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The Globe and Mail

Obesity a greater health risk than malnutrition

Obesity exceeds malnutrition

"Obesity is now killing triple the number of people who die from malnutrition as it claims more than three million lives a year worldwide, according to a landmark study," reports The Daily Telegraph. "With the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, eating too much is now a more serious risk to the health of populations than eating poorly, found the Global Burden of Disease study, published in a special edition of The Lancet."

A mammal's many tongues

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"For anyone interested in languages, the northeastern coastal region of Papua New Guinea is like a well-stocked sweet shop," writes Mark Pagel in the New Scientist. "Korak speakers live right next to Brem speakers, who are just up the coast from Wanambre speakers, and so on. I once met a man from that area and asked him whether it is true that a different language is spoken every few kilometres. 'Oh, no,' he replied, 'they are far closer together than that.' Around the world today, some 7,000 distinct languages are spoken. That's 7,000 ways of saying 'good morning' or 'it looks like rain' – more languages in one species of mammal than there are mammalian species. What's more, these 7,000 languages probably make up just a fraction of those ever spoken in our history."

Got a new brain?

"Technology has changed the way people think, creating a 'new brain,' two Italian psychology

experts say," reports United Press International. "Psychologist Maria Beatrice Togo, who

collaborated with psychotherapist Tonino Cantelmi on a new book … Technoliquidity, postulates entertainment technology such as video games 'has triggered an evolutionary leap,

just like the written word 3,000 years ago. It has changed our memory; our brain has lost certain connections. … Some circuits have been lost and others have developed, circuits that are more closely linked to perception. The human brain has not changed on an anatomical

level but it now works differently. It is a new brain. … [T]he ones with a 'new brain' are the

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children and adolescents of today.'"

Blast off to ailments

"A future boom in space tourism will increasingly expose members of the public … to a panoply of ailments that so far, for

the most part, only superbly healthy astronauts have encountered," says Science Now. Researchers have compiled a

list from previous studies of space medicine. "Besides the motion sickness, headaches

and sinus congestion possibly triggered by short flights,

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long-term flights might exacerbate osteoporosis, back pain,

acid reflux and certain types of cancer, as well as increase

the risk of infections and kidney stones, the researchers report"

in the journal BMJ. Previous studies suggest that once fleets

of space-capable vehicles are available, commercial launch companies together might

expect as many as 13,000 space tourists during their first decade of operation.

Thought du jour

"Success and failure are greatly overrated. But failure gives you a whole lot more to talk about."

Hildegard Knef, German actress and writer (1925-2002)

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