Uh, which way does your dog face when (s)he poops?


Apparently true even for very, very big dogs

Dogs have been found to be sensitive to Earth’s magnetic field, and apparently align themselves along the magnetic north-south axis before they defecate.

Czech and German researchers studied 70 dogs during 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations over the course of two years, and found that when the Earth’s magnetic field was stable the dogs chose to align themselves with it. When it was unstable, such as during a solar flare, the dogs would become confused.

Their findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology, show that the dogs were sensitive to the polarity of the field, though not as much to its intensity.

Dogs on leashes, however, do not consistently align themselves as such, mainly doing so when they are free to choose. Researchers are yet to figure out why dogs exhibit this preference.

Other animals have been found to exhibit similar behavior. Many of the scientists who worked on this study had previously researched similar behavior seen in common carps. They found that the common carp also used geomagnetic lines to align themselves in a north-south direction…

I was sufficiently bemused by this article to go and check on Sheila’s favorite pooping spots. Where she goes to poop when solo around Lot 4 – not when on an official walk with her people.

Sure enough, just about all of her poops are laid out along a north-south axis.

Mini-kidney grown from stem cells

Instead of having to wait for one of the limited number of available donor kidneys, patients in need of a transplant may eventually be able to have a new kidney custom-grown for them. That possibility recently took one step closer to reality, as scientists at Australia’s University of Queensland successfully grew a “mini-kidney” from stem cells.

The researchers created a proprietary new protocol, that prompts stem cells in a petri dish to self-organize into a miniature kidney. “During self-organization, different types of cells arrange themselves with respect to each other to create the complex structures that exist within an organ, in this case, the kidney,” says project leader Prof. Melissa Little…

Little points out that while the work is indeed promising, human trials with full-size lab-grown kidneys are not likely to be happening anytime soon. In the meantime, however, the mini-kidneys could be used to test drug candidates without exposing human test subjects to harmful side effects.

Earlier this year, scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine created a functioning rat kidney. In their case, however, they did so by stripping the cells from an existing kidney, then “reseeding” the resulting collagen scaffold with endothelial cells.

Additionally, a team from Italy’s Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research has created kidney-like “organoids” that perform the same functions as kidneys when implanted in rats.

We’re getting better and better, closer and closer to being able to grow replacement organs. Maybe I’ll get to live as long as some sci-fi writers think we can?

I like the approach from the Mario Negri Institute best of all. Just because we’re at a certain point in the evolution of organs that mature inside this meat machine we inhabit doesn’t mean it’s the most advanced, best design possible. I like the idea of throwing new design muscle at a task like this – and perhaps coming up with better function and durability.

Japan’s resurgent nationalism pours salt on the wounds of war

Nanjing Massacre
Verdict of the International Military Tribunal

A Japanese cabinet member visited a shrine seen by critics as a symbol of Tokyo’s wartime aggression on Wednesday, pouring salt on a fresh wound after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pilgrimage there last week drew sharp criticism from China and South Korea.

Internal Affairs Minister Yoshitaka Shindo said he thought his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine was unlikely to become a diplomatic issue…

But Beijing and Seoul have repeatedly expressed anger over politicians’ visits to Yasukuni, where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal after World War Two are honored along with those who died in battle.

Both China and Korea suffered under Japanese rule, with parts of China occupied from the 1930s and Korea colonized from 1910 to 1945. Japanese leaders have apologized in the past but many in China and South Korea doubt the sincerity of the apologies, partly because of contradictory remarks by politicians.

China condemned Wednesday’s visit, which it said exposed Japan’s war crimes and attempts to “challenge the outcomes of the world’s anti-fascist war“…

Underscoring the deteriorating ties between Asia’s two biggest economies, China said its leaders would not meet Abe after he visited Yasukuni on Thursday, the first visit by a serving Japanese prime minister since 2006.

The quality of Reuters commentary continues to deteriorate. They end the article with one of those fatuous boilerplate sentences famous in diplomatic annals: “Experts see his visit as an attempt to recast Japan’s wartime past in a less apologetic light and revive national pride.”

Which experts, working for which governments — and what sort of national pride is raised by visiting a memorial best-known even in Japan as important to the nation’s greed and brutality to all other Asian nations? There are beaucoup alternatives popular among the Japanese people.

Can you imagine Angela Merkel or Giorgio Napolitano paying a visit of remembrance to Hitler’s bunker or the Esso station in Milan where Mussolini’s body was laid out for the public to spit on. Do you think President Obama should wander through Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina to visit Jesse Helms’ grave? The last and most unrepentant racist elected to the US Senate on a platform of opposing civil rights for non-white Americans – forever!

Right-wing nationalism in Japan only means one policy in the last century of Asian history. Military might and political will commanded to serve Japanese corporate Zaibatsu.