Pure oxygen may harm the brain

New research is showing that oxygen with 5% carbon dioxide is a better mixture for patients than pure oxygen. Ronald Harper, a neurobiology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, says,

“Several brain areas responded to 100 per cent oxygen by kicking the hypothalamus into overdrive. The hypothalamus overreacted by dumping a massive flood of hormones and neurotransmitters into the bloodstream. These chemicals interfere with the heart’s ability to pump blood and deliver oxygen.”

Harper and his colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging scanners, which detect subtle increases in blood flow, to observe the effect of the gases.

Study co-author Paul Macey, also of UCLA’s neurobiology department, said

When oxygen mixed with five per cent carbon dioxide was given after breathing returned to normal, the hypothalamus calmed and the release of dangerous chemicals was slowed.

Some hospitals in Europe are using either a mixture of oxygen or simply air to revive patients.

LOL snails

The whole LOL phenomenon is addictive. From quoting creationists* accurately (if oddly spelled) to the cute cat with cuter caption, they entice me.

Here’s one for lovers of invertebrates: a LOL snail, or LOLusc as they call it.

*See LOL Behe on Stranger Fruit.

Archaea of Yellowstone Park

National Geographic magazine’s Web site has a video of the tiniest, and strangest, denizens of Yellowstone Park in the U.S. The park has hundreds of hot springs, fed from superheated geothermal waters. Both are inhabited by countless trillions of heat-loving, archaeic bacteria. The subterranean environment likely mimics that of a primitive earth without free oxygen. The video clips show the microscopic life and the hot springs, some of which are brightly colored by their teeming bacteria.

colorful hot spring at Yellowstone Park
This image is from Outdoors Webshots.

I can see why the nearby Montana State University has an Institute of Thermal Biology.

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