2013 Year in Review: Science, Medicine and Technology

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Our year-in-review special looks back at the wacky, weird, and wondrous stories of 2013.

COUNTING SHARKS

A collaborative study between scientists at the University of Toronto and the University of California, Los Angeles, discovered that seals, while in water, can be both asleep and awake at the same time, with one eye and half the brain looking downward for predators while the other half rests. The researchers are hopeful that findings coming out of their study will help in treatments for human sleep disorders.

DOPED TO THE GILLS

“We know that in a predator-prey relation, increased boldness and activity combined with decreased sociality…means you’re going to be somebody’s lunch quite soon.”—Washington State University toxicologist Gregory Moller on the effect that human drugs can have on fish, after a Swedish study found that pharmaceutical contaminants such as anti-anxiety drugs, even in trace amounts, can make fish hyper, aggressive, and antisocial

TAPPING INTO THE PAST

“The domestication of cereals was for the purposes of brewing beer rather than for basic subsistence purposes.”—SFU archaeologists, led by emeritus professor Brian Hayden, in a study published in the Journal of Archaeological Method & Theory that argues that one of the most crucial developments in human civilization was beer-making

TRUST COMPANIES

“Doctors learn relatively little about drugs in medical school, and much of their exposure to pharmacology after graduation may be in the form of advertising. If they are unaware of the potential harms from drugs they prescribe, patients inevitably suffer the consequences.”—Dr. Tom Perry, a clinical-pharmacology specialist at Vancouver’s UBC Hospital, on a joint Canadian, French, and U.S. study that found family doctors receive little or no information about medicines’ harmful effects during visits by drug-company representatives

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