Mobile App Helps Triple Your Reading Speed

A new app can increase the speed you consume and comprehend text by displaying words in the ORP (Optimal Reading Position) for the human field of view.

This isn’t a new idea. People have been employing similar methods using digital media for years, however I’d never tried this approach until seeing this app at work. I have to say I’m pretty impressed.

Even 250 words per minute would save most of us a lot of time.

See this link for more.


Mini Neural Computer Discovered In The Brain

The branch-like projections at the end of neurons known as dendrites have been thought to be merely passive participants in the processing of information. However, scientists at the University of North Carolina have now found that dendrites play a very active role in information processing, and serve to increase the brain’s processing power.
From prior research, scientists knew that electrical spikes were generated in dendrites with the same molecules that generate them in axons. What remained in question was whether normal brain activity made use of dendritic spikes. Using tiny pipettes attached to dendrites in the brains of mice, the researchers “listened” to electrical activity in the dendrites and noticed and analyzed patterns. The team noted that dendrites spiked even when the axon did not. The results of their work show that dendrites act as “mini-computers” in the brain that assist with information processing.

Exciting News On The Fight Against AIDS

A team of researchers based at Johns Hopkins has decoded a system that makes certain types of immune cells impervious to HIV infection. The system’s two vital components are high levels of a molecule that becomes embedded in viral DNA like a code written in invisible ink, and an enzyme that, when it reads the code, switches from repairing the DNA to chopping it up into unusable pieces. The researchers, who report the find in the Jan. 21 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, say the discovery points toward a new approach to eradicating HIV from the body.

Biologists Genetically Engineer Algae for Cancer Therapy

Biologists at UC San Diego have succeeded in genetically engineering algae to produce a complex and expensive human therapeutic drug used to treat cancer.

The advance is the culmination of seven years of work to demonstrate that Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a green alga used widely in biology laboratories as a genetic model organism can produce a wide range of human therapeutic proteins in greater quantity and more cheaply than bacteria or mammalian cells. Bacteria cannot make these drugs since they are incapable of folding the proteins into the complex, three-dimensional shapes needed. Additionally, the drug cannot be made in mammalian cells as the toxin would kill them.

The engineered algae produces a complex, three-dimensional protein with two “domains” — one of which contains the antibody to target cancer cells and another containing a toxin that kills the bound cancer cells. Such “fusion proteins” are presently created by pharmaceutical companies in a complex, two-step process by first developing the antibody domain in a Chinese hamster cell. The antibody is purified, then chemically attached to a toxin outside of the cell after which the final protein is re-purified.

While producing this particular fusion protein in algae was fairly straightforward because it involved fusing two domains, this same method can likely be used in the future to engineer algae to produce more complex proteins with multiple domains. Read more here:

Vaccinate Your F*cking Children – Please!

Pertussis Outbreak Kills 3 More Babies

Caught this news item a couple of weeks ago and it made me feel extremely sweary.

Vaccines for children were on the decrease

Then this happened.

Whooping cough: Outbreak claims three more babies


This is what we’ve known would happen for a long time. This is what we knew would be the outcome of those f*cking anti-vaxers.

Children die!

It’s not just your children you’re putting at risk, it’s other people’s children.

Never heard of herd immunity? Look it up.

Only after there’s a fatal outbreak, do people realise that the consequences of our post-rational, self-indulgent, over-priviledged opinions are fatal.

Sure, attach validity to anyone’s opinion. Free thinkers invented life-saving techniques like… eh… vaccines. The world is a better place for people who challenge conventional wisdom, but not at the expense of people’s lives. Worse children who have no choice.

Even worse, other people’s children who have read and understood the literature and made an informed decision.

If you agree with everything I say, see a doctor. If you agree with nothing, see a homeopath – and please quarantine yourselves from the general population.

Vaccinate your f*cking children!


Crazy? Hysterical? Mad? Really?

A few months ago, when discussing Marshall Applewhite, the leader of the Hale Bop cult, Heaven’s Gate, a highly respected neurologist and skeptic, Dr Steven Novella, made a comment alluding to the fact that “you could just tell he was mad, by the look behind his eyes.”

Now, I understand we all make short-cuts of language when speaking informally, but I was very tempted to write in to the SGU (for the first time), to highlight that I felt this was a particularly dated and crass term to level at anyone, especially for people so educated.

I have to admit Dr Novella is the man who inspired me to study neuroscience and eventually start this blog, so it pains me  to question a man I hold in such high esteem.

However, I feel that such catch-all terms as “mad” are comparable to the dated practice of describing people as hysterical. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but I wonder if anyone agrees that it would be beneficial if the influencers of society, as a whole, would attempt to move common thinking towards a situation where people recognise a cognitive deficit in someone’s character without writing them off as being “crazy, mad or hysterical”.

I realise this takes education, which some have no inclination to acquire, however if we reduce the use of such stigmatised terms, I feel we would be on the road to a better acceptance and understanding of mental deficits.

Am I mad?


UK Health Minister Believes in Magic Fairies

So it seems that Jeremy Hunt, the man in charge of our health service, believes that homeopathy is a legitimate channel for public spending.

The man put in charge of the nation’s health policy is on record as supporting spending public money on magic water to cure disease. Below is a copy of a public motion he endorsed in 2007.

That this House welcomes the positive contribution made to the health of the nation by the NHS homeopathic hospitals; notes that some six million people use complementary treatments each year; believes that complementary medicine has the potential to offer clinically-effective and cost-effective solutions to common health problems faced by NHS patients, including chronic difficult to treat conditions such as musculoskeletal and other chronic pain, eczema, depression, anxiety and insomnia, allergy, chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome; expresses concern that NHS cuts are threatening the future of these hospitals; and calls on the Government actively to support these valuable national assets.

And here is a copy the letter he sent to a correct constituent who told him that homeopathy is just water.

Dear Mr Ellis,

Thank you very much for your letter regarding EDM 1240 in support of Homeopathic Hospitals. I appreciate that you are disappointed that I added my name to this motion, and read your comments on this issue with interest.

I understand that it is your view that homeopathy is not effective, and therefore that people should not be encouraged to use it as a treatment. However I am afraid that I have to disagree with you on this issue. Homeopathic care is enormously valued by thousands of people and in an NHS that the Government repeatedly tells us is “patient-led” it ought to be available where a doctor and patient believe that a homeopathic treatment may be of benefit to the patient.

I am grateful to you for taking the time to write with your concerns. I realise that my answer will be a disappointing one for you, but I hope that the letter helps to clarify my view.

Yours sincerely,


Jeremy Hunt Member of Parliament South West Surrey


Not sure if anyone has noticed, but I’m not convinced that there is any good evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy! The fact that, despite recent advances in our public spending guidelines, we are putting a buffoon in charge of one of the most important departments of government is almost as worrying as keeping Michael Gove in charge of education.

Faith schools, faith healers, faith no more.

Jesus wept.