Archive for the ‘Miami’ Category

dog

When fourth-grader Emma Bartelt wanted to wow the judges at her elementary school’s science fair, she knew she had to do something unexpected.

All she needed was a box, a jar, three dogs … and an ounce of cocaine.

These days, vinegar and baking soda is so passé.

In what Miami-Dade school district officials are calling a first, Emma tapped her connections with Miami-Dade police to show how a dog’s sense of smell helps it find narcotics.

“The student’s science project involved a very unusual set of circumstances, including having a parent who is a well-respected police detective with experience in training dogs that sniff for illegal substances,” school district spokesman John Schuster said in statement.

Earlier this month, Miami-Dade police Det. Douglas Bartelt and his colleagues let Emma sit in while they put three drug sniffing canines through a search exercise at their narcotics training facility. There was Roger, a springer spaniel; Levi, a golden retriever; and Franky, a retired chocolate Labrador.

The dogs were individually timed as they searched for 28 grams of cocaine — worth an estimated $1,300 on the street — locked in a metal canister, hidden in a box somewhere in a single room. The exercise was then repeated in a second room.

In the end, Franky came out first, sniffing out the cocaine in 43 seconds. At no time did Emma handle the drugs or the dogs, a Police Department spokeswoman said.

Cocaine is not specifically banned from use in district science fair rules, the Miami Herald reported.

The project earned Emma first prize at her school, Coral Gables Preparatory Academy, and a chance to participate in the county science fair at Miami Dade College on Jan. 26. She received an honorable mention there, district officials said.

Emma explained “the purpose of this scientific investigation was to find which dog would find the cocaine fastest using its sense of smell,” according to the Herald.

http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-sci-sn-student-cocaine-science-fair-20130131,0,1052960.story

palm

For centuries, humans have been exploring, researching, and, in some cases, discovering how to stave off life-threatening diseases, increase life spans, and obtain immortality. Biologists, doctors, spiritual gurus, and even explorers have pursued these quests — one of the most well-known examples being the legendary search by Ponce de León for the “Fountain of Youth.” Yet the key to longevity may not lie in a miraculous essence of water, but rather in the structure and function of cells within a plant — and not a special, mysterious, rare plant, but one that we may think of as being quite commonplace, even ordinary: the palm.

As an honors botany student at the University of Leeds, P. Barry Tomlinson wrote a prize-winning essay during his final year titled, “The Span of Life.” Fifty years later, Tomlinson (now a Distinguished Professor at The Kampong Garden of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Miami, FL) teamed up with graduate student Brett Huggett (Harvard University, MA) to write a review paper exploring the idea that palms may be the longest-lived tree, and whether this might be due to genetic underpinnings. Having retained his essay in his personal files, Tomlinson found that it provided an excellent literature background for working on the question of cell longevity in relation to palms. Together, Tomlinson and Huggett published their review in the December issue of the American Journal of Botany.

A component of an organism’s life span that biologists have been particularly interested in is whether longevity is genetically determined and adaptive. For botanists, discovering genetic links to increasing crop production and the reproductive lifespan of plants, especially long-lived ones such as trees, would be invaluable.

In their paper, Tomlinson and Huggett emphasize that in many respects, an organisms’ life span, or longevity, is determined by the period of time in which its cells remain functionally metabolically active. In this respect, plants and animals differ drastically, and it has to do with how they are organized — plants are able to continually develop new organs and tissues, whereas animals have a fixed body plan and are not able to regenerate senescing organs. Thus, plants can potentially live longer than animals.

“The difference in potential cell longevity in plants versus animals is a significant point,” states Tomlinson. “It is important to recognize that plants, which are so often neglected in modern biological research, can be informative of basic cell biological features in a way that impacts human concern at a fundamental level.”

The authors focused their review on palm trees because palms have living cells that may be sustained throughout an individual palm’s lifetime, and thus, they argue, may have some of the longest living cells in an organism. As a comparison, in most long-lived trees, or lignophytes, the main part, or trunk, of the tree is almost entirely composed of dead, woody, xylem tissues, and in a sense is essentially a supportive skeleton of the tree with only an inner ring of actively dividing cells. For example, the skeleton of Pinus longaeva may be up to 3000 years old, but the active living tissues can only live less than a century.

In contrast, the trunks of palms consist of cells that individually live for a long time, indeed for the entire life of an individual.

Which brings up the question of just how long can a palm tree live? The authors point out that palm age is difficult to determine, primarily because palms do not have secondary growth and therefore do not put down annual or seasonal growth rings that can easily be measured. However, age can be quite accurately assessed based on rate of leaf production and/or visible scars on the trunk from fallen leaves. Accordingly, the authors found that several species of palm have been estimated to live as long as 100 and even up to 740 years. The important connection here is that while the “skeleton” of the palm may not be as old as a pine, the individual cells in its trunk lived, or were metabolically active, as long as, or longer than those of the pine’s.

Most plants, in addition to increasing in height as they age, also increase in girth, putting down secondary vascular tissue in layers both on the inner and outer sides of the cambium as they grow. However, palms do not have secondary growth, and there is no addition of secondary vascular tissue. Instead, stem tissues are laid down in a series of interconnected vascular bundles — thus, not only is the base of the palm the oldest and the top the youngest, but these tissues from old to young, from base to top, must also remain active in order to provide support and transport water and nutrients throughout the tree.

Indeed, the authors illustrate this by reviewing evidence of sustained primary growth in two types of palms, the coconut and the sago palm. These species represent the spectrum in tissue organization from one where cells are relatively uniform and provide both hydraulic and mechanical functions (the coconut) to one where these functions are sharply divided with the inner cells functioning mainly for transporting water and nutrients and the outer ones for mechanical support (the sago palm). This represents a progression in specialization of the vascular tissues.

Moreover, there is evidence of continued metabolic activity in several types of tissues present in the stems of palms, including vascular tissue, fibers, ground tissue, and starch storage. Since the vascular tissues in palms are nonrenewable, they must function indefinitely, and Tomlinson and Huggett point out that sieve tubes and their companion cells are remarkable examples of cell longevity as they maintain a long-distance transport function without replacement throughout the life of the stem, which could be for centuries.

Despite several unique characteristics of palms, including the ability to sustain metabolically active cells in the absence of secondary tissues, seemingly indefinitely, unlike conventional trees, in which metabolically active cells are relatively short-lived, the authors do not conclude that the extended life span of palms is genetically determined.

“We are not saying that palms have the secret of eternal youth, and indeed claim no special chemical features which allows cells in certain organisms to retain fully differentiated cells with an indefinite lifespan,” states Tomlinson. “Rather, we emphasize the distinctive developmental features of palm stems compared with those in conventional trees.”

Tomlinson indicates that this reflects the neglect of the teaching of palm structure in modern biology courses. “This paper raises incompletely understood aspects of the structure and development of palms, emphasizing great diversity in these features,” he concludes. “This approach needs elaborating in much greater detail, difficult though the subject is in terms of conventional approaches to plant anatomy.”

Journal Reference:

1.P. B. Tomlinson, B. A. Huggett. Cell longevity and sustained primary growth in palm stems. American Journal of Botany, 2012; 99 (12): 1891 DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1200089

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121219092842.htm

A contestant in a roach-eating contest who downed dozens of live bugs and worms collapsed and died shortly after winning the contest in South Florida, authorities say.

About 30 contestants ingested the insects during Friday night’s contest at Ben Siegel Reptile Store in Deerfield Beach about 40 miles north of Miami. The grand prize was a python.

Edward Archbold, 32, of West Palm Beach became ill shortly after the contest ended and collapsed outside the store, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office statement released Monday. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Authorities were awaiting results of an autopsy to determine a cause of death.

The sheriff’s office said none of the other contestants fell ill.

“Unless the roaches were contaminated with some bacteria or other pathogens, I don’t think that cockroaches would be unsafe to eat,” said Michael Adams, professor of entomology at the University of California at Riverside. He said he has never heard of someone dying after consuming roaches.

“Some people do have allergies to roaches,” he added, “but there are no toxins in roaches or related insects.”

There was no updated phone number listed for Archbold in West Palm Beach.

“We feel terribly awful,” said store owner Ben Siegel, who added that Archbold did not appear to be sick before the contest.

“He looked like he just wanted to show off and was very nice,” Siegel said, adding that Archbold was “the life of the party.”

A statement from Siegel’s attorney said all the participants signed waivers “accepting responsibility for their participation in this unique and unorthodox contest.”

The bugs consumed were from an inventory of insects “that are safely and domestically raised in a controlled environment as food for reptiles.”

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/man-dies-after-live-roach-eating-contest-fla

 

One man was shot to death by Miami police, and another man is fighting for his life after he was attacked, and his face allegedly half eaten, by a naked man on the MacArthur Causeway off ramp Saturday, police said.
The horror began about 2 p.m. when a series of gunshots were heard on the ramp, which is along NE 13th Street, just south of The Miami Herald building.
According to police sources, a road ranger saw a naked man chewing on another man’s face and shouted on his loud speaker for him to back away.Meanwhile, a woman also saw the incident and flagged down a police officer who was in the area.
The officer, who has not been identified, approached and, seeing what was happening, also ordered the naked man to back away. When he continued the assault, the officer shot him, police sources said. The attacker failed to stop after being shot, forcing the officer to continue firing. Witnesses said they heard at least a half dozen shots.
Miami police were on the scene, which was just south of The Miami Herald building on Biscayne Boulevard. The naked man who was killed lay face down on the pedestrian walkway just below the newspaper’s two-story parking garage. Police have requested The Herald’s video surveillance tapes.
The other man was transported to the hospital with critical injuries, according to police. Their identities were not released.
The incident, which came as crowds descended upon South Beach for the annual Urban Beach Week hip-hop festival, snarled traffic on the causeway for several hours.
In a text message, Javier Ortiz, spokesman for Miami police’s Fraternal Order of Police, said the officer who fired the fatal shots was “a hero.”
“Based on the information provided, our Miami police officer is a hero and saved a life,’’ he said.
Sergeant Altarr Williams, supervisor of Miami police’s Homicide Unit, said a man doesn’t have to be armed to be dangerous.
“There are other ways to injure people,’’ Williams said. “Some people know martial arts, others are very strong and can kill you with their hands.’’
Investigators believe the victim may have been homeless and laying down when the crazed man pounced.
Police theorize the attacker might have been suffering from “cocaine psychosis,” a drug-induced craze that bakes the body internally and often leads the affected to strip naked to try and cool off.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/26/2818832/naked-man-shot-killed-on-macarthur.html#storylink=cpy