oddly enough, Science

The new feminism?

Given that really no one, including self-identified feminists, really knows what feminism actually is, or, rather, can agree upon a useful definition thereof, I find it strange that hardly any day passes in Germany these days without yet another public demand for a “new feminism (today featuring Thea Dorn, in the Parliamentary Publication “Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte”, in German).” Well, maybe that is all well, and if more choice is really helping, I’m only happy to help to add to the confusion and propose a “medical” version – which, I may add, goes back to the origins of the term, as Sally Haslanger and Nancy Tuana write in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

“[i]n the mid-1800s the term ‘feminism’ was used to refer to “the qualities of females”, and it was not until after the First International Women’s Conference in Paris in 1892 that the term, following the French term féministe, was used regularly in English for a belief in and advocacy of equal rights for women based on the idea of the equality of the sexes.”

Probably thinking of those humble origins, reporting from the sixth annual meeting of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health, Salon.com explains today that science is only now realising something most men have always known on some level – no one, not even women themselves, really know anything about women. In what may be the scary state of art in scientific exploration of female sexuality,

“… sexologist Michael Sand told the Tribune, “We don’t understand normative, healthy sexuality well enough to make judgments about what’s dysfunctional.” … According to one of the governing models, it “starts with desire, progresses through excitement or arousal and ends with orgasm.” Sand received a prize for his research on female sexuality…”

But there’s hope for the discipline: Medical companies are known to be busy investing in their own model of feminism, although it is unclear if the result will be little pink pills…

health, Science

Hopeful PR?

Let’s hope this is not just PR well timed for this week’s world HIV/AIDS awareness week, but indeed a promising sign:

“Paris – French doctors have issued a highly encouraging report about a test treatment which slashed levels of the Aids virus among a small group of HIV-infected volunteers.

The treatment was delivered in three injections, each a fortnight apart. There were no side effects.

Four months after the first dose, the viral load – the quantity of HIV in the blood – had fallen on average by 80 percent.

A year after the jabs, eight out of the 18 patients still showed viral loads that had diminished by more than 90 percent.

Four of them had a viral load of less than 1 000 particles per millilitre, “which, in theory, means they are not infective”, chief researcher Jean-Marie Andrieu, a cancer professor at the Saint-Peres Biomedical Centre in Paris said.”

Science, USA

One Of The Hardest Days.

It is disasters like today’s tragic loss of seven lives, who died when Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated in 60 km altitude during the re-entry into the atmosphere, that remind us of the courage, the risks and the possible hardship involved in human space exploration which are all too often forgotten when success has become routine.

It is days like these that make it difficult to believe in the rationale Kennedy once gave for human space exploration.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…”

Those two women and five men who died today did not choose to board a shuttle because it was hard. They, as all other astronauts before them, pursued a dream for all of mankind which gave them the courage and strength to take extreme risks even though they knew it could be so hard for them and their loved ones.

I am not sure if it is already the time for NASA to announce that

“[w]e’ll find the cause, fix it, and then move on”

– as one official just stated on CNN. But remembering the days when I had a picture of shuttle Columbia in my room, there’s something I know for sure.

The crew of STS-107 will not be forgotten. And their dream is still alive.