This Scientist Let a Flea Live Inside Her In Order to Study It | Smart News

The history of science is filled with stories of curious folks, who, for one reason or another, thought it would be a great idea to experiment on themselves: Benjamin Franklin with his lightning rod kite, Isaac Newton, stabbing himself in the eye with a needle to see what would happenJonas Salk, giving himself (and his family) his experimental polio vaccine. But these are tales of a bygone era, when curiosity took charge and basic lab safety standards hadn’t taken hold.

Or not.

From Science magazine, we learn the much more modern story of Marlene Thielecke, a budding medical researcher who decided to let a sand flea live in her foot. Why? She wanted to answer a question:

Where, exactly, does the sand flea have sex? On the dusty ground, where it spends the first half of its life? Or already nestled snugly in its host—such as in a human foot—where it can suck the blood it needs to nourish its eggs?

Thielcke was already researching a disease, known as tungiasis, which often results from a sand flea infection, says Geekosystem. But, scientists don’t really know how the critters reproduce. So, “upon discovering a flea living in her foot, Thielecke – instead of reacting with the appropriate terror response –  decided to study the creature, in the hopes it might help science.”


At first, the flea didn’t bother Thielecke and she noted that it seemed to grow normally. But she soon realized it wasn’t laying any eggs—unusual for an embedded and otherwise apparently mature flea. It also lived much longer than usual; after 2 months, it was still regularly expelling liquid from its abdomen, a sign it was still alive—but still no eggs. At that point, Thielecke says, the spot was itchy, painful, and prevented her from walking normally. “I started to get uneasy” about leaving it in for so long, she says, so she extracted it.

So what’s the verdict? Sand fleas probably have sex inside you. (Which luckily didn’t happen to Thielecke.)

And, by the way, Thielecke’s tale of self-experimentation isn’t actually as rare as you’d think. At the end of his life Ralph Steinman, the Nobel prize winner in 2011, tested his own pancreatic cancer treatments on himself. James Logan swallowed a hookworm, and a tiny camera, to see what happened. And, in the 1980s, Barry Marshall drank a soup of Helicobacter pylori bacteria to give himself an awful case of stomach ulcers, just to prove that the bacteria were to blame. Or, perhaps our personal favorite, Donald Unger, who cracked the fingers on his left hand, but not his right, to show that cracking your knuckles won’t cause arthritis.

5 Empowering Questions to Challenge Your Excuses.

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else. ~Benjamin Franklin.


I used to live as a slave to fear. There were a lot of things in life I wanted to try, but fear always kept me stuck. Perhaps you can relate?

I didn’t realise how badly this affected me until I met my husband Aaron. He is a risk taker and life lover with two key mottos: “Try everything in life at least once” and “You can’t say you don’t like something if you’ve never tried it”.

As Aaron is an avid scuba-diver, and I was petrified of water, I often found myself using every excuse under the sun to explain why I wouldn’t ever try diving. He would smile, frown or laugh at all my creative excuses. One day he just gave up attempting to convince me of how incredible the underwater world is, and said “Oh well, you’re the one who will die without ever having experienced the marvel of seeing life under the sea”.

The sad thing was that while I was dead afraid of the water, particularly the ocean, I was also equally fascinated by it! Instinctively I knew diving would open up an amazing experience for me, but I wasn’t willing to allow myself the chance to face my fear. I hid behind excuses.

One day sitting on the beach, watching Aaron dive, I realised that I was being my own worst enemy. I started having a debate inside my head. Here are the 5 questions I asked myself. You can use these same 5 questions to challenge your own excuses for what you say you wouldn’t or couldn’t ever do…

1.  If I were to die right now and I hadn’t done “it”, how would I feel?

I had convinced myself that not learning to dive was a great decision, that diving and seeing underwater were unimportant to me. I was lying to myself. To me there was nothing more interesting, but I was being a chicken. I knew I would feel immense regret if I didn’t give it a go.

2. If I did “it”, would I feel more excited about myself and life?

I was living within an illusion that I was happy with who I was being, and that I didn’t need to do anything crazy to prove myself. I was right in the “not needing to prove myself”, but I was incorrect in saying I was happy with who I was being… because I was being a fearful shell of the real person I am. I was not allowing myself to step up and really experience all that life had to offer. If I did it, I knew I would feel super amped about myself and life!

3. If I knew I couldn’t fail and wouldn’t die in the process, would I give “it” a go?

I was irrationally attached to the thought of dying while diving! Perhaps a little melodramatic, but I had terrible childhood memories of badly run swimming lessons and almost drowning as a toddler from falling in a pool. This created an instinctive fight for survival whenever my head went under water. However, the deeper part of me knew that the “I might die” excuse was nonsense, because people dive every day around the world, and with an instructor by my side I would be very safe.

4. Do I believe I have the strength and courage to do it?

It was all too easy pretending that I wasn’t brave enough, that I wouldn’t be able to physically control myself and decisions in the water because of fear. The hilarious thing was that I was strutting around in every other area of my life with self-belief and incredible determination. Yet, here I was playing weak and meek regarding diving. I realised that “not being brave enough” was a lame excuse.

5. Do I think mastering this would help me in other areas of my life?

I had always convinced myself that you should stay away from what you fear, and stick to what you know and trust. However, when I got really honest with myself, I realised that my life was a safe little box that I was staying very comfortably within. Unless I started to do things differently, I wouldn’t grow as a person and I wouldn’t know what more I was capable of. I realised that when fear roars at you, it’s time to step up and face it, because that is the exact spot where life begins… at the end of your comfort zone.

Ditching Excuses to Start Living

Having challenged all of my own excuses and seeing how hollow they were, I finally did it! It took all my courage and will power to complete the diving certification and while it was the most fear striking experience of my entire life, it was also the most exhilarating and freeing. I believe there is nothing in this life now that I cannot achieve, having faced my biggest fear. I no longer allow excuses to cover up opportunities for growth. If I did it in the face of a fear this big, you can too.

Source: Purpose Fairy


How to Follow Your Passion when People Doubt You.


And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anaïs Ni

I’ve been so incredibly lucky recently. I’ve (finally!) discovered my absolute passion, the thing that makes me sprint home from work, makes me jump out of bed in the morning (I know!) and gives me natural energy. Writing and reading about all things inspirational and communicating with my readers is what keeps me going.

If you’ve been reading Purpose Fairy for a while, you’re probably in this category as well.  If you’re anything like me, you probably have people in your life who respond to this is various ways:

People who think you’re a bit weird and just leave you alone.

People who are curious, but don’t want to ask about it in case someone else finds out.

People who ask and then have huge ‘a-ha’ moment as you speak.

People who are crazy interested and completely on the same wavelength.

People who think you’re just going through a bit of a phase and roll and their eyes at you.

People who laugh at it and joke that you’ll end up in a hippy commune before you can say ‘incense’.

However, for years, I was unwilling to tell anyone know that I was interested in self-improvement and spiritually. I even managed to fool myself for a while and pushed it away for as long as possible. I didn’t want to look like I had my head in the clouds and definitely didn’t want to explain any of my reasons for dive-bombing into my passion and going full-steam ahead with it.

Would everyone say ‘I told you’ so if it failed? What if they spoke about me behind my back? What if they criticized me?

I’ve learned over time that the universe will bring people and events into your path for a reason. It’s so easy though when you’re totally ‘in the zone’, to ignore all these comments and fire on through because you want it so badly. But often the universe guides you through the messages of those close to you.

There will be times when you will encounter resistance from those around you, there will be moments when nobody will believe in you and your dreams but if

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. ~Steve Jobs

If someone chooses to ask about your interests, see this as a gift- they are giving their time and are genuinely interested in your life. Don’t presume they just being nice- you’ve obviously sparked something in them.

Hear their answers as much as you’d like them to hear yours- they might have some golden wisdom of their own, and they might even be able to help you or connect you with someone.

Listen to their concerns- they’re not always doing it to discourage you. Do you really need to spend thousands of dollars on that course when you could just start today? Are you procrastinating out of fear? Sometimes people see things that we don’t when we’re in our heads, and it’s these things that can real turn projects and ideas into game-changers.

Meditate on your passion and be sure it’s what you really what in your heart of hearts- are you doing it for you, or for someone else? Is this what you really want or are you doing it to prove a point to someone, or to yourself?

If people seem to be laughing at you, laugh with them- don’t take it so personally. All my friends know I’m vegan, a metaphysical book freak and I love wearing 80′s clothing, and I’m fine with that (more importantly, I realized, so are they). Passionate should be joyous, liberating and harmonious, not serious, rigid and stifling.

Listen to others and thank them for their words. Sometimes, people have a funny way of showing it (cue family!), but they always have your best interests at heart. But just think, are they reallyholding you back or are you using them as an excuse not to blossom?


Source: purpose fairy