Spermatozoa – a scientist’s favourite cell
People have preferences: favourite colours, favourite dishes, favourite authors, favourite this and that. Scientists, in addition, may have “favourite cells” as I have discovered early in my career. The American researcher Charles Brokaw in an article titled “My favourite Cell” had revealed in it that his was the sea-urchin spermatozoon. But he is not the only one who finds spermatozoans fascinating. For decades the Italian Baccio Baccetti and co-workers had been “at it” and were the first to report an in-depth study of backward swimming spermatozoans. To be precise, the sperm cells of the two species of fruit fly that were looked at did not exclusively swim backward (they use the forward gear when it comes to penetration of the egg cell), but the ability to reverse had only been reported once before. —>
Overworked and Overexcited: Heart Attack
Many a human life is claimed by a heart attack. Heart attacks are some of the main causes of premature deaths. Job and family-related stresses are implicated; genetic disposition, social habits and diets are held responsible and even a “broken heart” (as I know from personal experience) can affect your life-sustaining pump in a bad way. How? There is in the brain an almond-sized structure called the amygdala. That structure is the seat of strong emotions like fear, pleasure and sadness. Constant activation of the amygdala, let’s say by an intense feeling of disappointment, leads to an increased risk of cardiac vascular dysfunction or disease, which can ultimately lead to someone “dying of a broken heart”.
Horses and Hooves
Substantiated by vast numbers of fossil bones from North America and Europe, representing different geological strata, T.H. Huxley (grandfather of three very famous Huxleys!) had concluded that the horse had evolved from dog-sized ancestors with 4 fingers on each front and three toes on each back extremity. So, towards the latter quarter of the 19th century he had basically unravelled the palaeontological pedigree of the modern horse. —>