Odd Roles for Atmospheric Molecules In the Human Body

Molecules that were once associated mainly with the atmosphere have turned out to be produced naturally in our bodies, playing a wide and wild assortment of roles. For instance, in the mid 1980's and early 1990's, NO (nitrous oxide), a common pollutant, was shown to be synthesized in the body from the amino acid (arginine).... Continue Reading →

Drug Synchronicity in Amazon Tea

Some indigenous Peruvian people produce a brew which is fascinating from both a chemical and cultural standpoint. As part of a religious ritual, they drink a psychedellic tea (Ayahuasca)  produced from a variety of local plants, which could include Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis. Several studies have concluded that the ritual use of ayahuasca is not associated with the drawbacks typically caused by... Continue Reading →

GM-Modified, Non-Browning Apples: Frivolous Use of Science

The "Arctic" is a Canadian-designed apple that will not brown if bruised or cut open. Already approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it has now been given the thumbs-up  by Health Canada. In 2012, in a survey in British Columbia, where the apple was developed, 69 per cent of respondents were not comfortable with the non-browning phenomenon. I don't necessarily fear the new apple, but... Continue Reading →

How many Genes? A Short History of Off-Target Estimates

The late Lewis Thomas referred to medicine as the youngest science. In essence, medicine is a combination of sciences and techniques,  an ensemble which mutates faster than the key concepts of more mature fields like physics and chemistry. In biology, while most of our knowledge about the types of cell organelles or the number of human bones won't change radically in the future, the same... Continue Reading →

Clinching Experiment For Great Idea

When an innovative explanation comes along in science, years or decades can go by before a confirming set of experiments turns the corner. One example that does not get written about as often as "continental drift" and general relativity is from the realm of molecular biology. Aside from elucidating DNA's structure on April 25, 1953... Continue Reading →

A Burglar Mystery

A home invader was masked, gloved and meticulous enough to vacuum and scrub the victim's apartment so as not to leave any hair or skin cells for forensic analysis. The vacuum bag was not left behind. He had used the toilet to urinate but brushed the bowl for five minutes. And he subsequently flushed two... Continue Reading →

Fertility Kits and Giraffes

On the sixth human chromosome, there is a gene that codes for the glycoprotein leuteinizing hormone (LH), produced by the brain's anterior pituitary gland. LH is less known for the role it plays in male testosterone production, and more on the minds of women who are trying to conceive. Its concentration peaks like a sole... Continue Reading →

LSD Precursor From Baker’s Yeast

Lysergic acid is the natural precursor of all therapeutic ergot alkaloids. These include not only include the hallucinogenic lysergic acid diethylamide(LSD) but drugs used to treat senile dementia, migraines, pituitary tumors, Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes and also ergometrine, which is used to induce labor and alleviate postpartum hemmorhage. What the molecules of all these... Continue Reading →

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