The second ‘chapter’ (about 11.40 in) links to a brilliant example of an amazonian shaman who makes a powerful psychoactive preparation of Ayahuasca, from a vine. Tryptamines are the active component and are similar to tryptophan (our famous amino acid/ end product inhibition example).
They act as neurotransmitters and include serotonin, which regulates mood. It is broken down by enzymes bound to the plasma membrane of cells in the digestive tract called monoamine oxidase (MAO), so can’t be taken orally. The amazing thing is the shaman uses a preparation from another plant that inhibits this enzyme, so that the potion can be ingested and is effective. This is amazing knowledge, gleaned from a totally alternative scientific method to the one we are used to, and demonstrates an advanced naturalistic intelligence.
When he asked how they knew this and were able to combine these two extracts from the thousands available, they answered “The plants talk to us.”
Can you link this to the AHL enzymes content and represent it diagrammatically?
Once you’re done flicking through, watch the whole talk. Then become an ethnobotanist and do something useful!
For more questions and TOK links, see the full post here.
Check out this entertaining TEDMED 2010 Talk in which Shaf Keshavjee brings a breathing lung onto stage and explains how the process of transplantation works. Plenty of links to the human health and physiology topics here:
Early in the talk he refers to Charity Tilleman-Dick, an opera singer who can sing again after a double lung transplant! It’s also funny to see Martha Stewart get on like a high-schooler with her camera-phone.
Fore more excellent anatomy and physiology resources, GetBodySmart is a great website.
In this TED Talk, Bart Weetjens explains how he and his team from Apopo are using operant conditioning to train African giant pouched rats (Cricetomys gambianus) to sniff out and signal land mines and TB infections:
Visit the resources at Apopo’s pages to find out more about why these rats are chosen in favour of other species and how the training programme works. You could also adopt your own rat to support their work. There are more videos from Apopo on their website or on their YouTube channel.
IB Biology Links:
“Data is the new (s)oil”
Visualisation is a great tool for highlighting trends and patterns in data sets, but we must still learn to go into the data ourselves. We must use a critical eye when looking at these graphics – what do they intend to communicate and how well do they achieve their goal?
In another TED Talk from the Mission Blue Voyage, Marine Biologist Stephen Palumbi talks about biomagnification – how mercury from the bottom of the ocean food chain makes its way up into the human body, with terrible results.
With a close link to recent HPD topics on the environment’s link to health and to G3: Impacts of Humans on Ecosystems, Palumbi highlights the tight connection between the oceans and our own health as humans.It might better be entitled “Protecting the Ocean Pyramid,” or “Beach closed due to excess human fecal matter.“
Viral video pop masters OK Go set an incredible engineering challenge for this music video – a giant Rube Goldberg machine that fits in with the song and is all completed in a single shot. Here is the result:
Engineer Adam Sadowsky has a really entertaining talk on TED about the ten commandments of making the video and the challenges they overcame. OK Go introduce their video at the end.
“What’s sustainable about feeding chicken to fish?“
How do you make sustainable fisheries development entertaining? Get this guy to tell you about it.
In this talk (from TED 2010), chef Dan Barber talks about how he fell out of love with one type of ecologically questionable farmed fish and was impressed by new sustainable fish farming methods in Spain. Watch the talk, be amazed and then read more about Miguel Medialdea’s projects (“three parts Darwin, one part Crocodile Dundee”).
Perfect timing for our Neurobiology unit, and a real showcase for the interdisciplinary nature of science and humanitarian work – here is Pawan Sinha talking about how the brain learns to see, and how we can help the children who are born blind in India. Find out more about Sinha’s work and Project Prakash at his university website (MIT).