Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.


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Closer than we think?

What, you thought the laid back schoolbook style of the last few posts was going to continue? Meh, I just needed a break from all the excitement. If I get too involved in my subject matter, I get upset, then my cats suffer. And when my cats suffer, I suffer. Mine recently demonstrated once again that they are the master race, and we are but their lowly servants. I am redecorating my apartment and a litter box got removed from one room, now that the cats aren’t being segregated anymore, it had to go. In its place I temporarily stashed a clothes hamper. My little darlings didn’t miss a beat, they simply started using the clothes hamper as a litter box. Sigh.

No, she’s not, the title is a joke. With Britney though, anything is possible. Moving right along, in science, there’s been some very interesting and quite possibly macabre and disturbing news on the medical research front. Everyone knows that when the heart stops beating, one “dies.” More importantly, if the heart isn’t restarted within a few minutes, the brain cells and heart cells start to die and that’s all she wrote. Well, turns out that it just isn’t so. The cells in question live for an hour or longer without oxygen. If however they are re-oxygenated, then they die.

So what does this means? It means a number of things. The first is that if a way can be found to re-oxygenate the cells without killing them, it may be possible to revive people an hour or longer after clinical death. (And people who have already been revived after being underwater an hour or longer prove the concept is quite viable.) This research could also lead to ways to artificially induce a “death like” coma where people could have their heart stopped long periods for surgical procedures. It’s pretty exciting really, and there are already practical applications being researched along these lines.

However, and the article linked above doesn’t cover this, there are some macabre and ethical aspects if this technology becomes widely available. Could a murder or accident victim’s brain be”revived” to answer questions about what happened? What of there was no chance of actually restoring them to life, say someone had been beheaded? Would it be ethical to “revive” their severed head so it could answer questions? Creepy, and hopefully aways down the road, but maybe the living heads in a bottle of Futurama are closer than we thought.

In another promised story, the brightest supernova ever observed by man is exciting astronomers and scientists world wide. It’s a previously theorized but never before seen type of supernova that can only occur in stars a hundred as massive or more than the sun. The supernova, SN 2006gy, is about 150 times as massive as the sun. Stars like these are rare indeed, the most massive star in our galaxy is Eta Carinae, only 100 to 120 times as massive as the sun. Now SN 2006gy isn’t visible to the naked eye, being 240 million light years away in anther galaxy. Eta Carinae is a mere 7400 light years away, and if it goes supernova (as some signs indicate it may do someday) it will be visible enough to see during the daytime, and bright enough to read by at night. It even poses an infinitesimal danger to Earth if it spews a gamma ray burst our way, but one is more likely to die from ferret attack on a golf course, so I wouldn’t be too concerned.

In England, Prime Minster Tony Blair announced his resignation. This is called “getting out while the going is good.” Thus Bush is losing his only real ally in the Iraq debacle, he can’t be thrilled to get the news. And speaking of Iraq, the bloodbath continues, but there are interesting developments. That’s for tomorrow’s blog.

(The above screen capture of the Futurama show is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, it’s central to illustrating the post, it’s scaled down and rendered in grey scale, and it’s properly attributed. Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.)

Written by unitedcats

May 10, 2007 at 7:39 am

One Response

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