Paging Doctor Siri; A Soccer Brain Injury Threshold

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Discovered: Doctor Siri, cheating creative-types, a brain injury threshold, a worrying thing about Wi-Fi, and a persistent "made in China" problem. 

  • Siri will be your doctor soon too. Continuing humanity's slow realization that an iPhone is actually a Star Trek tricorder, researchers are now pondering the possibility that if you spit on the screen of your prototype äppärät it'll be able to give you a basic medical diagnosis. Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology have been conducting some foundational tests to see if the idea held water, with natural "it's just a first step"-seeming results, as New Scientist reports. But, eventually, they theorize, "the lab-on-a-chip could present a tiny droplet of the sample to be pressed against a phone's touchscreen for analysis, where an app would work out whether you have food poisoning, strep throat or flu, for example." While spitting on your iPhone to receive a diagnosis from Siri 3.0 seems convenient and all, we'd hope that the people in the space-ship themed campus are also devising way to dissolve the glob of saliva on the pristine screen. [New Scientist]
  • How many times can you head a soccer ball without it doing brain damage? Today's research-you-can-use (if you're athletic) comes from an MRI-based imaging study on 38 amateur soccer players, finding that those who were "frequent headers showed brain injury similar to that seen in patients with concussion." The researchers behind the study then estimated a suggested threshold for headers a year: 1,000 to 1,500. Which, as the lead author, Dr. Michael Lipton explains, isn't that much, even though it sounds like it to office-bound people. For amateur and professional players used to year-round practices and seasons "it only amounts to a few times a day." [Eurekalert, BBC News]
  • In a few experiments, creative types were likelier cheaters.  When compared to just the merely intelligent. In a study that "created situations in which participants were tempted by money to cheat." And that appears to be based on a series of interesting, theoretical psychological tests. So, it's hard to read too much into this study published by the American Psychological Association. But, despite their limitations, this is what the lead researchers teased out of their experiments, which seem to suggest that creatives have more potential for problem solving--including cheating: "The results showed the more creative participants were significantly more likely to cheat, and that there was no link between intelligence and dishonesty – i.e., more intelligent but less creative people were not more inclined toward dishonesty." [Eurekalert]
  • This is a study with a worrisome finding that researchers say shouldn't be worrisome. Wi-Fi use has been linked, however tentatively, to killing off sperm: "Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality," said Argentinian scientists to Reuters Health. While, clearly fretting over the ill effects of Wi-Fi is as fruitless as pondering the scientific whiplash of the cell phone-cancer link (really, how could you escape using a phone or computer?), the same Reuters report quotes other experts waving off any reason to be afraid of wireless internet, saying the study was conducted in an artificial setting. [Reuters Health]
  • China is looking forward to providing your vaccines for you. China is set to expand it's vaccine-providing business, which could lower prices from Western big pharma companies who are trying to compete, the Associated Press reports. But a big issue for making the leap to worldwide provider is the branding issue of "made in China." So, even though the Country's Food and Drug Administration touted to the AP "30 companies that have an annual production capacity of nearly 1 billion doses" the startling statistics in the article had to do with China's past safety record: "in 2007, Chinese cough syrup killed 93 people in Central America; one year later, contaminated blood thinner led to dozens of deaths in the United States while tainted milk powder poisoned hundreds of thousands of Chinese babies and killed six." [Associated Press]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.