The New York Times reports:
Computer power is transforming the sciences, giving scientists tools as important to current research as the microscope and telescope were to earlier scientists. Their use accompanies a fundamental change in the material that scientists study.
Individual specimens, whether fossils, living organisms or cells, were once the substrate of discovery. Now, to an ever greater extent, researchers work with immense collections of digital data, and the mastery of such mountains of information depends on computing power.
The physical technology of scientific research is still here — the new electron microscopes, the telescopes, the particle colliders — but they are now inseparable from computing power, and it is the computers that let scientists find order and patterns in the raw information that the physical tools gather.
Computer power not only aids research, it defines the nature of that research: what can be studied, what new questions can be asked, and answered.
USA Today reports:
An early screening test for autism, designed to detect signs of the condition in babies as young as 1 year old, could revolutionize the care of autistic children, experts say, by getting them diagnosed and treated years earlier than usual.
The 24-item checklist takes just five minutes to complete and can be filled out in a pediatrician’s waiting room, when parents bring children for their routine 12-month checkup, says a study of more than 10,000 infants, published today in the Journal of Pediatrics.
When deprived of sleep, parts of the human brain may doze off, secretly snatching moments of slumber even as people seem to be awake.
That could explain why our sleep-deprived selves are so cognitively challenged: We are, if not precisely half-asleep, partially asleep.
HealthDay News, via MSN, reports:
The first new guidelines in 27 years for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease could double the number of Americans defined as having the brain-robbing illness.
The guidelines, issued Tuesday by the Alzheimer’s Association and the U.S. National Institute of Aging, differ in two important ways from the last recommendations, which have been in use since 1984.
First, Alzheimer’s is now being recognized as a continuum of stages: Alzheimer’s itself with clear symptoms; mild cognitive impairment (MCI) with mild symptoms; and also the “preclinical” stage, when there are no symptoms but when recognizable brain changes may already be occurring.
Second, the new guidelines incorporate the use of so-called “biomarkers” — such as the levels of certain proteins in blood or spinal fluid — to diagnose the disease and assess its progress, but almost exclusively for research purposes only.