Archive for 2009

CBC Test The Nation: IQ


It seems to be official. I will be one of the representatives for Canadian atheists on January 24th of next year on a television show called CBC's Test the Nation: IQ. Here is the original call for casting and information about the upcoming show.
Hello - CBC is casting a team of Atheists for a live, national quiz show called 'Test the Nation'!

Test the Nation is a live two-hour special that surveys six in-studio teams as well as viewers across the country. This year, we are bringing back the popular first season with another IQ test. For more information on the program, please go to

To start off, let me assure you that the individual IQ scores of participants writing the test will not be revealed - except that of the person with the highest IQ. Otherwise, we reveal only the average scores of general categories such as women vs. men, hair colour, and so on.

There will be six teams of 30 people participating in studio and thousands of Canadians participating online. The idea is to test society’s preconceived notions of intelligence based on occupation or area of interest. In our original Test the Nation: IQ (which aired in 2007) we had an audience of 1.5 million viewers.

In addition to a team of well-known federal and provincial Politicians, we are looking at testing Contact Sports athletes (do multiple concussions affect IQ), the "nerd" stereotype as a fun team (Star Trek fans, comic book fans), twins (do multiples have similar IQs) and whether being religious has any correlation to IQ. (some studies have found that people with higher IQs do not have any religious beliefs). That would make our six teams the following - Politicians, Athletes, Twins, Nerds, Religious Leaders, and Atheists.

It's going to be a great show, and team selection is generating lots of interest. Please let me know whether you would be interested and available to take part on Sunday, January 24 in our Toronto studio.

Best Regards,

Shannon McKinnon
Associate Producer,
Test the Nation: IQ
Exciting, yes?
Friday, December 11, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Metabolism Mnemonics


Currently, I am studying for two midterms, one of which is concerned with cellular metabolic pathways and their mechanisms. Glycolysis and the citric acid cycle (known also as the Kreb's cycle, the TCA cycle or the Szent-Györgyi-Krebs cycle) are of main concern at the moment. I thought I would publish the mnemonic devices I use to memorize these pathways and their associated enzymes here, both for my own future reference and the use of anyone who needs them:

Glycolysis —

Steps of glycolysis:
Goodness Gracious Father Franklin Did Go By Picking Pumpkins to Prepare Pie
Thus, the first emphasized letter of each of the above emphasized words relates to the following steps in glycolysis:
Dihydroxyacetone phosphate (DHAP)
The enzymes involved in the above steps can be remembered with the following memory aid:
High Profile People Act Too Glamorous, Picture Posing Every Place
Again, the first emphasized letter of each of the above emphasized words relates to the following enzymes involved in the above steps in glycolysis:
Phosphofructo isomerase
Triose phosphate isomerase
Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase
Pyruvate kinase
Pyruvate Dehydrogenation Complex (PDC) —

Cofactors most important to the pyruvate dehydrogenation complex:
TLC? Fuck No.
This corresponds to:

Lipoic Acid
Coenzyme A

Citric Acid Cycle —

Compounds involved in cycle:
Our City Is Kept Safe and Sound From Malace
This corresponds to:
Enzymes involved in cycle:
CAIK Sounds So Fucking Mint.
This corresponds to:
Citrate synthase
Iso-citrate dehydrogenase
Alpha-Ketoglutarate dehydrogenase
Succinyl-coA synthetase
Succinate dehydrogenase
Malate dehydrogenase
Urea Cycle —

Compounds involved in cycle:

Ordinary Careless Crappers Are Also Frivolous About Urination

This corresponds to (indented steps are either requirements or products of that step):
Carboamyl Phosphate
Enzymes involved in cycle (OAAA are the enzymes responsible for the indented steps above):

Carboamyl phosphate synthase
Ornithine transcarbamoxylase
Argininosuccinate synthase
Hope these come to good use.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Ecotoxicology Presentation

I know this may be incredibly boring, but I thought I would share the keynote presentation that I did yesterday for my ecotoxicology class at the university. I presented two papers that concentrated on the biomagnification, recycling and storage of persistent organic pollutants in organisms such as mysids and amphipods.

I was very excited to do the presentation, which lasted approximately thirty minutes. Unfortunately, there really isn't much to the above video without me narrating it, but I thought I would share anyway.

Saturday, September 26, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Why A Broken Heart Really Does Hurt


An interesting article to finish up science week on the nook. This one really won't need too much of an introduction as the title says it all—a broken heart really does physically hurt. Here is the full excerpt from the above-linked layman's version of the scientific paper:
Scientists have identified a genetic link between physical pain and social rejection, a finding that explains the common theory that being spurned or breaking up with a lover really "hurts". In a landmark research, psychologists at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that the human body has a gene which connects physical pain sensitivity with social pain sensitivity.

The research, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, backs the commonly held theory that rejection "hurts" by showing that a gene regulating the body''s most potent painkillers—mu-opioids—is involved in socially painful experiences too. "Individuals with the rare form of the pain gene, who were shown in previous work to be more sensitive to physical pain, also reported higher levels of rejection sensitivity and showed greater activity in social pain-related regions of the brain when they were excluded," said Prof Naomi Eisenberger, the study co-author.

The study indicates that a variation in the mu-opioid receptor gene (OPRM1), often associated with physical pain, is related to how much social pain a person feels in response to social rejection, the Daily Telegraph reported. "These findings suggest that the feeling of being given the cold shoulder by a romantic interest or not being picked for a schoolyard game of basketball may arise from the same circuits," said co-author Baldwin Way.

According to Prof Eisenberger, this overlap in the neurobiology of physical and social pain makes perfect sense.
When news like this comes out, I usually like to dig up the original scientific paper so I can study it more thoroughly. If one thing ever holds true, it is that the media does a terrible job of representing scientific findings in a large percentage of their published stories. On top of that, the media never make it easy to find the original article from which they cite their information—they instead leave puzzle pieces for you to fit together. Maybe I ask too much. Either way, after some searching, I found the original, which can be downloaded here. The paper's abstract delves a little deeper into the mechanisms connecting emotional and physical pain associated with a broken heart:
Scientific understanding of social pain—the hurt feelings resulting from social rejection, separation, or loss—has been facilitated by the hypothesis that such feelings arise, in part, from some of the same neural and neurochemical systems that generate the unpleasant feelings resulting from physical pain. Accordingly, in animals, the painkiller morphine not only alleviates the distress of physical pain, but also the distress of social separation. Because morphine acts on the μ-opioid receptor, we examined whether variation in the μ-opioid receptor gene (OPRM1), as measured by the functional A118G polymorphism, was associated with individual differences in rejection sensitivity. Participants (n = 122) completed a self-report inventory of dispositional sensitivity to social rejection and a subsample (n = 31) completed a functional MRI session in which they were rejected from an online ball-tossing game played with two supposed others. The A118G polymorphism was associated with dispositional sensitivity to rejection in the entire sample and in the fMRI subsample. Consistent with these results, G allele carriers showed greater reactivity to social rejection in neural regions previously shown to be involved in processing social pain as well as the unpleasantness of physical pain, particularly the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and anterior insula. Furthermore, dACC activity mediated the relationship between the A118G polymorphism and dispositional sensitivity to rejection, suggesting that this is a critical site for μ-opioid-related influence on social pain. Taken together, these data suggest that the A118G polymorphism specifically, and the μ-opioid receptor more generally, are involved in social pain in addition to physical pain.
In order to practise what I preach, here is the citation:
Way, Baldwin M., Shelley E. Taylor, and Naomi I. Eisenberger. "Variation in the μ-opioid receptor gene (OPRM1) is associated with dispositional and neural sensitivity to social rejection." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (August 2009).
Friday, August 21, 2009
Posted by Konstantine
Tag :

Leamington Triathlon - Part VI


The official results are in. Again, the triathlon consisted of a 750m swim, 30km bike ride and a 5km run, done consecutively.

  • Overall Place - 76/76
  • Bib - 187
  • Name - Konstantine Palanski
  • Total Time - 1:52:14
  • Class Placing - TM20-24 5/5
  • Swim Place - 76/76
  • Swim Time - 37:08
  • Pace/100m - 4:57
  • Bike Place - 67/76
  • Bike Time - 48:20
  • Average Speed - 24.8 km/h
  • Run Place - 48/76
  • Run Time - 26:46
  • Pace/km - 5:22
As is quite obvious, the swimming winded me. However, by the time I was biking and running, I was back up at a competitive level. Swimming lessons, here I come.

Saturday, June 27, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Leamington Triathlon - Part V


Die I did not! For the first time in my life I can honestly say that I am happy about coming in last place, approximately 52 minutes behind the top finisher, who completed the triathlon in just under one hour.

As expected, the swim portion (750m) was what slowed me down. Apart from being underprepared for that portion of the triathlon, the open water at Leamington harbour (murky, seaweed ridden, unfamiliar) did not do much in the way of facilitating an easy swim. Excuses aside, I concede to needing swimming lessons; I am a weak swimmer at this point, but I know that I can improve vastly given the right training. I will be looking into them soon, as I wish to participate in the next Windsor-area triathlon, taking place in late August. The biking and running portions were a piece of cake, especially with the short distances involved (30km bike, 5km run) and I enjoyed them to a much larger degree.

Overall the experience was priceless and I can honestly say that I am proud of myself for not giving up, even when given ample opportunity to do so. I cannot wait to try my hand at another one of these events, especially when I know there is so much room for improvement.

Sunday, June 21, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Leamington Triathlon - Part IV


The Leamington Spring Triathlon is tomorrow and there's no two ways around it; there is a good chance I may die tomorrow during the swim portion of the triathlon. I feel remarkably unprepared for swimming 750m and have been caught off guard by this, considering the generally good shape I am in and the training I have been doing. I did not consider the time scale since the Bike Trek, thinking a month would be enough time to train, or the necessary inclusion of a swim coach. Lessons learned for next time! The good thing is that I have whet my appetite for swimming, a sport that I will undoubtedly be pursuing in my attempt to lead a fit lifestyle.

I am still looking forward greatly to tomorrows event and will do my best. Finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack is the goal at this point, winning is not.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 20, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Leamington Triathlon - Part III


A continued update to the Leamington Sprint Triathlon in which I am participating. Just over one week to go! Training is going well, although I definitely underestimated the importance of being prepared for the swimming aspect of the triathlon.

I always knew how fit one had to be to swim, but I have gained a new level of respect for the individuals who practise swimming as a regular sport. It is one of the most taxing forms of exercise that I have ever encountered. I hope to continue swimming regularly after this event as I can hardly remember a time where my body hurt more then after 25 laps in a 75ft pool.

More to come.

Saturday, June 13, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Leamington Triathlon - Part II


Training has officially commenced as of last weekend. The main thing that concerns me is the swimming portion of the event with a rather short, but nonetheless looming, 750 meter swim in Leamington Harbour:

View Leamington Tomatoman Tri/Du - Swim in a larger map

I have access to the University swimming pool on most days, which has a 22 meter length and allows for a good technique to be ironed out for the big swim. I have to swim what amounts to 35 laps in the swimming pool to without rest to consider myself even remotely ready for the actual event; so far I can do approximately 15. I consider myself to have very good cardiovascular endurance, but after swimming a few laps in the pool, it is easy to understand why technique is just as important as physique. Breathing is of paramount importance.

Saturday, June 6, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Leamington Triathlon


So that whole BikeTREK thing? It really got me liking the idea of having to train for something. This is the reason why I just registered for the Leamington sprint triathlon that is approximately 3 weeks away.

The triathlon is of the sprint subdivision and includes a 750 meter swim, 20 kilometer bike ride and 5 kilometer run. The only part that worries me is the 750 meter swim for which I will have to train like mad. Fresh from the 200km bike trek, I am ready to face this challenge head on.

All these events are stepping stones to an eventual life's goal of running a marathon and completing an Ironman triathlon.

More updates to come.

Sunday, May 31, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

OLA Bike Trek 2009 - Part X - The Recap


Fresh after finishing the last 105 km leg of the 200+ km trek, the picture above is one in which I am extremely satisfied. Last weekend's ride was nothing short of spectacular in every sense of the word and I could not be any more content for being a part of this event. 

The first day was slightly disgruntling for me as I did an extra 17.2 km of riding due to a blown over directional sign that I did not see. This landed me in 17th place out of 55 participants with a total distance of 112.2 km, a moving average of 27.8 km/h, a fastest speed of 39.9 km/h and a total time of 4:22 (including all rest stops). The detour on the first day was not a fun one as I had missed a particularly important turn entirely and had to complete a gigantic horseshoe shaped ride, half of which was on loose gravel, in order to go back to the proper path. Although disappointing for a few moments, I did not dwell on this mistake. The most interesting part of the trek happened within 2 km of the finish line on the first day, where my rear tire went flat. I picked up my bicycle and ended up running approximately 500 meters with it hoisted over my head and then then remaining 1.5 km with it at my side. 

Although a much tougher ride due to wind and rain, the second day's trek was far more enjoyable. I finished 7th out of 55 participants, coming in 10 minutes behind the lead pack of road bicycles; I have to restate that I was riding a mountain bicycle with road slicks and no foot locking pedals. My GPS' battery had died in the middle of the second day's trek, so I could not collect exact data on the 105 km ride as I did with the previous day.

What a weekend. A special thanks to Joe Stonehouse who ended up being my road buddy for most of the trip and a very good one at that.

Saturday, May 30, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

OLA Bike Trek 2009 - Part IX - The Sponsors


I am all finished with the Bike Trek! However, I am generally a bit exhausted after doing the 229km and then going to play ultimate frisbee soon after, just to finish myself off. I will give an entire summary of the events of the weekend soon. 
Right now I would like to give a huge thank you to all the people who have supported me in the pledging process, many thanks go out to all these individuals. The Bike Trek could not have happened without them:

A. Licrestan $10.00
Anony mous $5.00
Anony mous $6.00
Anony mous $7.00
Anony mous $9.00
Bob Young $5.00
Dan Daily $10.00
Deanne Nguyen $1.00
Ed Brown $5.00
Eleanor Price $10.00
faisal khan $20.00
G. St. Pierre $10.00
Gary Clement $5.00
Gerald Leboeuf $10.00
Gordon Wilson $20.00
Ian Philips $2.00
Inam Mansour $25.00
Jackie O'Rourke $8.50
Jeff Frey $20.00
Jenna Herdman $40.00
Joanne Janisse $10.00
Lorraine and Roger Godin $20.00
Martlee Gignac $5.00
Mrs. Dupuis $10.00
Orion Slave Association - Windsor Chapter $22.74
Pauline Mellin $5.00
Remo Floreani $10.00
Ron Lecrie $10.00
Sam Pasternak $10.00
Sarah Gifford $5.00
Saul Nosanchuk $25.00
Syed Hussain $20.00
Timmone Dongen $5.00
Umair Alvi $20.00
Valentina and Iouri Balioura $20.00
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

OLA Bike Trek 2009 - Part VIII - On The Road


I will officially be on the road starting at 9:00am! 

I have loaded up on carbs in the form of Vietnamese egg noodles and fruits last night. More food will be offered throughout the event, in energy bar form. Judging from my training, my main limiting reagent will be energy; I have no difficulty with breathing or becoming tired, but I can physically feel the carbohydrates drain from my body as the heavy biking progresses. There is eventually a switch to using protein as energy, at which point I notice my breath begin to smell of ammonia, a byproduct of protein catabolism.

With an average speed of approximately 25 km/h, I hope to finish the first half of the event, 100km, in approximately 4-5 hours.

Wish me luck. I hope to update for tomorrow, but it may happen sometime later in the afternoon.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

OLA Bike Trek 2009 - Part VII - Wish Me Luck!


This is it! My 200 km bike trek for the lung association of Ontario begins tomorrow morning.

I will do my best to get near a computer during the weekend's events in order to do a thorough update. I am hoping this will not be too difficult of a task, seeing as the overnight stay happens at St. Clair College, a rather modern campus that will be littered with computer stations.

The first day will consist of a bike ride that is outlined in the map below, starting at the Leamington marina and ending at the St. Clair College campus.

View Larger Map

The next day's route will be as follows:

View Larger Map

I am excited to no end and cannot wait for tomorrow morning. I cannot give enough thanks to all those who have supported me, both monetarily and psychologically. 

Three months of training will finally be put to the test this weekend. Wish me luck!

Friday, May 22, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

OLA Bike Trek 2009 - Part VI


Less than one week to go until my 200 km bike trek for the lung association of Ontario!

Training like a madman! I can hardly contain my excitement for the event. The weekend of the event falls squarely on the same weekend that my store has to do its quarterly inventory, which I now get to skip out on. A mixture of guilt and glee are upon me, the latter in a higher dose. 

I took the bicycle in for a tuneup at the original place of purchase; cables got tightened, adjusted, gears properly oiled and everything tightened. I am ready for this and am literally counting down the days until I can put this on my list of accomplishments.

I have also found something really interesting the weekend after the bike trek in which I am hoping to partake: the Belle River triathlon, which includes a 500m swim, 30km bike and 5km run. The only reason I am considering doing the event rather than having already registered is the monstrous 500m swim. Most people really do not realize how much of a workout a good swim really is, with hardly any muscle in one's body being left unused, especially after half a kilometer. At this point it is a major consideration. For now, I will focus on the bike trek.

If any of my readers want to help me reach my pledge goal of $400, they can visit my donation page. Any little amount, even a dollar, will be of great help! Much thanks!

Saturday, May 16, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

OLA Bike Trek 2009 - Part V


Less than two weeks to go until my 200 km bike trek for the lung association of Ontario!

I finally made the dive yesterday before my training run and bought a pair of road tires for my bicycle. I now have much less difficulty pedaling and have been able to achieve a faster base speed than with my nubby tires. My training made use of the nubby tires for as long as possible to allow myself to grow accustomed to a harder ride than with road tires. This seems to have worked quite successfully. After switching over the the road tires I successfully rode a total of 85km yesterday, from the Ambassador Bridge to Belle River and back, in under 4 hours. My training has prepared me well enough that I did not fall victim to either shortness of breath or cramps at any time in the ride. 

The donations are pouring in as well. I am within a $100 of achieving my goal and this is an easy task at this point. Much thanks goes to those who are supporting me!

If any of my readers want to help me reach my pledge goal of $400, they can visit my donation page. Any little amount, even a dollar, will be of great help! Much thanks!

Sunday, May 10, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

OLA Bike Trek 2009 - Part IV


Less than two weeks to go until my 200 km bike trek for the lung association of Ontario!

Today will entail a small training session of a 40km bike ride from my home in Tecumseh to the Ambassador bridge and back. I have made a small but incredibly worthy investment in that I purchased a pair of bike shorts; one of the most drastic changes in my riding style has come because of these regular looking shorts which have an inner lining and chamois that cushions your ride and prevents chafing due to perspiration.

The past few months of training have definitely revealed themselves in the past few days. Specifically, I helped a good friend of mine move the other day and went from 11 to 22:30 without a break tugging heavy furniture and boxes. Loss of breath seems to not be an issue for me, which is entirely a side-effect of my training.

If any of my readers want to help me reach my pledge goal of $400, they can visit my donation page. Any little amount, even a dollar, will be of great help! Much thanks!

Saturday, May 9, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

OLA Bike Trek 2009 - Part III


Less than three weeks to go until my 200 km bike trek for the lung association of Ontario!

I am more than excited and am also more than half way to collecting my minimum of $400 dollars in pledges. I was astounded as to the generosity of my neighbours last week when I went knocking on doors: out of approximately 20 houses, I managed to collect $85 in pledges.

I have been training heavily and am currently recovering from a very sore quadricep muscle, which seems to stem from an overly powerful hamstring muscle that is now overpowering the weaker quadriceps, causing undue strain and tears. An uneven exercise program is the cause and is entirely my fault, I have been focusing on my hamstrings much more than my quadriceps as I do not have a road bike with clamp in pedals and will have to rely more heavily on my hamstrings than my quadriceps. The pain is subsiding rather quickly, but I know that I have to give more attention to my quads in order to prevent this from reoccurring. A few more days off and I am back to a more rigorous training regimen to prepare myself mentally and physically for the 200 kilometer bike ride.

I have already noticed signs being posted throughout the downtown Windsor area denoting the correct path to take on the trek. I feel proud to be a part of something like this.

If any of my readers want to help me reach my pledge goal of $400, they can visit my donation page. Any little amount, even a dollar, will be of great help! Much thanks!

Saturday, May 2, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Crossroads Cafe & BBQ

Crossroads on Urbanspoon
I feel as if I should do my part to promote and support some local business that I have happened upon in my search of hidden gems around the city. Being of European descent and having grown up with eastern European cuisine, I have an insatiable hunger for all things of that kitchen.
It is in the search to satiate this hunger that I happened upon the tiniest of restaurants, named Crossroads Cafe and Barbecue on Ottawa street in Windsor. The entire establishment is run by a pleasant Polish woman who takes care of both the orders and cooking simultaneously. Even though the restaurant seats no more than 20 people, this is quite the feat! Especially since the establishment is never lacking patrons.
The food is amazing and keeps you coming back. The soups are a highlight for me, but anything served on the menu is highly recommended, from the hand battered and tenderized schnitzel to the homemade perogies, everything is simply delicious.
Nothing on the menu is over $10.

Bon appetite!

Sunday, April 26, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Can Cancer Be Cured by 2015?

So I have my final examination this morning in the subject of cell transformation, better known as cancer. The final is worth a whopping 40% and is based on subject matter presented by the roughly 25 students enrolled in the class over the past two months, including my own presentation on the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
You can pretty much stop reading here. The rest of this post unnecessarily goes into summarizing one of the essay questions I will be writing today and basically serves as a rough draft.
One of the central questions to be addressed by the examination was given to us, along with a review paper, ahead of time: can cancer be cured by the year 2015? This extremely engaging question pretty much tests your knowledge on the subject of the course and asks for a conclusion to be made from your understandings of the underlying mechanisms surrounding the many types of cancers, carcinogens, environmental factors etc. associated with carcinogenesis.
I will do my best to posit that cancer will not be 'cured' as a whole come 2015, but will morph into a controllable illness sometime in the near future, with which afflicted individuals will learn to live much like diabetes sufferers. The vast amounts of cell regulatory pathways that play a role in giving rise to a cancer within humans is the central reason for which I believe a cure is not likely; there is always another undiscovered or overlooked signaling pathways through which cellular mechanisms can be hijacked and used to transform regular cells into cancerous ones.
The paper mentioned above highlighted some of the pathways through which current technology aims to fight cancer; through cancer-specific agents, selective combinations and tissue-selective therapy. 
Cancer-specific agents aim to target cancerous cells directly, through their cellular abnormalities, to selectively kill them. The discovery of abnormal cellular pathways being directly related to a particular cancer yields the possibility of targeted therapy that exploits this exclusivity. Gleevec is a model example of this, with its targeting of a philadelphia chromosome abnormality, the BCR-Abl protein, to prohibit it from acting as an agent that promotes cellular division specifically in cancerous growths.
Selective combinations use universally cytotoxic elements with selective agents to target cells within the body that are again exhibiting abnormal cellular activity. The main example being the administration of DOX, UCN-01 and the cytotoxic agent PTX in an attempt to eliminate all cells incapable of reacting to the former two's effects in normal cells in relation to tumor suppression protein activity.
Tissue-specific cancer treatment aims to exploit the innate differences of differentiated cell types; for instance, exhibiting a myriad of different surface proteins directly associated with specific tissue types. In essence, all cancers have a direct tissue origin that can be exploited. Rituximab, an antibody based therapeutic agent, targets CD20, a specific cell surface marker present on both cancerous and normal B cells within the body; this binding is associated with marked increase of apoptosis of these cells through as of yet unclear reasons. Tissue-specific antibodies can also be used with the aid of radioimmunotherapy to selectively destroy marked cells.
Each of these therapies are entirely open to new discoveries that will undoubtedly strengthen their ability to target and eradicate particular cancerous cells; however, each of these therapies is also marked with the deficiency of selecting for cells that circumvent the targeted treatment and thus give rise to even more resistant forms of cancer upon treatment. It is for this reason that these strategies must be used in conjunction with each other, either in series or, if allowable, together, to rid the body of as many cancerous cells as possible. The idea of using opposite therapies to rid of the selected resistant cells of the previous modality is a necessary step that will lead to eventual regression of the cancer, or a continued opposite therapy schedule that will suppress the cancer indefinitely. In this way, cancer will become a chronic illness with which patients will be able to cope in a relatively non-invasive fashion, akin to patients having to deal with diabetes.
Shot in the dark? I give it until 2020 to see these kinds of results.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Posted by Konstantine


What interesting day yesterday was! As anticipated, I genuinely felt tired enough to postpone writing the entry until late in the evening, but the enthusiasm for the event had not decreased by any degree.
First and foremost, I have to applaud the myriad of kids that came attended the science fair, over two hundred exhibits were showcased; I know firsthand how harrowing this experience can be, especially when you are in the junior grades. There were also a large amount of judges, many of which, as I later overheard, were incentivized into their positions with promises of bonus credits in their respective courses at the University and St. Clair College.
My group, consisting of three others and myself, were tasked with judging four projects, at the grade 4 level, for scientific content, ingenuity and presentation. Our marks consisted of a percentage score that may correspond to a medal if above 75%, with no limitations on any particular awarding of medals.
The interesting part came when I realized all the projects my group was tasked to judge were written, and later explained by the students, in French. I am only partially fluent in French, the reading and listening part—I had not advertised this rather poorly honed skill at any time during the application process. When I went to rectify the situation, the administrators asked if I would kindly consider continuing with the assigned groups, most likely because I was able to quickly translate the written titles of the projects on my documentation. I quickly understood that this whole situation was not a problem for my group members, as they were all bilingual; funny.
In hind sight, I am glad that this happened. I definitely got to work on my French today, clearly understanding all of the four assigned projects, listening intently to the wonderful presentations by the kids and understanding their answers to my inquiries, which I bashfully asked in English, upon their consent.
Out of the four projects, one stood out as my groups clear favourite; done by two girls, whose names I unfortunately do not remember at this point. The projects looked at the cleanliness of apples directly from the store, as well as the efficacy of different detergents and methods to rid the fruits of bacteria. The bacterial presence was qualitatively observed through petri dish growth upon swabbing of market fresh apples, as well as those that have been cleaned through rubbing on one's shirt, a solution of vinegar and water, and a fruit and vegetable detergent (something I had no clue existed). The scientific method was captured in its entirety, with multiple trials, controls and other aspects that were above what I expected from this grade level. The girls also knew their project very thoroughly, which for me, dismissed parental involvement to a large degree. The best part of their presentation, apart from their matching green polka-dot dresses to match the green apples they tested, was their self critical stance on their project—they distinctly knew their weaknesses and knew exactly what to do in order to correct them. I hope to publish their names and the project picture as soon as it becomes available on the Windsor Regional Science, Technology and Engineering Fair website.
Very interesting experience. I cannot wait until my little sister is of age to participate in one of these events, I am looking forward to guiding her in this experience as she needs it.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Windsor Regional Science, Technology and Engineering Fair (WRSTEF)

Last semester, during a lecture in my drug design course, there was an small intermission to allow an associate professor of the chemistry department to speak to our rather minute class. He asked for assistance from the class for an upcoming grade and high school science fair, the WRSTEF, that needed knowledgeable senior students enrolled in the sciences to help judge submissions. My interest was peaked, as I clearly remember my own grade school science project, relating to cryogenics, which aided in spurring my interest in science, although at the expense of many a frozen cricket.
I am writing this post in advance of the actual science fair, so excuse me if I butcher the tenses here; understand that I am yet to awake at the unforgiving hour of 6:00 am in order to arrive punctually at 7:30 am and begin the judging process, along with other volunteers, at approximately 8:30 am.
The judging is supposed to be a multifaceted role, as the judge's itinerary proposes; it involves both scoring the projects as well as interacting and guiding the kids who are responsible for them. There will be projects presented by children from grades 3 through 12—I am particularly keen on seeing some of the things the younger kids present, seeing as my little sister will soon want to partake in this type of fair and will undoubtedly be coming to me for guidance.
Depending on my excitement or, more likely, overall fatigue, I will post some of the highlights of the fair later today or as tomorrow's post.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Taloola Cafe

I think I may have found my new haven, removed from downtown Windsor, which has become far too crowded and noisy to allow for a nice evening with a book. 
Tucked away in the historic Walkerville section of Windsor is Taloola Cafe, a small establishment that seats at most 40 people. It is home to delicious food and an astounding selection of teas; you pick your own mug, each of which is unique (my selection seen on the left, see more here), choose a table and are then supplied with your very own brewing tea kettle, which pours at least four full cups. The cafe is housed in a small portion of an old brick building, sharing sidewalk space with a print shop and a new age healing clinic (more on that later). Everything about Taloola is welcoming and cozy. The interior is hard to describe, but best imagined as being reflective of its mug selection: entirely unique.
I find myself lost in my books, even with every seat in the cafe being occupied, which speaks to the general tendency Taloola's patrons to be very conscious of the people around them. My only hope is that this will last as the cafe grows in popularity.

Taloola Café on Urbanspoon
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

OLA Bike Trek 2009 - Part II


The weekend edition of my blog, concerning aspects of my personal life, will most definitely continue.

So, as per last week's post, I have now officially registered to take part in the Ontario Lung Association's 2009 Bike Trek. I am happy to say that there is a real possibility that Rogers will be sponsoring me with a significant pledge and a jersey to promote the brand; I guess one of the benefits of working for The Source by Circuit City is its close ties to Rogers.

I am by no means a sedentary person and enjoy bike riding immensely, along with roller blading and running; but a 200km ride, although split evenly into two days, is definitely something to be training for. I frequent the gym every other day, and have started to actively train for the event, substituting my 8km run on the treadmill for a 20km stationary bike ride. Come good weather, I will start leaving my car and scooter at home at every opportunity, choosing instead to bike to my destinations. Time to get into tip-top shape.
Another thing I definitely need to consider is my bike - it isn't a road bike. It is a really nice mountain bike (TREK 4500, pictured left) that I will have to retrofit to be a little bit more motile on pavement rather than the forest, specifically, by changing the tires. I imagine that most of the riders doing the 200 km route will be the ones dressed in skin tight racing outfits to go along with their racing bikes that weigh next to nothing. I can keep up with these guys, and do so regularly when I come upon a group of them around the city, by virtue of drafting. 

If any of my readers want to help me reach my pledge goal of $400, they can visit my donation page. Any little amount, even a dollar, will be of great help! Much thanks!
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Ontario Lung Association Bike Trek 2009


So last week I decided, that seeing as the weekends are generally slow for my website, I would devote the two days of rest to posts about my personal life. I will do my absolute best to keep in line with this tactic, until something really interesting comes up one of these weekends that I feel the urge to opine about. Fortunately or unfortunately for you, this weekend is not one of those times.

I was recently walking through the biology building, on my way to lab, when I happened upon a poster that caught my eye. It was advertising an event sponsored by the Ontario Lung Association and titled BikeTREK 2009 (PDF). It is a two day, round-trip, 200km bicycle ride from Leamington, Ontario to Windsor, Ontario (I've no clue of the actual bike route to be taken, so the map is only for reference).

There is a small registration fee associated with the event, along with a mandatory minimum of $400 worth of pledges from sponsors the entrant must seek out. Everything seems to be lining up and there is no reason why I will not be doing this event come May. I am already in talks with my place of employment to see if I can attain some form of sponsorship in exchange for advertising the company on the ride. It is a worthy cause, one that does not directly affect me in any way, but one that I support nonetheless.

To say the very least, I am very excited. Mostly because I see this is a definite stepping stone to my eventual goal of running a marathon within the near future.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

My Little Green Friend - Part II


First, did you do Friday's quiz on Science Awareness?

The weekends are always a slow time for my blog, hit wise, so I will see if I can dedicate the two posts on Saturday and Sunday towards personal life topics, rather than skepticism and science oriented ones.

Officially, it has been four days since I have received my motorcycle license and begun to zip around town on my personally restored Yamaha scooter. I admit that the weather has not been entirely friendly, reaching above 0 celsius only a few times during the past few days. Nonetheless, I have not allowed this to thwart my enjoyment of the scootering experience, no matter how freezing my legs and hands happen to be after going from point a to b.

Apart from the huge grin that fails to leave my face as I zip through town on my errands between home, university and work, I am especially happy to say that I am using far less gasoline than my full-sized car. In fact, I filled up the gas tank for 3.85$ CAD (for 91 octane at 91.5 cents per litre, the good stuff) approximately three days ago and have ridden the scooter approximately 70km so far. The gas tank fuel gauge still reads 3/4 full.

At least I feel like I am doing my part to help the environment. An infinitesimally small dent in the big picture, I know, but a dent nonetheless.

Sunday, March 15, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

My Little Green Friend


No, not quite an extraterrestrial, but quite alien to the city of Windsor nonetheless. It is my scooter! A personally restored 1986 Yamaha XC125-S Riva. I apologize for the sharply angled picture above; apart from being artistic, it serves to save the full unveiling for a nice warm day when the sun is out and willing to present the scooter in all its glory.

I have previously written about how I found the scooter and the restoration process, but I just wanted to make an entry stating the the entire restoration is complete and I am a fully insured motorcycle owner with a beginners M license as of yesterday. Weather permitting, I will be riding it to university and work today and I have been smiling nonstop for approximately thirteen hours now, the glee is oozing from me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Cell Transformation and the Effects of Chernobyl - Part III

I am exhausted, but I am also finished. My presentation on Chernobyl is all cued up and ready to make its debut, hopefully I will be coherent for the occasion. I have been sitting in front of my MacBook for about 9 hours, with mild breaks, putting together a viable piece of presentation that I hope will please a few sleepy faces, particularly the professor's, come morning.

I have even managed to do a full rehearsal, less a costume, three times. It is available in most of its glory on YouTube; the lack of my narration will most likely make some portions seem unbearably long. Specifically the videos, which are meant to distract with prettiness while I babble, and include a GoogleEarth tour of Chernobyl Power Station and Pripyat.

I implore you to visit the following links to better understand what occurred that night at Chernobyl; the first link, to YouTube, is especially interesting and well produced:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

Cell Transformation and the Effects of Chernobyl - Part II

Update - New video included, which reflects the finished product, discussed here.

My how time flies when one doesn't pay attention. This is a busy weekend for me, mainly because I have too many things going on at once. Ardent readers will remember my blog post referring to a future presentation on Chernobyl's effects on cell transformation. That seemingly distant date of March 10th has crept up on me as it usually does and I am in the midst of simultaneously studying for a human physiology midterm, which is on Monday morning, as well as preparing for the Tuesday presentation on my topic.

At least I am slightly ahead of the game in that I have chosen my papers for the Chernobyl presentation. However, I am yet to actually summarize all of the content of these papers into a 40 minute presentation that will not put people into a comatose state. As is hopefully evidenced above in the YouTube video of one of my previous keynotes, I tend to try to make my presentations as dynamic as possible with little text and many diagrams that I then explain verbally. All the pertinent information is usually contained in little blurbs that bored people can read and retain, instead of large chunks of text. One of the things that appealed to me most about a presentation on Chernobyl was that I could actively engage my audience with vivid illustrations and video to demonstrate the impacts of the accident while infusing it with data and conclusions derived from scientific studies.

The main paper that my talk will focus on is titled 'Human minisatellite mutation rate after the Chernobyl accident' by Y.E. Dubrova et al. (Nature 380, 683-696; 1996) that details germline mutation rates of children born in areas heavily exposed to radiation from the accident. The findings of the paper are not promising, with a frequency of mutation that is double that of control groups.

I will post the presentation as soon as I am done with it on my YouTube channel, so as to preserve it amongst some of my other videos for years to come.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Posted by Konstantine

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I was born in Poland, raised in Ukraine, identify myself as Russian and now reside in Canada. How's that for an identity crisis?

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