(The Guardian) – Liviu Babitz opens his collar to reveal a small silicone gadget, the size of a matchbox, attached to his chest with two titanium bars that sit just under the skin. Most resembling a compact bike light, the North Sense that Babitz has attached is an artificial sense organ that delivers a short vibration every time the user faces North. Babitz and Scott Cohen, co-founder at Cyborg Nest, the company that created North Sense, are currently the only two using the product, which will soon be shipped out to clients who have pre-ordered it over the last few months.
(Times of India) – Your seemingly disinterested doctor may be a part of a larger problem stalking the medical system: burnout among doctors. While medicine is seen as a coveted profession in India, a new study from a city medical college indicates that our doctors, like their western counterparts, suffer from burnout-associated symptoms such as emotional exhaustion, lack of feeling or dissatisfaction.
(The Guardian) – There are 200 of these embryos to choose from, all made by in vitro fertilisation (IVF) from you and your partner’s eggs and sperm. So, over to you. Which will you choose? If there’s any kind of future for “designer babies”, it might look something like this. It’s a long way from the image conjured up when artificial conception, and perhaps even artificial gestation, were first mooted as a serious scientific possibility. Inspired by predictions about the future of reproductive technology by the biologists JBS Haldane and Julian Huxley in the 1920s, Huxley’s brother Aldous wrote a satirical novel about it.
(STAT News) – These are newborns born dependent on opioids, the youngest victims of an epidemic that’s touched every corner of the country. Even when mothers seek treatment for their addictions early in pregnancy, they are typically urged to stay on methadone to minimize the risk of miscarriage. That means babies are often born experiencing symptoms of withdrawal — such as twitching and tremors, trouble feeding, and difficulty sleeping.
(New York Times) – Opioid addiction is America’s 50-state epidemic. It courses along Interstate highways in the form of cheap smuggled heroin, and flows out of “pill mill” clinics where pain medicine is handed out like candy. It has ripped through New England towns, where people overdose in the aisles of dollar stores, and it has ravaged coal country, where addicts speed-dial the sole doctor in town licensed to prescribe a medication. Public health officials have called the current opioid epidemic the worst drug crisis in American history, killing more than 33,000 people in 2015. Overdose deaths were nearly equal to the number of deaths from car crashes. In 2015, for the first time, deaths from heroin alone surpassed gun homicides.
(Quartz) – Despite the fact that psychedelic drugs have been used for millennia as medicine in ritualistic ceremonies, there remain many questions in the scientific community about the relationship between their spiritual qualities and healing potential. Researchers at Johns Hopkins and New York Universities are giving psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, to ordained ministers in the hopes that they can help provide some answers.
(Science) – During World War II, as part of its racial hygiene program, the Nazi regime systematically killed at least 200,000 people it classified as mentally ill or disabled, historians say. Stories like Hans-Joachim’s have largely been lost to history. Now, a new initiative is seeking to reconstruct the biographies of victims used in brain research. Starting this month,the Max Planck Society (MPG), Germany’s top basic research organization, will open its doors to four independent researchers who will scour its archives and tissue sample collections for material related to the euthanasia program.
(STAT News) – In a farewell address Wednesday, outgoing Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin revealed that his father took advantage of the state’s end-of-life law, just a year after Shumlin signed the measure. Shumlin’s father, George, died in April 2014 at 88. In a statement at the time, the governor did not mention that his father had chosen to end his own life, although he said “that his decline was brief,” according to the Burlington Free Press.
(The Guardian) – Implanting two embryos during IVF can cut the chance of becoming pregnant by more than a quarter if one of the embryos is in a poorer state of health, new research suggests. A study of almost 1,500 embryos that were implanted in women of all ages found that putting back a healthier embryo with one of poorer quality dramatically cut the chance of a successful pregnancy compared to just transferring one embryo.
(The Guardian) – A future in which human workers are replaced by machines is about to become a reality at an insurance firm in Japan, where more than 30 employees are being laid off and replaced with an artificial intelligence system that can calculate payouts to policyholders. Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance believes it will increase productivity by 30% and see a return on its investment in less than two years. The firm said it would save about 140m yen (£1m) a year after the 200m yen (£1.4m) AI system is installed this month. Maintaining it will cost about 15m yen (£100k) a year.