Saturday, August 26, 2006

Fighting Terror at Home

Dear Eyedoc333,

A terrorist group called the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) recently took credit for driving a UCLA scientist to leave behind his research employing non-human primates. Like many others in the biomedical research community, this scientist and his family were terrorized at their home for months.

Acts of violence, intimidation, and harassment against researchers have a chilling effect on animal research everywhere. As such, passage of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is more critical now than ever. This legislation would allow federal authorities to help prevent, better investigate, and prosecute individuals who seek to halt biomedical research through acts of intimidation, harassment, and violence.

Visit CapWiz, an on-line legislative action center, provided to you by the Society for Neuroscience:
(apologies--for some reason the link doesn't seem to work!)

Thank you in advance for your participation!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Stem Cells: Try, Try Again

There's a new method for creating human embryonic stem cell lines that involves removal of one single cell from a human embryo. The hope was that this method would overcome the objections of the "life begins at conception" crowd by creating new stem cell lines without harming the embryo from which they were derived. Unfortunately, there are continued objections:

"It is widely believed that one cell of a very early embryo may separate and become a new embryo, an identical twin," said Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

For this reason, the possibility of an identical twin being able to form from the single cell removed from the original embryo, the new method is still objectionable to the hard-liners. It is unclear whether the new method will be eligible for federal research funding. Don't hold your breath...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Filling In

Above, you see an image of "cutting edge" dental work, accomplished without anaesthetic or even dental insurance! This is a 7-9,000 year old human tooth that shows signs of drilling with sharpened points of flint. In a village called Mehrhgarh, in present-day Pakistan, ancient villagers underwent these dental procedures in teeth that, half the time, had no apparent signs of decay (whereas some teeth did have cavities). It is unknown whether any sort of filling was used to protect sensitive areas. The drilling was not thought to be for decorative purposes, since none of the holes were located in visible locations at the front of the mouth.

Could it be....PULP fiction?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Not-so Accurate Predictions...

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."

--Popular Mechanics, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
--Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
--Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction".
--Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"But what ... is it good for?
--Engineer at IBM, 1968

commenting on the microchip.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody."
--Bill Gates, 1981

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer
in their home."

--Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder
of Digital
Equipment Corp., 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be
considered as a means of communication.
The device is inherently
of no value to us."
--Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable
commercial value. Who
would pay for a message
sent to nobody in particular?"

--David Sarnoff's associates in response
to his urgings for
investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed,
but in order to earn
better than a 'C,'
the idea must be feasible."

--A Yale University management professor
in response to Fred
Smith's paper proposing
reliable overnight delivery service.

(Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
--H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Quit Bugging Me!

Morgellon's Disease is described by patients as the appearance of multi-colored fibers on the skin, accompanied by the sensation of crawling bugs. There is a debate as to the nature of this disease. Some physicians feel that it is "delusional parasitosis", in which patients imagine that bugs are crawling on them. Biopsies of skin lesions do not show any known pathogens, yet 90% of these patients test positively for the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease. Antibiotic treatment and even the antipsychotic drug Risperidone have been used, with some measure of relief. Yet, the underlying cause of this disease remains unknown.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Super-Size Me!

The amount of food you eat in a serving seems to be linked to the size of your eating utensils. A group of nutritionists received invitations to an ice cream social and were not told that they were to be part of an experiment on food serving size. They were given different sized spoons and bowls and then asked to serve themselves. The results were intriguing....

...Researchers believe their findings result from the human perceptual tendency to judge object sizes based on comparisons with neighboring items. Participants in the study, for example, served themselves 31 percent more ice cream when they were given a 34-ounce bowl instead of a 17-ounce bowl. Their servings increased by 14.5 percent when they were given a 3-ounce spoon instead of a 2-ounce utensil. When given both a large spoon and big bowl, they served themselves 56.8 percent more. Yet they were unaware of the greater ice cream quantities.

This study comes from the Georgia Institute of Technology and will appear in the September issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.