Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 5.21

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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22 Comments

  1. The synthetic life thing is pretty cool but if I’ve learned anything from television it’s only a matter of time before the life we created gains sentiency, begins to worship us, divides into two warring factions and nukes itself.

  2. @QuestionAuthority: Bah, he *only* recreated the base mechanism that controls what the cell does and how he does it. It’s not like he created *entirely* artificial life!

    I won’t believe life can be artificially created until he stitches a cell membrane together by hand and spits in it to load it with DNA!

  3. I heard the synthetic life story on NPR yesterday. When they said they were forming a new company I was so waiting for them to say it was Tyrell. Anyone else see the Nexus replicants in our future?

  4. From the article re: Beautiful women:

    “Cortisol can have a positive effect in small doses, improving alertness and well-being. However, chronically elevated cortisol levels can worsen medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and impotency.”

    So does that mean Hugh Hefner should have died of a heart attack, diabetes or hypertension (or impotency!) years ago?

    This is either really bad “science” or terrible reporting. Probably both. Do we have a link to the original study? I can’t find it on line.

  5. @LtStorm:

    Bah, he *only* recreated the base mechanism that controls what the cell does and how he does it. It’s not like he created *entirely* artificial life!

    I won’t believe life can be artificially created until he stitches a cell membrane together by hand and spits in it to load it with DNA!

    Actually, I agree that this is just “hacking” using “hardware” provided by nature. Even the “software” is mostly copied from another source, with a few minor items slipped in. Not that hacking an existing system isn’t a useful ability.

  6. First and most importantly, that cat cuddling with the rat was just so adorable.

    But that synthetic life story is awesome! Why hasn’t it been on every single news show and every newspaper and every blog on the whole internet?

  7. Regarding the “Autism diet”: Are there any genuine gluten alergies, or is it just a fad? It pisses me off that so-called “health food” stores offer “gluten free” stuff left and right, dispite that being a very rare condition, and yet do not offer anything sugar free, despite diabetes being a more and more common problem.
    “Do you have anything sugar free?”
    “This is gluten free!”
    “No, I’m looking for sugar free.”
    “This is sweetened with all natural, unprocessed, organically grown cane juice!”
    “That’s just an expensive name for sugar.”
    (lather, rinse repeat)

  8. @pciszek: Yes, the most common is celiac disease.

    While I hate the woo around gluten-free foods, one good side effect is that it’s easier for those with celiac’s to shop and eat out.

    Is the Stevia fad making it easier to find sugar-free stuff at all? Or is that not something that can be used in cooking? All the hippie coffee places here are offering it now, but I don’t know much about it.

  9. @pciszek:
    As Amanda noted Celiac’s (which I have) are mandatory gluten-free. Unlike dairy intolerance celiac’s shuts down your ability to absorb nutrients and can kill you if you don’t go GF. I think the diet is also recommended for those with Crohn’s disease.

    I’m torn about the autism diet because woo = bad. But I absolutely love the fact that I can go out and actually find foods to eat. Seriously try finding anything processed that doesn’t have wheat, flour, or MSG in it. The fact that i can go into my local grocer and have 2 whole shelves of food I can eat is fantastic (I did a happy dance about eating a grilled cheese on GF bread today).

    That sucks about the sugar free. I know I’ve seen it around places but you’re right its not offered nearly enough. :(

  10. @Garrison22:

    “Cortisol can have a positive effect in small doses, improving alertness and well-being. However, chronically elevated cortisol levels can worsen medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and impotency.”

    This is either really bad “science” or terrible reporting. Probably both. Do we have a link to the original study? I can’t find it on line.

    Cortisol is a standard stress hormone. It is elevated when under conditions of sleep deprivation or extreme stress. This is why people with constant anxiety or who do not get enough sleep have weakened immune systems, and various other physiological problems such as diabetes, damage brain cells, etc.

    However, all of these problems only occur after prolonged exposure to high levels of cortisol. This is a known and well-characterized phenomenon, and so anything that results in short-term increases to cortisol can be beneficial, but long-term exposure can cause a plethora of negative side effects.

    In other words, some stress is okay, chronic stress is not.

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