Friday, February 15, 2008

The devil in the dark chocolate

Food has become a hot commodity in academic discussions. I enjoyed reading this Lancet editorial on the benefits of eating chocolate:

...dark chocolate that is rich in flavanols induced coronary vasodilatation and improved coronary vascular function in 11 heart-transplant recipients compared with patients taking a cocoa-free control chocolate. Other studies have also suggested that dark chocolate has cardiovascular benefits...the devil in the dark chocolate is the fat, sugar, and calories it also contains.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Embryonic stem cells and the presidential race

I published a short commentary in Italian - God, science, and research: the challenge of the primaries - on the American presidential campaign and the embryonic stem cells (ESCs) debate.

In the piece, I note that, while general questions of biomedical research and its funding have not been to the forefront of the campaigns and the debates, the ESCs debates has. I then argue this state of affairs is primarily determined by the fact that because ESCs questions are intertwined with much burning questions: on one hand, freedom of religion and the proper role of government; on the other hand, questions of civil rights, and in particular the balancing of a woman’s right to chose to have an abortion against the interests of an embryo and a fetus.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lessig on Obama

Compelling ppt presentation by Larry Lessig on Obama (video)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Luca Cavalli- Sforza's comparative view of research

In A Genetic and Cultural Odyssey, Linda Stone and Paul Lurquin reports on Luca Cavalli- Sforza's comparative view of research in the UK and in the US. Here is an excerpt:

Cavalli's experience at Stanford during his trial year and later allowed him to form impressions of science in the United States as compared to elsewhere . . . science in England is highly efficient. This . . . is because researchers there are allowed their own niches, resulting in little redundancy . . . the United States, although good for doing research in terms of facilities, money, and the availability of collaborators in many fields, suffers from the "rat race," the drive to be first. This only creates unnecessary anxiety but also results in many scientists doing the same thing, hence a wasted duplication of effort.