Biologist and photographer Francesco Tomasinelli is willing to go where few others are: damp caves where the floors, walls and ceilings are crawling with living creatures.
Once there, he pauses to take beautiful and unusual photographs. He has captured giant cockroaches eating a dead bat, a snail slowly attacking a moth, and walls blanketed with crawling insects. Needless to say, the subjects of his images include endless numbers of spiders, scorpions, centipedes, and all manner of creatures that are the stuff of nightmares.
Tomasinelli says, “We are not used to considering small insects and specialized spiders that live in caves as noteworthy animals. But in recent years it has been discovered that these organisms can give us valuable indications to better understand the effects of climate change on ecosystems.” He was involved in a project called CAVELAB and has photographed in caves in Italy and Borneo.
The idea of bacteria creeping through your body might be less than appetizing. We often associate the presence of bacteria in our bodies (especially in our digestive system) with infections, viruses, and food poisonings. However, scientific findings have uncovered the fact that there are also many types of good bacteria that are essential to our health. This collection of good and bad bacteria within our bodies have also been discovered to be strikingly diverse from person to person.
The definition of the human microbiome is still somewhat ambiguous and disputed, but is commonly known to be the vast ecosystem of microscopic organisms (microbes) living within us. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), we consist of 10-100 trillion microbiota, also known as microbial cells. These cells hold genes that determine cell behavior.
Scientists have become specifically interested in the gut (our stomach and intestines) as a location that holds a notably vast collection of microbes. Believe it or not, the large intestine houses good bacteria, such as probiotics, that fight the bad bacteria and keeps us healthy. The ratio of good bacteria to bad can change and partly depends on your immune system or diet choices. If good bacteria becomes low in numbers, risk of infection and virus development increases.
One of the fascinating aspects of our microbiomes is that everyone's is distinctly unique. We, as humans, have a much different microbiome than other animals, but ours also differ from person to person. Even the collection of organisms in your mouth is different than the community of organisms in your gut.
Because each person's microbiome is so individualized, researchers are recognizing that this information could be valuable for practical usage in medicine. A patient's microbiome could be used similarly to a fingerprint, but instead of merely identifying the patient, medical professionals could gain a better understanding about what is going on within the patient's body and be able to make more educated predictions about procedures and treatments needed.
As more and more scientific findings about this topic surface, it becomes increasingly more exciting to find out how this knowledge will help us solve many unanswered questions that have to do with anatomical behavior, virus prevention, and even evolution. Our microbiomes seem to be the mysterious key that could open many doors to the understanding of the human body.
Science Source is pleased to announce it is now offering the Natural History Museum of London’s Collection online!
Completed in 1881, the Museum of Natural History in London, was one of the first museums designed for the public. Unlike its predecessors, it no longer required an application for entry and offered labels on everything on display.
Today the Museum remains a center for culture and education in London. It’s permanent collection contains some 80 million objects, including fossils, rocks, minerals, insects and taxidermy animals.
With multiple education programs, such as the famous “How Science Works” program, which offers hands on workshops with micro fossils, the museum is an ideal location for science enthusiasts of all ages and abilities.
Explore the collection’s many photographs of skeletons, bird eggs and fossils, illustrations of prehistoric creatures and much more!
Can’t make it to the gift shop? Head to our storefront below for great fossil products!
Zombies? Science Fiction? Fantasy? No, it’s the very real flu virus, cold virus, rabies, HIV, ebola or any other viruses.
Viruses are microscopic nonliving organisms that can only reproduce by hijacking the production mechanism inside a living host’s cells. The virus replicates itself until the cell bursts, spreading the virus further. This usually means death to each cell that becomes infected. If the host’s immune system cannot destroy the virus, ultimately it can mean a very bad outcome for the host as well.
They differ from bacteria in that bacteria are alive, reproduce through fission (splitting apart) and carry on metabolic functions such as digestion.
Viruses cannot reproduce on their own. They need to attach themselves to a host’s cells and inject it with their DNA/RNA, taking over the cell’s “machinery” to manufacture and reproduce. This continues until the cell literally bursts. The new viruses go on the hunt for more cells to continue this cycle.
Viruses are 10 to 100 times smaller than bacteria. Common water filters can block bacteria, however viruses can pass through many common filters.
Many bacteria are beneficial and even necessary for human existence. Our digestive tracts are filled with good bacteria - Normal Flora - that help break down food and even produce vitamins, such as vitamin K, that are critical to our well-being.
We all know there are also harmful bacteria such as Streptococcus pyogenes that causes strep throat or E. coli that causes food poisoning.
But there are no beneficial viruses that we know of. In fact, a type of virus called a bacteriophage even infects and kills bacteria.
Antibiotics are useless against viruses. Antibiotics only kill off bacteria, which is why doctors will only prescribe them once they are certain an illness is caused by a bacteria and not a virus.
Even though antiviral drugs do exist, they aren’t even able to kill viruses. They only limit a virus’s ability to develop further.
The best methods for keeping safe from these dangerous invaders in the first place is to practice basic hygiene and common sense. Washing your hands frequently, getting the flu shot, staying clear of wild animals that may carry rabies such as raccoons and avoiding contact with anyone already infected especially if they coughing or sneezing, are some of the leading precautions you can take.
Have you ever wanted to step into an old etching or explore the laboratories of your favorite scientists and inventors? Short of magic, video montages provide the next best thing!
Peer into Herschel’s telescope as he gazes at the cosmos from his observatory or follow a beam of light as it refracts into a rainbow in Newton’s laboratory.
Beyond the fun, video montages have an educational value. By linking images together, montages provide historic continuity, allowing people to see the connections between scientific discoveries. An etching from Isaac Newton’s life may tell you something about his findings in optics, but a group of images reveal how they led to further insights in physics.
Montages also bring clarity to scientific discoveries. By zeroing in on a lab experiment, montages highlight key components involved in the scientific process. Panning and scrolling help viewers understand the causes and effects involved in experiments, giving them a better understanding of how science works.
As classic images enter the digital sphere, video montages are providing a unique and fun visual aid for designers and educators alike. Take a closer look below!
Ovarian Cancer is the deadliest type of cancer that develops within the female reproductive system. High fatality rates point to the unsettling fact that most patients don’t get diagnosed with the disease until the cancerous cells have spread to other areas of the body.
As the name suggests, ovarian cancer is defined as cancerous tissue (tumors) within the ovaries. The ovaries produce eggs that can eventually form an embryo, so they are an essential part of the female reproductive system. They also create a large supply of estrogen and progesterone, which are hormones that the female body relies on for homeostasis.
This condition begins as any other cancer does; when the DNA within the body’s cells becomes mutated. Research is still being conducted to find out whether these mutations initially develop within the ovaries or fallopian tubes.
Once the DNA mutation occurs, abnormal cells develop and rapidly reproduce, building up malignant (cancerous) tissue. This tissue can be classified into a few different categories. If the tumor is located on the outer area of the ovary it is considered an epithelial tumor. If the tumor is created from the cells involved in the egg production process, it is called a germ cell tumor. Stromal tumors are created from the cells that are involved in the hormone production process.
If the tumor stays only within the ovary, the cancer is still considered early-phase. Advanced-phase sets in when the tissue metastasizes and moves to other areas such as the pelvis.
During the development of these tumors, noticeable symptoms of ovarian cancer tend to be rare, especially in the early phase. Even after the cancer has progressed into the advanced stage, symptoms are ambiguous and can easily be associated with much more mild health conditions. Most wouldn’t guess that bloating in the abdomen, weight loss, or general pelvic discomfort would be connected specifically to ovarian tumors. This is a significant reason why the disease is so deadly.
The good news is that the amount of diagnoses in the U.S. have been decreasing slowly throughout the past few decades. Although there is nothing we can do to completely prevent onset of the disease, staying healthy and avoiding hormone replacements can lower the risk. Early detection is key, so staying in tune with any bodily changes and going to the doctor when in doubt are proactive ways to ensure the best possible outcome for your body.