Weird science happens every day, all around us. This week, we have five of the weirdest examples, including royal roundworms, how hygiene can threaten your cognitive ability, and the first in-patient 'digital detox' program for internet addiction...
Tests show Richard III had roundworms
Having his grave paved over isn't the end of the dead monarch's woes, it seems. Researchers have recently completed tests on soil samples taken from around the skeleton that show he was suffering a roundworm infection at the time of his death. The evidence is in the eggs left behind in the soil that would have been next to the late king's corpse. The eggs are clustered next to the final resting place of Richard's pelvis and intestines, but more or less absent anywhere else in the grave.
Roundworms are transmitted through food and water contaminated with fecal matter, or through the soil; apparently being king didn't protect you from that in the 15th century. To be fair, though, the parasites still affect up to a quarter of the total world population today.
Cancer survivor pregnant despite having ovaries removed
A woman who had both ovaries removed as part of cancer treatment is now expecting twins, thanks to an innovative tissue graft. The Australian woman's doctors preserved some of her ovarian tissue during the operation to remove the second ovary, seven years ago. Earlier this year, they were able to graft the tissue into her abdominal wall — under the flesh but technically outside of her abdomen. After a mild course of hormone stimulation, doctors were able to recover two follicles from the graft. Two viable eggs were retrieved, which were then successfully transferred to her uterus, making her the first to conceive with ovarian tissue grafted outside the abdomen, and a ray of hope for cancer survivors everywhere.
The woman and her partner are now excitedly waiting to change their twin girls' diapers in about four months. Presumably the doctors won't help with that part.
Better hygiene may increase your Alzheimer's risk
There are a lot of benefits to sanitation in the industrialized world, but could there be downsides we've never considered? Researchers at Cambridge may have uncovered a disturbing relationship between our love of soap and our risk of developing Alzheimer's.
Video games can keep your aging mind in good shape
And speaking of age-related mental decline, a study from the University of California this week showed that playing a custom-designed video game for 12 hours a month helped elderly participants increase their ability to focus on more than one thing at a time. The participants — aged 60 to 85 — played a driving game for an hour, three times a week. After a month of racing, they performed better at the multitasking tests assigned than 20-year-olds facing the same tests for the first time. And, even better, the improvement was still there six months later.
The researchers cite the brain's amazing plasticity. Just goes to show, it's never too late to improve your grey matter.
First in-patient internet addiction program to opens Monday
A Pennsylvania psychiatric hospital will launch the first in-patient treatment program for internet addicts on September 9th. The program will provide room for 4 adults to stay for a 10-day program designed to help compulsive clickers kick the habit. Dr. Kimberly Young, the founder of the program, intends for it to provide 'digital detox' for those abusing the internet and electronic gaming.
While the addiction isn't recognized as a disorder by the DSM, Dr. Young has developed a diagnostic questionnaire to help identify potential sufferers, featuring issues such as "Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet? (Think about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)" and "Do you stay online longer than originally intended?".
Since we probably all just diagnosed ourselves I should point out that, as with most things, Dr. Young doesn't consider it a disorder until it negatively impacts your life (in a more significant way than harassing your friends for Candy Crush lives or shouting at your raid group). But if you're still concerned, you can get more info at the facility's site.
[ More Geekquinox: NASA moon mission seeks to solve mystery of lunar atmosphere ]
Keep your eyes on the wonders of science, and if you spot anything particularly strange you'd like me to check out for next week, comment below or drop me a line on Twitter!
(Photos courtesy: University of Leicester, Getty Images)
Geek out with the latest in science and weather.
Follow @ygeekquinox on Twitter!