Education

I LOVE THIS MEETING! DAY 3 included several very interesting comparative physiology sessions. Eldon Braun (University of Arizona) spoke about how birds have a unique way to prevent water loss and thereby dehydration. In mammals, the kidneys are responsible for recovering water from the urine. However when birds are well-hydrated, the urine enters the colon…

How do Flu Pandemics Start? Learn by “Picking a Giant Nose” at the Festival!

Nose picking is encouraged at the USA Science & Engineering Festival booth of AstraZeneca, and its biologics research and development arm, MedImmune. Visitors to the booth can “pick” a giant nose and learn how flu pandemics start. It’s this type of hands-on science experience that inspires kids to pursue a STEM career. AstraZeneca and MedImmune…

The Martian is a feel-good, science positive, uplifting film about the power of the human spirit, botany, and engineering. It looked, from the credits, like it had at least 8 scientific advisors from NASA (and possibly other places). Too bad that Ridley Scott only half listened to them. As one of the primary sci-fi filmmakers…

Don’t forget to vote!

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Phantastic Physiology Voyage video from trainees sponsored by the American Physiological Society. This year’s theme is “Function Follows Form.” Here is just a sample of the phantastic videos (from YouTube) in the contest: To see the rest of the videos and vote for your favorite, click here!

Heat stress in livestock

With the approach of summer, a timely study was published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology on whether inflammation plays a role in heat stress-related complications in muscles. Heat stress is a major problem in the livestock industry. In the United States alone it is reportedly associated with a loss of approximately…

In Praise of Robert De Niro

I just wanted to say how amazingly brave and admirable I believe Robert De Niro’s recent decisions have been regarding the screening of the anti-vaccination film “Vaxxed” at his Tribeca Film Festival. As this was apparently one of his first revelations of having an autistic child, his actions are all that more brave and admirable…

Birds seeking safety of alligators

I came across this neat video summarizing a study that found some birds build nests near alligators to protect themselves from other predators. But the protection is not without a price.

POTW 7!

The seventh POTW has been posted. Enjoy! While at the Indiana math conference, I had the pleasure of seeing a short magic show by Caleb Wiles, who lives in Indianapolis and was apparently a math major at one time. I was impressed! It turns out he will at some point be appearing on Penn and…

Pesticide confuses bees

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Guelph found that the use of certain pesticides impacts wildflower pollination by bees. According to a quote by study author Nigel Raine, published in CBCNews, the use of neonicotinoid-type pesticides “modify the way in which information flows through the nervous system.” The research team found…

In a new study published in The Auk, scientists report that well-fueled older tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) might be capable of non-stop flights of over 4,000 kilometers, wind conditions permitting. They made this remarkable observation while studying birds from 2010-2014 as the animals made stopovers at a wildlife refuge during their annual migration to South America. In general, older birds not only…