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Reading this is almost guaranteed to make you want to wash your hands. From Science Daily:

How quickly viruses can contaminate buildings -- from just a single doorknob

Using tracer viruses, researchers found that contamination of just a single doorknob or table top results in the spread of viruses throughout office buildings, hotels, and health care facilities. Within 2 to 4 hours, the virus could be detected on 40 to 60 percent of workers and visitors in the facilities and commonly touched objects.

There is a simple solution, though, says Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona, Tucson, who presented the study. "Using disinfecting wipes containing quaternary ammonium compounds (QUATS) registered by EPA as effective against viruses like norovirus and flu, along with hand hygiene, reduced virus spread by 80 to 99 percent," he says.

Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Each year, it causes an estimated 19-21 million illnesses and contributes to 56,000-71,000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths. Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus then putting your fingers in your mouth is a common source of infection.

In the study, Gerba and his colleagues used bacteriophage MS-2 as a surrogate for the human norovirus, as it is similar in shape, size and resistance to disinfectants. The phage was placed on 1 to 2 commonly touched surfaces (door knob or table top) at the beginning of the day in office buildings, conference room and a health care facility. After various periods of time (2 to 8 hours) they sampled 60 to 100 fomites, surfaces capable of carrying infectious organisms (light switches, bed rails, table tops, countertops, push buttons, coffee pots handles, sink tap handles, door knobs, phones and computer equipment), for the phages.

"Within 2 to 4 hours between 40 to 60% of the fomites sampled were contaminated with virus," says Gerba.

In the intervention phase cleaning personal and employees were provided with QUATS disinfectant containing wipes and instructed on proper use (use of at least once daily). The number of fomites on which virus was detected was reduced by 80% or greater and the concentration of virus reduced by 99% or more.

A banana a day keeps the doctor away? A recent large study found that older women who eat foods with higher amounts of potassium may be at lower risk of stroke and death, when compared to women who eat fewer potassium rich foods. The association was with ischemic stroke (caused by clot) and not hemorrhagic stroke.

Some good food sources of potassium are: bananas, cantaloupe, grapefruit, oranges, white and sweet potatoes, and white beans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that women eat at least 4700 mg of potassium daily, but in this study the average intake of the postmenopausal women was 2611 mg per day.

This study followed  90,137 postmenopausal women (aged 50 to 79 years at baseline), and followed them an average of 11 years. Now this same study needs to be done with men and women of all ages. From Science Daily:

Potassium-rich foods cut stroke, death risks among older women

Older women who eat foods with higher amounts of potassium may be at lower risk of stroke and death than women who consume less potassium-rich foods. The health benefits from potassium-rich foods are greater among older women who do not have high blood pressure. Most older American women do not eat the recommended amounts of potassium from foods.

"Our findings give women another reason to eat their fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium, and potassium not only lowers postmenopausal women's risk of stroke, but also death."

Researchers studied 90,137 postmenopausal women, ages 50 to 79, for an average 11 years. They looked at how much potassium the women consumed, as well as if they had strokes, including ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, or died during the study period. Women in the study were stroke-free at the start and their average dietary potassium intake was 2,611 mg/day. Results of this study are based on potassium from food, not supplements.

The researchers found: -Women who ate the most potassium were 12 percent less likely to suffer stroke in general and 16 percent less likely to suffer an ischemic stroke than women who ate the least. -Women who ate the most potassium were 10 percent less likely to die than those who ate the least. They also said there was no evidence of any association between potassium intake and hemorrhagic stroke, which could be related to the low number of hemorrhagic strokes in the study.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that women eat at least 4,700 mg of potassium daily. "Only 2.8 percent of women in our study met or exceeded this level. "Our findings suggest that women need to eat more potassium-rich foods. You won't find high potassium in junk food. Some foods high in potassium include white and sweet potatoes, bananas and white beans."

Another interesting study that makes you think about our microbiome. From NPR:

Stinky T-Shirt? Bacteria Love Polyester In A Special Way

Anyone with a drawerful of T-shirts knows that the synthetic ones can get sour after just a brief jog, while old-school cotton T-shirts remain relatively stink-free all day. And now science explains why. The bacteria that flourish on a sweaty polyester T-shirt are different from those that grow on cotton, researchers at the University of Ghent in Belgium found. Polyester makes a happy home for Micrococcus bacteria, while Staphylococcus, a common armpit denizen, was found on both poly and cotton.

Microbes love the cozy warmth of the human armpit; it's like a trip to the tropics without ever having to leave home. And it's crowded in there. Those microbes eat compounds in sweat and generate odors, which support a flourishing deodorant industry. 

The scientists asked 26 volunteers to take a spinning class while wearing shirts made of cotton, poly or blends. The shirts were then incubated for a day, and the microbes extracted and DNA fingerprinted. Volunteers also had their armpits swabbed. 

It turns out the bugs on the shirts are different from the bugs in the pits. While Corynebacterium is thought to be the main cause of armpit body odor, there was no Corynebacterium on the clothes. Instead, Staphylococcus flourished on cotton and poly, and Micrococcus, bacteria also known for making malodor, loved polyester.

He's also trying to help people with excessive body odor by giving them armpit bacteria transplants. "We have done transplants with about 15 people, and most of them have been successful," Callewaert, a Ph.D. student in applied biological sciences at the University of Ghent, tells Shots. "All have had an effect short term, but the bad odor comes back after a few months for some people."

Manufacturers have tried to make polyester fabric less hospitable to bacteria by impregnating it with antimicrobials like silver nanoparticles or triclosan. Both products have been criticized as having potentially negative impacts on the environment, and there are few data on how they might affect the wearer. Callewaert thinks the ultimate solution will be something more organic — supplant bad bugs with good ones. 

The great effects (especially for hemorrhagic stroke) were found in people eating just 1 1/2 portions of fresh fruit daily. The amazing part is that 6.3% admitted to never consuming fruit. From Science Daily:

Fruit consumption cuts cardiovascular disease risk by up to 40 percent

Daily fruit consumption cuts the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by up to 40 percent, according to research. The findings from the seven-year follow-up study of nearly a half million people in the China Kadoorie Biobank found that the more fruit people ate, the more their risk of CVD declined.

Dr Du said: "CVD, including ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and stroke, is the leading cause of death worldwide. Improving diet and lifestyle is critical for CVD risk reduction in the general population but the large majority of this evidence has come from western countries and hardly any from China."

The current study included 451 681 participants with no history of CVD and not on anti-hypertensive treatment at baseline from the China Kadoorie Biobank(1) conducted in 10 different areas of China, 5 rural and 5 urban. Habitual consumption of fruit was recorded at baseline according to five categories: never, monthly, 1-3 days per week, 4-6 days per week, daily.

Over the seven year follow up period there were 19 300 cases of IHD and 19 689 strokes (14 688 ischaemic and 3562 haemorrhagic). Some 18% of participants consumed fruit daily and 6.3% never consumed fruit. The average amount of fruit eaten by the daily consumers was 1.5 portions (~150g).

The researchers found that compared to people who never ate fruit, those who ate fruit daily cut their CVD risks by 25-40% (around 15% for IHD, around 25% for ischaemic stroke and 40% for haemorrhagic stroke). There was a dose response relationship between the frequency of fruit consumption and the risk of CVD.

Dr Du said: "Our data clearly shows that eating fresh fruit can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including ischaemic heart disease and stroke (particularly haemorrhagic stroke). And not only that, the more fruit you eat the more your CVD risk goes down. It does suggest that eating more fruit is beneficial compared to less or no fruit."

The researchers also found that people who consumed fruit more often had significantly lower blood pressure (BP). Eating fruit daily was associated with 3.4/4.1 mmHg lower systolic/diastolic BP compared to those who never ate fruit. 

In a separate analysis, the researchers examined the association of fruit consumption with total mortality and CV mortality in more than 61,000 patients from the China Kadoorie Biobank who had CVD or hypertension at baseline. They found that compared to those who never ate fruit, daily consumers of fruit cut their overall risk of death by 32%. They also reduced their risks of dying from IHD by 27% and from stroke by around 40%.

Unfortunately the first article doesn't list the herbal supplements causing liver problems, but the earlier NY Times article mentions green tea extracts as one of them. From Science Daily:

Liver injury caused by herbals, dietary supplements rises in study population

Liver injury caused by herbals and dietary supplements increased from 7% to 20% in a U.S. study group over a ten-year period, research shows. According to the study, liver injury caused by non-bodybuilding supplements is most severe, occurring more often in middle-aged women and more frequently resulting in death or the need for transplantation than liver injury from bodybuilding supplements or conventional medications.

In response to the need for research in this area, the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) supported the establishment of the Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network (DILIN) in 2003 to track cases of liver injury caused by medications (excluding acetaminophen (Tylenol®)), herbals, and dietary supplements. Herbals and dietary supplements were identified as the second most common cause of liver injury in the first DILIN report.

The present study examines hepatotoxicity due to supplements compared to medications, enrolling 839 patients with liver injury from 8 U.S. DILIN referral centers between 2004 and 2013 While bodybuilding supplements caused prolonged jaundice (median 91 days) in young men, no fatalities or liver transplantations occurred. Death or liver transplantation occurred more frequently among cases of injury from non-bodybuilding supplements, 13%, than from conventional medications, 3%. Liver injury from non-bodybuilding supplements was more common in middle aged women.

From NY Times (Dec. 2013):

Spike in Harm to Liver Is Tied to Dietary Aids

But the supplement business is largely unregulated. ... But a federal law enacted in 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, prevents the Food and Drug Administration from approving or evaluating most supplements before they are sold. Usually the agency must wait until consumers are harmed before officials can remove products from stores. Because the supplement industry operates on the honor system, studies show, the market has been flooded with products that are adulterated, mislabeled or packaged in dosages that have not been studied for safety.

The new research found that many of the products implicated in liver injuries were bodybuilding supplements spiked with unlisted steroids,and herbal pills and powders promising to increase energy and help consumers lose weight.

 More popular supplements like vitamins, minerals, probiotics and fish oil had not been linked to “patterns of adverse effects,” he said.

Since 2008, the F.D.A. has been taking action against companies whose supplements are found to contain prescription drugs and controlled substances, said Daniel Fabricant, the director of the division of dietary supplement programs in the agency’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. For example, the agency recently took steps to remove one “fat burning” product from shelves, OxyElite Pro, that was linked to one death and dozens of cases of hepatitis and liver injury in Hawaii and other states.

A second trend emerged when Dr. Navarro and his colleagues studied 85 patients with liver injuries linked to herbal pills and powders. Two-thirds were middle-aged women, on average 48 years old, who often used the supplements to lose weight or increase energy. Nearly a dozen of those patients required liver transplants, and three died

But one product that patients used frequently was green tea extract, which contains catechins, a group of potent antioxidants that reputedly increase metabolism. The extracts are often marketed as fat burners, and catechins are often added to weight-loss products and energy boosters. Most green tea pills are highly concentrated, containing many times the amount of catechins found in a single cup of green tea, Dr. Bonkovsky said. In high doses, catechins can be toxic to the liver, he said, and a small percentage of people appear to be particularly susceptible.

Interesting, but does it really mean anything? Just change to a new toothbrush monthly.From Science Daily:

Up to 3,000 times the bacterial growth on hollow-head toothbrushes

Solid-head power toothbrushes retain less bacteria compared to hollow-head toothbrushes, according to new research.

Lead author and professor at the UTHealth School of Dentistry, Donna Warren Morris, R.D.H., M.Ed., notes that microbial counts were lower in the solid-head toothbrush group than in the two hollow-head toothbrush groups in 9 out of 10 comparisons. "Toothbrushes can transmit microorganisms that cause disease and infections. A solid-head design allows for less growth of bacteria and bristles should be soft and made of nylon," Morris said. 

The study was conducted over a three-week period where participants brushed twice daily with one out of three randomly assigned power toothbrushes. Participants used non-antimicrobial toothpaste and continued their flossing routine throughout the study, but refrained from using other dental products like mouthwash.

During the study the brush heads were exposed to five categories of oral microorganisms: anaerobes and facultative microorganisms, yeast and mold, oral streptococci and oral enterococci anaerobes, Porphyromonas gingivalis andFusobacterium species.

The article also states that there is no present or published study that has demonstrated that bacterial growth on toothbrushes can lead to systematic health effects, but as Morris stated, several microorganisms have been associated with systemic diseases.

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Two write-ups about the same large study.The good news is that there is no one diet that works - the key is to stick with the diet. From Science Daily:

Comparison of named diet programs finds little difference in weight loss outcomes

In an analysis of data from nearly 50 trials including about 7,300 individuals, significant weight loss was observed with any low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet, with weight loss differences between diet programs small, findings that support the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight.

Bradley C. Johnston, Ph.D., of the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, Toronto, and McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to assess the relative effectiveness of different popular diets in improving weight loss. 

The meta-analysis included 59 articles that reported 48 randomized clinical trials (7,286 individuals; median age, 46 years; median weight, 207.5 lbs.). In the diet-class analysis adjusted for exercise and behavioral support, all treatments were superior to no diet at 6-month follow-up. Compared with no diet, low-carbohydrate diets had a median difference in weight loss of 19.2 lbs. and low-fat diets had similar estimated effects (17.6 lbs.).

At 12-month follow-up, the estimated average weight losses of all diet classes compared with no diet were approximately 2.2 to 4.4 lbs. less than after 6-month follow-up. The diet classes of low fat (16 lbs.) and low carbohydrate (16 lbs.) continued to have the largest estimated treatment effects.

Weight loss differences between individual diets were minimal. "Our findings should be reassuring to clinicians and the public that there is no need for a one-size-fits­ all approach to dieting because many different diets appear to offer considerable weight loss benefits. 

From Medical Xpress:

Any diet works, if you stick to it, study finds

At six month follow-up, people on low-carbohydrate diets lost 19 more pounds than those who were not on a diet, while those on low-fat diets lost 17 more pounds than those on no diet. After 12 months about two to three pounds of that difference was gone, and there was no difference between low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets.

Behavioural support in a diet made a difference at six months, enhancing weight loss by about seven pounds, while exercise was significant at 12 months, improving weight loss by about four and half pounds.

Same research study is discussed as in the last post (Your Bacteria All Over Your Home), but different write-up with more and different details. From Washington Post:

Hotel rooms aren’t yucky – you colonize them with your own personal bacteria within hours

When you move from one house to another, you take all your bacteria with you. In fact, your family's microbiome (or your eco-system of inner and outer bacteria) lays claim to hotel rooms with hours. Our bacterial signatures are so persistent and so unique, a new study published Thursday in Science reports, that they could even be used in forensic investigations — and eventually become more useful to police than an old-fashioned fingerprint. And the same research that could track down a serial killer could also help you raise healthier kids.

In studying seven families as they moved from one house to another, the microbiologists had one major takeaway: Bacteria move from your body to your living space at incredible speed.

"Everyone thinks hotels are icky," said Jack Gilbert,, corresponding author of the study and environmental microbiologist at Argonne National Laboratory, "but when one young couple we studied moved into a hotel, it was microbiologically identical to their home within 24 hours." And unpublished further research reveals that the time frame is even swifter than that. "No matter what you do to clean a hotel room," Gilbert said, "your microbial signal has wiped out basically every trace of the previous resident within hours."

What's more, the researchers were able to determine how much individuals in a family interacted, what rooms they used, and even when they'd last been to one part of the house or another. This has obvious applications in forensic science. "We could go all J. Edgar Hoover on this and make a database of microbial fingerprints of people all over the world," Gilbert said, "and it's far more sophisticated than a standard fingerprint, which is just a presence or absence indication. We can see who they are, where they're from, the diet they're eating, when they left, who they may have been interacting with. It gets pretty crazy."

Gilbert and his colleagues are already working with police in Hawaii, hoping to look at the microbiome left on dead bodies. "If someone is, shall we say, recently and inappropriately deceased," Gilbert said, "we can look at their bacterial colonies and try to identify who the last person to come into contact with them was, and when." Based on some promising animal studies, he said, it could be possible. "An actual fingerprint is rarely left on a body," Gilbert said, "but a microbial fingerprint certainly is."

The Home Microbiome Study has more immediate applications, too. Gilbert, a father of two, hopes that fellow parents will use these and future findings to raise their offspring in healthier microbiomes. Before the age of two, the human microbiome remains in flux. Different species of bacteria compete to gain permanent spots — and once the race is run, you're basically stuck with the winners. Research in animals has shown that bacterial exposure in youth can impact physical and mental development and health for the rest of an organism's life.

"Let's say a kid grows up in an apartment block, without going outside much," Gilbert said. "They're just getting this same human bacteria fed back to them, day after day." More exposure is most certainly the better route.

For starters, get a dog. Partway through the study, Gilbert did just that. "We saw dogs acting as a super-charged conduit," he said, "transferring bacteria between one human and another, and bringing in outdoor bacteria. They just run around distributing microbes all willy-nilly." Sure enough, his family saw their home's microbiome benefit from the new addition.

We now know that most bacteria are beneficial to us — and that some can even prevent allergies."Imagine if we could engineer our home environments, optimize our carpeting and air conditioning systems, to bring in the really good bacteria," he said. 

Exciting research! From Science Daily:

Home is where the microbes are

A person's home is their castle, and they populate it with their own subjects: millions and millions of bacteria. Scientists have detailed the microbes that live in houses and apartments. The study was conducted by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago. 

The results shed light on the complicated interaction between humans and the microbes that live on and around us. Mounting evidence suggests that these microscopic, teeming communities play a role in human health and disease treatment and transmission.

"We know that certain bacteria can make it easier for mice to put on weight, for example, and that others influence brain development in young mice," said Argonne microbiologist Jack Gilbert, who led the study. "We want to know where these bacteria come from, and as people spend more and more time indoors, we wanted to map out the microbes that live in our homes and the likelihood that they will settle on us.

The Home Microbiome Project followed seven families, which included eighteen people, three dogs and one cat, over the course of six weeks. The participants in the study swabbed their hands, feet and noses daily to collect a sample of the microbial populations living in and on them. They also sampled surfaces in the house, including doorknobs, light switches, floors and countertops. Then the samples came to Argonne, where researchers performed DNA analysis to characterize the different species of microbes in each sample.

They found that people substantially affected the microbial communities in a house -- when three of the families moved, it took less than a day for the new house to look just like the old one, microbially speaking.

Regular physical contact between individuals also mattered -- in one home where two of the three occupants were in a relationship with one another, the couple shared many more microbes. Married couples and their young children also shared most of their microbial community.

Within a household, hands were the most likely to have similar microbes, while noses showed more individual variation. Adding pets changed the makeup as well, Gilbert said -- they found more plant and soil bacteria in houses with indoor-outdoor dogs or cats.

In at least one case, the researchers tracked a potentially pathogenic strain of bacteria called Enterobacter, which first appeared on one person's hands, then the kitchen counter, and then another person's hands. "It's also quite possible that we are routinely exposed to harmful bacteria -- living on us and in our environment -- but it only causes disease when our immune systems are otherwise disrupted."

Home microbiome studies also could potentially serve as a forensic tool, Gilbert said. Given an unidentified sample from a floor in this study, he said, "we could easily predict which family it came from."

The research also suggests that when a person (and their microbes) leaves a house, the microbial community shifts noticeably in a matter of days."You could theoretically predict whether a person has lived in this location, and how recently, with very good accuracy," he said.

An interesting article that discusses research that finds advantages to being dyslexic. Perhaps think in terms of cognitive diversity. From Scientific American:

The Advantages of Dyslexia

With reading difficulties can come other cognitive strengths.

In our laboratory at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics we have carried out studies funded by the National Science Foundation to investigate talents for science among those with dyslexia. The dyslexic scientist Christopher Tonkin described to me his sense of this as a sensitivity to “things out of place.”  He’s easily bothered by the weeds among the flowers in his garden, and he felt that this sensitivity for visual anomalies was something he built on in his career as a professional scientist.  Such differences in sensitivity for causal perception may explain why people like Carole Greider and Baruj Benacerraf have been able to perform Nobel prize-winning science despite lifelong challenges with dyslexia.

Why are there advantages in dyslexia?  Is it something about the brains of people with dyslexia that predisposes them to causal thinking? Or, is it a form of compensation, differences in the brain that occur because people with dyslexia read less? Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is unknown.

One thing we do know for sure is that reading changes the structure of the brain. An avid reader might read for an hour or more a day, day in and day out for years on end. This highly specialized repetitive training, requiring an unnaturally precise, split-second control over eye movements, can quickly restructure the visual system so as to make some pathways more efficient than the others.

My colleagues and I suggested that one reason people with dyslexia may exhibit visual talents is that they have difficulty managing visual attention⁠. It may at first seem ironic that a difficulty can lead to an advantage, but it makes sense when you realize that what we call “advantages” and “disadvantages” have meaning only in the context of the task that needs to be performed.

For example, imagine you’re looking to hire a talented security guard. This person’s job will be to spot things that look odd and out of place, and call the police when something suspicious —say, an unexpected footprint in a flowerbed— is spotted. If this is the person’s task, would you rather hire a person who is an excellent reader, who has the ability to focus deeply and get lost in the text, or would you rather hire a person who is sensitive to changes in their visual environment, who is less apt to focus and block out the world?

Tasks such as reading require an ability to focus your attention on the words as your eyes scan a sentence, to quickly and accurately shift your attention in sequence from one word to the next.  But, to be a good security guard you need an opposite skill; you need to be able to be alert to everything all at once, and though this isn’t helpful for reading, this can lead to talents in other areas.

A series of studies by an Italian team led by Andrea Facoetti have shown that children with dyslexia often exhibit impairments in visual attention. In one study,Facoetti’s team measured visual attention in 82 preschool children who had not yet been taught to read. The researchers then waited a few years until these children finished second grade, and then examined how well each child had learned reading. They found that those who had difficulty focusing their visual attention in preschool had more difficulty learning to read.

These studies raise the possibility that visual attention deficits, present from a very early age, are responsible for the reading challenges that are characteristic of dyslexia. If this theory is upheld, it would also suggest that the observed advantages are not an incidental byproduct of experience with reading, but are instead the result of differences in the brain that were likely present from birth.

If this is indeed the case, given that attention affects perception in very general ways, any number of advantages should emerge.  While people with dyslexia may tend to miss details in their environment that require an attentional focus, they would be expected to be better at noticing things that are distributed more broadly.  To put this another way, while typical readers may tend to miss the forest because its view is blocked by all the trees, people with dyslexia may see things more holistically, and miss the trees, but see the forest.

Among other advantages observed, Gadi Geiger and his colleagues at MIT found that people with dyslexia can distribute their attention far more broadly than do typical readers, successfully identifying letters flashed simultaneously in the center and the periphery for spacings that were much further apart. They also showed that such advantages are not just for things that are visual, but that they apply to sounds as well. In one study, simulating the sounds of a cocktail party, they found that people with dyslexia were able to pick out more words spoken by voices widely-distributed in the room, compared with people who were proficient readers.

Whether or not observations of such advantages —measured in the laboratory— have applications to talents in real life remains an open question. But, whatever the reason, a clear trend is beginning to emerge: People with dyslexia may exhibit strengths for seeing the big picture (both literally and figuratively) others tend to miss.  Thomas G. West has long-argued that out-of-the-box thinking is historically part and parcel of dyslexia, and more recently physicians Brock and Fernette Eide have advanced similar arguments. Sociologists, such as Julie Logan of the Cass Business School in London agree.  Logan found that dyslexia is relatively common among business entrepreneurs; people who tend to think differently and see the big picture in thinking creatively about a business.

Whatever the mechanism, one thing is clear: dyslexia is associated with differences in visual abilities, and these differences can be an advantage in many circumstances, such as those that occur in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It’s only when everything is all the same that nothing productive can get done. Neurological differences similarly drive the engine of society, to create the contrasts between hot and cold that lead to productive work. Impairments in one area can lead to advantages in others, and it is these differences that drive progress in many fields, including science and math.