Latest Human Nature columns: 1) If steroids are cheating, why isn’t LASIK?2) Biotechnology and the unpleasant alternatives. 3) The timidity of liberal bioethics. 4) Tom DeLay’s mortal hypocrisy. 5) Social Security, longevity, and Latinos. 6) Terri Schiavo, Catholicism, and divorce. 7) Schiavo’s persistent legislative state. 8) Jews vs. Catholics in the stem cell debate. 9) A plan to create an embryo-like thing. 10) Give me pain relief or give me death. 11) Scalia’s flip-flop on the competence of minors. 12) The case for raising the retirement age. 13) What Larry Summers got right and wrong.
The government debunked some benefits of booze. A CDC review indicates other factors may explain why drinkers are less prone to strokes and heart disease.
The world is getting fat. The New York Times finds “hardly a country in the world outside sub-Saharan Africa in which the average body-mass index … has not been rising to levels that increase the risk of serious chronic diseases.”
A study may explain why happy people are healthier. Evidently they have better levels of cortisol and fibrinogen, which affect cardiovascular, inflammatory, and neuroendocrine diseases.
A spacecraft unguided by humans came within 300 feet of its target before aborting due a fuel problem. NASA hopes this will lead to robotic deliveries of cargo to humans in space.
Scientists found about 400 varieties of bacteria in the human colon. Some are believed to help or protect the body.
The departments of Defense and Justice are funding development of cameralike devices that can spot concealed weapons. The devices detect energy emissions that distinguish flesh from metal or plastic.
A French company has cloned a champion sport horse. The clone, born seven weeks ago, will be bred to create competitive sport horses. The company says, “The death of outstanding individuals or breeds or species without progeny is an ultimate loss of genetic heritage [for] mankind.”
An FDA advisory panel approved one breast implant but rejected another. The losing company called it a double standard. The winning company said the implants differed.
A surrogate mother will deliver quintuplets. Her doctor implanted five embryos to increase odds of a live birth, despite a medical group’s general advice not to implant more than two. The surrogate previously had two babies as a teenager and gave them up for adoption.
Drinking too much water during exercise can kill you. A study of marathoners indicates many had dangerously low blood sodium due to overhydration. Excess water can engorge brain cells and fatally squeeze the brain stem.
A project is under way to reconstruct human history through gene dispersal. The sponsors want to collect DNA from “indigenous peoples” before their genetic distinctions vanish into “a 21st century global melting pot.” The project was previously delayed by objections that searching for genetic differences is racist.
A study reportedly indicates public-school kids beat private-school kids on math tests when samples are adjusted for “socioeconomic status.” Socioeconomic status was broadly interpreted to include home computer and Web access, reading material, and parental time spent discussing homework.
President Bush’s nominee to head NASA says a robotic mission to rescue the Hubble Space Telescope is “not feasible,” and he would “take that off the plate.” But he’s willing to consider a human mission instead.