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Why do you wake up before your alarm?

Your body clock alarm is just as accurate as the one on your phone: your body naturally takes note of what time you want to wake up and wakes you up.

There’s evidence you can will yourself to wake on time, too. Sleep scientists at Germany’s University of Lubeck asked 15 volunteers to sleep in their lab for three nights. One night, the group was told they’d be woken at 6 a.m., while on other nights the group was told they’d be woken at 9 a.m..

But the researchers lied-they woke the volunteers at 6 a.m anyway. And the results were startling. The days when sleepers were told they’d wake up early, their stress hormones increased at 4:30 a.m., as if they were anticipating an early morning. When the sleepers were told they’d wake up at 9 a.m., their stress hormones didn’t increase — and they woke up groggier. “Our bodies, in other words, note the time we hope to begin our day and gradually prepare us for consciousness,” writes Jeff Howe at Psychology Today.

Silencing Scientists

An editorial in the New York Times this weekend

Over the last few years, the government of Canada — led by Stephen Harper — has made it harder and harder for publicly financed scientists to communicate with the public and with other scientists.

It began badly enough in 2008 when scientists working for Environment Canada, the federal agency, were told to refer all queries to departmental communications officers. Now the government is doing all it can to monitor and restrict the flow of scientific information, especially concerning research into climate change, fisheries and anything to do with the Alberta tar sands — source of the diluted bitumen that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Journalists find themselves unable to reach government scientists; the scientists themselves have organized public protests.

There was trouble of this kind here in the George W. Bush years, when scientists were asked to toe the party line on climate policy and endangered species. But nothing came close to what is being done in Canada.

Science is the gathering of hypotheses and the endless testing of them. It involves checking and double-checking, self-criticism and a willingness to overturn even fundamental assumptions if they prove to be wrong. But none of this can happen without open communication among scientists. This is more than an attack on academic freedom. It is an attempt to guarantee public ignorance.

It is also designed to make sure that nothing gets in the way of the northern resource rush — the feverish effort to mine the earth and the ocean with little regard for environmental consequences. The Harper policy seems designed to make sure that the tar sands project proceeds quietly, with no surprises, no bad news, no alarms from government scientists. To all the other kinds of pollution the tar sands will yield, we must now add another: the degradation of vital streams of research and information.

The Last Great Telescope

The Green Bank Telescope (GBT) is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope and the world’s largest land-based movable structure. It is part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) site at Green Bank, West Virginia, USA. NRAO is located in the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 mile zone where all radio transmissions are either limited or banned outright, to help the telescope function properly. With the growing popularity of radio-array telescopes, the GBT may end up being the last single-dish telescope of its kind built in the world. 

Killing the Great Barrier Reef killers

Scientists are injecting Crown of Thorns starfish with dry acid to kill them before they can kill the reef.  Now they are using bile from the stomach of ox’s to do the same thing.  Fascinating video.

Saskatoon Afternoon Rountable with David Kirton: The new royal baby and the 33rd Street Bridge

Angela Hill, Dave Kirton, and I talk about the Royal baby and the proposed idea to put a bridge across 33rd Street.

Listen here

The greatest comment in the history of the Internet

It’s in response to this blog post on Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog.

Comment on John Tortorella's firing

I challenge you to find one weirder.

Bed bugs ‘dodge insecticides’ with molecular tricks

As someone who has to battle bed bugs from time to time at work, this worries me.

Bed bugs use a range of tactics to render insecticides useless, a study suggests.

Infestations are on the rise around the world, but the pests are growing resistant to some chemicals.

Now scientists have found 14 genes associated with a number of biological changes.

These include the development of a thicker skin that stops poisons from penetrating, and mutations that prevent toxins from hitting the nervous system.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, also suggests that some of the bugs are producing higher levels of enzymes that help to metabolise insecticides more quickly.

Others genes are associated with proteins that interfere with the way the deadly chemicals are carried around the bed bugs’ bodies.

Subba Palli, professor entomology from the University of Kentucky in the US and an author of the study, said that the hardy insects were using a combination of these molecular tricks.

“Some used four different mechanisms, some three and so on,” he explained.

“Bed bugs are employing more than one mechanism of resistance to avoid insecticide toxicity.”

Video: Reduce the lead time for Mental Health and Addictions patients in RUH Emergency

 

The Saskatoon Health Region is being driven by Lean Management.  Like any management theory it has a website, newsletters and even some videos.  While the video production quality is horrible, here is a video on how the Saskatoon Health Region is trying to improve intake and evaluation for Mental Health & Addiction Services at RUH.

Fitness on 25th

So with DeeAnn gone from the Lighthouse, my new office mate is a psychologist who loves to run.  Jeff started to pester me about joining a gym non-stop and I was ignoring it until I decided to take this hike through the backcountry.  As part of the training, I decided to get a Nike Fuel Band to monitor my movement and get myself motivated.  Well that didn’t work out too well.  Well actually it worked too well as it showed me missing my goal of 3000 Nike Fuel every day.  This is how a Nike Fuel Band works.

Basically it taunts you for being inactive.  It’s clever.  It’s not rude as to be mean spirited but it sits there and reminds you that you are no where close to your Nike Fuel goal (for me it’s 3000) and I am surprised how much it bothers me.

After several days of not hitting 3000 (or even coming close), I decided to head down to the YWCA and hit the gym at Fitness on 25th.  Three of my co-workers also came and for 30 minutes we hit the elliptical or the treadmill and had a pretty good work out.  The problem is that it still didn’t get me enough Nike Fuel so tomorrow I am walking to work, walking to the gym, working out, and then walking home… all in the pursuit of the magical Nike Fuel.

I don’t know how long my level of motivation will last the Nike Fuel Band got me to the gym and is making me walk a lot more.  I still hate doing it but lazing around on the sofa isn’t doing a lot for me either.

Now back to Fitness on 25th.  I decided to join there because I believe in the work that the YWCA does in Saskatoon (and know some of their staff).  We have a good relationship with them at The Lighthouse and it’s kind of on my way home from work.  It has 4 treadmills, a bunch of ellipticals and stairclimbers for cardio, a bunch of free weights and stationary bikes.  I spent some quality time on the elliptical which gave my legs a brutal workout and got my right shoulder moving.

The YWCA gym is older but it was quiet and not very busy when we go at 4:00 p.m.  It does offer a free two week trail which I would advise you to check out.  I am not thrilled with having to sign up for a year but I understand why they do it.

Monday

The weekend that was: The lowlight of the weekend was that I was fiddling with a power adaptor with my right hand and jerked my hand away violently when I got shocked.  Of course my right shoulder is the shoulder with the torn rotator cuff.  I have had both shoulders operated on, I have wrecked both MCL and ACLs, I have even had nails go into my feet.  Nothing was as painful as that pain was.  I just screamed in pain for a minute while walking over and sitting down before I passed out.

I was hoping the pain would pass but now every time I use my right hand, there is incredible pain in the shoulder which can’t be a good thing.  Back to my family doctor on Tuesday to see what we can do now.

On Sunday I watched the Lions lose to the Green Bay Packers at Jeff’s place with Sean.  Doing that brought up a lot of Detroit Lions memories and none of them are good.  Wayne Fontes, Scott Mitchell, Matt Millen, 0-16… at least the food was good.

On my to-do list this week: Other than seeing a doctor…

Procrastinating about: Going to see my doctor…

Book I’m in the midst of: The Triumph of the City by Edward Glaesar

Music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: The new Sheepdogs album.

How I’m feeling about this week: Pain.

The Secret Science of Motivation

How much of psychology is actually bunk?

Some researchers are about to find out

If you’re a psychologist, the news has to make you a little nervous—particularly if you’re a psychologist who published an article in 2008 in any of these three journals:Psychological Science, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,or the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

Because, if you did, someone is going to check your work. A group of researchers have already begun what they’ve dubbed the Reproducibility Project, which aims to replicate every study from those three journals for that one year. The project is part of Open Science Framework, a group interested in scientific values, and its stated mission is to “estimate the reproducibility of a sample of studies from the scientific literature.” This is a more polite way of saying “We want to see how much of what gets published turns out to be bunk.”

For decades, literally, there has been talk about whether what makes it into the pages of psychology journals—or the journals of other disciplines, for that matter—is actually, you know, true. Researchers anxious for novel, significant, career-making findings have an incentive to publish their successes while neglecting to mention their failures. It’s what the psychologist Robert Rosenthal named “the file drawer effect.” So if an experiment is run ten times but pans out only once you trumpet the exception rather than the rule. Or perhaps a researcher is unconsciously biasing a study somehow. Or maybe he or she is flat-out faking results, which is not unheard of. Diederik Stapel, we’re looking at you.

Another reason why cats are stupid

They can make you crazy

The parasite, which is excreted by cats in their feces, is called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii or Toxo for short) and is the microbe that causes toxoplasmosis-the reason pregnant women are told to avoid cats’ litter boxes. Since the 1920s, doctors have recognized that a woman who becomes infected during pregnancy can transmit the disease to the fetus, in some cases resulting in severe brain damage or death. T. gondii is also a major threat to people with weakened immunity: in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, before good antiretroviral drugs were developed, it was to blame for the dementia that afflicted many patients at the disease’s end stage. Healthy children and adults, however, usually experience nothing worse than brief flu-like symptoms before quickly fighting off the protozoan, which thereafter lies dormant inside brain cells-or at least that’s the standard medical wisdom.

But if Flegr is right, the "latent" parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents. And that’s not all. He also believes that the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, "Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year."

via

Is Our Food Killing Us?

via

Museum of Natural Sciences

On Sunday, Wendy and the boys wandered over to the Museum of Natural Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan.  Mark gave me a new zoom lens for my birthday and wanted to go out and try it.  Both Wendy and Mark took their camera’s along as well and all of us took some shots as we wandered around.

It was a good time but Oliver had some reservations when it was time to meet the museum’s resident Tyrannosaurus Rex

Safety in hiding behind Wendy

Once they had some time to get acquainted, all was good.Oliver getting to know the T-Rex a little better