Prime Violinists Leave Baseball Game Cells

Insider Baseball by Joan Didion (New York Review Of Books): This essay just nails the ways in which politics is basically upmarket reality TV (in that almost everything about what most people see and read about politics is content which has been deliberately manufactured to fill in TV newstime), where the journalists and politicians have an unspoken knowledge of the rules of the game. All of which prevents outsiders (e.g., large swathes of the 99%) from having much of a say in the political process, and prevents important issues from being debated. And it’s exactly the same in Australia. [via Jay Rosen, who also has interesting/related things to say about coverage of the US Republican primaries]

Test of Time: In Defense Of A Game That Lasts Five Days by Wright Thompson (ESPN): The form of cricket called ‘test cricket’ is a very strange thing: a game lasts for five whole days, and quite often ends in a draw. And a game where, though the point is to score runs by hitting balls, there are batsmen who are earnestly praised for their ability to not hit the balls. Though for something so strange, it’s extremely popular right now in Australia - it’s more or less the biggest news story going between Christmas and mid-January. I was watching a test between Australia and India the other day, and where other games have cheerleaders and sirens and so forth, this game had artists stationed around the stadium, some of whom drew impressionist pieces of the game. Anyway, Thompson is an American who is baffled by the appeal of this very strange game (which I do love and have strong opinions about), and who goes to all five days of a test to try and understand how such a game could possibly survive into the 21st century. In the end, he seems to think that test cricket is basically a form of Zen.

Our Selves, Other Cells by Jena Pincott (Boing Boing): When you’re a foetus, inside your mother’s belly, you swap cells with your mother. By the end of pregnancy, about 6 percent of the DNA in your mother’s bloodstream comes from the fetus. And some of the cells in your body, to this day, actually have your mother’s DNA. Which is amazing when you think about it, and may well explain things like babybrain.

Anesthesia May Leave Patients Conscious - And Finally Show Consciousness In The Brain by Vaughan Bell (The Crux): Doctors assume that patients are unconscious if they do not respond to prodding or talking. This is not always the case - perhaps 1 in 1000 people who go under don’t actually go fully under. And such phenomena may say very interesting things about the workings of the mind. (Though the examples of people who are not fully unconscious that Bell gives here seem much more like people dreaming than people who are semi-conscious - or is that the idea?)

The Prime Minister Who Disappeared by Mike Dash (Past Imperfect): In 1967, an Australian Prime Minister named Harold Holt literally disappeared. He went for a swim on a beach (somewhat foolhardily, considering) and drowned; his body was sucked under the water and he was never seen again. Of course, there were conspiracy theories about him boarding a Chinese submarine. Sadly, Dash’s article forgets to mention the existence in Melbourne of the Harold Holt Swim Centre, a suburban public pool, named in somewhat poor taste (but possibly typical Australian humour).

Violinists Can’t Tell The Difference Between Stradivarius Violins And New Ones by Ed Yong (Not Exactly Rocket Science): Of course they can’t - it’s all placebo effect. I’m very curious to see if guitar nerds can actually tell the difference between the tones of the various electric guitars and amps that they talk about at such length. (Maybe I should do a study on this?) 


The Brain During Development

The nervous system develops from embryonic tissue called the ectoderm. The first sign of the developing nervous system is the neural plate that can be seen at about the 16th day of development. Over the next few days, a “trench” is formed in the neural plate - this creates a neural groove. By the 21st day of development, a neural tube is formed when the edges of the neural groove meet. The rostral (front) part of the neural tubes goes on to develop into the brain and the rest of the neural tube develops into the spinal cord. Neural crest cells become the peripheral nervous system.

The Important Stages of Fetal Growth

Fetal growth is the various development stages that the foetus has to undergo. It is essential to establish the current situation of the foetus in order to establish any abnormalities. A pregnancy scan is used to indicate the level of growth that the foetus is undergoing. It will indicate the various features that have been formed on the baby. A foetal growth chart is used to indicate the normal expected size and condition of the foetus. In case the foetus is not growing as expected, preparatory measures may be done in order to await an abnormal delivery. The following are the various important stages of fetal growth.

Formation of the foetus

In the first few weeks, the foetus is just an embryo that has formed in the fallopian tube. It will gradually move to the womb once the placenta has been formed. At this initial stage, the foetus consists of layers of cells. Various features will gradually start forming. During the first stage of fetal growth, webbed fingers and toes will be formed. The foetus will be the size of a kidney.

Development stage

During this stage, the foetus will develop various features including eyelids, eyebrows, ears and limbs. The foetus will now be about 5 pounds and measure about ten inches long. Also, the mother will experience a lot of pressure on the bladder, making her need to empty her bladder often. At this stage of fetal growth, the foetus can be felt while it is moving in the womb. The skeleton will start becoming hard and a wrinkled skin will appear.

Last stages of development

During the last stage of fetal growth, it will have most of the features fully formed. During this stage, the baby will be light sensitive and will start blinking. They will also be able to listen to noise in the surrounding environment. The foetus will be about fifteen inches long. They will be strong and will kick hard in the womb. Fat deposits will also start forming in the body. At the last stages of foetal development, the foetus will also develop fully formed lungs. The baby will also invert itself in the womb in preparation for birth.

It is always vital to know the different stages of fetal growth. This information will help to indicate whether the foetus is developing normally or not. Appropriate measures will be taken in preparation for the birth in case of any abnormality. 

Preparation for lambing

The first thing that happens to ewes before lambing is to get them pregnant in the first place, a Tupp (male sheep) normally runs with the flock for a month but this can sometimes be longer. A ewes gestation period is roughly 5 months depending on the breed but as they can be mated with any time within the month the Tupp is in this needs to be narrowed down. This can be done with the use of a harness on the Tupp which carries a square of chalk so when he mounts a ewe the colour come off. These colours can then be changed weekly to narrow down their due date.

Roughly 70 days after Tupping (mating) the ewes can be scanned to see whether they are pregnant and how many lambs they are carrying. At this point most farmers mark how many lambs the ewe is having with spray paint on them. This is also the stage that some farmers decide to cull ewes that are not pregnant.

At 4 to 6 weeks before lambing 70% of foetal development occurs. At this point the diet of the ewe is changed to cope with the increased demand. The ewes are generally put on a pellet mix and may have mineral licks. In particular Selenium is important as Selenium deficiency can lead to abortions or poor litter sizes. This was a problem at the farm I worked at a few years ago and once they implemented more Selenium into the diet the number of lambs went up by around a third on the previous year.

At the same time vaccinations for pregnant ewes also take place to ensure that their antibodies are passed on in their colostrum (first milk) to their lambs. Most commonly farmers vaccinate against clostridial diseases such as tetanus. Farmers also consider completely shearing ewes at this time or just crutching them (removing wool from around the udder and vulva) to improve hygiene and to increase the comfort of the ewes but this is not done on every farm.

Lastly sheep can often suffer with hoof conditons prior to lambing. One that was common on the farm I worked at was Scald. This was caused by wet mud getting between the hoof and rubbing and drying out when indoors, however once lambed this was treated as tipping the ewe before lambing put her at risk of abortion.

327 A - The crucial test of governments cannot be far off

In my paper this morning there’s a photo of a couple of parents and their two sons. The parents, Mr and Mrs Loweth, are of normal height (6ft 2in and 5ft 8in) but their 40-year old sons, normal down to their hips, are dwarfs (around 4ft). Both are bright and cheerful and, one gathers, well adjusted in their lives. One is an aerospace engineer.  They both suffer from having a double dose of a recessive gene with a particular variation which shortens leg bones during foetal development. The parents, each with only one copy of a very rare recessive gene were merely carriers showing no signs whatsoever.

Actually, the bad luck lottery had struck twice in each case of the sons, John and Michael. Even though both Mr and Mrs Lowell had a copy of the rare recessive gene, there was still only a one in four chance that a particular fertilized egg would receive a double dose. If you permutate AB with AB you get AA, AB, BA and BB as possibilities. If say, it’s only the B gene which has the unfortunate variation then, it’s only the fertilized egg receiving the BB permutation which will become a dwarf. (There was actually a 16:1 chance against Mr and Mrs Lowell having twodwarfs.) 

Keep reading

Fish oil fatty acids must for your kid's brain

Fish oil fatty acids must for your kid’s brain

New York, April 16 : The fatty acids that fish oil contains are vitally important to the developing brain, says a new study, suggesting that women maintain a balanced diet rich in these fatty acids for themselves during pregnancy and for their babies after birth.

Dietary deficiencies in the type of fatty acids found in fish and other foods can limit brain growth during foetal development and…

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Skills required

There are a range of important skills and knowledge you will need to pursue a career in midwifery.

Excellent people skills
Having babies happens to all sorts of people, so you will be providing professional support and reassurance to a huge diversity of women, during some of the most emotionally-intense periods in their lives.

Good communication and observation
You need to be a good at listening and communicating with women, their partners and families.

Interest in the physical, psychological and process of pregnancy and birth
Working as a midwife you will need to have an in-depth understanding of foetal and child development. It is also important for you to update and test your knowledge against experience.

Ability to answer questions and offer advice
Midwives are the most frequent point of contact for parents to be, so you must be able to answer their questions, share your knowledge and skills with patients, their families and friends and make sure their needs are recognised by the rest of the care team.

Happy to work as part of a team
As a midwife you will be part of a multidisciplinary team liasing with GPs, health visitors and social workers. You will also work alongside the parents and baby. The better you know each other, the more smoothly the birth is likely to go.

Dealing with emotionally charged situations
You will have to stay calm and alert in times of stress, and enable women to feel confident and in control. On the rare occasions where something goes wrong, you have to be ready to react quickly and effectively.

Foetal brain development, artwork. During the 4th week (25 days) the neural tube begins to differentiate into a spinal cord, forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. These areas continue to develop over the 5th week (35 days). During the 6th week (40 days) the forebrain differentiates into the telencephalon and diencephalon. The telencephalon develops into the hippocampus, basal ganglia, amygdala and the cerebral cortex. The diencephalon develops into the thalamus and hypothalamus. By the 8th week (50 days) the cerebral hemispheres have formed and the brain is growing rapidly. By the 15th week (100 days) the cerebellum and medulla oblongata have formed from the hindbrain.

Neural tube defects

Defects of the neural tube are the most common birth defects; one in 1,000 live births in the United States are affected. Adding folic acid to women’s diets reduces neural tube defects by 50-70% (Dukes Centre of human genetics).

Various neural tube defects are caused when different regions of the neural tube fail to close:

-       Failure of the posterior region to close at day 27:  Spina Bifida

-       Failure of the anterior region to close: Anencephaly

-       Failure of entire neural tube to close along entire body axis: Craniorachischisis

Spina bifida leaves some of the spinal cord exposed, the severity of the condition depends on how much of the spinal cord remains exposed. Anencephaly on the other hand leaves the forebrain exposed to amniotic fluid causing it to degenerate - interrupting fetal brain development and preventing the skull form forming. Anencephaly is fatal.

Foetal brain. Ventral (bottom) view of the brain of a 24-week-old foetus, the front of the brain is at top. The foetus’ developing spinal cord (lower centre) can be seen protruding from the brain. Below the spinal cord is the cerebellum, which controls motor function and maintenance of balance. The small organ at centre is the pituitary gland. This is an endocrine gland whose overall role is to regulate growth and metabolism. At this stage of development the foetal brain shows active auditory and visual responses.