Oh, Heck.

Proudly thinking about blogging since 2010.

Talk about Attachment Parenting

You and your mother have a more complicated relationship than even your therapist understands.  In every pregnancy, brought to term or not, the mother and child exchange a small amount of cells that stay in each other’s bodies for life.  Scientists have been observing the behavior of these left-behind cells for years, but the reason for them is still mysterious.

Dr. Johnson says cells from fetal boys and girls have been found in mothers “four to five decades following the last pregnancy.” That fetus may have grown into a middle aged pharmacist, and still his cells are inside his mother. Cells wouldn’t persist in foreign body for NO reason. They must be doing something, but what?

Robert Krulwich explains.

94 Elements is a series of short documentary films about human encounters with the chemical elements.  The project is directed by Mike Patterson and will include the work of new and experienced filmmakers from around the world.  Patterson is raising support on Indiegogo.  

We want to tell the backstories of all the stuff we use in our daily lives - Where does it come from? How is it used? How much is left? Through a playful and creative, multi-faceted project we’ll create a unique and intimate picture of our relationships with our resources in the 21st century.


Mary Roach’s reporting in Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers is thorough and highly engaging.  But one question remains unanswered:  How did she get through the entire book without a Weekend at Bernie’s reference?

Can Tetris Prevent PTSD?

Oxford University researchers may have found a “vaccine” against Post-traumatic Stress Disorder—playing Tetris.  The video game, when played soon after a traumatic experience, was shown to reduce flashbacks, one of the more debilitating symptoms of PTSD. It’s thought that the activity prevents the brain from forming stressful memories that cause flashbacks later on. 

To reach that conclusion, the team exposed 60 study participants to “a film of traumatic scenes of injury and death.” Thirty minutes later, participants were divvied into three groups: A lucky third of the group played Tetris, while their peers either took a 10-minute computerized trivia quiz or “sat quietly” doing nothing much at all. Participants were then freed from the lab, and asked to keep a week-long journal logging any traumatic flashbacks of the film.

According to the researchers, participants who had played Tetris reported significantly fewer flashbacks than their fellow study participants. More specifically, Tetris-players suffered an average of two flashbacks, those given no task suffered an average of 4.5, and those who took a trivia quiz were afflicted with eight flashbacks.

So, will PlayStations become standard first-aid equipment for the military?  Not without a lot more research.  But the idea that the brain can be distracted from forming traumatic memories holds promise. 

This isn’t the first contribution that Tetris has made to the field of psychiatry.  Robert Stickgold and a team at Harvard Medical School used the game in 2000 to show that our brains reinforce what we’ve learned through sleep. 


Down on the Farm

Working at research universities, one hears a lot about the “culture of entrepreneurship” at Stanford.  Ken Auletta’s article in The New Yorker outlines just what that phrase means and how the west-coast ivy forged a relationship with business that is uniquely symbiotic. 

If the Ivy League was the breeding ground for the élites of the American Century, Stanford is the farm system for Silicon Valley. When looking for engineers, Schmidt said, Google starts at Stanford. Five per cent of Google employees are Stanford graduates. The president of Stanford, John L. Hennessy, is a director of Google; he is also a director of Cisco Systems and a successful former entrepreneur. Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing has licensed eight thousand campus-inspired inventions, and has generated $1.3 billion in royalties for the university. Stanford’s public-relations arm proclaims that five thousand companies “trace their origins to Stanford ideas or to Stanford faculty and students.” They include Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo, Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, eBay, Netflix, Electronic Arts, Intuit, Fairchild Semiconductor, Agilent Technologies, Silicon Graphics, LinkedIn, and E*Trade.

John Doerr, a partner at the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which bankrolled such companies as Google and Amazon, regularly visits campus to scout for ideas. He describes Stanford as “the germplasm for innovation. I can’t imagine Silicon Valley without Stanford University.”

Read More