Τρίτη, 26 Απριλίου 2011

Weird Science gets its freak on to beat restless leg syndrome

It's nice to have options: Restless leg syndrome is uncomfortable enough to keep people awake and most of them are stuck taking long walks to ease the discomfort enough to where its sufferers can get back to sleep. A case report in Sleep Medicine indicates that someone has found an alternate palliative, one that doesn't require leaving the bed: sex. And, if that's unavailable, the individual in question has found that masturbation works just as well (for relief of the discomfort, at least).
Because happy people suck: You can think of it as a sort of inverse schadenfreude. Instead of taking joy in the misery of others, it appears that unhappy people are made even more miserable when those around them are happier. Previously, the comparison required to establish this relationship—correlating life satisfaction with suicide rates—was only possible in between countries, which leaves open the prospect that differences in suicide rates are the product of other cultural influences. In this new paper, the authors go through and analyze data on a state-by-state level, and find the relationship still holds.
The happiest state with a low suicide rate? Hawaii, which should surprise no one. Colorado is just a touch happier, but has a suicide rate that's nearly double.
A striking study of the emotional impact of breakups: The strike in question being the one that stopped the production of new TV shows back in 2007, and the breakup was the forced separation between viewers and the characters they liked. During the strike, college students were surveyed with questions like, "My favorite character makes me feel comfortable, as if I am with a friend." Those who watched shows for companionship and escape tended to be hit hard by the strike. Instead of going out and getting a life, however, they responded to the loss of new episodes by consuming other media, like the Internet. Before anyone starts stereotyping, males and females were apparently hit equally hard by this.
World's oldest toothache: Pity Labidosaurus hamatus. This early reptile predated the origin of dental care by many millions of years, and yet fossil evidence indicated some individuals developed nasty abscesses. Back then, keeping teeth in place for extended periods of time was an evolutionary novelty, driven by increased processing of food in the mouth as they turned to a plant-rich diet. That, in turn, led to increased wear and damage, which enabled the infection to take hold. The new finding "predate[s] the previous record for oral and dental disease in a terrestrial vertebrate by nearly 200 million years," according to the journal's publisher.
A surgical hangover: Great experimental technique here: take groups of surgical students out, get half of them hammered, and then test them on a virtual reality surgery system the next day. The results were not happy for the virtual patients of the boozy groups: "Excessive consumption of alcohol appeared to degrade surgical performance the following day even at 4 pm." To make sure that none of the budding surgeons held back when offered an open bar tab, the researchers went along on the nights out to take notes on the students' inebriation status. No word on how the investigator's drinking may have influenced these status reports.
Sorry, you're not my gut type: More sequencing of the fecal metagenome, which reveals the full complement of bacteria that lives in an organism's gut. In this case, a team did a comparison of 22 human metagenomes, originating in four different countries. Not surprisingly, the gut bacteria clustered in similar groups. The weird thing about it is that these clusters didn't group the guts by nation of origin or even continent. The authors suggest that these three "enterotypes" represent stable host-microbe states, and are driven by a mixture of the gut environment and competition among the bacteria there. They also argue that the enterotype may influence a person's response to dietary changes and drug intake, and thus may help explain some degree of human variability.

 http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/04/weird-science-gets-its-freak-on-to-beat-restless-leg-syndrome.ars

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