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Becky JungbauerRSS Feed of this column.

A scientist and journalist by training, I enjoy all things science, especially science-related humor. My column title is a throwback to Jane Austen's famous first line in Pride and Prejudice

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Fishy irony

Fishy irony

Oct 17 2010 | comment(s)

From Yahoo News.
New vending machines are popping up in Germany. No, they aren't selling used underwear like in Japan. They're selling disposable shoes, called Ballerina To Go, for women whose feet are aching after dancing all night in the disco in towering high heels and stilettos.
A spunky late 20-something is bringing the breast cancer fight to young people with her Bright Pink organization. Although she's uncomfortable with the word "inspiring," that is just what she and her story are.

This is a good story about the humans involved in the breast cancer fight, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
If you want something done right, do it yourself. Or, if you're tired of waiting for someone else to do it, give it the ol' college try yourself. So saith two local governments, anyway.

Two unrelated stories caught my eye, and I thought them interesting enough to share. I'm willing to bet you have examples of such local action in your region. The first deals with my hometown (and current place of residence), the charming Hennepin County in Minnesota. The second comes from that bastion of fun and civilization among Iowa's corn- and soybean fields, Iowa City (where I lived for a lovely summer while on a biochemistry fellowship).

Imagine no teen pregnancy, I wonder if you can...1
A new poll by Nature and Scientific American, out in SA's October 2010 issue, notes that scientists have had a tough year - the "leaked 'Climategate' e-mails painted researchers as censorious," the H1N1 outbreak "led to charges that health officials exaggerated the danger to help Big Pharma sell more drugs," and the Harvard investigation that found holes in a professor's data. Nature and SA wanted to know - does the public1 still trust scientists?

The two polled readers using an internet survey on their Web sites, and more than 21,000 people responded.2 Here are the results:

How much do people trust what scientists say?
Metastatic melanoma is a deadly diagnosis - you are, to be frank, screwed. Any glimmer of hope, however murky, is thus latched onto fervently. Unfortunately, cancer treatments aren't a picnic, many providing only a little extra time on earth and awful side effects.

In diseases like metastatic melanoma, where the prognosis is dismal, it's easy to hype any drug that comes along. Words like "breakthrough" are tossed about the news media, which dilutes the power of the word when an actual advancement comes along.1 A new drug in clinical trials might just fit the bill, though, so I may take the word off the shelf and use it, albeit cautiously.

Metastatic melanoma - the not-so-good, bad and ugly