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Sounds like a few new vaccines are on the way

Vaccines have been in the news quite a bit recently, with the FDA approving a cervical cancer vaccine and now there are reports of promising news on an Alzheimer's Vaccine. Here's a bit from the AP article:

An experimental vaccine is showing promise against Alzheimer's disease, reducing brain deposits that are blamed for the disorder.

The deposits have been cut by between 15.5 percent and 38.5 percent in mice, with no major side effects, researchers said Monday in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tests of the DNA-based vaccine are under way in monkeys, and if those are successful, testing in people could begin, perhaps within three years, said lead researcher Yoh Matsumoto of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Neuroscience in Japan.

If all goes well, it looks like we might see this vaccine being used in 5-7 years.

It's hard to imagine being in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's shoes back in 1721 when she experimented by deliberately infecting people with a mild form of smallpox. How scary must that have been to infect her own children, even if she was trying to protect them? And while this was one of the first recorded practices of innoculation, many people died from the smallpox they'd been given. Thankfully, Edward Jenner realized a connection between cowpox (which was not as severe) and smallpox. This was the birth of modern vaccination.

But I was surprised to learn that it wasn't even close to the first time inoculation was attempted. Apparently as early as 200 B.C. The Chinese experimented by taking dried abscesses from a person suffering from a mild case of smallpox, they'd grind them into a powder and put the powder in others' noses to immunize them. Even if it didn't work all that well, they were still thinking far ahead of their time.

 

 

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Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice
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Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani once wrote that a violin's tone should "rival the most perfect human voice." Nearly three centuries later, scientists have confirmed that some of the world's oldest violins do in fact mimic aspects of the human singing voice, a finding which scientists believe proves "the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins."

Using speech analysis software, scientists in Taiwan compared the sound produced by 15 antique instruments with recordings of 16 male and female vocalists singing English vowel sounds, The Guardian reports. They discovered that violins made by Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari, the pioneers of the instrument, produce similar "formant features" as the singers. The resonance frequencies were similar between Amati violins and bass and baritone singers, while the higher-frequency tones produced by Stradivari instruments were comparable to tenors and contraltos.

Andrea Amati, born in 1505, was the first known violin maker. His design was improved over 100 years later by Antonio Stradivari, whose instruments now sell for several million dollars. "Some Stradivari violins clearly possess female singing qualities, which may contribute to their perceived sweetness and brilliance," Hwan-Ching Tai, an author of the study, told The Guardian.

Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. A 2013 study by Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also pointed to a link between the sounds produced by 250-year-old violins and those of a female soprano singer.

According to Vox, a blind test revealed that professional violinists couldn't reliably tell the difference between old violins like "Strads" and modern ones, with most even expressing a preference for the newer instruments. However, the value of these antique instruments can be chalked up to their rarity and history, and many violinists still swear by their exceptional quality.

[h/t The Guardian]

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