Thursday, April 21, 2011

An unlikely cure

In the 1920s through the middle of the century, deliberate innoculation with the malaria parasite was used as a treatment for late stage syphilus infections. The characteristic high and prolonged fevers caused by malaria are thought to inhibit and kill the causative bacteria of syphilus. The risk of death via malaria was thought to be less than the threat posed by advanced syphilus, especially with the availability of quinine, a potent anti-malarial medicine.

From the Wikipedia article: "This discovery was championed by Julius Wagner-Jauregg, who won the 1927 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his discovery of the therapeutic value of malaria inoculation in the treatment of neurosyphilis. These treatments were finally rendered obsolete by the discovery of penicillin, and its widespreadmanufacture after World War II allowed syphilis to be effectively and reliably cured."

Source: Wikipedia
Photo source: Wikipedia

Semen displacement theory

Evolutionary processes have shaped the human penis to scoop previously deposited semen out of the vagina during intercourse in order to prevent impregnation by another male. The cessation of thrusting during the male orgasm prevents this scooping of semen from occurring. The recovery time for men in between orgasms is thought to be a mechanism for preventing the male from removing his previous ejaculate from his partner's vagina and thus potentially lowering chance of impregnation.

Image source: Wikipedia

Owl governance

A group of owls is called a parliament.

Source: Wikipedia

Why you'll never see the movement of your own eyes

The brain does not process visual information when the eyes are moving, a phenomenon called saccadic masking. This results in a brief moment of "blackness" which the brain is adept at hiding from the viewer. Thus, it is nearly impossible for one to observe the movement of one's own eyes (try it!). It is thought that saccadic masking is an adaptation which prevents confusing and useless motion blur, a potentially disorienting phenomena observed in particularly kinetic video and in certain styles of non-stabilized filming.

Source: Wikipedia

Exponential progress and destruction

"In 1903 the Wright brothers flew for 59 seconds.

38 years later the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

28 years after that, we landed on the moon.

We went from gliding a few feet off the ground for less than a minute to launching rockets out of orbit, traveling for hundreds of thousands of miles, landing on the moon, and then returning, all within a single lifetime."

Source: travishenrichs on

Of white blood cells and stars

"If you brought the Sun down to the size of a white blood cell (7 micrometres), and then brought everything else down to scale, our galaxy, the Milky Way, would be the size of the continental U.S.A."

Source: Tredid on reddit
Picture credit: Michael Richmond

Surviving a jump off the Empire State Building

On December 2nd, 1979, Elvita Adams jumped off the Empire State Building's 86th floor observation deck but a gust of wind forced her to land on a ledge on the 85th floor. Elvita was hauled to safety and suffered a broken hip.