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Saturday, August 10, 2019

HAPPY B-DAY ASPIRIN!

Ooooh, hello dear English speaking-reading-hearing listener, welcome back to me, @sciencemug, the blog/podcast/twitter&instagram accounts which tells you science stories while thinking of opening an agency for nape models and ant-sitters, aaand which talks to you thanks to the voice kidnapped via a voodoo-wireless trick, from a veeery very very dumb dude.
Aaand which does all of this in Eng?ish, a language that is to proper English what a sidereal leap on carbon sequestration technology is to something less than vital to your species as right now.
 

Listen the podcast episode on
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Today is the birthday of a tablet of which about 50 billion are swallowed each year worldwide (1). So today I will tell you the story of its genesis. Of the birth of Aspirin.

Aspirin 3D
Aspirin 3D pic is a Public Domain image adapted by @sciencemug (source: wikia.com)

Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid.

Well, to be more precise, “Aspirin is the first commercial name of a medication which active principle is acetylsalicylic acid.
Aspirin is first put on the market by Bayer in 1899 (P), but “the first sample of pure acetylsalicylic acid [is prepared] on 10 August 1897” (P) by Doctor Felix Hoffmann, a “chemist in the pharmaceutical laboratory of the [then] German dye manufacturer Friedrich Bayer & Co in Elberfeld” (P).

The official story goes that Hoffman’s dad suffers from rheumatism, and asks his chemistry savvy son to create something better than the medicine he is presently taking, the sodium salicycate, since that drug has heavy side effects such as gastric irritation, nausea and tinnitus (which is the annoying ringing ear) (P).
Felix, then, consults “the chemical literature[, comes] across the synthesis of acetylsalicylic acid(P), and, as above stated, makes it.

So this is what it is on the matter, and it’s all based on the account of “a footnote in a history of chemical engineering(P) written in 1934 by Albrecht Schmidt, “a chemist [...] retired from IG Farbenindustrie—the organization into which F Bayer & Co had been incorporated in 1925(P).

Felix Hoffmann
Felix Hoffmann pic is a Public Domain image adapted by @sciencemug (source: wikia.com)

The actual facts, however, are most probably different.

But before coming to them, let’s have a look on the path that leads the world to Aspirin.

About 2400 years ago Hippocrates (which is not a house moving company that uses hippos to move crates, but the father of western medicine) recommends the juice of willow leaves to ease childbirth pain (1). Five hundred years later his fellows ancient Greeks commonly use willow leaves to fight aches caused by colic and gout (1).
And Europe’s people are not the only ones to be aware of willow potential for human health: China’s, Africa’s and North America’s ones are in the knowing of it too (1).

For a while, though, willow properties get forgotten.

In 1763, then, someone refreshes everybody’s memory about that. Reverend Edward Stone (Edmund, for his pals [WN]), indeed, gives a lecture (2) to the Royal Society of London where he reports his use of the extract of willow bark to treat “aguistic intermitting disorders(2), probably malaria’s fevers, and what he calls “ague” (2), that most likely is arthritis ((1), [WN]).

During the nineteenth century, European chemists work on willow leaves and bark to extract the active principle responsible for the positive effects on humans. An Italian, a German and a French ((1), [WN]) in sequence (probably after telling each other funny jokes for decades, about each others) achieve the goal, so that humankind eventually gets the “salicin (after Salix, Latin name for willow).

Salicin, when ingested, turns into salicylic acid, which is what relieves pain, but it often irritates mouth, throat and stomach besides being so bitter that some individuals get sick because of it (1).
Moreover, to obtain salicin chemists have to slaughter trees, as 30gr of compound come from a 50 times bigger quantity of bark (1.5kg). Plus the production process is extremely long and complex (1). So, basically, salicin making is anti economical, hence chemists start looking for an artificial method to obtain it, or, more precisely, to obtain salicylic acid.
In 1860 they find a way (1), but there’s still the ugly bitterness. And, above all, what was given to people then, the sodium salicycate (the sodium salt of salicylic acid) still causes the before mentioned side effects: stomach problems, nausea and tinnitus (P).

So, dear listener, we are now in the second half of the nineteenth century, and it’s time to go back to our story.

But first, a commercial.


When you are reading a post or listening to a podcast episode about Aspirin and you get to the part of it where there is a commercial do you expect that the commercial be all about tablets, pills and medications?
You are right. 
Buy our drug which needs to be prescribed by a doctor and used only when really necessary and only at the recommended dosage and timing”!
If you do that, it’s better for you!

commercial pic by @sciencemug
Free pic by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash [Adapted by @sciencemug]

Buy our drug which needs to be prescribed by a doctor and used only when really necessary and only at the recommended dosage and timing” is not a medicine, is a candy for hypochondriacs with a deceiving morally sloppy very long name. 
Cheers!


As said, till recently it is believed that Felix Hoffmann develops Aspirin all by himself.

But “The discovery of aspirin: a reappraisal”, a 2000 paper (P) by Walter Snader (at the time deputy head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow) tells it differently.

The truth unveiled by the paper is that the real person behind Aspirin is indeed a man named Arthur Eichengrün, who instructs Hoffmann, a colleague of his, to synthesize acetylsalicylic acid, with Hoffmann bluntly following indications without even knowing the aim of the work.

This new narrative is provided by the very same Arthur Eichengrün in a long neglected paper published in 1949 in the science journal Pharmazie. Five years earlier, while in a Nazi concentration camp where he is sent for being a Jew, Eichengrün writes a letter (now in the Bayer archives) where he says the same things” (P).

According to Eichengrün, whose version is fully backed up by Snader’s paper thanks to a meticulous archive work of dates comparison and fact checking, at the time of the events his goal is to obtain a salicylate that do not provoke the above mentioned side effects caused by sodium salicylate.

Eichengrün says he is in the lab when various derivatives of salicylic acid are tested by Heinrich Dreser, the at the time head of the experimental pharmacology laboratory. Always Eichengrün states that, after the test, he concludes that acetylsalicylic acid is the best compound of the batch. At a following management meeting Eichengrün proposes to start with the clinical studies, but Dreser decides otherwise wrongly believing that the drug have negative effects on the heart.

So Eichengrün smuggles the acetylsalicylic acid to his colleague, Dr. Felix Goldmann, who then involves physicians to secretly evaluate the drug. The tests on several patients are a full success, with minor side effects, but robust anti-rheumatic and powerful quick acting pain killing effects.

The trial results are sent in a report to the Bayer management, but again Dreser doesn’t support the drug, dismissing the whole thing as the “usual loud-mouthing of Berlin(P) and insisting that “the product has no value” (P).
Nevertheless, after almost 18 months of this impasse, the new head of research for Bayer, Carl Duisberg, orders a revision of Dreser conclusions and calls in an independent pharmacologist. That’s when, in Snader’s opinion, Felix Hoffmann comes into the picture to synthesize stable, pure acetylsalicylic acid on 10 August 1897, following Eichengrün instructions.

Arthur Eichengrün
Arthur Eichengrün
pic is a Public Domain image adapted by @sciencemug (source: wikia.com)

Snader, in his “The discovery of aspirin: a reappraisal” paper, writes that, among things, a crucial point is what Hoffmann writes, on the day of the synthesis, at the end of his report (presently kept in the archives of Bayer AG in Leverkusen): “Durch ihre physikalischen Eigenschaften wie eine sauren Geschmack ohne jede Atzwirkung unterscheidet sich die Acetylsalicylsäure vorteilhaft von der alicylsäure und wird dieselbe in diesem Sinne auf ihre Verwendbarkeit geprüft” (P).

Snader, in his paper, observes how the German in Hoffmann’s sentence be pretty poor so that it can easily be misread.
The translation indeed sounds: “Due to its physical properties, such as an acid taste without any corrosive action, acetylsalicylic acid differs advantageously from salicylic acid and is being examined for its usefulness with just this in mind.” (P)
It can mean that the compound “was about to be tested rather than that it was being tested” (P). However, according to Snader, the most probable reading of the phrase is that “testing of acetylsalicylic acid was already taking place at the time Hoffmann [writes]” (P), meaning that the compound had been already produced before.

Another thing that Snader takes into consideration in his paper is the 1934 Albrecht Schmidt’s account.

In his footnote, Schmidt states that Hoffmann has examined “preparations of salicylic acid derivatives which remained unnoticed amongst several prepared a long time before for other purposes” (P). Snader, though, reveals that British and US patents had been awarded in 1900 to Hoffmann’s colleague Otto Bonhoeffer for all the other non acetylsalicylic acid compounds mentioned by Schimdt. Snader writes that these patents show “the absence of any prior mention of these compounds in the literature” (P) and, above all, “that [those] derivatives were newly prepared for the specific purpose of finding a salicylic acid derivative that would be of therapeutic value” (P). All this, Snaders concludes, not only confutes Schmidt's statement, it undermines the credibility of his whole reconstruction.

Snader, besides, has also an explanation for the reason why Eichengrün wait till 1949 to tell his truth about Aspirin.

According to Snader, Eichengrün, after acetylsalicylic acid, has a full career and life since he develops other drugs and other products, then leaves Bayer in 1908 and founds his own company becoming a successful industrialist. When the 1934 claim that Hoffmann is the one that initiated the development of Aspirin comes out, Germany is already controlled by Nazi, and Eichengrün, as a Jew, must keep a profile as low as possible to survive.

In other words, Eichengrün has to wait the end of the Nazism to be again in the position to publicly rebut the “official” story about Hoffmann’s role in creating Aspirin.

To sum up, dear listener, Snader has solid arguments for indicating Albert Eichengrün as the actual mastermind behind Aspirin, and he, Solomonic, ends his paper writing: “F Bayer & Co was truly fortunate in having Eichengrün as an employee, yet it is unlikely that he would have discovered aspirin had he not been working for the company.(P)

Oh, dear listener, if you are wondering what's Felix Hoffmann's angle on this whole story, well, the guy "repeatedly [speaks] of Dreser setting the drug aside" (P), and dies in 1946 "without ever publishing his own account of the discovery of aspirin" (P).

Ciaz!



THE PAPER THIS POST IS ABOUT (P)
P- Sneader, W. (2000). The discovery of aspirin: a reappraisal. BMJ 321, 1591–1594.

BIBLIOGRAPHY 
1- Jones, A. (2005). Chemistry: An Introduction for Medical and Health Sciences (John Wiley & Sons).
SITOGRAPHY 
WN- Pearce, J.M.S. (2014). The Controversial Story of Aspirin. Edward Stone and aspirin (worldneurologyonline.com)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

ROSES CHOCOLATES & VALENTINE'S DAY

Ohhh hello hellooo dear English speaking-thinking-reading-hearing listener, welcome back to me, @sciencemug, the blog-podcast-twitter&Instagram accounts-entity behind an unsuccessful e-shop that tells you science stories from a dystopian parallel dimension where: 1) volcanoes erupts hot chocolate and anatomically accurate hearth-shaped anise candy, 2) bunnies have enslaved all the dentists of the world using evil hypnotic carrots-sticks which flash orange light beams and fluffy thoughts, 3) roses rule with an iron-yet-scented fist all the countries which name starts with ‘L’, and 4) nothing at all make sense except for Kenny’s mumbling.
Aaand that does all of this in Eng?ish, a language that is to real English what a dolphin is to a fish and The Fast and the Furious 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, The Fate of the Furious, and Hobbs & Shaw are to something else than a sorry excuse to make money.

PiPs Valentine's Day by @sciencemug
PiPs Valentine's Day by @sciencemug

Today’s the most artificial and fake festivity of the year folks, so happy Valentine’s Day and, for that, I bring you an almost interesting science Valentine’s story (by the way, if you do need a last minute gift, well pal, check out my love e-book, or explore the “Love & its accomplices” collection of my e-shop! Yeah, I know, such a coherent blog I am…)



Sooo, the story.
Vivian Zayas, Gayathri Pandey and Joshua Tabak (aka the VGTs) are three folks from the Department of Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA. JT works also for a little company that you may or may not have heard ‘bout, but that’s nevertheless renowned to do care about privacy and to not at all abuse its position to pry into/profit on its users personal data: Facebook, Inc., Menlo Park, CA, USA.

The three fellas do a study and find out that -brace yourself folks, ‘cause this is a huge revelation, huge-: “red roses and gift chocolates are judged more positively in the U.S. near Valentine’s Day” (P). And they publish their finding on the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Oh man, if I don’t love psychology papers…



Podcast on iTunes
Episode on Podcast Machine 
(Background song in the "commercial break": Love Wins by Lee Rosevere; CC4.0)

Ok, jokes aside, there’s (not much) more: indeed the researchers say that their finding is the first evidence of naturally occurring cultural priming(P).

Whaaaat?

Ok, let’s try and explain step by step what on earth is the cultural priming thing.

One: the VGTs call red roses and chocolates “attitude objects
(P). Now, in pshycologish, attitude's definition starts complex and broad with the 1935 Allpor’s one: “a mental and neural state of readiness, organized through experience, exerting a directive and dynamic influence upon the individual's response to all objects and situations with which it is related” (1)… Yeah dude, me neither.
Then the ‘70s come, and everything’s chillier, more relaxed and, like skirts, shorter: “Attitudes are likes and dislikes” [Daryl Bem, 1970 (1)].
Moreover, nowadays, attitudes are equated with “evaluative judgments” (1).

Two: the VGTs say that attitude objects are like a network of inter-joined units, so that,

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

10 RANDOM THINGS THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW (Pt1/2 & Pt2/2)

Soooo, dear English thinking-reading-watching visitor, here they come two conspiracy theory mockery videos the gang did for YouTube.
Because THEY hide you things, you know, like, all sort of important things, like, where is the missing sock or, like, why Firefly was shut down after only 1 season while something like Andromeda lasted 5? So there are things that THEY don't want you to know,  'cause if you knew those things, like,  you could, like, do things, right? And then THEY could lose control over those things and other things and stuff, and you'd know all THEIR things then and, like, be free and stuff...
So these are ten of those things.

Watch and enjoy!
CLICK HERE 

Screenshot of the title of the video (Pt1) by @sciencemug
Free pic by Krissia Cruz on Unsplash
Adapted by @sciencemug

CLICK HERE
Screenshot of the title of the video (Pt2) by @sciencemug
Free pic by by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels 
Adapted by @sciencemug

TESTO IN ITALIANO

1)
Il complotto del numero 1.

Il numero UNO non è un numero reale, è l'acronimo del progetto Ultra Neuroni Organizzati. Da quando il Gruppo Cavemenberg ha spazzato via in tutto il mondo gli Illuminati al solstizio dell'autunno del 29 febbraio 1313, il progetto Ultra Neuroni Organizzati è stato messo in atto e il numero 1 è diventato uno strumento di manipolazione mentale. Nascosto segretamente in ogni 1, vi è in effetti un codice barbequer, ovvero una versione implementata di codice a barre, qr-code e salsa barbeque, il tutto mischiato assieme. La funzione del codice di barbequer è quella di inviare stimoli subliminali alla mente dei lettori dell'1. Questi stimoli inducono le persone a visitare i siti web delle multinazionali delle lobby dei portieri di calcio e dei matematici e ad acquistare i loro prodotti. Questi prodotti, a loro volta, sono dotati di microchip che emettono onde radio che indeboliscono il sistema limbico del buon gusto delle persone e in ultima analisi costringono le persone a contrarre debiti per comprare sempre più cianfrusaglie, e a diventare orgogliosi sagger, così che, alla fine, il governo può controllarli e identificarli più facilmente.


2)
L'intrigo di Dodo.

I Dodo non si sono estinti nel XV secolo, come ESSI ti insegnano nei biscotti della fortuna. Tutti gli animali di questa specie sono stati trasferiti in una base segreta nella foresta amazzonica nel 1973 come parte di una copertura globale operata dai servizi segreti del mondo. I Dodo sono infatti le uniche creature in grado di combattere gli alieni di Roswell e sconfiggerli. Grazie ai loro sistema immunitario, conformazione fisica e andatura, questi mammiferi non volanti sono infatti le uniche creature del mondo in grado di resistere alle letali difese biochimiche dei Grigi e di avvicinarsi abbastanza agli alieni così da piazzare armi offensive come bombe ad alto potenziale o registrazioni audio di qualsiasi dj set di Skrillex.


3)
La macchinazione dello zucchero

Lo zucchero non è dolce, in realtà ha il sapore della pancetta, ma a Hoboken, il presidente della lobby degli allevatori ha vinto un incontro di curling con il CEO della lobby dei dolcificanti e, di conseguenza, è stato fatto un accordo: la pancetta, che in origine sapeva di ananas, è stata alterata chimicamente per darle il sapore della pancetta, mentre lo zucchero è stato reso dolce. Per quanto riguarda gli antichi ananas, sono stati completamente spazzati via e sostituiti con quelli attuali perché sia ​​la lobby degli allevatori che la lobby dei dolcificanti non sopportavano la lobby degli ananas.


4)
Le scie chimiche non raccontate.

Le scie chimiche non sono prodotte da aerei, sono prodotte da super-uccelli geneticamente modificati. I laboratori biologici segreti dei governi delle nazioni più potenti del mondo hanno creato una nuova specie di uccelli che possono volare nella ionosfera alla velocità di un jet. Gli uccelli volano in stormi enormi e le loro penne riflettono la luce del sole in modo che dientano invisibili all'occhio umano e ai radar. Gli uccelli bioingegnerizzati, una volta raggiunta una certa altitudine, rilasciano un composto gassoso intestinale che, miscelandosi con l'ozono dell'atmosfera, si trasforma in una sostanza che, una volta assorbita dalla pelle umana, fa in modo che le ascelle delle persone sudino e puzzino e quindi rendano le persone più inclini ad accettare il nuovo ordine mondiale perché si sentono a disagio nel sollevare le braccia e i pugni per protestare.


5)
La cospirazione cospirativa.

Esiste una cospirazione mondiale degli abitanti del centro della Terra vuota per imbrogliare le cospirazioni cospirate dai buoni e vecchi poteri forti in modo che nessuno possa dire più se una cospirazione è una vera cospirazione o piuttosto una cospirazione di una cospirazione, e quindi la lobby dei film della cospirazione, di proprietà della gente della Terra vuota, abbia sempre abbastanza nuovo materiale per le sceneggiature e le trame in generale, così che Nicholas Cage, che probabilmente assomiglia esattamente al re del popolo della Terra vuota, possa girare un altro bruttissimo film.


10)
La verità del 10.

Dopo il 5 c'è in realtà il 10. La sequenza 6-7-8 e 9 è stata introdotta solo nel 1931 dalla NASA per rendere i conti alla rovescia più intensi così da drammatizzare le procedure di decollo e aumentare l'audience in TV per ottenere più soldi dagli spot pubblicitari. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

THE ROADS THE RESEARCHERS & THE MAP (Pt 4/4)

Ohhh hello hellooo dear English speaking-thinking-reading-hearing listener, welcome back to me, @sciencemug, the blog-podcast-twitter&Instagram accounts-gofundme unsuccessful campaign holder-entity behind the unsuccessful e-shop that tells you science stories while longing for a sip of truce from all the chaos around and for just a smile from that particular girl, yeah, that one, you know what I mean. Aaaaand that does all of this in Eng?ish, a language that is to proper English what anti-Vaxxer are to something that even remotely makes sense and what a dodo was to a win at the evolution’s lottery. Aaaaand the reaches your ears thanks to the voice of a veeeeeeery dumb human that has been (the voice) kidnapped via a wireless-woo-doo trick.

Oooook, let’s start with a quick recap of the previous episodes.

There’s an international bunch of researchers headed by professor Nuria Selva Fernandez, presently working at the Institute of Nature Conservation Polish Academy of Sciences. The researchers publish a paper on Science where they tell us they created a map of the world’s roadless areas, that is the “terrestrial areas not dissected by roads […]” “that are at least 1 km away from all roads and, therefore, less influenced by road effects”(
P).
The scientists’ map shows that roadless areas with a 1-km buffer to the nearest road cover about 80% of Earth’s land (105 million square kilometers circa).
Moreover the good researchers create a unit-less index (called EVIRA, as in Ecological Value Index of Roadless Areas) that scores the ecological value of the above mentioned roadless areas. The index goes form 0 (0 being the slums of District 9) to 80 (80 being a very good spot of nature among human stuff).
About one third of the roadless areas have a low EVIRA score, but both low and high ecological valuable roadless areas are only by a tiny fraction inside protected lands.
This means, the researchers say, that “[g]lobal protection of ecologically valuable roadless areas is inadequate
(P) and that there “is an urgent need for a global strategy for the effective conservation, restoration, and monitoring of roadless areas and the ecosystems that they encompass(P).
And this is proven by two of the most important global initiative that exist at present to preserve biodiversity and promote a sustainable development: the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 (1), and the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2). Both this global initiatives fail to take into consideration the impact of roads on ecosystems and the need to safeguard roadless areas, in fact the reaching of many of their proposed goals somehow conflicts with the possibility to actually preserve the roadless areas.


If you want a quick example of how important is to protect raodless areas think of this: in the Amazon, unprotected areas near roads and rivers have four times more deforestation than protected areas (3).

So these are the results professor Selva Fernandez and her colleagues get from their massive research work.
 


Podcast on iTunes
Podcast on Podcast Machine 


Part 1 here
Part 2 here
Part 3 here

But why do they even care to do such a work, meaning why do they pick roads and roadless areas as the topic of their research?
 
Weeell dear listener, the answer is: because roads effects on the environment are huge, and the value of roadless areas are huge as well.

 
Let’s start with a deep look of roads effects, ok? Oh and by the way, dear listener, make no mistake, any type of road causes some effect on the ecosystem, so not only the long, wide paved ones like highways, but also the short, narrow almost invisible unpaved ones, such as a path or less. (
P).
 

Ok, then, there are seven general direct and indirect effects roads have on ecosystems: “mortality from road construction, mortality from collision with vehicles,

Friday, April 20, 2018

THE ROADS THE RESEARCHERS & THE MAP (Pt 3/4)

Ohhh halloooo dear English speaking-thinking-reading-hearing listener, welcome back to me, @sciencemug, the blog-podcast-twitter&instagram account-gofundme useless campaign holder-entity behind the zero items selling e-shop that tells you science stories, try to build nanobots with oranges peels and a second hand smile bought in a cheap pawn shop somewhere north of Philadelphia, aaand that does this in En?ish, a language that is to real English what a middle age cucumber that wears a good quality blond wig while riding a mechanic seahorse in some poorly illuminated joint full of vinegar addicted and wasabi freaks is to something someone whose brain is NOT under the influence of a heavy cosmic vodka rays bombardment can normally see.
Aaand that speaks to you thanks to the voice kidnapped from a dumb human via a wireless-voodoo trick.


So quick recap of the last episodes/posts:
an international bunch of researchers headed by professor Nuria Selva Fernandez (who works at the Institute of Nature Conservation Polish Academy of Sciences) publishes a paper on Science and in the paper the scientists tell us they created a map of the world’s roadless areas, namely, according to the definition of the same professor Selva Fernandez team, “terrestrial areas not dissected by roads […]” “that are at least 1 km away from all roads and, therefore, less influenced by road effects”(P).
 

The map shows that roadless areas with a 1-km buffer to the nearest road cover about 80% of Earth’s land (105 million square kilometers circa).
 

Moreover the good researchers create a unit less index to score the ecological value of the above mentioned roadless areas. The index is called EVIRA, as in Ecological Value Index of Roadless Areas, and it's a unit less index that goes form 0 (0 being the slums of Gotham City) to 80 (80 being Eden before that fuss about the iPad, I mean the apple).

Sooo, that’s what it has been told in the last episodes/posts.

And now, let’s see how the story continues.
 



Podcast on iTunes
Podcast on Podcast Machine

Part 1 here
Part 2 here
 Part 4 here 

Our eco science dudes decide to find what is the amount of roadless areas that is located inside the protected areas of the world.
 

To do that professor Selva Fernandez’ team, aka the SF bunch, has to collect information about the protected areas existing all around the world. So the science gang once again dig wildly into data-sets, two to be precise.

The first data-set is that of