Category Archives: Medicine

On nodding syndrome

A DISEASE mystery with no shortage of leads now has an intriguing new one. Since the 1960s, thousands of children in poor, war-torn regions of East Africa have developed epilepsy-like seizures in which their heads bob to their chest; over time, the seizures worsen, cognitive problems develop, and the victims ultimately die. Researchers have proposed causes for nodding syndrome that include malnutrition, parasites, and viruses, but have not proved a clear link to any of them. Now, the first published examination of the brains of children who died after developing the condition suggests it has a key similarity to certain brain diseases of old age, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s: It leaves victims’ brains riddled with fibrous tangles containing a protein called tau…

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This article first appeared in Science on 21 December 2018. To continue reading, click here (paywall).

Why don’t we remember these 100 million dead?

IN France, where I live, there are more than 170,000 monuments to the First World War. To my knowledge, there is only one to the 1918 influenza pandemic. A simple stone cross, it stands at Lajoux in the Jura Mountains, close to the border with Switzerland…

This article first appeared on UnHerd.com on 6 November 2018. To continue reading, click here:

Why don’t we remember these 100 million dead?

Centenary of a catastrophe

ON June 29th 1918 Martín Salazar, Spain’s inspector general of health, stood up in front of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Madrid and declared, not without embarrassment, that the disease which was ravaging the country was to be found nowhere else in Europe…

This article first appeared in The Economist on 27 September 2018. To continue reading, click here.

 

Adventurer in time

IN JULY 1962, Michel Siffre took off his watch and descended into the abyss of Scarasson in the French Alps. There, in a cave 130 metres below the surface, he set up camp next to a glacier. With a torch as his only light source, and deprived of all reminders of the passage of time, he lived underground, alone, for 63 days…

Michel Siffre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article first appeared in New Scientist on 8 August 2018. To continue reading, click here.

Spanish lessons please

WITH hopes high that the northern hemisphere flu season is about to recede, it seems a good time to point out that, unlike annual outbreaks that fade as spring arrives, flu pandemics don’t respect seasons. A hundred years ago, the worst such pandemic on record was just starting – the first case was recorded on 4 March 1918 – and north of the equator it wouldn’t peak until the autumn…

Credit: Andrzej Krause/New Scientist

This article first appeared in New Scientist on 3 March 2018. To continue reading, click here.