In the 1920s, a group of young women began showing symptoms of a horrific, but unknown, disease. Many developed mouth sores and lost weight. Some found their jaws extending into a cancerous mimicry of a pharaoh’s beard, tumors sprouting from their bones. Their blood cells and body tissues died, causing anemia and necrosis. Full Article »
R.A. BeckerScope Correspondent
posted November 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm
Bert Little, host of the Science Reporter TV episode “Big Magnets,” looked into the camera in 1961 and gravely promised that soon MIT “will house the strongest magnets in the world.”
These magnets were co-designed by MIT professor Francis Bitter, who ironically was dwarfed by Little on camera. Bitter had founded MIT’s magnet laboratory over twenty years prior to his on-screen appearance, and for him it wasn’t just the strength of the magnet that mattered, it was also about how you used it. Bitter said magnets were a way to see the invisible; to him, they were the key to solving the “mystery of patterns beyond life.” And the funding climate, after a twenty-year lull, could not resist the attraction of deciphering those mysterious patterns. Full Article »
posted November 9, 2014 at 8:30 pm
Diet and exercise continue to make little headway against the obesity epidemic, which according to the CDC now affects over one-third of American adults. The recent FDA approval of Contrave adds another weapon in the fight against America’s growing waistline.
Patients taking Contrave, a combination of the two existing anti-depression and anti-addiction drugs bupropion and naltrexone, lost 6.1% of their total body weight in one clinical trial. Patients receiving placebo lost only 1.4%. These outcomes place Contrave squarely in line with Qsymia and Belviq, the two weight loss drugs that the FDA approved in 2012. Full Article »
posted October 17, 2014 at 9:58 am
Cardiologist Gregory Thomas had some doubts.
Perusing the plaque of a millennia-old mummy in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, he read that Menephtah had not died of trauma or infection, but of heart disease—a hardening of the arteries called atherosclerosis. Thomas was skeptical; ancient humans had none of the known risk factors for this condition, which today include inactivity, smoking, and poor diet.
“I didn’t accept that. I thought, how could he have atherosclerosis? He was living a life walking along the Nile. There were no cars, there were no cigarettes. He had a fully organic diet, probably not much red meat,” Thomas said.
Discovering, to his surprise, that the museum had a CT scanner, Thomas and an international team of scientists decided to test the plaque’s assertion. CT scans are used to diagnose diseases such as atherosclerosis in living patients. “We were using a 21st-century instrument, looking across 3000 years of health and disease,” said Randall Thompson, first author of the study published in June’s issue of Global Heart.
posted September 28, 2014 at 8:32 pm
An underground guild of assassins roams MIT at night. Armed with brightly colored rubber dart blasters, they strategize against one another, resurrect at stairwells, form alliances, and make enemies.
It sounds fantastical, but the MIT Assassins’ Guild is a very real live action role-playing (LARP) society at MIT founded by Stephen Balzac (BS ’85 Computer Science; SM ’87 Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences) in the mid ’80s. At the time, Balzac had been playing interactive role-playing games and applied to MIT’s association of student activities (ASA) to form a group that would allow students to reserve rooms for gaming and to fund attendance at interactive gaming conferences. Full Article »