What would *you* buy with a trillion dollars?

Via Jonah comes this (depressing, as he notes) NY Times article on what else we could’ve bought with $1.2 trillion:

For starters, $1.2 trillion would pay for an unprecedented public health campaign — a doubling of cancer research funding, treatment for every American whose diabetes or heart disease is now going unmanaged and a global immunization campaign to save millions of children’s lives.

Combined, the cost of running those programs for a decade wouldn’t use up even half our money pot. So we could then turn to poverty and education, starting with universal preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old child across the country. The city of New Orleans could also receive a huge increase in reconstruction funds.

More after the jump…
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Antivirals as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is one of those nebulous diseases that’s really more of a diagnosis of exclusion than anything else. As the name suggests, it’s characterized by overwhelming fatigue–often so much so that patients can barely get out of bed–as well as a number of non-specific symptoms, including weakness, muscle pain, and insomnia. Currently, there is no diagnostic test for the disease, and the cause(s) is (are) unknown. Indeed, it should be noted that there’s disagreement over even the most basic assumption that such a thing as CFS exists, or whether it’s merely psychosomatic. However, a number of lines of evidence (including high antibody titers in many patients) point to an infectious agent as at least a co-factor in the development of the illness, and the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV, which also causes infectious mononucleosis) has been frequently pointed to as a possible causative agent. (Another common herpes virus, HHV-6, has also been investigated as a cause). However, the epidemiology of EBV has made it difficult to study this potential connection using traditional study designs. More on this after the jump.
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Strange natural phenomenon observed in Iowa

Well, we missed the ice storms that hit a few other Sciencebloggers, but we did get a bit of this:

My kids, of course, were clamoring to play in it this morning as I rudely shipped them off to school (the nerve!); meanwhile, I’m realizing I don’t even have snowpants and boots that fit them this year, and I haven’t thought about it because this is the first snowfall that’s been more than a dusting (and even this is only a few inches). Maybe tonight we’ll make the tiniest snowman ever.

Last call to vote for the 2006 Medical blog awards!

Go vote for your favorite! Voting ends Sunday at midnight (PST).

Additionally, the Koufax Awards nominations are open. For those unfamiliar, these are for:

The Koufax Awards are named for Sandy Koufax, one of the greatest left handed pitchers of all time. They are intended to honor the best blogs and bloggers of the left. At the core, the Koufax Awards are meant to be an opportunity to say nice things about your favorite bloggers and to provide a bit of recognition for the folks who provide us with daily information, insight, and entertainment. The awards are supposed to be fun for us and fun for you.

They don’t have any specific science categories, but there are a number of different awards, including best expert blog (which PZ won last year), best group blog, best blog community, best series, etc. Drop some names of your favorite blogs in if you have a few free minutes.

Everything you wanted to know about microbiology and epidemiology, but were afraid to ask

As Chad mentioned, in our super-triple-secret Scienceblogs hidey hole, we’ve been kicking around the idea of writing posts on some basic concepts in our respective fields of expertise. However, after studying this stuff for years and years and years, it’s not always easy for us (well, OK, for me at least) to figure out what “basic concepts” would be interesting and useful to discuss here. I’ve written a bit previously on the difference between “infectious” and “contagious” disease, for example, but I can get much more basic than that. From those of you who commented here (and thank you for doing so!), I know many of you don’t have a background in biology, and maybe you skim over some posts because I lose you with jargon or terminology.

So, is there something that you’d like to have explained? I put micro and epidemiology in the topic because those are usually the two little sub-categories I place myself into, but obviously many of us here are biologists and know more than our narrow specialization, so if there’s some basic biology terminology or concepts that you wish someone would explain, I can do that as well. (Or alternatively, send it to the SB hidey-hole and pass it along to someone who might be more qualified to do so). Fire away!

Kenya Rift Valley Fever update

In yesterday’s post regarding the current outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in Kenya, I noted:

…while there’s little people in the area can do about periodic flooding, scientists are actively examining the relationship between weather and RVF outbreaks. This hopefully will prove useful to predict–and potentially ward off–future disease outbreaks via animal vaccination.

Little did I know that this outbreak had already been predicted by scientists working in this area–back in September. More after the jump…
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Say hello, Gracie


So I see from other blog siblings that it’s National Delurking Week. Aetiology has been around now for a year and a half (and just over a year here at Scienceblogs), and I’m thrilled to have a good group of regular commenters, but I never know quite how to answer when people ask who reads my blog. I know a bit just from my sitemeter stats, and a bit more from what commenters occasionally reveal, but that’s only a small subset of regular readers. So for the rest of you who just pop in and read but rarely, if ever, comment, I’d love to hear a bit about you–where/how you found the site, how long you’ve been stopping by, what you hate, what you like, where you are, what you do, favorite color, what kind of af tree you’d be, whatever you feel like mentioning. So, have at it, and thanks for stopping by!

(Image from http://papernapkin.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/dday_button_copy.jpgj)