Posted by: bridget | 22 February 2008

Friday Round-Up

All the sexism fit to print.  The Grey Lady announced that young female bloggers outnumber their male counterparts because blogging is about warm, fuzzy, caring self-expression.  Girls who learn CSS to do website design aren’t actually teaching themselves computer code; they are engaging in the online equivalent of a slumber party.

Update: Ian Samuel has a more thorough analysis of this nonsense.  Of course, that must be because he’s a boy and can analyse stuff when he blogs, while this blogger is a girl and only wants to the warm fuzzies.


IBM scientists have measured the amount of force necessary to move a cobalt atom over a copper and a platinum surface. 

In the experiment, Dr. Heinrich and his collaborators at Almaden and the University of Regensburg in Germany used the sharp tip of an atomic force microscope to push a single atom. To measure the force, the tip was attached to a small tuning fork, the same kind that is found in a quartz wristwatch. In fact, in the first prototype, Franz J. Giessibl, a scientist at Regensburg who was a pioneer in the use of atomic force microscopes, bought an inexpensive watch and pulled out the quartz tuning fork for use in the experiment.

Anyone think that Timex knew that a $20 watch would be used in a great scientific discovery? 


The FDA granted Genetech’s application to use Avastin, a colorectal and lung cancer drug, to treat breast cancer.  Doctors are permitted to prescribe and use drugs off-label (i.e. in a manner other than for that which the FDA has granted approval); this ruling allows Genetech to advertise its drug for the treatment of breast cancer.  Oddly, the drug shows the most promise in treatment of non-hereditary breast cancers, although the BRCA genes are associated with colorectal cancers.

Preliminary clinical trials indicate that Avastin does not increase life expectancy of breast cancer patients, although it does reduce the spread of tumors.  Approximately 20% of the women who took the drug experienced elevated blood pressure, blood clots, or heart attacks. 

A new therapy which improves quality of life, if not longevity, or the next Vioxx?  You decide.


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