A Round of Good News in Medicine, Science, Technology – And Even Politics

Turns Out Some Good People are Doing Some Good Work

Take a Break

We do a lot about politics and governance in this space. You may have noticed that.  How about we detour a bit and look at six encouraging stories in other areas? Well, one is a political story, but it too is a bit of unexpected, good news.

Read on, enjoy, and reflect. We will get back to current events soon enough

 Let’s Get The Political Stories Out Of The Way First

 A Productive Congress! Who Knew?!

The NY Times had a most interesting article a few days ago about how surprisingly effective this Congress has been. Still a ton of problems, delays, etc. and the Republican party seems to have given up on leading and legislating in general. BUT…

A small but surprising number of Republican senators (including a lot of names you will recognize) voted for 3, 4, even all 5 of the big important bills this Congress has passed to date. If the Democrats could beat the traditional midterms curse and hold on to both houses of Congress, some remarkably useful and overdue legislation could also be passed in the second half of this presidential term. With some Republican help, no less.

Read on. It’s a good news story in a corner we seldom see such happenings. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/16/briefing/congress-productive-democrats-republicans.html

 The War Between Trump and the Generals

 The New Yorker just published an amazing article about how the US military’s most senior generals worked to minimize the risks and damage of Donald Trump. It was all worse than most of us thought. The responses and preventive steps by the senior military leaders were exemplary and should renew confidence that this cadre is loyal to the constitution = period. This thing read like a novel – I could not put it down.

Read this one.

 Water from Air, No Power Needed

This space has previously covered emerging technologies to pull water from even dry air. A couple of new inventions work well enough, but so far they have some power requirements themselves to operate. Additionally, the volume produced is low enough that only small scale production seemed feasible. Until now.

There is a new player on the field. This time it is a Swiss team that has broken new ground. They have a system that works even at night, requires no energy, and produces a higher volume of water than other such systems. It features a clever mix of design and special coatings. One would not fill the needs of Los Angeles tomorrow with such a thing, but it does appear scalable and sustainable enough to provide water in many dry, rural areas currently in a hurt for clean drinking water. The system is not expensive no complex. Nicely done, Swiss folk.

Read more about this here.

Eyeballs from Pig Tissue

I read a fascinating article last week about a team of Swedish scientists (sorry, my first mental image on reading that was the Swedish Chef on the Muppets. Loved those skits. Here, enjoy a sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zmr4dKlXR_o).

On a more serious note, these Swedes developed a process to create fully developed human cornea, built from molecules of pig skin. The process, they say, is pretty straight forward and economical. The resulting cornea can be safely stored for up to two years. Their goal was to create a process that would be accessible even in poor areas. They seem to have succeeded.

Donated cornea, which are always in short supply, can only be stored for a few weeks at best. This could be a game changer for many eye diseases. And the technology may be transferable to other organs and components.

Here is the article:

 Fascinating Reading About Noise – How It (or its absence) Affects Us and Animals

There has been a good amount of interesting writing of late about how artificial light and noise really mess up life for people and animals. But one surprising item caught me – the problem with the lack of noise. Turns out that the near silence of electric and hybrid cars creates a real danger for those with vision problems or who are distracted. EVs and hybrids are 20% more likely to be involved in pedestrian or bicycle accidents than traditional fuel burners.

A law was passed during the Obama administration requiring some sound generation from these vehicles. It has taken this long to figure out how best to do that. Car makers and others have gotten really creative with new systems about to come online. This is a short, fun, and informative read. Several aspects I never thought about were fun to discover.

See for yourself.

 More CRISPR Advances – This Time on High Cholesterol

 High cholesterol is the curse of wealthy nations but occurs in high numbers in poorer countries as well. 1 in every 4 Americans has high cholesterol. These numbers carry very heavy health, financial, and health costs.

New research using the CRISPR technology (something we have sung the praises of often in this space) offers dramatic progress The CRISPR engineered therapy changes for one gene instruction. The results in monkey trials? Reductions of LDL levels by 70% in only two weeks with a one time and its done treatment. Imagine what such numbers would mean for health and health care in humans. The first human trials are underway now in New Zealand.

Read the good news.

OK, Back to Work

Enough with all this good news stuff! Next week, likely back to current issues. We need to have a discussion about political parties. New polls show that, no surprise, Americans are not happy with the current two party system. But be careful what you wish for; you might get more (and less) than you hoped for with such changes. Next week, we will look at trends, options, and prospective costs/benefits with an approach other than two parties.

       Bill Clontz

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