Human head model will hopefully aid in developing concussion-resistant football helmets

Robert Starr

Football is among the most violent of college sports, even with all the protective gear each player wears, and no season goes by without its share of injuries. Of most concern are the long-term risks, which include concussions. Helmets offer protection from this, though it’s unclear as to how much. This led Professor Murray Korman and student Duncan Miller of the US Naval Academy to create an experimental model of a human head, which consists of a brass cylinder within foam, all enclosed in a plastic hoop. The aim of the model, which is still in its early stages, is to indicate how the brain reverberates inside the skull after a collision. The model will hopefully lead to better-designed helmets protecting the heads of athletes.

Italy shakes up scientists
The Italian government sentenced six scientists, as well as an official, to six years in prison. The charge? Failing to alert the public of an impending large-scale earthquake three and a half years ago. The problem is that earthquake prediction, even with the best science, is impossible, causing many to see the accused as scapegoats for a blameless tragedy. “I thought I would be acquitted. I still don’t understand what I’m accused of,” one of the convicted scientists said at the time. The Italian legal system allows for two appeals, which the seven will be using in the hopes of overturning the conviction; however, many members of the scientific community are outraged that these frivolous charges even made it as far as a trial.

Don’t fear the feces
Treatments aren’t necessarily supposed to be pleasant, as the phrases “bitter pill to swallow” and “give him a taste of his own medicine” indicate, but a recently developed treatment for a Clostridium difficile infection puts anything you have in your medicine cabinet to shame. The procedure involves placing healthy fecal matter, collected from other people, into the intestines of patients. The feces is naturally full of bacteria which aids the body in digestion as well as stimulating the immune system and, most importantly, cures the infection more often than not. A new study reports that not only is the procedure effective, it’s also very safe, with a speedy recovery for almost all of the test cases. In addition, because of the nasogastric tube, the patient never have to taste or smell the life-saving excrement, although they do need to make peace with the idea that it’s sitting in their intestines.

Sex addiction legitimized
Though celebrities have often used it as an excuse, sex addiction hasn’t yet been officially recognized in the psychiatric profession because of a lack of consistent criteria. However, a new group working out of UCLA has developed a test for identifying and diagnosing the affliction that gives fairly reliable results. The test looks for several specific symptoms, in particular, fantasies, urges and desires that persist for more than six months, as well as using sexual activity as a coping device, much as a substance abuser might with drugs. If the criteria are accepted, sex addition could be officially recognized and show up in the next edition of the psychiatric bible, the DSM-5.

Fair gun control possible
“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” cry supporters of the Second Amendment, and a new study bears that out. The report analyzes results from other studies and research and concludes that we could vastly decrease gun-related deaths, which are on the high end in our country, by enacting stricter gun laws that don’t necessarily impinge on the constitutional rights of people who will use firearms responsibly. The main suggestion the report offers to help save lives is the tightening of laws that prohibit gun sales to people in high-risk groups — including criminals, drug users and those with severe mental illnesses. The topic of gun control is highly political, but this analysis provides material that should, at the very least, help inform future policy.

Printed on Thursday, October 25, 2012 as: Head model may reduce concussions