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5 Famous Missing Fingers

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You can do a lot with less than the normal complement of fingers -- including becoming a guitar legend! Here are five famous examples of people achieving fame despite missing some digits!

Jerry Garcia's missing finger1. Jerry Garcia

Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia lost two-thirds of his right middle finger as a child, while steadying wood his father was chopping. (A similar scene was shown in The Royal Tenenbaums to explain Margot's prosthetic finger.) Despite the accident, Garcia went on to play a mean guitar, and often showed off his missing finger in a sort of salute to fans. Today the Barley Mill Pub (a virtual museum of Dead memorabilia) in Portland, Oregon features an illustration of Garcia's right hand, encouraging us all to keep on truckin' regardless of life's little wood-chopping accidents.

James Doohan's missing finger2. James Doohan (Scotty on Star Trek)

James Doohan landed at Normandy on D-Day as part of the Royal Canadian Army. After taking out two snipers, Doohan was hit by six rounds from a Bren light machine gun fired by a sentry (in other words, friendly fire). He took four bullets in one leg, one in the chest (stopped by a silver cigarette case), and the final round amputated his right middle finger. Trek fans who haven't noticed the missing finger have a good excuse: special stunt hands were used in closeups whenever Scotty operated the transporter.

Django Reinhardt's missing finger3. Django Reinhardt

Jean Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt played banjo, guitar, and violin starting in childhood, but his fame as a performer didn't come until after he lost the use of several fingers. At age 18, Django was severely injured in a fire -- he and his wife sold paper and celluloid flowers, which likely fed the fire that consumed their caravan one night. His right leg was paralyzed and the fourth and fifth fingers of his left hand (the hand he used to fret the guitar) were badly burned and remained partially paralyzed for the rest of his life. Django painfully relearned the guitar, developing a new playing style to work around his bad fingers -- becoming a jazz legend in the process.

Tony Iommi's missing finger4. Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

The blokes from Black Sabbath were genuinely working-class, holding tough industrial jobs in Birmingham, England. Guitarist Tony Iommi was working his last day at a sheet metal factory when an industrial accident severed the tips of the middle and ring fingers on his right hand -- because he's left-handed, the right hand was what he used to fret the guitar. Iommi was heartbroken, but after hearing about Django's recovery, Iommi became inspired. First he tried learning to play guitar right-handed -- no dice -- then he re-strung his guitar with extra-light strings and fashioned prosthetic fingertips from plastic covered in leather. Using his "Iron Man" (okay, "Plastic Man") style artificially enhanced fingers, Iommi rocked on.

Jesse and Frank James5. Jesse James

Although accounts differ, some historians believe that infamous outlaw Jesse James was missing the tip of his left middle finger. (Some think it was a different finger, or that there was no missing finger at all. But anyway....) It's unclear exactly how the fingertip was lost, but it's a good bet that a gun was involved. After Robert Ford killed Jesse James in 1882, a photo showing the body had James's left hand concealed under his right, causing some to believe that the photo was fake and Jesse James lived on. An exhumation in 1995 proved that the body was indeed Jesse James, but no mention was made of his missing finger. Pictured at right: Jesse and his brother Frank James.

If you enjoyed this list, check out Neatorama's Missing Body Parts of 10 Famous People which includes a great story about Saint Catherine of Siena's finger!

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Health
New Test Can Differentiate Between Tick-borne Illnesses
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Time is of the essence in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Fortunately, one new test may be able to help. A report on the test was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Ticks and the diseases they carry are on the rise. One 2016 study found deer ticks—the species that carries Lyme disease—in more than half of the counties in the United States.

The two most common tick-borne illnesses in the U.S. are Lyme disease and southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI). Although their initial symptoms can be the same, they’re caused by different pathogens; Lyme disease comes from infection with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. We don’t know what causes STARI.

"It is extremely important to be able to tell a patient they have Lyme disease as early as possible so they can be treated as quickly as possible," microbiologist and first author Claudia Molins of the CDC said in a statement. "Most Lyme disease infections are successfully treated with a two- to three-week course of oral antibiotics." Infections that aren't treated can lead to fevers, facial paralysis, heart palpitations, nerve pain, arthritis, short-term memory loss, and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

But to date, scientists have yet to create an accurate, consistent early test for Lyme disease, which means people must often wait until they’re very ill. And it’s hard to test for the STARI pathogen when we don’t know what it is.

One team of researchers led by experts at Colorado State University was determined to find a better way. They realized that, rather than looking for pathogens, they could look at the way a person’s body responded to the pathogens.

They analyzed blood samples from patients with both early-stage Lyme disease and STARI. Their results showed that while all patients’ immune systems had mounted a response, the nature of that response was different.

"We have found that all of these infections and diseases are associated with an inflammatory response, but the alteration of the immune response, and the metabolic profiles aren't all the same," senior author John Belisle of CSU said.

Two distinct profiles emerged. The team had found physical evidence, or biomarkers, for each illness: a way to tell one disease from another.

Belisle notes that there’s still plenty of work to do.

"The focus of our efforts is to develop a test that has a much greater sensitivity, and maintains that same level of specificity," Belisle said. "We don't want people to receive unnecessary treatment if they don't have Lyme disease, but we want to identify those who have the disease as quickly as possible."

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technology
Google Can Warn You When Your Allergies Are About to Go Haywire
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How much allergy medication are you going to need today? Google can tell you. Well, it can give you a forecast, at least, as The Verge reports.

Google announced on August 16 that the search engine will now auto-populate search results for pollen and allergy information with allergy forecasts from The Weather Channel. The integration will include the most recent pollen index and allergy forecast data, showing a 5-day forecast detailing whether you’re likely to feel seasonal allergy symptoms throughout the week.

An animation shows a scroll of Google’s search results for pollen with allergy forecasts.
Google

If you have the Google app, you can set it to send push notifications when the pollen count is notably high that day, so you know to sequester yourself safely indoors. Hopefully you don't live in a city like Jackson, Mississippi, which in 2016 was named the worst city in the U.S. for allergy sufferers. There, your phone may be pinging every day.

While you can already find this information on sites like Pollen.com, having it show up immediately in search results saves you a few extra clicks, and frankly, it’s far more readable than most allergy and weather forecast sites.

Too bad a search engine can't cure our sneezes and watery eyes, though. Time to stock up on Kleenex, get a jumbo bottle of allergy meds, and maybe buy yourself a robot vacuum.

[h/t The Verge]

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