Rosin Cerate

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101 posts · 89,030 views

Quirky quality life science stuff. Drugs and microbes, mostly. Heavily researched and tends toward the weird.

Rosin Cerate
101 posts

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  • August 8, 2016
  • 04:38 PM
  • 600 views

World's worst hickeys: Cupping is weird and potentially dangerous

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

In an effort to reduce pain or fix other health problems, some people will submit to having suction temporarily applied to various regions of their skin, usually the neck, shoulders, and back, via a collection of plastic or glass cups. This is known as cupping, and is a great way to embrace your inner Polkaroo.... Read more »

Lin CW, Wang JT, Choy CS, & Tung HH. (2009) Iatrogenic bullae following cupping therapy. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(11), 1243-1245. PMID: 19922257  

  • July 26, 2016
  • 10:22 AM
  • 802 views

Fungi found flourishing following fire

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Morels and several other fungi (all members of the order Pezizales) are known to produce their mushrooms in recently burned soil, whether it's the result of a nice little campfire or an entire forest going up in smoke. The fire creates the right conditions for the fungus, which lies beneath the ground and so protected from flames and heat, to send up mushrooms. These mushrooms release spores into the environment, and the circle of life continues ever onward.In the case of morels, it's thought a ........ Read more »

  • July 18, 2016
  • 08:26 AM
  • 687 views

The Internet asks me about smelly things

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Whenever I'm working on a new post, I like to take a bit of time to check in on the stats for this blog. I'm particularly interested in what people are typing into their search engines to find their way here. For whatever reason, a post I wrote about what poisons smell like is very popular among users of the Internet. I'm taking this as a sign that people like to read about smells, so I thought I'd look into a couple of odour-related search queries via which people have found this blog.'type of ........ Read more »

Sell CS. (2006) On the unpredictability of odor. Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English), 45(38), 6254-6261. PMID: 16983730  

  • July 14, 2016
  • 02:27 PM
  • 845 views

Weird stuff found in recreational drugs: Cocaine edition

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

This is the fifth and final post in a series on strange substances accidentally or intentionally added to street drugs. When you're done here, check out the posts on alcohol, meth, opioids, and pot/LSD.If a drug is being sold illegally, chances are its sellers have added crap to it in order to make more money. Cocaine is no exception to this deception. Substances added to nose candy because they resemble the drug but otherwise don't mimic or influence its effects include talc powder, flour, corn........ Read more »

  • June 23, 2016
  • 09:55 AM
  • 545 views

Weird stuff found in recreational drugs: Pot/LSD edition

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

This is the fourth post in a series on strange substances accidentally or intentionally added to street drugs. When you're done here, check out the posts on alcohol, meth, opioids, and cocaine.In the autumn of 2007, hospitals near Leipzig, Germany admitted 29 people after they inadvertently smoked weed contaminated with lead. Yep, some dealer or grower decided it was a good idea to drop a bunch of small lead particles into the marijuana they were selling, presumably to increase its weight (lead ........ Read more »

Busse F, Omidi L, Timper K, Leichtle A, Windgassen M, Kluge E, & Stumvoll M. (2008) Lead poisoning due to adulterated marijuana. The New England Journal of Medicine, 358(15), 1641-1642. PMID: 18403778  

  • June 21, 2016
  • 09:17 AM
  • 822 views

Weird stuff found in recreational drugs: Opioid edition

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

This is the third post in a series on strange substances accidentally or intentionally added to street drugs. When you're done here, check out the posts on alcohol and meth.Opioids are drugs that affect the human body by binding to a group of related proteins conveniently known as opioid receptors. By connecting to these receptors in a certain manner, they convince receptor-bearing cells in the brain, spinal cord, and intestine to do useful things like reduce the sensation of pain (while making ........ Read more »

Brett M, Hallas G, & Mpamugo O. (2004) Wound botulism in the UK and Ireland. . Journal of Medical Microbiology, 53(6), 555-561. DOI: 10.1099/jmm.0.05379-0  

  • June 15, 2016
  • 11:18 AM
  • 763 views

Weird stuff found in recreational drugs: Meth edition

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

As Breaking Bad has taught us, the clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine is a very dangerous undertaking. It involves the use of many harmful substances, which depending on the synthesis method include highly corrosive acids and bases, cancer-causing benzene, brain-damaging mercury and lead, jaw-wrecking phosphorus, and blood-breaking sodium cyanide. Blending these various substances together can produce noxious fumes, making gas masks and chemical suits a necessity if you want to avoid get........ Read more »

Cole C, Jones L, McVeigh J, Kicman A, Syed Q, & Bellis M. (2011) Adulterants in illicit drugs: A review of empirical evidence. Drug Testing and Analysis, 3(2), 89-96. PMID: 21322119  

  • June 8, 2016
  • 08:22 AM
  • 726 views

Weird stuff found in recreational drugs: Alcohol edition

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Today's post is the first in a series I'm going to write about extra ingredients found in illicit recreational drugs. One of the major issues with street drugs is their manufacture and distribution is often poorly regulated. This means they can accidentally become contaminated with all sorts of toxic substances during production. Additionally, a wide range of chemical compounds, some of them harmful, may be intentionally added to dilute a drug (like a bar watering down their drinks to make more ........ Read more »

Holstege CP, Ferguson JD, Wolf CE, Baer AB, & Poklis A. (2004) Analysis of moonshine for contaminants. Journal of Toxicology. Clinical Toxicology, 42(5), 597-601. PMID: 15462151  

  • June 6, 2016
  • 11:34 AM
  • 815 views

Burning seaweed to make glass and avoid a lumpy neck

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Seaweed is one of those tricky biological groups, as membership isn't just about being a close relative. It typically includes plant-like organisms found among several types of algae - green, brown, and red - and depending on who you're talking to also includes masses of cyanobacteria (which are distant relatives of algae). Functionally, all seaweeds enjoy growing in salty water and use the sun to manufacture sugary meals for themselves. Their need for sun means they are found in sunlit coastal ........ Read more »

  • May 30, 2016
  • 09:17 AM
  • 594 views

Identifying infections by their stench?

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Bacteria tend to smell. A classic example is the geosmin-producing Streptomyces species responsible for the nice earthy scent of freshly dug up soil. In general, though, bacteria have unpleasant odours. Just think of cheese, armpits, and poop. Lots of bacteria in or on all of those things. Some of the stinkiest bacteria are ones capable of infecting us. The distinctiveness of their disgusting bouquets may provide a means of identifying them. Hippocrates apparently diagnosed tuberculosis (caused ........ Read more »

  • May 19, 2016
  • 09:31 AM
  • 798 views

Antimicrobial antenna bacteria of bee-hunting wasps

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

For many people, including myself, a mention of the word wasp brings to mind a particular yellow and black annoyance found hovering around garbage cans in the summertime. However, as is usually the case with the natural world, wasps are far more interesting than our common experiences with them let on. To start, there are thousands upon thousands of species, not just the yellow jackets we try to avoid being stung by as we eat at a picnic table out in the park. Wasps are close cousins of bees and........ Read more »

Seipke RF, Kaltenpoth M, & Hutchings MI. (2012) Streptomyces as symbionts: An emerging and widespread theme?. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 36(4), 862-876. PMID: 22091965  

  • May 18, 2016
  • 08:28 AM
  • 763 views

Why antibiotics in ointments differ from those in pills

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

There are many ways to get a drug into a person. Two common approaches are to swallow a small soluble solid or inject a liquid into a vein, causing it to be transported throughout the body to wherever it is needed.Topical medications are those applied to a body surface, be it skin, eyeballs, or the insides of your lungs. This is usually done to deliver the drug to the particular place requiring repair (e.g. eye drops for an eye infection) while minimizing the amount of drug ending up in other pa........ Read more »

  • April 28, 2016
  • 10:33 AM
  • 878 views

Breathing Bordeaux is entirely different from drinking it!

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

It was the summer of 1882, and grape farmers in the Médoc region of southwest France (north of Bordeaux, on the Atlantic coast) had a problem.Schoolchildren (or university students, or just anyone travelling the roads along which the grapevines grew, depending on what source you're reading) were pilfering their grapes. To try and ward them off, some farmers decided to dissolve some slaked lime and copper sulfate in water and spray it on their grapevines closest to the roads. The idea was... Read more »

  • April 26, 2016
  • 08:02 AM
  • 653 views

Gently frying your eyeballs at work

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

When I was a kid, I got thwacked in the face with a golf club. It was totally my fault. I was goofing around with my cousins (as one does) and failed to notice one of them winding up for a swing. Ended up with four stitches, the first one just half an inch from my left eye.... Read more »

  • April 20, 2016
  • 08:22 AM
  • 895 views

Almost lichens: Green algae growing on mushrooms

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Mushrooms come in many shapes and colours. In the case of green ones, which I've written about previously, a subset owe their colour not to any particular pigment they themselves produce, but rather to algae living on top of them.These algae-bearing fungi are usually polypores, otherwise known as bracket or shelf fungi. They tend to live inside dead trees, although they also be found in soil living in association with tree roots. After eating their fill of delicious wood, polypores produce shelf........ Read more »

  • April 14, 2016
  • 08:50 AM
  • 936 views

Tales from the pharmaceutical minor leagues

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

When a drug company first gets its hands on a potential new drug, it will usually assign it a code name. Later on, as the drug works its way through trials designed to make sure it does something useful (e.g. reduce blood pressure) without causing serious harm (e.g. liver failure), it's given a catchier moniker like fluoxetine or atorvastatin. If the trials are a success, and the government is happy with how they were carried out, the drug can be brought to market. Most drugs don't make it. A go........ Read more »

  • April 12, 2016
  • 10:47 AM
  • 844 views

Return of the wild: How nature breaks down what we build up

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

When I was a teenager, I read Stephen King's book The Stand. It begins with the near-obliteration of humankind by a lethal virus. This was weirdly alluring stuff for a angsty teenage daydreamer. What would you do if the world ended? What would be your fate? I figured I'd make it a couple of months on canned food before succumbing to some sort of brutal antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection.... Read more »

  • April 7, 2016
  • 08:28 AM
  • 819 views

Some fungi are into dead bodies and waste piles

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

For the past couple of years now, a fungus called Xylaria polymorpha has been munching on the buried roots of a beheaded tree on my parents' front lawn. In the grass surrounding the stump, X. polymorpha sends up a thicket of charcoal club-like mushrooms every summer. They look kinda like a dead man's fingers, which not coincidentally happens to be a common name for the fungus.... Read more »

  • April 5, 2016
  • 02:59 PM
  • 702 views

Extreme slam dunk injuries

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

For today's edition of weird sports injuries, dunking a basketball is not without its risks... Read more »

  • March 31, 2016
  • 11:40 AM
  • 972 views

Extracting goo from corpses to better understand them

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

It's goo week here at Rosin Cerate. So far we've looked at forms of natural springtime goo. For today's post, it's on to a much darker and less life-affirming goo. We're going to take a peek at the viscous fluids you can extract from a corpse to determine where/when/how it became a corpse and other useful forensic information.... Read more »

Deking J, Hargrove VM, & Molina DK. (2014) Synovial fluid: An alternative toxicologic specimen?. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 35(2), 154-6. PMID: 24781403  

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