Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: October 2013

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests that women are attracted to men who are already in a relationship. Psychologist Valerie Golden believes this is a real phenomenon, citing research which showed that women were far more interested in a man if they thought he was taken rather than single.

flaunting.jpgThe prevailing explanation for this is that women trust the decisions made by other women. A woman may subconsciously say to herself, “If he’s good enough for her, then he’s good enough for me.” If she then acts on this adulterous impulse, she is officially a “mate poacher.”

Men, it seems, are well aware of how women think on this matter. If women are drawn to men who are in relationships, then maybe men will choose to flaunt their partners, particularly if they are attractive. Indeed, new research shows exactly that: Men (and women) like to flaunt their sexy partners to their peers. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

In many ways, women got the raw end of the biological deal. Not only must they wrestle with the discomfort of pregnancy and the pain of childbirth, they are also far likelier than men to contract and die of breast cancer. Sure, only men get prostate cancer, but more women die from breast cancer alone than men die of prostate and breast cancer combined. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The adaptive immune response is the branch of our immune system that most people are familiar with. It’s the reason vaccines work. When exposed to a molecule that triggers an immune reaction (known as an “antigen”), the body produces antibodies that specifically bind to that molecule, eventually leading to its destruction. The most common class of antibody produced is called immunoglobulin G (IgG).

Our bodies can also produce a less common type of antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). Notably, IgE helps fight off parasitic infections, but other than that, its role is largely unknown. In the developed world, parasites are no longer a major concern, so immunologists believe that IgE occupies its time by causing trouble, instead.

If you have allergies, blame IgE. For some reason, benign substances such as peanuts and cat hair can incite our immune system, which kicks out gobs of IgE. These antibodies then bind to an immune cell called a mast cell, triggering it to release a bunch of chemicals which produce all the symptoms we commonly associate with allergies — sneezing, coughing, itchiness and overall misery. In worst case scenarios, an out-of-control allergic response called anaphylatic shock occurs. This can be deadly.

Does IgE have any modern-day redemptive qualities? According to new research in the journal Immunity, the answer is yes. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Your mother (or perhaps your spouse) always reminds you to eat your broccoli. Indeed, it is quite good for you. Not only is it packed full of vitamins, but it also contains cancer-fighting compounds, such as I3C. Our bodies metabolize this molecule into 3,3′-diindolylmethane
(DIM), which also wages a war on cancer.

Now, a team of researchers led by Eliot Rosen has shown that administering DIM to mice exposed to a lethal dose of gamma radiation can rescue a substantial proportion of them. (See figure.) Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

My wife and I regularly travel to Eastern Europe. Last time we were there, we went to Bonyhad, Hungary, a small town about two hours outside of Budapest. The nominal purpose of our trip was to visit her aunt and uncle; in reality, there was a winery nearby that my father-in-law was dying to show me, which was perfect, because as it so happened, we were running low on booze. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The sun will hopefully be the energy source of the future, but currently, solar power provides less than 1%of global energy. The reason isn’t due to a conspiracy among fossil fuel companies, as some media outlets apparently believe, but because of multiple inherent problems with solar technology. In a nutshell, there is a tradeoff between efficiency and cost.

For example, the current world-record for efficiency (i.e., the ability to convert light into electricity) is 44.7%, held by a multi-junction solar cell used in concentrated photovoltaics. However, for various reasons, such systems are still expensive. Cheaper solar cells, such as the ones you can mount on your roof, are more reasonably priced but have efficiences only around 10 to 20%. Thus, the “holy grail” is to design a solar cell with high efficiency and low cost. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The government shutdown has dragged a nasty skeleton out of America’s closet and put it on full display for the world to see: Americans are bitterly divided, and there is little hope on the horizon for reconciliation.

The “us vs. them” nature of our public discourse has grown so sourly partisan that we can no longer agree on basic facts. Each team has its own experts and news sources, so it is entirely possible for a person to never hear an intellectual point of view from the opposite side. In the rare few instances we choose to interact with the “enemy,” accusations of dishonesty are among the first words on our lips.

In other words, we live in a society where it is “my facts vs. your lies.” Read More »