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Monthly Archives: April 2015

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Amongst the wider public, video gamers do not have the best reputation. They are perceived, somewhat unfairly, as socially awkward, bespectacled, pimply-faced geeks. However, new research provides them something of a “Revenge-of-the-Nerds moment”: Action video gamers (AVGs) have more gray matter and better connectivity in certain subregions of the brain. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Dear Dr. Oz,

As a TV host, book author, and “America’s Doctor,” you hold a powerful and privileged position to which few people inside or outside your profession could ever aspire. I must admit to being envious of your influence. I wish that more Americans were fascinated by the complicated nuance of biomedical research than are fascinated by miracle cures. Alas, they are not (yet). I’m working on it, though.

I am writing to you because I was deeply troubled by your rebuttal to the letter signed by ten medical doctors seeking your termination from Columbia University. Read More »

Over the past 450 million years, life on Earth has been devastated by five mass extinction events that are widely recognised by geologists. Now, an international team of researchers proposes adding a sixth mass extinction to the list. Read the rest at BBC.

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Taking drugs, whether legal or illegal, creates problems. One of them is that drugs can interact with each other, often in bad ways. Frustratingly, some drugs are known to interact even with the various foods we like to eat. From the viewpoint of food-drug interactions, the most problematic food may be the humble grapefruit, which is known to interact with about 85 drugs, ranging from antidepressants and statins to clot-busters and Viagra. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Warning to reader: There are *SPOILERS* in this movie review.

Ex Machina, a suspenseful new film about artificial intelligence, is disturbing for all the right reasons. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The stereotype of a scientist is that of a bespectacled, socially awkward nerd who would rather play with insects than interact with other members of his own species. According to this conventional wisdom, the hermit-like scientist sits perched in his Ivory Tower, stroking his microscope and looking with condescension and contempt upon the uneducated, unwashed masses below. Talk with them… about science? Humph. Why bother? Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The lack of women in science and engineering has long been a sore spot in academia. Even though girls are just as good as boys (if not better) in science and math, men greatly outnumber women in academic science jobs. Why? Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Zoonotic diseases, such as the plague and Ebola virus, jump from animals to humans. Often, but not always, such interspecies transmission occurs following mutations in the pathogen’s genome that make it more suitable for targeting a new host. But, infectious disease is not a one-way street. This same evolutionary process also makes possible “reverse zoonosis” (more properly dubbed zooanthroponosis) — i.e., the transmission of disease from humans to animals. Read More »

This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

You emit gas. The most obvious and offensive comes from your posterior, but that’s not the only gas you emit. Your body is constantly oozing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — small molecules that easily enter a gaseous state due to their high vapor pressure — in breath, sweat, urine, feces, and even saliva. VOCs are responsible, for instance, for the similar aromas that emanate from dairy farms and men’s restrooms. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Cooking and organic chemistry have a lot in common. Both employ esoteric language and precise, step-by-step instructions. Chefs and chemists alike put strange ingredients into fancy glassware, apply heat, and create something new. Read More »