Thursday, July 24, 2008

Anyone Out There, Leeches and Stem Cells

Its nice to know that some of the hundreds of dollars I have spent on Microsoft software over the years, is being used to fund SETI Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. There was a segment about it on Nova Science Now last night. Apparently in 1993 Congress cut off funding for SETI, but now the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation have injected $11.5 million into the research. Paul G. Allen being one of the Microsoft millionaires. If you would like to watch the segment click here and you can do so. You can also, if you would like, download a programme which will help SETI listen for aliens in space. I did this a number of years ago, it actually crunches numbers on your system when you are not using it. These days, my PC isn't sufficiently reliable and would probably seize up instead of crunch up. The programme works a bit like a Screen Saver. Not much to watch, but its nice to know you are doing your part. There was another segment on the re-introduction of leaches into the medical arsenal, you can also watch this segment at which will show you a young man who almost lost all his fingers and once they had re-attached everything, one finger would not dispose of the blood being pumped into it, so they used leeches with their anti coagulatory properties to relieve the blood build up and eventually this helped the proper flow of blood to and from his finger. A third segment was about research into stem cells and how they are now able to convert cells from skin back into stem cells which they can then convert to the type of cells they require for repair of various ailments in the body. Again, this can be watched at I found this particularly fascinating because there has been so much problem with ethics regarding the use of embryonic stem cells, and this would hopefully help to eliminate such controversy although one of the scientists did say he wasn't sure this research would completely cut out the need for embryonic stem cells. I know our son-in-law had his stem cells removed and "washed" then put back as an aid to cancer fighting in his body. Crossing one's fingers it seems to have worked and he is much improved. Matt has just read, in the local paper, that we had 50 mm of rain during the storm I told you about on Tuesday night. We are the second wettest town in Canada at the moment. What a difference from last year when everything was so dry. Not that we are as wet as Texas where, thanks to Hurricane Dolly, they are receiving 100 mm an hour. Well, its Thursday, shopping day in this household, Matt is nattering at me to get ready so I had better do so. The following lamb recipe comes from a collection of recipes by a friend who passed away a few years ago and made sure all his recipes were passed on to his internet friends who cooked. We actually were lucky enough to meet both he and his wife when we were in England a few years ago, we stayed with them a couple of days, and I was so very sorry we lost him. I know a lot of people in North America don't like lamb, but for those who do, this is a great recipe.

Abbacchio Alla Cacciatore

1‑1/4 kg new season lamb 10 flat anchovy fillets in oil 1 Teaspoon crushed dried chili's 250 ml dry white wine 60 ml red wine vinegar 3 clove garlic 1 Teaspoon chopped rosemary 1 Teaspoon chopped sage 1 Teaspoon flour olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper

Traditionally this is made with baby lamb. New season's lamb works well but needs a longer cooking time but older lamb would traduce the character of the dish. Cut the meat into 6‑7 cm cubes. Heat 3 tablespoon of olive oil in an ovenproof casserole and brown the well‑seasoned pieces of meat. Add the finely chopped garlic, half the anchovy fillets and half the chili's and stew a few seconds without letting them color. Add the wine and the vinegar, cover and place in a medium oven (Gas Mark 5) for an hour or until the meat is tender. Do not let the liquid reduce too much. If it does, add a drop of water and turn the oven down a notch. In a small bowl mix the herbs with the flour, the remaining anchovy fillets and the rest of the chili's (if you can take it). Moisten with a ladleful of the sauce from the casserole and make a smooth paste. Lift out the meat on to a serving dish and cover with foil to keep it warm. Stir the herb mixture into the cooking liquid, whisk the juices well and bring to the boil. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes to cook the flour and thicken the sauce. Add a squeeze of lemon, some salt and pepper, if necessary, and spoon over the meat.

Have a great day.


  1. Ooh ooh, I remember SETI - though I never had a machine powerful enough to cope with running it, alas.

    Leeches I can cope with. It's the use of maggots for wound cleansing that I approach with a kind of fascinated horror...

    ...and four inches of rain per hour doesn't even bear thinking about. Poor people.

  2. Yes, I too would be extremely put off by maggots, but I guess they do the job. I'm not sure about "fascinated" horror.

    Actually you don't need anything powerful to run the SETI programme, however, something reliable is useful, mine has a lot of quirks at the moment.

  3. Jo - It's crazy searching for life elsewhere in the universe when we do so badly living together here on earth.

  4. You have a point Marilyn, but I'm not sure I agree.