"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

A Sixth Sense, Enviro-paint, and More Mutant Mice 

It's been a pretty good day for science publishing. New Scientist has a few articles that I'm really keen on:

Here, Canadian psychologist Ronald Rensink has shown a pre-attentive "mindsight" in some subjects, whereby they detect a change or abnormality in a situation, without being able to say what's going on. A 'feeling' or 'sixth sense' if you will. I'd like to read the actual paper, as opposed to the NS summary, but I'm not buying bits of it. First of all, small sample size (N = 40). Second, I don't like trying to find an effect, like 'proving' or 'disproving' psychic abilities, or sixth senses. Often leads to really shaky science. But we'll see if it gets replicated or elaborated on.

Ecopaint goes on sale in Europe next month. The paint's base is a special polymer and mineral complex which absorbs and neutralizes NOx gases, which are common smog-causing pollutants. Pretty cool idea, but I worry when they say it produces "harmless quantities of carbon dioxide," because one car only produces harmless quantities of NOx, but 5 million...... Ditto for the nitric acid it releases. I guess gardens are gonna go out of fashion pretty soon then!

I'm not sure how I feel about eating fish-oil laden beef or chicken. That's the next step from this research producing the famously healthy omega-3 fatty acids in mice. One consideration not mentioned there, or really in any health-fad writing about these oils, is that while yes, they're good for you and most people don't get enough for optimal health benefit, too much of them is a bad thing. The cardiovascular benefits of omega-3's are quickly outweighed by oxidative liver damage when you get too much of them. I used to work in a biochem lab that did work on this stuff, so if there's interest, maybe I'll track down and review a few papers.

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