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August 8, 2011

Experts' Expert: Leslie B. Vosshall on the most effective mosquito bite treatment

Vosshall is the Robin Chemers Neustein Professor in the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior at the Rockefeller University.

From Rebecca Mead's interview with Vosshall, appearing in the August 8 issue of the New Yorker:

If you should get bitten, the most effective treatment Vosshall has found is to immediately run the welt under the hottest water tolerable. How this works is as mysterious as the logic of mosquitoes' blood preferences. 'The mosquitoes leave a protein on the skin, so it could be that the hot water cooks it, like cooking an egg,' she suggested. 'That's one idea. The other idea is that you are exchanging one form of pain for another.'"


August 8, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What are they?


Hint: not edible.

Another: not found in nature.

August 8, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Hair of the rat — fur that kills


From The Economist: "Work by Fritz Vollrath of Oxford University and his colleagues, just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, suggests that a species of rodent, the African crested rat, can make itself venomous by anointing itself with toxins from Akocanthera trees. Special porous hairs (see photograph), located on the animal's flank, take up the poison, which is also used by some Kenyan hunters to tip their arrows. Woe betide any predator that gets a mouthful of such hairs when attacking a crested rat."

"Anointing itself" — ah, the language as practiced by those who've mastered it.

Below, the abstract of the Vollrath paper.

A poisonous surprise under the coat of the African crested rat

Plant toxins are sequestered by many animals and the toxicity is frequently advertised by aposematic displays to deter potential predators. Such 'unpalatability by appropriation' is common in many invertebrate groups and also found in a few vertebrate groups. However, potentially lethal toxicity by acquisition has so far never been reported for a placental mammal. Here, we describe complex morphological structures and behaviours whereby the African crested rat, Lophiomys imhausi, acquires, dispenses and advertises deterrent toxin. Roots and bark of Acokanthera schimperi (Apocynaceae) trees are gnawed, masticated and slavered onto highly specialized hairs that wick up the compound, to be delivered whenever the animal is bitten or mouthed by a predator. The poison is a cardenolide, closely resembling ouabain, one of the active components in a traditional African arrow poison long celebrated for its power to kill elephants. 

Note that you can read the entire paper here free.


August 8, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Weed Spinner


That's different.

From the website:


Turning your cordless or electric drill into a power weeder, this hard-working tool removes weeds instantly — roots and all.

No chemicals or strain necessary; simply point at weed and squeeze.

Made with tough carbon steel.

2.25"W x 32.5"L.



August 8, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Got an iPhone? Learn to read CT scans at home in your spare time


In my relentless drive to make every woman and man a home-schooled physician, I bring you CT Viewer.

"With CT Viewer you can visualize CT/MRI images in 3D on your iPhone and iPod touch, in real-time, without requiring WiFi connectivity."


How long, I wonder, till I can use my iPhone as a CT/MRI scanner?

CT Viewer is free, the way we like it.


[via Richard Kashdan]

August 8, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bike Passenger Rear View Mirror



[via Cary Sternick]

August 8, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Is that a Batman utility belt you're wearing, or...?


Eagle-eyed reader Joe Peach from his roost up in Pennsylvania commented on Saturday's "SLOW (RUNNER CROSSING)" post photo (below),


"Is that a Batman Utility Belt [top]?

By George, I think he's on to something.

Get yours here.

August 8, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Water bottle with an extra twist

Screen Shot 2011-08-06 at 2.53.22 PM

It comes apart at the middle to let you easily clean it.


Bonus: You can mix and match the cap and both upper and lower halves to create your own bespoke bottle.


August 8, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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