In the National World War II museum, it is easy and even triumphant and pride-generating to look back and see some of the scientific advances made during World War II. There’s no doubt that science is advancing. But I wonder if our ethics can keep pace.
I am fairly proud of Teflon. And synthetic cortisone is widely used and may have saved plenty of lives. It’s a steroid that knocks down the action of the immune system. When a medical substance becomes cheaper and easier to use and known to the public, then it runs a real danger of getting overused. Most concern about overuse is focused on illegal steroids taken by athletes. Nevertheless, everything that can be helpful and fast may make things worse. One example would be the over-prescribing of steroids to kids with allergies.
Penicillin had been invented before WWII, but its use did not become widespread until WWII. Of course, it took people awhile to find out about the ability of bacteria to develop resistances to antibiotics. This has led to newer and stronger antibiotics, which would not be the worst thing in the world. Unfortunately, the excessive use of antibiotics has led to untreatable infections, such as methicilline-resistant strep and an untreatable strain of tuberculosis. Read more on Science and War (and Ethics)…
Why can’t science be fun?
I mean, sure – I’d love to see cancer cures, and schizophrenia cures and even more on the promising telomeric theory of living forever. But sometimes, we learn a lot of things that seem – if not useless, then inconsequential –and they prove invaluable later on in ways we can never predict.
Would you like to know in advance if a pop song is going to be a big hit? I’m sure some people would. Believe it or not, that has been the topic of recent research. Okay, so it is a small study. Who would fund further research on this one? There is a certain part of the tender adolescent brain (remember, our brains don’t get completely myelinated until age 28. That means we do not have all the fatty-insulation around the nerves to conduct impulses) that reacts in a very interesting way to music. Based mostly on animal studies, the ventral striatum seems to be associated with emotions that generate behavior. This differentiates it from the dorsal striatum, which has mostly sensorimotor control. Makes sense. Although they are similar, these two different types of behavior are slightly different. Sometimes we decide what we want to do by what we feel physically. If it is too cold, we go for a jacket. The sensory input probably goes through at least a couple of brain centers, like thermoregulation. Read more on Using Science To Predict Pop Music Hits…