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  • Are We Alone?

    How did life originate and are we alone? Perhaps the two most intriguing questions that have puzzled mankind since the dawn of civilization.

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  • Paraben phobia is unjustified

    Stories about recalls of various consumer products are all too common these days, but one about contaminated children’s sunscreen lotion caught my attention.

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  • Green tea extracts and liver disease

    I think we are safe in saying that green tea doesn’t make taste buds frolic. So why do people drink it?

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  • The Problem of Herbicide Resistance

    Farmers who are growing herbicide resistant crops such as corn or soy may start to identify with Audrey Jr. in Little Shop of Horrors.

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  • Fenugreek and Sotalone

    If you have eaten curry, you have probably tasted fenugreek. The seeds of this plant as well as its fresh leaves are commonly used as ingredients in curries.

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  • Gelotophobia

    Gelotophobia can best be defined as the “potentially debilitating fear of being laughed at.” A person suffering from gelotophobia may hear a stranger’s laugh and believe it is aimed at him or her.

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Latest OSS Blog Articles: 

Vitrolic Attacks
In the Sherlock Holmes story, The Case of the Illustrious Client, a former paramour seeks revenge on the dastardly Baron Adelbert Gruner by splashing the Baron’s face with sulphuric acid, which at the time was commonly known as vitriol.   Read More.

Streptomycin and Blueberries

A story is blazing around the blogosphere about a ten year old girl having an anaphylactic reaction to a blueberry pie. Physicians supposedly traced the reaction to streptomycin used as a pesticide on the blueberries. Read More.

A nail polish to detect drugs?

The press went crazy jumping all over a report that four North Carolina students invented a nail polish to detect "date rape" drugs. Just dip a finger into a drink, and watch for a colour change that is indicative of the beverage having been doctored with rohypnol, Xanax or gamma hydroxybutyrate, the classic date rape drugs. Read More.

You Asked:  Why is Canada banning citronella-based insect repellants?
Health Canada is set to ban topical mosquito repellants that contain oil of citronella. The oil contains methyleugenol, a compound that has caused liver tumours in rats fed in large doses, but this really has no relevance to topical application by humans While there is no evidence of harm from any topical application, other than the rare allergic reaction, no formal studies of safety have been carried out. Read More.

You Asked:  Can ASEA improve health as advertised?

When I first came across a “wonder” product called ASEA on the web, I thought someone had come up with a clever parody.  The Internet of course is full of of ads for supplements, drinks and gimmicks of every conceivable variety that promise to keep us out of the clutches of the grim reaper. Read More.


Did You Know?

In 1858 in Bradford, England, 200 people became ill from eating peppermint lozenges.  Unfortunately, 18 of them died within a week.  The cause?  Arsenic poisoning!  At the time calcium sulfate (Plaster of Paris) was commonly added to peppermint lozenges as a whitening agent.  One day, a druggist’s assistant was making up a batch of the candies and tragically added the wrong powder.  Arsenic oxide, which was sold as a rat poison ended up in the lozenges!  Partly as a result of this episode, the British government passed the Food and Drug Adulteration Act of 1860 which was designed to regulate food safety.  One of the first additives that was approved was calcium sulfate!

For more interesting facts, please make sure to check out our "Did You Know?" section.


Most Recent Science Links:

Light-Activated Memory Switch

Researchers have made mice enjoy spending time in a place they once feared using light-dependent manipulations of the animals’ neurons, according to a study published today (August 27) in Nature. Read More.



Do Antidepressants Work?

Antidepressants have been hailed as miracle drug rock stars and vilified as brain-changing happy pills.  All promotion aside—good or bad—are they effective?  The Savvy Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen digs though the data. Read More.



Grossed out by fecal transplants? Now there's a pill instead
Fecal microbiota transplants (FMTs) are exactly what they sound like. They involve taking feces from a healthy person and putting them into the body of a sick patient to strengthen the community of bacteria that live in the patient's gut. Read More.


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