Sunscreen may not be as harmless as we thought

Wired reports: Today, researchers at the FDA revealed the results of a small clinical trial designed to test how four of the most common sun-filtering molecules on the market behave after they’ve been sprayed on and rubbed in. The results, published in the journal JAMA, show that contrary to what sunscreen manufacturers have been saying, UV-blocking chemicals do seep into circulation. Now, don’t panic and toss your tubes. There’s no evidence yet that they’re doing anything harmful inside the body. But the revelation will have serious impacts on sunscreen manufacturers going forward, and may change what options you’ll find on drugstore

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HIV as a way to cure other diseases???

I was astonished to read this report. US scientists say they used HIV to make a gene therapy that cured eight infants of severe combined immunodeficiency, or “bubble boy” disease. . . . The babies, born with little to no immune protection, now have fully functional immune systems. Untreated babies with this disorder have to live in completely sterile conditions and tend to die as infants. The gene therapy involved collecting the babies’ bone marrow and correcting the genetic defect in their DNA soon after their birth. The “correct” gene – used to fix the defect – was inserted into an altered

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Debunking a so-called “scientific” study

Karl Denninger points out – scathingly – that a recent study of fine particulate matter air pollution is fundamentally flawed in its recommendations, because it doesn’t take the whole picture into account.  The study claims that there are up to 100,000 “premature” deaths every year due to such pollution. 100,000 dead people in a year is 0.03% of the American population.  A real number, to be sure. But….. all those trucks, trains, cars, boats, agriculture and industry —the source of that fine particulate emission — is why we have: Food. Energy. Warm houses in the winter. Cool houses in the summer (A/C, to be

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IQ, countries, and coping skills

Readers who’ve been following my series of articles on the current Ebola crisis in Congo will recall that one of the biggest problems is cultural blindness to the seriousness of the problem.  This article sums up the local cultural approach.  The root of the problem is, one’s dealing with a very low local level of average intelligence.  I’m not being racist or discriminatory in the least by saying that;  it’s a scientific, measurable fact.  That lack of intelligence overall makes it very, very difficult to educate the locals into a healthier, more rational approach to the problem. (That doesn’t only apply to

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Another medical mishap from Max Gergel

On Monday I posted Max Gergel‘s account of how a doctor mended his (romantically) broken heart in an unusually prosaic way.  Here’s another tale from his book “Excuse Me Sir, Would You Like to Buy a Kilo of Isopropyl Bromide?” – this one describing an abortive truth serum. We had a visit from a Dr. Johns, who was an exponent of the “ModernCoué Method of Self-Hypnosis” (“every day in every way I am getting better and better“). Johns was, himself, a hypnotist, and I learned that his visit to Columbia was sponsored by a wealthy family whose head had a drinking problem. He was

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Frogs, princes, and depression

I’m sure many readers are familiar with fairy tales in which a princess has to get up the nerve to kiss a frog, which then turns into a prince.  They usually end up getting married and living happily ever after.  That, in turn, gave rise to the rather more cynical and jaded advice that “You have to kiss a lot of frogs in order to find your prince!” Be that as it may, I was taken aback by an article a couple of days ago. A new study finds that a psychedelic found in toad venom may help people struggling with depression

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Nature has some truly weird critters . . .

I was astonished to learn that octopus and squid are different from any other critters in the sea – or on land – as far as their genetics are concerned. In a surprising twist, in April 2017 scientists discovered that octopuses, along with some squid and cuttlefish species, routinely edit their RNA (ribonucleic acid) sequences to adapt to their environment. This is weird because that’s really not how adaptations usually happen in multicellular animals. When an organism changes in some fundamental way, it typically starts with a genetic mutation – a change to the DNA. Those genetic changes are then translated into

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Lobster armor? Talk about a throwback!

I’m amused to see that the humble lobster may be the inspiration for a new generation of personal armor protection. In a new paper … researchers reveal that the soft underbelly of the American lobster is so great at protecting the creature’s insides from the jagged ocean floor that a similar material could be useful for humans as full-body protection. The underside of the lobster’s tail is equipped with a membrane of incredible strength. Unlike the more rigid panels that cover the top side of the creature, the coating on its belly is very flexible. The team even compares it to industrial

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Science, art, and history come together

I was fascinated to read that scientists investigating rogue waves have not only recreated one under laboratory conditions:  it’s also an almost picture-perfect copy of a very famous wave in Japanese art. Mark McAllister at the University of Oxford and his colleagues have recreated the Draupner wave, the first rogue wave ever recorded. The 1995 wave, measured in the North Sea, had a maximum height of 25.6 metres … Prior to this, the existence of these freak waves was merely anecdotal. The team generated two sets of waves in a circular tank, and crossed them at various angles in an attempt to recreate the conditions

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