My Contribution to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge — with Science!

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Transcript of video:

I’ve been waiting for this for two weeks So thank you to Syros Pharmaceuticals for challenging me and my lab to take the ALS ice bucket challenge. ALS is short for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It’s a neurodegenerative disease that messes with a body’s muscle control not by screwing with the muscles themselves but by screwing with the nerves that control them by sending signals. It’s also called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” but maybe the most commonly known case right now is Professor Stephen Hawking.

So when I was challenged I wanted to make mine a little different from the millions of other videos out there. And I got to thinking. You know, they never tell you what kind of ice you have to use…

This is dry ice. Now water ice is just frozen water. Frozen H2O. This is dry ice, which is frozen carbon dioxide in these pellets like this. Now carbon dioxide is one of the major waste products when we breath out, when we exhale. And that’s why it’s so important that I have proper ventilation in here, and one reason you shouldn’t try this at home, without proper supervision. Um, this stuff can build up in a room, and can make it really difficult for your body to get rid of the CO2 in your bloodstream. You can see this gas being added to the air in this sublimation reaction, where the solid carbon dioxide pellets are going to the gas carbon dioxide without being liquid in between.

So why am I doing this with dry ice? Well, this is sort of an homage to the researchers out there that are taking a look at ALS from a biological research perspective. Um, this stuff, this dry ice is commonly seen in every biology lab. We use it for the same reason you put your food in a freezer or food in a refrigerator: to keep stuff from breaking down when we need it– to keep cells from breaking down and the cell products inside from breaking down. And it’s really helpful to be able to freeze your cells, thaw them, and come back and do the experiment you couldn’t do right now. Now I cannot over-stress how bad of an idea this is– what I’m about to do. No one should ever do it. Don’t do it at home, don’t do it at work, don’t do it under proper supervision. No one should do this. Um, in addition to the suffocation hazard that I’ve hopefully taken care of, this stuff is really really cold. Water ice forms at about, uh, zero degrees Celsius, 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This dry ice forms when carbon dioxide gets down to, oh, a balmy 56 below zero Celsius, and 70 degrees below zero Fahrenheit? So this stuff’s really cold. And what I’m about to do is not a good idea.

But I’m gonna do it anyway. Because it’s important to support research into many diseases, not the least of which is ALS. Now everyone’s saying donate to ALS, and I have. I’ve donated to ALSA, the ALS association at But pick a disease, pick a disease that’s close to your heart. Somebody that you know, somebody that you’ve met, somebody you went to school with. There are a lot of these foundations out there that need your help. What they do is they take your money and they redistribute it to labs who are doing work to try and diagnose, try to treat, try to cure a lot of these really nasty diseases that are still out there causing a lot of pain for a lot of people. So I encourage you to pick a disease close to your heart, pick a disease that you care about, and get out there and help fund it. It’s getting harder and harder to fund scientific research, so I do this– Cheers, to the researchers that make all this stuff possible For science!

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