Some Questions About Sperm and Eggs
Before you browse through the serious discussions at this Web site of the science of making and modifying sperm and eggs, why not first explore a bit of the wild and wacky world of sperm and eggs. Click here for the National Insitutes of Health's Talking Glossary of biology terms used on these web pages. And for course, there are lots of bad sperm jokes. Even more, check out some of the serious and silly sperm videos and images available on the Internet.
- The ancient Greek origin of the word 'sperm'
- Thomas Aquinas - women come from defective sperm
- Why do males have sperm?
- What does a sperm look like?
- Sperm morphology - shapes of good and bad sperm
- Green flourescent sperm?
- Do humans have the biggest sperm?
- Why do some flies have realllllly long sperm?
- How have sperm been depicted historically?
- Did our grandfathers have more sperm?
- Does watching pornography help men make better sperm?
- Is your father's sperm from your daddy?
- Thinking of sperm on Father's Day
- Fun comparative statistics about sperm
- Can sperm/penis function at the speed of light?
- Can sperm swim as fast as Mach 20?
- Making light diodes from ... salmon sperm?
- What is the highest altitude a sperm has ever reached?
- Why we don't need men to colonize outer space
- Do sperms like perfume?
- When was the first artificial insemination?
- Why don't females have sperm?
- How about injecting female DNA into an empty sperm?
- Is there a gene for liking oral sex?
- Is a penis an inside-out vagina?
- Is the penis a sperm squeegee?
- New uses of sperm - making proteins
- Sperm as hair gel and There's Something About Mary
- Tick semen as a tick repellent
- Does Coca-Cola kill sperm?
- Does lemon/lime juice kill sperm?
- Does eating soy decrease your sperm count?
- How to make sperm self-destructing
- Is there pus in sperm and "milk"?
- Sperm, masturbation, prostate cancer, the Bible and corn flakes
- Are men homosexual if they eat avocados or drink tequila/vodka/cream?
- Should men be jealous of rats and platypuses?
- Did bad sperm cause Communism and the Iraq War?
- Monica Lewinsky talking about the sperm dress and spinach
- What's the Lucky Sperm Club?
- Cupid's Arrow and snail sperm
- Sex education by playing sperm bingo
- Using James Bond to teach urchin sperm
- Snow White and sperm banks
- Can sperm dance?
- Do sperm like music?
- Songs about sperm
- Oh No!! Sperm reality TV shows?
- Jay Leno sued for sperm donor joke
- A theater play about sperm?
- The Art of Ejacuation
- Puerto Rico's Sperm Dance against gay marriage
- "Man and Sperm" - the comic strip
- Was Jesus the first Sperm?
- The Hindus have a god of sperm - anyone else?
- Greek origins of Islamic views of sperm?
- Mormon racism, white sperm and black eggs
- Nazi and Californian sperm control
- Stalin, ape sperm and female humans - a super race?
- A sperm pill to ensure male babies?
- Womanly Women, Manly Women, Womanly Men, Manly Men
- Some interesting books about sperm
- Some movies with sperm as a plot element
The ancient Greek origin of the word 'sperm'
The modern English word 'sperm' is derived from the Middle English word 'sperme', which is derived from the Late Latin word 'sperma' from the ancient Greek word 'sperma'. The Greek word, meaning 'that which is scattered', evolved from the ancient Indo-European root word 'sper-' meaning 'to strew'. A related Greek word is 'sporas', also meaning 'scattered', with 'spora' (our 'spore') meaning 'seed'. The Late Latins also knew that some whales produced a white, waxy substance, found in the head of the whale, that was useful for making candles, ointments and cosmetics. The Latin word for this wax is 'spermaceti' ('-ceti' being the Latin word for whale), and the whales making this wax eventually were named 'sperm whales'.
This ancient Greek attitude of associating sperm with seed created a sexist bias against women that has lasted for thousands of years. Aristotle started it with his view that the goal of semen is to produce a male (to him, females were mutilated males). However, if the woman receiving the sperm is cold somehow, the embryo becomes a woman. Aristotle also claimed that women merely supplied the material cause for the fetus. The higher causes (efficient, formal, and final) are supplied by the male.
Thomas Aquinas - women come from defective sperm
Thomas Aquinas took the ancient Greek seed view of sperm as a basis for his theory of sexuality that greatly influenced the Catholic Church. Aquinas wrote "Just as God can perfuse matter with form, so can seminal power infuse form into the corporeal matter supplied by the mother." Aquinas saw the production of females as a defect in the production of men and viewed women as having as much claim to reason as a child or imbecile. In his Summa Theologica, First Part - "Treatise on Man", Question 92 - "The Production of Woman", Aquinas writes:It was necessary for woman to be made, as the Scripture says, as a "helper" to man; not, indeed, as a helpmate in other works, as some say, since man can be more efficiently helped by another man in other works; but as a helper in the work of generation.
.... Wherefore we observe that in these the active power of generation invariably accompanies the passive power. Among perfect animals the active power of generation belongs to the male sex, and the passive power to the female. ....
.... As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from defect in the active force or from some material indiposition, or even from some external influence; such as that of a south wind, which is moist, as the Philosopher observes.
Why do males have sperm?
For a male and female of most species to have children, somehow the male's genetic material, his DNA, packaged in chromosomes, has to combine with the female's DNA packaged in chromosomes. Through evolution, females make their chromosomes available in their eggs, along with cellular machinery to combine the female and male chromosomes and to start the process of forming an embryo (which many months later happily results in a baby).Definition: Most human cells have 46 chromosomes, 23 inherited from a female, and 23 inherited from a male. Each chromosome carries many genes, each gene comprising a sequence of DNA. Cells with 46 chromosomes are described as being "diploid". Some cells, such as sperm and eggs, have only 23 chromosomes (so when they combine, the total is 46 chromosomes), and are described as being "haploid". Thus, at some point in time, germ cells with 46 chromosomes must split their chromosome count in half so that the resulting sperm and eggs have 23 chromosomes. This splitting does not occur at the same time for sperm and eggs. Human males are sometimes referred to genetically as "46,XY", meaning they have 46 chromosomes, which includes one X and one Y chromosome. Human females are similarly referred to as "46,XX".
Somehow the man must ensure that his chromosomes can enter the female's body (go ask your parents about sex) and travel to the part of the body where the female makes her egg available to join with the sperm. To protect the male's chromosomes and to provide a mechanism for chromosomes to travel in the female's body, evolution created sperm. Much of the sperm's machinery is devoted to providing a tail that propels the sperm through the female's body to find the much larger egg.
Brief History - In 1678, the Dutch microscopist Anton van Leeuwenhoek was the first person to identify sperm in semen, followed shortly by Dutch histologist Nicolas Hartsoeker in 1694, whose drawing of a sperm with a fully formed embryo instead of it mislead scientists and theologians for centuries (see diagram below). In 1821, two French scientists, J.B Dumas and J.L. Prevost, claimed that sperm were active agents of fertilization, but they were ignored. It was not until 1876, when German scientists Oscar Hertwig and Herman Fol demonstrated sperm entry into eggs and the union of the two cell's nuclei (containing the chromosomes).
What does a sperm look like?
To set the record straight, sperm do not look like Woody Allen (or John Kerry) (see Allen's 1972 movie Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask). Instead, here is basic diagram of the structure of a sperm, consisting of a head (nucleus) where the male's DNA is carried, a neck where energy is stored, and the tail to propel the sperm:
Picture credit: Prod. Danton O'Day, University of Toronto.
Professor Danton O'Day has a nice overview of the basics of sperm. Click here. Professor David de Kretser of Monash University has a new overview of the structure and biochemistry of sperm development. Click here. The Andrology Lab at the University of Utah has a variety of pictures of sperm.
Green flourescent sperm?
Green eggs and ham is a classic favorite (well, a favorite Dr. Suess book). But green flourescent sperm? Yes indeed. Years ago, scientists discovered a green in jellyfish, Green Flourescent Protein (GFP), that makes them glow. So to have some fun (and also a very useful science research tool), they transplanted the gene into other animals and cells, including the GFP Bunny. More recently, some scientists at Oxford were able to create glowing green sperm for hamsters.
Do humans have the biggest sperm?
Sorry guys - the biggest sperm belongs to a certain species of ... fly. Human sperm is about 0.006 millimeter long. In 1950, researchers determined that the sperm of a certain fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is about 2 millimeters long - about 300 times larger than human sperm. However in 1995 (Nature, v375, 11 May 1995, 109), researchers reported that a distant relative of melanogaster, the fly species Drosophila bifurca has sperm that is about 60 millimeters long, which surprisingly is 20 times longer than the flies themselves (imagine human sperm 100 feet long). Scientists are unsure of the advantages of having such long sperm.
How have sperm been depicted historically?
In 1694, Dutch histologist Nicolas Hartsoeker viewed sperm under one of the early microscopes. Such microscopes had low resolution, so Hartsoeker used a bit of his imagination when drawing the following structure of a sperm that has a fully formed embryo inside the head.
Another early microscopist, Dalenpatius, around the late 1600s, also had a preformist view of sperm, depicting sperm as tiny men with tails sticking out of hats on their heads.
Dalenpatius, the pseudonym of the French aristocrat Francois de Plantade, sent these depictions to the scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, writing in a letter about these man-sperm: "Their bodies scarely exceed in size a grain of corn ... whilst their tails are four or five times the length of their bodies. They move with extraordinary agility, and by the lashings of their tails they produce and agitate the wavelets in which they swim. Who would have believed that in them was a human body? But I have seen this thing with my own eyes. For while I was examining them ... one appeared ... and sloughed off the skin in which he had been enclosed and clearly revealed ... both its shins, its legs, its breast, and two arms, whilst the cast skin, when pulled further up, enveloped the head after the manner of a cowl. It was impossible to distinguish sexual characters on account of its small size, and it died in the act of uncovering itself." (quote from "The Overy of Eve" by Clara Pinto-Correia).
Did our grandfathers have more sperm?
Sadly, and worryingly, probably yes. In recent years, a variety of scientific studies have shown that the density of sperm in ejaculations has dropped 50% from the 1930s to the 1990s. An article in the July 1999 BioEssays, titled "Declining semen quality: can the past inform the present?", analyzed 61 studies of sperm density to confirm this drop. One suspected cause is the effects of the many chemicals being dumped into the environment, some of which could be disrupting the production of sperm in men. For example, some farmers exposed to high levels of pesticides have had their semen quality lowered.
Does watching pornography help men make better sperm?
As if men need a serious reason to watch pornography. But YES, in 2005, Australian scientists reported that men can increase the quality of their sperm by watching pornography of men and women together, especially scenes depicting sperm competition. Their paper is titled: Image content influences men's semen quality. See also an ABC Australia news article.
Is your father's sperm from your daddy?
Simple question: is your daddy (the great guy that raised you) the same as your father (the man whose sperm combined with your mother's egg)? Answer: most of the time, yes. But most of the time? It turns out that in developed countries, 1 in 25 (about 4%) of children are not biologically related to their supposed father - their mother had sex with another man. For millenium this was more a troubling joke than a provable worry, but in recent years as genetic testing becomes more widespread and cheaper, more and more cases of "paternal discrepancy" - cuckoldry - are being discovered (a 1950-2004 metastudy was reported in the 2005 volume of Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (vol. 59, pg. 749). So I ask you - who's YOUR daddy?
Fun comparative statitics about sperm
The following fun statistics are due to the folks at Quik Condoms, an online store for condoms. www.quikcondoms.com/content.jsp?ch=fun_stuff&id=59
1. Actual amount of semen per ejaculation: 1-2 teaspoons 2. Average number of times a man will ejaculate in his lifetime: 7,200 3. Average # of times he will ejaculate from masturbation: 2,000 4. Average total amount of lifetime ejaculate: 14 gallons 5. Average amount of water it takes to fill a bathtub: 35 gallons 6. Average speed of ejaculation: 28 miles per hour 7. Average speed of a city bus: 25 miles per hour 8. Average # of calories in a teaspoon of semen: 7 9. Average # of calories in a can of Dr. Pepper: 150 10. Average length of penis when not erect: 3.5 inches 11. Average length when erect: 5.1 12. Smallest natural penis recorded: 5/8 of an inch 13. Largest natural penis recorded: 11 inches 14. Largest penis in the animal kingdom: 11 feet (blue whale) 15. Height from court floor to the rim of a basketball hoop: 10 feet 16. Most arousing time of day/season for a man: early morning/fall 17. Best ways to improve sexual function: quit smoking, start exercising, lose weight. 18. Foods that improve sex life: oysters, lean meat, seafood, whole grains, and wheat germ 19. Percent of men who say they masturbate: 60% 20. Percent of men who say they masturbate at least once a day: 54% 21. Percent of men who say they feel guilty masturbating that often: 41% 22. Amount of time needed for a man to regain erection: from 2 min to 2weeks 23. Average # of erections per day for a man: 11 24. Average # of erections during the night: 9 25. Distance sperm travels to fertilize an egg: 3-4 inches 26. The human equivalent: 26 miles (a marathon distance) 27. Time it takes the sperm: 2.5 seconds 28. Time it takes an average person to complete a marathon: 4 hours 29. Sperm life: 2 1/2 months (from development to ejaculation) 30. Shelf life of a hostess Twinkie: 7 years 31. Cost of a year's supply of condoms at a store: $250 32. Cost of a years supply (365) of condoms at QuikCondom: $100 33. Thickness of the average condom: .07 mm 34. Thickness of super-thin condoms: .05 mm 35. Thickness of plastic wrap: .0127 mm 36. In general, the taste of a man's semen varies with his diet. 37. Some say that the alkaline-based foods (fish and some meats) produce a buttery or fishy taste. 38. Dairy products can create a foul taste. 39. The taste of semen after eating asparagus is said to be the foulest. 40. Acidic fruits and alcohol (except processed liquors) give it a pleasant and sugary taste Examples: oranges, mangos, kiwi, lemons, grapefruit, limes, Labatt Blue, Honey Brown, Drinking a Corona with lime is double the fun. 41. Odors that increase blood flow to the penis: lavender, licorice, chocolate, doughnuts, pumpkin pie. (Happy Thanksgiving!) 42. Yes, the penis does shrink in the shower. 43. It is common for men to wake up with "morning wood," a name for an a.m. erection. 44. Blue balls, or the term a man uses when he says his balls will explode if he doesn't have sex, is totally false.
Can sperm/penis function at the speed of light?
I don't know why you are asking, but the answer is NO. At near light speeds, the penis shrinks even smaller than most women already experience, and the semen will burst into flames and pierce a hole through a woman's body. Don't try having sex at the speed of light. Other aspects of sex at the speed of light are discussed by UCLA professor John Marshall. In reality, the initial spurt of semen from a penis can travel as fast as a very-nonrelativistic 28 miles per hour, travelling as far as 24 inches.
The actual speed of sperm is about 1-4 millimeters per minute, much faster than the average rate of progress of the US Congress. Sperm move by wiggling their tails, as illustrated in this nice animation from a scientist at Stanford.
Making light diodes from ... salmon sperm?
Seriously. In September 2007, the University of Cincinnati, on in this case, the University of SinSinnati, reports in a press release, that university professor Andrew Steckl is studying ways to use salmon sperm to make electronic components such as light emitting diodes (LEDs). His proposal is to make thin films (used to make diodes) out of the DNA found in salmon sperm. The salmon industry discards tons of salmon sperm a year. "DNA has certain optical properties that make it unique. It allows improvements in one or two orders of magnitude in terms of efficiency, light, brightness - because we can trap electrons longer.", said Steckl.
What is the highest altitude a sperm has ever reached?
Trick question. For sperm inside a body, the highest would be the sperm of the American astronauts who landed on the Moon. For sperm outside a body, the winner is .... a bunch of pigs. In 2005, the Chinese government announced plans to send pig sperm into space. The sperm comes from Rongchang pigs, known to produce pork of outstanding quality, and the government hopes the microgravity inside a rocket space capsule will improve the sperm.
Why we don't need men to colonize outer space
Every NASA study and science fiction story about colonizing outer space typically has the same Noah ark scenario - pairs of men and women boldly going where no one has procreated before. Not surprisingly, all of these scenarios were written by men. How can you tell? A letter to the editor of the New Scientist (20 October 2007, page 27) explains:If people were serious about colonizing space or the planets, they would not send couples, but a party of healthy young women and a sperm bank. Every child born would have a different father, thus minimising the dangerous bottleneck otherwise caused by a small founder population. Jo Darlington, Cambridge, UK
Do sperms like perfume?
Maybe, if their date isn't that good looking. But there is one perfume that really excites sperm, and that is a combination of chemicals released by eggs that sperm follow to find the egg (chemotaxis). Sperm in some animals, such as mice, need to "smell" very little of this "perfume" released by the egg, as discovered by researchers at the University of Indiana. Call it Chanel L'Egg.
When was the first artificial insemination?
For animals, the first documented artificial insemination was done with dogs by the ex-priest Lazzaro Spallanzani in 1780, using his pet dog. Due to the artificial insemination, she had three puppies. Some writers argue that the first case actually occurred in 1322, when an Arab chief artificially inseminated a horse. Ten years later, in 1790, Scottish surgeon John Hunter successfully artificially inseminated a woman, who had a child that year. Surprisingly, the next recorded artificial insemination didn't occur for another 90 years, when in 1884, Dr William Pancoast of the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia helped the Quaker wife of a local merchant become pregnant through artificial insemination. Surprisingly also, the next published account, this time comprehensively from the point of view of medicine, appeared a 1954 issue of the British Medical Journal. That year, the Pope declared artificial insemination a sin.
Frozen Sperm - In 1776, Spallanzani noticed that frozen sperm could be reheated back to life. But he didn't try insemination using frozen sperm. In 1886, a man named Montegazza proposed the idea of frozen sperm banks, for example, for soldiers to save their sperm to have heirs in case they die on the battlefield. In 1953, Dr. Jerome Sherman invented a method using the slow cooling of sperm in glycerol to successfully freeze human sperm. That year, Sherman achieved the first human artificial insemination using frozen sperm.
A brief history of artificial insemination and sperm banks.
Why don't females have sperm?
Females have eggs. The egg has less distance to travel, and most of its machinery is devoted to helping the female's and male's DNA to combine and start the process of forming an embryo (embryogenesis). This requires much energy and nutrients, so not surprisingly, female eggs are much larger than male sperm. Pictures week by week of the developing embryo can be seen at: The Visible Embryo.
Interestingly, from ancient times until the 19th century, it was thought that females did have sperm. This view started with the ancient Greeks, who observing male sperm, assumed that females had something similar. It wasn't until modern science discovered female eggs that this belief had to be discarded. As we shall see on another Web page, this historial oddity caused a little known dilemma in Biblical truths.
During artificial fertilization processes, more eggs are fertilized than are used to make babies. As of 2004, there are over 400,000 fertilized human eggs in fertility clinics around the country, posing interesting ethics dilemmas.
How about injecting female DNA into an empty sperm?
The issue of same-sex marriage is all the rage around the world, and one issue all opponents of same-sex marriage continually raise is that marriage and procreation are inseparable. Which raises the question (for those not blinded by hate): is samesex procreation possible? Now, no. But in the future, who knows - science marches on. For females, this would be possible if one could inject female DNA into an empty male sperm, and use the sperm to fertilize an egg. Sorry, won't work.
Below is a structural diagram of a sperm. The central section of the head of the sperm, the nucleus, contains the male's chromosomes. Why can't we simply suck out the male's chromosomes and inject the chromosomes from a female egg? After all, women now freshen the cytoplasm in their eggs by injecting cytoplasm from a younger woman's egg. While such an idea is nice and simple, the sperm will fail to help fertilize an egg. There is a phenomenon known as imprinting discussed on other pages at this Web site, where chromosomes are marked according to whether they came from the father or mother. Simply injecting a woman's chromosomes into an empty sperm is useless as long as the chromosomes are not marked as coming from a man.
Of course, if one had a haploid set of a women's chromosomes, you probably could skip having to use the sperm and just inject the chromosomes into the egg of another women. Indeed, such a technique was proposed by some Spanish and Czech researchers in 2002, through a process they called "haploidization". Here an adult cell is injected into an empty egg. The egg splits the chromosomes in half, ejecting as a polar body one half of the chromosomes. This polar body, being haploid, could in theory be used to fertilize another egg through injection, eliminating the need to use a sperm. Something similar was proposed back in 1979 by Landrum Shettles, one of the early researchers of in vitro fertilization. Shettles emptied a human egg and injected a diploid sperm cell.
However in 2003, scientists argued that such a process would never work for two reasons: 1) the chromosomes would not split in half correctly (chromosomal segregation) and 2) the chromosomes would not have male markings (genomic imprinting). A 1981 research paper reported on the abnormal human pregnancies when one or two sperm fertilized an empty egg.
Another method, fetal mating, involves two women getting pregnant, with one woman having sperm selected to have a boy, the other womaan having a girl. The resulting embryos are aborted, and sperm germ cells are removed from the male embryo and egg germ cells are removed from the female embryo, and then the egg and sperm are combined. The resulting children have 25% of their DNA from each of the women, and 50% of their DNA from the original sperm donors, the resulting children being "grandchildren" for the original two women. It is very unlikely this procedure would ever be allowed.
Is there a gene for liking oral sex?
Is it true - a gene that encourages females to suck up sperm through their mouths? Good news guys, there is such a gene. Bad news guys, the gene is only found in fish. Scientists in Switzerland report that a gene in cichlid fish helps males lure females close so that the males can squirt sperm into their mouths. Female cichlid fish fertilize their eggs in their mouths. Guys, time for some gene transplantation?
Is a penis an inside-out vagina?
The ability to make sperm is due in part to the many similarities between the male and female sex organs and sex cells (sperm and eggs). A good illustration of how the male and female sex organs have many biological similarites (think of a penis as a long clitoris), check out an animation of the similarities of the male and female genital region.
Genetically, the main difference between men and women are the sperm and testis related genes on the Y chromosome, a few dozen or so genes out of 50,000 to 100,000 human genes. Indeed for the first months after fertilization, the embryo is sexless, initially with prototypes of both male and female sex organs. If the embryo has a SRY gene (SRY = Sex-determining Region of the Y chromosome), it becomes a male, with being female being the default state of all humans.
Similarities at the genetic and cellular level are one thing, but at the visual level, it is obvious that the sex organs are very different. To most people, I suppose, but to physiological topologists it is less obvious. To such people, the penis is little more than an inside-out vagina. Topologists are people who compare how two surfaces relate to each other, usually by deforming one surface until it becomes the second surface (the joke being that topologists can't tell the difference between a donut and a coffee cup, since both object's surface has one hole).
To such topologists, if you shrink the head of a penis, blow up the shaft of the penis, and push most of it inside the body (all three steps being legitimate topological transformations), you have a psuedo-vagina. The following table (from the book "Why Eve doesn't have an Adam's apple") shows some of the similarities:
Males Females Scrotum Labia majora (large, outer lips of the vagina) Underside of penis Labia minora (small, inner lips of the vagina) Glans (head) of penis Glans (tip) of clitoris Corpus cavernosum (erectile tissue of the penis) Shaft (erectile tissue of the clitoris); sides of vagina Cowper's glands (mucus glands on either side of the urethra) Bartholin's glands (mucus glands on either side of the vagina)
Interestingly, this view of the topological similarities of the penis and vagina dates back hundreds of years. One of the early medical researchers, Andreas Vesalius, in his 1543 anatomical illustration book De Humani Corporis Fabrica, Fifth Book, depicts a uterus as a kind of inverted penis.
Penis size and Shoe size - while we are at it, is there any connection between penis size (or vagina size, in light of the above), and shoe size? A great urban myth for those with large feet, but sadly for them, the answer is NO. A study in the 2002 edition of the British Journal of Urology International reported a study that found no correlation.
While humans have "borrowed" many body parts from animals, one rather useful borrowing never occurred. The penis of a dragonfly is shaped like a shovel, and has the ability to scoop out a male rival's semen.
New uses of sperm - making proteins
In one sense, men are walking sperm factories. Each time an adult man's heart beats, he creates about 1000 new sperm (about 100,000,000 a day), but needs only a few sperm to have children. What to do with the billions and billions of other sperm that end up being wasted? Biotechnology companies have the opposite problem - manufacturing genetically engineered proteins from DNA requires adding the DNA to cells which are grown in big vats in laboratories. The cells are extracted and the proteins removed.
Some scientists, in the spirit of always trying to be more efficient, thought "why not genetically alter an organism's DNA to express a desired protein only in sperm?" What they are do is to create a transgenic animal (an animal with extra genes) such that the animal has an added gene that is only expressed in the testis. When the animal reaches puberty and starts making sperm, the sperm is extracted and processed to collect the protein expressed by the added DNA. The current research and development is directed towards doing this with mice, but if human males run out of ways to be useful in the future, they can become recombinant DNA factories.
Sperm as hair gel and There's Something About Mary
In her book, "Sperm Counts", sociology professor Lisa Jean Moore briefly mentions an analysis of sperm used as hair gel in an infamous scene starring Cameron Diaz in the movie There's Something About Mary:As opposed to a man with egg on his face?In [film theorist Greg Tuck's] analysis of There's Something About Mary, he notes that Mary's use of Ted's ejaculate as hair gel can be understood in two seemingly disparate ways. On the one hand, because the seminal ejaculate is both degrading to female bodies because of the stigmatizing act of being "jizzed" upon, the placement of the semen on Mary's body is a misogynistic act that pollutes her and casts her as a fool. On the other hand, the belief that women love seminal ejaculation fulfills a male fantasy of acceptance, and so Mary's acceptance of Ted's fluid may "represent a more utopian fantasy" whereby the "power of abjection" that seminal ejaculation elicits is overcome by love and attention.
Tick semen as a tick repellent
Ticks diseases are a growing problem as human suburbs start encroaching on rural environments, placing humans and animals (such as deers) in more contact. Diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tickborne encephalitis and Lyme disease are caused by ticks. Repellents and vaccines would be welcome to help minimize the health problems caused by this contact.
One solution is suggested by Canadian scientists in 2004 (PNAS, 20 April 2004, 5874-5879), who determined that two proteins (collectively called voraxin) found in the semen of an African cattle tick, Amblyomma hebraeum, can partially immunize animals. Ticks spread disease when they are feeding on animals. However, it was found that for ticks feeding on rabbits immunized with voraxin, the ticks fed for shorter periods of time to the extent that they failed to lay eggs.
Does Coca-Cola kill sperm?
A question potentially inspired by the 1972 porn classic "Deep Throat" ("ah, things to go better with Coke"), does Coca Cola kill sperm - can you use it (don't ask how :-) as a spermicidal? The answer is NO, except maybe if you drink it while swallowing a birth control pill.
Does lemon/lime juice kill sperm?
Unlike Coca Cola, it may be that lemon juice can be used as a contraceptive to kill sperm. A study in the 2006 volume of the journal Fertility and Sterility reports such data. The article is "Sperm immobilizing properties of lemon juice" by Dr. Gary Clarke (along with S. McCoombe and R. Short) at the Royal Women's Hospital in Victoria, Australia. He found that the use of lemon juice supernatant prepared by centrifuging freshly squeezed lemon juice, when mixed with sperm, reduced the pH of sperm fluid from around 8.4 to an acidic 4.1, causing all sperm movement to stop within a few minutes. Similar results were found with lime juice.
Stories about the use of lemon juice as a contraceptive date back over a thousand years, and the infamous lover Casanova used half of a lemon as a precursor to today's diaphragms. See a brief history of female contraception and ancient contraception. In the early 1990s, the use of lemon sodas also acted as a contraceptive. The Australian study simplifies things by only relying on the lemon juice, and not the other additives in the soda. Given the antibacterial properties of cranberry juice, how about a mixture of lemon juice and cranberry juice as a contraceptive (before you drink a vodka/lemon juice/cranberry juice cocktail that makes you end up in bed :-).
Clarke's article suggests further research into coming up with a practical lemon juice contraceptive to be used in those parts of the world where condoms are too expensive or unacceptable.
Does eating soy decrease your sperm count?
Soy food products are a nice way to be healthy and keep the environment healthy. Having less humans also would keep the environment healthy. Is there a connection? Maybe. In October 2007, at the 63rd annual meetin of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, researchers reported that men who eat just half a serving of soy each day have much lower sperm counts. The shape and speed of the sperm seem unaffected.
This report is consistent with earlier reports that isoflavones, a chemical food in soy products, when consumed in large amounts, causes lower sperm counts. Isoflavones mimic the female hormone estrogen, which is why menopausal, non-sperming producing, women eat soy as means of replacement theory. A spokesman for the soy industry said this new report is not consistent with their studies.
How to make sperm self-destructing
Admittedly developed for fish, so that farmed fish would not breed with free ranging fish, but German scientists (in a 2005 PNAS article) report on how to make sperm self-destructing (something for men to worry about if women ever rule). The scientists modify fish embryos so that a toxin (Kid) is expressed in the germline cells (the cells that eventually become sperm) while all other cells express antidote (Kis). When the embryo becomes a fish, it has no sperm (and to be fair, this works with females having no eggs), while the rest of the fish functions fine.
Is there pus in sperm and "milk"?
As digusting as "pus" sounds, it is actually a sign of a good thing - a concentration of white blood cells fighting some bacterial infection in your body, which is host to all sorts of bacteria. Since some of these bacteria can live in your urinary tract, one question might be - is there pus in sperm/semen? For a healthy male, the answer is no. And thus there is no pus in "milk", or in Spanish, no pus in "leche", either quoted words being slang for semen. Or so I am told!!!!
Which raises the question, in consumer milk, is there pus? Interestingly, the answer is also NO, which doesn't stop animal rights activists from claiming there is pus in the milk that comes from cows. To a little extent, they are correct - milk straight out of the cow has some pus, utterly due to an udder infection that cows get called "mastitis". But by the time the milk is processed and pasteurized for human consumption, any natural amounts of pus in milk are eliminated.
Some years ago there was a bit of controversy when some genetically modifed corn got into the supply chain to make tacos, tacos then sold through Taco Bell. Not that genetically modified foods are overtly dangerous, but for the time being they are banned for human consumption. Taco Bell destroyed the tacos once this slight problem was detected, but as some cynics pointed out, genetically modified corn in Taco Bell tacos is the least of your health worries!!
Sperm, masturbation, prostate cancer, the Bible and corn flakes
As an example of one of the many science-religion conflicts involving sex, consider the implications of a recent scientific discovery involving prostate cancer and masturbation.
Section 2352 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) states at one point "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action." Modern science begs to differ, viewing masturbation as not physically harmful, an activity normally done by more than 80 percent of all adults, with any mental side effects due not to the act itself but rather guilt through imposed beliefs (such as from religion).
For Christians, part of these beliefs are based on a folklore story in the Old Testament regarding the ancient custom of brother-in-law marriage, the story of Onan in Genesis, chapter 38, verses 7-10, a story for some reason needing a fair amount of killing to make a point:And Judah took a wife for Er his first born and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah's first born, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord killed him. Then Judah said to Onan, "Go in to your brother's wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother." But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother's wife he spilled the semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother. And what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he slew him also.
A rather harsh punishment for masturbation. But beyond being safe-sex pleasure, is there any health benefit to masturbation, that is, some reason men should get rid of sperm in their body? The answer is YES, to help reduce the risk of getting prostate cancer, a major killer of men. In the July 2003 issue of the British Journal of Urology, scientists from the Cancer Council of Australia reported research results that showed that men who ejaculated five to seven times a week were one-third less likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer than men who ejaculated less than three times a week. They speculate that frequent ejaculation prevents carcinogens building up in the prostatic ducts.
But how often - science must provide an answer. Japanese publication Mainichi reports on the masturbation research of Japanese doctor Hideo Yamanaka. His advice? "For those aged from 16 to 25, at least eight times every 10 days is best. Those from 26 to 35 should look at seven times every 20 days, while those from 36 to 45 are best aiming at six times per 30 days."
So do you choose to follow the dictates of science that say that masturbation is a healthy form of pleasure that can lower the chances of prostrate cancer, or the views of religion that "masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action"?
And corn flakes? Turns out that the inventor of Corn Flakes, a bit of a wacko named John Harvey Kellogg, invented corn flakes as a food that would make people masturbate less. Kellogg had some very weird beliefs, including that carbolic acid should be applied to a girl's clitoris so she would get less sexually aroused. Don't ask me about Graham Crackers!
Are men homosexual if they eat avocados or drink tequila/vodka/cream?
Literally, NO. Figuratively, MAYBE. The word "avocado" is derived from the Aztec word for avocados, "ahuacuatl", which means "testicle tree" (given the size of avocados, Aztec men must have been pretty impressed with themselves). About tequila, again literally, NO - figuratively, MAYBE. If you like drinking 5 parts tequila, 5 parts vodka and a drop of cream, you like drinking Sperm. Myself, I just like tequila. For an excellent history of tequila, check out Ian Chadwick's web pages.
Should men be jealous of rats and platypuses?
Well, if you are into size, maybe. Relative to body size, rats have the biggest testicles. It turns out that female rats mate with many male rats, and the bigger the testicles, the better chance a rat's sperm ends up fertilizing the female. If men had testicles the sizes of rats, they would look like this. Another bragging right for rats: the U.S. Army is patenting a method (U.S. Pat. Appl. 2004/0234946) to use rat sperm to measure how much pollution is at a contaminated site (since the pollutants affect the production of sperm).
Maybe not a different type of sperm, but scientists are also using sperm whales for measuring pollution. Ocean Alliance, an environmental group, in 2005 finished a five year study of ocean pollution, partly by measuring persistent chemical pollutants (POPs) in sperm whales. Sperm whales travel throughout much of the oceans, and eat lots of fish at various depths, so that the whale's skin and blubber, when analyzed, provides an indirect way of sampling the pollution.
Platypuses? Their sperm cells are more spermy. While human males have one X and one Y chromosome, scientists in Australia have learned that platypus males have 5 X and 5 Y chromosomes. Some comfort to men: one of the platypuses X chromosomes is related to the human X chromosome, while another is closely related to the X chromosome of birds. Someone drank too much alcohol once. Click here for more comparisons of human and animal sperm.
Did bad sperm cause Communism and the Iraq War?
Communism. In his book, "How the X Chromosome Controls Our Lives", author David Bainbridge suggests that a bad sperm from Edward, Duke of Kent, in 1818 eventually helped cause Communism. He imagines that one night a cosmic ray wrecked part of the X-chromosome in the very sperm that fertilized the egg that resulted in the birth of the girl who was to become Queen Victoria. After her birth, many of her male relatives in line for the throne died to the extent that in 1837 she became Queen of England. From 1840 to 1853, she had seven children, three to five of which inherited excessive bleeding hemophilia from their mother due to the defective X-chromosome. One of Victoria's daughters, Princess Alice, had six children, many of whom had the inherited disease. One of Alice's daughter's, Alexandrina, married the Ruzzian Czar Nicholas II in 1894, and proceeded to have four daughters. Their fifth child, Czarevich Alexis, was born in 1904, who had a miserable childhood due to the inherited hemophilia. The parents turned everywhere for help, unfortunately ending up relying on a monk, Grigory Rasputin, whose corruption and distraction of the Czar so led to government neglect in Russia as to setup conditions for the Communists to successfully have their revolution. All because of one bad sperm.
Iraq. A question for historians will be how America ever allowed Georgie Bush Junior to invade Iraq at the cost of trillions of dollars, the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi lives, the deaths of thousands of American soldiers, etc? Well, we let him be president, because he was a more moral man than the previous president, Bill Clinton (okay, he wasn't more moral). And why was Bill Clinton so immoral? Because he had an extra-marital affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, an affair so based on massive public deceit (NOT), so costly in American lives(NOT), so costly to the tune of billions of taxpayers dollars (NOT), that Clinton was brought up on impeachment charges. And what evidence made this affair more than he-said-she-said? Monica Lewinsky's infamous sperm stained dress. No dress, and Al Gore gets elected, and America doesn't invade Iraq.
Monica Lewinsky talking about the sperm dress and spinachQUESTION: So at the time you didn't notice anything on the dress? MONICA: I don't believe so. QUESTION: Okay. What happened then the next time you wore the dress that led you to conclude that? MONICA: Well, I also can I say here? I also - I think I wore the dress out to dinner that night, so which is why I'm not sure that that's what it is. QUESTION: Okay. MONICA: So it could be spinach dip or something. I don't know. I'm sorry could you repeat the question? QUESTION: Sure, when was the - when was it that you at least began to believe that maybe there was semen on the dress? MONICA: I really don't remember when it was the next time. I went to wear the dress, but I gained weight so I couldn't wear the dress and it didn't fit. And I'm not a very organized person. I don't clean my clothes until I am going to wear them again. QUESTION: Did you notice there was something on the dress? MONICA: Yes, and at that point I noticed it and I thought, oh, this is dirty; it needs to get cleaned. And then I remembered that I had worn it the last time I saw the President, and I believe it was at that point that I thought to myself, oh, no.
What's the Lucky Sperm Club?
An invention of the political commentator Arriana Huffington, herself a member of the "I really didn't know my conservative ex-husband was gay" club, the Lucky Sperm Club is a club populated by powerful men who owe their exalted status in life not to talent, intelligence, creativity of hard work, but to winning the sperm lotto by having the great good fortune to be born into a powerful family. Two of her choices for membership include George W. Bush and Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr., ".. who, to borrow a phrase from Pete Hamill, were born on third base but think they hit a triple. And who are now busy trashing the stadium.".
Cupid's Arrow and snail sperm
Every wonder why Cupid shoots arrows to make people fall in love, especially on Valentine's Day? Cupid is the Roman god of love who shot arrows, a god the Romans borrowed from the ancient Greeks, who had Eros as their god of love. So what prompted the Greeks to have their Eros shoot arrows?
The Greeks were aware of a snail, the Roman snail, that as part of their sexual intercourse, shoot tiny darts at each other. Roman snails are hermaphrodites, with both male and female sex organs. During sex, they exchange sperm with each other (no boring self-fertilization). What puzzled scientists for many years is why the snails shoot darts at each other. After much research, scientists determined that the darts contain a mucus that allows a greater number of sperm to survive in the storage area of the female sex organ.
One story and another story. An article in the 2006 edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, titled "The snail's love-dart delivers mucus to increase paternity" by researchers from McGill University, states: "We found that injections of mucus from a gland associated with the dart more than doubled paternity relative to injections of saline. ... we conclude that snails can optimize their reproductive success by mating with virgins and shooting their darts accurately."
Sex education by playing sperm bingo
Leave it to the Brits to marry fun and education. What better way to teach sex education than by playing Sperm Bingo. Thanks to the UK Association for Science Education for this education innovation.
Using James Bond to teach urchin sperm
Biologists at Stanford studying the sea urchin created a brief animation about James Sperm, a sperm version of James Bond to teach some of the biology of sperm.
Snow White and sperm banks
While I am sure the Walt Disney Company doesn't appreciate the connection, a question of deep philosophical concerns (well, somewhere) arose on the classic television show "Sex in the City", when the ever inquisitive Carrie Bradshaw profoundly asked:Or would Snow White bought a copy of the self-help book, "Known Yourself Up: a Tell-All Guide to Becoming a Single Mom" by Louise Sloan. I wish I could somehow tie this section to Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, and Britney Spears, so I could get some more search engine hits, but I can't think of anything, but then hey, I just did."What if Prince Charming had never shown up? Would Snow White have slept in that glass coffin forever? Or would she have eventually woken up, spit out the apple, gotten a job, a health-care package and a baby from her local neighborhood sperm bank?"
Can sperm dance?
Maybe, if you promise to respect them in the morning. But one type of sperm, sea urchin sperm, are known to do synchronized swimming. In 2005 (Science, vol 309, page 300) scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics discovered that when you place sea urchin sperm on a flat surface, the sperm organize themselves into neatly spaced circles of 10 sperm cells swimming clockwise around a central point. It is not clear if the behavior has any purpose (which more than a few have commented about synchronized swimming at the Olympics). Click here for a video.
Some years ago, four sperm danced through downtown Auckland in New Zealand to raise public awareness of safe sex practices.
Do sperm like music?
I don't know. But in case they do, they have their own music label, Sperm Records, with classic albums such as "The Sperm Bank". They also have their own band, the Sperm, a three man indy rock group from Spain.
Songs about sperm
Like many other inspirational elements of nature, sperm have inspired artists to create works of art. Maybe. Here are the lyrics to the song 'Every Sperm is Sacred' from Monty Python's movie 'The Meaning of Life' (Youtube video):DAD:
There are Jews in the world.
There are Buddhists.
There are Hindus and Mormons, and then
There are those that follow Mohammed, but
I've never been one of them.
I'm a Roman Catholic,
And have been since before I was born,
And the one thing they say about Catholics is:
They'll take you as soon as you're warm.
You don't have to be a six-footer.
You don't have to have a great brain.
You don't have to have any clothes on. You're
A Catholic the moment Dad came,
Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.
Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.
Let the heathen spill theirs
On the dusty ground.
God shall make them pay for
Each sperm that can't be found.
Every sperm is wanted.
Every sperm is good.
Every sperm is needed
In your neighbourhood.
Hindu, Taoist, Mormon,
Spill theirs just anywhere,
But God loves those who treat their
Semen with more care.
Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,...
...God get quite irate.
Every sperm is sacred.
BRIDE and GROOM:
Every sperm is good.
Every sperm is needed...
...In your neighbourhood!
Every sperm is useful.
Every sperm is fine.
God needs everybody's.
Let the Pagan spill theirs
O'er mountain, hill, and plain.
God shall strike them down for
Each sperm that's spilt in vain.
Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is good.
Every sperm is needed
In your neighbourhood.
Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite iraaaaaate!
Oh No!! Sperm reality TV shows?
Yes, the ongoing decline and fall of Western civilization. In January 2005, plans were announced for a reality TV show where men compete to serve as a sperm donor to a woman. The woman makes the final choice between biological or personal compatibility. The announcement was met with great hostility in Europe. But apparently not enough hostility. In August 2005, Dutch television station Talpa broadcasted the show "I Want Your Child ... and Nothing Else", about a woman searching for a sperm donor, and then using artificial insemination to get pregnant.
Such shows maybe tasteless, so why not make the concept simpler, and have a televised viewing of sperm racing in a glass disk (no egg involved)? Yes, we are talking about the 2005 German television show Sperm Race.
Jay Leno sued for sperm donor joke
In April 2006, Marilyn Drake, a woman whose photo was used by comedian Jay Leno on his NBC "Tonight Show", with regards to a sperm donor joke involving a dog, sued Leno for defamation. First in the show, Leno made fun of a news story titled "What to get the dog that has (almost) everything.", a news story about prosthetic testicles for neutered dogs. Sometime later in the show, Leno displayed a photograph of Drake sitting on a couch next to a dog from the New York Times, where the photograph just happened to be placed under the headline for an article: "Are you my sperm donor? Few clinics offer answers." Drake sued Leno for what he did next. Pretending to give voice to Drake and the dog in the photograph, Leno joked: "Are you my sperm donor? No! I have fake testicles! How could I be your sperm donor?!" In her lawsuit, Drake claimed this joke defamed her for suggesting that she engaged in bestiality. For the record, I don't have much money if anyone wants to sue me for defaming them on this Web site.
A theater play about sperm?
You have to be kidding. A theater play about sperm? Yes indeed. In 1998, Carl Djerassi wrote and staged a play about sperm injection (ICSI) titled "An Immaculate Misconception". Djerassi is the chemist who in 1951 in Mexico City invented the first oral conceptive / birth control pill. How about a movie on sperm? Not yet, but if anyone from Hollywood is browsing this Web site, I have this script you know ......
Was Jesus the first Sperm?
According to Christian tradition, Jesus was there with God at the first moments of the creation of the universe. And in one chapter of the New Testament, Galatians 3:16, we read "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds', meaning many people, but 'and to your seed', meaning one person, who is Christ."
And what is the Greek word used for "seed" in the original versions of Galatians? "spermati", making Jesus the first sperm.
Of course, whoever wrote this passage is an idiot, since the earlier passage of Abraham reads: "The Lord appeared to Abram and said, 'to your offspring/seed, I will give this land [of Canaan]'", which clearly and grammatically is a promise from God to give the large lands of Canaan to the MANY descendents of Abram, after first committing ethnic cleansing or genocide to get rid of most of the existing inhabitants.
The Hindus have a god of sperm - anyone else?
According to Hindu religious texts, the god Skanda (which literally means "jet of sperm") was born after the fire god Agni swallowed the god Shiva's sperm. However, Shiva's sperm was too hot even for Agni, who spit it out into the river Ganga, and on her banks was born the six-headed Skanda. Skanda eventually fulfilled his destiny and killed the demon Taraka. For their homes, women pray to Skanda on a day of fasting to be blessed with a son. In their homes, as women are not allowed to enter Skanda temples. More on Skanda at www.webonautics.com/ethnicindia/festivals/skanda_shasti.html and murugan.org/research/gangadharan.htm
One Hindu view of sperm can be read in the religious text Linga Purana, on of eighteen Puranas, that deals with the origin of the universe, gods and religious texts. The following is from the wikipedia entry on the Linga Purana (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linga_Purana):Semen is the essence of life. It is the best offering, the purest form of the sacrificial-elixir (soma). All beings are born of an offering of semen cast into the fire of lust. Agni, the lord of fire is shown devouring the semen which flows from the linga of Shiva. This semen is worshipped under many names. It is stored in the Moon (chandra); it is the Ganges flowing from the head of Shiva. All the forms of offering, all the beverages that bring forth life and immortality, are represented as forms of the semen of Shiva. The meaning of the ritual sacrifice, in which soma is cast into the fire (Agni) is best understood as the offering of the seed of life into the sacred fire of love. Semen is spoken of as bija (the seeds), soma (the offering), chandra (the Moon) and virya (the male essence).
Greek origins of Islamic views of sperm?
The bible of the Islamic faith, the Qu'ran, mentions a few times sperm, that man is from a drop of fluid/seed - "He has created man from a sperm-drop" Surah 16:4, but interestingly does not explain the point of emission correctly - "He is created from a drop emitted - proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs" Surah 86:6-7, though this is justified as a metaphorical explanation. Another oddity is "Verily we created man from a drop of mingled sperm" Suran 76:2, which doesn't seem to acknowledge female eggs.
Critics of the Qu'ran argue that these beliefs flow from ancient Greek views of sperm. Supporters of the Qu'ran argue that the Qu'ran independently and correctly describes fertilization and development (http://www.quranicstudies.com/article75.html), but they do so by reading modern meanings into ancient uses of words.
Nazi and Californian sperm control
In 1909, the state of California passed human sterilization laws, which lead to an estimated 20,000 mentally disabled people and others being sterilized from 1909 through the 1960s. The state of California sterilized these people under the premise that the "unfit" should be removed from the gene pool so their children would not burden society. Other American states passed similar laws, with a total of over 63,000 Americans being sterilized in this time period. The state's enthusiasm for sterilization and eugenics was so well known that it is mentioned in the "The Great Gatsby".
The Los Angeles Times in the 1930s ran a column called "Social Eugenics" that argued for strong sterilization laws. In 1935, in the LA Times magazine, was an article titled "Why Hitler says: 'Sterlizie the Unfit'". The article at one point states: "Here, perhaps is an aspect of the new Germany that America, with the rest of the world, can little afford to criticize." In his book, "The Secret History of Forced Sterilization and America's Quest for Racial Purity", Harry Brunius documents how Adolf Hitler and the Nazi government modeled Germany's sterilization policies on California's 1909 sterilization law, probably encouraged to do so a bit from the Los Angeles Times endorsement.
Stalin, ape sperm and female humans - a super race?
Apparently amongst the other insanities of the Russian leader Josef Stalin was his attempt to have Russian scientists mix ape sperm/eggs with human eggs/sperm. The doomed-to-fail experiments were conducted by Dr. Ilya Ivanov at the Russian Institute of Experimental Pathology and Therapy (which trained the monkeys that were the first mammals in space).
A sperm pill to ensure male babies?
There are too many people on the planet - one of the downsides of civilization blindly following an instruction to be cancerous ("Be fruitful and multiply" - non-cancerous if "within limits" had been included). Many suggestions have been made to deal with this problem.
One of the more innovative suggestions was made in 1973 by Professor John Postgate of the University of Sussex. His idea was to develop a pill that mostly ensured that only male babies would be born by somehow targeting sperm with Y chromosomes. Over time there would be so few women that, after a fair amount of social chaos, populations around the world would significantly decrease. Not surprisingly, his research never attracted any funding. Yet. In Bat's Chance in Hell, New Scientist, April 1973, 12, [POS73].
Womanly Women, Manly Women, Womanly Men, Manly Men
To appreciate this Web site, you will have to open your mind and think beyond your boundaries, one boundary being between "men" and "women". For at the genetic level, the boundary really is kind of blurry. Human sexuality is as varied as the colors of the rainbow.
Most women have two X chromosomes for their sex chromosomes (46,XX females), while most men have one X and one Y chromosome (46,XY). One might say that these women are "womanly" women, and these men are "manly" men (which may or may not include lumberjacks, depending on your allegiance to Monty Python).
However, there are some men who have three sex chromosomes, X and X and Y (47,XXY males). While they look mostly male, they are womanized somewhat (less body hair, small testicles, low sperm count). Then there are XY females, i.e. females that look mostly female, having the sex chromosomes of a man (where the gene that triggers male sexual organ development, SRY, is missing from the Y chromosome) but the sex organs of a woman (though the sex organs are not functional). Such humans are rare (47,XXY males are 1 in 1000).
Then there are 46,XY and 46,XX men and women who have the purported "homosexual" gene on their X chromosome.
Much like artificial racial distinctions, there are many sexual distinctions equally as artificial. We are still trying to figure where Michael Jackson fits in this scheme.
Some interesting books about sperm
The Egg and Sperm Race: the Seventeenth Century Scientists who Unlocked the Secrets of Sex and Growth by Matthew Cobb, 2006
- an excellent history of how scientists in the 1660s and 1670s, using the newly discovered microscope, discovered how all animals, including humans, use sperm and eggs to create a new life.
Sperm are from men, eggs are from women by Joe Quirk, 2006
- subtitle "The real reason men and women are different". The book entertainly explains romance from the microbiological point of view.
A Mind of Its Own - Cultural History of the Penis by David Friedman, Penguin Books, 2001
- from the Hebrews to Freud, the book covers the religious, scientific, politcal and social history of the sperm delivery organ, the penis.
A Society without Fathers or Husbands: The Na of China by Cai Hua, Zone Books, 2001
- reports on a group of Chinese villages where there is no marriage. Men and women take multiple sex partners. All males are called "uncle", and the children are raised by the women. A vow of videlity is regarded as shameful. This and more. Yet the Na, numbering about 30,000, seem to have a well running society. Making men little more than sperm machines.
Sperm Wars - the Science of Sex by Robin Baker, HarperCollins, 1996
- presents a variety of unexpected scientific and social observations about the relationship between sperm and sex.
Some movies with sperm as a plot element
What follows are some mainstream movies about sperm. What is not included are mentions of endless numbers of adult movies. Plenty of Web sites for more information on THOSE movies.
Succubus - 2004 - by Bill Kelman and John Venturini
American short comedy movie. Fresh from the looney bin after botching an experiment in her back alley sperm bank, a mad scientist dupes a drunken housewife into her dubious scheme of global domination by turning everyone into lesbians with a diabolical "lezzy" ray. Only a class full of misfits and a mutant blob of sperm can save the day in this spook of bad 1950's science fiction and scream queen movies.
Canada: Sperm Bank of Satan - 2003 - by Graham Hollings
- American short movie about a gay man's fantasy road trip to Canada.
Donor - 2002 - by Eve Whitaker and Adele Wilson
- American short movie. A lesbian couple want a baby, and they ask one of the women's gay brother if he'll be the donor.
Sex is Zero - 2002 - Lim Chang-jung, Ha Ji-Won
- Sperm. Buckets of puke. Sticking it in the wrong hole. A (Korean) teenage gross-out comedy. Older male student at university has crush on prettiest girl on campus, who in turn is in love with the coolest guy on campus, while everyone else is trying to have sex.
Shooting Blanks - 2001 - by Steve Salinaro
- American short drama comedy. A gay man is invited to dinner and kidnapped by his married brother. Seems that his brother is shooting blanks and needs a sperm donor. Will our hero help out this wannabe breeder brother?
Chocolate Sperm - 2001 by Bosiljka Simonovic
- 5 minute French movie, plot not mentioned in IMDB.
Made in America - 1993 by Richard Benjamin with Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson
American comedy. A young black woman discovers that her father was a sperm donor, and if that weren't bad enough, he's a white man. Much of the movie are the usual cliches - mother and father fight, get along, date, daughter gets weirded-out, and parents save daughter from bad decision
Frozen Assets - 1992 - Shelly Long, Corbin Bernsen
- An executive is sent to manage a bank in a small town, only to learn that it's a sperm bank. There, he meets a cute nurse who runs the bank. Together they get into a series of wacky schemes to increase deposits. A romantic comedy heavy on the double entendres and sperm jokes.
Sex Trek II: The Search for Sperm - 1991 - by Scotty Fox
- American adult movie spoofing a Star Trek movie.
Salt, Salive, Sperm and Sweat - 1988 - by Philip Brophy
- horror thriller movie from Australia. The movie follows the mundane life of an office worker both in and out of his dull job, and essentially focuses on the acquiring and losing of bodily fluids.
What's Up Superdoc - 1978 by Derek Ford
- English soft-porm movie. A rampant wuss of a family doctor has "accidently" and unknowingly fathered 837 children ... all boys, the result of his being a sperm donor. The medical profession wants more .... information and sperm.. Dr. Todd's life becomes an international nightmare as women demand his "services". According to one reviewer, the worst movie ever.
Spermula - 1976 - by Charles Matton
- adult horror sci-fi French movie. The planet of Spermula is about to be destroyed, so the Spermulites travel to Earth. Their intentions are to take over the male species by taking on the form of the stronger females, and rallying females to their side. But can they withstand the strong human sexual urges?