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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Science & Medicine Round-up

  •  Nature has an editorial calling for preparedness for worst-case scenarios, natural and man-made doi:10.1038/472135b
  • Also in Nature, Bart Penders reviews Mark Wohlsen's book "Biopunk" about DIY biologists. doi:10.1038/472167a
  • Douglas Fox provides a comprehensive and comprehensible overview of the experiments with transcranial direct-current stimulation (tCDS) for cognitive enhancement. doi:10.1038/472156a
  • From the category of "unexpected side effects," Nature reports that the "Libyan uprising may boost bluefin tunadoi:10.1038/472169b 
  • The nuclear crisis in Japan continues to be covered in the major journals. 
    • Nature news reports on the political struggles about the future of energy generation in Japan. doi:10.1038/472143a
    • A Nature editorial discusses the information management and data publishing policies of the Japanese authorities, arguing for "better data, in more user-friendly forms, and more sophisticated analyses." doi:10.1038/472135a
    • Lack of data and data overload at the same time about radiation exposure in Japan is topic of an article about the Fukushima health risks in Nature news. doi:10.1038/472013a
    • Linking increased cancer incidence in the vicinity of (non-failing) power plants has been and continues to be a tricky and controversial issue, as can be seen in a debate about a US study by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Academy of Science. doi:10.1038/472015a  
  •  Historian of science and technology, David Kaiser, uses the history of MIT to discuss the role of private and government funding for research and education. His conclusion is that "[r]ather than focus on the source of cash — public or private — we must remember to scrutinize the inevitable strings attached." doi:10.1038/472030a
  • The ozone hole seems to be beginning its recovery, earlier than expected, says an article in Science. doi:10.1126/science.332.6026.160
  • Instead of increasing the number of Graduate Research Fellowships, the NSF is increasing the stipend for grant recipients in order to "keep the program competitive." doi:10.1126/science.332.6026.162-b
  • In Europe, last summer was hot, really hot. So hot actually that despite an increasing incidence of "mega-heatwaves ... the likelihood of an analog over the same region remains fairly low until the second half of the 21st century." doi:10.1126/science.1201224
  • Once again, there is a controversy about the potentially dangerous side-effects of two new anti-diabetes drug, known  as Byetta and Januvia. A paper has been published but withdrawn after complaints from the drugs' manufacturers. doi:10.1136/bmj.d2335 
  •  A UK government advisory body has argued for making preconception genetic testing more widely available. Critics, however,  argue that "[p]reconception screening is the most dangerously eugenic application of genetics: unlike prenatal genetic testing, where there is a severe cost (ie the termination of a wanted pregnancy), preconception screening offers apparently nothing more than information, which will only later severely affect the person’s life chances and the whole society." doi:10.1136/bmj.d2324
  • Fresh from the "Duh" department, BMJ reports that "Listening to patients' narratives can help improve quality of psychosis care." doi:10.1136/bmj.d2245 
  • Same department, different topic: "Use of bombs in populated areas is having a devastating effect on civilians, say reports." doi:10.1136/bmj.d2161  
  • "The art of remembering" and mnemotechnics was invented in Ancient Greece and is one topic of Joshua Foer's book "Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything." Foer, himself being a former memory artist, interweaves information about the psychological research on memory with stories about contemporary "memory artists" and "mental athletes." doi:10.1038/472033a
  • Finally, PLoS one reports on the "rubber voice" (analogous to the rubber hand paradigm) phenomenon, "in which a stranger's voice, when presented as the auditory concomitant of a participant's own speech, is perceived as a modified version of their own voice."doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018655

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