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Plants Heal Humans and Vice Versa

Flowers in your hospital room do actually make you heal faster.  A study by Kansas State researchers reported by PhysOrg found that more patients recovered from abdominal surgery faster with flowers in the room.  It may be due to more than the psychological benefit of enjoying their colors, fragrances and the get-well wishes behind them: […]

Who Wants Embryonic Stem Cells?

Amazing treatments continue to spring forth from adult stem cells – the stem cells with no ethical qualms attached.  With adult stem cells easy to obtain doing so much good, why would anyone want embryonic stem cells (the stem cells with ethical qualms attached), when no usable treatments have yet been found? Here are some […]

Nature Plagiarizes Behe’s Mousetrap

The prevention of genomic instability – and cancer – can be attributed to a “complex mousetrap” mechanism, said Robert M. Brosh, Jr (Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology, NIH) in Nature.1  This not-so-subtle reference to Michael Behe’s irreducibly complex system described in Darwin’s Black Box even has a mousetrap illustration with the following caption: The BLM protein […]

What an Obama Presidency May Mean for Origin Science

Needless to say, the scientific institutions are thrilled that their favorite candidate won.  Editorials in both Nature and Science showed little objectivity about politics in the last few weeks.  Part of this is due to Obama’s promises to fund science heavily, including $150 billion to fight global warming with alternative energy (see Nature News).  Another […]

Nonsense and Nonscience

For an enterprise that prizes itself on objectivity and careful thought, science occasionally makes some outlandish claims.  Here are some things that slipped past the scientific method into the popular news media. As good as it gets:  Steve Jones says men have stopped evolving.  Better enjoy what you have, because it’s not going to get […]

Designed for Health

Recent science reports on physiology and health contain suggestions of intelligent design as well as challenges to evolutionary theory. “Amazingly elegant, amazingly precise and very complicated” kidneys:  Scientists studying the effects of hypertension on kidneys have found that ATP acts not only as an energy source but an extracellular messenger.  It’s involved in helping arterioles […]

Adult Stem Cells Race Ahead; Embryonics Falter

Major advances are being made with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), stem cells reconstituted from adult tissues, while interest in embryonic stem cells (ES) seems to be drying up.     Both Nature and Science reported advances in iPS technology last week.  Nature reported that the number of factors needed to reconstitute pluripotent stem cells […]

Lick Your Wounds

Saliva contains a powerful anti-infection protein, say scientists from the Netherlands.  Science Daily reported that if this compound could be mass-produced, it offers hope for those with diseases, burns and injuries prone to infection.     Saliva is a complex concoction with many kinds of molecules.  With controlled experiments, the researchers were able to identify […]

Adult Stem Cells May Cure Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy leaves children and adults in a nearly helpless state.  Parents watch in agony as their children suffer rapid and progressive weakness.  Attempts to support research, like the annual Labor Day events Jerry Lewis has held for over 40 years, have betrayed their inability to find a cure by the very fact of their […]

Can Psychology Figure Out Humans?

Psychology is often considered a soft science.  Anything they pronounce one year is likely to be modified or overturned the next.     A few years ago (and still in some quarters), self-esteem was all the rage (now fading, though; see 05/12/2003).  We should be assertive and confident, we were told, and make our feelings […]

Love Your Heart: Look at Nature

Heart patients can get instant relief from stress by simply looking out at nature through a window, reported Science Daily.  It worked better if the patient looked at the real thing, not just a picture on TV.     In a study funded by the National Science Foundation, scientists tested the heart rates of patients […]

Beware of Starstuff

Stars can be dangerous.  They spew out deadly particles, unless you are protected from them in a safety bubble – like Earth has.  The Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere only let in the life-giving part of sunlight.  Studies of other stars, and our own moon, show that things could be far worse. Record flare:  A […]

Whence Plague?

Where did bubonic plague come from?  Science News reported that two mutations turned the bacterium from a docile, innocuous bacterium into a curse.     The combination of two mutations disabled the gene for aspartase, an enzyme that breaks down aspartic acid.  When the crippled Yersinia pestis enters a host, more aspartic acid is generated […]

Evolution After the Fact

Many scientific theories are evaluated on their ability to make predictions.  Good theories suggest experiments that lead a researcher to discover new things.  In biology, however, “evolution” is a word often invoked as an after-market explanation for observations that emerged outside of the theory.  Here are some recent examples: Ant farm:  Science Daily reported on […]

Mars Lacks Safety Shield for Humans

Forget all those optimistic, futuristic sci-fi tales of humans landing on Mars.  It isn’t safe, said Space.com.  NASA’s space radiation program doubts that a human body could survive prolonged exposure to space.  This is a problem for long stays on the moon, too.     “The magnetic field of Earth protects humanity from radiation in […]
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