For every author who meticulously examines the latest developments in physics or computing, there are other authors who invent “impossible” technology to serve as a plot device (like Le Guin’s faster-than-light communicator, the ansible) or to enable social commentary, the way H. G. Wells uses his time machine to take the reader to the far future to witness the calamitous destiny of the human race. Sometimes it’s the seemingly weird ideas that come true—thanks, in part, [...]
In a novel collaboration, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the National Institutes of Health, and Mars, Incorporated plan to partner on the largest research trial to date that will investigate the heart health benefits of cocoa flavanols. Once initiated, this large-scale, prospective nutritional intervention will evaluate the role of flavanols in reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease.
Let's cut to the chase here: they're testing out chocolate pills for our health. I say, skip the pills and keep eating the chocolate, but I'm no doctor. Where do we sign up? [BWH, AP]
I am 22 when it first occurs to me that migraines will impede my projected path through life. It is the first week of my first real job. My business card says Rural Reporter, which distinguishes me from the Education Reporter and the Business Reporter and the Crime Reporter, but really we are all rural reporters, at a tiny newspaper in a town you’ve never heard of, tucked away in the foothills of the Washington Cascades. Thanks to a nearby spearmint factory, which refines the sweet oil used in candies and toothpaste, the whole town smells like a pack of gum left on a car dashboard on a hot summer [...]
When I was three years old, my mom used to take me to the library, find me a pile of books, and let me sit and read for up to an hour while she went and browsed the stacks. When I was 14 years old, I made my mom paint my room black, and I spent a lot of time watching The X-Files and being mortified by her. But she never forgot that I could also be that first kind of patient, inquisitive girl, even when I insisted on listening to Walkmen tapes of Queen’s Greatest Hits while hiking in Glacier Park.
Like so many of us, I didn’t fully [...]
PS: When people hear about a biology study, what are some things they can ask themselves to check for gender bias in the study?
JH: The first step is always to say, 'Does this finding replicate?' Because we've so many of these flash-in-the-pan things where a study gets tons of publicity and there's so much competition in biology to be first with your breathless finding. So that's the first question to ask, 'Has anybody else gotten this?'
There are certain phrases that tip people off about gender bias. For example, if people do some kind of neuroscience study, let's say it's an MRI study with humans. These researchers will often say, 'This [...]
Here is this weekend's New York Times Magazine cover. (The orbiting objects, if you can't tell: The Friends-of-Bill Black Hole, The Super-Pac Nebula, Huma's Dark Matter, The Chelsea Quasar, The Arkansas Cluster, Katzenberg's Comet, The Patti Solis Doyle Vortex, The Obama Supernova; the bottom text reads "The gravitational pull of a possible 2016 Campaign is bringing all the old Clinton characters into her orbit. Can she make the stars align, or will chaos prevail?" Click here to enlarge.) Here is a chat I had about the cover with my friend and astronomy scholar Claire Webb.
is this a joke?
me: it's real
Claire: no [...]
Women, already twice as likely to suffer from chronic migraines as men, may also require different treatment for their bouts; Harvard scientist Nasim Maleki suggests we even consider men's and women's migraines "different diseases altogether." From Scientific American:
In women with chronic migraines, the posterior insula does not seem to thin with age, as it does for everyone else, including male migraineurs and people who do not have migraines. The region starts thick and stays thick.
We don't know yet whether the thickening of the insula is something the brain is doing to protect itself or something that worsens women's migraines, Maleki says. Yet the evidence is mounting [...]
A 1,300-year-old mummy had a hot tat, scientists have found:
One of the mummies, whose remains were found just seven years ago, was so well preserved that archaeologists could almost make out the tattoo on her skin on the inner thigh of her right leg with the naked eye. Infra-red technology helped define it more clearly.
The woman, aged between 20 and 35, had been buried wrapped in a linen and woollen cloth and her remains had mummified in the dry heat. The tattoo has been deciphered by curators and spells out in ancient Greek – M-I-X-A-H-A, or Michael.
The owner of the tattoo was a woman who [...]
Human genomes are 99.9 percent identical—with one prominent exception. Instead of a matching pair of X chromosomes, men carry a single X, coupled with a tiny chromosome called the Y. Tracking the emergence of a new and distinctive way of thinking about sex represented by the unalterable, simple, and visually compelling binary of the X and Y chromosomes, my book, Sex Itself: The Search for Male and Female in the Human Genome, examines the interaction between cultural gender norms and genetic theories of sex from the beginning of the 20th century to the present, postgenomic age. Here, we've excerpted from the chapter "Save the Males!"
The prospect that [...]
Researchers from the University of Montreal are getting to the bottom of the perverse I-just-wanna-eat-you-up reaction we hormonal wrecks sometimes feel in the presence of babies. From the CS Monitor:
Apparently it has something to do with the way babies smell. A paper published in the current issue of Frontiers in Psychology describes how researchers in Dresden, Germany, imaged the brains of two groups of 15 women while the women sampled the odors of other parents' newborns. One group was composed of women who had given birth within the past six weeks. The other group was made up of women who had never given birth. The scientists collected [...]