Monday, September 24, 2012

Dispatches From Science Land

Today we're doing a recap of recent science developments. No big buildup, let's just hop right into it.

*First, a new collaborative study led by S. Jay Olshansky of Illinois-Chicago, viewable here if you've got $13 laying around, has shown a drop in life expectancy among less-educated American whites. Typically, a bad result is 'not going up as fast as we'd hoped'. Here, though, the least-educated are actually dying sooner than they did before. (The best-educated are seeing their life expectancies rise unabated.) The researchers are now trying to figure out why, giving theories about such things as obesity and smoking, but really, let me save them the hassle. Here's why the stupid die sooner: stupidity kills. All the risk factors they can point out are inevitably going to have a thread leading back to simple stupidity.

*Doctors in Sweden have performed the world's first mother-to-daughter uterus transplant. (There are some women that lose the use of them to cancer, or are simply born without them. It's not a high number, about half a percent, but it does happen.) What appears to have happened- I have to put that caveat in, because I'm a guy and therefore not in possession of a uterus- is that this isn't the first uterine transplant overall, but before this they used cadavers as donors. There was also a transplant with a live donor in Saudi Arabia back in 2000, but the uterus was rejected in three months. Unlike other transplants, they're also temporary: you'll have the uterus until you give birth with it (in Sweden, you can give birth twice with it), and then you have a hysterectomy to take it back out so you don't have to be put at unnecessary risk from the anti-rejection drugs. In this case, the transplanted uteri have been loaded up with embryos and they'll wait a bit to see how they work out.

Which just leaves the ethical issues to work out. Which, again, I'm not going to step into because I'm a guy, but for the sake of it, here's an 'anti' view.

*As for the men, well, you can now stick your dick in this until sperm comes out. Moving along quickly.

*Finally, there was an impromptu experiment two years ago on Facebook. Perhaps you took part in it. If you voted early, and changed your profile image to 'I Voted', you took part in it. The idea was to create a bit of peer pressure to get out the vote, and apparently, it worked. I had done it as well in the Penny Arcade boards; it worked there too. It's a very simple, silly little thing to do, and if it works, it works. So go Google an 'I Voted' image and have it ready to go after you vote.

You ARE voting, right?

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