Tag Archives: environment

MRSA superbug: a global concern

There is an increasing amount of news coverage on the superbug, which is also known as the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). But how much do you really know? Here, I will talk about the reason why we should be concerned about the spread.MRSA trend

The history of this bacteria, Staph. aureus, can be traced back to the Egyptian mummies, which historians had recovered pathological changes that are consistent with staphalococcal osteomyelitis. Staph. aureus can be found in 20% to 45% of normal healthy adults. In the hospital-associated cases, serious infection is often caused by the bleach of protection. For example, the skin barrier protection is disrupted after going through an invasive surgery, which allows the colonization of Staph. aureus in tissues.

The concern of MRSA grows as the healthcare community now faces with strains of Staph. aureus that are equipped with methicillin and vancomycin resistance genes.

If you look at the timeline (from Nature Magazine), shortly after the introduction of penicillin in the 1940s, some strains of Staph. aureus were already found to have penicillinase/resistance to penicillin. And if you look at when methicillin is introduced to treat Staph. aureus infection, you can see that methicillin resistant strains can be found shortly after the introduction. Typically, vancomycin is used as a last resort due to its toxicity. But the resistance of vancomycin is also emerging.

Are we running out of options to treat Staph. aureus infection? Not now. But if we don’t take action soon to accelerate the antibiotics discovery, we will run out of options when vancomycin resistant strains dominate.

Q&A: Why do birds fly in V formation?

Have you ever looked up the sky and wondered why birds tend to fly in V formation? A group of scientists have followed a group of Northern Ibises to study their flying positions and flapping dynamics. From their experimental data, they have found concrete data that support a longstanding theory that the purpose of V formation is to save energy.


The leading bird tends to have a faster heart rate compared to the trailing bird. What the data suggests is that the leading bird creates a wind vortex, which helps the trailing bird to stay in air without spending the same amount of energy. Thus, the trailing bird does not have to flap as hard, though the motion needs to be coordinated with the vortex to gain the upward momentum.

For those of you who are interested in more about this story, please click on this link to watch the video published in Nature.


Perception of safety and class of a city by photos

windwThe Broken Window Theory (a legit theory) has suggested that there is a direct correlation between what you see in the environment, like a broken window or graffiti all over the neighborhood, with other disorders, such as crimes and social classes.

manhattanAbout 8000 people were shown pictures pulled from Google map showing neighborhoods of American cities (New York City and Boston) and European cities (Linz and Salburg).

Other articles: Damselfish and its fake eyes

Researchers found that there is a larger range of “good” and “bad” neighborhoods in American cities compared to European cities. They also found a direct correlation between the urban perception of the neighborhood to violent crimes.

Now what else can Google Map do?

Other articles: Is it possible to design viruses to attack pathogenic viruses?

Reference: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0068400#s2