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Biology

This category contains 200 posts

What’s in a (female’s) title?

The old John Cleese show Fawlty Towers had an episode that has always stuck in my mind. A couple is checking into the hotel and Cleese’s character Basil becomes ever more confused because the couple challenge his patriarchal views of the world. You see, both the husband and wife are doctors and therefore check-in as … Continue reading

Oh the drool!

I think about Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov surprisingly often. Every time my palm starts sweating before the physio comes to see me I think about Pavlov and his discovery of classical conditioning. But given that Pavlov’s original discovery involved salivating dogs, he has been even more present in my thoughts as I am often confronted … Continue reading

How a dog brings someone autonomy

I recently started volunteering as a dog raiser with a local service dog training organization Dogs With Wings. I have always been interested in how service dogs can support individuals. Part of my interest comes from the reality that our society is structured in such a way that it disables people who differ from what … Continue reading

What if we got rid of the allergens?

I am deathly allergic to peanuts. I have wondered for some time if I’m allergic to all peanuts or whether certain strains of peanuts might be more or less likely to trigger my body’s overreaction to what should be a mundane protein. This, it turns out, is the focus of some research recently presented by … Continue reading

Cortisol and Anxiety

Somebody asked me about the relationship between hormones and anxiety so I did some research and found some really interesting information about cortisol and anxiety. Rather than focus on a particular study I’m going to just go through some of the more interesting connections. Cortisol is a long-term (more than 3 minutes) stress hormone that … Continue reading

The benefits of hoarding

It seems like you can’t walk through Edmonton’s river valley without being yelled at by a red squirrel. It’s pretty obvious that the squirrel is unimpressed by your presence but what exactly is it freaking out about? Chances are, the squirrel is worried you are going to raid its larder and its telling you to … Continue reading

Halloween candy and covid risks

I chose not to hand out candy this Halloween. The covid numbers in my area have been steadily increasing and I just didn’t want to take the risk of contributing. But what are the risks of transmission through Halloween candy? It seems that the science is fairly certain at the moment that most transmission of … Continue reading

The social networks of trees

Canoeing through Edmonton’s river valley this fall reminded me of the connections between some plants. Trembling aspen trees do produce seeds but their main means of reproduction is through runners. These runners result in colonies of genetically identical trees. The fall emphasizes this as entire patches of trees will all change colour at the same … Continue reading

Music and cats under anaesthesia

There are lots of reasons why finding ways to decrease the amount of medication that is needed is positive. Reducing side effects is obviously important but there’s also resource use and social equity factors. If we need less medications it can decrease the energy and materials necessary to create those medications. Decreased amounts of drugs … Continue reading

Turkey, seratonin, and uncertainty

We just had Canadian Thanksgiving here and aside from my growing discomfort with colonial history it is a good time to recognize the many things that I’m grateful for. It is also as good a time to find the science in the everyday. Turkey is of course connected to the turkey stupor, which it turns … Continue reading

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