Monday, August 24, 2015

"Limitless" Pill

In the movie Limitless, Eddie (Bradley Cooper) is a writer struggling with the worst case of writer's block known to man. His girlfriend leaves him, and he somehow gets his hands on a new pharmaceutical that will allow him to access 100% of his entire brain at once, making him a super genius.

Well, looks like real life is about to imitate fiction once again.

Modafinil is a drug that is drug for those suffering from narcolepsy,
sleep apnea, and other sleeping disorders. Here in the U.S., it's sold under the name Provigil. Like many powerful pharmaceuticals, however, people often take the pills for "off label" use.

Many college students have been taking Modafinil to increase focus and thinking.

A paper just published in the European Neuropsychopharmacology (phew, say that 5 times) last week reviewed several studies where test subjects took Modafinil and had their cognitive abilities measured. What they found was that this drug actually does enhance thinking.

Ruairidh McLennan Battleday, one of the co-authors of the paper, said that Modafinil does affect the "higher brain functions that rely on contribution from multiple simple cognitive processes."

Obviously, more research needs to be done to further examine what brain functions are enhanced, as current studies show that creativity isn't increased by those using this drug. Despite some of the unknowns and known side effects, college students will continue to take Modafinil to get an edge.

Is this what our country has come to? Back in my day, college students took drugs to get high. Now, they're taking drugs to get on the Dean's List!


Monday, August 17, 2015

Ear 'Ye, Ear Ye!

To celebrate my ten years of blogging, I'll be reverting to my old format for the month of August. This month, I'll be sharing the weird, the strange, and the funny...TRUE science stories. Why? Because oftentimes, science can be stranger than fiction.


An Australian artist, who goes by the name Sterlarc, has had an actual EAR surgically implanted to his left arm. The process has taken twenty years, and he's hoping to take the next big step with being able to make it an actual functioning ear in the near future.

The ear itself is made up of a combination of the same synthetic material used in plastic surgery and his own cells. It has completely fused and is a real part of his body now. Sterlac calls this endeavor his "Ear on Arm" project.

Yeah, I know...not very original. I mean, duh, it's an ear on a freaking arm.


Sterlarc is not a stranger to such...um...strange ways to artistically express himself. He's been big on cybernetics and dangling his naked body from hooks and wire. Please don't Google some of his projects. Definitely not safe for work.

Anyhoo, the next big step includes using his own stem cells to give his ear a real ear lobe and inserting some kind of microphone and transmitter that will connect his ear to the internet. Why? So people log on and listen to whatever Sterlac's third ear is hearing.

Sterlac also wants to enable his ear with GPS so folks can track where his ear is.

This project does sound a bit odd, yet fascinating. But I think there's an easier solution that Sterlac should have thought of. Instead of undergoing the tedious and expensive process of surgically growing an ear on his arm, he could have gotten one of these:





Since we're talking about Sterlarc behind his back, I wonder if his ears are burning...


Monday, August 10, 2015

My Blog is TEN years old!

The best laid plans of mine and men often go awry...

I had all these big plans to celebrate my decade of blogging...all these cool things I was gonna do leading up to this huge event. I mean, how many blogs do you read reach this milestone? But life got in the way, and all the great stuff I wanted to do has fallen by the wayside.

Oh well.

Maybe it's appropriate that my blogging took a huge nosedive during my 10th blogiversary, actually. I had been on quite a roll the last few years, and perhaps I needed a reminder of just how fragile the blogging-thing can be.

Life has been rough since about June for me. Things are up and down. Some days, I feel like things are great, and then something happens that makes me think that things aren't as progressing as I had hoped. The good news is, right now at this very moment, things are feeling better. With the heaps of stress on my shoulders, I've sought help from a professional just to talk things out. 

Therapy = lighter load

So to celebrate my ten years of laboring here in my little corner of the blogosphere, I'd like to revert to my old format of sharing goofy science stories with you this entire month. I want to start with sharing my VERY first post with you.

Thank you so much to all of you who still come back to read my posts. I appreciate it. I also hope some of my old blog buddies stop by to say "hello." This will be a month of nostalgia for me, and on a personal level, I also hope it'll be a time of healing so I can get back to writing and blogging again.

Without further ado, here's the post that started it all way back on August 3rd, 2005.

When You Gotta Go on the Go

Have you ever been stuck in traffic and you're just not able to hold it any longer? Nature calls, and you can postpone the inevitable for only so long. What about those with medical conditions that complicate things? Or maybe that chimichanga you had at lunch isn't agreeing with you while you're in the car. What's a person to do?

The new Indipod by Daycar is the answer.

It allows you to do your business in the privacy of your own car. This British invention is an actual in-car toilet. What about prying eyes while you engage in one of life's most private moments?

The Indipod comes with this built in inflatable privacy bubble to cover all the windows and such...and it creates a more relaxed and comfortable environment. Plus, I'm sure the bubble protects those outside your car from any malicious odors. Even those foolish to remain in your car while you take care of business are safe...as the bubble completely surrounds you and the air fan masks any embarassing noises you should be making.

How much can this Indipod hold? It has an 8 person-days capacity. In other words....it can hold 8 days' worth from one person or one day's glorius medley from you and 7 of your best buddies.

Leave it to the British to invent a sophisticated product like the Indipod...

I guess the American version, the Bumper Dumper, has some pretty heated competition.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Catching Up

Dagnabbit!

So I missed posting last week immediately following my "Hey I'm back!" post. Yeah, I'm a naughty blogger. I had every intention of putting something up, but I ran out of time.

I went to Phoenix, AZ for a weeklong business trip.

I've been going on a lot of business trips this summer. In fact, I've missed a week every month going back to May because of out of town business trips. For my day job, I actually travel regionally all the time by car. But that's for 1-2 nights every other week at the very most.

You take all the personal stuff I've been going through, add a heavy dose of airplane travel and being gone for an entire week, and then the stress of having to be on your "A-game" all week because your boss, and your boss' boss, and your boss' boss' boss are there with you...you get one terrible blogger.

Oh, and I'm going on a much needed vacation the second half of this week that goes all the way into the end of next week. Looking forward to that, however.

So what's been going on with me?

1) I have not written anything new since, oh, February. My creative tank is empty because emotionally, I'm just not all there. Hopefully I'll get back on track soon.

2) Dragonfly Warrior ebook is still FREE, and people have been downloading it every day. That's great. I've gotten a few new reviews, which helps the cause.

3) I have some events coming up this fall. Gateway Geekfest here in St. Louis at the very end of August, The Imaginarium in Louisville, KY September 11-13, and Archon in St. Louis October 2-4. Lots to do and prepare for.

4) To Kill A Mockingbird is my all time favorite novel, and no, I decided not to read Go Set a Watchman. 89 year old Harper Lee is not all-there, frail, practically blind and deaf, and when her sister, Alice, passed away, her new "guardian" brought the manuscript to HarperCollins. The whole thing is one big money-grab. Besides, Go Set a Watchman isn't a sequel to Mockingbird, it's just a rough draft of what was to become the classic many high school kids get to read for English class.

5) This has been my summer of MISSING movies. I didn't see Jurassic World, Mad Max, Inside Out, or Minions. I did see Ant Man just last Friday with a bunch of guys. It was a good movie. I liked the light tone of it, and it did give several sneak peaks into the upcoming Captain America/Civil War movies.

Since I've been absent, what's been up with you?

I'm out of the loop starting Wednesday, and I deliberately made reservations for a remote cabin in the Arkansas mountains with NO wi-fi. I will come back rejuvinated and energized, ready to celebrate my 10th blogiversary next month.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Unintended Hiatus

Whoa, I haven't blogged since June 15th. Almost a month. Probably my longest hiatus since in several years. Sorry I missed so much. In the blogging world, disappearing for a month is like being away for a year.

Life got in the way. I was out of town for a week for work, and some pretty heavy stuff in my personal life also came crashing down on me. Big time. I'm happy to report that I was able to come out of my turmoil a-ok.

Everything will work out.

From a blogging perspective, my unintended hiatus came at a really bad time. My ten year blogiversary is next month, and I was hoping to ride a wave of euphoria while reaching a pretty huge milestone. Instead, I'm having to struggle to get in the right mindset.

Get back in the blogging saddle.

Having done this for ten years, I have lost count of how many bloggers simply disappeared and never came back. The real world has a way of sometimes wrecking even the best laid plans, doesn't it?

So maybe it's appropriate that I had to leave the blog in order to take care of some very life-altering matters when I did. Now that all that stuff is over (hopefully), I'm right back here, typing away on the old blog. It's not easy, but after going through a rough time recently, I take comfort in knowing I can count on blogging to make me feel at home again.

Blogging is like...exercising. You take one too many days off, not working out becomes a habit. But you drag yourself to the gym and force yourself to do it, eventually, doing the right thing also becomes routine.

I hope you are all doing well, and I look forward to catching up.