcohol make you feel so sh*t?

The Morning After the Night Before

young drunk woman with curlers crying next to a bottle of wine

It Dehydrates

Alcohol blocks the production of anti-diuretic hormones in your kidneys. A diuretic is something that makes you want to pee. This – in addition to that entire keg of beer you just drank – is why you can’t stop going to the loo. This causes your body to dehydrate and dehydration is the root of all hangover evil. It makes you feel lethargic and gives you a banging headache.

It Skull-bashes

Alcohol expands the blood vessels in your head, while dehydration causes your brain tissue to shrink and pull away from the sides of the skull. This makes you feel like you stopped an earth-bound asteroid with your noggin.

It Irritates

Then there’s the effect alcohol has on your digestive system. Your stomach can quite easily manage a few cocktails or beers. But ten Kamikazes later, you’ll be going Kamikaze out the open window of your friend’s car. Alcohol irritates your stomach lining. To top it off, most alcoholic beverages are acidic, which combines with your own stomach acid to produce a seriously potent brew. That’s when the little gremlins in your belly hit the ‘emergency eject’ button.

It Lowers Blood Sugar

Alcohol screws around with your body’s glucose levels. Glucose is blood sugar, which is the energy your body needs to move and grows. This is why you so desperately hope you win that game of rock-scissors-paper against your flatmate so that HE is the one who has to walk to McDonalds for emergency hangover breakfast.

Pot Smoker with the Munchies

That’s what alcohol does to your body on a regular day in the office. Now… how can we STOP it?

Your Essential Hangover Kit

Every dedicated drinker should own a hangover kit. You qualify as ‘dedicated’ if you’ve done one or more of the following:

  1. Taken pictures of people you couldn’t remember meeting.
  2. Taken your shirt off in the middle of a crowded bar.
  3. Made out with your best guy friend. And you’re a dude.
  4. Had a good boo because that song the DJ played was just so beautiful!
  5. Woken up next to someone whose name you couldn’t remember.
  6. Woken up and couldn’t remember your own name.
  7. Pledged that you’re going to stop drinking for a month
  8. Reconsidered # 7 and pledged that you’re going to stop drinking for a week.
  9. Ended up congratulating yourself on not drinking for TWO WHOLE DAYS.
  10. Didn’t go to rehab when they tried to make you to. Noooo, noooo, NO!

Now that we’ve established your status, your hangover kit should consist of:

Water: A good two litre bottle of mineral water will help you rehydrate.

Electrolytes: It’s not good enough to drown your body in water. You will need to replenish all the essential minerals, salts and other goodies your body loses every time you go to the loo, which, when you’re hanging like a bat, is a lot. Stock your hangover kit with a few sachets of electrolytes and/or some sports energy drinks.

Vitamin B (or Thiamine) tablets: Trust me on this one. I have performed repeated controlled scientific experiments involving alcohol and Vitamin B. Take a tablet before you start drinking and then another one in the morning. Vitamin B helps your body to metabolize alcohol, expands your blood vessels (preventing headaches) and restores your energy levels. In other words, it’s your best friend.

Opioid painkillers or aspirinIf you can’t readily get your hands on some morphine and the caterpillar in your garden is all out of “that good shit”, then take an aspirin. It’s a big hangover no-no to take acetaminophen or paracetamol. The combination of this common subset of painkillers and alcohol is a cocktail that can do extensive liver damage. If you’re only finding this out now, don’t worry. Me too, buddy. Me too.

Catepillar Alice in Wonderland

Feed the Hangover! You won’t want to eat, but you must. Food is your divine saviour and one of the most effective ways to combat a hangover. It replaces all the goodness you spent relentlessly banging out of yourself the night before. If you’re feeling too nauseous to tolerate food, take an anti-emetic (anti-nausea) pill like Valoid or Motilium. Ginger is a natural anti-nausea remedy if you’re not keen on polluting your body with chemicals, which is an idiot way to think: where was that philosophy last night when you were hammering back the Jagermeister?

Get Up and Get Moving! You’re going to hate this one, but it’s true. There have been times I’ve been forced to get up in the moist grips of a crippling hangover and go out, usually to try find my scooter and retrieve it (God, I miss Thailand). Or to play tour guide to a visiting friend who’s too excited to see Table Mountain to nurse their hangover. Once I’ve gotten moving, however, I actually don’t feel that bad! Exercise elevates your metabolic rate and this helps your body to process alcohol and all the crap that comes in those huge cocktails you drink quicker. The injection of oxygen into your body also puts you on the fast(er) track to feeling better.

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

Two drunk girls making out

Scientific diagram illustrating the awesomeness of alcohol

Alcohol is an excellent social lubricant (although Durex has a pretty decent line too). But your body pretty much sees it as a poison, so you have to be careful. If you drink booze like a camel, you’re going to end up in the hospital ER, or immortalized on YouTube doing something really stupid and really embarrassing.

By understanding how alcohol affects your body’s organs and functions, we can see with greater clarity what we need to do to offset the symptoms of a hangover, or at least to alleviate their severity. Put together a hangover kit and nurse your body back to good health. You will not feel 100% – you don’t deserve to – but you may be able to scrape together a sufficient number of brain cells to write your exam without blowing chunks over the back of the student in front of you; which, when you’re really hung over, is good enough!

I’ll drink to that!

President Barack Obama enjoying beer

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Copyright © Thea Beckman 2015