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Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Monday, June 21, 2004

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 21-Jun-2004
Angewandte Chemie
How left-handed amino acids got ahead
A chemical reaction that demonstrates how key molecules in the biological world might have come to be predominately left or right handed has been reported by scientists at Imperial College London.

Public Release: 21-Jun-2004
Science
Without disturbances in nature the world's forests will be impoverished
The forests of the world are not the stable and unchanging ecosystems they have been assumed to be. Without the occurrence of wide-spread disturbances in nature, such as forest fires, icing, or volcanic activity, forests will eventually be impoverished, owing to a lack of phosphorous.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Relevant sf/fantasy: Isaac Asimov, The End of Eternity. John Crowley, "Great Work of Time."

Here I quote the full press release, rather than the summary:
Public release date: 21-Jun-2004
Contact: Richard McNally
rjm@wjh.harvard.edu
American Psychological Society
Probing the world of alien abduction stories
Even the unlikeliest of memories can get a big reaction

When people remember traumatic events, they'll show signs of their distress, like increased heart rate, sweating and muscle tension. These reactions are often seen as a testament to the authenticity of the memory - some have gone so far as to use physical reactions to memories to prove their validity, even when the memory is as far-fetched as ritual abuse by satanic cults. Recently, though, a team from Harvard has challenged the significance of these reactions by looking into one of the most widely reported and least likely memories people claim: alien abductions.

The study, conducted by Richard McNally, Natasha Lasko, Susan Clancy, Michael Macklin, Roger Pitman and Scott Orr at Harvard University, will be published in the July issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society.

The researchers recruited people who reported being abducted and had them describe the alien encounters as well as other stressful, happy, and neutral memories. The researchers converted these stories into 30-second audiotaped narratives and played them for the "abductees" while recording heart rate, sweat production, and facial muscle tension, three strong indicators of stress. The researchers also played the tapes for a control group of people who had no memories of alien encounters.

The researchers found that those who claimed to have been abducted had similarly strong reactions to the stressful narrative and the alien abduction, and weaker reactions to the happy and neutral narratives. The control group barely reacted to any of the stories.

When people believe they've been abducted by aliens, recalling their abduction can evoke reactions not unlike those evoked by a genuine memory that is stressful. This suggests that a person's reaction to a memory doesn't indicate whether the event happened, but only whether the memory, real or not, is traumatic.


Public Release: 21-Jun-2004
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Stanford researchers eye new chip's potential as an artificial retina
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a prototype for a new kind of implantable chip they believe could be adapted to serve as both a prosthetic retina for people who suffer from a common form of age-related blindness [age-related macular degeneration] and as a drug-delivery system that could treat conditions such as Parkinson's disease.

Public Release: 21-Jun-2004
Organogenesis
Newly grown kidneys can sustain life in rats
Growing new organs to take the place of damaged or diseased ones is moving from science fiction to reality, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
National Institutes of Health
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