What is Cleaner – Fast Food Ice or Toilet Water?

ice drinkHow many times have you purchased a fountain soda with ice at a fast food restaurant? Fifty times, a hundred times, more than you can count? Now what if I told you that the ice in your soda contained more bacteria than the water found in the toilet at the fast food restaurant. Pretty disgusting information to digest but nevertheless unfortunately found to be true. A little twelve year girl named Jasmine Roberts from southern Florida made this astounding discovery while conducting a science experiment for her science fair project in 2006.

As part of her research Roberts took samples from five different fast food restaurants in southern Florida. After flushing the toilet she gathered samples of the toilet water and ice samples from the ice machine at each establishment. Her research showed that 70 percent of the time, ice from fast food restaurants tested dirtier than toilet water. In some cases, E. coli bacteria was present on ice samples. And where does E. coli bacteria come from? It comes from human feces. Continue reading

Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest Approach Used to Predict the Evolution of Influenza Virus

researchResearchers Mart Luksza of Columbia University and Michael Lässig of University of Cologne recently successfully developed the computer model to predict the evolution of the influenza virus from one year to the next year. The influenza virus has many strains and is constantly mutating itself to defeat the human immune system. Every year, the World Health Organization closely analyzes influenza virus strands to try to predict which strands will be the most likely to cause mass human outbreaks. They then advise the drug manufacturers to produce vaccines for only those strands of the influenza to give flu shots to the general public. The problem with this approach is there is much guess work still at play for determining which strands will attack humans that year. Sometimes, they guess wrong and large epidemics of new flu viruses hit the public. It is unfortunately just too costly for the governments to make vaccines for all possible flu strands, like the influenza virus a and b.

Luksza and Lässig decided to collaborate together and work towards eliminating the guess work from the selection process. Using the Darwin theory of survival of the fittest, they approached the matter based on the question “what determines how fit a virus is?” Continue reading

Ocean Dumping Affecting the Fish We Eat

polluted fishImagine going to a restaurant where the waitress describes the fish of the day as Mahi-mahi stuffed with toxic ciprofloxacin antibiotics and sprinkled with Viagra. Would you wish to eat that Mahi-mahi? The truth of the matter is that a large portion of the fish we eat  are contaminated by toxic pharmaceutical chemicals. Pharmaceutical companies like Big Pharma dump hundreds of pounds of toxic pharmaceutical products into our oceans and waterways every day! Continue reading