A placebo can take the form of a sugar pill or even a fake surgery. It's often used to test the effectiveness of a trial drug. Ted Kaptchuk, director of Harvard University's Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter, discusses potential applications for the healing power of placebos.
A federal advisory board has urged scientific journals not to publish the research from two labs that have developed an airborne flu virus. Microbiologist Vincent Racaniello discusses why the move sets a bad precedent. Biosecurity expert D.A. Henderson talks about the risks of publishing the research.
Physicist Richard Hill and colleagues at the University of Nottingham have a powerful magnet that they have used to levitate fruits, beer and most recently, fruit flies. It's a low-cost way to study the effects of zero gravity on biological systems, Hill says.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Jennifer Ludden, in Washington. Neal Conan is away. This week ushered in the new year, of course, and with it came a raft of new laws from Florida to California. States passed almost 40,000 laws last year. Many of them took effect this week; a host of others will roll out in the coming months.
After more than 20 years as a columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Pulitzer Prize-winner Cynthia Tucker left to become a visiting professor at the University of Georgia. She edited the editorial page for the paper for eight years until she was reassigned as a political columnist.