Exit, Pursued By Science

Bald’s Leechbook is one of the world’s oldest surviving medical texts. Dating to the 10th century and written in English and Latin in a Benedictine priory in Winchester, England, the text is preserved in the British Library and contains a collection of ancient “charms and potions” that served as remedies for various ailments and conditions. The British Library catalogue translates a Latin note that Bald was the book’s owner who enlisted Cild to write and compile it for him.

Every week we see exciting science and technology news pop up in our social media news feeds. From the outside it may seem that the science industry is blazing forward in an unstoppable surge of discovery and innovation.

Wearable technology, implantable nano-devices, 3D-printed organs and drones are all slowly but surely bringing us to the fabulous science fiction of Star Trek – in which most medical procedures, including brain surgery, could be done via noninvasi

Rates of childhood peanut allergies in the Western world have doubled in the last decade: the current rate is estimated at 1.4-3 percent. Many public schools now forbid peanut butter, fearing that one child could trigger another’s severe allergy.
Tumors are not just solid masses of cancer cells. As those cancer cells grow and divide, they hijack all the normal cells around them for their own purposes. They coerce blood vessels to grow along with them, ensuring a continued supply of oxygen and nutrients from the blood stream as the tumor gets bigger. They stimulate the immune cells that are active in wound healing, mimicking a damaged tissue that needs growth stimulation. They also avoid and suppress the immune cells that would normally recognize and kill them.
Humans have been developing genetically-modified organisms for millennia through the process of artificial selection—human-directed selective breeding—of plants and animals for specific traits. For example, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale are all descended from the wild mustard plant, and there are now hundreds if not thousands of dog breeds.
If you break an aglet—the plastic cap on the end of your shoelace—the lace will fray. Then it’ll rip. Soon you won’t be able to tie your shoe properly. Before you know it, the shoe falls off as you’re running frantically down the sidewalk trying to catch a bus. As you watch the bus drive away, you’ll wish you’d kept that aglet intact.

Happy New Year! Isn’t it great that while we were all on vacation, enjoying the holidays with our friends and families, science kept moving forward?

This is an extra web-only edition of my column between print issues while Synapse is on holiday break. As such, I’m taking this opportunity to write in less-formal (was I ever formal?) blog form.

So, you’re back from Thanksgiving, and it’s only a few weeks until the winter holidays.