health

‘I don’t really think, I just walk.’ –Paris Hilton

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Carrying a backpack may negatively affect the posture of schoolchildren and contribute to spinal pain.

The aim of this study was to examine changes in the body posture parameters defining asymmetry of the trunk and lateral flexion of the spine in children while carrying a backpack weighing 10% of a child’s weight. […]

Results show that carrying a backpack in an asymmetrical manner negatively affects spine, even if the backpack weight constitutes 10% of the child’s weight.

{ SAGE | Continue reading }

illustration { Rockin Jellybean }

You have corrupted my imagination and inflamed my blood

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Regular exercise may alter how a person experiences pain, according to a new study. The longer we continue to work out, the new findings suggest, the greater our tolerance for discomfort can grow.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Six feet of land was all that he needed

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She also learned an old cop trick: If you’re recovering a body in an apartment building, ask every tenant to make coffee — it covers the smell. “Oldest trick in the book,” one officer told her. […]

She began, as all autopsies do, by inserting a needle into the side of each eye to collect fluid — a delicate procedure Melinek perfected after once popping out a cadaver’s glass eyeball. […] Then she removed Booker’s testes, took a samples from each, and put them back in the scrotum. […]

There was the subway jumper at Union Square, for example, whose body was recovered on the tracks of the uptown 4 train with no blood — none at the scene, none in the body itself. She’d never seen anything like it, and only CME Hirsch could explain: The massive trauma to the entire body caused the bone marrow to absorb all the blood. […]

In one case, a man was shot in the chest, but the bullet was found in his liver.

{ NY Post | Continue reading }

photo { Hiroshi Sugimoto }

‘I’d hate to die twice.’ —Richard Feynman

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Since 1990, the Gerontology Research Group has assumed the role of record keepers for the world’s supercentenarians, or persons older than 110. […]

When it comes to age forgery, Coles has seen it all. He recently received a claim from India of an individual who is supposedly 179—a feat that is almost certainly physically impossible. The deceit can be harder to spot, such as the time a man in Turkey tried to pass himself off as his deceased brother, who was ten years older. And in one particularly challenging case, the government of Bolivia issued false documents to a man who was 106, stating that he was 112.

These problems are well known among those who study the very old. “Ninety-eight percent of ages claimed over 115 are false,” says Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston Medical Center, and director of the New England Centenarian Study. Based on a research paper he published on the topic, Perls says that “There’s a total of ten different major reasons why people do this.”

Sometimes, the motivation for lying is monetary. In the U.S., for example, a handful of people inflated their ages in order to claim to be Civil War veterans, giving them access to pensions. […] In other cases, a government or group might want to demonstrate that theirs is a “superior race.”

{ Smithsonian | Continue reading }

‘When twenty years of the Moon’s reign have passed another will take up his reign for seven thousand years.’ –Nostradamus

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Scientists at the University of East Anglia have made a breakthrough in the race to solve antibiotic resistance.

New research published today in the journal Nature reveals an Achilles’ heel in the defensive barrier which surrounds drug-resistant bacterial cells.

The findings pave the way for a new wave of drugs that kill superbugs by bringing down their defensive walls rather than attacking the bacteria itself. It means that in future, bacteria may not develop drug-resistance at all.

{ Phys.org | Continue reading }

art { Christopher Wool, Untitled, 2007 }

‘Several excuses are always less convincing than one.’ —Aldous Huxley

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In the U.S., couples with daughters are somewhat more likely to divorce than couples with sons. Many scholars have read those numbers as evidence that daughters cause divorce. […]

Previous studies have argued that fathers prefer boys and are more likely to stay in marriages that produce sons. Conversely, the argument runs, men are more likely to leave a marriage that produces daughters. That scholarly claim has been around for decades, and has gained a following in popular culture. […]

A new research from Duke University suggests something quite different may be at play. […] Throughout the life course, girls and women are generally hardier than boys and men. At every age from birth to age 100, boys and men die in greater proportions than girls and women. Epidemiological evidence also suggests that the female survival advantage actually begins in utero. These more robust female embryos may be better able to withstand stresses to pregnancy, the new paper argues, including stresses caused by relationship conflict.

Based on an analysis of longitudinal data from a nationally representative sample of U.S. residents from 1979 to 2010, Hamoudi and Nobles say a couple’s level of relationship conflict predicts their likelihood of subsequent divorce.

Strikingly, the authors also found that a couple’s level of relationship conflict at a given time also predicted the sex of children born to that couple at later points in time. Women who reported higher levels of marital conflict were more likely in subsequent years to give birth to girls, rather than boys.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

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‘All stable processes we shall predict. All unstable processes we shall control.’ —Von Neumann

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Few human possessions are so universally owned as mobile phones. There are almost as many mobile phones as there are humans on the planet. More people worldwide own mobile phones than have access to working toilets. These devices not only help individuals share information with each other, they are increasingly being used to help individuals gather information about themselves. Smartphones — mobile phones with built in applications and internet access — have rapidly become one of the world’s most sophisticated self-tracking tools. Self-trackers and those engaged in the “quantified self” movement are using smartphones to collect large volumes of data about their health, their environment, and the interaction between the two. Continuous tracking is now obtainable for personal health indicators including physical activity, brain activity, mood dynamics, numerous physiologic metrics and demographic data. Similarly, smartphones are empowering individuals to measure and map, at a relatively low cost, environmental data on air quality, water quality, temperature, humidity, noise levels, and more.

Mobile phones can provide another source of information to their owners: sample data on their personal microbiome. The personal microbiome, here defined as the collection of microbes associated with an individual’s personal effects (i.e., possessions regularly worn or carried on one’s person), likely varies uniquely from person to person. Research has shown there can be significant interpersonal variation in human microbiota, including for those microbes found on the skin. We hypothesize that this variation can be detected not just in the human microbiome, but also on the phone microbiome.

{ Meadow/Altrichter/Green | Continue reading }

Hugs Not Drugs

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The term “stress” had none of its contemporary connotations before the 1920s. It is a form of the Middle English destresse, derived via Old French from the Latin stringere, “to draw tight.” The word had long been in use in physics to refer to the internal distribution of a force exerted on a material body, resulting in strain. In the 1920s and 1930s, biological and psychological circles occasionally used the term to refer to a mental strain or to a harmful environmental agent that could cause illness.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

The modern idea of stress began on a rooftop in Canada, with a handful of rats freezing in the winter wind.

This was 1936 and by that point the owner of the rats, an endocrinologist named Hans Selye, had become expert at making rats suffer for science.

“Almost universally these rats showed a particular set of signs,” Jackson says. “There would be changes particularly in the adrenal gland. So Selye began to suggest that subjecting an animal to prolonged stress led to tissue changes and physiological changes with the release of certain hormones, that would then cause disease and ultimately the death of the animal.”

And so the idea of stress — and its potential costs to the body — was born.

But here’s the thing: The idea of stress wasn’t born to just any parent. It was born to Selye, a scientist absolutely determined to make the concept of stress an international sensation.

{ NPR | Continue reading }

art { Richard Phillips, Blauvelt, 2013 }

The presence of carbohydrate in the human mouth has been associated with the facilitation of motor output and improvements in physical performance

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The only cryonics storage facilities are in the US and Russia. So while my day job is as a student landlord, in my spare time I run Cryonics UK and train a cryonics emergency team in my own home. We’re ready to administer the medical procedures needed to stabilise and cool a body before it is flown to the US on dry ice.

Around 40 people are on our emergency list – people who can call us and say, “I’m going, please help me.” They pay roughly £20 a month to cover the upkeep of our equipment and ambulance. To call us out when the time comes costs about £20,000, plus there’s the cost of long-term storage. With Alcor, one of two US storage services, the total bill will be $95,000 for “head only” and $215,000 for “whole body”. Most people cover that with life insurance.

{ Financial Times | Continue reading }

mechanical robot, silicone, pigment and wig { Urs Fischer, Airports Are Like Nightclubs, 2004 }

‘I have therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith.’ —Kant

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The present research provides empirical evidence that drug names may entail implicit promises about their therapeutic power. We asked people to evaluate the perceived efficacy and risk associated with hypothetical drug names and other secondary related measures. We compared opaque (without meaning), functional (targeting the health issue that the drug is meant to solve) and persuasive (targeting the expected outcome of the treatment) names. Persuasive names were perceived as more efficacious and less risky than both opaque and functional names, suggesting that names that target the expected outcome of the drug may bias the perception of risk and efficacy.

{ Applied Cognitive Psychology }

oil on canvas { Vincent van Gogh, Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette , 1886 }

‘Experience by itself is not science.’ –Husserl

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Just as we can design and install digital apps in our electronic devices, we can design and install mindapps in our minds. For philosophy the big-problem is the hegemonic assumption that all good thinking takes place in our ordinary, default mindbody state—wakefulness. Because of this error, the vast extensions of our minds beyond our default state are neglected, and directions for future mind development are stunted, if not outright denied. Multistate theory releases that constriction. By reformulating our minds as variables for experimental philosophy, multistate theory re-asks philosophical questions, extends current issues, and engenders fun speculations. Because psychedelics are the most dramatic example of widely known mindbody psychotechnologies, we will illustrate multistate theory with psychedelics’ contributions

{ Thomas B. Roberts | Continue reading }

‘The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.’ —Richard Feynman

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Damage to certain parts of the brain can lead to a bizarre syndrome called hemispatial neglect, in which one loses awareness of one side of their body and the space around it. In extreme cases, a patient with hemispatial neglect might eat food from only one side of their plate, dress on only one side of their body, or shave or apply make-up to half of their face, apparently because they cannot pay attention to anything on that the other side.

Research published last week now suggests that something like this happens to all of us when we drift off to sleep each night.

{ Neurophilosophy/Guardian | Continue reading }

art { Andy Warhol, Mrs. McCarthy and Mrs. Brown (Tunafish Disaster), (1963) }