Human Mad Cow Disease - #6

A Spot of Science: Human Mad Cow Disease - #6

The wild effects of eating brains, "Why is terminal velocity a thing?" and more. Gus Sorola challenges Chris Demarais and evolutionary biologist Sally Le Page with some of the quirkiest science questions submitted by viewers. Brought to you by Blue Apron ( http://cook.ba/1pkkO63 )

Sally Le Page's YouTube Channel: http://youtube.com/shedscience

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Comments (57)

  • a3thethird FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    2 months ago

    Wait flying snakes? (7,16) i would rather not see those in person.

  • Northelai

    3 months ago

    Every time Gus says the name of the show I expect to hear 'and welcome to On The Spot'.

  • GreenJaws FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold Beacon Academy Studios

    4 months ago

    Hang on did I just hear that right? Did Gus say there is a 100% accurate test for vCJD. I was born in Britain in 1992 and for that reason alone the Red Cross Blood Donation drive won't touch my blood; why the hell can't they just give me a blood test?!

  • Tannar33 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    Yeah, man, don't eat those brains, Kuru ain't no joke.

    • raven4138 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      4 months ago

      I was actually thinking about kuru when she was talking about human mad cow disease. For those who don't know, it is also a prion based illness that was primarily found in the Fore people of Papua New Guinea. They were cannibals who ritually feasted on the corpses of loved ones for spiritual reasons as well as the fact that they had little protien elsewhere in their diets. They did not allow small children to eat the dead, and were actually really quite good about properly cooking the people they ate which is why nobody thought kuru was linked to the cannabalism until after it had already started to die out do to Christian missionary influence stopping the practice.  

  • arcangel4774 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    Thanks Sally for making me look like an idiot in the middle of a study area.

    • adrianragot FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      Ha were you able to get the vapour at least?

  • Afroclown FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    Rally cry

  • DavidtheWavid FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    So if there's no terminal velocity in a vaccuum, does that happen to ships? Like, the probe we sent to Pluto, did it keep speeding up until it had to make its landing approach?

    • gareth_jones

      5 months ago

      That's not entirely true.  Because E=mc², as you get faster you have more energy, that energy has mass, so you get heavier and heavier the faster you go, which slows your acceleration.  This is why nothing can move faster than the speed of light, as light has no mass, and travels as fast as it's possible to go.  Anything that has mass maxes out at a slower speed.

    • DerrickFord FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      I'm no expert in the matter, but for a probe to continue speeding up it would need something to accelerate it. There is no terminal velocity in a vacuum because there's no air, but there is also no terminal velocity without gravitational forces (or something else) forcing it into a certain direction

    • Tannar33 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      Yeah, and in case it hasn't been mentioned, space isn't a perfect vacuum.

    • Tannar33 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      Yeah, the probe could accelerate once it entered the gravitational pull of Pluto (more accurately once the gravitational pull of Pluto became the strongest pull) or under its own volition, but I guarantee it is being propelled (at least steered) by its own mechanism... otherwise it'd run the risk of being pulled off course by other bodies. Also not an expert, by the way.

    • Tannar33 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      Also, the probe we sent to Pluto didn't make a landing, but flew by and further out into space... in 2019 it is set to pass another celestial object called 2014 MU69.

  • thirsten55 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    Shout-out to Happy Hour#30

  • CloakaDagger FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    As badly as Britain was hit by the BSE crisis, Canada may've been the worst. Our entire cattle industry was nearly destroyed, but out of those ashes, we created what is now the most accountable nation-wide beef-tracking system in the world.

  • martinheron FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    Scary time! I've been making a documentary about BSE and CJD for the past couple of years, and it is an absolute shit show.


    Main problem with mad cow disease and CJD (and why the fact that "it happened in the 80s" is not a relief) is that the incubation periods for the disease are insanely long. Anywhere from 10 years up to 50 years. So while BSE has been contained in cows (for the most part - see below), you could still feasibly die of CJD next year having caught BSE in around 1985-95 when infected beef was most prevalent.


    Also factor in:


    - farming and slaughter negligence, which is alarmingly regular even today;


    - the transmission of CJD infection via blood transfusions and surgery, because there are no symptoms during decades of incubation so people give blood thinking they are healthy, plus sterilisation is impossible against prion disease so surgical equipment used will be irreversibly infected (if they operate knowing you have CJD, they need to dispose of the equipment, or sometimes they just refuse you the operation);


    - the massive push for deregulation in both the US and the UK, which would reduce food safety standards to hazardous extremes, including (allegedly) talks of letting farmers feed meat and bone meal to cows again, thus infecting them with BSE all over again;


    ... and yeah, you've got some scary shit!

  • Senri FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    Don't lie. We all tried doing it as Sally was explaining it.

  • pabrena FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    Brains - Happy Hour #30

  • Vhoxz FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    PSYCHO ALERT

  • Mattyice50 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    So when Sally said flying foxes, I totally thought that there was a species of foxes with wings like a flying squirrel that I didn't know about. I Googled it, it's just another name for fruit bats. Jeez, flying foxes would have been creepy. 

    • DavidtheWavid FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      OKAY BUT FLYING SNAKES THO

    • Mattyice50 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      DavidtheWavid, but what about flying snake-clowns?... 

  • The-RQTech FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold The Rage

    5 months ago

    "LETS SPOT IT SCIENCE"-chris 2017 

  • Scuzz83 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    I never want to meet a flying snake.


  • ktgcake FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    This one was a way better length for an episode! My favourite one yet.

  • AmmeGrace FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    on the topic of Prion diseases,  Eating Brains: Cannibal Tribe Evolved Resistance to Fatal Diseaseis an interesting article. Basically, there's a tribe in Papua New Guinea that had cannibalism as a part of their funeral practices, which led to the spread of Kuru(a prion disease). But some tests have shown that some members of the tribe now have a gene that protects from various forms of prion diseases, including kuru and mad cow. Which I think is kinda cool

  • Mrhappysadass FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    I think what Chris was trying to get at, which wasn't really covered, was this: Did our brains perhaps start producing mis-folded protein on purpose so that other humans and animals wouldn't eat them? As a method of self-defence, for instance. "If you eat me, it will make you sick. So don't bother."

    I actually like that, as a possibility.

    • AmmeGrace FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      I don't think so (not an expert, just weirdly interested), but it's not just that eating brain causes the misfolding, the misfolding can just be genetic (or iirc just bad luck), and any amount of the typical prion diseases can cause memory loss, personality changes, loss of motion, and tend to leave you dead fairly quick. This isn't a defense mechanism, or if it is it's the "you can't kill me i kill me" kind. But, we don't really know a lot about them so i may be off, but you don't really want any of that in you (unless it's one of a few select types and you're a member of the Fore people, but even then)

  • kingxkobra FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    Gus' socks are fire

  • Rallion2 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    I'm so glad they covered a lot of topics this time! Hopefully that trend continues.

  • sarahsourire FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    I got excited about the cannibalism question because I was hoping Sally would talk about Kuru (the disease cannibals got in New Guinea) which is transmitted by prions in the brain but would also (if I remember correctly) be dormant in the infected for like 20+ years?? My global health class talked about it and it was terrifying but also really interesting.

    • IndecisiveRascal FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      Kuru is both the name for the tribe of people in New Guinea and the name given to the particular variant of CJD that was endemic to that tribe. Fun fact: The cannibalism within the tribe was due to 'burial' practices, family and friends would eat the body parts of the deceased. Women and children were given mainly the brains to eat due to social status and that is why it was observed that they had a higher rate of incidence of CJD than others within the tribe itself.


      No one really knows why exactly there is a latency for symptoms to show as you mentioned but there are a few theories. One is that when the prions are ingested they can become trapped in the lympatic system (think blood system but for white blood cells) and so it takes them a very long time to reach the brain. Another is that they actually 'change shape' again (it's actually a selection for and proliferation of a certain kind of shape) within the patient and this can take a while.


      Bonus fun fact: As Sally mentioned the problem of BSE and CJD was huge in Britain in the 80s/90s and as you mentioned because it took so long for symptoms to show there was a worry that a massive amount of people in the UK had become infected. There were some that thought that it was a ticking time-bomb and in the late 00's-10's people were just going to start dying en masse. Thankfully they didn't haha.


      BONUS bonus fun fact: Some believe that the US beef industry had the same problem because they had the same feeding practices but it was covered up because it would have destroyed the industry. 


      Sorry if there's any errors, I'm writing this really late at night because I can't sleep. Source: myself, I had a report on it a while back.

  • ItsMeChris FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold CMBAngo23

    5 months ago

    I've been doing the faux smoke thing with my mouth since I was in the 4th grade, thought it was just a dumb thing my friends made up lol.

  • SwansonPat FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    I love Chris and his funny comments and ideas but I really liked the pilot episodes where it was just Gus and Sally, I hate beating around the bush with Chris' answers.

  • Mr_Charles_Casey FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold Martial Guitarist

    5 months ago

    I hope those prions don't affect pig brains... anyone remember Happy Hour #30?

  • RsningTrtl FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    did it first try. new nickname. cloud man

  • Pattylad FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    ...did she say flying snakes? Well, game over humanity. I thought we had a good run but time's up.

    • blancpage FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold ModerateOccasionallyPoor

      5 months ago

      Just don't tell Geoff. The man's on sabbatical-ish. Deserves a break.

  • Maeel FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold I like things

    5 months ago

    I tried it like 3 times, but couldn't see it. 

    • Maeel FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold I like things

      5 months ago

      Scratch that, tried again it worked a little

  • YinHokLong FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    getting roasted by Chris. Harsh.

  • CitySelby FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    Ah, bovine spongiform encephalopathy. It's why people like me who lived in Britain in the 90s can't donate blood.

  • Delivery_McGee FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    Small nitpick: it's compression of the air, not friction, that heats up reentering spacecraft. Also pretty sure the wingsuit guys do have a parachute for the final approach. Well, there was that one French guy that jumped of the Eiffel Tower with just a wingsuit and ... splat. Like my dad the former paratrooper says, "it's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end."

  • zonez1 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    Every episode Chris has the same shirt on. 

    • Khelton FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      Sally doesn't live in Austin, she lives in England. They recorded all the episodes, likely in 1 sitting or over a short period of time.

    • SwansonPat FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      They recorded all of the episodes at once because Sally was only there for a certain time.

    • Wotster FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      Its a nice shirt though. Id wear it

  • CrazyBacon64 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    It still amazes me how smart Chris is. He has the Gavin effect where he actually knows what he's talking about, but words it in the dumbest ways possible.

  • EliJayFly FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    My god these questions are submitted by idiots

  • overkill2009 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold Wanna-be Pro Streamer

    5 months ago

    im more glad this has chris and not Brandon on this show, i would not watch this with him on it

    • Dinaaa FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      I would love an episode with the 2 of them.

  • Hidden_mind FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold cocktail man

    5 months ago

    i'm so happy i finished eating before watching this.

  • rudykawa FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    Interesting that more questions other than biological ones started to get included. But would still propose to introduce guests such as a physicist to help Sally for some more complex questions in those areas.

  • Monokite FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    5 months ago

    I love the way Sally says Vitamin

    • JenModding FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      5 months ago

      Correctly. ;)

  • Josh_sheehan FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold josh_sheehan

    5 months ago

    I always attributed dogs eating their faeces to coprophagia, especially in puppies as a form of getting as much nutrition from the food as possible in order to grow. Rodents do the same thing but that is partly because the plant matter they eat is harder to break down and therefore needs to be digested twice! Love the show, I'm starting to ship Chris and Sally..... Chrally?