Common Brain Parasite Linked to Suicide in Women
Through a collaboration of studies researchers have identified a parasite they believe is linked to suicide in women.
Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell
What’s the Latest Development?
According to researchers, women who are infected with Toxoplasma gondii are one and a half times more likely to attempt suicide than women who are not infected. The study was conducted on over 40,000 women in Denmark who had given birth between 1992-1995, and whose babies screened for Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that lives discreetly in cells within the brain and muscles. It is often found in cat feces, uncooked meat and unwashed vegetables. “Humans can become infected by changing their infected cats’ litter boxes, eating unwashed vegetables, drinking water from a contaminated source, or more commonly, by eating undercooked or raw meat that is infested with cysts.” Scientists at the University of Maryland believe it is a huge public health issue around the world, and most people are unaware they harbor the infection. “Around one million people commit suicide and another 10 million attempt suicide worldwide each year.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Researchers have found a link between the parasite called Toxoplasma gondii and mental illness, which can lead to suicidal behavior for women. The parasite is commonly contracted from the careless handling of cat litter boxes, consuming food that is undercooked or raw or from unwashed vegetables. Researchers believe this information will be vital as they continue to seek ways “to save many lives that now end prematurely in suicide.”
It's unlikely that there's anything on the planet that is worth the cost of shipping it back
- In the second season of National Geographic Channel's MARS (premiering tonight, 11/12/18,) privatized miners on the red planet clash with a colony of international scientists
- Privatized mining on both Mars and the Moon is likely to occur in the next century
- The cost of returning mined materials from Space to the Earth will probably be too high to create a self-sustaining industry, but the resources may have other uses at their origin points
Want to go to Mars? It will cost you. In 2016, SpaceX founder Elon Musk estimated that manned missions to the planet may cost approximately $10 billion per person. As with any expensive endeavor, it is inevitable that sufficient returns on investment will be needed in order to sustain human presence on Mars. So, what's underneath all that red dust?
Mining Technology reported in 2017 that "there are areas [on Mars], especially large igneous provinces, volcanoes and impact craters that hold significant potential for nickel, copper, iron, titanium, platinum group elements and more."
Were a SpaceX-like company to establish a commercial mining presence on the planet, digging up these materials will be sure to provoke a fraught debate over environmental preservation in space, Martian land rights, and the slew of microbial unknowns which Martian soil may bring.
In National Geographic Channel's genre-bending narrative-docuseries, MARS, (the second season premieres tonight, November 12th, 9 pm ET / 8 pm CT) this dynamic is explored as astronauts from an international scientific coalition go head-to-head with industrial miners looking to exploit the planet's resources.
Given the rate of consumption of minerals on Earth, there is plenty of reason to believe that there will be demand for such an operation.
"Almost all of the easily mined gold, silver, copper, tin, zinc, antimony, and phosphorus we can mine on Earth may be gone within one hundred years" writes Stephen Petranek, author of How We'll Live on Mars, which Nat Geo's MARS is based on. That grim scenario will require either a massive rethinking of how we consume metals on earth, or supplementation from another source.
Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, told Petranek that it's unlikely that even if all of Earth's metals were exhausted, it is unlikely that Martian materials could become an economically feasible supplement due to the high cost of fuel required to return the materials to Earth. "Anything transported with atoms would have to be incredibly valuable on a weight basis."
Actually, we've already done some of this kind of resource extraction. During NASA's Apollo missions to the Moon, astronauts used simple steel tools to collect about 842 pounds of moon rocks over six missions. Due to the high cost of those missions, the Moon rocks are now highly valuable on Earth.
Moon rock on display at US Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL (Big Think/Matt Carlstrom)In 1973, NASA valuated moon rocks at $50,800 per gram –– or over $300,000 today when adjusted for inflation. That figure doesn't reflect the value of the natural resources within the rock, but rather the cost of their extraction.
Assuming that Martian mining would be done with the purpose of bringing materials back to Earth, the cost of any materials mined from Mars would need to include both the cost of the extraction and the value of the materials themselves. Factoring in the price of fuel and the difficulties of returning a Martian lander to Earth, this figure may be entirely cost prohibitive.
What seems more likely, says Musk, is for the Martian resources to stay on the Red Planet to be used for construction and manufacturing within manned colonies, or to be used to support further mining missions of the mineral-rich asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
At the very least, mining on Mars has already produced great entertainment value on Earth: tune into Season 2 of MARS on National Geographic Channel.
It's an asteroid, it's a comet, it's actually a spacecraft?
- 'Oumuamua is an oddly shaped, puzzling celestial object because it doesn't act like anything naturally occurring.
- The issue? The unexpected way it accelerated near the Sun. Is this our first sign of extraterrestrials?
- It's pronounced: oh MOO-uh MOO-uh.
A study started out trying to see the effect of sexist attacks on women authors, but it found something deeper.
- It's well known that abusive comments online happen to women more than men
- Such comments caused a "significant effect for the abusive comment on author credibility and intention to seek news from the author and outlet in the future"
- Some news organizations already heavily moderate or even ban comments entirely; this should underscore that effort
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