Medicine, Brain and Technology Weekly Channel Highlights

In this post: the large version of the Medicine & Health, Brain & Behavior and Technology channel photos, comments from readers, and the best posts of the week.


Brain & Behavior. From Flickr, by jamesfischer


Technology. From Flickr, by jurvetson


Medicine & Health. From Flickr, by Pathfinder Linden

Reader comments of the week:

In dopes, Steinn Sigurðsson of Dynamics for Cats considers the case for allowing performance enhancing drugs in athletic arenas. While there are certainly risks involved, he believes, particularly for long-term health and with new and untested drugs, they might not be compelling enough to justify making the drugs illegal.

Reader phisrow, for one, doesn't think they are, and also disagrees with the ethical arguments against doping:

The current policy on sports doping seems to be built on the same model as that on recreational drugs generally. And that isn't exactly a compliment. It seems difficult to imagine that driving athletes to shoot up on god-knows-what based on locker room scuttlebutt and the desire not to get caught by the current test regime is actually improving their health outcomes. I find the fuzzier moral arguments less persuasive still. Somehow, being born with excellent genes and working really hard is good, noble, and a triumph of the human spirit generally; while adding drugs, or excellent genes, and working really hard is wicked, a terrible example for the children, and terribly unsporting. The whole "biological passport" thing makes the notion look particularly insane. If, given the rather abnormal population that makes up the elite of any given sport, you can't tell the difference between "natural" and "artificial" performance without exhaustive historical recordkeeping, how worked up can you reasonably get about that difference?

Over on the Brain & Behavior channel, Ed Yong of Not About Rocket Science discusses The point of sleep, or, Do fruit flies dream of six-legged sheep? New research on flies suggests that sleep allows us to process and compound the vast sensory stimuli we receive during the day into memory, and that the more social interactions we're involved with, the more we need that shut-eye.

Reader yogi-one thinks the importance of sleep is often underemphasized in today's world:

Personally, I am still shocked when I hear someone say that think sleep is totally wasted time. For one thing, many studies have already debunked this notion. I myself am hesitant to engage such people in projects, because from what I have seen, if they are denying themselves sleep, both their performance of their responsibilities, and their mental perceptions will be compromised.

One other thing shocks/disgusts me as well. It seems that in some professions where the stress levels can be extreme, and people's lives can hang in the balance, we expect people to work 12 and fifteen hour shifts, sometimes with only a few hours between them. I am thinking of emergency room doctors and air-traffic controllers. If you have been in a critical accident, why should your life hang on the judgment of a sleep-deprived, caffeined-out person? Ditto for landings after long flights in stormy weather.

Thinking that sleep-deprivation is macho is right up there with bragging about how much alcohol you can drink and still drive. Yet there are people who cling to these stupid notions.

And in Technology news, John Lynch of Stranger Fruit wants to know Why does iTunes suck so bad? Like many who have been frustrated by attempts to organize their music collections, John is displeased with Apple's software.

Reader Ian identifies iTunes' fatal flaw:

It makes you wonder what these people are thinking (if anything) when they "design" these things. But maybe that's the problem - design! If these things were evolved instead of created, they'd probably work a lot better!

Some other Medicine & Health posts we thought were cool this week were:

Who's faster: Phelps or flounder?

Who's your doggie's daddy? Ancestry testing for dogs

Cannibalism & the shaking death: A new form of the disease & a possible epidemic

Rabies: Flushing viruses out of the forest

The Amazingness of a Happy Mouth

From the Brain & Behavior channel:

Culture, Disease, Personality

The baller's brain (and his pinky)

Blind Olympic athletes show the universal nature of pride and shame

Robot controlled by "brain" in a culture dish

Chornic exposure to estrogen impairs some cognitive functions

And from the Technology channel:

Seal Oceanographers

Microsoft Vista is Doomed

Meme Machine

A compressor-free refrigerator

Open Access Wars, part n

Look for highlights from other channels coming up!


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