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September 18, 2010

"I have heard of a couple astronauts who've removed their fingernails in advance of an EVA."

Astronauts' Fingernails Falling Off Due to Glove Design
If you're headed for space, you might rethink that manicure: Astronauts with wider hands are more likely to have their fingernails fall off after working or training in space suit gloves, according to a new study. In fact, fingernail trauma and other hand injuries—no matter your hand size—are collectively the number one nuisance for spacewalkers, said study co-author Dava Newman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "The glove in general is just absolutely one of the main engineering challenges," Newman said. "After all, you have almost as many degrees of freedom in your hand as in the rest of your whole body." (See a space exploration time line.) The trouble is that the gloves, like the entire space suit, need to simulate the pressure of Earth's atmosphere in the chilly, airless environment of space. The rigid, balloonlike nature of gas-pressurized gloves makes fine motor control a challenge during extravehicular activities (EVAs), aka spacewalks. (See pictures of early U.S. space exploration.) A previous study of astronaut injuries sustained during spacewalks had found that about 47 percent of 352 reported symptoms between 2002 and 2004 were hand related. More than half of these hand injuries were due to fingertips and nails making contact with the hard "thimbles" inside the glove fingertips. In several cases, sustained pressure on the fingertips during EVAs caused intense pain and led to the astronauts' nails detaching from their nailbeds, a condition called fingernail delamination.

September 14, 2010

In the animal kingdom, only humans display "benign masochism"

The Guardian. While most scientists still do not quite have...

Video games train you to make decisions faster, with no loss of accuracy

Video games lead to faster decisions that are no less accurate

Scientists find massive oil-soaked dead zone on Gulf floor

'Slime highway' of BP oil likely on Gulf floor - U.S. news - Environment - msnbc.com
Samples taken from the seafloor near BP's blown-out wellhead indicate miles of murky, oily residue sitting atop hard sediment. Moreover, inside that residue are dead shrimp, zooplankton, worms and other invertebrates. "I expected to find oil on the sea floor," Samantha Joye, a University of Georgia marine sciences professor, said Monday morning in a ship-to-shore telephone interview. "I did not expect to find this much. I didn't expect to find layers two inches thick." . . . If it is BP oil, it could undermine the federal government's estimate that 75 percent of the spill either evaporated, was cleaned up or was consumed by natural microbes. What the scientists do already know is that the oil is not coming naturally from below the surface.

September 10, 2010

Repressed memories don't exist

But *false* memories are easy to create. Research finds repressed memories don't exist - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
The idea that traumatised people, especially the victims of child sexual abuse, deliberately repress horrific memories goes all the way back to the 19th century and the theories of Sigmund Freud himself. But now some experts are saying the evidence points the other way. Professor Grant Devilly, from Griffith University's Psychological Health research unit, says the memory usually works in the opposite way, with traumatised people reliving experiences they would rather forget. "It's the opposite. They wish they couldn't think about it," he said.

September 07, 2010

Weight loss can "pollute" your blood

By freeing up harmful substances that were fat-soluble and therefore tucked safely away in your fat, fatty. Losing weight may pollute the blood - health - 07 September 2010 - New Scientist
Weight loss has a serious downside: it leads to the release of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which may have a significant impact on health. POPs are man-made chemicals which enter the food chain from sources including pesticides and manufacturing. They have been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, cancer and dementia. Once consumed, POPs collect in fatty tissue, where they are not thought to be harmful. Now, Duk-Hee Lee of Kyungpook National University in Daegu, South Korea, has shown that weight loss causes POPs to be freed, leading to their build up in the blood.