At first it sounds like a terrible plan, the kind that results in zombies ruling the Earth. Imagine a killer virus, a bug that mutates so often that it inevitably finds a way to resist every drug. Now, rather than fight its ability to evolve, you enhance it. You speed up the mutation rate, forcing such dramatic genetic change that the virus crashes completely. In the movies, this technique, known as lethal mutagenesis, would create a supergerm, but in real life it's spawning a powerful new class of antiviral drugs.
High on the back wall of the New Jersey Poison Center in Newark, beyond a display case filled with bottles of ant killer, antifreeze and other ingredients of noteworthy cases, hangs an electronic map of the state. It displays dozens of glowing red dots. Each marks the origin of a call received over the previous 24 hours. Updates sweep down the map every 10 minutes, and the staff knows where to expect clusters based on population. "This is one way that computerization can help us pick up unexpected hotspots," says medical director Steven Marcus.
At CES, where Resident Evil 5 will soon be projected onto the side of Planet Hollywood, video games are everywhere. But some go beyond mere entertainment. During his keynote speech today, Intel chairman Craig Barrett talked about how technology can help people in the developing world. One of the most interesting efforts he mentioned: Warner Brothers Interactive recently created a PC game that uses an engaging story to teach Kenyan teens about HIV prevention.
For five years now the ill and elderly in Japan and Europe have had adorable, furry, sensor-ridden robotic seals to speed recover and improve health. Two months ago PAROs arrived stateside and are gaining traction in nursing homes and hospitals across the country. At $6,000 a pop, they're not cheap, but they also don't smell, bite, require training, or cough up an unexpected hairball. Similar to that other four-letter robot, PARO has sensors that track everything from touch to light to posture and learns from human interaction. Stroke the thing and it remembers what action caused the positive feedback. Smack it, and it won't repeat the "bad" behavior which preceded the beatdown.
Why seals? "People don't have many interactions with them," explained a PARO robots spokesperson. "They won't be let down by any preconceptions they might have."
See the cutie in action, after the jump.
Commonly held medical myths that many people—doctors included—take for granted are actually scientifically inaccurate. In the spirit of science, the cold winter weather and the upcoming holidays, researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine have compiled a list of six common medical myths and proven them wrong, using data culled from medical literature on Medline and Google.
In the search for disease treatments, the next best thing to human guinea pigs is, well, actual pigs. Believe it or not, their skin and cardiovascular, digestive, urinary and central nervous systems are all very similar to ours.
I was feeling sick I was losing my mind I heard about these treatments
From a good friend of mine he was always happy smile on his face
He said he had a great time at the place...
Gimme gimme shock treatment Gimme gimme shock treatment
Gimme gimme shock treatment I wanna, wanna shock treatment....
Peace and love is here to stay
and now I can wake up and face the day
Happy happy happy all the time shock treatment, I'm doing fine
- The Ramones
Don't stick you finger in the electrical socket! That's one of the first things you learn as a kid, right? Otherwise, as all proper cartoons show, you'll end up with singed eyebrows and a wild poufy Einstein-style 'do. But all joking aside, electrocution is a serious business. People die from electrical burns, whether they have been hit by lightening or deliberately executed in the electric chair. (If you're worried about the former, and you find yourself the tallest object in an open field during an electrical storm, LIE DOWN. If you are worried about the latter...stay out of trouble. Or write to your congress person.) Bottom line, most people prefer not to be zapped with electricity...except when it can cure disease.
Psychiatrists currently use electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for a variety of psychiatric disorders, but most commonly ECT is used for severe, treatment-resistant major depression, usually for inpatients who are too depressed to function outside the hospital.
Brainiacs now have something besides their intelligence to celebrate; their sperm. The intellectually endowed produce better quality and more mobile sperm, according to a study published in Intelligence and led by Rosalind Arden of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College in England.
When your mother says eat your greens, you just might want to listen. It's been known since the 1970's that cruciferous vegetables, or cabbage family vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale, have anti-cancer benefits. But researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who have studied the benefits of anti-cancer vegetables for 15 years, are the first to explain how an anti-cancer compound, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), found in broccoli and cabbage, works to slow down the activity of an enzyme linked to rapidly developing breast cancer.
It sounds like just another uber-meltable cheese product, but Vavelta is actually miles away from anything you'd want to put in your mouth. It's a radical new treatment for facial pitting, scarring, and wrinkles made out of—what else?—newborns' foreskins. Foreskins have long been treasured by cosmetic dermatologists because they are rich in fibroblasts, tiny cells that play a crucial role in healing wounds and generating collagen and connective tissue.