Saturday, December 27, 2008

teenagers aren't complete mindless walking hormones

From ScienceDaily: Fears of Promiscuity Pose Barrier To Cervical Cancer Vaccinations

Do most people really think that teenagers are just barely keeping themselves from humping each other randomly because of the fear of cancer? There are a lot more road blocks than that. For instance, one must find someone who actually wants to have sex with you. And someone you want to have sex with. This is actually much more difficult than adults remember. There are teenagers having sex, yes, but I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be a huge increase in teens having sex by giving them this vaccine. I don't think most teens worry about STDs. When I was that age, I was definitely more worried about getting pregnant than catching something (not that I had very much sex in high school; I was pretty awkward). The teens that would have sex after vaccine are probably the same ones that do it anyway. (Can you imagine: "Oh baby, you know you love me, let's do it. You won't die a horrible death of cervical cancer anyway.")

Monday, December 15, 2008

antisocial cells

From ScienceDaily: Antisocial, Invasive Cells Are Basis of Cancer, Finding Suggests

This is pretty interesting. I really like the idea of gene therapy and things like this, studying the body to manipulate it.

However, I did also just rewatch "I Am Legend," which I enjoy because I'm a fan of zombies, especially zombies created by science. Manipulation of the measles virus to cure cancer is what causes zombie-virus (and of course it goes airborne, like all proper movie viri). Guess manipulating the genetic code really does worry me a little bit, even though it seems pretty interesting. Who the hell knows what we're going to do. Guess I just have to hope those scientists aren't evil.

beautiful nostalgia

From ScienceDaily: More Than Just Being A Sentimental Fool: The Psychology of Nostalgia

I'm a pretty nostalgic person (I'm always talking about "those days" with old friends and my sisters), so it's nice to know that it's actually good for me. And not making me weep or causing anorexia. All right, no anorexia, but perhaps weeping if accompanied by liquor.


From Discovery News: Did Magnetic Field Failure Trigger Mass Extinction?

This article talks about a new theory positing that the Permian-Triassic extinction was not only caused by the dust from massive volcano eruptions, but also fluctuations in the magnetic field, which would have allowed cosmic rays to fuck with our atmosphere and cause more cloud cover and cooling. The PT extinction occurred about 250 mya and killed off about 90% of the life on earth. It's a little scary to think things like that could happen at almost any time. I mean, don't they talk about how the magnetic field flips every so many thousands of years, and we're overdue, and the field is losing power and that's what magnetic north is different from actual north?

Plus, extinctions seem to happen pretty regularly. Some say we're in the middle of a human-caused extinction right now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

vatican, never change. or do, actually.

From The New York Times: Vatican Issues Sweeping Bioethics Document

Apparently this statement by the Vatican surprises some people. This is the same institution who won't endorse condoms because people who have pre- or extra-martial sex deserve to get AIDS or something. How many Catholics actually still pay attention to them? My mother was Catholic but used birth control, or at least was a Catholic until she realized the Pope wasn't keeping up with the times when it came to the rights of women...

dark matter egg hunt

From ScienceDaily: New Detector Will Aid Dark Matter Search

Can I just say that dark matter is kind of awesome?

Dr. Jocelyn Monroe, the scientist working on the project, said that there'll probably be the discovery of a dark-matter particle sometime in the next five years. I can't wait. The universe will never be boring.

way over my head

From ScienceDaily: Future of Plastics: Designing Tomorrow's Sustainable Polymer

I didn't really understand the details of this article, except perhaps the idea that actually understanding how plastics work will allow us to make better ones.

But (and I feel a little bad saying this), Dr. Guenza is adorable. I dare you to find a bigger, more enthusiastic, and more tired-looking smile.

105 days together alone

From Scientific American: Four Europeans selected for epic Mars isolation study

Phew. This sounds rough. You really have to be of sound mind to spend that much time with the same people in close quarters. In the article there is also a mention of an upcoming simulation of the full 520 day study. I can't even imagine the type of personality they'd be looking for with this.

This is a case where having a same sex, same oriented crew is probably important. Sexual tension would suck. I'm wondering now, though, can you masturbate in space? 15 weeks is a long time to go without, let alone a year and a half.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

type 1 diabetes + celiac disease = bff

From ScienceDaily: Type 1 Diabetes And Celiac Disease Linked
"Richard A. Insel, MD., Executive Vice President, Research, at JDRF, said: "'These studies demonstrate that type 1 diabetes and celiac disease share far greater genetic overlap than had been appreciated, which helps explain the high prevalence of both diseases occurring simultaneously in an individual, and provide new avenues for understanding the cause and mechanisms of both diseases.'"
Apparently they found that people with these diseases share seven loci with each other, which is pretty crazy. I talked about this a few posts back, the correlation between these two diseases, but I thought it was only one gene that did it.

confident AND modest?

From EurekAlert: Women who are perceived as confident in job interviews are also seen as lacking in social skills

And we have to be hot, too.

So when I finish school and start applying for jobs, I must be competent and intelligent and talk about how awesome I am to show how great I would be at the job, but appear friendly and modest and nurturing so I don't seem like I randomly castrate men. And show my boobs. Great.

Via Jezebel, originally published in Psychology of Women Quarterly.

overspend to mate?

From Live Science: Ooga Ooga! Men Overspend to Attract Mates

A double-whammy of "what-guys-do-to-get-laid-scientific-style." As with the previous study, where guys act aggressive to attract mates, I understand the underlying why but not the over-arcing why. In this study, scientists find that men who live beyond their means get laid a lot more. But, and forgive any sexism towards both men and women that will probably follow, I just get images of expensive meat-market clubs where women paint themselves deeper and men buy them expensive drinks to have sex with them. Women who want a man to buy them expensive things and take them expensive places. Men who do so, and complain that women only want their money. The cattiest kind of women, and the assholiest kind of men.

It's quality over quantity, guys. And gals.

I'm not just saying the quality of the relationship, or at least I don't mean casual sex is horrible and it's best if everybody tries to be in relationships. I just feel like the type of women who tries to get through life on her looks only, and the type of man who drives himself into debt to get pointless hot girls can be very good friends or companions or dates or lovers or spouses.

Like I wrote upwards, I'm probably just stereotyping this whole thing. I've never been much of a clubber or bar-goer (at least to pick people up) myself. I guess it's just this whole consumerism thing that pisses me off. I like buying new toys for myself, and I like new pretty clothes, but spending shit tons of money on clothes disgusts me, and the fun I would have playing an XBox360 on a big HD TV would not cover up the sinking feeling of being inescapably in debt when I can barely support myself.

Plus, I think guys who live happily within their means are pretty sexy. And I totally love that Not So Big House thing.

the magic of perfection

I'm rereading Providence by Daniel Quinn, who is one of my favorite authors. (His website is Here's a bit that stuck out for me as he describes his childhood:
But of course I couldn't be them [idk: his parents] or force them to behave the way I wanted them to. I was in the same relation to them as the ancient rainmaker was to the elements. All I could do was produce in myself the effects I wanted my parents to manifest. All I could do was make myself perfect, the way I wanted them to be.

That then was my magic, to be perfect. It didn't work, of course, but no one in the whole history of the world ever quit on anything just because it didn't work-- magic, science, politics, love, religion. But especially magic. To give up on magic because it doesn't work would be silly. If it doesn't work, that just means you didn't do it right. That's how you tell you didn't do it right--when it doesn't work.

Anyone knows that. (Quinn pg 26-27)
I understand this, having struggled with a desire for perfection myself, and having struggled with people struggling with perfectionism. If I'm not there yet, it's just because I'm doing something wrong.

I'm trying to teach myself that though I should definitely work as hard as I am able and continue to push my limits, the perfectionist worldview is complete and utter bullshit. The point of being alive is to grow. If you don't need to grow, you might as well die. And if I think less of myself because I don't excel at everything - school, work, people, love, taking care of myself - it will be harder to grow and be happy and be satisfied with myself.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

milky way super cute black hole

From BBC News: Black hole found in Milky Way

Kickass! They found our black hole. Apparently it's 4 million times heavier than the Sun and 27,000 light years away. I wanted to calculate the mass, but the mass of the sun has thirty zeros and I can't deal with that. Instead, I'll compare it to the mass of the Sun as compared to the mass of the Earth. The Sun has the mass of 332,946 Earths, so our black hole is... 1,331,784,000,000 Earths. I think that's right.

What should we call it? Milky Way Black Hole is pretty long. I was thinking "the Milky Hole," but I realized that just sounded really dirty.

be aggressive to mate?

From Science Daily: Why Do People Make 'A Mountain Out of a Molehill?' Aggression, Status and Sex

I understand the whole "acting like a big man" thing from an evolutionary standpoint. Don't take shit from anyone, prove you're stronger, make others back down. But seriously, I can't stand guys like that. It's like, "Dude, you're an asshole." I mean, there is definitely being too passive, too, but I think that's true for women, too. I think part of this whole white-matter-high-reasoning thing is picking your battles. Jeez.

wave power!

From Science Daily: Wave Power Facility Successful in Sweden

I love reading about people using things already happening to harness energy. The less we have to process things to produce energy, the better. I read an article several months ago about a country (I think that was Sweden, too), where the power of people moving through a subway station was used to power the building above it. Great idea.

I was about to type, "As long as I don't have to run on a hamster wheel," but then I realized I've always been jealous of those lucky little pet rodents with their awesome wheels.

allergies: nature or nuture?

From the New York Times: Researchers Put a Microscope on Food Allergies

I find research like this pretty interesting, because 4/5 members of my immediate family have celiac disese, an allergy to certain types of grain proteins, especially in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. What causes allergies? Is it genetic or triggered by environment? My dad has it, and so do me and my two sisters. Recently I found out the same gene that can cause it has also been linked to thyroid disorders, which many of my mother's sisters have, and diabetes 1, which my grandmother had. So I wonder if my sisters and I got the gene from both sides, and that's why we have it.

A lot of people have wheat sensitivities, and I think a lot more people have celiac that don't realize it. Seems like autoimmune disorders are becoming more prevalent. I wonder if they're becoming more common, or just that we're noticing more?

Monday, December 8, 2008

everybody's a gamer

From Yahoo!Tech: Survey finds over half of adults play video games

Yeah! Hey! I can be an adult and play video games, too? Sweet. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up as everything gets more complex. My parents played video and computer games back in the late '80s, but I guess everything got too complicated. The last game my mother played was Kings Quest IV, and for my father it was D for the PSX (which he might have mostly just played through because it scared the crap out of me and my sisters). Crazy mind-controlled games of the future, I will be ready for you.