The World’s Oldest Doctor The World’s Oldest Doctor

The World’s Oldest Doctor

The Power of the Placebo Effect
January Weiner
time 11 minutes

Let me tell you about a doctor who has been treating patients with a wide array of illnesses for many years, always using the same proven therapy, and who, after hours, even helps audiophiles to enjoy listening to music. His name is Dr. Placebo.

He went and did it. Not long ago, our uncle, an impassioned audiophile, bought himself a new cable made of pure gold, a true bargain at just 1000 zlotys (some £200). There would be nothing strange about it – well, nothing very strange, as far as our uncle is concerned anyway – had this not been a USB cable. And USB, as we know, is used to transfer digital data; ones and zeros. To be sure, generally all cables should be of good quality, but a gold cable for 1000 zlotys will transfer digital data in exactly the same way as any cheaper, decent-quality cable.

Of course, we are wasting our time trying to convince our uncle of this. He initially tries to explain that there is less noise because this cable, as he puts it, “loses fewer bits”. Given that we happen to know a bit about error correction and data transmission, we can quickly disregard this line of argument. But then he resorts to his last line of defence, a conclusive one, for which there is no counter-argument: “I have tried both cables, and I can simply hear the difference.”

The problem is


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A Journey to the Source of Life A Journey to the Source of Life

A Journey to the Source of Life

Where Do We Come From?
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Two biologists, father and son, both bearing the same name, share with our readers some highly interesting hypotheses regarding the beginning of life on Earth.

Around 4.5 billion years ago, on the periphery of the Milky Way, a cloud of molecules rotating around a small star thickened into bits of matter, which were tiny amid the immensity of the stars. Soon one of these bits of matter started to behave strangely; an atmosphere appeared above its surface and on the surface itself water, which contained complicated chemical compounds. Finally, in addition to the blue of the sky and white of the clouds, the planet was decorated in a strange green colour, while the thin atmosphere wrapping the globe became saturated with a poisonous gas: oxygen.

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