Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Regardless, it is an interesting read. Plus, if The Gays can really make themselves The Future of Business, all those pesky political issues will most likely fall hastily to the wayside (since the one thing
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
This is really, really cool. Ignoring all the realities of how awful it could be growing up with an extra arm, when he's a grown-up he may well wish he still had it - I mean, how often do you wish you had an extra hand to carry things??
Tea leaves are good for you, but poison ivy is nasty. And, it seems, on its way to becoming nastier: a Harvard-Duke study indicates that the plant grows better and faster in high-CO2 conditions, and becomes more poisonous. That means that with global warming (partially due to increased atmospheric CO2 levels), we'll have more poison ivy and it'll be more unpleasant. Thanks, H2 drivers!
A small Penn State study suggests that naltrexone, a drug used to treat drug and alcohol addiction, may help in treating Crohn's disease. Current treatments are expensive, unpleasant, and not very effective, so this could be a really significant breakthrough.
Friday, May 26, 2006
While some scientists are learning to hide things, another group may have revealed the history of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. They've found a wild population of chimps in West Africa infected with Simian Immunodeficiency Virus from chimps, or SIVcpz, which looks like it may be the virus that originally jumped from chimps to humans many years ago (or closely related to it). Not only could this find lead to better understanding (and hopefully treatment/prevention) of HIV, it could also inform research into how pathogens jump from species to species.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
US researchers have successfully auto-transplanted new penises to rabbits. They grew the tissue (taken from the "patient") in a matrix, and then integrated it back onto the rabbit whose penis had been damaged/destroyed and, within a month, they were happily again doing what bunnies are known for. This is a pretty big breakthrough, as it could lead to treatments not only for erectile disfunction, but for penises lost to accidents or cancer. I'm fairly sure that dubious internet-based companies will be offering, uhm, other services, based on this technique very soon.
The bad news is that a study has found that many household cleaning products react with ozone to form a number of toxins, including formaldehyde. So cleaning just got dangerous. D'oh!
Also, happy Towel Day.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
A UCLA study has found that long-term, heavy pot smoking does not increase lung cancer risk, contrary to expectations. Why is it illegal again?
I didn't get much sleep last nite, I was up late and then got up early to go to a breakfast with Andrew Hurst, who is running for Tom Davis' seat in Virginia. He seems really great, and so if you're a VA-11 resident (or even if not!), I encourage you to get involved. The bad news is that sleep deprivation may be linked to weight gain. A rather large study suggests that sleeping less than seven hours may be bad for you. Oops!
Monday, May 22, 2006
Speaking of numbers, it seems that pigeons, and maybe even humans, think in logarithms. Birds taught to distinguish between long and short LED flashes seemed to be reacting as if the longer times were more 'compressed' than shorter - like a log scale. I wonder if this works for object counting as well?
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Also, it seems that women who consume more dairy are more likely to have twins. From the wording of the article, it sounds like there may be some confounds - including that vegans may just have fewer twins in general - but on the whole it seems plausible, what with all the hormones and shit that's in milk these days. Anybody have the actual journal paper for me to read?
Friday, May 19, 2006
But speaking of monkeying around (and creatures of dubious intelligence), an FDA panel has endorsed Merck's HPV vaccine, paving the way for full approval next month. That is, of course, unless the moron squad blocks it on political grounds. The FDA is also in talks with Sanofi-Aventis over its antibiotic, Ketek, which has been linked to severe liver failure. The talks are about Sanofi not wanting to put a warning label on the drug, which of course is the rational and responsible thing to do. Sadly, those arguments seem to hold little water in any aspect of pharmaceutical industry or regulation around here
Thursday, May 18, 2006
A new hypothesis suggests that humans' complex evolutionary history involved rehybridization with chimps - that the first round of proto-humans may have been so obsessed with monkey sex that the species never really took off. It's possible, I suppose, and I look forward to hearing more evidence on this idea, and also to certain people's reactions to it.
It's a cliché - an apple a day keeps the doctor away - but it seems to have some basis in reality. Researchers have found that apple flavenoids act differently from other fruit flavenoids to protect cells, disrupting the lethal effects of tumor necrosis factor in vitro. Interesting, and tasty!
Many people think that they can skip eating all that healthy stuff and just take pills to stay healthy. Not so much. An IOM panel has found no strong evidence for (or against) taking multivitamins, except in a few cases. Needless to say, the supplements industry would like them to have considered more industry-sponsored (and not very rigorous) research in the review.
And what day would be complete without a new reason to love caffeine? A large Canadian study suggests that it may improve breathing in premature babies. Starbucks will be introducing its own brand of formula later this week.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Seeing stars in a good way, new research is revealing how much more astrocytes do in our brains than just support neurons. It's not clear what, but it is clear that these characters do something; there are 10 times as many of them as there are neurons, so they could be really important.
And, via BoingBoing, we learn of a Japanese study that suggests that kissing may alleviate hay fever. As a hay fever sufferer, I will happily test this hypothesis.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
We all remember the sensational stories about 'Bubble Boy,' whose nonfunctional immune system forced him to live his life in a sterile bubble. Well, Basset hounds bred to share this condition, X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (XSCID), seem to have been cured using a novel gene therapy technique. They also don't seem to have developed the nasty side effects human subjects experienced that cancelled a 1999 study of a slightly different procedure.
Buckyballs were such unbelievably cool news when discovered, and they remain impossibly cool today. But now they have competition: researchers have found spheres of 16-18 gold atoms, about 6 angstroms across, that can enclose a smaller atom. Lots of cool potential applications here, not to mention new ways to bling!
Monday, May 15, 2006
Needless to say, this is when I develop a massive spaghetti-and meatballs craving. Maybe ramen will do the trick?
Working cooperatively not only allowed quick discovery of the first new primate genus in eighty-some years, but also taught the researchers involved all about how well things work when you play nice. I actually laughed out loud at that bit of the article.
And a warning: before you go stopping a gene product from doing its work, understand all of what it does first. C-myc is generally known as an oncogene - that is, a gene that goes haywire and causes cancer - but a separate line of basic research suggests that its proper role is to regulate memory T cell homeostasis. So, if you block c-myc to treat cancer, you will knock out a good bit of the patient's immune system. Which would be a Bad Thing.
* I'm not really concerned about women who have it easy enough that they don't have to work...lucky bizzatches.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
In a move that sounds like an excellent idea, the CDC will recommend that HIV testing become a routine part of care for all teens and adults. I say sounds like an excellent idea because it's not clear that the result won't be disaster. People may start avoiding care to avoid testing. False positives may cause some serious panic, and decreased faith in the tests. They're rare, but with vastly increased test rates, error numbers will likely increase as well...which the Scare-o-Vision news media will play up all over the place. Not really sure how I feel about this move.
It appears that all the research into ghrelin as an obesity treatment may have been barking up the wrong tree. Baylor researchers suggest that it may be involved in glucose homeostasis, and diabetes type 2, but not directly in weight gain/loss. Interesting, given its postulated role in memory: insulin is also tied to long-term recall.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Yes, that does appear to be a giant piece of golden shit on top of that building. Now we know how they can afford to keep rebuilding after all those monster/robot/alien attacks.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
It will wash down your takoyaki, and drown your sorrows. It will make you think not only that going to do kareoke is a good idea, but also that you really can pull off a really good Mariah. It will also clean your contact lenses.
On the way back yesterday from Kamakura (with ghost bento, purple potatoes, and giant Buddha goodness), my contact was so dry it hurt, and fell out. Not wanting to go the rest of the night blind (there was kareoke to be done!), I looked around and, not finding any traditional lens solution, improvised. A few drops of yuzu-flavored Chu-Hi, and my contact was good as new! A little burn-y, perhaps, but only at first, and I could see for the rest of the night!
Certain of my compatriots may argue that my hearing, on the other hand, was less than optimal...
Monday, May 01, 2006
Damn I love sushi.
Gwen Stefani's 'Harajuku girls' have nothin on the real thing. We went on Sunday and watched a bunch of 40- and 50-something guys, fully dressed like greasers, breakdancing to Elvis, about 5,000 Japanese schoolgirls decked out in full Goth regalia, and ate awesome takoyaki, yaki tori, and grilled meat. And drank malt liquor in the park.
For a city this huge and high tech, I am appalled that almost no one takes credit cards, and the ATMs close at like 9PM.
Also, while the subway is great and goes everywhere and has wifi, it also closes at like 11pm. WTF?
Did I mention how much I love sushi?