Thursday, February 23, 2017

Autism breakthrough?

Studies: Autism risk linked to herpes infection during early pregnancy
NEW YORK - Scientists from Colombia University and the Norwegian Institute of Public Heath have discovered that women actively infected with genital herpes during early pregnancy was twice as likely to have a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) later on in life.
About one in five American women has HSV-2, also known as genital herpes. HSV-2 is a highly contagious and lifelong infection, usually spread through sex.
More here:
The finding mirrors earlier epidemiological data indicating that activation of the maternal immune system during early-to-mid-pregnancy is associated with long-term developmental and behavioral problems in offspring.
However, of these pathogens examined : Toxoplasma gondii, rubella virus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex viruses type 1 and 2, only herpes simplex virus type 2 was implicated.

“The cause or causes of most cases of autism are unknown,” says senior author W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School. “But evidence suggests a role for both genetic and environmental factors. Our work suggests that inflammation and immune activation may contribute to risk. Herpes simplex virus 2 could be one of any number of infectious agents involved.”

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Cixin Liu : Death's End

The third book in Cixin Liu's science-fiction trilogy that began with The Three Body Problem and The Dark Forest, does not disappoint.  Don't read any reviews, just read the book.  If you insist on a review, here is one, from which I quote: "If you thought The Three-Body Problem and The Dark Forest were expansive, they're nothing compared to Death's End."

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Confirmation Bias?

There are a number of stories about how UnPresident Trump operates:

Caroline Mortimer reports in the Independent,  that Defence Secretary General James Mattis and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, convinced Trump to go along with an anti-terrorist raid in Yemen that turned out poorly, by suggesting that Obama would never have been so bold as to actually go through with it (the conception of the operation lies in the Obama era).

S.V. Date and Christina Wilkie report in the Huffington Post that Trump called his National Security Adviser retd. Lt. General Mike Flynn at 3 A.M. in the morning to ask him whether it was a strong dollar or a weak dollar that would be good for the US economy.

Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman report in the New York Times that Trump was angered that he "was not fully briefed on the details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist {Steve Bannon} a seat on the National Security Council".

There are more examples, but these should suffice.  All of these stories are from unnamed sources (which is why I've taken care to mention the reporters' names), they fit in with how we imagine Trump to be (e.g., based on the content and timing of his tweets) but are they true?