8 Science Facts That Will Blow Your Mind!

By: Erin Heim

1. Ok we’re going to start out with a kind of funny one. Hepatitis C is caused by, wait for it, Hepatitis C virus (HCV), which infects more than 3% of the world’s population. There are a handful of drugs on the market that are effective against HCV. Yay! Well just this week, scientists finally found out how some of these drugs may work—they stop the virus from replicating. So you Hepatitis C havers have been taking drugs that just happen to work, but no one knew why until now. Hilarious! Source

 I thought scientists did the science BEFORE making the drug.

I thought scientists did the science BEFORE making the drug.

2. Great news for mice these days! They get cured of different cancers left and right! This time it’s AML (acute myeloid leukemia). To make a long story short, AML is caused when two factors that normally facilitate DNA replication (let’s call them Factors 1 and 2) get mutated, and prevent each other from working. So not just one, but two factors that normally help DNA replicate end up doing the turkey-tango with each other instead of DNA to cause AML, oh the drama. Scientists have found another protein (…Factor 3) that can interact with Factor 2. When Factor 3 interacts with Factor 2, Factor 2 no longer interacts with Factor 1, and Factor 1 is free to hang out with its’ true love, DNA, and AML doesn’t occur. Jeez, this reads like my middle school diary. Source

 And then Factor 2 was all "No he didn't!" and Factor 1 was like "Uh yeah he diiiid."

And then Factor 2 was all "No he didn't!" and Factor 1 was like "Uh yeah he diiiid."

3. Scientists have finally proven what we all knew to be true - our cells are essentially the moving staircases from Harry Potter. And factors (like those same ones from above) are only able to replicate DNA when the stairs get them to the right spot and the entire castle is in the right orientation. And magically (just like in Harry Potter) the cells know how to move around all of their DNA to be at the exact right place at the exact right time and catch the bad guy mid-action! So, what I mean by all of this is that there is now strong evidence for how much the DNA organization gets remodeled and shuffled about in stem cells. This moving about happens to a SIGNIFICANT extent, and helps determine what the stem cells turn into. Like maybe if that one staircase hadn’t moved at that one point time, Harry would have been a Slytherin and Snape never would have killed Dumbledore. But that staircase knew what it was doing and Harry will forever by a beloved Gryffindor. Source

 Wow. Stem cells in action. Wow.

Wow. Stem cells in action. Wow.

4. So I’m going to keep going with this stair thing. It actually seems like the way the stairs are organized in the very first cell of a tumor determines the entire cancer-ness of the tumor. So now scientists can use math and things to determine which cell started the tumor and what the stair shape was…. But… ermm… now what do we do with this information? Source

 

 Who knew Will Smith's kid was the origin of the tumor?

Who knew Will Smith's kid was the origin of the tumor?

5. It is widely accepted in the science worlds… and hopefully the health worlds… that fat around your mid-section is really bad for you. Fat around your thighs isn’t actually all that bad (Sir-mix-a-lot knew what was up). Unfortunately for dudes, dangerous stomach-fat statistically tends to accumulate in the bad spots for men more often than for women. Well, good news guys! This new study…. totally just proves that point even further using data from over 200,000 individuals. Sorry to get your hopes up, I’m awful. Source

 

 Everything seen above is perfectly normal and healthy.

Everything seen above is perfectly normal and healthy.

6. Know what works well to counteract fat? Muscle. Let’s talk about muscle. But before we talk about muscle, let’s talk about things scientists don’t know enough about. Like muscle. And RNA. So RNA is kind of like DNA, but it’s the messenger between what your DNA tells the cells to make and the actual protein that the cells make. There is WAYYYYY more RNA made than is needed to actually make proteins (98% of DNA doesn’t code for proteins), and for a long time scientists called these extra RNAs “non-coding” because they don’t code for proteins. Well within the past couple of years, many groups have found that this just isn’t true. Those non-coding areas do often code for proteins. The proteins are just small and adorable and tiny, so like the bullies that we are, we’ve been ignoring them all along. Well scientists have just found that one of these itty-bitty weakling proteins that we’ve previously ignored are actually able to slow down the ability to build muscle. Mice without this puny protein have an improved exercise performance. So, some RNA that we didn’t know makes proteins actually makes an itty-bitty protein that slows down our exercise performance. How’s that for the moral of a story? Just get rid of the puny weaklings, and you can grow stronger and get rid of fat! Source

 

 And then the explorer broke all his body parts and could never get big and strong again. Stupid tiny penguin.

And then the explorer broke all his body parts and could never get big and strong again. Stupid tiny penguin.

7. I really, truly love when scientists come up with clever solutions to problems. When a virus wants to get into a cell, it attaches to a receptor on the cell surface, and essentially fusing itself into the cell. One problem with trying to cure HIV is that if you try to block it from accessing the receptors on the cell it wants to enter, the virus mutates to be able to bind those receptors anyway and then HIV does its thing and you get AIDS (that is a very long process summed up- please forgive the scientific semi-inaccuracies all of you nerds out there that just got mad at that summary). Well, clever scientists were like, wait, why try to block HIV? Let’s give it exactly what it wants! And they attached the receptors that HIV likes onto free-floating proteins  that aren’t actually attached to cells. So HIV is all “Whee! Look I am attaching to a receptor and am under no evolutionary pressure to mutate!” and the decoy receptors are like “Teeheehee, jokes on you, I’m not a cell!” Clever. Source

 

 If Morgan Freeman thinks it, it must be true.

If Morgan Freeman thinks it, it must be true.

8. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is no good. It can cause warts and cancers and skin lesions. Did you know scientists still have very little clue about how HPV gets from outside the cell to inside the cell to cause infection and warts and everything? Well, these INSANELY smart (like, seriously, REAL smart) scientists found that HPV uses a unique type of trafficking to get from outside the cell to inside the nucleus of the cell by hijacking the cell’s natural processes and using a new signal to tell the cell “Sort me! Sort me!” SERIOUSLY SMART SCIENTISTS, AND LIKELY ATTRACTIVE AND NICE TOO! Source

 

 Sorry guys, I'm obnoxious, my labmates wrote this paper and I'm just so proud.

Sorry guys, I'm obnoxious, my labmates wrote this paper and I'm just so proud.