Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Monday, November 29, 2004
Umbilical stem cells treat paralysis. Way cool.
HPV vaccine studied in males. Because you really don't want HPV.
NIH scientists get Islet cells to grow in culture. This is very encouraging, especially following up on this earlier post.
There will be science later today, I swear!
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Preliminary results from an ongoing study of diet types indicates that a low Glycemic Index (GI) diet improves chances of diet compliance, and therefore of keeping it off. The low-GI diet, most famously described in the South Beach Diets, involve cutting out simple sugars, like white bread and flour, in favor of slower ones, like oats and veggies, that have less effect on your metabolism. As usual, these findings make what seems like common sense, but I'm waiting on confirmation before I drastically alter my diet (I tend to eat fairly low GI anyways, by taste, but whatever).
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
I don't have too much trouble believing this - the brain's development is so sensitive, it's not shocking that malnourishment would have effects - but a press release doesn't give all the details I need to evaluate. I wonder if the study was controlled for socio-economic status or general health? Kids from poorer (and thus generally rougher) backgrounds tend to have more behavioral problems, as do sickly kids.
The ending quote of the article really pisses me off, however. To say that "[poor diet] can cause hyperactivity disorders" but not other behavioral problems is utterly and completely idiotic. That is the kind of statement that really makes you question a scientist's credibility.
Monday, November 22, 2004
It's also widely known that chocolate makes you feel better. But it gets better - scientists have found that a component of chocolate, theobromine, is a more effective cough suppressant than the traditional codeine! Sounds good to me - it's cheaper and tastier than codeine too, plus it won't destroy your liver or impair you ability to drive.
Friday, November 19, 2004
The framing of the questions are a bit crappy, so there must be some bias, and given Gallop's recent biases (find the links yourself, I'm talking about pre-election polling), one wonders about their sampling.
As I've said before, one of the huge problems here is that the vast majority of non-scientists do not understand what the word "Theory" mean. They think it's the same "idea or guess" they use in everyday life, when in fact it is not. There is no Law of Evolution, because evolution is a set of events - there are Laws of natural selection, genetic inheritance, etc., all of which come together in the framework of Evolution. Also, the American public is notoriously ignorant, especially about science, as well as being famously anti-intellectual.
But the actual affirmation that so many people believe humans were created such a short time ago, in the face of all evidence, really scares me. But it's not a surprise, sadly.
(via Graham, and Elizabeth, who doesn't have a blog I know of)
This would be a total disaster. Read what Ross has to say, because he's spot-on. If this happens, I really will consider moving to Canada. Especially because it could easily predicate a major crash of the US economy.
When this news broke yesterday, one of my co-workers came in and told us about it and we had to take a chunk of our already-overbooked time to freak out about it. I can't even form a truly rational stream of thought on this topic: it is so stupid and evil it just boggles my (grotesquely cynical and jaded) mind. I could spout statistics, but that's been done and I'm not in the mood right now.
And to all you "gay Republicans" out there: this is what you get. You won't have to worry that you're not allowed to visit your partner in the hospital, because it will be closed and/or you won't be able to afford it anyway. I'd love to just say that, a pox on both your houses and all, but that's the whole problem with living in a democratic(ish) society: you're getting what you deserve, but I'm getting it too. So kindly drop dead.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
But then, what else might you expect from the guy who produced Air's first albums and the woman who used to write "Ren & Stimpy"?
Current Mood: I &*^%ing hate MS Project.
Since I don't have access to the full text, I'm left baffled. I mean, Estrogen does reduce swelling, but why does it tighten knee joints? I've heard of female athletes getting themselves pregnant just before an event to get an endurance boost, so I wonder if this is related?
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Children of lesbian parents are no more messed up (or likely to be homosexual) than children of heterosexual parents. They may however be more likely to know how to fix a roof or build a cabinet, and have strong emotional reactions to flannel.
The Wistar Institute has done some cool work on heritability of non-genomic traits. I may have more to say later, but it's a bloody cool idea, and could explain quite a number of things.
Psychologists have found that celebrity worship is unhealthy, in addition to being tacky and boring to the rest of us. The consolation is that maybe these people will just kill themselves already!
NIAID has completed a small trial of a new treatment for Crohn's Disease, an uncomfortable and often debilitating autoimmune condition affecting the bowels, with promising results. Good news, since this could lead to treatments of other autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and endometriosis.
Monday, November 15, 2004
Speaking of questionable therapy, use of the "supplement" DHEA has long been growing in Americans hoping to avoid aging, etc. for some time. It may not be such a bad idea. A new study (also short term, and the release doesn't mention the sample size) finds that taking DHEA both reduces abdominal fat increase and improves insulin activity in older people. Interesting!
Thursday, November 11, 2004
The point is simple: science is not easily reduced to a binary situation of right or wrong. There are a million sides to everything, and there are well established rules that guide how research is judged. Most journalists (and virtually all readers, at least in the US) know very little about the Scientific Method, or Peer Review, etc., and audiences are often not too interested in complex ideas.
There are plenty of examples where the scientific consensus is wrong, and the rogues are right, but determining that is the work of scientists, not journalists. It may take a while for the old guard to change, but that's the beauty of the Scientific Method: change is the whole point! You can never fully "prove" anything, you can only not disprove it. It's this subtlety that drives many non-scientists crazy, and leads to widespread misunderstanding of words like "Theory" and "Law" in the scientific sense, as opposed to the common ones.
"The sky is falling and I've just begun....c'est just une crise, tout semblait si parfait....c'est ne pas que j'aime la pluie....hand him over to me, like sisters we'll share"
And that would amuse me greatly.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
It's a brilliant scheme, really, getting kids to eat real food instead of MacDoh, as it's called there. And here's to that grossly underpaid chef!! If only my high school cafeteria had even approached such quality, let alone the Oberlin dining system, which was (and from what I hear still is) abominable. Leave it to them Froggies!
(hat tip: Graham)
This man must be stopped. (via Ernie)
This is hilarious and brilliant.
Scientists have found that mBDNF seems to be key to memory formation. This is good news, and hold all kinds of potential for treatments.
Air pollution may speed up arterial disease. Not good news for the urban crowd, who're more prone to it anyways due to stress and lifestyle issues.
Women undergoing radiation therapy for various cancers often become infertile as a result. A new approach to avoiding this is to autotransplant ovarian tissue into their arms. This procedure has yielded one success, so that's good, but the first words that popped into my head reading the headline were "Ectopic Pregnancy" and "eeewwwwww."
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
I also cannot resist sending you here.
Not to mention scary: if we're talking about skewed methylation as a key to homosexuality, it's something that people will quickly start trying to 'correct.' That sort of thing never goes well.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Music is wonderful. I could go on, but we all know all that. Why is it so universal? How does the same music have such profound and similar effects on so many different people? This article gives some insight, reviewing what is known about how music happens in the brain. For all you non-neuroscience types, don't worry, it's clearly written and well explained. Enjoy!!
Friday, November 05, 2004
So the 'Murcan people voted on 'values.' Others have already discussed how f*cked up that term is. But their perceptions are, as usual, dubious: people in blue states seem to be doing much better on all the stuff the red state folks are on such a high horse about. Eat that, Ralph Reed.
And Jason provides depressing historical perspective on the electoral vote map.
While dubya and his pals are crowing victory and presumably getting ready for a more theocratic union, evangelists elsewhere in the world are having a tougher time of it.
UPDATE: Link fixed.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
And evolution is kicking in. The US's billion-dollar air-assault on Columbian (and other) growers seems to have produced an impressively herbicide resistant coca plant - that's where cocaine comes from. Whether this development comes from natural mutations selected for by farmers, or from a bioengineer's lab is irrelevant: it was bound to happen naturally regardless. And so Uncle Sam will spend another few _illion dollars on developing a new herbicide. Instead of funding job skills training, or healthcare, or (while we're at it) a tax cut. This will happen over and over until this War stops being politically useful. Which it probably won't.
UPDATE: Speaking of solitaire, I wonder if there's any actual significance (or for that matter, external validity) to the fact that when something is bothering me, consciously or not, I am incapable of winning a game of Freecell. Hmm....
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Bjork - "Play Dead."It's a pity, and one wonders how much longer they'll think it an effective strategy.
The big red Panic button I affixed to my keyboard some time ago seems pretty silly today. I keep pressing it, perfunctorily, to see if it helps. But I'm not panicking at all...I'm dead calm. See the lead quote at the top of the page.
Unlike so many others, I don't have a plan to leave the country (no relatives living abroad who could put me up, for starters, except a few dubious ones in Haiti). I love my job, and know I wouldn't find another one like it if I picked up and left; I don't have portable work-from-anywhere computer skills, and I skipped med school.
I know that if it comes down, I can fend for myself, fight and sneak my way out later, and end up somewhere not dead. But it all seems pretty pointless - we sit back and think about joining The Revolution or The Resistance or whatever, but we all know there won't be one. Things have changed.
I asked a Republican I know if she'd be happy to have Bush win even if it was by way of voter intimidation or outright ballot fraud. She said 'of course - that's politics.' A Democratic friend said 'well, this is just so important...I would rather win fairly, but in this case I guess we'll take what we can get.' This distinction should tell you all you really need to know.
Hopefully, I will resist the urge to say anything else about this election, since in all likelihood many or most of my opinions will soon be illegal.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Researchers have found that some of that excess weight may be due to bacteria in your gut, and affects a newly recognized system that could also be harnessed as a treatment. Me? I'm stocking up on antibiotics.
The bad news is, like so many other drugs, Zocor and Lipitor are dangerous when mixed with grapefruit. This has been long suspected, but this is the first regulatory action to be taken. Don't expect similar action in the US anytime soon: the drug companies that
The idea is fascinating: the mutation is so specific, the deficit so precise, it reminds you how complex and finely tuned our bodies are. Hopefully, this condition can be researched in a way that will lead to a better understanding of nociception and better pain killers.