Friday, February 16, 2007
Speaking of dangerous foods, the British Medical Journal has made the astonishing discovery that swallowing swords is a dangerous profession. I just don't even know where to begin on this one, so I'll just say: "Still no cure for cancer."
On the upside, Swedish researchers have found that the human brain grows new neurons in the olfactory bulb well into adulthood, using stem cells harbored in the ventricles. This is really cool, and has all kinds of potential implications for dealing with all sorts of diseases.
Speaking of new connections, Berkeley scientists have found a way to put organic molecules together in such a way as to get the Seebeck effect (direct heat-to-electricity conversion between two pieces (formerly of metal) at different temperatures). While the voltages are really small, this is a major proof-of-concept that could lead to big changes in how we generate energy.
And finally, we have energy, waste, birth, injury and death (well, mostly just waste and injury) all wrapped up in one story: the American health care system. An editorial in the NYT points out what has been obvious all along: the US needs to embrace a single-payer system. The author gives all the usual citations about how we spend twice as much as every other country in the world for lower quality care that covers fewer people, etc., but the only real novelty is the strength of the position: "Does a candidate who couldn’t persuade voters to embrace the single-payer approach deserve to be president," he asks.
Good question, and I would say that the answer is a resounding "no." Yes, the candidate will have to be able to shout over the (inevitably Republican) detractors, who will fervently claim that "better and cheaper and more efficient" actually means "bureaucratic impersonal communism," and that the facts are not the facts, but that's frankly what you sign up for, running for president. I really hope that Hillarbama (or whomever) can make this happen.