Mark Lasbury

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  • May 25, 2016
  • 07:45 AM
  • 27 views

Don't Be So Sensitive

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Just like some people have a tendency to go overboard, so do some immune systems. Here’s all the ways that your immune system can get it wrong and leave you with allergies – and how some allergies can save your life.... Read more »

Calboli FC, Cox DG, Buring JE, Gaziano JM, Ma J, Stampfer M, Willett WC, Tworoger SS, Hunter DJ, Camargo CA Jr, Michaud DS. (2011) Prediagnostic plasma IgE levels and risk of adult glioma in four prospective cohort studies. J Natl Cancer Inst. . DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djr361  

  • May 18, 2016
  • 09:15 AM
  • 148 views

Ironing Out The Black Death

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

The black plague has taken the lives of millions over the centuries. Recent evidence shows that a small number of genetic changes were required to allow Y. pestis to use fleas as a vector. This increased Y. pestis virulence in humans, and might have wiped us out if it weren't for a genetic disease called hereditary hemochromatosis.... Read more »

  • May 11, 2016
  • 06:50 AM
  • 130 views

Viva La Evolution

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

In our continuing story of how being sick can save you, how about three genetic diseases and a genetic condition that can save you from malaria. The genetic diseases might kill you, but usually after you procreate, and that is better for the species than being killed by malaria as a child. Evolution is an emotionless mistress.... Read more »

  • May 6, 2016
  • 08:55 AM
  • 158 views

Feelin' Hot Hot Hot!

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Can you believe that having one disease will protect against another? Yes? Well, OK, but did you know that sometimes doctor’s give you one disease to help cure you of something worse? Like how people have been given malaria to kill off syphilis, or how the guy who invented the Heimlich maneuver wants to give people malaria to get rid of HIV. Weird.... Read more »

C. Gilks. (2001) Man, monkeys, and malaria. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci . DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2001.0880  

  • April 27, 2016
  • 08:35 AM
  • 211 views

Your Body Has A Photographic Memory

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

For the first time anywhere - an easy explanation of your immune system in 1500 words! For the low, low price of zero dollars you can find out how your body protects you better the second time you are exposed to a disease. Special bonus offer – we’ll throw in how vaccines work and why you need one every year for the flu, although your old flu vaccines might still be helping you. ... Read more »

  • April 20, 2016
  • 09:30 AM
  • 269 views

Lucky For Me, I'm Diseased

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

When people are sick we isolate, we feel sorry for them, we avoid them. But we don’t think about the many times that being sick is actually good for your health. One example – vaccines. Many vaccines give you disease to prevent disease. Unfortunately, too many people are foregoing vaccination for their children based on fraudulent data. Think anti-vaxxers don’t affect you because you and your kids are vaccinated? Read on and learn better.... Read more »

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2012) Pertussis epidemic - washington, 2012. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 517-22. PMID: 22810264  

  • April 13, 2016
  • 07:10 AM
  • 280 views

Ivy League Climber

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

English ivy doesn’t send out entwining tendrils, it doesn’t burrow into cracks as an anchor. It doesn’t have hooked thorns like a climbing rose – no, English ivy can grow up the side of Wrigley Field because its millions of adventitious roots secrete the strongest glue in the world. However, it doesn’t work like most glues – it works like a gecko’s feet. Oh, and it will help protect you from skin cancer too!... Read more »

  • April 6, 2016
  • 09:00 AM
  • 301 views

I’ll Fly Home—Or Not

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Why do some birds migrate and others don’t? It’s not that simple. The reason isn’t genetics, it isn’t necessarily food or weather either. There are birds that can allow their feet to go to one degree above freezing while keeping the rest of the body toasty – so they don’t need to migrate, yet other birds that are close to them genetically will fly thousands of miles. Other birds species only have a few of the adults migrate – who decides which ones make ........ Read more »

  • March 30, 2016
  • 08:30 AM
  • 305 views

Lions And Tigers and Ligers, Oh My!

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Thankfully, “stick to your own kind” is not something that animals always consider. Ligers, tigons, even wolphins (false killer whales mate with a dolphin) are all amazing exceptions. These example aren’t new species because they are often sterile of the wrong size- ligers are often too big to deliver. However, there are rare times when a new species can emerge from hybridizations. The Lornicera fly was a wild hybrid between the snowberry bush and blueberry bush flies, but sinc........ Read more »

Jesús Mavárez1, Camilo A. Salazar, Eldredge Bermingham1, Christian Salcedo, Chris D. Jiggins . (2006) Speciation by hybridization in Heliconius butterflies. Nature, 868-871. DOI: 10.1038/nature04738  

  • March 23, 2016
  • 07:25 AM
  • 336 views

Leaves Suck!

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

People need the power of an elevator or our legs to rise high in a building, so how does water get from the roots of a tree to the very top leaves? Hint, it isn’t capillary action – even capillary tubes can move water only a few centimeters. The key is evaporation. But if water evaporates off plants, how do they survive during droughts? They have tricks to retain water, including developing big leaves and little leaves. Look carefully at some trees, you’ll find that they have t........ Read more »

  • March 16, 2016
  • 06:45 AM
  • 286 views

How Fast Is Fast

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

What’s the fastest organism in the world? The cheetah s fast on land, and the white throated needle tail is fast in the air, but there are bacteria faster than these animals. It all depends on how you measure speed. The fastest? A beetle from down under – it’s confirmed by science!... Read more »

  • March 9, 2016
  • 10:55 AM
  • 399 views

Look Who's Talking

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Would you believe that the anatomy of your ribs is why you can sing and an ape can’t, or that one of the same reasons you can speak is the same reason you are likely to choke to death on a hotdog? Biology is weird, and you can tell it I said so.... Read more »

  • March 2, 2016
  • 07:05 AM
  • 349 views

Big Bugs, Little Bugs

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Insects used to be huge – dragonflies the size of kites – so why are they so much smaller today? Believe it or not, it has to do with the evolution of tree trunks and the fact that many of insects breathe through holes in their sides. ... Read more »

  • February 24, 2016
  • 09:15 AM
  • 363 views

When The Early Bird Is Also The Night Owl

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Quick – name an animal with the body of a cat, tail of a lemur, face of a mongoose, lives in the trees, and has its big toe on the outside. It lives in a place where some of its food is nocturnal and some is diurnal – so it can be awake either days or nights and still find something to eat. Therefore, this animal has no set activity pattern, just like a college student.... Read more »

  • February 17, 2016
  • 06:50 AM
  • 307 views

Sunrise, Sunset – Life In the Twilight

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Who runs the world? – Plants! Some plants are active just as the sun rises and as the sun sets in order to save water. And this drives insect activity patterns which forces some birds to be awake only at sunrise and sunset. Who knew that a morning glory has so much power.... Read more »

  • February 10, 2016
  • 07:30 AM
  • 349 views

Form Follows Function - It’s About Time

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Animals have some interesting nocturnal/diurnal patterns, but can parasites have daytime and nighttime activity patterns? Here is a story of nocturnal owl monkeys, mosquitoes, and malaria parasites and the timing that makes owl monkeys the only primate susceptible to the human and primate forms of malaria.... Read more »

Kreysing, M., Pusch, R., Haverkate, D., Landsberger, M., Engelmann, J., Ruiter, J., Mora-Ferrer, C., Ulbricht, E., Grosche, J., Franze, K.... (2012) Photonic Crystal Light Collectors in Fish Retina Improve Vision in Turbid Water. Science, 336(6089), 1700-1703. DOI: 10.1126/science.1218072  

  • February 3, 2016
  • 08:45 AM
  • 477 views

Plants That Don’t Sleep Will Take The Dirt Nap

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

If you don't let your plants sleep at night, they die....really! Several species of plants fold their leaves up and reduce their activity at night, every night. If kept from doing that, they turn brown and shrivel up. It's called nyctinasty, and it is different from tropic movements that are directed against specifically positioned stimuli. And what directs their movements? Water! - plants are hydraulic machines.... Read more »

  • January 20, 2016
  • 06:55 AM
  • 449 views

Pump Up Your Brain

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Exercising makes you smarter! Preadolescents who begin exercising score better on a cognitive assessment not unlike an IQ test. They also perform better on a math test, even though no additional math instruction was given. But to maximize the increase in neural plasticity, you have to exercise several times a week for months. The weirdest part – different types of exercise alter different neurotrophins, so to be your smartest, you need to do aerobic training and resistance training. ... Read more »

  • January 13, 2016
  • 09:05 AM
  • 549 views

Exercise Puts Me To Sleep – You Too

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

A New Year’s resolution to exercise could also help you sleep. But how? It wears you out and reduces stress, but there is much more. Exercise manipulates the temperature of the body by messing with your brain and modulates immune cytokine levels. It’s true… your immune system controls sleep cycles!... Read more »

  • January 6, 2016
  • 08:55 AM
  • 610 views

It’s An Exercise Resolution

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

More exercise is a good New Year’s resolution, but do you know why it is good for you? Sure, you strengthen your heart and may lose some weight, but exercise affects your brain most of all. Exercise releases helps your mood releasing a chemical in your brain just like the active ingredient in marijuana.... Read more »

Galdino G, Romero TR, Silva JF, Aguiar DC, de Paula AM, Cruz JS, Parrella C, Piscitelli F, Duarte ID, Di Marzo V.... (2013) The endocannabinoid system mediates aerobic exercise-induced antinociception in rats. Neuropharmacology, 313-324. PMID: 24148812  

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