Jellyfish Stings and The “Pee on it” Myth

By Anupum Pant

I haven’t been ever stung by a jelly fish, but from how Destin says it in the video, and other people I’ve seen getting bitten, tells me that it is something no one would want to experience in their life. If you did not know, the sting is awfully painful.

A jelly fish uses venom, not poison. They are two different things. Which means that a jellyfish stings you and uses extremely tiny hypodermic needle like things to inject toxins in your body.

But doesn’t jellyfish seem like a bunch of jelly floating around with no visible prickly parts? how does something so soft actually go about inserting something sharp into your skin?

Turns out, on the surface of those long tentacles these fish have, there are microscopic organelles called nematocysts which it uses to sting you. Even a tiny brush with those tentacles can trigger them. The more interesting part is that these tiny needles act very fast, and like I said, they are also very tiny. So, to see them you need a really high frame-rate camera attached to a microscope.

That is exactly what Destin does in the video below. It’s fascinating to see those tiny stingers do their work so fast under a microscope. Not many get a chance to see something like this.

Just FYI. In case you ever end up getting bitten by a jellyfish, please don’t ask your friend to pee on it. There’s a word going around that this helps, but in reality it doesn’t. In fact it can make it worse. Instead try washing it off with sea water. And then use a credit card to scratch the sting to remove any nematocysts stuck in your skin.

Don’t believe me? Please watch this…

Biological Darkmatter

By Anupum Pant

To most of us, looking at things from a distance, it often seems like the age of exploration is over. It seems like there’s not much left to be discovered. Only a few who strongly believe that the age of exploration is far from over, and work hard to keep exploring, end up finding new things.

Take for instance the part of ocean that remains unexplored and unseen by human eyes today. According to NOAA’s website this unexplored part is about 95%, even today!

In fact, it is estimated that 96% of the universe is made up of some mysterious thing (called the dark matter) which we haven’t even started to figure yet.

If you think that is taking it too far, we don’t even know our bodies completely yet. Just last year (in 2013) a new body part in the human body was discovered!

Nathan Wolfe, a biologist and explorer, talks about how most (as much as 40-50% of it) of the genetic information found in our own gastrointestinal tracts doesn’t classify under any kind of biological form we have ever known – Not plant, animal, virus, bacteria or fungus. Biologists call it the biological dark matter.

genetic information

There are unknowns all around us and they are waiting to get discovered.

Nightvision Eye Drops

By Anupum Pant

A deep sea dragonfish, or specifically Malacosteus niger, has a special pigment in its eyes which helps it see better in the deep  dark sea. This pigment, isolated from the eyes of this dragonfish, in the year 1990, was found to be a derivative of Chlorophyll.

The marine biologist Ron Douglas of City University London, who was able to isolate it then, found that the pigment gave this fish an ability to absorb red light. Of course It did seem abnormal to find a chlorophyll derivative inside an animal’s eye. Moreover, the animal had learned to use it to enhance its vision! At that time it was conjectured that the chlorophyll came to the fish through some bacteria, and it somehow found a way to put it to good use.

A couple of years later (in 2004) an ophthalmic scientist at Columbia University Medical Centre read about it and started testing the derivative on other animal’s eyes. Recently, by using it on mice and rabbit eyes, the researcher has been able to enhance their night vision, by enhancing their eye’s ability to absorb red light.

It is highly possible that, in the near future, the pigment could somehow be made safe for human eyes, and be used to enhance their nightvision. Soon a better nightvision could be as easy as ingesting a pill, or using eye drops made out of this derivative. How great would it be for the special ops team! Of course, the U.S. Department of Defence is very interested, and has started funding his research now.

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