Poop Transplants

For the estimated 3 percent of people who have Clostridium difficile bacteria living in their guts, it’s usually no big deal. C. diff. just sort of hang out, kept in check by all their other bacteria gut-mates.

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But sometimes the balance of power gets messed up. Whether it’s because of old age, illness, or antibiotics, those “good” bacteria get killed off, and C. diff begins taking over—leading to diarrhea, fever, and even death.

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Traditional antibiotics often don’t work against C. diff. But know what does work? Poop transplants.03_Atteberry

Putting someone else’s poop in one’s body brings in reinforcements for the good bacteria, which whip C. diff back under control. (And the transplant is administered through a tube in your nose. Really!)

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How well do these transfers work? In one study, 15 out of 16 patients who got a poop transplant recovered from their C. diff symptoms—while only four out of 13 patients on antibiotics got over their C. diff symptoms.

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Want to avoid getting C. diff? Wash your hands. It makes it less likely that C. diff spores will hitch a ride into your mouth (and later—to your gut).

 

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Check our facts!

Gould C.V., McDonald L.C. Bench-to-bedside review: Clostridium difficile colitis. Crit. Care. 2008; 12(1), 203. (DOI: 10.1186/cc6207)

Els van Nood, M.D., Anne Vrieze, M.D., Max Nieuwdorp, M.D., Ph.D., Susana Fuentes, Ph.D., Erwin G. Zoetendal, Ph.D., Willem M. de Vos, Ph.D., Caroline E. […]

Animals in Spaaaaaaace

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Editor’s note:

While we commend these brave creatures on their orbital journeys and appreciate the valuable job they do for us humans, we’d like to point out that many other animals went into space before and after them. Animals like monkeys, apes, dogs, mice, cats, goldfish, and chimpanzees. Some returned fine, and others suffered extreme conditions. Outer space is littered with the corpses of more than half a century of our investigations. Here’s a brief summary of some of our unfortunate animals: http://science.howstuffworks.com/dead-animals-in-space.htm, and you can read more about them online.

View/download Animals in Spaaaaaaace in poster form (PDF) 

Drawn by Hoot, written by Roar.

Check our facts!

1 http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/xmlui/handle/123456789/9288

2 http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/fruit_fly/#.UyMX1oVPJS4

3 http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/ast.2005.5.690

4 http://jeb.biologists.org/content/209/16/3209.short

5 http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/9-12/features/F_Animals_in_Space_9-12.html

6 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12528722?dopt=Abstract

7 http://www.nsbri.org/EDUCATION-and-TRAINING/Teaching-Resources/Middle-School/Butterflies-in-Space/

8 http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition22/butterflies.html

9 http://jeb.biologists.org/content/212/24/4033.full

10 http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0064793

11 http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/786.html

12 http://newsdesk.si.edu/releases/world-s-first-spidernaut-lands-smithsonian

13 http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/space_spiders_live.html

 

By |April 16th, 2014|Backbones, Bugs|3 Comments

For Love or Supper: Why Critters Light Up

Breaking news: Hundreds of underwater species radiate neon greens, reds and oranges as they shimmy through the ocean’s depths.1 But sea creatures aren’t the only animals at ease in the limelight. Buzz Hoot Roar guest-author Matt Shipman offers a few good reasons why sea and land animals put on the ultimate light show.

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Check our facts!

1 http://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/research-posts/researchers-reveal-covert-world-of-fish-biofluorescence?utm_source=social-media&utm_medium=facebook&utm_term=2014-01-08-wed&utm_campaign=biofluorescence

2 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00227-005-0085-3

3 http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.ento.53.103106.093346

4 http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/baldwin/webbugs/3005_5006/Docs/firefly%20paper.pdf

Harvey , E.N. and K.P. Stevens. 1928. The brightness of the light of the West Indian elaterid beetle, pyrophorus. J. Gen. Physiol. 12: 269-272.

Nicol, J.A.C. 1978. Bioluminescence and vision, pp. 367-398. In P.J. Herring , Bioluminescence in action. Academic, London.

*Measured at around 143 cd/m2, their luminescence is comparable to the average computer screen, which can range anywhere from 50-300 cd/m2.

Written by Matt Shipman

Matt Shipman (@shiplives) is a public information officer at North Carolina State University and a freelance science writer. He also writes the Communication Breakdown blog, which focuses on science communication. He lives near Raleigh, in a house full of humans.

Illustrated by James Hutson

James Hutson (@jameshutson) is a writer, illustrator and animator.  He is co-director at Bridge8 (www.bridge8.com.au), a foresight and futures agency fostering critical, creative and compassionate thinking through workshops, animations and artefacts.

 

By |April 9th, 2014|Bugs, No Backbones|2 Comments

Gluteal Crease: Where the Butt Crack Begins

Gluteal crease! The top part of your butt crack!

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A great place to live, if you’re bacteria. Thanks to your g.c.’s warm, “moist” environment, a bouquet of biota feels right at home. Humidity-loving microbes like Staphylococcus and Corynebacteria  delight in hanging out in there (and other warm, moist areas like inside your belly button and in your toe cracks).

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There, they scarf down your sweat, and in the process generate what scientists call “butt funk.”1,2

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As an aside, plastic surgeons want you to know the “most attractive” gluteal crease is a v-shaped one.3 In case you were looking for something else to dress up.

 

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Check Our Facts!

  1. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/324/5931/1190.short
  2. http://www.nature.com/nrmicro/journal/v9/n4/abs/nrmicro2537.html
  3. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00266-004-3114-6

Written by Roar, art by Hoot and Roar.

Special thanks to Dr. Holly Menninger, who always keeps her eyes peeled for good gluteal crease information. You can follow her on Twitter @drholly.

Frogs in Pants Finally Explain Sex

For centuries, people believed that maggots and fungi magically sprung from inanimate objects out of thin air. Spontaneous generation! How babies happened was also shrouded in myth, and by the mid-1600s, people had yet to figure out that, in humans, barely visible eggs and microscopic sperm were part of the process. Turns out, all it took was a pair of frog pants to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

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A happy day for science: frogs in pants, the first empirical demonstration of barrier contraception, and spontaneous generation went the way of the powdered wig.

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Katie L. Burke is an ecologist-turned-science-journalist, who writes about all things biology. Currently an editor at American Scientist, she also blogs at The UnderStory (www.the-understory.com). Follow her on Twitter: @_klburke.

Bethann Garramon Merkle believes science and sustainability matter—her passion is communicating why. Tap into her capacity to help you blend word craft and images by visiting www.commnatural.com or connect with her onFacebook and Twitter.
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Image Attributions 1.PG 1 Scientists: Original illustration utilizing source image of Anton van Leeuwenhoek from the Library of Congress (http://www.answers.com/topic/anton-van-leeuwenhoek) and source image from Wikimedia Commons for Lazzaro Spallanzani (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Lazzaro_Spallanzani). 2.PG 2 Frog in pants: Original illustration utilizing multiple sources.3.PG 3 Frogs mating: Original illustration based on source image from Peter Chen, available through GNU General Public License (http://bio1151b.nicerweb.net/Locked/media/ch46/). 4. PG 4 Tadpoles: Original illustration based on source image from Geoffrey Gallice, available through Creative Commons license (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dejeuxx/6407253419/) 5. PG 5 Eggs: Original illustration; source is artist’s photograph.

By |March 26th, 2014|Backbones|11 Comments

Squirrel Chat: No Longer an Elitist Pastime

Eastern gray squirrels can live up to 12 years in the wild, so why not befriend your favorite little nut stasher? Yes, it may be intimidating at first. With their luxurious tails and constant incoherent chatter, hanging out with squirrels can seem like hanging out with a bunch of drunk debutantes. Lucky for us, in 1959 a guy named Arnold Bakken decoded their language1 so we can finally have a meaningful conversation with them (or at least get the treetop gossip).

copley_squirrel_dictionary

Check our facts!

Bakken, A (1959) Behaviour of gray squirrels. Proceedings of the South Eastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners 13, 393-406.

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Heather Copley is a Clinical Social Worker whose hobbies happen to include: science, storing up food for the winter like our squirrel friends, and writing hilarious llama jokes.

By |March 19th, 2014|Backbones|1 Comment

Taxonomy Puns! We Have A Winner! Part 5!

BHR_taxon_cards_web3Pun by Natalie Sopinka @PhishDoc

*Taxonomist Appreciation Day (March 19th) is a holiday invented by the renowned ecologist Terry McGlynn to help us pause a moment and thank those people who work to acquaint us with our living world. For more about TAD or Terry, tune in to his excellent blog, Small Pond Science. In addition to inventing our new favorite holiday (which, to make it a true holiday, we at BHR will celebrate with snacks and adult beverages), Terry came up with the TAD slogan/pun, “Our appreciation for taxonomists is beyond description.”  Tell your friends!

 

By |March 14th, 2014|Other Science|0 Comments

Taxonomy Puns! We Have A Winner! Part 4!

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Pun by Josh Wenderoff @JoshWenderoff

*Taxonomist Appreciation Day (March 19th) is a holiday invented by the renowned ecologist Terry McGlynn to help us pause a moment and thank those people who work to acquaint us with our living world. For more about TAD or Terry, tune in to his excellent blog, Small Pond Science. In addition to inventing our new favorite holiday (which, to make it a true holiday, we at BHR will celebrate with snacks and adult beverages), Terry came up with the TAD slogan/pun, “Our appreciation for taxonomists is beyond description.”  Tell your friends!
By |March 13th, 2014|Other Science|2 Comments

Taxonomy Puns! We Have A Winner! Part 3!

BHR_taxon_cards_web2Pun by  Morgan Jackson @BioInFocus.

*Taxonomist Appreciation Day (March 19th) is a holiday invented by the renowned ecologist Terry McGlynn to help us pause a moment and thank those people who work to acquaint us with our living world. For more about TAD or Terry, tune in to his excellent blog, Small Pond Science. In addition to inventing our new favorite holiday (which, to make it a true holiday, we at BHR will celebrate with snacks and adult beverages), Terry came up with the TAD slogan/pun, “Our appreciation for taxonomists is beyond description.”  Tell your friends!

 

By |March 12th, 2014|Other Science|0 Comments

Taxonomy Puns! We Have A Winner! Part 2!

elizabeth_pun

Pun by Theresa Sullivan @TrebahKM

*Taxonomist Appreciation Day (March 19th) is a holiday invented by the renowned ecologist Terry McGlynn to help us pause a moment and thank those people who work to acquaint us with our living world. For more about TAD or Terry, tune in to his excellent blog, Small Pond Science. In addition to inventing our new favorite holiday (which, to make it a true holiday, we at BHR will celebrate with snacks and adult beverages), Terry came up with the TAD slogan/pun, “Our appreciation for taxonomists is beyond description.”  Tell your friends!
By |March 11th, 2014|Other Science|0 Comments