The latest news from science and technology.

The latest news from science and technology.

The latest news from science and technology.

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Science, technology, and life.
Aug. 19 2005 10:43 AM

Skin the Fetus

And other news from science and technology.

(For the latest Human Nature columns on animal rights, racism, artificial wombs, and harvesting organs from embryos, click here.)

Federal and local officials are fighting over whether to focus the drug war on pot or meth. Feds say pot use is more common and leads to other drugs. Locals say meth is more physically and socially harmful.

William Saletan William Saletan

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.

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Fetal skin tissue heals second- and third-degree burns. Scientists hail it as a "biological bandage" and point out that tissue from one abortion could help thousands of burn victims. (For Human Nature's take on growing embryos for tissue, click here.)

Oregon banned the sale of many cold medicines without a prescription. They contain pseudoephedrine, which can be used to make methamphetamine. Critics say 1) such laws will force the medicines off the market, and 2) the meth will be replaced by a growing influx from Mexico.

Six pharmacists are on trial for illegally dispensing cough syrup. The addictive ingredient in this case is not pseudoephedrine but codeine. The alleged quantities are enormous—thousands of gallons, plus thousands of painkiller tablets. Data indicate that 30 percent of Houston teens have used cough syrup as a drug.

Most chimps are lefties at some tasks, if a recent sample is representative. Studies indicate most chimps are righties at other tasks, but many humans are lefties at tasks other than writing. The studies suggest that chimps and humans share brain division but that something in human development favored righties since we split from the chimps.

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The U.K. will crack down on Web sites that traffic in sperm. The sites are currently unregulated (they don't have to screen for genetic or venereal diseases) because they operate databases of donors instead of clinics.

The government is investigating why four women died after taking an abortion pill. Pro-lifers want to ban it. Pro-choicers say it's safer than other abortion methods (one death in every 100,000 cases) and far safer than pregnancy, and some blame all four deaths on off-label vaginal rather than oral administration of a follow-up drug.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is comparing abuse of animals to abuse of blacks. The comparisons are central to an education campaign that has been suspended offline but continues online. PETA's view: It's all oppression. NAACP's view: "They're comparing chickens to black people?"

Soldiers' blogs are complicating military censorship in Iraq. The number of blogs has risen from a dozen to 200 or more in two years. The military has demoted one guardsman, whose site has since disappeared. Other troops have stopped blogging under pressure from superiors.

A gene correlates with alcohol tolerance in fruit flies. In humans, higher tolerance correlates with alcoholism. Scientists hope to block alcoholism by interfering with the gene, but there's a catch: Evidence suggests the gene also "helps protect the body from environmental stress."

New York City asked restaurants to eliminate trans fats. The health commissioner likened trans fats (which are used by 30 percent to 60 percent of the city's restaurants) to asbestos. Denmark has banned foods with a trans fat content of more than 2 percent, but New York is the first major U.S. city to act.

Genetic tests are exposing "dads" who unwittingly raise other men's kids. Reported rates range from 1 percent to 30 percent, mostly toward the low end. The poorer your family is and the younger your wife was when she got pregnant, the higher your risk. According to Reuters, "most cases that are inadvertently identified are ignored by whoever uncovers the situation."

Latest Human Nature columns: 1) The difference between blacks and animals. 2) Bill Frist, closet pro-choicer. 3) The emerging technology of artificial wombs. 4) The case for  growing embryos for their parts. 5) The forced marriage of stem-cell opponents. 6)  Mandatory pregnancy: A true story. 7) The evolution of creationism. 8) If steroids are cheating, why isn't LASIK?