« April 21, 2005 | Main | April 23, 2005 »

April 22, 2005

BehindTheMedspeak: Suspended Animation Achieved in Mammals


Today's issue of Science magazine contains a paper with immense implications.

Entitled "H2S Induces a Suspended Animation–Like State in Mice," the report comes from a lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington in Seattle.

Mark B. Roth (above) led the study, in which mice which do not naturally hibernate were placed in a chamber filled with normal air containing added low levels of hydrogen sulfide.

Rob Stein wrote in a story which appeared in today's Washington Post:

    Within five minutes of being placed in the chamber the mice stopped moving and lost consciousness.

    Their breathing dropped from a normal rate of about 120 breaths per minute to fewer than 10.

    Their oxygen consumption plummeted, and their body temperatures fell from 98.6°F to a low of 51.8°.

    Eventually, their metabolic rate slowed by about 60%, coming virtually to a halt.

    After six hours, the mice were removed from the chamber and placed in a room with regular air.

    They quickly began to stir, and their metabolic functions began slowly to recover.

    Within two hours, they were back to normal.

My thoughts after I read the article:

1) Hydrogen sulfide is an immensely malodorous component of the gas emitted with flatulence. It has been my experience that after a generous serving of baked beans and a little time the level of hydrogen sulfide in my bedroom must be much higher than 80 parts per million, the concentration that put the mice into suspended animation.

This leads to two thoughts:

a. It's no wonder I've always appeared young for my age — I have always enjoyed a heaping dish of beans; and

b. It's not a surprise I sleep so well.

An aside: I remember once a girlfriend and I ate as many baked beans as we could just to see how stinky we could make the air in the bedroom.

It got so bad in the middle of the night we couldn't sleep and fled to another room.

Now that's some serious gas. But I digress.

2) Notwithstanding what I just wrote, Ray Kurzweil has already ordered a supply of hydrogen sulfide for his bedroom.

3) Michael Jackson picked the wrong gas when he decided to sleep in a hyperbaric chamber to keep himself looking youthful: instead of 100% oxygen, all he needed was a little marsh gas added to his bedroom's usual atmosphere.

4) People with terminal illness are going to jump on this finding with alacrity: I mean, what would you do if you had a fatal disease for which a cure was perhaps five or ten years away?

Here's the abstract of the Science magazine article.

    H2S Induces a Suspended Animation–Like State in Mice

    Mammals normally maintain their core body temperature (CBT) despite changes in environmental temperature.

    Exceptions to this norm include suspended animation–like states such as hibernation, torpor, and estivation.

    These states are all characterized by marked decreases in metabolic rate, followed by a loss of homeothermic control in which the animal's CBT approaches that of the environment.

    We report that hydrogen sulfide can induce a suspended animation-like state in a nonhibernating species, the house mouse (Mus musculus).

    This state is readily reversible and does not appear to harm the animal.

    This suggests the possibility of inducing suspended animation-like states for medical applications.

April 22, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Minting Error Gives Jefferson 'Beard'"


Above, the headline of a story by Matt Busse that appeared in this morning's Lynchburg [Virginia] News–Advance.

Better check your pocket for shiny nickels, especially if you live in central Virginia.

Hey, wait a minute, that's me — hold on, let me have a look at my change.

Busse wrote that the U.S. Mint appears to have produced a small number of the new version Jefferson nickels with an erroneous feature: Jefferson appears to be sporting a beard (above).

Thomas Wood, president of the Lynchburg Coin Club, told Busse, "We think there's no more than 50,000 made."

Wood estimated that as many as 500 of the nickels could be circulating in the Lynchburg area.

As always, the Mint's playing dumb: U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White said he hadn't heard of the erroneous nickels and could not comment.

Full disclosure: Lynchburg is about an hour down Route 29 South from Charlottesville; I am debating whether to dispatch one or more members of my crack research team there instanter to see if they can turn up a few of these precious coins.

Success in this undertaking could put bookofjoe on a rock-solid financial footing because these coins are going to be worth a fortune.

Perhaps I should go to Lynchburg, now that I think about it.

Or maybe I should follow my own advice for a change and have a look over at eBay, where several of the coins were on sale yesterday according to Busse's story.

I mean, who's always going on around here about "Work smart, not hard?"

[bookofjoe goes to eBay and investigates]

Well, I'll be: sure enough, there are four of the coins pictured, none with a bid yet and all four with opening bids of 99 cents.

Heck, I'll give it a shot:


I just bid up to $3 (above).

Well, wasn't that a lot more pleasant than a drive to and from Lynchburg?

Maybe I should consider the wisdom of the button that sits prominently on my car's console — it reads,


Here's Busse's story.

    Minting Error Give Jefferson 'Beard'

    If you pull a brand-new nickel out of your pocket and Thomas Jefferson appears to have a beard, you might not want to spend it.

    The U.S. Mint’s 2005 nickel design for spring sports a portrait of the United States’ third president on one side and an American bison on the other.

    But an apparent error at the U.S. Mint’s Philadelphia facility might have produced thousands of nickels with a small impression that appears to give Jefferson a beard, said Thomas Wood, president of the Lynchburg Coin Club.

    "We think there’s no more than 50,000 made," Wood said.

    While Wood said he’s unclear how much the coins could be worth, coins with minting errors that are otherwise in perfect condition can fetch hundreds or even thousands of dollars in collecting circles.

    Wood, who runs Apoth Coin Shop at 1026 Main St., said he thinks a bag full of the unusual nickels recently was delivered to the Bank of the James.

    As many as 500 of the nickels could be circulating in the Lynchburg area, he said.

    Bank of the James president Robert Chapman said the bank receives weekly shipments of coins from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, but he hadn’t heard of the bearded-Jefferson nickels.

    "We’re happy to create such an interesting stir among coin collectors," he said.

    U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White said he had not heard of the erroneous nickels and could not comment on them.

    On Thursday, a seller using the online-auction service eBay was advertising several nickels similar to Wood’s, but no one had yet bid on them.

April 22, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Coin-sized expanding washcloth


The little 1.75" x .75 inch disk opens to reveal a piece of biodegradable 100% viscose.

You submerse it in water and it becomes a 24" x 12" washcloth.

Durable enough to use more than once.

Cut it in half to get two foot-square cloths.

Six disks for $11.85 here.

April 22, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Official Crib of The Addams Family


Pictured above, the world's first production-model black crib costs $499 to $599.


The Stanley Furniture Company just introduced it, in a move toward a more sophisticated look for the nursery.


Hey, it worked for Wednesday Addams; it can work for your kid too.

April 22, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Litto's Hubcap Ranch — California State Historical Landmark No. 939


Picture above and below and located in Pope Valley, California, it was started in 1932 by Emanuel "Litto" Damonte ( immediately below).


His grandson, Mike Damonte, told New York Times reporter Jerry Garrett in a story that appeared this past Monday that his grandfather loved to collect bright, silvery things.

"Anything shiny," he recalled. "Tinfoil, soda cans, hubcaps."

Garrett wrote, "The fascination was fed by a wheel-eating pothole in front of the Napa Valley ranch. Said Damonte, 'My grandfather would hang the hubcaps he found on our wire fence along the road.'"

And thus do great things come from small, humble beginnings.

By the time the elder Damonte died in 1985 he had accumulated over 2,000 hubcaps, adorning more than two miles of fence.


In 1987 Litto's Hubcap Ranch was recognized as as landmark, "One of California's exceptional 20th Century folk art environments."

Garrett noted that there are now over 5,000 hubcaps in the display and that "it probably reflects enough light to be seen from space."

The grandson ran for a position on the local school board two years ago.

He said, "My opponent asked people, 'Why would you vote for someone who lives in a junkyard?'"


Mike Damonte won the election and viewed his victory as a mandate for the ranch to continue its pursuit of new acquisitions and ever–increasing glory.

April 22, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RoboMaid — Poor Man's Roomba


Sure, you could pay $280 for the newest tricked-out vacuuming robot but why would you want to when for $10 — that's correct, $10, you are not hallucinating — you can have its poorer but still great fun cousin?

I bought a Roomba for a dear, now-departed girlfriend (full disclosure: she kept the Roomba) and she loved it.

So when I got word of this low-priced version (above) I didn't believe it, at first: how can something with this kind of technology built in sell for $10 and still make money for the manufacturer?

After buying one and watching it in action — as I type these letters it's rolling around on my bedroom floor, picking up dust with its electrostatic pad by the second — I still don't understand how they can sell it so cheaply.

Watch the movie on the website and see for yourself.

For your ten bucks you get:

• A cleaning frame

• A robotic ball with a built-in brain

• An AC battery charger

• 8 electrostatic cleaning pads

Here's what you do:

1) Charge the robotic ball for 3-5 hours

2) Attach a cleaning pad to the Velcro tabs on the underside of the frame

3) Place the cleaning frame in the center of the room

4) Push the green button on the ball to select one of three pre-programmed cleaning times: 30, 60, or 90 minutes. Note that the time selected appears on the ball's little LCD display

5) Insert the robotic ball in the cleaning frame

That's it: the thing starts roaming around your room picking up dust and continues until the preselected time is up, when it automatically shuts off.


Toss the disposable pad and take a deep breath: nice!

A lot better than destroying your lungs with a Sharper Image Ionic Breeze™.

Bonus: if you're not allowed to have a pet where you live RoboMaid can be a nice substitute.

Here's what you do:

1) Give it a name

2) Scotch tape a picture of your favorite animal on top

3) Instant pet!

[via Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools]

April 22, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: bookofjoe helps solve another baffling medical mystery even specialists couldn't diagnose


I don't call it practicing medicine without a license because:

1) I'm not practicing medicine when I write about various aspects of medicine, and

2) I have a license (two, in fact: one from California and one from Virginia. And that's not including the de facto one from the great state of Confusion. But I digress)

But I will remind you of yesterday's post in which I noted that I stand ready at all times to provide the very best medical advice I'm capable of, free.

In this case you get more than you pay for. But I digress once again.

An email came in at 3:59 a.m. this morning (while I was sleeping)


which reported a bookofjoe reader's diagnosis of her 83-year-old mother's Charles Bonnet Syndrome after reading my post on the little-known condition.

Read her email below for an example of why it pays to be a joehead.

    Dear Joseph:

    A new comment has been posted on your blog "bookofjoe," on the post "BehindTheMedspeak: Charles Bonnet Syndrome — 'In a sense, we are hallucinating all the time.'"

    Name: Eva


    Amazing. My 83 year old mother has had several episodes of hallucinations which are described perfectly in studies of Bonnet Syndrome.

    She has suffered from macular degeneration for some time now.

    The "specialist" we are seeing prescribed anti-psychotics and never mentioned this syndrome.

    This is what she has!


    One hour on the internet and I found the answer!

    I cannot wait to ask the doctors about this!

    Hope they have open minds....


Memo to Eva: if they don't, find another doctor.

April 22, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Asian Face Reading Calendar


"Learn the ABCs of the ancient Asian art of face reading!"

It's a desktop daily 2005 calendar that each day features a face type and then tells what it indicates about the owner.

"Analyze the faces of friends, colleagues and loved ones to evaluate a person's character, health, fortune, social status, sexual charisma, and life expectancy."

And that's just for starters.


$11.99 here.

[via The Ill Quill]

April 22, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

« April 21, 2005 | Main | April 23, 2005 »