May 20, 2022

Before Antibiotics, Ancient People Made Terrifying Efforts to Cure

How do you having a wide open day? Reverse Daily readers like you yearn to spend the day at the beach, in nature, and away from screens. Kingsley S. enjoys “going to the countryside to connect with nature”. Peter S. spent his 20s with a romantic partner, his 30s on a yacht, and now in his 70s he’s spending his days “quietly.”

Jerry C. runs with his dog. MC prepares “a breakfast of Norwegian pancakes with raspberries and whipped cream”. We all deserve a little relaxation. So sit back and enjoy an array of wonderful stories to start your week.

This is an adapted version of Reverse Daily newsletter of Monday, March 7, 2022. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for daily reading in your inbox. ✉️

Are you all ears?Nastasic/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

A new study in Scientific reports reveals a small window into the ancient history of medicine. The study provides all the gruesome detail of a Neolithic skull with cuts in its mastoid bones, which “contain small pockets called air cells” that can “inflame after a middle ear infection”, writes Jennifer Walter.

“It’s unclear exactly what illness plagued this former woman, but it must have been painful and severe enough to warrant surgery,” Walter writes.

The study authors identify this bone fracture as an early mastoidectomy, a method of draining ear infections used before antibiotics became the gold standard.

Fortunately, the woman’s skull healed at the time of her death. Although this case is the first known ear surgery, experts say it was probably performed by an experienced person, someone much needed since “old skulls tend to show signs of cholesteatomas or cysts that usually develop in the middle ear. and spread to the eardrum,” writes Walter

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Things have changed: Social distancing surgery is now possible

Something like that.United Archives/Hulton Archives/Getty Images

In 2020, researchers discovered a black hole that didn’t exist. “The team […] were originally observing a binary star system called HR 6819 when they began noticing the presence of a third, unseen object,” writes Reverse space journalist Passant Rabie. The researchers eventually determined that the object was just a boring black hole – small for its type (four times the mass of the Sun) and not very ambitious (the object did not release powerful X-ray emissions, the making it “dark, silent, and invisible”).

But other researchers weren’t convinced, so the team eventually revisited their black hole in 2022 to settle the debate. “Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile, researchers were able to get a clearer picture of the nearby system,” Rabie writes. But instead of a black hole, they found a strange “vampire” star.

“One possible scenario is that as these nearby stars age, they grow larger and move closer to each other,” Rabie writes. “One star sucked material from another, causing it to lose much of its mass. After sucking up all this material, the ‘vampire’ star then began to spin faster. Researchers will continue to monitor the star system for any changes in shape.

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I know what you are: The Visual History of Vampires in Film

It’s all just a memory.Layland Masuda/Moment/Getty Images

Reverse Nature journalist Tara Yarlagadda dissects the real brain science behind (one of my favorite movies!) Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind for his last episode of Coil Science. The 2004 film is “one of the most brilliant and bizarre sci-fi romances of all time”, writes Yarlagadda, and raises a pertinent question for anyone suffering from a broken heart: can you erase painful memories at will?

The non-romantic answer is, well, no. In the film, a memory-erasing doctor monitors brains on what appears to be a scanner, erasing large areas that light up when unwanted memories are recalled. Like many heartbreaking stories, it’s not particularly realistic.

“First of all, there isn’t a single part of the brain that controls memory,” Yarlagadda writes. “Parts of the brain – such as the visual cortex – control visual memory, while emotions are represented in specialized brain regions for processing.”

However, there is a grain of scientific truth in eternal sun. Experts say Reverse that the doctor’s process of erasing memories is similar to reconsolidation, a process where scientists must restore memories in order to get them back.

“Neuroscientists are also working on a technique called ‘decoded neurofeedback’ (DecNef) that ‘collects and analyzes brain signals using machine learning to alter painful memories,'” Yarlagadda writes. But if you’re recovering from a breakup, you should probably try therapy first. Or at Ben and Jerry’s.

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Never forget: This colorful diet is linked to better memory

Athena, goddess of wisdom.Print Collector/Hulton Archives/Getty Images

“In the eternal quest for happiness, people can get caught in false fulfillment traps, like chasing a big job bonus or a prestigious award,” writes Ali Pattillo. But true happiness is deeper and more complex to cultivate, requiring you to water your essentials, like community, health, and wisdom. But how?

A recent Frontiers in Psychology study, at the very least, attempts to understand “wisdom”, how it can manifest within you and how to reach it. The study suggests that wisdom appears to differ between genders, stating that men “tend to excel in cognitive dimensions of wisdom such as emotion regulation, while women may have wisdom components more related to compassion. and prosocial like empathy,” writes Pattillo.

This difference could be attributed to differences in education or hormonal differences, but since the study did not interview non-binary people or ask participants if they identified as transgender, further research is needed to to be sure. No matter your gender, however, you can cultivate wisdom by practicing empathy, compassion and making slow decisions, experts say.

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A word for the wise: Kindness can improve brain health

Reader Jim E. enjoys spending a free day with his adorable dogs, pictured here.

About this newsletter: Do you think it can be improved? Do you have a story idea? Want to share a story about the time you met an astronaut? Send these thoughts and more to [email protected].

  • On this day in history: Some people call the total solar eclipse of March 7, 1970 “the eclipse of the century”. According to NASA websiteit was “the first time a total eclipse in the United States has passed over a permanent rocket launch facility,” providing “NASA, four universities, and seven other research organizations with a unique way to conduct meteorology, ionospheric and solar physics experiments using 32 […] suborbital rockets. If you saw him, you would never forget him.
  • Song of the day: Eclipse», by LOONA.