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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Science News!

Well, I just hit the wall of too many tabs open and too much stress and one thing I can do is close tabs by posting fabulous science news. So yay!

I've always wondered why previously competent adults seem to fail at judging scams when they get older. Turns out, a particular piece of their brains may be degrading: the anterior insula. Where as I can easily pick out the scam email or the salesman who's trying to sell me more than I need, this seems to go away as people age. So yeah, that it's documentable is good, but also a bummer, as it means it will likely happen to me too. That's more than a little scary as I live a life of many astute judgements every day.

Then there was the viral ad campaign from Dove about "You're more beautiful than you think." Then there was the online backlash about how it was all mostly white women and how it should've shown more diversity. This tripped a little mental sensor for me. What if it wasn't that there weren't any women of color in the group of subjects. What if it's that the white women were just more down on their appearance. Turns out, Scientific American posted an article about how we actually perceive ourselves as more attractive than others perceive us. Sad, but true, even if the Dove ad is a lovely thought.

Sunscreen. I wear a basic broad spectrum SPF 15 moisturizer on my face and chest every single day. Some folks wonder whether a generation from now, they'll find out sunscreen on your skin is as risky as just getting the sun. Simply, no. But there are some things to keep in mind when picking sunscreen. This is a well-assembled list. The item I didn't know? Avoid spray sunscreens. The inhalation risks are high.

I loved reading about the Neaderthal with bone cancer. It seems like cancer kills the most people I know, so it seems like it's more prevalent than it used to be. I suspect that's just because we've mitigated the risk of death from so many other things - bacterial infections, especially. Our DNA has always been prone to replication errors. But what's so much more awesome is that we're starting to get to the point where we may be able to move beyond basic chemotherapy and radiation. The story of Emma, her certain death from leukemia, and of reprogramming the AIDS virus to kill her cancer is just the most amazing thing I can imagine. It is why we do science. And her blog has adorable pictures of a happy little girl, playing with her dog, finishing 2nd grade.
UPDATE: There's a rather histrionic rebuttal to the video. It's interesting, because what the author says  was implied wasn't what I got at all. They took a virus built off of HIV, harvested her cells, and infected it with the engineered virus. Not once did I think they gave this girl AIDS to cure her cancer, nor did I get that implication anywhere, so I'm not sure why the author has such a big bee in his bonnet. Oh well.  Just thought I'd pass on the update in case anyone else was unclear (or thinking me deceived).

We're supposed to close escrow today. The lender is taking their sweet time though we signed off all documents on Thursday. The fumigators are coming between 2-4 p.m. to tent for termites. We *may* have keys in time. Maybe. And there's pretty much nothing I can do about it.


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