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

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Breathing Babies and Battery Breakthroughs 

Well, actually, not breathing babies. A Canadian study suggests that babies of women who take SSRIs are more likely to be stillborn. On top of evidence that, should they live at all, these babies will be more likely to suffer lung disease, I'd say that there's mounting evidence that, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you'd do well to talk to your doctor about other ways to deal with depression (or yuppiedom, whichever disease afflicts you).

Once your baby is born and is breathing properly, it will need to watch what it breathes. We all know that smoking is bad for you, but a BMJ study suggests that second-hand smoke increases glucose intolerance, which is a major risk factor for diabetes. I'm not sure if the study controlled for things like lifestyle (people exposed to lots of second-hand smoke may spend more time in bars, thus drinking more and eating more fries, etc.), but this is an interesting result.

Not caused by breathing, but likely to stop it, African Sleeping Sickness affects about 60 million people worldwide, and kills about 40,000 per year. It's a disease that affects mostly poor people in Africa, and thus has a tendency not to get researched as much as it should, so news of a potentially major breakthrough against it are especially welcome. UK researchers have found that the bacteria that causes the sickness, Trypanosoma brucei, cannot live in the blood stream without its flagellum, and have identified a number of unique proteins making up said flagellum. This could lead to better treatments and targeted drugs.

If you manage not to be dead, you probably use battery-powered devices, and are aware of how expensive batteries are, and probably of how environmentally nasty they are to produce. The solution to these problems may turn out to come from viruses. MIT researchers have genetically engineered tube-shaped viruses to harvest cobalt and gold for a metallic coating, and self-assemble themselves into a 10 centimeter battery anode. This is cool for many obvious reasons.

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