Friday, 28 October 2011

Alcohol: ‘more harmful than heroin’, or all in the mind?

If you’ve been following reports in the media recently, you may be a little confused about alcohol and its’ effects. A year ago, the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs published a report on drug harms in the Lancet. They calculated harm scores, to an individual and to society as a whole, and found that alcohol was more damaging than heroin or crack cocaine. And only this week the Royal College of Physicians released a report about alcohol. It provides evidence that our livers need three days alcohol free per week, if we have more than one or two drinks per day. If you drink heavily one evening, you should have a couple of days off before you drink again. From this evidence, it seems that alcohol is bad news.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Dynamite Money

Housing Genius: the Nobel Museum, Stockholm
#1: The Growling Bear

Since this week happens to be the time of year when small bands of elite academics (and sometimes spurious accessories, like Barack Obama) are ushered into the scholarly Hall of Fame, this seems the perfect time to start a new column here on Sifting The Evidence: I'll aim to profile the life and graft of one Nobel Prize winner every month. 

This will span three of the five categories, so anyone from physics, chemistry or physiology/medicine is eligible, but I won’t feature winners of the literature or peace prizes (for, in the eyes of this blog, these are domains of beatniks). And economics also squeaks in, despite its unofficial status. The prizes have been awarded for a diverse array of amazing theories, discoveries and innovations, from radioactivity to IVF, and are given to personalities of every shade, from the outspoken to (perhaps predictably) the somewhat autistic. But first, we’ll start with the Growling Bear himself: Alfred Nobel.