UK Chemical Giant Used Psodomy to Make Mutants and Produced Erection of the Year

UK Chemical Giant Used Psodomy to Make Mutants and Produced Erection of the Year: As a young bacterial geneticist I was privileged in my early career to be invited to work on a secret project in the North of England. Here I was expected to use Psodomy to produce mutants – one of our local creations even got the erection of the year award. I share these early adventures below.

These days the media is full of news about how genetic engineering is being harnessed to create new ‘designer’ medicines and how we will soon be able to conquer certain genetic diseases. Do you really understand what this involves? Do you know precisely what a mutant is or how it is made? What is DNA and what is it about DNA that causes mutations and genetic diseases? In this article I hope to provide answers to some of these questions.

First of all let me explain my credentials. My first job in industry as a research scientist required me to create mutant bacteria for the UK’s largest chemical company. My degree was in Bacteriology and Virology so I was quite at home growing bugs. The bacteria I used in industry lived off methanol – a simple alcohol made from natural gas. My bugs used this methanol as their source of energy and food.

 

Methanol The Alcohol Used to Provide Energy for Psodomy
Methanol The Alcohol Used to Provide Energy for Psodomy

The bug had a rather long name (Pseudomonas methylotrophus) which, for ease of communication, I shortened to ‘Psodomy‘. I tried to make mutants that manufactured essentialamino acids. We need amino acids to make protein and humans can make lots of amino acids themselves. However we can’t make a few amino acids and therefore we need them in our diet – these are the essential amino acids. The strategy was to use Psodomy to turn natural gas into essential amino acids – my chance to help solve World hunger.

We grew Psodomy in a large fermentation vessel – this meant we could put methanol in one end and drain off our protein (called ‘single cell protein‘) using a tap at the other end. Actually our fermentation vessel (see photo below) was so large it received the ‘Erection of the Year‘ award when it was installed near our labs in Billingham (North of England). This was in 1979 – not surprisingly erections have got bigger since then (here’s the link to the mega erection story in New Scientist magazine – its on page 840 at the bottom).

1979 'Erection of the Year': ICI Billingham's Single Cell Protein (Pruteen) Fermentation Reator
1979 ‘Erection of the Year‘: ICI Billingham’s Single Cell Protein (Pruteen) Fermentation Reactor

Let me now explain some basic facts that will help you to understand what mutants are and how we can make them. Put very simply a mutant is a living thing that has a mutation. A mutation is a change in the DNA of the organism. DNA is what our genes are made of – it is passed down from generation to generation. Things that can change this DNA can cause mutations (and therefore make mutants). These things are called mutagens. So what is this DNA?

DNA is simply a very, very, very long molecule. If you didn’t do chemistry at school all you need to know is that everything in the world is made up of atoms (think of these as incredibly small bits of ‘stuff’). These atoms can join together to make molecules – for example plastics are very long molecules or chains of the same repeating group of atoms. Although we think we are clever because we can make plastics evolution beat us to it – all living things contain lots of very long chains of atoms joined into molecules.

Repeating units in a typical plastic Polyethylene
Repeating units in a typical (rather boring) man-made plastic Polyethylene

Whereas plastics have identical repeating units of atoms along their chains living things build much more variety into their molecular chains. If you think of plastics as chains of identical glass beads – then the molecules in living things would be made up of beads of many different colours, sizes and shapes. A typical living molecular chain is a protein and by combining its ‘beads’ (called amino-acids) in different ways each protein has a unique shape which helps it do some very useful jobs. This is why proteins make up the machinery used by every cell in our body. For example they help us break down foods (enzymes), carry oxygen in the blood (haemoglobin), cause muscle cells to contract, transmit electrical signals down nerves and identifying harmful microbes (antibodies).

The protein haemoglobin - here changing its shape as it captures oxygen in the body
The (much more exciting) natural protein haemoglobin – In this GIF it is changing its shape as it captures oxygen in the body

DNA is also a living long chain molecule but its shape is more fixed than most proteins. If we could see a DNA molecule (we can’t – it is too small) we would see what looks like a twisted ladder – each leg of the ladder is a long molecular chain of DNA. This structure is referred to as a double helix (‘double’ because it involves two very long chains of DNA). This structure is very important because each rung on this ladder contains the ‘letters‘ of DNA’s simple 4 letter alphabet.

DNA's Twisting ladder (Double helix) Structure
Moving GIF showing DNA’s twisted ladder (double helix) structure. The letters/words of the genetic instruction manual are written along each leg of the ladder (one letter on each side of every rung).

Why does DNA need an alphabet? This is because DNA is the instruction manual for everything that goes on in a living organism. It doesn’t matter whether you are a bacteria, a plant or an animal – the instructions for making everything you need to live is stored in this DNA instruction manual. The instructions are written using DNA’s simple 4 letter alphabet – and every word in the manual is precisely 3 letters long (the DNA letters are called ‘bases‘).

Guanine one of the bases or letters used by DNA when it writes your body's instruction manual
Guanine one of the bases or ‘letters’ used by DNA to write your body’s instruction manual

Evolution was much more organised than humans when it designed its language – humans have loads of languages, loads of alphabets and our words can be almost any number of letters long. In nature all instructions are written on DNA using the same alphabet of only 4 letters and the same vocabulary of 3 letter words. No need for Google Translate here! This means we can put DNA words from humans into bacteria and they can be read by the bacteria to make human proteins (…and viruses can insert their words into human cells and these cells read them and make the ‘virus’ proteins – by using the same language the viruses ‘hack‘ into the cell’s software and hardware systems).

So what do these 3 letter DNA words mean? Well I mentioned above that proteins are made from amino acids (the ‘beads‘). There are over 20 amino acids – and this same pool of amino acid beads is used in all living things. Each of DNA’s 3 letter words signifies one amino acid. Going back to the description of a protein being a chain of many different kinds of beads (amino acids) – the precise names and order of these amino acids is written in the DNA instruction manual (along the ladder) using the 3 letter words. For example:

DNA word TAC instructs a cell to add amino-acid Tyrosine when it makes a protein (in TAC the T, A, and C are abbreviations for the DNA letters, or bases, Thymine, Adenine and Cytosine).

Protein Building Block: Amino Acid Tyrosine which is coded for by the DNA word TAC
Protein Building Block: Amino Acid Tyrosine which is coded for by the DNA ‘word’ TAC

We think we are clever because we have made computers with software (instruction manuals) using a binary (2 letter) code which can produce useful programmes for word processing, spread sheets, graphics etc. Well evolution has gone much further – it goes straight from the software (written on the DNA) to making 3 dimensional machinery parts (proteins). DNA also stores the instructions for putting these machinery parts together and controls when to turn the machines on and off and how quickly they need to run.

You will appreciate from this that the precise instructions contained along the DNA molecule are very important. Any mistakes in how these instructions are written could really mess up our ‘living’ machinery and all the processes that control it. These mistakes are what we call ‘mutations’ and a typical result of a mistake in the DNA’s instruction manual can totally screw-up a cell’s control system and lead to uncontrolled cell growth or cancer (and a huge number of other diseases).

As I explained above the first word in the DNA word TAC is the base Thymine:

DAN Base Thymine (the 'T' in the code TAC which signals for amino acid Tyrosine to be put into a protein)
DNA Base Thymine (the ‘T‘ in the DNA word TAC which signals for amino acid Tyrosine to be put into a protein)

Using the example above if we change the word TAC into GAC the wrong amino acid is added to the protein. This happens when the letter T (DNA base Thymine) is replaced by the letter G (DNA base Guanine).

TAC = amino acid Tyrosine

GAC = Aspartic Acid – A very different kind of Amino Acid

As a result of this single letter ‘spelling mistake’ the protein will have a different shape and different chemical properties. The machine may not work well, it may not work at all or it may do something completely different. Think of a cog in a piece of clockwork  if one of its teeth is bent it will probably not perform properly. In our day to day life we see many results of mutations in DNA (and therefore in the operation of proteins) – one common example is colourblindness:

Can you see the number? This is a common test for colourblindness which can by due to a mutation on the X chromosome.
Can you see the number? This is a common test for colourblindness which can by due to a mutation on the X chromosome.

To make a mutant you change the words on the DNA molecule. This can be done as above by just changing single letters or by changing several words. The changes can be replacements with different letters or words or they can be deletions – a bit like when you cut and paste or delete in your word processing programme. The body has its own very sophisticated repair systems which it uses to fix mistakes when they occur in DNA. These mistakes may happen at random, or be caused by chemicals (mutagens/carcinogens), radiation (like when we lie out in the sun) or viruses. Viruses take over the cell’s systems when they infect it and sometimes they can ‘insert’ their own DNA into our DNA. This happens, for example, in some cancers.

When we try to make mutants of bugs in the lab we use the same kind of approaches. We can, for example, use mutation causing chemicals, radiation or even viruses (there are special viruses called bacteriophages that attack bacteria). When I worked with Psodomy I used UV radiation – effectively forcing the bugs to lie under a very powerful sun lamp. The idea was to create so many mutations that the bugs’ own DNA repair systems couldn’t fix the damage.

The rather crude strategy was to take a load of mutants and then grow them in a food bath that didn’t contain a specific essential amino acid. If the bug could grow in this bath it meant it could make the amino acid itself and then we tried to find the ones that produced even larger quantities of the essential amino acid. Once we had a bug that made lots of the amino acid we could grow it in our fermentor (our famous ‘erection of the year’ vessel) and hey-presto you turn on the tap and out comes a broth containing the essential amino acid (clearly I have simplified things a bit!).

Bacteriophage used by molecular biologists to inject genes into Bacteria
Bacteriophage – A virus used by molecular biologists to inject genes into bacteria

Today’s scientists are much more sophisticated. They use (for example) viruses into which new genes (=DNA words) have been cut and pasted (instructions to make new proteins). These viruses inject the new genes into the bacteria’s DNA and with lots of technical wizardry the bacteria can be made to produce the new products (including things like drugs/antibiotics and chemicals that are essential to health like insulin and other hormones).

You will hear lots in the press about the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing system. This is a very powerful genome cut and paste system that was discovered recently in bugs and has been harnessed as the go-to DNA editing system for genetic engineers (more info about that and how it is used in Gene Drives in my article here).

So that, in a nutshell, is a summary of how mutants can be made. If you wish you can make some mutants of your own – just lie out in the strong sunlight and the radiation will create mutants from your own body’s cells. Some of these mutants may overcome the systems the body uses to control the cells. For example a mutation may damage a control protein that stops your cells from growing and multiplying uncontrollably.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Such a cell will then divide many times and could develop into a carcinoma/melanoma and – with help from the sun – you have made mutants and given yourself skin cancer. It could take many years to get this result. Alternatively you might try to be careful about over exposing yourself to the sun – just get enough sunlight to produce the vitamin D you need (or take a supplement). Interestingly vitamin D helps to protect us from cancer so as always with health advice – it is best to avoid extremes in either direction (not too much and not too little sun exposure). I have a simple rule of thumb – I ask myself: “Would my ancestors in the caves have done this?” If the answer is ‘yes’ – it is probably OK (I suggest you don’t ask me about using man made detergents – just read my article here).

Keep healthy!

Chris Duggleby 

If you are interested in reading my other health focused articles try the following

Torture In The Shower – Face and Body Soap Allergies – Main Suspect: Pears Transparent Soap

Poison in your Washing Machine: Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Laundry Detergents, Softeners, Conditioners and Whiteners

Is Alzheimer’s caused by the Gum Disease Bacterium P. Gingivalis – A Dementia Prevention/Treatment Breakthrough?

Toxic Chemicals in Sex Toys – 18 Vibrators, Cock Rings, Love Balls Tested – Only 3 Get All Clear

My T-shirt Made Me Sick – Textile Allergies – Sinusitis From Your Underwear

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Cape Town Whale Spotting Tips – Secret Bait – Sandy Bay Beach Excitement as Big Willy Comes

Cape Town Whale Spotting Tips – Secret Bait – Sandy Bay Beach Excitement as Big Willy Comes: Some people spend a fortune on whale spotting expeditions but struggle to capture a glimpse of one of these glorious mammals. Others sit at home sipping coffee and the whales simply ‘pop-by’ from time to time. I have been lucky enough to be in the latter category. In this article I share some of my experiences and tips about whale watching near Cape Town

Big Willy the Whale passes Sunset Rocks (Llandudno, S.A.) on his way to Sandy Bay
Big Willy the Whale passes Sunset Rocks (Llandudno, S.A.) on his way to Sandy Bay

As I was enjoying my chocolate and coffee on the balcony yesterday I noticed a familiar movement around the rocks below me and a rather loud squirting sound. Yes Big Willy had decided to come. Needless to say I quickly reached for my camera and took the following pics to capture the occasion (just double-click on the photos to see High Definition versions that you can then enlarge):

Sunset Rocks - Here Comes Big Willy
Sunset Rocks – Here Comes Big Willy
How about a dive?
How about a dive?
A little wave to your friends on the shore...
A little wave to your friends on the shore…
Just to size things up - compare Big Willy with the ship on the background
Just to size things up – compare Big Willy with the ship on the background

I want to use this article to share with you some tips that I have found useful when trying to spot whales around the coast of Cape Town. I have been a regular visitor here for 10 years and since I got a camera with a long bit on the front 5 years ago I have managed to catch pictures of whales on a regular basis (see some evidence below).

Tip number 1: Location, location, location.

I always come to the same place (Sunset Rocks in Llandudno, not far from Camps Bay and Cape Town). I think the whales like coming close to the shore here because we are next to the Table Mountain National Park. This means there are not lots of tall buildings to worry them – in fact Llandudno doesn’t even allow any shops or restaurants to open in the village. The following pic illustrates the remoteness of the location:

Cape Town Whale Spotting Tips - Chose a remote location like Sunset Rocks
Cape Town Whale Spotting Tips – Chose a remote location like Sunset Rocks

Tip Number 2: Whales like to be entertained

Whales are highly intelligent creatures. Just imagine what is it like to spend all your time swimming about in the sea looking for your next meal – and occasionally your next mate (more on this below). Fortunately Sandy Bay, next door to my pad, is Cape Town’s ‘almost official’ gay, nudist, beach. You can probably imagine that lots of interesting things happen on the secluded rocks facing the ocean.

Whales are very curious animals and I am sure they consider Sandy Bay to be a kind of human zoo where they can watch the chappies frolicking around on the rocks. This certainly draws them in closer to see what these strange land based mammals are up to. As the whales get closer I start to click with my rather large zoom lens.

Avoid Built up areas and provide the whales with entertainment like the Sandy Bay gay nudist beach
Avoid built-up areas and provide the whales with entertainment like the Sandy Bay gay nudist beach

Tip Number 3: The secret whale bait.

Until about 5 years ago I did not have much luck trying to photograph whales. Then in 2012 I started eating 85% cocoa dark chocolate on the balcony during my mid-morning coffee break. From that time onward the whales started to appear and most importantly they came closer to the rocks where I live. OK this is hardly irrefutable scientific evidence that whales like the smell of chocolate but I have had sightings every year since 2012 (I was a scientist – but chocolate and whales were not my speciality – I made mutants).

Obviously the bait doesn’t always attract a whale but on the days when you are not successful you can eat the chocolate yourself. A rather pleasant consolation!

Chris's Secret 85% Strength Whale Bait
Chris’s Secret 85% Strength Whale Bait

Tip Number 4: Be discrete!

You will notice that in front of my balcony (behind the chocolate above) there are bushes. If you want to take pictures of someone going about their normal daily activities it is best not to advertise the fact. Otherwise they will either start to pose or run away. So I surreptitiously position myself behind the bushes holding the ‘magic’ in my hands and if I am lucky – Billy Willy comes (or perhaps one of his pals like Wilf).

I guess anyone can simply claim to have tips on whale spotting (just ask one of the folk offering boat tours from the Cape Town Waterfront). So let me share with you the pics I have taken since 2012 by simply staying on my balcony with a piece of chocolate (and a camera with a long bit on the front).

2012 Pics:

2012 Whale Picture 1 Taken at Llandudno Cape Town
2012 Whale Picture 1 Taken at Llandudno Cape Town
2012 Whale Picture 2 Taken at Llandudno Cape Town
2012 Whale Picture 2 Taken at Llandudno Cape Town

2014 Pics and Tip Number 5:

Try and include a frame of reference in your photos. Sea can get pretty boring (just ask a whale) and it is rather hard for viewers to understand the size of your subject if there is no reference apart from ocean. Therefore many of my photos include either the rocks or perhaps a passing ship. This helps to reinforce the magnitude of the beast you are dealing with.  

2014 Pic of Wilf the whale taken from Sunset Rocks
2014 Pic of Wilf the whale taken from Sunset Rocks
2012 pic of Wilf showing the chaps on Sandy Bay rocks what his left flipper is for
2014 pic of Wilf showing the chaps on Sandy Bay rocks what his left flipper is for
2012 Pic of Wilf - one last wave before he heads off in the direction of Sandy Bay
2014 Pic of Wilf – one last wave before he heads off in the direction of Sandy Bay

2015 Pics:

Feb 28th 2015 Whale Pic 1
Feb 28th 2015 Whale Pic 1
Feb 28th 2015 Whale Pic 2
Feb 28th 2015 Whale Pic – Sometimes the visitors come as a couple!

As well as whales we also get large numbers of dolphins – but because they are smaller and a lot more nimble they can be rather to difficult to capture at a distance. They often accompany the whales – no doubt attracted by the same food sources (not sure about the chocolate though). Here are a couple of examples:

Pic 1 of Dolphins around the rocks at Sunset Rocks, Llandudno
Pic 1 of Dolphins around the rocks at Sunset Rocks, Llandudno
Pic 2 (enlarged) of Dolphins around the rocks at Sunset Rocks, Llandudno
Pic 2 (enlarged) of Dolphins around the rocks at Sunset Rocks, Llandudno
Pic 2 of Dolphins around the rocks at Sunset Rocks, Llandudno
Pic 2 of Dolphins around the rocks at Sunset Rocks, Llandudno

It is not only whales and dolphins that like to play around the rocks in front of my South African apartment. From time to time some of the local Lycra clad girls like to go onto the rocks for a quick jump (more jumping pics here). In this case I think another picture will help to explain what I mean…

When the local girls go onto Sunset Rocks for a quick jump they need to be careful not to land on Big Willy
When the local girls go onto Sunset Rocks for a quick jump they need to be careful not to land on Big Willy
Big Willy here I come....
Big Willy here I come….

Interestingly on the other side of the rocks is a sunken ship wreck – another feature of this locality. You can see more pictures of wrecks using the link here. Here are a couple of examples…

July 28th 1977 the MV Romelia was being towed from Greece to a scrap yard in Asia when it ran aground on Sunset Rocks during a storm (picture courtesy of Ian Mcpherson)
July 28th 1977 the MV Romelia was being towed from Greece to a scrap yard in Asia when it ran aground on Sunset Rocks during a storm (picture courtesy of Ian Mc Pherson)
Wreck near Sandy Bay beach, Llandudno, MV Bos 400
Wreck near Sandy Bay beach, Llandudno, MV Bos 400

So as you can see there is a lot going on at Sunset Rocks – if you want to read about even more excitement try my article from last weekend about what the firefighters got up to with their choppers on Sandy Bay rocks – the link is here.

Time for a chocolate break!

Chris Duggleby22-see-cape-town-whale-spotting-tips-from-blog-at-chrisdugglebydotcom-dscf2640-4

STOP PRESS: 5th March 10:00 Cape Town time Whale stranded on Sandy Bay beach – pic below…

2017 5th March 0820 Cape Town time Whale stranded on Sandy Bay beach
2017 5th March 10:00 Cape Town time Whale stranded on Sandy Bay beach

Here are some more pics of the excellent emergency services from today’s (5th March 2017) beached whale at Sandy Bay, Llandudno, Cape Town (note – it was not Big Willy):

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Sandy Bay Beached Whale Update 6th March 2017 8am:

The badly injured, beached, whale at Sandy Bay was finally ‘put to rest’ at 6:30 pm with a big explosion yesterday evening. I understand it was later towed by sea to Hout Bay for land-fill disposal (there is no road to Sandy Bay). The beach certainly looked clear this morning – Pics below from approx 8:00 am (and one of another undesirable body on the beach!)…

1-sandy-bay-beached-whale-status-6th-march-2017-8am-see-blog-at-chrisdugglebydotcom-dscf3553-2 2-sandy-bay-beached-whale-status-6th-march-2017-8am-see-blog-at-chrisdugglebydotcom-dscf3556-2 3-sandy-bay-gay-nudist-beach-cleared-of-smelly-whale-carcass-see-status-6th-march-2017-8am-blog-at-chrisdugglebydotcom-dscf3558-2

If you are interested in reading my other health focused articles try the following

Torture In The Shower – Face and Body Soap Allergies – Main Suspect: Pears Transparent Soap

Poison in your Washing Machine: Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Laundry Detergents, Softeners, Conditioners and Whiteners

Is Alzheimer’s caused by the Gum Disease Bacterium P. Gingivalis – A Dementia Prevention/Treatment Breakthrough?

Toxic Chemicals in Sex Toys – 18 Vibrators, Cock Rings, Love Balls Tested – Only 3 Get All Clear

My T-shirt Made Me Sick – Textile Allergies – Sinusitis From Your Underwear

Mountain Bush Fires in Cape Town as Firefighting Choppers Cool Karbonkelberg’s Flames

Mountain Bush Fires in Cape Town as Firefighting Choppers Cool Karbonkelberg’s Flames. Today I would like to share with you some pics of Cape Town’s brave airborne firefighters as they put their choppers into action on the rocks next to Sandy Bay beach near Llandudno (the South African one). Huge ravaging Hout Bay bush fires quenched within hours – Karbonkelberg mountain now cooling down.

All in a day's work: Cape Town Chopper Squad putting out fires on the rocks near Sandy Bay Beach
All in a day’s work: Cape Town Chopper Squad putting out fires on the rocks near Sandy Bay Beach

While you read why not listen to my album ‘Electro Baroque‘ (all tracks are also available on iTunes using the link here)? Classical music using modern instruments:

or if you prefer to listen to my electro/techno album ‘Studio Valiumm‘ here are the videos (also on iTunes using the link here):

More info about my music is at the dedicated website www.TRANSFORMATES.com

Yesterday evening’s deep red sunset combined with very dark clouds coming over the Karbonkelberg Mountain from Hout Bay ought to have set alarm bells ringing. I therefore shouldn’t have been surprised this morning as I opened the kitchen blinds to see my side of Karbonkelberg in flames. I live in the sunset rocks part of Llandudno (the Cape Town one) which benefits from gorgeous sunsets with views of the Karbonkelberg mountain on one side and the Twelve Apostles mountain range on the other.

Rear View of 12 Apostles Mountain Range as seen from Llandudno near Cape Town
Rear View of 12 Apostles Mountain Range as seen from Llandudno near Cape Town

Just to set the scene here is a view of the Karbonkelberg Mountain (the Sandy Bay beach side) on a normal day. This was taken from my balcony.

cded-2-see-article-mountain-bush-fires-in-cape-as-town-firefighting-choppers-cool-karbonkelbergs-flames-at-chrisdugglebydotcom

Because of the grey smoke clouds I didn’t take a picture of the sun setting yesterday but to illustrate how it looks on a normal day here are a couple of recent pictures.

A 'normal' sunset from Sunset Rocks at Llandudno, near Cape Town - just as the sun hits the ocean
A ‘normal’ sunset from Sunset Rocks at Llandudno, near Cape Town – just as the sun hits the ocean
A 'normal' sunset from Sunset Rocks at Llandudno, near Cape Town - just after the sun ducks behing the clouds on the horizon
A ‘normal’ sunset from Sunset Rocks at Llandudno, near Cape Town – just after the sun ducks behind the clouds on the horizon

Now let’s look at what greeted me when I opened the blinds in my kitchen this morning (all photos are high-definition – just click on them to enlarge and see more detail):

View on 27th Feb 2017 from Chris Duggleby's Llandudno kitchen window.
View on 27th Feb 2017 from Chris Duggleby’s Llandudno kitchen window.
Zoom lens view on 27th Feb 2017 from Chris Duggleby's Llandudno kitchen window.
Zoom lens view on 27th Feb 2017 from Chris Duggleby’s Llandudno kitchen window.

As the sun had not fully risen (it was about 07:00 am) and the wind was still quite strong I also took a couple of pictures from my deck facing the ocean (note to self: next time dress first in case other neighbours are also out with their cameras!).

1. Bush fire on Karbonkelberg near Hout Bay and Llandudno
1. Bush fire on Karbonkelberg near Hout Bay and Llandudno
2. Bush fire 'close-up' on Karbonkelberg near Hout Bay and Llandudno
2. Bush fire ‘close-up’ on Karbonkelberg near Hout Bay and Llandudno

Fortunately the wind died down after a couple of hours allowing the local Fire Fighting chopper crews to demonstrate how to put mountain fires out when there is a convenient bit of water near by.

Cape Towns Land and Airborn fire fighting crews join at Karbonkelberg to start fighting the bush fires
Cape Towns Land and Airborn fire fighting crews join at Karbonkelberg to start fighting the bush fires
The guys helping to quench the excitement on the rocks near Sandy Bay beach prove that two choppers are more effective than one
The guys helping to quench the excitement on the rocks near Sandy Bay beach prove that two choppers are more effective than one

If you haven’t seen this in action before the helicopters have what are in effect giant buckets which open when they drop them into the ocean and fill up with water. They then fly with this ‘quenching’ cargo to the edge of the bush fire and release their load onto the flames to try to stop the fire advancing. The regulars at Cape Town’s famous gay nudist beach (Sandy Bay) will have found it particularly entertaining to see firemen with big choppers dropping their load all over the rocks. I suspect this will be a feature of local gay social media sites for some time to come!

Here are some more detailed pics of the choppers in action:

Cape Town Firefighting chopper gets a load of water from the ocean
Cape Town Firefighting chopper gets a load of water from the ocean

Just to the left of this pic are some caves…here is the view on a ‘normal day’ taken from inside the cave looking out at the ocean. Clearly I won’t be going there today!

View from the caves at the base of Karbonkelberg Mountain (the Sandy Bay side)
View from the caves at the base of Karbonkelberg Mountain (the Sandy Bay side)
Chopper drops load of sea water onto the bush fires on Karbonkelberg
Chopper drops load of sea water onto the bush fires on Karbonkelberg
Another loads gets discharged onto the mountain
Another loads gets discharged onto the mountain
Spot the yellow chopper!
Spot the yellow chopper!

That’s it for today. From the reduction in noise levels I assume the chopper activities have moved to another part of Cape Town (which means ‘siesta time’ for you-know-who).

Don’t forget – please be extra careful whenever you go through dry bush areas. It is very easy to start these fires but as you will see from the report above it is very difficult to put them out. Fortunately in the area featured here there were no properties – you can imagine the terrible tragedy involved when this happens in a populated area.

Chris Duggleby.

The local wildlife tries to join in with the airborne excitement
The local wildlife tries to join in with the airborne excitement

The following pics were taken 2 days after I prepared this report to show how effective the fire crews had been in halting the bush fires. You can see a clear line of demarcation between the grey burned vegetation and the surviving green area (separating the fires from where I live!).

Karbonkelberg Mountain 2 days after bush fires
Karbonkelberg Mountain 2 days after bush fires
Closer view of Karbonkelberg Mountain 2 days after bush fires
Closer view of Karbonkelberg Mountain 2 days after bush fires
Karbonkelberg Mountain as seen from my balcony 2 days after bush fires
Karbonkelberg Mountain as seen from my balcony 2 days after bush fires

Oh and this is how this local scenery looks from the ocean (including the occasional ship wreck). I took this picture standing on the end of the area which was engulfed in flames (obviously a little while earlier!).

Sunset rocks. Llandudno Cape Town as seen from the ocean (well almost)
Sunset rocks. Llandudno Cape Town as seen from the ocean (well almost)

More pics like these can be found on my galleries page on this site using the link here.

If you found this article interesting please consider taking a look at some of my other recent reports on similar subjects.

Just click on the titles below:

…starting with some fun related articles:

8th Mar 2017: Nano Chip Cock Ring Detects STIs – Size, Thrust, and Speed – From Penis via Smartphone to Facebook

28th Feb 2017: Vaccinations Cause Children to Masturbate – Public Frustration At Austrian Article:

16th Oct 2016: How to Prevent Smelly Trumps – Scientific Breakthrough in Australia – Good Carbs Mean Good Farts 

9th March 2016: Penis Ring Emergency – German Fire Fighters Rescue Man From Painful 13 Cock Ring Torture: Vorsprung durch Technik and erectile dysfunction

21st June 2015: Bio-undies: Guilt free Passion with ‘Easy Emma’ and ‘Loose Harry’and Getting Rid of Garden Snails with Rent-a-Duck

4th March 2015: Hamburg Reeperbahn (St. Pauli): Germans install walls that urinate on passers-by

17th April 2014: Niche On-line Dating Services (Specialities: Herpes, Thrush and Genital Warts)

18th August 2012: How Bavarians and Austrians use their middle fingerFingerhakeln: a men-only sport (did Arnold Schwarzenegger start training this way?).

You can also find some of my more humorous reports in the Alpine Press section of this site using the link here.

some here is some more serious stuff:

12th June 2016 Hospital Serial Killer – Super Bugs Created With Jumping Genes During Bacterial Sex

21st May 2016 Skin Cancer and Cataracts From Your Car – Poor UV Side Protection – Windows Tested From 15 Vehicle Makers

19th April 2016 Torture In The Shower – Face and Body Soap Allergies – Main Suspect: Pears Transparent Soap

3rd March 2016 Using Gene Drives To Change Mosquito Sex In Fight Against Zika, Dengue and Malaria

3rd Feb 2016 Zika Infection Spread By Sex In Dallas – Earlier Sexual Transmission In Colorado – Detailed Symptoms 

31st Jan 2016  Bed Bugs – Insecticide Resistance – Arbovirus Transmission – Zika and Microcephy

13th Jan 2016 Kill Head Lice In A Day With The Newly Developed Plasma Nitcomb From The German Fraunhofer Institute

26th July 2015 Poison in your Washing Machine: Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Laundry Detergents, Softeners, Conditioners and Whiteners

29th December 2012: Spreading diarrhea and vomit through the washing machine– The Norovirus propagator in our kitchen

…please visit chrisduggleby.com again.

German Police Detain Rabbits, Bees ‘Whoop’ at each other and Hunt is on for Penguin Murderer

German Police Detain Rabbits, Bees ‘Whoop’ at each other and Hunt is on for Penguin Murderer: While the gutter press concerns itself with second rate articles about the US President, Brexit and North Korean assassins/nuclear rocket tests thank goodness we are getting quality news from Germany’s serious newspapers. This morning I was impressed by the dedication of German police who detained rabbits in Saarland, a scientific revelation about how bees say ‘whoops’ and how a kidnapped penguin was brutally murdered in Mannheim.

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While you read why not listen to my album ‘Electro Baroque‘ (all tracks are also available on iTunes using the link here)? Classical music using modern instruments:

or if you prefer to listen to my electro/techno album ‘Studio Valiumm‘ here are the videos (also on iTunes using the link here):

More info about my music is at the dedicated website www.TRANSFORMATES.com

Followers of my blog at ChrisDuggleby.com will be well aware of my crusade to convince the international community that humour is alive and thriving in the German press. Many of us ‘non-Germans’ think that our Teutonic neighbours are devoid of the any ‘silly’ genes. I lived and worked in Germany for many years and even donated my sperm to ensure the diversity of the country’s gene pool. I can confirm humour is very much alive there – you just have to know where to look for it (Oh…and being bilingual helps).

For example, take this morning’s dip into a highly respected Munich newspaper. I quickly scanned the obligatory ‘filler’ articles written to satisfy the mainstay readership of liberals and lefties. These covered subjects like which branch of medicine will get priority should the US President donate his brain to science and whether the term ‘Brexit’ could be registered in the EU as a laxative. Suddenly I was knocked out of my political apathy by a highly relevant and informative article about German Police taking rabbits into custody.

p2-rabbit-restrained-by-german-police-see-17-feb-2017-blog-at-chrisdugglebydotcomIt would appear that a chap in Bexbach (in the German State of Saarland), was under investigation for causing injury and property damage. The suspect expressed concern that his 33 rabbits would not be able to cope without him should he be taken into custody. The lady judge clearly had a soft spot for bunnies and instructed the police to also make arrangements to detain the man’s rabbits. According to police reports the operation to secure the rabbits was a pretty ‘sweaty’ affair (“schweißtreibend” a term used by the force to describe their most challenging arrests). Fortunately the Rabbits have now all been apprehended and are awaiting news about their keeper – presumably their sentences will run in parallel.

Following this journalistic masterpiece I moved to the science and technology part of the paper. Here I came across an update on the latest advances in communicating with bees.

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These days there is a lot of scientific research involving bees to try and understand why their numbers have been diminishing. One exciting approach involves trying to decipher the bee’s language to learn how to communicate with them. Then we can quite simply ask them ‘Hey Bee, whats up?‘. Therefore it was with great enthusiasm that the German newspaper reported a breakthrough published on Feb 8th 2017 by the online journal Plos One (link for techie geeks and non-believers here).

The scientists appear to have deciphered how bees are able to make warning ‘Whoop‘ noises (in bee language of course) to their brethren in the hive. The researchers indicated that this bee ‘Whooping’ is part of an international warning language (honey bees from both the UK and France volunteered for this research). For example if a nasty creature bites a bee’s leg when it gathers nectar it goes back to the hive and warns its pals by whooping at them. (“one study….pinched the leg of a bee at the food source to replicate an insect bite and recorded the ‘whoops’ upon its return. Interestingly, the study showed that a bee who came under attack and won the battle or came back unharmed did not whoop about the danger” source: Plos One).

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I suspect the researchers will now be turning their attention to determining if there are any regional variations to the Bees’ whooping – for example do the English Bees say ‘whoops’ when they there is actually nothing wrong? Or do French bees tend to exaggerate about their experiences and have highly passionate whooping sessions with their neighbours (I am not sure whether Parisian Bees were involved in the study).

The whooping is vibrational in nature and apparently you can induce a whole colony to repeat it en masse if you simulate the warning whoop by gently vibrating a bee hive. It works best at night – imagine the trauma in the hive when thousands of the little darlings all suddenly start saying ‘whoop whoop’ to each other! By signalling danger whooping has evolved as a way of helping fellow bees to get the best nosh (‘Excuse me – but if I were you I wouldn’t go there – you might get your leg bitten‘).

p4-honey-bees-say-excuse-me-see-17-feb-2017-blog-at-chrisdugglebydotcomThe third heart-rending story in today’s German press involved a penguin that had recently been reported as ‘kidnapped’. This Penguin was a resident at the Mannheim Zoo. On 11th February during the 3 p.m. feeding session the zoo’s staff noticed that penguin number 53 had gone missing. After a thorough search the staff were able to rule out that the penguin had simply walked off (escaped) or that it had been attacked by another animal. Their conclusion was that it must have been kidnapped!

Well today the zoo staff’s worst fears were confirmed. Not only had the penguin been kidnapped but it had also been murdered. It’s poor little body was found under a bush in a nearby car park. It is too early to say exactly how and when the penguin died but the medical experts will, of course, do a full autopsy and the police have enlisted their best detectives onto the case to help unravel what happened. At the time of going to press an act of terrorism had not been eliminated – the authorities were keeping an open mind.

As a precaution security measures for all remaining penguins in the Mannheim area have been tightened. Local penguins have been discouraged from going out unaccompanied. The murdered penguin was not known to have any political affiliations and as far as the authorities knew it had never visited North Korea.

Clearly this is a rather sad note upon which to end this week’s article but it serves to underline that we are living in difficult times. Fortunately in today’s troubled world you can rely on the German press to present the important facts as they really are – No fake news here!

Chris Duggleby. 

Academic researchers (and second rate publications looking to poach a good story) can review the original articles using these German links – Rabbits (here), Bees (here) and Penguin (here). All news at ChrisDuggleby.com is thoroughly researched.

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If you found this article interesting please consider taking a look at some of my other recent reports on similar subjects.

Just click on the titles below:

…starting with some fun related articles:

8th Mar 2017: Nano Chip Cock Ring Detects STIs – Size, Thrust, and Speed – From Penis via Smartphone to Facebook

28th Feb 2017: Vaccinations Cause Children to Masturbate – Public Frustration At Austrian Article:

16th Oct 2016: How to Prevent Smelly Trumps – Scientific Breakthrough in Australia – Good Carbs Mean Good Farts 

9th March 2016: Penis Ring Emergency – German Fire Fighters Rescue Man From Painful 13 Cock Ring Torture: Vorsprung durch Technik and erectile dysfunction

21st June 2015: Bio-undies: Guilt free Passion with ‘Easy Emma’ and ‘Loose Harry’and Getting Rid of Garden Snails with Rent-a-Duck

4th March 2015: Hamburg Reeperbahn (St. Pauli): Germans install walls that urinate on passers-by

17th April 2014: Niche On-line Dating Services (Specialities: Herpes, Thrush and Genital Warts)

18th August 2012: How Bavarians and Austrians use their middle fingerFingerhakeln: a men-only sport (did Arnold Schwarzenegger start training this way?).

You can also find some of my more humorous reports in the Alpine Press section of this site using the link here.

some here is some more serious stuff:

12th June 2016 Hospital Serial Killer – Super Bugs Created With Jumping Genes During Bacterial Sex

21st May 2016 Skin Cancer and Cataracts From Your Car – Poor UV Side Protection – Windows Tested From 15 Vehicle Makers

19th April 2016 Torture In The Shower – Face and Body Soap Allergies – Main Suspect: Pears Transparent Soap

3rd March 2016 Using Gene Drives To Change Mosquito Sex In Fight Against Zika, Dengue and Malaria

3rd Feb 2016 Zika Infection Spread By Sex In Dallas – Earlier Sexual Transmission In Colorado – Detailed Symptoms 

31st Jan 2016  Bed Bugs – Insecticide Resistance – Arbovirus Transmission – Zika and Microcephy

13th Jan 2016 Kill Head Lice In A Day With The Newly Developed Plasma Nitcomb From The German Fraunhofer Institute

26th July 2015 Poison in your Washing Machine: Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Laundry Detergents, Softeners, Conditioners and Whiteners

29th December 2012: Spreading diarrhea and vomit through the washing machine– The Norovirus propagator in our kitchen

…please visit chrisduggleby.com again.

Contamination of Earth by Extraterrestrial Plague – Space Pox – Viral Video (Literally)

Contamination of Earth by Extraterrestrial Plague – Space Pox – Viral Video (Literally) One of the biggest threats to humanity is probably just around the corner. Commercial organisations are working on projects to develop space travel and explore, colonise or mine other planets, moons and asteroids. The risk of these developments introducing Alien Microbes to Earth is discussed in this article.  

Our Milky Way is expected to provide countless opportunities for Microbial Life forms to evolve
Our Milky Way is expected to provide countless opportunities for Microbial Life forms to evolve

Regular visitors to my website will be familiar with articles describing developments in medicine and molecular biology. Another area that interests me is the search for life in outer space. I would particularly like to discover how alien biology differs from earth biology especially in terms of its biochemicals. Will it make use of DNA, RNA, Protein, and Carbohydrate molecules as we do? Will it have adapted versions of these, or perhaps be built around a totally different biochemistry to anything we have on Earth?

Although we have started to look for microbes on Mars we have only scratched the surface so far
Although we have started to look for microbes on Mars we have only scratched the surface so far

It is believed that many (perhaps billions) of planets or their moons will have evolved some form of life although we still have to find proof. As is the case here on earth the most abundant life forms in space will certainly be microbial. Microbes were the first life forms to evolve on earth and we will probably find such microscopic life forms in space before we come across more complex organisms like ourselves. In fact only recently in the history of planet Earth have more complex organisms evolved. For the vast majority of our planet’s history it was only inhabited by microbes.

If another asteroid hits the earth like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs it might destroy all the animals and plants on Earth but the microbes would almost certainly survive. This is because they are versatile, hugely diverse, can be highly robust and resistant to destructive forces. They are also able to evolve and adapt very rapidly. Our microbial ancestors may even have originated on other worlds and were then brought here on asteroids during the Earth’s early history.

Selfie on Mars by the Curiosity rover drilling for bugs
Selfie on Mars by the Curiosity rover drilling for bugs (click on any picture to see more detail)

As a former medical microbiologist I am very much aware of the variety of microbes on our own planet – these bugs are able to live in some of the most inhospitable places on earth – at the poles, next to volcanic vents in the ocean or deep in the ground where no atmospheric oxygen is present. They can make energy out of some of the most unusual substrates – such as sulphur, hydrogen, iron or hydrogen sulphide (the ‘rotten eggs’ gas found near volcanoes). On the ocean beds they even digest oil playing an important role in clearing up the mess from oil spills and leaks.

New local worlds - These 10 exoplanets around Jupiter have recently been identified
New local worlds – These 10 exoplanets around Jupiter have recently been identified

Microbes can dramatically change their environment. They even change whole planets. We believe that originally the Earth did not have any atmospheric oxygen – it had an anaerobic (oxygen free) atmosphere – and the bugs that first grew here would have actually been killed by the presence of any oxygen.

In the very early days of evolution on Earth these ‘oxygen hating’ microbes learned how to harness sunlight to make energy and store it in chemicals like sugars. One of the byproducts of this process was the conversion of water (and carbon dioxide) into oxygen. With time large quantities of oxygen appeared on the earth. Yes the oxygen we breath was originally created by microbes (We also believe the water was brought here by asteroids – but that is another story). These bugs were able to use nitrogen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to enable the creation of proteins. By putting lots of oxygen (and ozone) into the Earth’s atmosphere microbes helped to protect all future life forms from harmful radiation from space (including from the sun). They also converted unusable inorganic elements like carbon, nitrogen and sulphur into organic forms that more complex living organisms (like us) can use as food and energy. Without all this preparation by microbes the Earth would not today be suitable for the evolution and survival of humans.

By the way those oxygen hating bugs are still with us – but they now live in parts of the Earth where they do not come into contact with oxygen – like at the bottom of the ocean, deep in the ground or hiding in the middle of the poo in your gut (plenty of nice methane there!). They are so sensitive to the presence of oxygen we have to use special air free methods and containers to try and grow them – if the earth ever loses its atmosphere these guys would still be here.

Two rocky planets have recently been found in the Kepler 10 system
Two rocky planets have recently been found in the Kepler 10 system

So we should not underestimate the power of microbes to change a whole planet and to influence the evolution of living systems. We are all familiar with some of the obvious harmful effects of a few microbes – they can cause disease in both people and crops. In fact microbes can even make other microbes sick – bacteriophages are special viruses that attack bacteria and can kill them. We use these bacteriophages in genetic engineering to inject new genes into bacteria to make them manufacture special proteins for us.

What many of us don’t appreciate is that our bodies are actually complex partnerships between our own cells and the many billions of microbes that live with us – on our skin, in our guts and even inside our cells. Many people are surprised to learn that a few percent of the DNA (the stuff genes are made of) in all of our cells actually came from viruses. During our evolution these viruses have infected our cells and injected new genetic material (together with their own genes) into our DNA. So our own genes appear to be based, at least in part, from exchanges we have made in the past with microbes. This genetic exchange actually allowed us to evolve more quickly and develop more sophisticated biochemical processes. Every cell in your body has several energy generating units called mitochondria – they are unusual because they actually have their own genes – this is because they were originally bacteria that the predecessors of our own cells formed a partnership with. Yes bacteria came inside our cells and now help them to generate energy more efficiently.

This small list of likely habitable zone planets for microbes is growing rapidly
This small list of likely habitable zone planets for microbes is growing rapidly

I feel very strongly that we need to be very careful to protect the cooperation between our own bodies and the microbes that live on and inside us. Not only do they protect us from disease (nasty germs find it harder to get to our bodies because the path is blocked by our ‘friendly’ bugs) but they also help us to digest some kinds of foods and produce vitamins in our gut. This is our microbiome and we need to be careful whenever we use antibiotics or even detergents, soaps and preservatives in our foods. These products, although designed to kill disease-causing bugs, can also harm the friendly microbes upon which our health and well-being depend. Our body is not our own – it is a symbiotic partnership with microbes.

Our focus at the moment is to try and identify potential host planets for microbial life
Our focus at the moment is to try to identify potential host planets for microbial life

Although the scientist in me is interested to learn what forms of microbial life exist in space I am also very concerned that we will need to be very careful. My biggest fear is that we could contaminate our own planet with ‘alien’ microbes that are much better at using the available resources than the life that already exists here. Our own history is littered with stories of explorers who returned to their homelands carrying terrible new diseases like the plague or syphilis. In our early attempts to colonise new countries we almost wiped out populations of natives by giving them small-pox, influenza or even the common cold. When you bring new microbes into ‘virgin’ territory the population will not have had a chance to develop any natural immunity. After ‘white explorers’ arrived in the Americas 80-90% of the unprotected Native Americans are estimated to have died of small-pox.

The Revamped Kepler space telescope is leading the search for potential life bearing planets
The Revamped Kepler space telescope is leading the search for potential life-bearing planets

This lack of natural protection will certainly hold true for any foreign microbes that we bring to Earth from other planets, moons or asteroids. If we have not had contact with them before we will not have evolved any natural resistance. Most forms of protection like antibodies, antibiotics and other drugs depend upon the precise chemical structure and processes used by the target microbe. But if these microbes use a totally different chemistry our bodies and our scientists will not know where to start. Even the antibiotics we use to-day were originally invented by Earth microbes (they used them to kill off their microbial competitors). We simply stole and copied them and they almost certainly will not work on alien bacteria.

The Earth is surrounded by a vacuum that is constantly bombarded by radiation (we are protected from this by the oxygen and ozone in our atmosphere). Any bugs floating through space on, for example, an asteroid would probably be destroyed long before they reach the Earth by the radiation. And if this is not enough the huge temperatures generated as an asteroid falls through our atmosphere would finish off the sterilisation process. For this reason it is probably quite unlikely that microbes from other parts of space could reach us on their own (Although the products of microbial disintegration, like amino acids – the building blocks of proteins, might survive this thorough cleansing process. If these building blocks are found on asteroids they could be a sign that bugs do exist in space).

Kepler 22B was the first planet to be found in its suns habitable zone
Kepler 22B was the first planet to be found in its sun’s habitable zone

Mankind is starting to penetrate this protective shell around our own planet as we start to explore other worlds. As we send space vehicles to visit planets and other bodies in space and carry out tests we will soon learn about the life forms that have evolved elsewhere in the universe. I worry about what might happen if we try to bring back samples to test on earth (like the moon rocks we collected in the past) or if we send humans to carry out scientific missions (and bring them again home afterwards). We will risk bringing microbial ‘contamination’ back to Earth. We could be unleashing a Pandora’s box of problems – it is believed that upon their return the explorers who first visited the Americas with Columbus brought syphilis back to Europe (prior to this time the disease was not known in Europe – this ‘Great Pox’ killed over 5 million people).

Therefore we need to be vigilant. In our thirst for knowledge we must design our testing processes and projects very carefully. If information can be gleamed using automated equipment that does not need to return to Earth this would be preferable to the risk of contaminating ourselves with any microbes we find. However we should also be careful to ensure the equipment we send is absolutely sterile – we do not want to risk contaminating virgin worlds with Earth bugs. I am sure the scientists at established governmental space bodies like NASA and the ESA understand these issues but many commercial enterprises are starting to get very interested in space exploration. We need to make sure the proper controls are in place and that these projects are frequently being independently tested.

Gradually state controlled space exploration will be replaced by commercially financed missions
Gradually state controlled space exploration will be replaced by commercially financed missions

Happy travels,

Chris Duggleby

The search continues this is the proposed starshade concept flying in sync with a space telescope
The search continues – this is the proposed starshade concept vehicle flying in sync with a space telescope

If you are interested in reading my other health focused articles try the following

Torture In The Shower – Face and Body Soap Allergies – Main Suspect: Pears Transparent Soap

Poison in your Washing Machine: Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Laundry Detergents, Softeners, Conditioners and Whiteners

Is Alzheimer’s caused by the Gum Disease Bacterium P. Gingivalis – A Dementia Prevention/Treatment Breakthrough?

Toxic Chemicals in Sex Toys – 18 Vibrators, Cock Rings, Love Balls Tested – Only 3 Get All Clear

My T-shirt Made Me Sick – Textile Allergies – Sinusitis From Your Underwear

Jaw Pain After Dental Work – Snoring – Breathing Stops When Sleeping – TMD and Sleep Apnea?

Jaw Pain After Dental Work – Snoring – Breathing Stops When Sleeping – TMD and Sleep Apnea? In this article I describe how a dental patient (me!) dealt with TMD (Temporo Mandibular Joint Disorder) and sleep apnea (stopping breathing while sleeping). I also explain a cause of loud snoring and how I cured it (well at least I think I have!)

You meet the nicest people when sleeping
You meet the nicest people when sleeping

For some time I have wanted to share with you some very unpleasant problems I experienced following a dental appointment a few months ago. As things developed I actually found myself suffering from something that has been known to lead to strokes, heart attacks and even death.

My dental appointment was nothing out of the ordinary I needed preparation for a crown to be installed where a large filling from my childhood had started falling apart (when I was a child my parents owned a candy store!). This was not my first crown. The work, on the last molar of my upper right jaw, required a local anaesthetic and some pretty hefty drilling and grinding work to remove the filling and the rather sparse remains of the original tooth. I was given a temporary filling while a new crown was prepared.

Dental Work Can have Unforseen Consequences
Dental Work Can have Unforeseen Consequences

Within a couple of days the ache on that part of my mouth became so strong that I had to give up eating any food that required strenuous chewing (and when I had to chew I did it on the other side of my mouth). I don’t like to take pain killers so I put up with the ache and focused on trying to remove the cause of the pain. After about 4 weeks the pain seemed to be improving and the dentist fitted the crown. The pain returned so I continued to avoid heavy chewing to give the crown a few days to ‘settle in’.

Any attempt to start chewing again was followed by considerable pain in my jaw (my diet has a large amount of vegetable matter which requires lots of heavy chewing for periods of up to 30 minutes – a bit like a cow chewing its cud). More worrying I found that whenever I tried to sleep I would wake up in agonising pain, also in the jaw area. This happened when any part of my jaw was in contact with the pillow or bed as I slept.

When I was younger I slept on my side
When I was younger I slept on my side

I normally sleep on my stomach with my head turned to the right or left. I usually alternate between the two several times during a night’s sleep. This is something I have done for a number of years. Previously I had slept on my sides (both of them) but I found this often gave me back or side ache. Also when sleeping on my side I would often find that I slept on one of my arms disturbing circulation so I would wake up with a ‘dead arm‘. Somehow sleeping on my stomach was forcing my back into a ‘better’ posture and my back (and arm) pains disappeared. I also try to sleep with my feet over the bottom of the bed (where they stick out) which tended to keep me stretched out rather than adopting on a foetal position. I found the foetal position could also lead to pains in my side.

With increasing age I found sleeping on my stomach reduced back ache
With increasing age I found sleeping on my stomach reduced back ache (by the way – this in not a photo of me!)

Just to be clear – I am not someone who regularly suffers from back, side or neck pains. The description above is simply intended to explain that on the few occasions when these pains have occurred I tried to work our what was wrong with my posture in bed and fix it.

Following my dental experience I found that I could avoid waking up with jaw pain if I slept on my back with the pillows so positioned to force my head into a vertical (looking up towards the ceiling) position. Sleeping like this took a bit of getting used to but it did help to avoid the jaw pain and also didn’t give me a stiff back. This was presumably because my back was stretched out in a horizontal posture.

After a bit of research I realised that following the dental work I had been suffering from TMD (Temporo Mandibular Joint Disorder). The tempero mandibular joint is where the jaw is attached to the skull and together with the muscles attached to it this is the main junction involved when we chew (see picture).

The Location of Temporo Mandibular Joint Disorder TMD
The Location of Temporo Mandibular Joint Disorder TMD

There is a lot of discussion about what can cause problems in this area and what you can do about it. Rather than having a single cause this type of pain may even be due to multiple issues, some physiological and some possibly psychological in nature (for example related to stress or anxiety). It can also be linked to other symptoms like teeth grinding which can also take place while you are sleeping. TMD is considered to be either acute (less than 3 months in duration) or chronic (lasting longer).

In my case I did not remember having this kind of pain in the past and I felt certain it resulted from my dental work – other people have also reported similar problems after visiting the dentist. It may be caused by the long periods that a patient has to sit with their mouth in a strained open position while the dentist does their work. It might be related to damage, perhaps done to the nerve or other tissues, when the dentist injects a local anaesthetic. It might be due to trauma on the joint caused by prolonged drilling or grinding of the tooth. This trauma could be transmitted through the jaw bone and into the sensitive joint area (a bit like injuries caused in the knee following an excessive running session – especially if one is overweight, unprepared or runs on a hard surface). Of course being a heavy chewer doesn’t help – it is a bit like trying to continue running on an injured knee – it just makes the problem a lot worse.

I Only Wanted a Crown But I Got TMD
I Only Wanted a Crown But I Got TMD

As my research turned up no simple or certain cure for TMD I decided that I probably had the acute version and that the best approach would be to immediately minimise further strain on the joint. I hoped that, if this was like a knee injury, lots of rest and avoiding further strain would allow the body to do its own reparative work.

So I stopped eating anything that required heavy chewing which meant no salads (mine are usually very crunchy), no chewing gum, no muesli (especially the lumpy sort), no nuts and seeds and even my daily ration of 80% dark chocolate was taken out of the fridge to reduce its brittleness. Clearly my diet became somewhat limited – try living off mashed bananas, Weetabix and honeyed Greek yogurt for a couple of months. OK I could suck on the chocolate for a treat.

To avoid jaw pain from TMD I started sleaping on my back
To avoid jaw pain from TMD I started sleeping on my back

I forced myself to continue sleeping on my back with my head facing straight up. This was necessary because any contact of the temporo mandibular joint area (just to the front of, and below, my ears) with the pillow led to agony after a few minutes. The was the same regardless of whether I was lying on the side of the dental work or the other side. I believe this is because contact with any part of my jaw bone (left, right or front) would put pressure on the injured part of the TM joint even if the main injury was just on one side. Clearly the TM joint region was very sore.

I knew of an acquaintance with a similar more chronic TMD problem which also involved grinding their teeth when asleep. Their doctor had prescribed a special head-gear to wear in bed which forced the person to sleep in a posture that avoided contact with the jaw or TM joint. I wanted to see if I could adapt my sleeping posture without wearing anything on my head (OK – I was a bit concerned that wearing a mask in bed might inhibit my chances of a nice romantic relationship – the ladies I know don’t like that sort of behaviour).

I decided to change my sleeping posture to avoid wearing a mask - (this helped to attract the right kind of lady)
I decided to change my sleeping posture to avoid wearing a mask – (this helped to attract the right kind of lady)

With time I managed to adapt to the new sleeping posture. The fixed position on my back could become uncomfortable for long periods (like a whole night). I think this is because my body enjoys dancing around when I sleep. If I don’t dance around the bed at night my joints start to ache. Therefore some of the back ache that I had eliminated by sleeping on my stomach returned but this was much better than the jaw pain if I slept on my front or side.

The good news was that after about a couple of months the TMD problems subsided and I was able to gradually return to my rather chewy diet. My jaw continued to be a bit sensitive to prolonged contact so I stayed sleeping on my back to avoid the risk of a recurrence.

If you must power sleep try and find a bed
If you must power sleep try to find a bed

Quite recently (about 5 months after the original dental work) I noticed an unusual development when I was sleeping on my back. Sometimes if I had a little power nap during the day I would lie on the bed (face upwards, back down) and drop off. After a short time I would wake-up to hear myself making a rather loud snoring sound – something I had not experienced before. In addition I would wake up in the night during an unusually unpleasant dream (historically I have tended to be a ‘happy’ dreamer). My heart would be pounding like mad and I would be out of breath and breathing as if I had just run a marathon. Try to imagine you have just been saved from drowning – this was how I felt. In addition my fingers and feet would tingle.

As I am getting on a bit in terms of years I thought: “OK better get ready for a heart attack – check the last Will and Testament is signed and that the kids know I am leaving my body to medical science”.

For a peaceful sleep the airways should not be obstructed
For a peaceful sleep the airways should not be obstructed

After a bit of time on the internet checking how to subscribe to multiple religious organisations (spreading my options) I came across something called sleep apnea. Put simply this is where you stop breathing when you are asleep and although many people live long lives with this problem it can, in extreme situations, lead to heart attacks, strokes or even death. If you stop breathing for a prolonged period your body, and most importantly your brain, can get starved of oxygen and cells/tissues may be damaged and start to die.

There are many things that can lead to this condition but one particularly caught my attention – it can be caused when you sleep on your back with your head facing the ceiling. In this position the soft tissue in your mouth and throat area can settle in the back of your throat and block the ventilation passage effectively starving you of oxygen and causing the levels of carbon dioxide (the ‘waste’ gas your lungs try to expel when you breathe out) to rise in your blood stream.

With Sleep Apnea the airways become blocked and prevent breathing
With Sleep Apnea the airways become blocked and prevent breathing

Fortunately the body has various safety mechanisms. The increase in carbon dioxide in the blood acts as a signal which can make you may start to choke (or snore ‘aggressively’) to try to clear any possible blockage (I guess this is a defence mechanism from when we lived in caves – it prevented people from choking on any bats they swallowed while asleep). In addition your rate of breathing increases to try to replenish the reduced oxygen levels in your blood and your heart starts pumping rapidly to try to get the limited oxygen to the parts of the body where it is needed as quickly as possible.

If you have ever experienced suffocation I believe the reaction of your body after waking from sleep apnea is very similar. The same response mechanisms are triggered to try to get oxygen (air) back into your lungs. When you drown these automatic responses make you gulp water into your lungs. The tingling sensation I was experiencing in my hands and feet when I woke up was probably due to those areas starting to be deprived of oxygen.

Depriving limbs of oxygen can give rise to a tingling sensation. If you sleep on your arm you can wake up and it first appears to be 'dead'.
Depriving limbs of oxygen can give rise to a tingling sensation. If you sleep on your arm you can wake up and it first appears to be ‘dead’.

Needless to say I decided it was a good time to stop sleeping on my back. I have now returned to sleeping mainly on my stomach – although I do have short periods on both sides and on my back to satisfy my body’s need for a night-time dance. Fortunately the jaw has recovered sufficiently for this to not be too painful although it took a while to get used to it. I have found soft, thin pillows can help in this process. The upside is that I can now sleep through the night without getting a stiff back, arms, legs and neck. I am actually getting a much better quality of sleep and my dreams have become decidedly more cheerful (being a recluse this is where I meet most of my friends!).

I am not a doctor so if you see any familiar symptoms here and are concerned make sure you get professional medical advice. Some of these problems can have serious consequences and various forms of help are available. Rest assured – jaw pain is a pretty common occurrence after dental treatment and apparently sleep apnea occurs in about a quarter of middle-aged men (according to a US study). So if you also think you may have these problems you are not alone. If you want to share your own experiences with other readers please do not hesitate to use the comments section (but if you include links to Viagra or sexual ‘fun’ sites the spam filter will automatically prevent your comments getting published – yes that includes you – ‘Over-the-counter’ Doris).

Peaceful dreams!

Chris Duggleby

One of the symptoms of TMD or Sleep Apnea is that you can feel very sleepy during the day (this is because of the reduced quality of your night time sleep)
One of the symptoms of TMD or Sleep Apnea is that you can feel very sleepy during the day (this is because of the reduced quality of your night-time sleep)

If you are interested in reading my other health focused articles try the following

Torture In The Shower – Face and Body Soap Allergies – Main Suspect: Pears Transparent Soap

Poison in your Washing Machine: Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Laundry Detergents, Softeners, Conditioners and Whiteners

Is Alzheimer’s caused by the Gum Disease Bacterium P. Gingivalis – A Dementia Prevention/Treatment Breakthrough?

Toxic Chemicals in Sex Toys – 18 Vibrators, Cock Rings, Love Balls Tested – Only 3 Get All Clear

My T-shirt Made Me Sick – Textile Allergies – Sinusitis From Your Underwear

The German Shit Exchange – A Green Economy Innovation

The German Shit Exchange – A Green Economy Innovation: Fears that Brexit will cause traders to leave London for Frankfurt are well founded. The Germans are developing innovative environmentally friendly trading products. Look out for the stink when the FTSE gets wind of this! Plus a video reminder to keep your festive shopping ethical.

The Key to Successfull Trading In Poo is Finding Ways To Manage the Smell
The Key to Successful Trading In Poo is Finding Ways To Manage the Smell

In these times of low-interest rates and volatile markets I am always on the look out for novel investment opportunities – especially those in the ‘green’ economy that are ethically appropriate (for example don’t involve child labour – see below).

To have some nice music while you read why not also listen to my e-baroque compositions – just click on the box below:

or if more modern music is your cup of tea here are some pieces of my own:

I hope you find the information below interesting…please visit chrisduggleby.com again.

Therefore I was interested to read in this morning’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung about the German Güllebörsen which can be roughly translated as their ‘Shit Exchange‘. Buying and selling ‘exchanges‘, like those used to trade commodities, are a useful way of improving economic efficiency. They put those who ‘have‘ in touch with those who ‘want‘. Futures and Options exchanges are an extension of this idea providing people with an opportunity to make the trade at a future date or by merely giving them the ‘option’ of buying or selling a commodity.

Inviting City Traders To Frankfurt
State of the art facilities and innovative products to encourage London City Traders To move to Frankfurt

But what about when the commodity is poo? Or to be more precise animal poo? For my masters dissertation about 25 years ago I researched setting up a new ‘exchange’ for the chemicals industry. The idea was to help producers and consumers of nasty smelling chemicals buy and sell more efficiently.

Well our German friends have gone one further and on their ‘shit exchange’ you can buy and sell some very nasty smelling products. To investigate this business in more detail I decided to take a look at the Nordrhein-Westfalen Region’s Nährstoffbörse. The word ‘Nährstoffbörse’ translates as ‘Nutrient Exchange‘ which I think uses a bit of artistic licence because it deals with buying and selling excretia from farm animals. I suppose the more descriptive name ‘Animal Shit Trading Website‘ struggled to get through the marketing department’s vetting process.

Frankfurt's Latest Exchange Traded Commodity
Frankfurt’s Latest Exchange Traded Commodity

The necessity to be able to trade in animal poo is underscored in German Law by the ‘Düngeverordnung‘ (Transl: ‘Dung Regulations’) which stipulates that the number of, for example cows or pigs, that a farmer can keep is limited by the availability of land needed to dispose of their poo. The idea behind this law is to control the amount of environmentally unfriendly contaminants like nitrates that get into the soil and then can enter the water table.

This means that a farmer may find he has more poo from his animals than he can use on his own land. This is where he needs the Shit Exchange – a managed way of trading in unwanted animal faeces. There are also other farmers who do not have enough fertiliser for their crops and would really appreciate someone dropping by with a truck load of poo. This demand often peaks in the spring time – precisely the period when animal farmer’s poo tanks are almost overflowing because they can’t ‘spread muck‘ during the winter snow.

Distributing Exchange Traded Commodities
Distributing Exchange Traded Commodities

The Nordrhein-Westfalen Regional Shit Exchange website provides details of how to take animal poo samples and where to send them. The relevant regional agricultural authority can then arrange sample testing (for a fee) – you need to specify what kind of poo it is – beef or dairy cattle, pig, horse, veal, chicken etc. You take 10 samples from your ‘vat’, mix them in a bucket and then send 0.75L in a bottle by post (specific details here).  The sample is then analysed for various chemicals (e.g. Nitrogen, Ammonia, Phosphates, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Solids etc.).

The analysis of the poo is important because as we say up-North: ‘All shit is not the same‘. The chemical characteristics of the poo help to determine its value to a potential customer and whether there is a risk of over-contaminating the local ground water with the wrong substances.

Making Liquid Commodities For Germany's Newest Exchange
Making Liquid Commodities For Germany’s Newest Exchange

Also ensuring customer and supplier are geographically close is an important job for the exchange. In addition to reducing transport costs this also helps to minimise the number of faeces tankers moving around the German road system. Despite every effort on the part of the suppliers these vehicles can sometimes be a bit smelly. Distance minimization is also important because the vehicles generally have to return empty (it is rather difficult to find other products that you could sensibly transport in a poo tanker – even if you wash it first).

Adequate Good Quality Storage Is Important In Commodity Trading
Adequate Good Quality Storage Is Important In Commodity Trading

So there you have it – a German environmentally friendly innovation in the area of risk management. In time I am sure they will introduce shit futures and options to further help manage farmers risks. I know that following Brexit there is a big movement to encourage the financial industry to move from the City of London to Frankfurt. Watch out you Brits you may have already missed the boat on the Frankfurt Shit Exchange!

A Diverse Economy Requires Multiple Sourcing Options
A Diverse Economy Requires Multiple Sourcing Options

On a slightly more serious note I have already mentioned ethical investments. With the heavy spending period now upon us we need to be careful that our purchases are not on the back of child labour. With this in mind I have added some enlightening photos of children working in the US Coal and Glass industries to my vintage photo collection (the link is here – the pics are all over 100 years old). In addition I have used these pictures in my latest video (music composed and produced by ‘yours truly’). To see this just click on the box below:

Thanks for taking the time to visit my site.

Chris Duggleby

Useful Links: The Nordrhein-Westfalen Region’s Nährstoffbörse

The relevant German Newspaper Article: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

This is Where Environmentally Responsible Trading Starts
This is Where Environmentally Responsible Trading Starts

Ever wondered what life was like over 100 years ago? Why not check out my videos about the ‘good old days’? Just click below:

If you found this article interesting please consider taking a look at some of his other recent reports on similar subjects.

Just click on the titles below:

…starting with some fun related articles:

16th Oct 2016: How to Prevent Smelly Trumps – Scientific Breakthrough in Australia – Good Carbs Mean Good Farts 

9th March 2016: Penis Ring Emergency – German Fire Fighters Rescue Man From Painful 13 Cock Ring Torture: Vorsprung durch Technik and erectile dysfunction

21st June 2015: Bio-undies: Guilt free Passion with ‘Easy Emma’ and ‘Loose Harry’and Getting Rid of Garden Snails with Rent-a-Duck

4th March 2015: Hamburg Reeperbahn (St. Pauli): Germans install walls that urinate on passers-by

17th April 2014: Niche On-line Dating Services (Specialities: Herpes, Thrush and Genital Warts)

18th August 2012: How Bavarians and Austrians use their middle fingerFingerhakeln: a men-only sport (did Arnold Schwarzenegger start training this way?).

You can also find some of my more humorous reports in the Alpine Press section of this site using the link here.

some here is some more serious stuff:

12th June 2016 Hospital Serial Killer – Super Bugs Created With Jumping Genes During Bacterial Sex

21st May 2016 Skin Cancer and Cataracts From Your Car – Poor UV Side Protection – Windows Tested From 15 Vehicle Makers

19th April 2016 Torture In The Shower – Face and Body Soap Allergies – Main Suspect: Pears Transparent Soap

3rd March 2016 Using Gene Drives To Change Mosquito Sex In Fight Against Zika, Dengue and Malaria

3rd Feb 2016 Zika Infection Spread By Sex In Dallas – Earlier Sexual Transmission In Colorado – Detailed Symptoms 

31st Jan 2016  Bed Bugs – Insecticide Resistance – Arbovirus Transmission – Zika and Microcephy

13th Jan 2016 Kill Head Lice In A Day With The Newly Developed Plasma Nitcomb From The German Fraunhofer Institute

26th July 2015 Poison in your Washing Machine: Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Laundry Detergents, Softeners, Conditioners and Whiteners

29th December 2012: Spreading diarrhea and vomit through the washing machine– The Norovirus propagator in our kitchen

…please visit chrisduggleby.com again.

Transformation and Risk

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