Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We look right below the eyes to judge faces

 — In the first crucial moment of determining another person’s identity, gender, and emotional state, we often glance just below the eyes


At least for the three important tasks investigated—identity, emotion, and gender—below the eyes is the optimal place to look, say the scientists, because it allows one to read information from as many features of the face as possible.
“What the visual system is adept at doing is taking all those pieces of information from your face and combining them in a statistical manner to make a judgment about whatever task you’re doing,” says Eckstein.

Dealing with Doctors Who Only Take Cash


As to why doctors decide to switch to a concierge practice, the answer is almost always frustration.
“About four years ago, one insurance company was driving me crazy saying I had to fax documents to show I had done a visit,” said Stanford Owen, an internal medical doctor in Gulfport, Miss. “At 2 a.m., I woke up and said, ‘This is it.’ ”
Dr. Owen stopped accepting all insurance and now charges his 1,000 patients $38 a month.
“When I decided to abandon insurance, I didn’t want to lose my patient base and make it unaffordable,” he said. “I have everything from waitresses and shrimpers to international businessmen. It’s a concierge model, but it’s also the personal doctor model.”
Dr. Owen, who once had three nurses and 10 examining rooms, said it was now just him and a receptionist. He has become obsessed with keeping overhead low, but he said that, for the first time since the 1990s, his income was going up.
The biggest concern for a doctor is running afoul of insurance regulations that prevent doctors from billing twice for the same service — for the care, which is submitted to the insurance company, and for the concierge fee, if the fee doesn’t cover something extra. Some insurance companies also bar doctors from offering concierge services.
David Hilgers, chairman of the law firm Brown McCarroll, said the risk to a doctor with a practice dependent on Medicare reimbursements was particularly acute.
“Medicare will not allow you to charge a patient in addition to what the government pays,” Mr. Hilgers said. “There is a risk of losing your practice and your license and being penalized by the federal government for doing so.”

Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?


Sommer was baffled by this development but didn’t immediately grasp its significance. (It was nearly a decade before the word “immortal” was first used to describe the species.) But several biologists in Genoa, fascinated by Sommer’s finding, continued to study the species, and in 1996 they published a paper called “Reversing the Life Cycle.” The scientists described how the species — at any stage of its development — could transform itself back to a polyp, the organism’s earliest stage of life, “thus escaping death and achieving potential immortality.” This finding appeared to debunk the most fundamental law of the natural world — you are born, and then you die.
“There’s a shocking amount of genetic similarity between jellyfish and human beings,” said Kevin J. Peterson, a molecular paleobiologist who contributed to that study, when I visited him at his Dartmouth office. From a genetic perspective, apart from the fact that we have two genome duplications, “we look like a damn jellyfish.”
This may have implications for medicine, particularly the fields of cancer research and longevity.
Hydrozoans, he suggests, may have made a devil’s bargain. In exchange for simplicity — no head or tail, no vision, eating out of its own anus — they gained immortality. These peculiar, simple species may represent an opportunity to learn how to fight cancer, old age and death.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How Nicholas Kristof Uses His Pulpit To Engage People With Empathy

How Nicholas Kristof Uses His Pulpit To Engage People With Empathy

One advantage of social media is brevity. The other night, gunmen tried to assassinate one of my heroes, a Congolese doctor and anti-rape campaigner named Denis Mukwege. If I had tried to write a column about the attack, most readers would have immediately tuned out. But they let me inflict tweets on them even if they’re not hugely interested in the topic, because I can’t entirely put them to sleep in 140 characters. So Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ enable me to toss out little updates and tidbits that don’t merit a column--or would bore people if they did--but that are part of the mosaic of modern life
How can activist writers best combat “compassion fatigue” in their writing?
My concern with this issue led me to the research in social psychology and neurology about how we can connect with our readers. A scholar named Paul Slovic has in particular done fascinating research in this field. To me, the lessons of this research are two-fold. First, tell an engaging individual story to suck people in. Second, show that it’s not hopeless, but that progress is possible. That was our strategy in Half the Sky.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Starvation hormone markedly extends mouse life span, researchers report

DALLAS – Oct. 16, 2012 – A study by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers finds that a starvation hormone markedly extends life span in mice without the need for calorie restriction.
FGF21 seems to provide its health benefits by increasing insulin sensitivity and blocking the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling pathway.  When too abundant, growth hormone can contribute to insulin resistance, cancer, and other diseases, the researchers said.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Self-Taught Teen Prodigy From Sierra Leone Wows MIT Engineers [VIDEO]

he latest installment of the THNKR’s Prodigies YouTube series highlights Sierra Leone teen Kelvin Doe, who is visiting the U.S. as a guest of MIT.
The 15-year-old is a self-taught engineer, who has never taken an engineering or electronics class. Combining scrap metal, baking soda and acid, he created a battery to power his family’s home. He also broadcasts news and music as DJ Focus on the radio, using an RF transmitter he created.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sierra Leone Holds A Vote, Not A War, On Diamonds

Sierra Leone's "blood diamonds" helped fuel atrocities in the impoverished West African nation in the 1990s. The war has now been over for a decade, and the country's most valuable resource is no longer known as the product of a conflict. But it remains a contentious issue.
As Sierra Leoneans go to the polls Saturday, the country's diamonds are at the heart of political parties' manifestos. Opposition parties accuse the government of mortgaging lucrative diamond fields for a "pittance," while President Ernest Bai Koroma boasts of his "ambitious" efforts to transform the industry.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stalking Big Fut in Sierra Leone

After flying from New York City to Dakar to Banjul to Freetown, riding a bus to a dock, taking a boat across a bay to a 4X4 truck that travels up and down roads that transition from broken pavement to muddy earth, I stand at the front of a classroom -- one that is empty of children. Today, 30 adults sit in row after row of benches, some bending forward with heads propped on elbows as if they have been waiting a long time. And they have.
Each has come forward with one goal in mind -- to help protect their community. The danger outside these doors sounds almost comical to a Westerner's ears: Big Fut. Except this is no myth. Not in Sierra Leone or the other 79 countries where lymphatic filariasis -- or Big Fut, as it is known in Krio -- is endemic.
These are community health volunteers, and they are heroes in my eyes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Best, Worst Breakfasts for Your Health

Fast-food breakfast sandwiches could be “a time bomb in a bun”—and eating even one fat-laden morning meal has immediate adverse effects on your arteries, according to a new study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress meeting in Toronto.
Another study linked having whole-grain cereal for breakfast with reduced levels of cortisol, a stress hormone linked to both weight gain and a tendency to accumulate belly fat. A large waistline is the leading warning sign of metabolic syndrome, which quintuple risks for type 2 diabetes and triple it for heart attack.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Big brain lets larva ‘see’ without seeing

The very simple eyes of a fruit fly larva can see just enough light to allow the animal’s relatively large brain to assemble that input into images.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Same Doctor Visit, Double the Cost

Reno in the news again for healthcare...

My friend and gym buddy, David Hubbard, shares his story...

Insurers Say Rates Can Surge After Hospitals Buy Private Physician Practices; Medicare Spending Rises, Too

After David Hubbard underwent a routine echocardiogram at his cardiologist's office last year, he was surprised to learn that the heart scan cost his insurer $1,605. That was more than four times the $373 it paid when the 61-year-old optometrist from Reno, Nev., had the same procedure at the same office just six months earlier.
"Nothing had changed, it was the same equipment, the same room," said Dr. Hubbard, who has a high-deductible health plan and had to pay about $1,000 of the larger bill out of his own pocket. "I was very upset."
But something had changed: his cardiologist's practice had been bought by Renown Health, a local hospital system. Dr. Hubbard was caught up in a structural shift that is sweeping through health care in the U.S.—hospitals are increasingly acquiring private physician practices.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Eyes may explain why bird plumage ‘pops’

MONASH U. (AUS) —Varying ability to see UV light may account for birds’ wild diversity of color, such as the brilliant blue plumage that male fairy-wrens use to stand out from their surroundings.

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