My happy feet are walking...
Life is a tricky balance…

Life is a tricky balance…

What I have done at University…

Having finished yesterday, I thought it might be time to reflect on the good points, bad times, firsts and lasts of my University career… so here goes!

As for firsts, that’s easy. University led to the following:

  • Clubbing
  • Living on my own (or with friends)
  • Spontaneous travelling
  • Real love
  • Zip wiring and other such mental things
  • Working in the most awful jobs simply for money
  • Accepting myself
  • Starting a career

A mixed bag, I know! And there were many more little ones; things I have eaten, seen, done and dreamed.

Good points? I have become much more confident and accepted myself. I have also learned to accept the bad points and plan for the good, realised my priorities and who I am.

As for bad points, there are few as I refuse to allow myself regrets. Maybe you can say that I learned not to trust so easily, and that I’m not as clever as I thought. I prefer to think that I just learned how to handle people better, and became rather more modest. The unfortunate events which led to those lessons can therefore only be classed as good.

And lasts? I have experienced the last time I will ever get drunk to the point where I want to die (I hope…), the last time I will allow myself to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t love me, and the last time I will allow myself to be manipulated or put upon by people without my interests in mind. But then, I’m a bit of a fool, so watch this space…

For all those of you who don’t believe in global warming…

What about acid rain?

What about the fact we are running out of fossil fuels?

Just because global warming scares the living daylights out of you and you just want to put your head in the sand, doesn’t mean we should ignore it. Even if you really and truly don’t believe we are the cause, I do not care; there are other reasons why we should turn to renewable and nuclear energies…


Early Bird Special: Mondays suck — so here’s a three-toed sloth crossing the road in Costa Rica.


Bless :D


Why is it that no one seem to know about it?

The technique is incredibally simple and that is to use a drug called dichloroacetate which is currently in use to treat metabolic disorder.

This drug doesn’t require a patent and it is because of this reason, the pharmaceutical companies…

This is kicking around everywhere at the moment. It is currently in phase 1 clinical trials, hence no-one really knowing about it. Is promising, and maybe we’ll see it on the market within the next ten years!

It is highly unlikely that cattle were ever domesticated in Africa…

So for my Masters project, I sequenced the full mitochondrial genomes of members of the East African shorthorn zebu population in order to discover its history. Here I tell you why, and what happened.

There are two known places where cattle were domesticated from their Aurochs progenitor; the Fertile Crescent, where our flat backed taurine cattle originate from, and the Indian subcontinent where the smaller, humped zebu cattle were domesticated. There is also evidence for cattle being domesticated in Africa; archaeological remains have suggested so, as have some studies on a small portion of the mitochondrial D-loop which suggest the main mitochondrial types existing in African cattle are different from the rest of the world. 

But why, I feel you will ask, apart from a general interest, do we care? Why would a University fund research into this? Well, here we have it; selective breeding causes a massive decrease in genetic diversity. This decrease in genetic diversity is highly undesirable. I assume you remember the Irish potato famine? We do not want to risk that happening with cattle, it would be a worldwide disaster. So we need to maintain that genetic diversity and the ability of cattle to fight a wide range of diseases. Further to this, we need to maintain a wide range of genetic diversity from a variety of origins so we maintain as wide a spectrum as possible. 

Instead of just being of interest, it seems that potential centre of domestication within Africa could be highly important.

I studied the East African shorthorn zebus because they had already been shown to have a high degree of genetic diversity in a small portion of their mitochondrial DNA, so sequencing their full portion would lead to being able to quantify this variation, and discover its origins.

What did I find? The East African shorthorn zebu population is highly diverse. And I mean high, when I say high. It also has its maternal origins in that centre of domestication I mentioned in the Fertile Crescent. I should reiterate for those of you who are unsure that the mitochondria are passed only from your mother, and from her mother, and so on. If you are a boy, you will never pass on your mitochondria, hence why this is the maternal origins.

So, no origination for this particular domestic cattle population in Africa. However, I have also provided evidence that disputes the mitochondrial DNA D-loop evidence which supported the theory. That mitochondrial DNA type thought to be dominant in Africa and rare elsewhere? It is no different to a mitochondrial type found in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. D-loops can lie.

Whilst the East African shorthorn zebu population has a high genetic diversity and should be conserved, it is not particularly special. Yet so what? As Tesco would say, every little counts…

I miss that first bit of love, where you’re all giggly and just want to talk about it all the time. And that massive grin keeps spreading across your face at inopportune moments.
This cat. I want.

This cat. I want.


Guilt is a wrong emotion. We shouldn’t feel it. Behavioural science dictates that altruism is just a twisted form of selfishness; we behave altruistically so that in the long run, we will gain from it on its return. 

So why do we feel guilt? I have always felt guilty over actions I have taken where I have served my own interests at the expense of others, for instance ending a relationship I was no longer happy in. 

The person hurt in that decision no longer talks to me, so why should I feel guilty about it? There is little chance of that person reimbursing me with more pain than I caused myself with my guilty feelings. It seems that this feeling that hurts us the most might be the proof of human ability to overcome base instincts, although there are many who seem unaffected by this emotion. 

Conversely, many use guilt as a weapon; causing someone to feel guilt stops them from doing that which you want them to avoid doing. This reversal leads me on to this reasoning: maybe guilt is a behaviour which we have developed in order to prove to others our selfish altruistic tendencies are genuine. This sits better with me than the idea that our emotions have evolved.

So why feel guilt? Because you are a pretender. Maybe I am.