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« Science: March 2007 | Main | Science: May 2007 »

Science

F*$#ed Up S@%t

What the hell is wrong with people that after all these years after they figured out that smoking during pregnancy causes developmental and health problems pregnant women are still smoking?

While pregnancy may be considered an effective motivator for smoking cessation, results of a new study by researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health indicate that pregnant U.S. women commonly smoke, placing themselves and their unborn children at risk for health and developmental complications.
...
The data show that almost 22 percent of these women smoked cigarettes and more than 10 percent were nicotine dependent.

Now you know why the younger generation seems so stupid. They had stupid parents.

I get that quitting is hard for most people. If you can't manage to quit, don't get pregnant. It's pretty selfish to know you can't stop smoking but insist on having a baby anyway. It's fine to inflict it on yourself, but not fair to the baby. And if you're that selfish, wtf are you doing having kids? Birth control in the public water supply. Please.

And this i got this from nsxt290:

Man's best friend may have a new best friend after Eli Lilly and Co. won U.S. approval to sell its former blockbuster antidepressant Prozac to treat misbehaving mutts.

The drug, repackaged into a chewable, beef-flavored tablet to be called Reconcile, was officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of separation anxiety in dogs in conjunction with behavior modification training, the drug maker said on Wednesday.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Beef-flavored treatment for your pet's separation anxiety. If you sedate them, they won't tear up your bed sheets and poop in your shoes. Brilliant.

I hate people.


By min | April 25, 2007, 3:26 PM | Science | Comments (1)| Link



Just In Time For Summer

Now that it's warm out and the sun sets later, people are starting to break out the bbq grills. Well, here's a wet blanket for ya.

This class of toxins, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), are absorbed into the body through the consumption of grilled, fried, or broiled animal products, such as meats and cheeses. AGEs, which are also produced when food products are sterilized and pasteurized, have been linked to inflammation, insulin resistance, diabetes, vascular and kidney disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
...
Much to the researchers' surprise, the study also showed that AGE levels could be very high in young healthy people. In fact, high AGE levels found in some healthy adults in this study were on par with AGE levels observed in diabetic patients in their earlier studies. The fact that healthy adults had levels similar to those seen in diabetic patients may suggest that early and prolonged exposure to these substances in the diet could accelerate the onset of diseases. Dr. Vlassara notes that the availability and consumption of AGE-rich foods is high and correlates with rising rates of diabetes and heart disease.

"Excessive intake of fried, broiled, and grilled foods can overload the body's natural capacity to remove AGEs," Dr. Vlassara notes, "so they accumulate in our tissues, and take over the body's own built-in defenses, pushing them toward a state of inflammation. Over time, this can precipitate disease or early aging." Once AGEs enter the body, it becomes more difficult to get them out, especially as people age.

It wasn't bad enough that getting a greasy burger or ribs would clog your arteries and kill you that way. Now it's got to give you diabetes and Alzheimer's, too. Nice.

One way to lower your AGE intake? Steam, boil, and stew your food. Who would have thought the Irish and English would have something to teach us about cuisine?

Lucky for you, all i grill are non-animal products. You're so welcome.


By min | April 25, 2007, 12:19 PM | Science | Comments (3)| Link



Egg Which Moves Itself And Burns

I was watching the History channel last night. The program was Ancient Discoveries: Machines of the East. It rewled. It was all about these amazing machines that were built in the 13th century. Water wheels, time telling devices that could be used anywhere, fireproof clothing, a clock that's almost like a perpetual motion machine. The trebuchet! I love the trebuchet.

But the most awesome thing they invented was a torpedo. It was previously thought that torpedoes weren't used until the 1800s but in fact the Muslims had created a device that is pretty much a torpedo. They called it the "egg which moves itself and burns".

Also reported by Partington [3] "Hassan Al-Rammah describes various kinds of incendiary arrows and lances and describes and illustrates what has been supposed to be a torpedo. This is called 'the egg, which moves itself and burns' and the illustration and text suggest at least that it was intended to move on the surface of water. Two sheet iron pans were fastened together and made tight by felt; the flattened pear-shaped vessel was filled with "naphtha, metal filings, and good mixtures (probably containing saltpetre), and the apparatus was provided with two rods (as a rudder?) and propelled by a large rocket".

Link

I wish i could find the computer simulation of the torpedo in action that the History channel used. Here's a picture of what it might have looked like, at any rate.

They got a model builder to make a scale model based on the notes they found. He tested it, and it really did work. They would use it in naval warfare, basically. The front end has a pointed shaft which punctures the hull of a ship on impact. Then it explodes. I don't know why they never did stuff like that in school. Physics would have been way more exciting if we went out to lakes to blow shit up.

I don't know how engineers from the 13th century compare to modern day engineers, but i do know that i've yet to see a civil engineer design a stormwater system that can handle 2 days of rain without flooding.

Watching stuff like this always makes me want to be an engineer again. But then i remember that you don't actually get to do this stuff in your job. Also, i'm a slacker.


By min | April 25, 2007, 9:59 AM | Science | Comments (1)| Link



Bees Disappearing

Joshua'll be happy.

Bee numbers on parts of the east coast and in Texas have fallen by more than 70 percent, while California has seen colonies drop by 30 to 60 percent.

According to estimates from the US Department of Agriculture, bees are vanishing across a total of 22 states, and for the time being no one really knows why.

...

The situation is so bad, that beekeepers are now calling for some kind of government intervention, warning the flight of the bees could be catastrophic for crop growers.

Domestic bees are essential for pollinating some 90 varieties of vegetables and fruits, such as apples, avocados, and blueberries and cherries.

"The pollination work of honey bees increases the yield and quality of United States crops by approximately 15 billion dollars annually including six billion in California," Brandi said.

California's almond industry alone contributes two billion dollars to the local economy, and depends on 1.4 million bees which are brought from around the US every year to help pollinate the trees, he added.

...

In cases of colony collapse disorder, flourishing hives are suddenly depopulated leaving few, if any, surviving bees behind.

The queen bee, which is the only one in the hive allowed to reproduce, is found with just a handful of young worker bees and a reserve of food.

Curiously though no dead bees are found either inside or outside the hive.

The fact that other bees or parasites seem to shun the emptied hives raises suspicions that some kind of toxin or chemical is keeping the insects away, Cox-Foster said.

Those bees found in such devastated colonies also all seem to be infected with multiple micro-organisms, many of which are known to be behind stress-related illness in bees.

Scientists working to unravel the mysteries behind CCD believe a new pathogen may be the cause, or a new kind of chemical product which could be weakening the insects' immune systems.

The finger of suspicion is being pointed at agriculture pesticides such as the widely-used neonicotinoides, which are already known to be poisonous to bees.

Another theory out there is cell phones. It's possible that cell phone radiation affects the bees' ability to navigate. They get lost and can't find their way back to their hive.

Every spring and summer we get mebbe one or two bumblebees visiting our flowers (don't recall seeing honeybees). They're really cute. Big and fat and fuzzy. And i'm always concerned for them when i see wasps or yellow jackets around. Wasps and yellow jackets are super aggressive and there seem to be so few bees around as it is, i'm afraid soon the more aggressive insects will chase them all away or kill them off. Now i have to be concerned that they can't find their way home either.


By min | April 20, 2007, 11:37 AM | Science | Comments (2)| Link



More alarmists

LA Times:

The driest periods of the last century - the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the droughts of the 1950s - may become the norm in the Southwest United States within decades because of global warming, according to a study released Thursday.

The research suggests that the transformation may already be underway. Much of the region has been in a severe drought since 2000, which the study's analysis of computer climate models shows as the beginning of a long dry period.

The study, published online in the journal Science, predicted a permanent drought by 2050 throughout the Southwest - one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation.

The data tell "a story which is pretty darn scary and very strong," said Jonathan Overpeck, a climate researcher at the University of Arizona who was not involved in the study.

Richard Seager, a research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and the lead author of the study, said the changes would force an adjustment to the social and economic order from Colorado to California.

"There are going to be some tough decisions on how to allocate water," he said. "Is it going to be the cities, or is it going to be agriculture?"

Seager said the projections, based on 19 computer models, showed a surprising level of agreement. "There is only one model that does not have a drying trend," he said.

Philip Mote, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the study, added, "There is a convergence of the models that is very strong and very worrisome."

...

For the U.S., the biggest problem would be water shortages. The seven Colorado River Basin states - Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and California - would battle each other for diminished river flows.

Mexico, which has a share of the Colorado River under a 1944 treaty and has complained of U.S. diversions in the past, would join the struggle.

Inevitably, water would be reallocated from agriculture, which uses most of the West's supply, to urban users, drying up farms. California would come under pressure to build desalination plants on the coast, despite environmental concerns.

"This is a situation that is going to cause water wars," said Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

"If there's not enough water to meet everybody's allocation, how do you divide it up?"

Officials from seven states recently forged an agreement on the current drought, which has left the Colorado River's big reservoirs - Lake Powell and Lake Mead - about half-empty. Without some very wet years, federal water managers say, Lake Mead may never refill.


By fnord12 | April 9, 2007, 1:15 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (8)| Link



Tai Chi Protects Against Shingles

The Chinese art of tai chi appears to protect against shingles as efficiently as a vaccine against varicella zoster and even augment the immunity conferred by the vaccine.

In a controlled study of adults vaccinated against varicella zoster virus, those who had earlier been assigned to perform a westernized version of tai chi exercises had significantly higher levels of vaccine-stimulated cell-mediated immunity than did controls, found Michael R. Irwin, M.D., of the University of California at Los Angeles, and colleagues at UC San Diego.

And even before they were vaccinated, tai chi alone helped those who practiced it to mount an immune response to varicella zoster virus comparable to that of patients half their age, the investigators reported in the April issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Link

If you're ever in Chinatown early in the morning, you'll see an army of senior citizens in the park. Some of them will be doing tai chi. Some of them will be doing some other crazy Chinese exercises that i've seen my grandparents do. I don't know what these exercises are. I don't know where they learned it. It seems like another one of those things that all old Chinese people just know to do. Considering how spry they all seem to be, i think they're on to something.

Now, about tai chi. I like tai chi. I like the flow of movement, i like the balance required to do the form, i like that you need to be able to move different parts of your body in different directions and sometimes at different speeds. But it's not for everyone. It takes a long time to learn because for most people, it's not usual to need that much control over your body parts just to get by in your daily life. This alone is often very frustrating for many people. And because it's so low impact, you aren't going to get that immediate confirmation that you've done something. You aren't going to experience that muscle soreness that you would if you lifted weights or biked. It's going to seem like a waste of time with no measurable results.

There are benefits, though. It's just that it takes a while to see them. And you really need to do the tai chi a few times a week to truly benefit. Doing the form on and off as your time allows isn't going to get you anything. But if you do have the patience to learn the entire form and take the time to practice it daily, you will start to see differences. Physically, you will have better balance, better flexibility. You may even find that you recover from illnesses and physical injury more quickly than you did before. Psychologically, you will feel more energized, less stressed.

I confess, i'm a terrible student. I am one of those once-a-weekers. Except when i'm on vacation. Then i do it everyday, and it's great. It's especially great because then i get to do my tai chi on the beach next to a lake. If you ever want to test your balance, try pivoting on one leg in the sand.

That's my tai chi endorsement. Anybody interested in learning, my teacher teaches for free. Every Monday at 6:30pm.


By min | April 9, 2007, 11:57 AM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



*Sniffle*

Scientists found that children who followed a Mediterranean diet had a 30% lower risk of developing hay fever.
...
About 30% of children have allergies, of which half should have symptoms. However, in Crete 30% did have allergies but virtually none of them exhibited symptoms, such as asthma, runny nose and itchy eyes. This anomaly is virtually unheard of, said Paul Cullinan, U.K. National Heart and Lung Institute, one of the authors of the study.

Nearly all the children in the study ate fresh tomatoes and several types of fruit at least weekly, while over half of them consumed them daily. Most of the children ate nuts regularly.

Link

It always comes back to fruits and nuts, doesn't it?


By min | April 6, 2007, 1:28 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



Exsanguination

ex-san-gui-nate [eks-sang-gwuh-neyt] verb, -nat-ed, -nat-ing.
-verb (used with object)
1. to drain of blood; make bloodless.
-verb (used without object)
2. to bleed to death.


By min | April 6, 2007, 9:14 AM | Science | Comments (1)| Link



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