As a science enthusiast I’m constantly looking for articles and blog posts that reaffirm my love for science. Here are just a few of my favourites for this week:
Can virtual reality relieve pain?
Virtual reality is being explored as a means to treat both acute and chronic pain. Distraction from the painful stimuli by being submerged into a virtual reality has been shown to increase pain tolerance and reduce pain scores in lab trials. Virtual reality is also being explored as a treatment option for some psychological disorders allowing researchers and doctors to see how patients interact in social situations. This could help patients to practise coping strategies in virtual environments.
DNA fingerprinting reveals how malaria hides from the immune system.
Malaria is a real issue for almost half of the world’s population, leading to ~500,000 death per year. Its drain on humanity stems mainly from the fact that after being infected with malaria, people don’t generate immunity to it. This means that you can be infected with malaria almost an infinite number times. The article below explains the neat tricks that the plasmodia that cause malaria employ to ensure no two parasites look the same to our immune system.
‘Exercise pill’ turns couch potato mice into marathoners.
Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla have developed a drug that increases the endurance of ‘couch potato’ mice. This ‘exercise pill’ is believed to switch on genes that are usually activated by exercise and ‘trick’ the body into thinking it’s done some training. If alarm bells are ringing over sports doping, the drug was actually designed to help those who struggle with exercise due to health problems such as diabetes or disabilities.
How has fake news become a thing?
It seems to be apparent now more than ever that we live in an era of fake news and alternative facts. To many of us, those alternative facts are clearly false and have masses of evidence to back that up. So why then are they still propagated by a large proportion of society? The answer lies with a phenomenon known as confirmation bias which is described beautifully by Matilda’s Lab in the post below.
As always, let me know what you thought about my top picks in the comments or on Twitter and please feel free to send me any articles that piqued your interest this week!
For more inspiration, why not check out my previous ‘Top Picks’!