Category Archives: Fun, Silly and Funny

It’s Movember! Grow a mo and raise awareness of cancer.

Serendipitously timed, Grade 11 are looking at cell division as some of the male teachers are growing their mo’s for Movember:

“Men sporting Movember moustaches, known as Mo Bros, become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November* and through their actions and words raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.”

From the MoVember website.

*Actually, we’re doing Nov 10th – Dec 10th, due to the holiday and being a bit slow on the uptake.

So what’s it got to do with Biology?

Well, tumours – such as prostate and testicular cancer in men; breast, uterine, cervical and ovarian cancer in women; and cancer of everything else in everyone else – are simply the result of uncontrolled cell division. Through apoptosis (programmed cell death) or damage (necrosis), cells are destroyed. These need to be replaced with other cells. As our cells are eukaryotic, they need to go through mitosis to ensure that complete copies of all the chromosomes make it into both daughter cells.

As with other cell processes, this is controlled by genes and, importantly, terminated when the cells have grown appropriately. If there is a mutation or problem with a tumour-suppressor gene, such as TP53, the process of cell division is not stopped and the cells grow out of control. This is a tumour. Alternatively, mutations can affect other genes (oncogenes), which encourage further growth.

Click here for a good 11-minute documentary on cancer development, from CancerQuest.

Tumours can start out benign – growths of cells that are not harmful. If these cells become malignant and invade other cells and damage tissues, this is known as cancer. Damage to other cells and tissues leads to illness and can be fatal if not treated early. As tumours grow, they can recruit blood vessels – called angiogenesis. Now you run the risk of metastasis – cells from the tumour breaking off, flowing through the blood and starting a new aggressive tumour in a different part of the body.

Environmental factors can encourage mutations in key cell-cycle-controlling genes. We all know, for example, that smoking can cause lung cancer, UV radiation can lead to skin cancer and the HPV virus can cause cervical cancer.

So why all the fuss about Movember?

Simply, men’s cancers receive less media attention and men tend to be less willing to talk openly about their health problems (unless, of course, they’re trying to get sympathy with a case of man-flu). As guys tend to put off going to the doctor and generally live a lifestyle that is higher-risk for cancer (high fat, high meat, alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise…), tumours can go unnoticed. Men are less likely to survive a cancer diagnosis than their more health-conscious lady friends.

Through cultivating the moustache, we can start conversations about these issues, raise money for education, prevention, research and treatment and promote anti-cancer behaviours:

  1. Healthy lifestyle choices and awareness of risk
  2. Self-checking and regular screening for at-risk groups
  3. Early diagnosis of and treatment for tumours, should they arise (animation)

So get mo-tivated and join the mo-alition of the willing. Take a mo-ment to think about cell division. And mo-an at the men in your life to make healthy choices. Ladies too can get involved – by becoming Mo-Sistas and also raising awareness. The BIS Team are called the BIS Upper Lips!

In the video above, he talks about how genome mapping can lead to giving an indicator of risk to men. Great technology, based on the Human Genome Project (link to 4.4 Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology).

For the class resources on 2.5 Cell Division, click here. Interestingly, and obviously, hair growth itself is a product of cell division. Something to think about as you grow the mo, yo.

Biotech: The Musical (re-up)

Science + music + YouTube = awesome.

Here are some comedy highlights:

Bio-Rad are the leaders when it comes to making silly music videos to promote their products. The classic ‘PCR Song‘ is great for the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology topic:

And you’ve got to love their follow up, GTCA So Fasttouting enzyme supermixes for the PCR process – this would fit in the DNA Replication section:

Mass Spec-tacular for the chemists (Reach that Peak):

More musical mayhem after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry

The Contraption

Bro Taylor sent another quality video. His title was ‘What Engineers do when they retire‘, though looking at the original website, it should read ‘what workshy engineering graduates do when they don’t want a real job.’

This is kind of contraption that would put Wallace and Gromit to shame:

My favourite quote from their website:”Baynham & Tyers is no longer an active company, as Ben and Tom are heavily involved in exciting new projects.” Like gluing things to the wall, evidently.

Chemical Party – LOLs from the Marie Curie Actions

(mature content) In keeping with the recent trend of serious scientists getting silly, here is the Chemical Party video from the European Commisions Research Marie Curie Actions:

Love water and potassium.

Big Bang Rap – The LHC team explain

This is just great  -a rap produced by the scientists at the Large Hadron Collider to explain what they do, what dark matter is and how the Big Bang happened. They switched it on today, and the world didn’t end, which is nice. Read more about it here.

Einstein the Parrot: Talking and Squawking

This is five minutes of entertainment from TED Talks:

Einstein the Parrot is an African Grey, a species known for their intelligence and ability to build a large vocabulary. As research into animal intelligence develops, it raises questions on how we measure intelligence – are we really that much more ‘intelligent’ than our philosophising cousins?

How do we discern the difference between a well-trained animal putting on a show and one which is making considered decisions on its behaviour?

For an interesting overview of animal cognition, check out this wikipedia article and do some further reading around the sources listed in the references section.

Just thought this was funny…

From the rut cartoon blog (mature content)

“Girl, It’s Time to Automate” & “The PCR Song”

This was first posted by TheIntersection over at ScienceBlogs.

It seems the latest way to market expensive Science lab toys (by which I mean equipment beyond the reach of your average school), is to produce a cheesy pop video.

Our first example is clearly aimed at the ladies in the lab and has been produced by Eppendorf to sell their automated pipetting system:

The next makes a mockery of cheesy ensemble charity singles and has been made by BioRad to market their PCR equipment:

I’s amazing what heating and cooling and heating can do-oooo!

More choice lyrics after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry

Nellie McKay sings ‘Clonie’

Another TED video, though a bit of musical silliness.

Weezer – Pork and Beans (and Diet Coke and Mentos)

Viral Videos, a catchy chorus and beats so we can sing along.

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