From Kathryn Armstrong for the BBC: “Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa, Hawaii’s so-called ‘last princess,’ passed away in 2022 at the age of 96. Known to her friends as Kekau, was one of the last living links to the royal family and was celebrated for her philanthropic support of traditional Hawaiian culture. She died peacefully at home in Honolulu on Sunday with her wife by her side, according to a statement released by Iolani Palace, America’s only royal residence. Abigail was born in Honolulu in 1926 and attended school in Shanghai and California. Her wealth, estimated to be $215m, came from her great-grandfather, an Irish businessman who owned a sugar plantation. His daughter married Prince David Kawānanakoa, who was third in line for the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii when the royal family was overthrown by American businessmen in 1893.”
Celine Dion says she suffers from “stiff-person syndrome.” What is it?
Nicole Stock writes for The New York Times: “Pop superstar Celine Dion has cancelled tour dates after being diagnosed with stiff person syndrome, a rare neurological condition. The syndrome, which causes progressive stiffness in the body and severe muscle spasms, is “exquisitely rare” and affects perhaps one in a million people, according to the medical director of comprehensive pain recovery at Cleveland Clinic. Stiff person syndrome is a rare autoimmune neurological condition that affects the central nervous system and can cause rigidity throughout the body and painful muscle spasms. It was first coined in the 1920s (as “stiff man syndrome”) after doctors described patients falling over like “a wooden man.” The exact cause of the condition is not clear.”
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Road built 7,000 years ago found at the bottom of the Mediterranean sea
Rebecca Dyer writes for Science Daily: “Archaeologists have unearthed the remnants of a 7,000-year-old road hidden beneath layers of sea mud off the southern Croatian coast. Made at the sunken Neolithic site of Soline, this exciting find may once have linked the ancient Hvar cultural settlement to the now isolated island of Korčula. Once an artificial island, the ancient site of Soline was discovered in 2021 by archaeologist Mate Parica of the University of Zadar in Croatia while he was analyzing satellite images of the water area around Korčula. After spotting something he thought might be human-made on the ocean floor, Parica and a colleague dove to investigate.”
The female biologist who pioneered modern sex research
Matthew Wills writes for JSTOR Daily: “Marie Stopes was a legend in her own time. A pioneering woman scientist, she completed her PhD in a single year in 1904 and then became the youngest person to earn a Doctor of Science in Britain. As a paleobotanist, Stopes made “significant interventions,” particularly in the study of the plants that make up coal. But it’s as one of the first women sexologists and birth control advocates that Stopes earned her great fame—and her notoriety. In 1913, while working as a lecturer in paleobotan, Stopes began to scientifically study human sexuality, a field dominated by medical and psychological approaches (and men).”
Revenge of the gaslit: Researchers with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome now study it
“Is EDS real?” The latter is a question that really annoyed Cortney Gensemer, a postdoctoral researcher who studies and has Ehler-Danlos Syndrome. How could people — even doctors — not believe in a group of illnesses that have inflicted tangible symptoms on her and several of her relatives? Patients might look healthy, their tests might show no signs of disease, but they endure repeated joint dislocations, headaches and pain, as well as gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, and stretchy and fragile skin. But since, unlike the other dozen, hEDS has no known gene, it stays in medicine’s gray area. The medical gaslighting she endured as a patient? Now, it’s material for her work in the lab at the Department of Regenerative Medicine at the University of South Carolina.”
As many as one-third of all published scientific papers may be fraudulent
Tom Chivers writes for Semafor: “Around a third of studies published in neuroscience journals, and about 24% in medical journals, are “made up or plagiarized,” according to a new paper. The research, referred to as a preprint — meaning it has not yet been peer-reviewed — looked at 5,000 published papers, as first reported by Science. Using a simple, automated detection system the researchers looked for two telltale signs: Whether an author was registered with a personal, rather than institutional, email address, and if the author listed their affiliation as a hospital. The papers flagged as potentially fake were then checked by humans. About 1,500 of the papers were likely fraudulent, the researchers concluded.”