Category Archives: science
“This study shows no evidence of a correlation between low level mercury exposure and autism spectrum-like behaviors among children whose mothers ate, on average, up to 12 meals of fish each week during pregnancy,” said Edwin van Wijngaarden, Ph.D., an associate professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center‘s (URMC) Department of Public Health Sciences and lead author of the study which appears online today in the journal Epidemiology. “These findings contribute to the growing body of literature that suggest that exposure to the chemical does not play an important role in the onset of these behaviors.”
The debate over fish consumption has long created a dilemma for expecting mothers and physicians. Fish are high in beneficial nutrients such as, selenium, vitamin E, lean protein, and omega-3 fatty acids; the latter are essential to brain development. At the same time, exposure to high levels of mercury has been shown to lead to developmental problems, leading to the claim that mothers are exposing their unborn children to serious neurological impairment by eating fish during pregnancy. Despite the fact that the developmental consequences of low level exposure remain unknown, some organizations, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have recommended that pregnant women limit their consumption of fish.
“The Seychelles study was designed to follow a population over a very long period of time and focus on relevant mercury exposure,” said Philip Davidson, Ph.D., principal investigator of the Seychelles Child Development Study and professor emeritus in Pediatrics at URMC. “While the amount of fish consumed in the Seychelles is significantly higher than other countries in the industrialized world, it is still considered low level exposure.”
… lends further evidence to an emerging belief that the “good” may outweigh the possible “bad” when it comes to fish consumption during pregnancy. Specifically, if mercury does adversely influence child development at these levels of exposure then the benefits of the nutrients found in the fish may counteract or perhaps even supersede the potential negative effects of the mercury.
“This study shows no consistent association in children with mothers with mercury level that were six to ten times higher than those found in the U.S. and Europe,” said Davidson. “This is a sentinel population and if it does not exist here than it probably does not exist.”
Read entire article at ScienceDaily.
“… researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that nanoparticles infused with a toxic bee venom can kill HIV. The researchers hope to take this new compound and develop a vaginal gel that can prevent the further spread of the disease.
The key to this discovery, which was made by Samuel A. Wickline and his team at Washington University, involves cytolyic melittin peptides. Melittin is found in bee venom, and it has the fortuitous trait of being able to degrade the protective envelope that surrounds HIV.”
The Universe normally does an overview of ‘space news’ each month. But after the events of last week, we thought it would be a good idea to re-cap!
This is a selection of breaking news stories, all covered by The Universe, from February 11-17, 2013.
Meteor explodes over Russia – Image: AP (Nasha Gazeta Newspaper http://www.ng.kz/AP)
More Information: http://www.facebook.com/photo.phpfbid=475602839171560&set=a.433415610056950.106382.334816523250193&type=1&theater
2012 DA14 Flyby – Image: Dave Herald, Murrumbateman, Australia
More Information: http://www.facebook.com/photo.phpfbid=475124325886078&set=a.433415610056950.106382.334816523250193&type=1&relevant_count=1
Landsat Data Continuity Mission Launch –
Image: United Launch Alliance
More Information: http://www.facebook.com/photo.phpfbid=473579899373854&set=a.371203752944803.89148.334816523250193&type=1&relevant_count=1
Hubble Images Interacting Galaxies:
Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA
More Information: http://www.facebook.com/photo.phpfbid=476314879100356&set=a.455520841179760.110988.334816523250193&type=1&relevant_count=1
Image: Peter Ward, Barden Ridge Observatory
Gold nugget forming bacteria: http://bit.ly/14C1QIK
Bionic eye: http://bit.ly/WTitKo
Sea urchins: http://bit.ly/WbLZNl
Mammal ancestor: http://bbc.in/YZKkie
Stem cells: http://bit.ly/Y3s94C
Earth like planets: http://hvrd.me/12iA29h
via I fucking love science .
IT’S becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need, and profitably, with far fewer chemicals. And I’m not talking about imposing some utopian vision of small organic farms on the world. Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use — if it wants to.
This was hammered home once again in what may be the most important agricultural study this year, although it has been largely ignored by the media, two of the leading science journals and even one of the study’s sponsors, the often hapless Department of Agriculture.
The study was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. On 22 acres of it, beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure was used as fertilizer.
The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn’t reduce profits by a single cent.
In short, there was only upside — and no downside at all — associated with the longer rotations. There was an increase in labor costs, but remember that profits were stable. So this is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons.
And though critics of this path can be predictably counted on to say it’s moving backward, the increased yields, markedly decreased input of chemicals, reduced energy costs and stable profits tell another story, one of serious progress.
Alberta aboriginal rock etchings defaced with drill, power washer, acid | Canada | News | National Post
The attack likely took place at night, to avoid being seen by nearby Hutterite farmers on whose property the rock sits, after being dropped there by a retreating glacier in the prehistoric past.
A power washer was apparently used to strip off the lichen to reveal the carvings and stained symbols. It appears acid was then sprayed to scorch off the painted images and destroy its value for date testing, Mr. Knowlton said.
A rock bore or hammer drill was used to repeatedly drill out the rock to obscure the carvings.
To do all of that would have required more than one person, a power generator, a pressure washer with a 100-litre water tank, a 1-1/2-inch electric hammer drill, appropriate bits, access to acid or a similar industrial-strength chemical, lights, ladders and a heavy truck, he said.
“It seems a deliberate effort,” said Mr. Knowlton. “This isn’t a theft or simple vandalism.”
In a different type of incident, a rare dinosaur skeleton found near Grande Prairie was destroyed by vandals who had “smashed indiscriminately” the fossilized bones of the Hadrosaur, scientists involved in the dig said.
This is inexcusable and absolutely disgusting. I hope the cowards are caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
About Orbital Objects
The skies above Earth are teeming with manmade objects large and small. The U.S. Space Surveillance Network uses radar to track more than 13,000 such items that are larger than four inches (ten centimeters). This celestial clutter includes everything from the International Space Station (ISS) and the Hubble Space Telescope to defunct satellites, rocket stages, or nuts and bolts left behind by astronauts. And there are millions of smaller, harder-to-track objects such as flecks of paint and bits of plastic.
Gravitational pull will ensure that anything we’ve ever put in orbit will eventually make its way back to Earth. And though thus far no one has ever been killed by reentering space debris, NASA estimates on average one piece returns to Earth each day.
NASA and other national space agencies have identified orbital debris as a serious problem and are currently devising plans to mitigate existing space junk and curb future debris.
- Let’s Destroy Space Junk! By Putting Tons of Metal Dust into Orbit? (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- Simulations Will Help Keep Track of Remote Space Junk (wired.com)
- Space Junk: Ideas for Cleaning up Earth Orbit (universetoday.com)
- Space Junk Hazards Force International Response (space.com)
The week before, two friends of mine got into an argument. Brandon, excited for the landing, brought it up to Sam, who was decidedly not: “Pretty cool, but I wish they spent that money forgiving my student loans.” His law school debt was, in a different sense, astronomical.
Brandon bit back. “No offense, but I think that space exploration trumps having another blood sucking lawyer around.”
Sam didn’t flinch. “What’s the benefit? What have we gained from Mars or the moon? Why not spend the cash on other research–infectious diseases perhaps? Government has limited resources; If it spends money, the results must benefit the populace.”
Brandon was having a hard time articulating his point. “The benefit is exploring,” he said. “It’s to gain as much understanding of the universe.”
Sam was unconvinced. “That’s open-ended,” he said. “Exploring for shits and giggles should be left to the private sector. There’s got to be a benefit, otherwise the government should be spending the money on more pressing things.”
This argument occurs, year after year, at dinner parties and in Congress alike. Every time, someone asks the question: why are we paying for NASA? Why did we send Curiosity, at such enormous cost, when we’ve already sent three rovers? Why do we continue to spend billions on rovers and space telescopes and shuttles and space stations when there’s so much to fix here on earth? Just, why?
Apparent Temperature Readings
Caution — 85 to 94�F — physical activity may cause fatigue
Extreme Caution — 95 to 105�F — possible heat cramps and/or heat exhaustion with prolonged exposure
Danger — Above 105�F — possible heat stroke with prolonged exposure; heat exhaustion and heat cramps likely