Technology


Think twice before you over-react. Image: Jim Bourg/Reuters

By Alfred Hermida, University of British Columbia

Whatever you do, don’t turn to Twitter for news about Ebola.

The volume and tone of tweets and retweets about the disease will make you wish you were watching the zombie apocalypse of The Walking Dead instead. It is much less scary.

Psychology and psychiatry have a big problem - they are trapped in the past. While most areas of medicine have moved beyond symptom-based diagnosis, the mental health community is instead adding new symptom-based diagnoses, and as a result the National Institute of Mental Health has declared that the newest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders should be considered little more than a glossary of terms.

To fix that, psychiatry needs to progress from symptom-based (e.g. antidepressant, antipsychotic etc.) to pharmacologically based (e.g. focusing on pharmacological target (serotonin, dopamine etc.) and the relevant mode of action. Not only is it more scientific, it will stop patient's wondering why they are getting an antipsychotic for simple anxiety.


I just returned from the Asian Science Park Association conference in Shiraz, Iran.[1] One Science Park official asked me, “Companies in our park cannot get any cooperation from the big petrochemical firms. What can we do?”

Image: the conversation

By David Glance, University of Western Australia

In 2012, the UK’s Sunday Times reported that actor Bruce Willis was going to sue Apple because he was not legally allowed to bequeath his iTunes collection of music to his children.

The story turned out to be false (and shockingly bad journalism) but it did start a conversation about what we can, and can’t, do with our digital possessions.

Though lots of people used the expensive government health insurance portal healthcare.gov to get information on the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, far fewer could successfully use it to sign up.

As the stories of its flaws mounted, larger percentages instead talked to call centers or a navigator without using the website at all. That's a win for the government, which needed to show some success after expending a great deal of political capital and taxpayer money, but not without cost. How much cost is unclear, the government has not yet disclosed how many people signed up and actually paid anything, or how many stopped when they discovered that on top of payments they now had $4,000 a year deductibles.


Reading glasses have served us for centuries. Why fix a good thing? Because science and technology can. 

Presbyopia, blurriness in near vision experienced by many people over the age of 40, could one day be relegated to olden days if a thin ring inserted into the eye gains popularity.



Image credit:  Ph0neutria via shutterstock

By: Benjamin Plackett, Inside Science

(Inside Science) — Until last year, website designers had a choice of just 22 Internet domains to use as suffixes at the end of URLs, excluding country-specific ones. The familiar “dot-com” and “dot-org” hail from the Reagan era, and the trickle of new domains since has usually been met with much discussion and occasionally debate or even discontent.

DNA analysis has become increasingly cost-effective since the human genome was first fully sequenced in the year 2001.

Sequencing a complete genome, however, still costs around $1,000 each so sequencing the genetic code of 100s of individuals would be expensive. For non-human studies, researchers very quickly hit the limit of financial feasibility.  


A paper in the International Journal of Web-Based Communities suggests that the familiar interfaces of online social networking sites might be adapted to allow us to interact more efficiently with our networked devices such as cars, domestic appliances and gadgets.

The concept would also extend to the idea of those devices connecting with each other as necessary to improve efficiency of heating and lighting, make our home entertainment systems smarter and much more.



We are only beginning to see what augmented reality can do. Credit: Flickr/Karlis Dambra, CC BY

By Nick Kelly, University of Southern Queensland