Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse and the Forever 27 Club

Now, I'm not a avid fan of Amy Winehouse myself but her death yesterday (23 July 2011) has given me reasons to pause. For one, I'm also 27 this year. Two, there is something about the age of 27 that claims the life of of musicians.

For those unfamiliar with the Forever 27 Club:
Between 1969 and 1971, four famous artists died at the age of 27, Brian Jones of the rolling stones (3 July 1969), Jimi Hendrix (18 September 1970), Janis Joplin (4 October 1970), and Jim Morrison of The Doors (3 July, 1971). The coincidence of their deaths lead to the creation of the Forever 27 Club. Years later, Kurt Cobain killed himself and joined the club also (5 April, 1994). One thing all these member have in common is rock & roll and drugs. With the exception of Morrison, all the members were known heavy drug users. Some speculate that even Morrison was under the influence of drugs during his death - no autopsy was preformed in his case but some conflicting reports suggest he was using at the time of death.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cloning a Trachea

In the news there is a story about a man from Eritrea going to school in Iceland recovering from surgery in Sweden where a surgeon born in Italy recently gave him a new trachea grown in a bioreactor from the United States composed of synthetic scaffold designed in the United Kingdom and the man's own stem cells! The world is certainly getting smaller and the smaller it gets the more specialists like surgeon Paolo Macchiarini and others can collaborate to make stories like this possible. I'm posting this because it's a relevant update to a blog entry I made recently on Cloning.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Water Conservation in the Home

The story of water in Brazil is a tale of contrasts. On one side, Brazil holds 12% of the world’s fresh surface waters, is home to the largest natural rainforest and second longest river in the world, the Amazon. The Amazon discharges an average 200 million liters of water per second, one fifth of the entire global river output (learn more). On the other side, 25% of Brazil's population lives in the state of São Paulo where less than 2% of that water is found. Sadly, not everyone in living in Brazil can afford clean water supply and sanitation. The good news is that the Brazilian government has been making a lot of progress on this issue.
I recently came across a very interesting TV ad that aired in Brazil advocating water conservation (shown below). This commercial put out by SOS Mata Atlantica urges viewers to pee in the shower. To most people, this might seem like a crazy idea just to save a little extra water but, as the ad points out one flush can use up to 12 liters of drinking water (4380 liters per year). As pointed out above, certain parts of Brazil could benefit greatly from this kind of conservation.

Monday, July 4, 2011


I recently read about a survey that shows Americans are more accepting of cloned food than Europeans. Right now we are on the cusp of a new era. Today, the practice of cloning is limited to a small number of labs around the world. Tomorrow, cloning of livestock, pets, and even people could be commonplace.
There are several advantages and disadvantages of cloned livestock. Most obviously, farmers can clone the most desirable animals for leanness, milk production, taste, and so on. Farmers could also select clones that are resistant to certain strains of disease. However, this lack of genetic diversity could leave the industry open to other diseases (read here for more). There is also evidence that cloned animals suffer more liver and kidney aliments, die younger, and reach puberty later (RSPCA).