Posts in the Science category

Leaving Quora

Quora recently changed the site in some heinous ways. They removed the details from all questions, because they're trying to make sure that there's only one "canonical question" you can search for an answer to.

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Unfortunately this destroys nuance - after all, there's only so much detail you can put into 250 characters.

So in response, I'm going to start migrating all of my question answers on Quora to my blog. It's going to take a while, but hey, more content for the blog.

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How Lexi Almost Died – and why YOU should vaccinate YOUR Child

My almost 5-year-old daughter Lexi nearly died when she was one, from meningococcal septicemia.

Meningococcal septicemia is what happens when you don't get meningitis, and instead your body declares all out war on the bacteria that causes meningitis. The thing is, the bacteria is carrying chemical weapons. Each one that your white cells destroys unleashes toxins into your body. So you end up being sluggish and lethargic, and won't wake up, and if you go to the hospital too early you'll be sent home with Tylenol – and die at home. Or if you get there just too late your child is just dead.

We were in the emergency room when Lexi presented with a petechial rash. Little purple pinpricks all over her body, that started to appear EVERYWHERE in seconds. And then, while we were there, I watched as her oxygen level dropped rapidly from 83% to 50-something. I ran to get a nurse immediately.

We were very lucky that it happened right then and there. We were at Seattle Children's Hospital, because it was just around the corner, and my wife Darci's instincts kicked in that this just wasn't right. (Our Doctor – Martin Cahn – told her on the phone, "You can come here... but if you're that worried, go right now to Children's").

So next, what happens is that your daughter is rushed up to the ICU – unconscious. And you sign a bunch of forms which give them permission to do everything and anything possible to save her life. They shoo you out of the room so you don't see them pricking and sticking your daughter with every tube and IV known to man - including one down into her heart. She's on a ventilator. She can't breathe by herself.

 

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Why tripods have spirit levels and up should always be up in video games

This post is about designing cameras for video games, and for anyone who wants to shoot a movie. I think I’ve finally figured out why spirit levels are placed on tripods, why some people hate shaky-cam, why you need up to be up, and why dutch angles feel… well… off-kilter.

The reason has to do with your vestibulo-ocular reflex.

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Parkinson’s Disease and the Flu

Here’s a reason you might not have thought of to get your flu shot this year – it might protect you from getting Parkinson’s Disease.

I've been saying since about 2007 that most late-life diseases can be pinned down on specific combinations of genetic susceptibility + external factors (in most cases, viruses). One of these was Parkinson's disease, which looked like it was caused by Influenza.

Well, I missed it at the time, but this study came out in 2011: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3105060/

Next prediction: A surprisingly large number of cases of dental caries are caused by human herpes viruses 1 through 4. I expect this one to be confirmed some time around 2018.

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