health

What are your unbreakable rules for yourself?

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Researchers in the US have used electrical brain stimulation to boost the vigilance of sleep-deprived military personnel working on an airforce base.

Experiments on 18- to 42-year old men and women on active duty found that half an hour of electrical brain stimulation improved their performance twice as much as caffeine, and the effect lasted three times as long.

{ The Guardian | Continue reading | via gettingsome }

‘Then they plunged a great needle into my butt and BAM! out I went for two whole days. When I woke up, wow! Rats all over the floor, wailing and screaming. We ate potatoes with spoons.’ –Edie Sedgwick

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Why do we dream? It’s still a scientific mystery. The “Threat Simulation Theory” proposes that we dream as a way to simulate real-life threats and prepare ourselves for dealing with them. “This simulation in an almost-real experiential world would train the brain to perceive dangers and rapidly face them within the safe condition of sleeping,” write the authors of a new paper that’s put the theory to the test. […]

The researchers contacted thousands of first-year students at the end of the day that they sat a very important exam. […] over 700 of the students agreed to participate and they completed a questionnaire about their dreams and sleep quality the previous evening, and any dreams they’d had about the exam over the course of the university term. […] The more exam dreams a student reported having during the term, the higher their grade tended to be.

{ BPS | Continue reading }

collage { Eugenia Loli }

‘Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not.’ –Epicurus

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Harvard scientists have discovered a new way to fight brain cancer with stem cells, a recent study has revealed.

The team of scientists, who experimented on mice, used genetically engineered stem cells that released cancer killing toxins, while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

Most importantly, the modified cells were able to emit the tumour killing poison without succumbing to its effects.

It is considered a breakthrough in cancer treatment by experts.

{ Independent | ScienceDaily }

art { Josef Albers, Sanctuary, 1942 }

‘Augurs and understood relations have by magot pies and choughs and rooks brought forth the secret’st man of blood.’ –Shakespeare

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Red blood cells carry oxygen to all the cells and tissues in our body. If we lose a lot of blood in surgery or an accident, we need more of it – fast. Hence the hundreds of millions of people flowing through blood donation centres across the world, and the thousands of vehicles transporting bags of blood to processing centres and hospitals.

It would be straightforward if we all had the same blood. But we don’t. On the surface of every one of our red blood cells, we have up to 342 antigens – molecules capable of triggering the production of specialised proteins called antibodies. It is the presence or absence of particular antigens that determines someone’s blood type. […]

If a particular high-prevalence antigen is missing from your red blood cells, then you are ‘negative’ for that blood group. If you receive blood from a ‘positive’ donor, then your own antibodies may react with the incompatible donor blood cells, triggering a further response from the immune system. These transfusion reactions can be lethal. […]

There are 35 blood group systems, organised according to the genes that carry the information to produce the antigens within each system. The majority of the 342 blood group antigens belong to one of these systems. The Rh system (formerly known as ‘Rhesus’) is the largest, containing 61 antigens.

The most important of these Rh antigens, the D antigen, is quite often missing in Caucasians, of whom around 15 per cent are Rh D negative (more commonly, though inaccurately, known as Rh-negative blood). But Thomas seemed to be lacking all the Rh antigens. If this suspicion proved correct, it would make his blood type Rh null – one of the rarest in the world, and a phenomenal discovery for the hospital haematologists. […] Some 43 people with Rh null blood had been reported worldwide.

{ Mosaic | Continue reading }

‘Death is the only thing we haven’t succeeded in completely vulgarizing.’ —Aldous Huxley

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Leveraging the insight that periods, while a pain, also bring women together, JWT has created an augmented reality app that combines Chinese consumers’ love of technology, cute characters and selfies into a new branded platform for Sofy sanitary pads.

{ Campaign Asia | Continue reading | Thanks Tim }

One by one they were all becoming shades

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We will review evidence from neuroscience, complex network research and evolution theory and demonstrate that — at least in terms of psychopharmacological intervention — on the basis of our understanding of brain function it seems inconceivable that there ever will be a drug that has the desired effect without undesirable side effects.

{ Neuroethics | Continue reading }

photo { Hannes Caspar }

‘I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it all started with a mouse.’ –Walt Disney

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“There’s as much biodiversity in the soils of Central Park as we found in the soil… from the Arctic to Antarctica” […] almost 170,000 different kinds of microbes. […] The team also found 2,000 species of microbes that are apparently unique to Central Park.

{ NPR | Continue reading }

‘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 }