Human Body: Pushing The Limits

2 05 2008

Who here loves the Discovery Channel?


Put on your David Attenborough voice over: “Hee-are we see an evolved species, in it’s na-Tur-aL habitat.” 

Great works have been filmed and viewed from it on countless occasions. Yes I am showing my real deep geeky/nerdy side (I which consist of 9 different types of cheese) but I have to admit that I am absolutely fascinated by a lot of the things that show throws at us! Animals in the wild are among an all time favourite (along with what Animal Planet gives us of course).

Recently I had the pleasure of watching all 4 episodes of the Human Body series. Overall it was quite good. The whole show is presented in an excited exaggerated kind of format for the average lay person. I liked the overall structure of it, but to me a lot of terms seemed very basic and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for them to say hypothalamuspineal gland or the frontal lobe instead of the ‘learning centre’, the ‘sleep control centre’ or the  ‘logical thought processing centre’ respectively. Now I know why doctors want to throw up when they watch shows like House or Grey’s Anatomy. To be fair I didn’t notice anything inaccurate with the show (I am still a newbie scientist though so don’t take my words as gospel), but it just seemed very basic. I guess that’s what learning about a lot of the stuff they said though does to you. What the average stuff is said on the media and TV about science is so basic but yet, for many it is stuff that people barely can understand. The same thing obviously occurs to me when I read about legal things, financial things (seriously it’s all just a bunch of random numbers to me), or any other topic I am not specialized in (life in general maybe… OOH SNAP!).

Illu diencephalon .jpg

The right hypothalamus is connected to the right thalamus, the right thalamus is connected to the…

Oh and one more thing. I found the constant flashes back and forth and constant editing and repeating of certain scenes a bit excessive. I suppose the purpose of it was of course to bring excitement and make the show seem like fun, but to me it seemed like they tried a bit too much to excite and dazzle! Or people like flashy stuff? I suppose it’s better than reading it from a book so I will shut up now hehe.

I did learn a number of awesome things though. This includes:

-If you are ever lost at sea with little or no food, the fishes un cooked liver, skin, eyes (has fresh water in them believe it or not), and a bunch of other internal organs are quite tasty.
-You can fall 60 feet (OMG its 21st century people– no offence of course!) and get by with a fractured knee joint a fractured hip and still survive after 2 days of agony.


Metric system.png

I thought this proves the above point quite nicely. 😉 (I just dug a deep deep hole didn’t I?)


-You can lift 500 pounds (or was it more) when you are just about to fall of a cliff.
-You can run faster than a camel when a fireball is thrown at you by a wizard.
-Staying awake for 2 days makes you cranky and there’s a reason why people hate alarm clocks.
-Magic tricks are fun.
-Some people have cheesy voices. I mean ugh, magic is cool!?
-The magic colour changing card trick (YouTube this one)
-Monks from China can survive pain via controlling their mind and stuff.
-Eating less food makes you live longer (I want to look this up for confirmation as I can imagine some of my lecturers debating this, but for all I know it can be an accepted fact from the scientific community). 
-We might be able to one day control our dreams (THIS IS COOL IMO)
-We might be able to restore the vision of people in the future (well I guess people always knew this will one day happen, but they showed a really awesome case of this on the show)

Plus heaps more!

So yeah, when bored and you want to know a few more things about your body, do check it out. You just might learn a thing or two!



My obsessive compulsive is the mandatory placing of a caption under every picture, when it might not be needed. 😉 

University student species; part 1.

8 04 2008

The conversational overachiever is someone whose grasp exceeds his reach. This is possible but not attractive.Fran Lebowitz

So I have been reading a few medical related blogs lately to kill boredom/procrastinate (see Med Blogroll on my sidebar). I noticed in quite a few of them among other things, they discuss their fellow peers. In one aspect, they talk about the wonderful/awesome/god-sent people that they have met. They however also mention another side. The one that is not usually associated with Medical School. That is of course, the freaks/nut jobs/lunatics that have the smarts to get into med school (or more luck than a hobo getting a stripper to dance for free) and they also have a general interest in studying Medicine. However some of these individuals on a social level are not all there. As I have not personally seen students from Med School of that nature I shall stay clear from discussing them further. However I did make one crazy observation. I paused one moment while waiting for the lecture to start. I had a look around the lecture room and observed my class mates, my peers, the many that I talk to, the many that I just say hi, and the few that I have never spoken to in my entire life but have been present for my entire University course. Then it hit me: THERES FREAKS EVERYWHERE!!!

Don’t get me wrong. I am sure many of the people I am going to describe have in a past life or in another dimension done great wonderful things such as go to Nigeria to train world class marathon runners or built bridges in Bangalore, cured TB in Thailand, eradicated Malaria in Swampistan (irony?) and so on. But well, there’s also reality and for these freaks and losers, it does not paint a pretty picture (ok lame finishing of sentence but whatever).

So with out further ado I present to you 5 (out of 15) of the University species and sub-species present in my University (which I believe is a fair estimate of the many other universities showcased around Australia and perhaps the world in general. Prevalence in quantity may vary depending on University credentials and quality of intake).

 Common name (what they are generally classed as determined by the masses) followed by Scientific name (Ok just my attempt at typing up random Latin letters).

Gender: Male, female, a bit in between.. (hey heard about that dude that is pregnant?!!? No kidding…)
Appearance: A simple few signs, gives ability to point out this freakazoid in public and laugh at him
Noise level: From non existent to Jet engine (self explanatory don’t you think)?
Distraction level: Again self explanatory but just to be annoying; from non existent to causing you to fail your course and force you to repeat a year.
Seating arrangements: Front row, back row, next to the lecturer, at home in bed, on the side, always the same spot, is there variety?
Annoyance factor: A rating of 1-10, 1 meaning who cares he does not bother me and I did not even know he existed until you described him to me, to 10 meaning wanting to assassinate said individual before he utters another word/question/remark. It will be divided up as follow:
*General student cohort: What the UNI people think.
*Lecturers: What the lecturer thinks.
Prevalence: Majority, minority, making a reappearance, more in first year? Second year?
Airplane throwing at their head: Will you get caught if you throw a paper airplane at their head? Will they care? Will they throw it back? Eat it? Etc…
Other features: Misc. (I have no witty anecdotes or analogies for this)
Survival rate: Will they be extinct anytime soon? When will we see the last of their species? Will they continue on to honors? PhD? 
Similar species: AKA can mate successfully with
General description: Some finishing comment.


  Sleepers (Drowzus sleepicus)

Gender: Predominately male
Appearance: Mouth open, drool exudates from corner of moth
Noise level: Quiet minus the snoring
Distraction level: Minimal at a distance. Sea other features for close encounter distractions.
Seating arrangements: Back row (Though they occasionally venture into front row territory, aggravating the lecturer/professor)
Annoyance factor: 
*General student cohort: 1/10
*Lecturers: 12/10 (Nothing gets at a lecturers ego more than some punk sleeping while he is giving a stellar lecture)
Prevalence: Sparse at best
Airplane throwing at their head: Too easy! You just need to be able to aim and hilarity ensues from there
Other features: Water splashed on them, drawn penises on face, fluro highlighter on eyebrows.
Survival rate: Very high, genes encoded via an Autosomal Dominant pattern.
Similar species: Failures and Exam showups.
General description: Blame whatever you will, these guys have a tendency to sleep and they do not miss doing it in at least one lecture per day. Not finishing an assignment and spending the entire night the day before its due, that awesome club/party/WoW party/, or even the lecturer himself, these guys like to sleep during the lecture for whatever reason they can conjure up. Why they did not stay in bed is obvious. Because they are idiots! Seriously guys, if you can not pay attention in class (or for that matter have a chat with the person next to you distracting everyone else in the process) why come? Lecture theatres are not the most comfy places to sleep… 

 Invisibles (Existencus Lackus)

Gender: Equal proportion of the sexes.
Appearance: Charlie Brown, Non-memorable, easy to forget… Who are we talking about?
Noise level: Any such noise levels are just in your head.
Distraction level: Again non existent (which many see as a good thing)
Seating arrangements: This species is the most variable in this aspect. It has no particular niche and when it does tend to appear is seated wherever there is room
Annoyance factor:
*General student cohort: 0/10
*Lecturers: 0/10 (they get paid same amount of money whether they show up or not, and less people means better capabilities of presenting an excellent lecture)
Prevalence: Many speculate their existence, being nothing more than an urban myth. Those that believe in their existence however say that there is a presence of them. Location pending.
Airplane throwing at their head: N/A
Other features: Can walk through walls, read minds, have been known to levitate (AKA like Santa Clause)
Survival rate: Again exceptionally prevalent. Tends to contain a stronger breed during first and second year.
Similar speciesClosets (see part 2) and Exam showups.
General description: Truth be told; their invisibility is not apparent until after the first 2 weeks of the semester. Their genes obviously are not expressing the correct proteins at the early stage. Once the critical 2 week period is reached though, you will hardly ever see these individuals again. To be fair, they do show up at the occasional lecture. If we have 10 lectures per week they will show up for 2 of them. If we have 20, they will show up at 3. Their lack of commitment is at first puzzling but it then becomes obvious what’s causing their invisibility. They made a HUGE mistake during high school and picked a subject that they did not want to do and had no idea what it was about. Instead of dropping out of it though and saving themselves tuition fees (which can be anywhere from 2 grand to 10 grand per semester) they decide to waste paperwork and their time by going to a lecture a few days per month for no real purpose. These invisibles do not even show up for exams (I am not joking), that is how much a waste of space they are. (Does anyone remember moments of the first week at UNI where you couldn’t find a place to sit because there were so many people in the one lecture? Blame these fools for it).   

 Exam showups (Examus failus)

Gender: Male, rarely female
Appearance: Smoke, laid back, attitude, general snobbiness, arrive 10 minutes late for lecture if they show up at all
Noise level: Loud when they are there, but similar to the invisibles above, they got better things to do (like hang outside the lecture room) than be inside
Distraction level: Very high. They usually talk loudly and they do not pay attention to what is being said by the lecturer.
Seating arrangements: Middle to the back. Sometimes on the sides. In someone else’s bed?
Annoyance factor:
*General student cohort: 8/10 (Only when present in lectures, otherwise 0/10)
*Lecturers: 4/10 (If they are at the back, he won’t be able to hear them)
Prevalence: Highest in first year. Non-existent in 3rd. (See a trend?)
Airplane throwing at their head: They are the ones that do this haha!
Other features: Known to plagiarize, never actually do their work
Survival rate: Always a strong batch of them in first year. Extinct by third
Similar species: Failures
General description: Unlike the invisibles, which never show themselves both inside and outside the lecture theatre (and just stay home) these fools actually come to UNI but all they do is sit around outside. It’s great way to socialize and meet new friends (and there is nothing wrong with that aspect) but it’s a bit expensive at 30 dollars per hour (cost of one lecture you do not attend). None-the-less they do not seem to mind. Hence they hardly put in any effort, and are just hoping to fluke it on the exam. The strategy goes that they will do past exam papers and they will simply remember/revise the answers as the rumor has it that exam questions stay the same from year to year. Hence that is why you will see them passing first year (miraculously) and you will see them around second… but they fail the second year (exams do not always stay the same idiots!) and by third you never see them again.

 Failures (Fukalis Failus)

Gender: Male’s fuck up as usual, but there is the odd chick that stuffs up (peer pressure etc, see exam showups)
Appearance: Lost, confused, lack of attention.
Noise level: Varies throughout the spectrum. Some don’t know how to shut up
Distraction level: If you are friends with them, they might just take you down with them. 
Seating arrangements: Majority sit at the back. The oddball who has no clue might sit at the front to show he is eager, but the lack of brain limits his progress… again
Annoyance factor:
*General student cohort: 0/10 (Makes those that passed with low marks not feel so bad)
*Lecturers: 7/10 (Makes the school look bad if there are people that go to every lecture and yet still manage to fail)
Prevalence: Equal proportions throughout the year levels 
Airplane throwing at their head: A bit difficult as they sit in the front and it would be obvious to the lecturer. Either that or they are the ones throwing them!
Other features: Ask dumb irrelevant questions during the lecture/prac classes.
Survival rate: Haha it was a mistake from the beginning!
Similar species: Exam showups
General description: This needs some clearing up. Understandably the invisibles, sleepers, and exam showups all fail at one point or another. Hence they can easily be placed here if that be the case. But a true failure does not only fail the one odd subject here or there. Furthermore they don’t choose themselves to leave UNI or decide that what they are currently studying is not right for them. They get KICKED OUT!! These people, who may be nice in personality and character, are unfortunately a bit rough around the edges and try as they might, they can not seem to get past the basics. Sometimes it is their fault for not studying, sometimes it is their friends fault for not helping them to study. Other times it’s their laziness. One thing that stands out though is their massive train wreck of an academic transcript. I knew of a girl who has failed 9 (I kid you not) 9 subjects in our current course. 9!! Wtf man. After 2 years of torture the UNI decided to kick her out. Obviously that particular course wasn’t for you. I also know of one individual who has failed a subject 4 times and he wanted to do it a 5th time but the faculty of the subject refused to allow him. Saved his embarrassment I think. (Note: 4 times over a 2 year period as you were able to do it once per semester). I really wonder how he went in his other subjects now that I don’t see him anymore….

 Prac/Lab hungry (Praktikalus Maximus)

Gender: Both genders.
Appearance: Lab coat worn all times, safety goggles on side pocket, microscope slides and film in the other. Smells like Potassium chloride and Urine mixed with ethanol.
Noise level: The burning of the Bunsen burner
Distraction level: None. They remain focused
Seating arrangements: If they come to lectures (which they rarely do) they shall sit near the exit. This is so they can get to the prac early
Annoyance factor:
*General student cohort: 0/10
*Lecturers: 10/10 (See general description)
Prevalence: In lectures low, in prac classes very high.
Airplane throwing at their head: N/A there are cases of Bunsen burner burning though if you do not watch your back
Other features: Have found their ideal niche
Survival rate: May go on to do honors/PhD
Similar species: None… though they have similar characteristics of the invisibles
General description: So what is this group all about? Well firstly this is generally confined to those that have lab classes/practicals to attend to. Hence this group has one overall thing in common with each other. Their enjoyment for practicals/lab work. So much in fact that they stay for the entire duration of the lab. So if a lab goes for 5 hours, everyone else leaves after 3 hours but not these fools. They stay the extra 2 in order to enhance and develop their knowledge, kiss ass to the lecturer/lab worker in charge, and generally act like tools. Having fun in the prac is one thing. But treating it as your life is a bit low. You can’t just work with someone during a prac and be all nice and friendly to them and then never communicate with them out of class. You also need friends/social life in the equation somewhere. Not to the point of ‘exam showups‘ or the occasional ‘failures‘ but instead a balance of some sort is needed. Finally these individuals do poorly in the actual theory behind the pracs but still manage to scrape through the year. They step up their game during the final year, and manage to get a place into further study. They continue with their lives doing what they love. Too bad no one loves them. Unless your initials are PCR and you like to spin around a lot (HA, Biomedical science inside joke!)

  Phew, what a list. Part 2/3 soon to follow which will include more of your university favorites such as ‘competitives’, ‘premeds’ (some of which go on to become gunners), ‘complainers’, ‘psychologists’ and a whole lot more!! 🙂


There are many things that people disagree with. The type of weirdo’s in UNI is not one of them. There might be differences between technical differences but everyone worldwide generally agrees: Nut Jobs are not only found in your local train station or the supermarket. They are everywhere, and university is no exception 🙂


So are there people like this in your uni?  I would love to hear of other variations that I have not mentioned yet!