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Archive for May, 2007

Welcome!

After mailing everyone about my blog, and yet again realizing how terrible my English skills are, I’m seriously considering banning all people from Canada or the States from my blog. But maybe this is just good exercise… I am so happy they have a spelling check program for this site!

I just wish to welcome all you new readers (even thosewith English as their mothertongue) and I hope what I write will be a small substitute for me not being able to visit you or for me not being on MSN as often as you might want me to be…

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Pregnancy

It appears that someone at the Finnish Population register center thinks I’m pregnant. My pregnancy probably began sometime around January at the onset of the Finnish election for parliament. A candidate had sent a request to the register center and asked them to send out a letter to all Swedish speaking single moms in Helsinki. This to minimize her advertisement costs by directly targeting the group she would support if elected into parliament. I was one of the lucky few who received her letter. I do admit to being single, but where would the little offspring be hiding? I live in a one room-apartment so I think I would have noticed him/her by now.

The second confirmation of my motherhood came yesterday in an unmarked envelope addressed to me. When opening it I found a brochure where it was written in block letters: DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL WHILE PREGNANT!. I know I’ve gained some weight but seriously… I would just like to know who the person is that is spying on every Finnish citizen and who now have concluded that my protruding stomach is the cause of sex outside the marriage!

But maybe the letters will stop around September, the baby should at least be due at that time. Hopefully it won’t get worse, I can just see all the breast-pumpadvertisements and free samples of diapers piling up in my mailbox. Hmm, maybe this is the Universe’s way of telling me that my biological clock is ticking, as if I hadn’t realized it yet!

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Summer

Ha! It’s official, summer is here. I just read that summer is considered a time when the mean daytime temperature is above 10 degrees Celsius, and Finland has just reach that point. So I guess I have to try to find my bikini before it’s too late…

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Did you know that a zebra-fish embryo is not considered a real animal? To perform animal testing you need to get some kind of permit,  and they even grade these permits according to the level of pain the animal will feel during the experiment. But if you are handling fish embryos you can do whatever you like without ever having to tell anyone. This is because the embryo is not considered to be a highly developed creature. Stepping on a fish egg would be similar to stepping on a mushroom. Kind of interesting if you think of the fish developmental process, where there will be a new individual formed after only one day. After 24 hours you’re no longer allowed to cut of a single fin of the fish, but during these 24 hours you can cut out multiple organs without anyone judging you.

But if we agree to the idea of embryos not being able to experience real pain, there’s still the question of the adults; How much suffering are we willing to let an animal endure in the name of science? A colleague of mine was recently wondering how she could keep her flies from escaping while she was performing her experiments. Fruit-flies are little suckers for finding ways to escape and she had tried all sorts of things to get them to stay in one place. The thing was that she wanted to cut out the brain of the fly, but during that procedure the fly had to be alive so that the brain was kept as fresh as possible. The point being that she couldn’t kill them until she had them under the microscope. Finally she considered pulling off the legs and wings of the fly and keep it in that state until she could operate on it. I thought this was extremely cruel. Killing something quickly is one thing, but torturing a living being until killing it is something completely different. I can understand the advantage of killing a rat pup by decapitating it; the procedure is fast, causes minimal amount of pain and you get the organs without drug contamination. But pulling off the legs of a rat to make it stand still would be total insanity. So I guess my final question is: can we really be the ones telling which animals experiences more pain than others?

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So I’m having a course called “Transgenic animal phenotype analysis”, or in Finnish “Transgeenisten eläinten fenotyyppinen karakterisointi”, and we’re listening to a guy who is working in a medical research lab. He is showing us this video of a mouse with a mutation giving it epileptic seizures. The mouse is just sitting in its cage when it suddenly starts jumping around like a little rubber ball -while the lecturer is commenting: “You can see the mouse, how it looks all normal, and now it’s seizuring, it sounds just like popcorn”. And it did, the poor thing was hitting against the ceiling of its cage so hard it sounded just like popping popcorn. Everyone laughed, including me. After all we’re biologists, brain washed to think nothing more of a lab rat than how much it costs for us to breed them. They are objects and we are the observers. There are exceptions in our line of work of course. I have had a teacher that refused to put needles into the pawns of a rat even when it was dead (the needles are used for spreading the animal so that it’s easier to cut them open). She really loved those animals. Somehow not wanting to hurt a dead rat sounds more sane than what I did today.

                                                 råtta

I add a picture from my resent lab course, here you can see how the rat is spread out with the help of needles. It is truly beautiful to look inside a dead animal, I’m not kidding! Everyone should have the privilege to do it, just to understand how amazing our world is.

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Spring

One of my co-workers said that it’s summer when the trees are green. I on the other hand say it’s summer when you can lie outside in a bikini without catching a cold. For me summer lasts about 1 month, for my colleague 5. I’m starting to think that he has a point…

Here is a picture I took a couple of weeks ago. This flower has the cutest name in Swedish: Tussilago. Unfortunately it’s got an other name too: Hästhov, which is quite similar to the English version: Coltfoot. I wonder why people would want to make something so beautiful into something that ugly.

tussilago

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