March 2010

Dream Studies and Dream Interpretation

I woke up this morning with a strange and bizarre dream still fresh in my head, slowly walked to my kitchen to get some coffee, and read this article about why I (and you for that matter) even dream in the first place. There are numerous reasons why we dream, although  what we glean from our dreams in the first place is up to us.


According to the results of a 2001 study using rats, a majority of the rats in the study appeared to be dreaming about the experience that they had just previous to falling asleep in the first place: namely, running in circles on a circular track so to speak.

Scurvy: A Cure Found, Lost, Then Found

Via Metafilter today comes a thoroughly engrossing article about the cure for scurvy, which was found, lost, and found again, but not without a shocking amount of human suffering in the interim.  As the author points out, this is not just an interesting scientific and medical detective story - it is also a sort of parable about why the scientific process is important, and what happens when people go off half-cocked with incomplete evidence.

As everyone surely knows, scurvy was the scourge of long-distance travelers for hundreds of years.  In particular, the sailors crossing the seas during the expansion of the Western empire.  Arr!  

MRSA - Are We All Gonna Die, Or What?

Someone close to me recently had a skin wound diagnosed as MRSA.  I, of course, freaked right out.  Most of what I had heard about MRSA was the news media running around in circles frantically waving their hands in the air squealing "MRSA!!!  OMG MRSA!!!"  For all I knew at the time, it was the first sign of the End Times.

I went home, dabbed rubbing alcohol at everything that looked even vaguely suspect (working outdoors and with animals, I always have a lot of little cuts and scratches) and started reading up.  The truth is… somewhere in the middle.

Preventive Mastectomies Might Not Be Beneficial

If you are a breast cancer patient, this could be some of the most useful information you will ever read: according to a recent study, a preventive mastectomy to remove a second breast that you believe MIGHT become infected later is not usually beneficial.

The study was performed at the University of Texas Anderson Cancer center. After analyzing more than 100,000 cases of women who had double-mastectomies, the results indicated that “except for one sub-set of breast cancer patients, they don’t need to do this.”

Food-Borne Illnesses in the US

I just came across what is probably one of the most useful websites I’ve ever seen for those of you who are worried about food poisoning, salmonella, and e coli. The Food Poison Journal  contains all the latest information about which food products have been recalled due to health and safety issues.


Just two days ago, Tim’s Cascade Chips were re-called after it was discovered that they had been made with HVP (hydrolyzed vegetable protein), which can cause salmonella. If that’s not bad enough, the Randolph Packing Co. Inc., recalled as much as 96,000 pounds of beef products yesterday. Unfortunately, these are not isolated instances- there is a lot of unsafe food out there.

One Good Reason Not To Be A Sperm Donor

If I were a man, I would definitely think twice about becoming a sperm donor for the simple fact that it is not as anonymous as it should be. Due to innovations in DNA testing, and general sleuthing, some mothers have actually been able to find out the identity of biological father of their children.


I came across an article today in Slate in which a mother described how she was concerned that her daughter had a Sensory Disorder and  was sensitive to sounds and walked on her toes. She came to the conclusion that it was necessary for her to track down the other biological siblings of her child, which she did through the Donor Sibling Registry and found other siblings with the exact same disorder.