Monday, 9 March 2009

Scientific American roundup

Three recent Scientific American articles:

Do optimists live longer?  This article concludes that they do, although it wisely states that only a correlation, and not a cause, has been proved.  In other words, if you see an optimist and a pessimist sitting next to each other, you would be wise to bet that the optimist would live slightly longer than his colleague.  However, you would not be justified in trying to make the pessimist more optimistic in the interests of extending his lifespan.  Get it?

Next up, there's an article that warns that the amount of radiation we doctors are exposing patients to has risen significantly in the last 20 years.  This is believed to be largely as a result of a greater diagnostic reliance on CT scans.  But, despite the slight risk of developing a cancer, mightn't this extra radiation still be worth it?  It might save many more lives than it costs... the article doesn't offer much persuasive evidence either way.

And finally, need a new eye?  This article describes the work of a company making 'artificial eyes'.  Specifically, they make use of sunglasses with mounted cameras.  These cameras convert their image into electronic form, ultimately stimulating the retina, and thereby allowing the patient to see (somewhat) again.  At present, it all looks quite crude, and it obviously only works for those causes of severe blindness where the problem is before the retina.  Nonetheless, it's a great deal better than total sightlessness!

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