Posts Tagged ‘Science’

ESPecially Good News For Budding Psychics

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a peer-edited academic publication, has come out with a paper that supports the notion people may be able to see into the future according to the Telegraph. Other researchers are crying foul and say the findings should have been the subject of ‘more scrutiny’.

The oft-impugned clairvoyant “Miss Cleo” aka Youree Dell Harris.

Experiments conducted by researchers at Cornell University ostensibly demonstrate that students were better at predicting which one of two curtains would reveal an erotic image than they were at predicting where more mundane images would be. The researchers claim that this proves an ability to truly predict future (sexy) events. For good measure, we’ll let James Randi have his say courtesy of TED. We’d also like to point out that we knew you’d read this.

Kickin’ The Bug

As Goodosphere’s de facto Science editor, I’d like to share a story with you.

Several years ago a man, an American living in Germany, contracted HIV. Obviously, even with the advances in treatment the disease is extremely serious. To complicate things further, the man had also been living with Leukemia for many years. And so the man, in his early forties, faced rather grim prospects.

In time, doctors at Berlin’s Charite Clinic treated the man’s leukemia with a bone marrow transplant. It was then that something amazing happened. The marrow (and the stem cells it contains) were very unique in that their donor had a “genetic profile which led to the CCR5 co-receptors being absent” from their cells. The CCR5 co-receptor is like a ‘docking station’ for the HIV virus so its absence essentially creates an immunity to the virus. In other words, the donor was like 1 in every 1,000 Europeans and Americans: naturally resistant to HIV.

More than two years later, the man who had been infected with HIV shows no signs of the virus. Tests on his bone marrow, blood and tissues have all been negative. The case is exceptional and rare, but it offers a new potential approach to combating HIV and AIDS and may spur increased genetic interest and research.

Each time science (or medicine) inches closer to tackling a seemingly insurmountable obstacle I’m reminded of how potent human enguinity is. Here’s to the researchers, the scientists, the doctors and technicians who spend their careers trying to battle disease. One day they’ll beat HIV and I hope that by the time that day comes, all nations have agreed that everyone’s life is equally valuable.

Read more at BBC.

SpaceCorp Has Arrived

SpaceX (tee hee), a for-profit, astronautical company successfully launched their “Dragon” space capsule this week. The event was described as,

the first privately developed and launched spacecraft to be put into low Earth orbit and return to Earth for a successful recovery.”

But what we’re really seeing is this: a milestone that marks an age where commerical space transport will not only be viable, but the norm.

Photos: SpaceX

Companies like SpaceX may have lots of work coming their way in the future. NASA is currently shutting down its space shuttle program and already has a contract in place with SpaceX to resupply the International Space Station.

For my part, I see this as a good thing. I’m sad to see NASA taking a step away from certain aspects of space exploration but the emerging SpaceCorp sector (as I’m dubbing it) has the potential to significantly propel (pun very much intended) the next wave of space exploration. And let’s be honest; we’re all waiting for Southwest and JetBlue to begin flights to the moon aren’t we?

Read more at: Wired.

Cyberslapping Cancer And Other Diseases

Maybe you’ve heard about distributed computing. No? Well, distributed computing allows many participants with standard PCs to each pool a fraction of their processing power in order to collectively tackle enormous computing tasks.

SETI@Home is one popular (popular with the geeks) example of distributed computing. SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) developed the program to help researchers comb vast areas of the universe, looking for signs of alien intelligence.

But if ET isn’t your thing, you have the opportunity to contribute to another good cause: cutting-edge disease research. Scientists at Stanford University (do cool stuff) have created Folding@Home that allows folks like you and me to contribute in the battle against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer. By downloading and running the Folding@Home program, your computer will help crunch small packets of data that will further research to combat these devastating diseases.

It may be a drop in the bucket, but what are you saving your drops for anyway? Besides, the beauty of distributed computing is that collectively we can do enormous, supercomputer-esque things. Oh, and one more thing: you can form your own team and compete with other teams around the world to see who can process the most information. This might be as close as you can get to the frontlines against cancer without a degree in biochemistry.

The Beautiful Universe

Oscar the Bionic Cat

If you haven’t already, meet Oscar the Bionic Cat.

After losing two feet in a tussle with a thresher, Oscar makes veterinary history by becoming the first cat with prosthetic limbs.

Thanks to M.B. for the scoop.
(BBC, ABC News)

Happy [New] Birthday

If you don’t think we live in a kick ass, it’s a wonderful life, clam bakin’, Kermit The Frog singin’ totally awesome day and age, then check this out:

About four weeks ago our dear friend (we’ll call him Dave) woke up in the hospital. Dave probably had a brief moment where he wondered where he was and what was going on. The whole thing probably happened so fast, Dave must have felt blitzed.

(Photo: Royal Victoria Hospital)

Maybe Dave remembered the special pager going off. Maybe he remembered calling the hospital and hearing that good news had finally arrived. Maybe it dawned on him all at once that he was now living with a new heart. However it happened, our friend Dave woke up the recipient in a successful heart transplant. Okay, now think about that for a minute . . . what must it feel like to have what was just hours ago someone else’s heart beating inside your chest? The idea is totally amazing.



Last Friday the Guardian published a story sure to boost sales for Calvin Klein.

Zookeepers at the Bronx Zoo in New York have discovered that the scent of Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men is irresistable to Jaguars. Young men should be cautioned, a similar effect hasn’t been studied among cougars.

Now, scientists are using the cologne to lure big cats of the Guatemalan jungle near camera traps in an effort to better study them. Researchers say that the scent has elicited “cheek-rubbing behavior” from the cats. Whoah. If this doesn’t spur a new marketing campaign from CK, I’m going to lose a bet.

There are a few dirtier jokes to be wrung out of this story but I better stop here. If you’ve got some Obsession in the medicine cabinet, dab a little on and let us set the mood:

(Credit to M.B. for the find!)


Friday was a good day for stories about cooperation. Trouble was, Sean already had a great Double Down in the works and frankly, Fridays should be reserved for the most fun-filled of posts. Let’s be honest, I have a tendency of posting the drier, more sciency side of good. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that Fridays aren’t academic- Fridays are all about the platypus.

Back to the cooperation though- the underpinning of any good cooperative effort is the principle that two or more partners can achieve greater results together than they could alone. Normally, it’s rare that government agencies or corporate giants engage in this sort of thing. But recently, they’ve been doing just that.

(A team of international space adventurers. Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

Speaking from the Berlin Airshow last week, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver told reporters that NASA’s new direction would allow it to expand international partnerships beyond what had previously been possible. It gives me a warm feeling to know there will be more international cooperation in the space program. If exploring the vastness of space can’t bring this pale blue dot together what can? Furthermore, I hope this leads to the speedy establishment of an Intergalactic House of Pancakes.

The second, and infinitely more surprising, example of cooperation that I stumbled upon came out of the pharmaceutical industry- a sector rarely recognized for it’s feats of teamwork.

(Getty Images).

As it turns out, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research are pretty challenging pursuits. These brain disorders can affect people of dramatically varied ages and may progress differently depending on the patient. Studies often focus on small groups of patients which can make it hard for researchers to draw meaningful conclusions about either disorder as a whole.

Now, the Coalition Against Major Diseases has brought pillars of big pharma such as AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer together to share the data they’ve collected studying these diseases. By pooling their findings, these pharmaceutical giants will be more able to effectively analyze and develop new approaches to combating these widespread and debilitating medical mysteries. Even if this collaboration is motivated by the promise of profits, patients will be the inevitable beneficiaries from any resulting medical breakthroughs.

Today, there are many reasons to cooperate. With a tough economic climate and increasingly entrenched political divisions, cooperation might be a necessity for institutions hoping to weather the storm. At the end of the day though, cooperation carries emotional benefits too- at the intersection of teamwork and togetherness is a powerful force of good.

For Once We’re Paying Too Little Attention to Breasts

Okay, so there’s been a little bit of bad news lately. We’ve got an oil spill, a sinkhole, violence on a flotilla, and just to kick us while we’re down, Al and Tipper call it quits.

You know things must be bad (outside of the Goodosphere) because a pretty amazing story has garnered relatively little media coverage thus far. Here’s the scoop: Researchers believe they may be on to a vaccine for breast cancer!

The Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute’s study, published in the June issue of Nature Medicine, demonstrates how the vaccine was able to prevent breast cancer from developing in genetically engineered mice. Researchers are quick to add that not all drugs that work in mice go on to prove successful with humans, but the results indicate significant progress in the fight against breast cancer.

Whether it’s still theoretical or FDA-approved, I’m ready to celebrate. We need this. It’s a win for science, a win for progress, and goddamnit it — a win for breasts. These are the kind of breakthroughs the future always promised. So, let’s hear it for science (and let loose a carefree chuckle when we drive past San Onofre).