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Offline JimBob

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Public release date: 9-Jun-2006
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Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles


UCLA physicists report advance toward nanotechy approach to protein engineering

UCLA physicists report a significant step toward a new approach to protein engineering in the June 8 online edition, and in the July print issue, of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"We are learning to control proteins in a new way," said Giovanni Zocchi, UCLA associate professor of physics and co-author of the study. Zocchi said the new approach could lead ultimately to "smart medicines that can be controlled" and could have reduced side effects. Mimicking one essential cellular control mechanism, Zocchi's laboratory has completed an important preliminary step.

Zocchi and UCLA physics graduate student Brian Choi report one representative example where the chemical mechanism by which the cell controls the function of its proteins can be effectively replaced, in vitro, by mechanical control. Specifically, they show how an enzyme complex called Protein Kinase A (PKA) -- which plays a fundamental role in the cell's signaling and metabolic pathways, and is controlled in the cell by a ubiquitous messenger molecule called cyclic AMP -- can instead be controlled mechanically by a nanodevice that the researchers attached to the enzyme complex. The nanodevice is essentially a molecular spring made of DNA.

"Molecular biologists have been trained for 50 years to think that because the sequence of amino acids determines a protein's structure and the structure determines its function, if you want to change the structure, the way to do so is to change the sequence of amino acids. While that approach is correct, it is not the only way. We are introducing the notion that you can keep the sequence but change the structure with mechanical forces.

"This research has many ramifications, and may lead to a better fundamental understanding, as well as new directions for biotechnology and perhaps new approaches to medical treatments."

PKA, a complex of four protein molecules, contains two regulatory subunits and two catalytic subunits. Zocchi and Choi mechanically activated PKA by placing a controlled mechanical stress on two specific points in the regulatory subunit, which causes that subunit to fall off from the catalytic subunit, activating the enzyme.

In order to obtain the desired effect, the mechanical tension is applied at specific locations in the regulatory subunit, Choi said. Knowing those locations requires a detailed understanding of the structure of the enzyme.

The research was federally funded by the National Science Foundation.

Proteins, the molecular machines that perform all tasks in the living cell, are switched on and off in living cells by a mechanism called allosteric control; proteins are regulated by other molecules that bind to their surface, inducing a change of conformation, or distortion in the shape, of the protein, making the protein either active or inactive, Zocchi explained.

Cyclic AMP (cAMP) binds to PKA's regulatory subunit and induces a change of conformation that leads to the catalytic subunit's detaching from the regulatory subunit; this separation of the two subunits is how the enzyme complex is turned on in the cell, Zocchi said.

"We can activate the enzyme mechanically, while leaving intact the natural activation mechanism by cAMP," said Zocchi, a member of the California NanoSystems Institute. "We believe this approach to protein control can be applied to virtually any protein or protein complex."

Zocchi's group first demonstrated mechanical control of protein conformation last year, when the physicists attached a controllable molecular spring, made of a short piece of DNA, to a protein and used it to inhibit its function. In the new research, the group succeeded in activating the enzyme PKA through the same principle, by using the molecular spring to induce the change in conformation that, in the cell, is induced by the natural activator of PKA (the signaling molecule cAMP).

Zocchi's group can mimic with mechanical tension the natural allosteric mechanism by which PKA is regulated by cAMP. PKA is significantly more complex than the protein that Zocchi's group used last year.

What are Zocchi's future research plans?

"I want to see whether we can make molecules which kill a cell based on the genetic signature of the cell," Zocchi said. "Cancer cells would be an obvious application. This will however require many further steps. So far, we have only worked in vitro. The exciting part is, from the outside, cancer cells can look like normal cells, but inside they carry a genetic mark.

"In the future, perhaps we can control more complicated molecular machines such as ribosomes. Many antibiotics work by blocking the ribosome of bacteria."

SOURCE: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-06/uoc--upr060806.php

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ROBERT

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Last Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006, 19:29 GMT 20:29 UK


 

" Beating-heart transplant UK first  
 
Doctors have carried out the UK's first successful beating-heart transplant.
The recipient, a 58-year-old man who received his new heart two weeks ago at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, is said to be doing "extremely well".

The new technique involves keeping a donated heart warm and beating throughout the procedure, rather than packing it in ice for transport.
One expert told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it could "triple or quadruple" the number of transplants.

The process gives doctors more time to get hearts to the recipient.

Donor hearts are normally given a high dose of potassium to stop them beating and are packed in ice which helps to keep them in a state of "suspended animation".

But there is only a four-to-six-hour window for the organ to be transplanted into the recipient, which could be a problem if a heart becomes available in a remote area - many organs in the UK are transported by road.

If we look at resuscitating hearts that are currently unusable the number of transplants could be tripled or quadrupled

How system works  

Under the new system, doctors hook the heart up to a machine which keeps it beating with warm oxygenated blood flowing through it.

This gives doctors time to examine the heart for any damage and the chance to better match the organ with a recipient.

The heart can be kept outside the body longer and reaches the transplant patient in much better condition.

The transplant was done as part of a European trial. "
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/5041054.stm

 
« Last Edit: 14/06/2006 15:33:34 by ROBERT »
 

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If you click on the video option on the above link
you will see that Tupperware really does keep stuff fresh :).
 
« Last Edit: 15/06/2006 14:49:22 by ROBERT »
 

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That is awesome! Absolutely amazed. My brother in law has a mechanical heart valve I think it is. If it quits hes in a lot of trouble. I honestly can't remember, if it was heart or valve, but I know he had a choice of a pigs parts but took the mechanical part instead. You can hear it opening and shuting so says my sister, his ex-wife, There divorsed now.
   I have a bad heart and am constantly amazed at what they can do these days. I had open heart surgery in 1960 or 61, I believe I was about 1 year old. Seems like they are constantly improving things in this area. Very cool!
 

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Chocolate as Sunscreen
Janet Raloff

As if you needed another reason to eat chocolate, German researchers have shown that ingesting types rich in cocoa solids and flavonoids—dark chocolate—can fight skin cancer. Their findings are preliminary because they come from a trial of just 24 women who were recruited to add cocoa to their breakfasts every day for about 3 months.


Half the women drank hot cocoa containing a hefty dose of flavonoids, natural plant-based antioxidants that research has suggested prevent heart attacks. The remaining volunteers got cocoa that looked and tasted the same but that had relatively little of the flavonoids. At the beginning and end of the trial, Wilhelm Stahl of Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf and his colleagues conducted a host of tests on each volunteer. One assessment involved irradiating each woman's skin with slightly more ultraviolet (UV) light than had turned her skin red before the trial began.

The skin of the women who had received the flavonoid-rich cocoa did not redden nearly as much as did the skin of recruits who had drunk the flavonoid-poor beverage. Women getting the abundant flavonoids also had skin that was smoother and moister than that of the other women.

Overexposure to UV light can foster the development of skin cancer. A dietary source of skin protection might offer some innate defense for sunny days when an individual doesn't use sunscreen, Stahl's team says.


Why chocolate?

Chocolate, these scientists note, is just the latest in a range of antioxidant-rich foods holding the potential to shield skin from sun damage. For nearly a decade, Stahl's group has conducted studies with cooked tomato products showing that their ingestion, too, can limit UV-induced skin reddening. Pigmented molecules called carotenoids—especially the one known as lycopene—appeared responsible for tomato's skin-protection benefit (see Dietary protection against sunburn (with recipe)).

Many of the carotenoids in tomatoes are powerful antioxidants that can quash free radicals. These are the molecular fragments that can cause biological havoc when they rip electrons from other molecules. Because many flavonoids also function as potent antioxidants, Stahl's team decided to investigate whether substances in chocolate might offer skin protection.

The researchers recruited women between the ages of 18 and 65. Each volunteer received packets of a dry powder to mix each day with 100 milliliters of hot water—roughly a half cup. Half of the women received powder containing 329 milligrams of flavanols, a type of flavonoid, per serving. The rest got powder delivering a mere 27 mg of flavanols per serving. The primary flavanols were epicatechin and catechin.

Mars Inc., the candy company that has been experimenting with dark-chocolate products rich in flavonoids, supplied the cocoa powder and partially funded the experiment. Harold H. Schmitz, the company's chief science officer, claims that the proprietary recipe for the product retains nearly all of the natural-cocoa flavonoids that most chocolate processing cooks and washes out.

In the June Journal of Nutrition, Stahl's team reports that the women drinking the high-flavonoid cocoa had 15 percent less skin reddening from UV light after 6 weeks of cocoa consumption and 25 percent less after 12 weeks of the trial. Both figures are comparisons with the same women's response to UV light before the study started. The women drinking the cocoa with low flavonoids showed no change during the trial.

Most flavonoids absorb UV light, and this probably played a role in the skin effect, the researchers say. However, they add, skin reddening is also an inflammatory response, and other researchers have linked consumption of flavonoids to ratcheting down the body's synthesis of inflammatory agents.

For the women getting larger doses of flavonoids, blood flow in the skin doubled over the course of the trial in tissue 1 millimeter below the surface, and increased by 37.5 percent in tissue 7 to 8 mm deep. Similar improvements in blood flow through big blood vessels have been witnessed after people have eaten dark chocolate (see Cardiovascular Showdown—Chocolate vs. Coffee).

Moreover, after 12 weeks of consuming the flavanol-rich cocoa, the women's skin was 16 percent denser, 11 percent thicker, 13 percent moister, 30 percent less rough, and 42 percent less scaly than it was at the beginning of the experiment. Although the mechanism for most of these benefits remains unclear, the Düsseldorf researchers suspect that improved blood flow was a contributor.

Mars' Schmitz agrees. "People don't think about it, but in reality your skin, just like every other tissue, depends on healthy blood flow. And in our previous work ... we showed that blood flow in the extremities—the finger tip—was improved" in people receiving cocoa flavonoids. So, he argues, "it wasn't a shot in the dark" to hypothesize that cocoa ingestion might improve overall skin condition and health. Yet, he adds, "I was still surprised to see this."

If follow-up studies confirm these skin-health data, he says, "you're talking about being able to make people look better." He adds, "We did not go into this study with the intention to create a skin-health product, but it now looks like maybe we've got one."



Not just any chocolate


Could a person realistically add enough flavonoids to his or her diet to produce the benefits suggested by the study? Flavonoid quantities in the richer cocoa were "similar to those found in 100 grams [a little over 3 ounces] of dark chocolate," Stahl's group reports.

The cocoa drink provided its flavonoids in a serving that delivered only about 50 calories—far below the 400 to 500 calories ordinarily encountered in candy providing a walloping dose of flavanols. Schmitz concludes that people can, in theory, get this efficacious dose without blimping out.

The rub is that the cocoa used in this study and in others by Mars isn't commercially available. If enough people pester the company for the cocoa, Schmitz says, "eventually we might have to offer such a product." In the meantime, he notes, the company offers a candy, CocoaVia, in flavanol-rich portions that deliver fewer than 100 calories per serving.



Targeting free radicals and more

The new skin-protection data are more than a curiosity, says Hasan Mukhtar, director of dermatology research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The results suggest, he says, that dietary flavonoids reach the upper layers of skin and "have the ability to counteract the oxygen free radicals generated as a consequence of exposure to UV radiation."

UV exposure leads not only to impaired immunity and accelerated aging in skin, but also to cancer, especially in light-skinned people, Mukhtar points out. Work by his group and others has shown that UV light triggers many reactions in the body that can lead to tissue damage.

In several papers, Mukhtar and his colleagues have found evidence that natural botanical antioxidants—such as those just tested in cocoa—can inhibit harmful, UV-triggered chemical pathways in the body.

In a study at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Mukhtar's group applied epicatechin-rich green-tea flavonoids to the skin of volunteers before irradiating the area with UV light. The researchers found that compared with the response of unprotected skin, the tea cut by 60 to 80 percent DNA changes known to play a role in immune suppression and skin cancer. The team noted that the treatment also prevented sunburn.

In the March-April Photochemistry and Photobiology, Mukhtar's team reports the results of treating cultured skin cells with pomegranate fruit extract, a substance rich in flavonoids. When irradiated with UV-light in a test tube, human cells in such an experiment usually undergo stress-induced inflammatory changes that can lead to cancer. However, the pomegranate extract dramatically inhibited those pre-carcinogenic changes.

Mukhtar points out that such data show that "not all of these agents affect the same signaling pathways." This suggests, he says, that eating a mix of flavonoid-rich foods may reinforce the UV protection by simultaneously acting on several potentially damaging processes. Some flavonoid treatments may even prove additive in their skin-protecting role, he says.

Chocolate's agents might offer important backup protection to some of the substances his group has been testing, says Mukhtar.

However, diet isn't the only means of getting these protective agents to the tissues that need them, Mukhtar suspects. He says it may make sense to add them to skin-care products.

That said, I'd prefer to get my protection from eating dark chocolate. Indeed, I look for any excuse to label as therapeutic my bittersweet indulgence.



SOURCE: SCIENCE NEWS ONLINE

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The Woman Who Thinks like a Cow

The amazing story of Dr Temple Grandin's ability to read the animal mind, which has made her the most famous autistic woman on the planet.


Dr Temple Grandin has a legendary ability to read the animal mind and understand animal behaviour when no one else can. But this is no feat of telepathy; her explanation is simple. She's convinced she experiences the world much as an animal does and that it's all down to her autistic brain.

Since the 1940s, when Temple was born, our understanding of autism has come a long way. For years during the fifties and sixties many psychologists and doctors believed that the condition was an emotional disorder, the product of a disturbed childhood.

Psychologist Bruno Bettelheim became famous for his theory that children with autism exhibited the symptoms of the condition because their mothers had unconsciously rejected them as babies and young children. Children, he argued, could be cured with psychotherapy.

It wasn't until psychologists such as Bernard Rimland started to put forward evidence for a biological cause of autism that the old ideas lost their public appeal.

Today, neurologists like Professor Nancy Minshew are using brain scanning techniques to investigate the brains of people with autism. As yet it is impossible to diagnose autism based on a brain scan of an individual, but the results do indicate that the brain is different in someone with autism and that this is the real cause of the condition.

When Temple was a baby, research into autism was in its infancy and the doctors didn't even have a name for her condition. Many children like her spent their whole lives in an institution. Temple was lucky, but despite intensive tutoring and care it took her many years to learn basic skills. To this day, socialising continues to be a struggle for her.

For her and many others with autism the condition makes it very difficult to understand what other people are thinking and feeling. To Temple the world is an unpredictable and frightening place.

Temple believes she experiences life like a prey animal in the wild. Her emotions are much simpler than most people's and she feels constantly anxious – always alert and looking for danger. It's this struggle with overwhelming anxiety that led her to discover just how much she has in common with animals and, in particular, cows.

During a summer spent on her aunt's ranch, when she was 16, she began to notice that nervous cattle seemed to calm down when they entered a piece of equipment called a squeeze chute.

Designed to hold the cattle still, whilst they received veterinary treatment, the wooden contraption clamped the cows along either side of the body. As the sides squeezed their flanks, Temple noticed several of the cows become visibly relaxed and calm.

Eager to find a way to conquer her own anxiety she asked her aunt to operate the chute on her. The result was a revelation. Temple felt much calmer and the effect lasted for several hours afterwards.

Inspired by her experiences on the ranch, she built her own human squeeze machine at home. She still has one installed in her bedroom.

There is a scientific explanation for what seems like her quirky behaviour. Psychologists have discovered evidence to suggest that the effects of deep pressure on the body are very real and can be beneficial and calming for many people with autism.

Twenty years ago Temple did something no one with autism had ever done before. She wrote an autobiography. It was her account of what it was like to grow up with autism.

Since then she has written several other books. For parents and scientists working in the field of autism her words are a revelation, giving them an invaluable understanding and insight into the autistic mind.

For Temple, though, her greatest achievements are in the field of animal welfare.

The slaughterhouse seems an unlikely place to look for an animal lover like Temple but it's here that she has carved a unique career. Until Temple stormed on to the scene, in the 1970s, animal welfare was an unheard of phrase in the meat industry. The animals were destined for slaughter and no one cared what happened to them along the way.

But Temple has changed all that. Using her unique ability to observe the world through an animal's eye she has fundamentally redesigned the equipment and buildings where they are held and slaughtered. Today her advice is sought from around the world and half the cattle in the US go to their deaths in humane equipment designed by her.

Labelled 'retarded' at three years old, Temple didn't learn to speak until she was five. But at nearly 60 she's an associate professor of animal science, a best-selling author and the most famous autistic woman on the planet.




SOURCE:BBC.CO.UK

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" Electronic TMS Device Zaps Migraine
Jun 23, 2006, 00:52, Reviewed by: Dr. Venkat Yelamanchili
 
Results of a study found that the experimental device appears to be effective in eliminating the headache when administered during the onset of the migraine. The device, called TMS, interrupts the aura phase of the migraine, often described as electrical storms in the brain, before they lead to headaches. Auras are neural disturbances that signal the onset of migraine headaches. People who suffer from migraine headaches often describe “seeing” showers of shooting stars, zigzagging lines and flashing lights, and experiencing loss of vision, weakness, tingling or confusion. What typically follows these initial symptoms is intense throbbing head pain, nausea and vomiting.

Yousef Mohammad, a neurologist at OSU Medical Center who presented the results, says that the patients in this study reported a significant reduction in nausea, noise and light sensitivity post treatment.

"Work functioning also improved, and there were no side effects reported,” Mohammad said.

This magnetic pulse, when held against a person's head, creates an electric current in the neurons of the brain, interrupting the aura before it results in a throbbing headache.

“The device's pulses are painless. “In our study sample, 69 percent of the TMS-related headaches reported to have either no or mild pain at the two-hour post-treatment point compared to 48 percent of the placebo group. In addition, 42 percent of the TMS-treated patients graded their headache response, without symptoms, as very good or excellent compared to 26 percent for the placebo group. These are very encouraging results.”

It was previously believed that migraine headaches start with vascular constriction, which results in an aura, followed by vascular dilation that will lead to a throbbing headache. This new understanding of the migraine mechanism has assisted with the development of the TMS device. "

http://www.rxpgnews.com/research/neurosciences/headache/article_4536.shtml

« Last Edit: 26/06/2006 16:28:53 by ROBERT »
 

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" Huge Asteroid to Fly Past Earth July 3
Joe Rao
SPACE.com Skywatching Columnist

An asteroid possibly as large as a half-mile or more in diameter is rapidly approaching the Earth.  There is no need for concern, for no collision is in the offing, but the space rock will make an exceptionally close approach to our planet early on Monday, July 3, passing just beyond the Moon's average distance from Earth.  

Astronomers will attempt to get a more accurate assessment of the asteroid's size by “pinging” it with radar.  

And skywatchers with good telescopes and some experience just might be able to get a glimpse of this cosmic rock as it streaks rapidly past our planet in the wee hours Monday. The closest approach occurs late Sunday for U.S. West Coast skywatchers.

The asteroid, designated 2004 XP14, was discovered on Dec. 10, 2004 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR), a continuing camera survey to keep watch for asteroids that may pass uncomfortably close to Earth.  

Although initially there were concerns that this asteroid might possibly impact Earth later this century and thus merit special monitoring, further analysis of its orbit has since ruled out any such collision, at least in the foreseeable future.  

Asteroid 2004 XP14 is a member of a class of asteroids known as Apollo, which have Earth-crossing orbits. The name comes from 1862 Apollo, the first asteroid of this group to be discovered. There are now 1,989 known Apollos.

The size of 2004 XP 14 is not precisely known. But based on its brightness, the diameter is believed to be somewhere in the range of 1,345 to 3,018-feet  (410 to 920 meters). That's between a quarter mile and just over a half-mile wide.

Due to the proximity of its orbit to Earth and its estimated size, this object has been classified as a “Potentially Hazardous Asteroid” (PNA) by the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There are currently 783 PNAs.

The latest calculations show that 2004 XP14 will pass closest to Earth at 04:25 UT on July 3 (12:25 a.m. EDT or 9:25 p.m. PDT on July 2).  The asteroid's distance from Earth at that moment will be 268,624-miles (432,308 km), or just 1.1 times the Moon's average distance from Earth. Spotting 2004 XP14 will be a challenge, best accomplished by seasoned observers with moderate-sized telescopes. "

http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20060626/sc_space/hugeasteroidtoflypastearthjuly3
 

ROBERT

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" Device records smells to play back later
29 July 2006
NewScientist.com news service
Paul Marks

IMAGINE being able to record a smell and play it back later, just as you can with sounds or images.

Engineers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan are building an odour recorder capable of doing just that. Simply point the gadget at a freshly baked cookie, for example, and it will analyse its odour and reproduce it for you using a host of non-toxic chemicals.

"Point the gadget at a freshly baked cookie and it will reproduce the odour"The device could be used to improve online shopping by allowing you to sniff foods or fragrances before you buy, to add an extra dimension to virtual reality environments and even to assist military doctors treating soldiers remotely by recreating bile, blood or urine odours that might help a diagnosis.

While a number of companies have produced aroma generators designed to enhance computer games or TV shows, they have failed commercially because they have been very limited in the range of smells they can produce, says Pambuk Somboon of the Tokyo team.

So he has done away with pre-prepared smells and developed a system that records and later reproduces the odours. It's no easy task: "In video, you just need to record shades of red, green and blue," he says. "But humans have 347 olfactory sensors, so we need a lot of source chemicals."

Somboon's system will use 15 chemical-sensing microchips, or electronic noses, to pick up a broad range of aromas. These are then used to create a digital recipe from a set of 96 chemicals that can be chosen according to the purpose of each individual gadget. When you want to replay a smell, drops from the relevant vials are mixed, heated and vaporised. In tests so far, the system has successfully recorded and reproduced the smell of orange, lemon, apple, banana and melon. "We can even tell a green apple from a red apple," Somboon says. "

http://www.newscientisttech.com/article/mg19125586.300-device-records-smells-to-play-back-later.html

 

ROBERT

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" Huge Asteroid to Fly Past Earth July 3
Joe Rao
SPACE.com Skywatching Columnist

An asteroid possibly as large as a half-mile or more in diameter is rapidly approaching the Earth.  There is no need for concern, for no collision is in the offing, but the space rock will make an exceptionally close approach to our planet early on Monday, July 3, passing just beyond the Moon's average distance from Earth.  

Astronomers will attempt to get a more accurate assessment of the asteroid's size by “pinging” it with radar.  

And skywatchers with good telescopes and some experience just might be able to get a glimpse of this cosmic rock as it streaks rapidly past our planet in the wee hours Monday. The closest approach occurs late Sunday for U.S. West Coast skywatchers.

The asteroid, designated 2004 XP14, was discovered on Dec. 10, 2004 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR), a continuing camera survey to keep watch for asteroids that may pass uncomfortably close to Earth.  

Although initially there were concerns that this asteroid might possibly impact Earth later this century and thus merit special monitoring, further analysis of its orbit has since ruled out any such collision, at least in the foreseeable future.  

Asteroid 2004 XP14 is a member of a class of asteroids known as Apollo, which have Earth-crossing orbits. The name comes from 1862 Apollo, the first asteroid of this group to be discovered. There are now 1,989 known Apollos.

The size of 2004 XP 14 is not precisely known. But based on its brightness, the diameter is believed to be somewhere in the range of 1,345 to 3,018-feet  (410 to 920 meters). That's between a quarter mile and just over a half-mile wide.

Due to the proximity of its orbit to Earth and its estimated size, this object has been classified as a “Potentially Hazardous Asteroid” (PNA) by the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There are currently 783 PNAs.

The latest calculations show that 2004 XP14 will pass closest to Earth at 04:25 UT on July 3 (12:25 a.m. EDT or 9:25 p.m. PDT on July 2).  The asteroid's distance from Earth at that moment will be 268,624-miles (432,308 km), or just 1.1 times the Moon's average distance from Earth. Spotting 2004 XP14 will be a challenge, best accomplished by seasoned observers with moderate-sized telescopes. "

http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20060626/sc_space/hugeasteroidtoflypastearthjuly3
 

ROBERT

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" Device records smells to play back later
29 July 2006
NewScientist.com news service
Paul Marks

IMAGINE being able to record a smell and play it back later, just as you can with sounds or images.

Engineers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan are building an odour recorder capable of doing just that. Simply point the gadget at a freshly baked cookie, for example, and it will analyse its odour and reproduce it for you using a host of non-toxic chemicals.

"Point the gadget at a freshly baked cookie and it will reproduce the odour"The device could be used to improve online shopping by allowing you to sniff foods or fragrances before you buy, to add an extra dimension to virtual reality environments and even to assist military doctors treating soldiers remotely by recreating bile, blood or urine odours that might help a diagnosis.

While a number of companies have produced aroma generators designed to enhance computer games or TV shows, they have failed commercially because they have been very limited in the range of smells they can produce, says Pambuk Somboon of the Tokyo team.

So he has done away with pre-prepared smells and developed a system that records and later reproduces the odours. It's no easy task: "In video, you just need to record shades of red, green and blue," he says. "But humans have 347 olfactory sensors, so we need a lot of source chemicals."

Somboon's system will use 15 chemical-sensing microchips, or electronic noses, to pick up a broad range of aromas. These are then used to create a digital recipe from a set of 96 chemicals that can be chosen according to the purpose of each individual gadget. When you want to replay a smell, drops from the relevant vials are mixed, heated and vaporised. In tests so far, the system has successfully recorded and reproduced the smell of orange, lemon, apple, banana and melon. "We can even tell a green apple from a red apple," Somboon says. "

http://www.newscientisttech.com/article/mg19125586.300-device-records-smells-to-play-back-later.html

 

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IT'S HOT HOT HOT !!

Britain is experiencing the hottest day of the year so far with temperatures forecast to rocket to 36C (96.8F).

Experts said the heatwave will show no sign of relenting as hot winds from France boost temperatures further.

Monday and Tuesday have already seen the two hottest days of the year so far with temperatures of up to 33.2C (91.8F).

Weathermen said the highest temperatures will be recorded in the area west of London, north of Bristol and south of Birmingham.

If the mercury does reach 36C it will match the hottest July day, set on July 22, 1911, in Epsom, Surrey.

The highest UK temperature ever recorded was 38.5C (101.3F) in Faversham, Kent, on August 10, 2003.

British temperatures this week have outstripped popular holiday destinations including Athens, Bermuda, Rio de Janeiro and Rome.

Forecasters expect a bank of showers coming in from the South West to offer some respite tonight and tomorrow, but the weekend should still be very warm.

The heatwave has sparked a series of health warnings over fears for the safety of elderly and vulnerable people.

And police have issued a safety warning after a teenager drowned as he cooled off in a canal.

The 14-year-old boy died after jumping into the water in Glen Parva, Leicester.

Police confirmed the death was a "tragic accident" and have referred the case to the coroner.

A spokeswoman said: "The assumption is that, because of the heat, the boy entered the water to cool down."

Officers, in association with British Waterways, have issued a warning to people who might be tempted to swim in rivers and lakes as temperatures rocket.

Jeff Whyatt, general manager of British Waterways South East, said: "There are a lot of hidden dangers in open water and even the strongest swimmers can experience difficulty.

"This sad and tragic accident highlights the real risks of swimming in the canal.

"We understand how inviting the water may look on a warm day but it's important to stress that swimming in any waterways is extremely dangerous.

"The water is frequently far colder than expected and can lead to muscle cramps in even the strongest of swimmers.

"Submerged objects pose further dangers and underwater currents on rivers, or those created by passing boats, are hazardous.

"And it's particularly important over the summer to ensure that children are always supervised when near to water."

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Offline neilep

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Mystery of Explosive Star Solved
In February, a faint star a few thousand light-years away flared suddenly, beaming so brightly that for a few days it was visible to the naked eye.

The star is a stellar corpse the size of Earth, known as a white dwarf, and it is paired in a binary system with a red giant, a dying, bloated star that once resembled our Sun. The red giant has been dumping gas onto the surface of the white dwarf, and every few years, enough matter accumulates to set off a giant thermonuclear explosion.

It was one of these explosions, called a "nova," that astronomers and stargazers detected earlier this year.

The two-star system, called RS Ophiuchi, is known as a recurrent nova because five similar eruptions have been detected before. The first observation occurred in 1898; the last eruption prior to this latest one happened in 1985.

The new observations, made using advanced radio and X-ray telescopes not available during the last outburst, reveal the explosion to be more complex than was previously assumed.

Standard computer models had predicted a spherical explosion with matter ejected in all directions equally. The latest observations instead showed that the explosion evolved into two lobes, confirming suspicions that the nova outburst produces twin jets of stellar material that spews out from the white dwarf in opposite directions.

"The radio images represent the first time we've ever seen the birth of a jet in a white dwarf system. We literally see the jet 'turn on,'" said Michael Rupen, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory who studied RS Ophiuchi using the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA).

As impressive as the nova are, they might just be precursors for a more violent supernova explosion that will occur in the future, scientists say.

Like the Sun, Only More Powerful
 

The white dwarf's thermonuclear blasts are similar to those that occur on the surface of the sun, but they can be over 100,000 times more powerful. During each outburst, an amount of gas equal to the mass of the Earth is flung into space. Some of this ejected matter slams into the extended atmosphere of the inflated red giant, creating blast waves that accelerate electrons to nearly the speed of light. As the electrons travel through the stars' magnetic fields, they emit radio waves that can be detected by telescopes on Earth.

The blast waves move at over four million miles (about 6.4 million km) per hour. For a few weeks during each outburst, the white dwarf becomes a red giant.

"After the [thermonuclear explosion], the white dwarf will puff up into a red giant for a few weeks as the hydrogen that has been blasted into space fuses into helium," explains Richard Barry of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

All eyes on Ophiuchi

Japanese astronomers first detected signs of RS Ophiuchi's latest nova on the night of Feb. 12. Follow-up observations by radio telescopes revealed an expanding blast wave whose diameter was already the size of Saturn's orbit around the Sun.

In the weeks following, several radio and X-ray telescopes around the world tracked RS Ophiuchi closely, including the MERLIN array in the UK, the European EVN array, the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) and Very Large Array (VLA) in the United States, and NASA's Swift and Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer satellites.

Findings from the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer and the VLBA/EVN observations are detailed in two separate studies published in the July 20 issue of the journal Nature.

The red giant and white dwarf stars making up RS Ophiuchi are separated by about 1.5 astronomical units, or one and a half times the distance the Earth is from the sun. The binary star system is located in the constellation Ophiuchus, about 5,000 light-years away—very close by astronomical standards.

"We have a ringside seat for this very important event," Barry told SPACE.com. Barry is a co-author on another study on RS Ophiuchi that will appear in an upcoming edition of Astrophysical Journal.

Supernova precursor?

When the outburst is over, gas will once again build up on the white dwarf and the explosions will begin anew, perhaps in some 20 years time. It's unknown whether the white dwarf casts off all of its accumulated matter during each eruption, or whether some of the material is being hoarded and slowly increasing the mass of the dead star.

"If the white dwarf is increasing in mass then it will eventually be ripped apart in a titanic supernova explosion and the cycle of outbursts will come to an end," said Tim O'Brien of the University of Manchester, a co-author on one of the Nature studies.

White dwarfs must attain a critical 1.4 solar masses before they can explode in what scientists call a Type 1a supernova. The white dwarf in RS Ophiuchi is near this critical limit now, but it will still probably need hundreds of thousands of years to accumulate the final bit of mass, scientists say.

Because all Type 1a supernovas emit the same amount of light at their peak, they serve as important "standard candles" which astronomers use to calculate cosmic distances.

"Our understanding of these objects is exceedingly important as any miscalculation or uncertainty in the total light of output of supernovae could have a dramatic effect on our calculations of the scale and size of the entire universe," Barry said.
SOURCE. NASA

Men are the same as women, just inside out !
« Last Edit: 19/07/2006 18:36:53 by neilep »
 

ROBERT

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"Spine doctors raise hope of electric wound cure:
 scientists from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland have found a new way to heal serious wounds, including broken spinal cords. The technique - stimulating injuries with electrical currents - has been used in an operation that produced dramatic improvements in patients paralysed by spinal injuries. After inserting battery packs beside their broken spinal cords in clinical trials, many patients had feelings restored to their legs and arms after a few weeks’ treatment. Professor Colin McCaig, head of the university’s school of medical sciences, says that in a few years, everyone could have an electrical device for ‘speeding up healing’ in their first aid box.
(Source: The Observer, May 29, 2005. For further information see: www.aberdeen.ac.uk)"
http://www.educationuk.org.my/News_digest/Jun2005.html

« Last Edit: 27/07/2006 13:49:02 by ROBERT »
 

ROBERT

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" Gecko inspires sticky tape

By Richard Black
BBC science correspondent  

Scientists in the UK have created a sticky tape which works in the same way as gecko feet.
 
Geckos are known for their climbing prowess
The researchers say the material clings so well to a surface that by covering the palm of one hand with the tape, a person could hang from the ceiling - just like the remarkable lizard.

So far, however, Professor Andre Geim and colleagues have only been able to make a very small square of their gecko tape because of the difficulties involved in the fabrication process.

Nonetheless, the University of Manchester scientists are confident they can refine their work so that commercial quantities of the new sticky material can be produced. ".
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2953852.stm

 
 

ROBERT

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"Spine doctors raise hope of electric wound cure:
 scientists from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland have found a new way to heal serious wounds, including broken spinal cords. The technique - stimulating injuries with electrical currents - has been used in an operation that produced dramatic improvements in patients paralysed by spinal injuries. After inserting battery packs beside their broken spinal cords in clinical trials, many patients had feelings restored to their legs and arms after a few weeks’ treatment. Professor Colin McCaig, head of the university’s school of medical sciences, says that in a few years, everyone could have an electrical device for ‘speeding up healing’ in their first aid box.
(Source: The Observer, May 29, 2005. For further information see: www.aberdeen.ac.uk)"
http://www.educationuk.org.my/News_digest/Jun2005.html

« Last Edit: 27/07/2006 13:49:02 by ROBERT »
 

ROBERT

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" Gecko inspires sticky tape

By Richard Black
BBC science correspondent  

Scientists in the UK have created a sticky tape which works in the same way as gecko feet.
 
Geckos are known for their climbing prowess
The researchers say the material clings so well to a surface that by covering the palm of one hand with the tape, a person could hang from the ceiling - just like the remarkable lizard.

So far, however, Professor Andre Geim and colleagues have only been able to make a very small square of their gecko tape because of the difficulties involved in the fabrication process.

Nonetheless, the University of Manchester scientists are confident they can refine their work so that commercial quantities of the new sticky material can be produced. ".
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2953852.stm

 
 

ROBERT

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" Biological versus nonbiological older brothers and men’s sexual orientation "

Anthony F. Bogaert  
Departments of Community Health Sciences and Psychology, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, Canada L2S 3A1

The most consistent biodemographic correlate of sexual orientation in men is the number of older brothers (fraternal birth order). The mechanism underlying this effect remains unknown. In this article, I provide a direct test pitting prenatal against postnatal (e.g., social/rearing) mechanisms. Four samples of homosexual and heterosexual men (total n = 944), including one sample of men raised in nonbiological and blended families (e.g., raised with half- or step-siblings or as adoptees) were studied. Only biological older brothers, and not any other sibling characteristic, including nonbiological older brothers, predicted men’s sexual orientation, regardless of the amount of time reared with these siblings. These results strongly suggest a prenatal origin to the fraternal birth-order effect ".

http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0511152103v1

 

ROBERT

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" The Sunday Times July 30, 2006

Beautiful people tend to have girls, say scientists

Roger Dobson and Yuba Bessaoud
 
HOLLYWOOD’S most beautiful couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, are in the grip of evolutionary forces that made it almost inevitable that their child would be a girl.
According to research, attractive parents are 26% more likely to have a daughter than a son as their first child. It is an inexorable process that has resulted in women becoming increasingly more attractive than men.  
 
This is because of differing “evolutionary strategies” that each sex has adopted to survive, claim researchers at the London School of Economics.

While reproductive success for males depends largely on the status of the father (as sons from higher-status families inherit their position and are in turn able to protect and invest in their offspring), daughters’ reproductive successes mostly depend on their youth and attractiveness. “We have shown two things,” said Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, who led the research. “Beautiful parents have more daughters than ugly parents, because physical attractiveness is heritable and because daughters benefit from attractiveness more than sons.

“We have also shown that women on average are more attractive than men, because over evolutionary history the slight bias of beautiful parents to have more daughters has accumulated, so that girls have become more and more attractive than boys.”

Men prefer younger and physically more attractive women for their mates. A potential mate’s status or wealth is far less important for men than her youth and physical attractiveness, argues the report.

The research, in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, analysed more than 20,000 people in America. Researchers rated their beauty according to height, weight and apparent age, all factors that can be used to judge basic attraction levels without subjective viewpoints. Only first-born children were included in the analysis.

Dr Mark Thomas, senior lecturer at the biology department of University College London, said the LSE’s results appeared to “fit in” with the state of research on sexual evolution.

He said the phenomenon was rooted in men’s natural promiscuity, noting: “Females can only reproduce so many times in their lives whereas for men, theoretically, the limit is all of the females in the world times the number of reproductive opportunities (those females) have.”

Besides Pitt and Jolie, who named their daughter Shiloh Nouvel, the Hollywood couple Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, whose first-born daughter Ava is six, lend weight to the theory. "

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-2291737,00.html
« Last Edit: 02/08/2006 13:00:28 by ROBERT »
 

ROBERT

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" Curry May Help Prevent Colon Cancer
Wed Aug 2, 11:54 PM ET

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Chemicals found in onions and curry may help prevent colon cancer, a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study suggests.
 
Published in the August issue of the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the study included five people with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), an inherited form of precancerous polyps in the lower bowel. FAP is characterized by the development of hundreds of colorectal polyps and eventual colon cancer.

For an average of six months, the patients received three daily oral doses of 20 milligrams of quercetin (an antioxidant found in onions) and 480 milligrams of curcumin (found in tumeric, one of the main ingredients of curry).

The average number of polyps in the patients declined by 60.4 percent, and the average size of the polyps decreased by 50.9 percent, the study said.

"We believe this is the first proof of principle that these substances have significant effects in patients with FAP," study leader Dr. Francis M. Giardiello, director of the division of gastroenterology at the university, said in a prepared statement.

He believes that curcumin is the key agent.

"The amount of quercetin we administered was similar to what many people consume daily; however, the amount of curcumin is many times what a person might ingest in a typical diet, since tumeric only contains on average three percent to five percent curcumin by weight," Giardiello said.

It's not likely that simply eating onions and curry would provide the same benefits seen in this study, he noted.

The researchers plan to conduct a randomized clinical trial with more patients. "
http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20060803/hl_hsn/currymayhelppreventcoloncancer;_ylt=AtoHk66v.GEptsaG5yH7wtLVJRIF;_ylu=X3oDMTA0cDJlYmhvBHNlYwM-
 

Offline neilep

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As you may or may not know I just luff to stroke bees so I was pleased to find this non-stroking but BEE related news article.



Bees get a buzz from warm flowers
Bumblebees prefer to visit warm flowers and can use colour to predict the bloom's temperature, research suggests.

The findings challenge the long-held belief that the insects seek out flowers that contain the most nectar or pollen.

UK researchers say the bees might use warmer blooms to help maintain their body temperatures and save energy.

The study by scientists from Cambridge University and Queen Mary College is published in the journal Nature.

Flower power

To test whether bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) could use colour to identify warmer flowers, the team used a variety of differently coloured artificial plants.

In a "foraging bout" the creatures were given a choice between four purple flowers or four slightly cooler pink ones that were placed in a random order.

In one test, 58% of the bees chose the warmer purple flowers. When the colours were switched and warm nectar was placed in the pink petals, 61.6% headed for the pink blooms.

Lars Chittka, from Queen Mary College, University of London, and a co-author of the paper, said the tests showed that bees preferred warmer plants and could learn to identify the hotter species by the colour of flowers.

  Seeking out flowers with warmer nectar is a direct metabolic reward

Professor Lars Chittka

"If we do not give the bees any cues by which they can identify the warmer flowers then they fail the task. If the flowers are visually identical then they will visit them all.

"What the bees need to do is collect individual experience," Professor Chittka said. "They have to probe the flowers, learn which ones have higher temperatures and then to identify them they use colours or spatial positions."

The team suggests that the temperature can serve as an additional reward from pollinating insects in a context where there are also nutritional rewards available.

"Bees need to warm up to fly, they need to have body temperatures of at least 30C (86F)," Professor Chittka said.

If the air temperature was relatively cold, it took a considerable amount of the insects' energy reserves to reach this temperature, he added.

"In that sense, seeking out flowers with warmer nectar is a direct metabolic reward; it supplies them with energy that they would otherwise have to invest."

'Clever trick'

The researchers believe the findings could also affect the current understanding surrounding the evolutionary link between plants and pollinators.

"About 80% of flower species have a peculiar structure in their flowers; the skin is made up of little cells that are cone-shaped. It has never been fully understood what function they served," Professor Chittka said.

"But one effect it does have is that the cones act as little lenses to focus light directly into the parts of the cells that contain the floral pigment; because more light is absorbed it warms the flowers - that's a clever trick.

"We think the fact that 80% of floral species have this, it could be a broad evolutionary innovation in order to generate warmth and thus lure pollinators to collaborate with them," he suggested.

Professor Chittka's co-authors on the paper were Adrian Dyer, Heather Whitney, Sarah Arnold and Beverley Glover from Cambridge University's Department of Plant Science.


Source: BBC.CO.UK








Men are the same as women, just inside out !
« Last Edit: 10/08/2006 20:51:46 by neilep »
 

Offline Mjhavok

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Japanese Researcher Ponders Reviving Woolly Mammoth

WASHINGTON (AP)—Descendants of extinct mammals like the giant woolly mammoth might one day walk the Earth again. It isn't exactly Jurassic Park, but Japanese researchers are looking at the possibility of using sperm from frozen animals to inseminate living relatives.

So far they've succeeded with mice—some frozen as long as 15 years—and lead researcher Dr. Atsuo Ogura says he would like to try experiments in larger animals.

"In this study, the rates of success with sperm from 15 year-frozen bodies were much higher than we expected. So the likelihood of mammoths revival would be higher than we expected before,'' Ogura said in an interview via e-mail.

While frozen sperm is commonly used by sperm banks, the team led by Ogura, at Riken Bioresource Center in Ibaraki, Japan, worked with sperm from whole frozen mice and from frozen mouse organs.

"If spermatozoa of extinct mammalian species can be retrieved from animal bodies that were kept frozen for millions of years in permafrost, live animals might be restored by injecting them into (eggs) from females of closely related species,'' the researchers said in a paper appearing in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Intact mammoth bodies have been excavated from Siberian permafrost.

Dr. Robert W. McGaughey, laboratory director at the Institute for Reproductive Studies in Scottsdale, Ariz., commented that since some of the whole frozen mice had been held for 15 years before obtaining the sperm nuclei "it clearly is possible that some day we may be able to obtain offspring from extinct animals frozen at reasonable temperatures for very long periods of time.''

The downside, added McGaughey, who was not part of the research team, is that an extinct animal probably would have to have been continuously maintained at a low temperature to avoid thawing/refreezing damage.

Elephants would be a potential candidate for insemination with frozen mammoth sperm, Ogura said. He also suggested experiments might be tried with extinct feline species and their modern relatives.

Less enthusiastic was Dr. Peter Mazur, a biologist at the University of Tennessee who has worked with frozen eggs and sperm and is a past president of the Society for Cryobiology.

Mazur thinks the chance that frozen sperm from mammoths could be used to fertilize a related species is near zero.

"The storage temperature of frozen mammoths is not nearly low enough to prevent the chemical degradation of their DNA over hundreds of thousands of years,'' he commented. And "even if the temperature were low enough to prevent chemical degradation, that would not prevent serious damage over those time periods from background radiation, which includes cosmic rays.''

Bringing back extinct species is an interesting suggestion, Dr. Douglas E. Chandler of the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences commented.

"The trick however is to find an acceptable species that would act as the mother,'' added Chandler, who was not part of Ogura's research team. If an elephant egg were used "the offspring would not be a mammoth but a hybrid between an elephant and a mammoth. If one wanted a true mammoth one would have to find a source of viable mammoth (eggs) to fertilize and implant and this is a much dicier proposition.''

McGaughey agreed, "It is unlikely eggs from such frozen animals would survive; therefore only the sperm would be available to put into eggs from an existing and appropriate modern mammal to approximate the extinct one.''

The research requires considerable technical expertise, Chandler said, adding that Ryuzo Yanagimachi, one of Ogura's researchers, "is a long time worker in this field and is highly respected. He and his colleagues clearly are experts appropriate for this work.''

Ogura's research was funded by the Japanese ministries of education and health, and the Human Science Foundation of Japan.

Steven
_______________________________________________________________
In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
 

Offline neilep

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Excellent Steve...keep em coming.

Don't forget to credit the source.

Oops...sorry STEVEN !! :)


Men are the same as women, just inside out !
« Last Edit: 15/08/2006 22:14:52 by neilep »
 

ROBERT

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" World now has more fat people than hungry ones
Monday August 14, 10:22 AM     By Lawrence Bartlett
 
SYDNEY (AFP) - The world now has more overweight people than hungry ones and governments should design economic strategies to influence national diets, a conference of international experts have heard.

The transition from a starving world to an obese one had happened with dramatic speed, US professor Barry Popkin told the annual conference of the International Association of Agricultural Economists on Monday.

"The reality is that globally far more obesity than undernutrition exists,"

Popkin said, adding that while hunger was slowly declining, obesity was rapidly spreading.

There are more than a billion overweight people in the world and 800 million who are undernourished, he said at the Gold Coast convention centre near Brisbane. The world population is estimated at about 6.5 billion.

"Obesity is the norm globally and undernutrition, while still important in a few countries and in targeted populations in many others, is no longer the dominant disease."

The "burden of obesity", with its related illnesses, was also shifting from the rich to the poor, not only in urban but in rural areas around the world, he said.

China typified the changes, with a major shift in diet from cereals to animal products and vegetable oils accompanied by a decline in physical work, more motorised transport and more television viewing.

But all countries had failed to address the obesity "boom", the University of North Carolina professor said.

Food prices could be used to manipulate people's diets and tilt them towards healthier options, he suggested.

"For instance, if we charge money for every calorie of soft drink and fruit drink that was consumed, people would consume less of it.

"If we subsidise fruit and vegetable production, people would consume more of it and we would have a healthier diet." "
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/14082006/323/world-fat-people-hungry-ones-expert.html
« Last Edit: 16/08/2006 13:17:14 by ROBERT »
 

Offline neilep

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Bacteria can help predict ocean change
Marine bacteria groups vary predictably with ocean conditions

Every creature has its place and role in the oceans – even the smallest microbe, according to a new study that may lead to more accurate models of ocean change.

Scientists have long endorsed the concept of a unique biological niche for most animals and plants – a shark, for example, has a different role than a dolphin.

Bacteria instead have been relegated to an also-ran world of "functional redundancy" in which few species are considered unique, said Jed Fuhrman, holder of the McCulloch-Crosby Chair in Marine Biology in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

In The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' Early Edition, Fuhrman and colleagues from USC and Columbia University show that most kinds of bacteria are not interchangeable and that each thrives under predictable conditions and at predictable times.

Conversely, the kinds and numbers of bacteria in a sample can show where and when it was taken.

"I could tell you what month it is if you just got me a sample of water from out there," Fuhrman said.

The researchers took monthly bacteria samples for more than four years in the Pacific Ocean near the USC Wrigley Institute's marine laboratory on Catalina Island.

They used statistical methods to correlate the bacteria counts with the Wrigley Institute's monthly measurements of water temperature, salinity, nutrient content, plant matter and other variables.

The researchers found they could predict the makeup of the bacterial population by the conditions in the water more than four times in five.

A majority of bacterial species came and went predictably, Fuhrman said. A smaller "wild card" group in each sample was not predictable and could represent the bacterial equivalent of weeds and other redundant plants.

"Wherever we looked, we found predictable kinds, but within the groups there were always less predictable and more predictable members," Fuhrman said.

"They're just like animals and plants in the way they function in the system. Each one has its own place."

The findings have immediate relevance for scientists attempting to understand how the oceans are changing, Fuhrman said. If bacteria behave predictably, they can be used to improve models for ocean change.

By including bacteria, which make up the vast majority of species on land and sea, "we have some hope of predicting how changes are going to happen," Fuhrman said.

SOURCE: EUREKALERT.ORG

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