Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.
When it comes to sealing up surgical cuts and deep wounds, stitches are so last century.
Though suture thread is now made of synthetic materials like nylon or absorbable polymers, stitching someone up is a rudimentary medical technique that has been with humanity for eons. The problem is that it comes with a number of shortcomings. When a wound is closed, for instance, the points where thread meets tissue undergo significant stress from pulling and twisting. This can lead to tears, leaking and, eventually, scarring.
“It’s a millennia-old technology that hasn’t really changed much and is really quite crude,” says Andrew Smith, a biology and biochemistry professor at Ithaca College. “It works, but I think we might be onto a big improvement here.”
The ingredients behind that improvement might strike some as odd. But Smith has long held a fascination with how certain invertebrates stick to things. Over the past couple of decades, he has investigated the structure and mechanics of octopus suckers, and the way that sea snails can stick to a rock with amazing attachment force.
Now he believes that the slime slugs and snails use to stick to surfaces could revolutionize modern wound care.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just published a first-of-its-kind assessment of the threat the country faces from antibiotic-resistant organisms, ranking them by the number of illnesses and deaths they cause each year and outlining urgent steps that need to be taken to roll back the trend.
The agency’s overall — and, it stressed, conservative — assessment of the problem.
“If we are not careful, we will soon be in a post-antibiotic era,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director, said in a media briefing. “And for some patients and for some microbes, we are already there.”
The report marks the first time the agency has provided hard numbers for the incidence, deaths and cost of all the major resistant organisms. (It had previously estimated illnesses and deaths from some families of organisms or types of drug resistance, but those numbers were never gathered in one place.) It also represents the first time the CDC has ranked resistant organisms by how much and how imminent a threat they pose, using seven criteria: health impact, economic impact, how common the infection is, how easily it spreads, how much further it might spread in the next 10 years, whether there are antibiotics that still work against it, and whether things other than administering antibiotics can be done to curb its spread.
Raymond EG and Grimes DA, The comparative safety of legal induced abortion and childbirth in the United States, Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2012, 119(2):215–219. via Guttmacher Institute (via actualfactsaboutabortion)
Just a reminder that bringing up potential complications will never win an argument against safe, legal abortion.