Thursday, September 08, 2005

More cosmic mysteries

Another fun article from Scientific American here. A very old form of Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves stabbing the patient with needles in order to redirect the flow of Qi, or life energy, within the body.

Some scientists decided to test the effect of acupuncture on migrane sufferers, and found that trained acupuncturists are actually able to have a dramatic effect on people's headaches over time. However, they also found that "sham acupuncture," which involves poking the subject with needles at non-acupuncture points, has an equally strong effect. So the ancient Chinese theory of Qi is nonsense, but we don't have a theory to replace it with yet.

There's also a very serious set of articles in the magazine about the "bottleneck" of the next half century, in which humanity will either make its civilization sustainable, or decline dramatically. I'll read those sometime over the next couple days.