Quickies

Quickies: 50 Shades of Shakespeare, Probiotics in Everything, and Putting Women in Space

  • Why It’s Still a Struggle to Put Women in Space in 2016 – “Perhaps it’s not surprising that spaceflight—like many science and tech fields—has traditionally been dominated by men. What may be surprising is that some women (and men) were pushing for gender diversity in space before any human had even left the planet. A look at an early chapter in the history of spaceflight might explain why progress for female astronauts has come in fits and starts.”
  • Waist Training, Instagram’s Biggest Workout Fad, Is BullS**t – “Waist trainers are essentially modern-day corsets that use latex to cinch the abdomen rather than bones and laces. In the last two years, they have become a fixture on social media, especially Instagram, where stars falsely suggest that they can help women subtract inches from their measurements.”
  • 50 Shades Of Shakespeare: How The Bard Used Food As Racy Code – “The eggplant and peach emoji are standard code for racy thoughts these days, but people have been using food as sexual innuendo for centuries. Shakespeare was a pro at the gastronomic double entendre [insert blushing face emoji here]. We asked Héloïse Sénéchal, chief associate editor of the RSC Shakespeare edition, to help us decode some of the bard’s bawdy food jokes.”
  • Guidelines for Breastfeeding and Early Childhood Nutrition Have Value But Go Too Far – “The U.S. government should support the new guidelines, but officials also should insist that their focus be on infant nutrition during the first year of life and on limiting unethical and harmful marketing practices related to infant nutrition, especially breast milk substitutes.”
  • Do We Really Need Probiotics In Our Coffee, Granola And Nut Butter? – “So what is a cautious consumer to do? Both Quigley and Reid suggest taking a look at the Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products Available in the US; the 2016 version was just released (a separate guide is available for Canada here.) The guide reviews indications, dosages, and clinical evidence to date for dozens of common organisms and strains.”
  • Cancer Research Is Broken – “In other words, we face a replication crisis in the field of biomedicine, not unlike the one we’ve seen in psychology but with far more dire implications. Sloppy data analysis, contaminated lab materials, and poor experimental design all contribute to the problem. Last summer, Leonard P. Freedman, a scientist who worked for years in both academia and big pharma, published a paper with two colleagues on ‘the economics of reproducibility in preclinical research.’ After reviewing the estimated prevalence of each of these flaws and fault-lines in biomedical literature, Freedman and his co-authors guessed that fully half of all results rest on shaky ground, and might not be replicable in other labs. These cancer studies don’t merely fail to find a cure; they might not offer any useful data whatsoever.”
  • In the Early 20th Century, America Was Awash in Incredible Queer Nightlife – “All of this activity existed during cultural time that, as historian George Chauncey writes in his book Gay New York, many people believe ‘is not supposed to have existed.’ Popular belief often holds that LGBTQ rights and acceptance was a forward-moving machine beginning with the Stonewall Riots in the 1960s, but when comparing Prohibition Era acceptance versus that of the 1950s, it isn’t so. ‘It’s not just that they were visible, but that popular culture and newspapers at the time remarked on their visibility—everyone knew that they were visible,’ says Heap.”

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Mary

Mary

Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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