Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Similarities Between Reindeer Bioluminescence and Insect Bioluminescence

My daughter's first science fair!  I'm so proud!!!


Our Lady of the Bleating Heart Elementary School
Third Grade Science Fair
December 15, 2006

Similarities Between Reindeer Bioluminescence and Insect Bioluminescence


My objective was to find out if the light emitted from some reindeers’ (Rangifer Tarandus, sometimes called Caribou) noses is caused by the same type of bioluminescence used by insects like glow worms (Arachnocampa flava) and fireflies (Lampyridae).

Question and Hypothesis:


Is the light source for a luminous reindeer’s nose similar to the light source in glow worms and fireflies?


My hypothesis is that light emitting reindeer noses use the same chemical reaction to produce light that glow worms and fireflies use.

Review of Literature:

Glow worms (not really worms at all, but larvae of one type of fly) give off light to attract insects so they can catch them and eat them. The light is blueish-greenish, and is a product of a chemical reaction between luciferin (a waste product), the enzyme luciferase, adenosine triphosphate (ATP, the energy molecule) and oxygen.

Fireflies also produce light by a chemical reaction between Luciferin (a substrate) combined with Luciferase (an enzyme), ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and oxygen.

Reindeer have specialized noses featuring nasal turbinate bones that dramatically increase the surface area within the nostrils. Incoming cold air is warmed by the animal's body heat before entering the lungs, and water is condensed from the expired air and captured before the deer's breath is exhaled, used to moisten dry incoming air and possibly absorbed into the blood through the mucous membranes.
See Wikipedia, Reindeer, (as of Dec. 14, 2006, 19:43 GMT). This could explain how reindeer get the oxygen needed for the chemical reaction between the luciferin, the luciferase, and the ATP.

I should mention that the Wikipedia Reindeer entry does not say anything about light emitting reindeer noses. [I tried to edit the Wiki to mention glowing reindeer noses, but my revisions keep getting deleted. I’m going to try again after the science fair.]

Even with that encyclopedia’s error, we know that some reindeer are capable of producing light with their noses, usually red in color. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Robert L. May, 1939.

Actions Taken and Procedure:

I visited two zoos because that’s the number my dad would drive me to. The first one, Jungle Louie’s, didn’t have any reindeer, but I got to speak to the Executive Director. His name is Louie Cognomi. He was very nice, but he didn’t have much information on reindeer with light up noses. I had several questions prepared about luciferin, luciferase, and adenosine triphosphate, but he seemed uncomfortable and kept looking at me funny, like Uncle Larry did that Thanksgiving when I had the huge piece of lettuce stuck between my teeth and nobody told me.

The Belcher County Zoo has two caribou (another name for reindeer) on loan from the Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board. I got to talk to their handler, Maggie Cervidae, who is a very mean person and I bet she has a rotten Christmas. She told me that there is no such thing as reindeer with a light up noses. She said that they are make believe, like unicorns and compassionate conservatives. My friend Susan Smith’s big brother Tommy is in high school, and he says that the whole reindeer with nose lights story is made up and started a really really long time ago, like the 1960s, with a children’s show that used some crummy animation, but that can’t be right because Mr. May wrote about a reindeer with a light in his nose way back in 1939.

My next door neighbor Mr. Kibble the accountant saw me crying right after I talked to Tommy, and he laughed and said maybe all the reindeer with red noses are in “AA.” I don’t know what that means. Mr. Kibble is creepy.


I don’t know what is going on, but somebody is full of sh*t. Mom and dad won’t talk to me about it, and I can’t find any photographs of reindeer with glowing noses on google images. I think maybe the government is trying to hide the fact that reindeer with bioluminescent noses exist. That seems more likely to be true than what Ms. Cervidae and Tommy told me. I intend to get to the bottom of this.


My hypothesis was that light emitting reindeer noses use the same chemical reaction to produce light that glow worms and fireflies use. My results do not support my hypothesis. More research is required.


I would like to thank my teacher, Sister M. Elephant, and my father who drove me to the zoos.

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

Monday, December 11, 2006

Fun With eBay Q&A

Sent to me by a neighbor, from a real auction:


Q: i am interested in your item. if it does not sell. lmk what is your best price is. i will pay by paypal. thanks Dec-9-06

A: Hello, and thank you for your interest in my auction. The best price is $450 (hence the starting bid) and it will sell at auction or I'll keep it myself. Thank you!

Q: I'd give you $425 Dec-9-06

A: Thank you! With just an additional $25.00, you can meet the minimum opening bid. Thank you for looking!

Q: I will gve you $400 now. Dec-10-06

A: THANK YOU! That is very nice of you, I could really use $400, and I don’t even know you. Oh wait, did you mean you want to give me $400 for the $500 item that I'm auctioning? Oh, rats. If that is what you meant, I’m afraid you'll just have to bid at least $450 for it, like everybody else. You may not win it at $450, you might get outbid. But $450 is the minimum opening bid. (I thought I put that somewhere in the auction listing, shame on me if I did not.) Let me know if you meant that you just want to give me $400 for no reason – I really could use it. Thanks!

Q: I'll pay $400 for it. Dec-10-06

A: Hello, and thank you for your interest in my auction. You might consider spending that $400 on a tutor: either your reading comprehension skills or your math skills (i.e., comprehending that $450>$400) need some professional attention. Maybe both.

Q: Will you take $375? Dec-10-06

A: Sure, so long as those 375 dollars bring at least 75 more along with them. Thank you!

Q: I wouldn’t pay more than $415. Dec-11-06

A: That is wonderful to know! I have yellow curtains in my kitchen. Yet neither statement has a goddamn thing to do with this auction.

Q: Offer you $425 to end the auction. Dec-11-06

A: Offer you the finger.

Q: Did you get my email? I will give you $400. Dec-11-06

A: Of course I did, that is how I was able to respond. Did you read my response? More significantly, did you understand the meaning of the words you read? Magic 8 Ball say, “Not likely.”

Q: How about $435? Dec-11-06

A: How about it?

Q: did you get my message? Will you take $435? Dec-11-06

A: Yes, I got your message.

Q: ??? How about $435? Dec-11-06

A: How about you f*** off?

Q: Did you get my emails? I want to give you $400. Dec-11-06

A: Yes, you ignorant twit, and I am still happy to take your $400. Unless you want this item in exchange.

On Dec-11-06 at 11:57:04 PST, seller added the following information:

You dumbasses get that this is an auction, right? You didn’t just find yourselves at by accident, did you? Maybe you were using the google on the internets and don’t quite understand what happened just before you got to this exact page?

Do you imbeciles even know what auction means? BECAUSE I THINK YOU’RE ALL MISSING THE F***ING POINT OF LISTING AN AUCTION, YOU TIRE-KICKING LOWBALLING BACKDOORING IDIOTS. Good god, no wonder it was (re?)elected a second term.


While I don't approve of some of the language the seller used, I do admire her/his willingness to help potential bidders.

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

Friday, December 08, 2006

Possible Reasons Slash Hasn’t Appeared on a Second Episode of TLC’s Trading Spaces

Babysitting Scott takes all his spare time.

Professor Hawking emailed that “Trading Spaces is for “p*****s.”

Concerned that too much cool on TLC might cause Earth to crash into the sun, or worse, could somehow make Kevin Smith think Jersey Girl II would be a good idea.

Came to believe that a power greater than himself could restore him to sanity.

Received stinging rebuke from his mom that “you’re a g*****n rock star, why don’t you act like one?

Expedition to Mt. Genevieve: Accomplished!

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cleaning out my Inbox: Self Reporting Pain Severity

I've devoted the past several hours to cleaning out my inbox (apparently the majority of the messages regarding my anatomy and my wife’s gratification aren't spam after all - she has been signing me up for those mailing lists - I'll have to remember to ask her about that) and I stumbled across this:


Dear Boudreau,

I know that you’ve been out of state helping your relative remove an unwelcome guest, but I’m emailing this to you anyway.

If you haven’t been subjected to medical care recently, you may not know that nowadays patients often get asked to describe the amount of pain they are feeling by using a number: the 11-point (0 to 10) verbal numeric rating scale (NRS), where 0 is no pain and 10 is really really really ass kicking pain.

Just who in the hell thought this would be a meaningful tool?  Do humans really need a ten point system of pain?  Can you distinguish between a 6 or a 7?  A 3 or a 4?  An 8 or a 9?  Please.

I propose the following alternative.  My system allows patients to report their pain in consistent and practical terms they actually understand.  If you find it suitable, please publish this to your site when you return.

Self Reporting Pain Severity: An Alternative to the NRS That Ordinary Humans Can Understand and Apply

Level 0: No Pain.
Example, “I feel pretty good.”

Level 1: Over the Counter Pain.
Example, “I think I’ll take a couple of aspirin.”

Level 2: Prescription Medication Pain.
Example, “Has it been long enough for me to take another Vicodin?”

Level 3: Stronger Prescription Medication Pain.
Example, “These aren’t doing it. Can I get something stronger? Sevens, maybe? Tens? How about a PCA?”

Level 4: Inarticulate pain.

Example, “Arrrrgghhhh.”

Your friend,


Thank you, S.D., I always enjoy hearing from you.

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret