|DNA Book of Life! |
Solar Tadpoles, The Silver Fox,
Ejaculations? Toxic Teflon?
Oldest Deity Found & More!
|DNA Book of Life Completed! |
By Roger Highfield
Cambridge April 15, 2003 (Telegraph UK) - Scientists have finished reading the "book of life", the three billion letters of DNA that spell out the recipe of a person.
Half a century after scientists in Cambridge first unveiled DNA's double helix molecular structure, an international team yesterday unveiled an accurate DNA recipe - genome - of a human being.
The completion of the Human Genome Project, ahead of schedule and under cost, was announced yesterday by the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium.
The largest contributor was the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge, which carried out nearly a third of the work at a cost of £150 million.
The effort was welcomed for providing "the fundamental platform for understanding ourselves" and "a healthier future" said the Prime Minister and the heads of government of the consortium's six member countries.
Scientists also unveiled their vision for the future of genome research in Nature, the journal that published the landmark paper by James Watson and Francis Crick in April 1953.
The Watson and Crick paper described the double helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which contains instructions - coded as a series of chemical "letters" - needed to build and operate every organism.
DNA Pub Honored
James Watson, a rangy 24-year-old American, and Briton Francis Crick, 36, had unraveled the three-dimensional structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, better known as DNA, the molecule that contained the human genetic code.
BEST IS YET TO COME
|NASA-GSFC NEWS RELEASE |
April 10, 2003 - Dark features resembling Earth-sized tadpoles were seen swimming in the atmosphere of the Sun after it was heated to millions of degrees following an enormous explosion, according to scientists who made the observation using NASA's Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) spacecraft.
"This is the best view yet of these enigmatic shapes," said Dr. Edward Deluca of the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), Cambridge, Mass., who is a co-author of a paper on the observation to be submitted to the Astrophysical Journal in September 2003. The observation is expected to shed light on the physics of magnetic reconnection, the process believed to power solar explosions, which occasionally disrupt satellites and power systems. The result is presented this week as a poster at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Nice, France.
The explosion on April 21, 2002, was an "X-class" solar flare, the most powerful kind, releasing about as much energy as a billion one-megaton nuclear bombs.
It was also associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME), a multi-billion ton eruption of electrified gas (plasma) into space.
TRACE homepage - http://vestige.lmsal.com/TRACE
|Australia May Outlaw Spam|
|By Cosima Marriner |
Sydney Morning Herald
Melbourne April 16 2003 (SMH) - The Federal Government is considering outlawing spam, declaring that the practice of sending unsolicited bulk emails has mutated from nuisance to "menace". In an effort to stop mass emails promoting pornography merchants, financial scams and dubious products from clogging up people's email, a Government-commissioned report has recommended new laws be introduced.
The Minister for Communication, Senator Richard Alston, will release the findings of the National Office of the Information Economy's final report on spam in Melbourne today.
It will coincide with the launch of the Internet Industry Association's campaign against spam, which makes up at least a fifth of email traffic. The report recommends banning commercial emails sent without prior consent from recipients. Emails would have to accurately detail the sender's name and physical and electronic address. Penalties would apply.
The Government intends to act on the recommendations soon.
"Spam has gone beyond a nuisance to a menace," said a spokesman for Senator Alston. "The Government will not sit on its hands while this problem grows out of control."
But as the internet transcends geographical borders, Australian laws would not be sufficient to bring spam under control. The report concedes that difficulties identifying spammers and the lack of jurisdiction over offshore spammers means legislation alone will not solve the problem.
It recommends Australia work with other countries to combat spam, citing the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network as a good model for co-operation.
Australia should also work with multilateral bodies such as APEC and the OECD to develop international guidelines that would reduce the total amount of spam worldwide. These guidelines would also clamp down on false or misleading header information.
The internet office wants to encourage users to take responsibility for the problem and invest in spam filters. It believes the internet industry should develop a list of known spammers and ISPs should be made to close down servers used to send spam.
|US Marines Get The Silver Fox|
|Office of Naval Research Press Release |
Arlington, VA April 14, 2003 – Smaller than the Predator and Global Hawk, the Office of Naval Research's unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Silver Fox, comes ready for the hunt.
Forward "eyes on the ground" give battle ready Marines intelligence about what lies ahead of their advance and makes them better prepared for an impending engagement. Marines at the tactical level needed a system to determine what lies beyond the next hill or hiding in an ambush position. The Office of Naval Research took that need to its Tech Solutions group and developed a workable solution in short order.
Tech Solutions teamed with Advanced Ceramics Research (ACR) of Tucson, Arizona, through the Small Business Innovation Research program and rapidly developed and deployed a new entry into the realm of UAVs.
"The right talent from Marine Corps' Warfighting Lab, Naval Research Lab, Naval Post Graduate School, the Office of Naval Research, various defense contractors, and university researchers converged at ACR to rapidly make happen what absolutely had to happen," said Anthony Mulligan, CEO of Advanced Ceramics Research.
Equipped with state-of-the-art "eyes in the sky" camera technology, it flies autonomously using Global Position Satellite (GPS) as one of its navigational systems--making this a true hands-off aircraft.
"Its size, portability, and aerial capabilities make it a tactical level leaders' clear cut option to gather battlefield intelligence," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Admiral Jay Cohen.
"We sent an ONR team into the theater to deploy the Silver Fox following its transition from the original design," said Captain John Hobday, a naval reservist and director of Tech Solutions.
Regarding its current mission, Rear Admiral Cohen said, "Silver Fox was designed to spot whales in operating areas to keep them out of harms way before conducting naval exercises. It's now being tasked to help our Marines on the ground."
|Gorilla and Chimps Off the Menu|
|YAOUNDE Cameroon April 15, 2003 (Reuters) — Gorilla, chimpanzee, and elephant will now be off the menu in Cameroon. |
Authorities in the central African country announced Monday that any restaurant caught serving meat from endangered animals could face up to three years in prison and a fine of more than $16,000.
Top wildlife official Denis Koulagna said the animals might be exterminated within a decade if hunting for so-called bushmeat was not stopped. As well as being the main source of protein for many impoverished villagers in Cameroon's forests, bushmeat is a delicacy for rich city dwellers.
Hunters can easily earn up to $1,000 a year — far more than most Cameroonians.
"Though habitat loss has often been cited as the primary cause of wildlife extinction, commercial bushmeat hunting has become the most immediate threat," said Koulagna.
|Cosmic Link to Stone Circles|
|By Helen Briggs |
BBC News Science Reporter
Ireland April 9, 2003 (BBC) - Stone Age people in Ireland appear to have built tombs based on a detailed knowledge of how the Sun moves across the sky during the year. Tombs at the archaeological site of Loughcrew in County Meath align with the rising Sun at the spring and autumn equinoxes.
The inside of the chambers are spectacularly illuminated by a shaft of sunlight at dawn on these days, said Frank Prendergast of the Dublin Institute of Technology. It suggests settlers in the area some 5 to 6,000 years ago knew the yearly cycle of the Sun and perhaps centered their lives around it.
Tombs found elsewhere in Ireland have been found to point towards the rising Sun at the summer and winter solstices. At these times, the Sun reaches its most northerly and southerly points in the sky, which can be easily observed from any place on Earth.
The equinoxes - in late March and late September - are not so obvious and can only be pinpointed by tracking the passage of the Sun across the entire year. Why tomb builders wished to do this remains a mystery but it suggests the Sun was at the heart of ritual and ceremonial practices of ancient people.
"Archaeology now has a substantial body of evidence which would indicate a very sophisticated and advanced agrarian society," Frank Prendergast told BBC News Online. "They would have attached a sense of sacredness to their landscape and the sky and they would have done that by building the monuments the way they did; decorating them with a kind of rock art; and associating some of these monuments with key astronomical events such as a significant rising and setting points of the Moon and Sun."
The findings are to be presented at the UK/Ireland National Astronomy Meeting in Dublin. Details will also be revealed of how Bronze Age stone circles in Ulster relate to both the Sun and the Moon. Archaeologists believe there could have been separate lunar and solar traditions, possibly at different times in history.
|Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Press Release |
April 12, 2003 - How does the body know it has had an ejaculation? And why does it care? Anatomically, it is more complex than it seems, says the University of Cincinnati scientist who last year identified the spinal cord cells that control ejaculation in rats and the neural pathway by which signals travel between the body's sexual organs to the brain.
At the Experimental Biology 2003 meeting in San Diego, Dr. Lique Coolen reviews work her laboratory has done in understanding ejaculation and then discusses her current work in how chemical signals on this pathway contribute to pleasure and reward, key elements in sexual behavior. Dr. Coolen is this year's recipient of the American Association of Anatomists' C. J. Herrick Award in Comparative Neuroanatomy.
Scientists had known for years that there must be a group of cells in the spinal center that control ejaculation. Following spinal cord injury that prevents sensation from reaching the brain, humans and other animals remain able to achieve erection and ejaculation upon stimulation.
But the location of this spinal ejaculation generator remained a mystery until last August when Dr. Coolen and a postdoctoral fellow in her laboratory, Dr. William Truitt, reported their findings in Science. Dr. Coolen had targeted the lumbar spinothalamic neurons in the lower back because these neurons appeared active only after ejaculation and not during sexual arousal or mounting.
When the researchers used a highly selective toxin to destroy the thalamic neurons in adult male rats, the rats appeared not to notice. They continued their sexual interest and behavior, including penetration of the female. But they no longer had ejaculations, confirming that these were the cells the researchers had been hunting.
With the ejaculation machinery identified as being part of the spinal cord, Dr. Coolen then turned her interest to the neural pathway that relayed ejaculation-related signs from the reproductive system to the brain. This turned out to be the same spinal cord neural population which in turn sends ejacultion-related signals to the thalamus.
The lumbar spinothalamic neurons issue sensory signals related to ejaculation that also contribute to mating-induced activation within brain circuits involved in the regulation of motivation and reward, the mesolimbic and mesocortical system. Using neuroanatomical markers and measures of activation of receptors, the researchers were able to show that the brain released various neurochemicals during different stages of sexual behavior.
Rats are different than humans when it comes to sex in some ways, says Dr. Coolen. The male rat can have eight to ten ejaculations over a two hour period -- with five minute breaks in between –-- before they lose interest in a receptive female. But, she says, most studies of sexual functioning have used rodents and the results have turned out to work well in humans.
She hopes other researchers will be able to locate the same cells in spinal cells in humans and then develop treatments to make it easier for paraplegic men to ejaculate (important for those men who wish to have families) and to help the 30 percent of adult males who experience ejaculatory problems sometime in their lives.
And what about women? Dr. Coolen also is developing research plans to determine if the same cells that cause ejaculation in men exist in the lumbar spines of women and if so, what they do.
As for her new work in the pleasure-reward pathways, learning what the chemical signals are will mean learning ways to manipulate these signals and treat other sexual dysfunction as well.
|Tiny Bubbles for Future Computers|
|By Emil Venere |
Purdue University Press Release
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. April 11, 2003 – Purdue University researchers have made a discovery that may lead to the development of an innovative liquid-cooling system for future computer chips, which are expected to generate four times more heat than today's chips.
Researchers had thought that bubbles might block the circulation of liquid forced to flow through "microchannels" only three times the width of a human hair. Engineers also thought that small electric pumps might be needed to push liquid through the narrow channels, increasing the cost and complexity while decreasing the reliability of new cooling systems for computers.
Purdue researchers, however, have solved both of these potential engineering hurdles, developing a "pumpless" liquid-cooling system that removes nearly six times more heat than existing miniature pumpless liquid-cooling systems, said Issam Mudawar, a professor of mechanical engineering.
Liquid forced through microchannels forms smaller bubbles than expected, Mudawar said he was surprised to learn. Moreover, decreasing the diameter of the microchannels increased the cooling efficiency of the system by causing the liquid to form even smaller bubbles, which is contrary to the expected result.
Because the bubbles are much smaller than the diameter of the microchannels, they flow easily through the channels. The Purdue-developed system does not require a pump because the liquid circulates in a self-sustaining flow in a closed loop that carries heat away from a computer chip.
Findings about the new cooling system are detailed in a research paper appearing in the March issue of IEEE Transactions on Components and Packaging Technologies, published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The paper was written by Mudawar and graduate student Swaraj Mukherjee.
Innovative cooling systems will be needed in about three years for personal computers expected to contain microprocessor chips that will generate four times more heat than chips in current computers. Whereas current high-performance chips generate about 75 watts per square centimeter, chips in the near future will generate more than 300 watts per square centimeter, Mudawar said.
"Any time you squeeze more circuitry into the same space, you are producing more heat per unit area and per unit volume," he said.
Today's computers use fans and heat sinks containing fins to help cool circuitry. But this technology will not be efficient enough to remove the increasing heat generated by future chips, Mudawar said.
His research team created a liquid-cooling system that uses a closed loop of two vertical, parallel tubes containing a dielectric liquid – or a liquid that does not conduct electricity. The liquid flows through microchannels in a metal plate that is touching the chip. As liquid flows through the channels, it is heated by the chip and begins to boil, producing bubbles of vapor.
Because the buoyant vapor bubbles are lighter than the liquid, they rise to the top of the tube, where they are cooled by a fan and condensed back into a liquid. The cool liquid then flows into the parallel tube and descends, creating a self-sustaining flow that eventually re-enters the microchannel plate and starts all over again.
|Is Teflon Toxic?|
|By Christopher Doering |
WASHINGTON April 15, 2003 (Reuters) — DuPont Co., the second-largest U.S. chemical company, withheld from the government an internal study linking a toxic chemical in Teflon to birth defects in some children, an advocacy group charged recently.
The Environmental Working Group claimed that DuPont violated federal law by failing to turn over a document in 1981 showing the risks of perfluorooctanoic acid, or C8, a chemical used to manufacture Teflon.
Teflon is a widely available household product used to keep clothing such as jackets dry or to prevent food from sticking to pots and pans.
"They obviously had no intention of ever turning this over to the EPA," said Richard Wiles, a vice president of the advocacy group. "This is very damning evidence. It's not surprising to us that they withheld it, and who knows what else they've withheld?"
The group asked the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate and determine if the company broke federal law by failing to immediately disclose the health impacts of the chemical. The EPA said it was reviewing the document and did not have an immediate comment.
Wilmington, Del.–based DuPont denied the allegations by the Environmental Working Group that the company violated the Toxic Substance Control Act by not reporting information about C8.
The environmental group cited a 1981 internal study by DuPont that measured the blood levels of seven women who worked at the company's Teflon plant in West Virginia. All had detectable levels of the chemical in their bodies, according to the document.
CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
The DuPont study also said one woman gave birth to a child with an eye and tear-duct defect, and another employee bore a child with nostril and eye defects. That same year, DuPont reassigned 50 women from the plant to reduce their exposure to the chemical, the Environmental Working Group said. Residents near the West Virginia plant have filed a class-action lawsuit against DuPont over contamination of area water supplies. The DuPont report on C8 came to light in the course of that lawsuit.
"There is no evidence or data that demonstrates (C8) causes adverse human health effects, including developmental or reproductive effects, in any segment of the human population," said Robert Rickard, director of DuPont's Haskell Laboratory for Health and Environmental Sciences.
DuPont said the company recorded the women's low-level exposure but did not conduct a formal study evaluating C8 or its effect on human health.
The federal Toxic Substance Control Act only requires companies to report information when the public is at risk, DuPont said, and it added there were no adverse effects to humans exposed to the chemical. DuPont said its records showed one birth defect but added there was "no indication" it was linked to exposure to C8.
The Teflon chemical C8 is part of a broader family called perfluorochemicals. Tests have shown that C8 and similar chemicals can cause liver damage and reproductive problems in rats, according to scientists. The Environmental Working Group said laboratory studies have linked exposure to perfluorochemicals to cancer, hypothyroidism, and brain damage.
In 2000, 3M Corp. pulled its stain repellent Scotchgard from the market after the EPA expressed concern that a sister chemical to C8 posed serious health risks. 3M has since stopped making all perfluorochemicals.
The EPA last September began a priority review of C8 under the Toxic Chemicals Control Act, which can be used to ban chemicals that can lead to health problems or defects.
An EPA official said the agency planned to release a final version of its report on Monday. In a draft copy released last month, the EPA found that C8 accumulates in the blood system and has toxic chemicals that pose a risk for childbearing women. The agency urged further study of the chemical's impact on humans.
For its part, DuPont said that the EPA document was a preliminary draft and that data recently shared with the government support the chemical's safety.
The History of Teflon - http://www.dupont.com/teflon/newsroom/history.html
|Is Human Cloning Impossible?|
|Pittsburgh April 10, 2003 (BBC) - Human cloning may never be possible because of a quirk of biology. Scientists in the United States say hundreds of attempts to clone monkeys have ended in failure. They think the biological make-up of the eggs of primates, including humans, makes cloning almost impossible. |
Cloning has been successful in several mammals, including sheep, mice and cattle, but there is increasing evidence that it does not work in all species.
The research, reported in the journal Science, casts further doubt on efforts by a handful of mavericks to clone humans. Clonaid, a company created by a UFO cult known as the Raelians, claims to have already cloned several babies.
It has produced no evidence to substantiate these claims.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine used the method pioneered on Dolly the sheep to try to clone rhesus macaque monkeys. They were unable to establish a single pregnancy after hundreds of attempts. Other groups have also tried and failed to clone monkeys.
|80 Million Bees Escape in Florida|
|Miami April 8, 2003 (AFP) - A swarm of as many as 80 million bees have suddenly found freedom in central Florida when a truck carrying them on an interstate highway overturned, local media reported on Tuesday. |
The driver, identified as Conrad Cramer, was killed in the road accident that occurred on Monday near the town of Titusville.
The escaped bees swarmed around for hours after the accident forcing authorities to close parts of the highway and reroute the traffic. It was not immediately clear if the bees could be caught and returned to their hives.
Bees are routinely transported from one part of Florida to another in springtime to allow them to collect nectar from blooming orchards.
|Oldest Deity Found!|
|The Field Museum Press Release |
CHICAGO April 14, 2003 - Archaeologists have found a 4,000-year-old gourd fragment that bears an archaic image of the Staff God – the principal deity in South America during thousands of years.
“Like the cross, the Staff God is a clearly recognizable religious icon,” says Jonathan Haas, MacArthur curator of North American anthropology at The Field Museum. “This appears to be the oldest identifiable religious icon found in the Americas. It indicates that organized religion began in the Andes more than 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.”
Members of the Proyecto Arqueológico Norte Chico found the gourd fragment along the coast of Peru, 120 miles north of Lima, while collecting surface artifacts at a looted cemetery. The fragment, which was once part of a gourd bowl about the size of softball, has been radiocarbon dated to 2250 B.C.
Archaeology will publish a description of the new discovery in its May-June issue, which hits the newsstands Tuesday, April 15. The report is authored by Haas; Winifred Creamer, associate professor of anthropology at Northern Illinois University; and Alvaro Ruiz, Co-Director of the Proyecto Arqueológico Norte Chico.
According to Ruiz, “the Staff God, also known as Dios de los Baculos, is an iconic motif with a long and broad history throughout several Andean cultures. This deity figure is commonly shown in a frontal view, with a fanged mouth and splayed and clawed feet. Snakes are often part of the figure’s headdress or integrated into its garments. Most commonly, the deity is depicted holding a staff in one or both hands, hence the name.”
The incised and painted image on the newly found gourd fragment, while simple and archaic in style, clearly has fangs and splayed feet. Its left arm appears to end in a snake’s head, and its right hand holds a staff.
A similar incised and painted drawing on a second gourd fragment from a nearby cemetery represents the same or a similar figure.
The figures were found in the Patavilca River Valley, one of four coastal valleys that make up the Norte Chico region of the Peruvian coast.
This region was densely populated between 2600 B.C. and 2000 B.C. and appears to have been the ancestral home of Andean civilization that culminated 3500 years later in the Inca.
“To date, 26 major centers have been recorded in the Norte Chico region, all with monumental architecture, large-scale ceremonial structures, and complex residential and administrative architecture,” Creamer says. “It is a truly unique concentration of settlements anywhere in the Americas.”
Both gourd fragments were found at these cemeteries, which today stand as large stone outcrops covered with windblown sand.
[They worshipped Felix the Cat?? Ed.]
|Genre News: Buffy and Angel, Platinum, Katherine Heigl, Ono, Ice-T, Lucky, Smothers Brothers and More!|
|Buffy and Angel |
Hollywood April 14, 2003 (eXoNews) - Buffy returns this week with "Dirty Girls", the first show of a five-episode arc that will end the series in its current incarnation.
Faith (Eliza Dushku) rejoins the Scoobies as they fight the final Big Bad. The series finale will be a two-hour episode, so you tapers out there should be able to fit all five on one VHS reel.
According to Dark Horizons, David Boreanaz (Angel) added to the Superman and Batman rumors at a "talk to college students in LA last week".
According to DH, Boreanaz has not yet heard back about his Superman audition, which contradicts what he said in an E! Online interview when he quelled the rumors a month ago.
DH also confirms that discussions were held about Boreanaz becoming Batman, but no script yet. Boreanaz also said that there would be major changes in the cast of Angel next year if the show is picked up for a fifth season.
Hollywood Reporter says that Buffy's Nick Brendon has signed for a Fox pilot called "The Pool at Maddy Breakers". It's a comedy, which sounds like a good direction for Nick.
And rabid fans who want to join a campaign to renew Angel can go to http://www.renewangel.com
Dark Horizons - http://www.darkhorizons.com
I humbly predict that the big winner from Platinum will be Lalanya Masters, who was a real standout in "Flow" as Jackson's wife Monica. Miss Masters stole the screen every time she appeared. Watch this lady! She's a star!
Hollywood April 14, 2003 (eXoNews) - Katherine Heigl (Isabel in Roswell), who stars in "Love Comes Softly" with Skye McCole Bartusiak and Dale Midkiff on the Hallmark Channel this month, has been cast in "Vegas Dick", a UPN fall series. Katherine will play a casino owner's daughter in the show, produced by 20th Century Fox.
You can sign the Roswell movie petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/mlmovie/petition.html. Roswell co-star John Doe (Liz's father in the show) was quoted recently on Dark Horizons, saying that the movie was a reality, so Roswell fans should sign up now! The petition currently has 19,346 signatures.
P. Diddy Does Robert Johnson
Yoko Remix Hits Top 10
Capitol Records' Ono site - http://capitolrecords.com/yokoono
Get Full Ice-T Album for $4.99!
Kazaa - http://www.kazaa.com
Lucky Draws High on FX
Stan Winston Wants Apocalypse
Actor John Carradine Honored
He performed Shakespeare and horror movies, but films such as "Stagecoach" and "Jesse James" secured his induction into the Western performers hall.
Carradine died in 1988 at the age of 82.
Learn more about Hollywood's golden years at http://darkhollywood.com
The Smothers Brothers Are Back!
LOS ANGELES April 14, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - Those Democratic Party Brahmins who are out trying to round up liberal voices to take up the fight against conservatives in the talk radio and TV spin wars might want to check out the Smothers Brothers show next month when the duo heads to Sin City for a month long stand at the Las Vegas Hilton.
The hour grew into a somewhat unwitting mouthpiece for the Vietnam antiwar movement, with establishment CBS caught in the middle.
The Smothers Brothers Official Site - http://www.smothersbrothers.com