Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Since I can think of nothing else to write about at the moment, I will write about some subjects that interest me. I received the latest JAMA in the mail today, and I will go over some of the studies that I think will also interest my readers. But first, I will start with two science jokes that I think are very funny though a bit corny.

Q: Which dissolves in water first, a bear from the arctic, or from further south?
A: The Arctic, because it’s polar!

Two hydrogen atoms are walking down the street. The first one says, "Hey! I think I lost an electron!" The second one replies, "Are you sure?" The first one then says, "Yeah, I'm POSITIVE."

I hope you enjoyed those, although my guess is that most people won’t get them. The first study that interested me was conducted by Ponsonby et al. It was a case-control study conducted in Australia that found that people who grew up with infant siblings have a lesser chance of developing multiple sclerosis than do people who have no siblings. It appears that the more siblings a person has, and the closer they are to him in age (as long as they are younger), the smaller the person’s chance of developing multiple sclerosis is. Although it is complicated, basically this appears to be the case because infants carry many infections, they transfer them to their siblings, and this boosts the siblings’ immune systems, protecting them against MS. So, unfortunately, if you are the youngest child it does not matter how many siblings you have, but if you are the oldest or middle child, the more younger siblings you have (up until you turn six), the better.

There is a lot on the news about the increasing obesity epidemic—obesity makes one more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension. Now, they have just found out that it also makes one more susceptible to kidney stones. This was discovered by Taylor et al.

Lastly, the CDC just conducted a survey of “Fatal and nonfatal occupational injuries involving wood chippers” in the United States between 1992 and 2002. A total of 31 people died (all males between 20-60 years old), and a total of 2042 injuries were reported (there were probably more). 60% of the injuries were to an upper limb. Unfortunately, since there is no way to know how many people used a chipper during this time period, we do not know the risk of injury when using a chipper. The CDC suggests that users of chippers wear protective equipment, close-fitting clothing, know how to use them correctly, keep hands and feet away from the feed chute, stand to the side of the chipper in reach of the emergency off switch, and to always use a long branch to push in smaller ones.

As I think of interesting topics, I will continue to post them. Look for a sequel to Diei Stulti sometime in the future.


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