How to Boil a Frog


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Glass Frog

Occasionally you meet someone on a lily pad who pretends to be Mr. Cool or Miss Thing, but you can see right through them. Well Japanese researchers have taken care of any need for social insight by developing an amphibian with actual transparent skin:

Do these eggs make me look fat?

You might think this is just part of the popular wave of see-through deodorants, dishwashing liquids, and justifications for invasions of foreign countries, but it's all in the interest of advancing science. Specifically, the transparent skin lets them watch organs grown, see how toxins affect tissues, and watch "how cancer starts and develops", without the need to dissect the patient. And except for the part about injecting us with toxins so we get cancer, we appreciate it. But the experiments don't stop at the lab door.

If we got depressed they'd call us bi-polar bears!

Researchers have known for a while that seals, whales and especially polar bears were getting massive doses of DDT, PCBs, flame-retardants and other endocrine disruptors that get carried to the Arctic by winds and rivers, but, hey, Shanghai is no day at the beach either. What they didn't figure on was that the people who eat these animals were in for a little surprise.

Global warming has really helped the weather here in Nuuk!

Turns out the chemicals concentrated in those seal souffles and polar bear pot pies can actually change the sex of human fetuses before birth. This explains why the ratio of girls to boys being born in the Arctic Circle is 2 to 1 -- in many villages in the North of Greenland, only girls are being born. And the effect isn't just being felt around Santa's Workshop (where a lot of elves will be getting lucky about 18 years from now); in Japan and the US, 250,000 more girls have been born than the 1970 girl/boy ratio would have predicted. You can see where this is leading:

In the future, all movies will be directed by Peter Bogdonavich.

Of course, if you really want to rev up the engine of evolution, candy is dandy but radiation makes mutuation. This was undoubtedly the thinking behind the collapse of a cooling tower at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant a few weeks ago. After all, it's well known that nuclear energy is completely safe ("D'oh!"), so it follows that Entergy, the company that runs the plant, must have gotten a research grant to see what would happen if they spilled a few hunded million gallons of overheated water into the surrounding area.

New honeymoon spot to rival Niagara Falls will make your bride glow (in the dark).

Resourceful New Englanders are already using the water to boil Maine lobsters, after being told that even a tiny bit of plutonium will keep the leftovers warm for 24,000 years! Just kidding -- scientists know better than anyone that proper safeguards ensure that what happens in the lab, stays in the lab. That's especially true of our friends developing the glass frog -- just look where they work!


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