Thursday, January 14, 2010

Austrian scientists use live pigs in avalanche experiment.

From EarthTimes:
Vienna - Austrian animal rights groups protested Thursday against scientific experiments on survival conditions in avalanches that use live pigs. An international group of scientists on Tuesday started burying anaesthetized pigs in the snow in the Oetztal valley in Tyrol, where they suffocate or freeze to death, in order to learn about how people die in avalanches.

"It is absolutely unacceptable to kill these highly sensitive, helpless animals for such a useless experiment," said Johanna Stadler, director of the Vier Pfoten animal rights group.

The experiment under the leadership of university clinic for anesthesia in Innsbruck involves burying 29 pigs over two weeks, broadcaster ORF reported. Some animals are fully covered in snow, while others are buried to their neck.

Trend Spotting: Karaoke taxis.

From EarthTimes:
Muenster, Germany - On a Friday night shortly before midnight taxi driver Nizamettin Kilincli picks up a group of women who begin singing loudly in the back of his cab. While some drivers consider this the worst type of fare, Kilincli welcomes the women, even encourages them to sing. Seated in the back, beer bottles in hand, the six tipsy women belt out German pop hits, amplifying the fun they are having getting to their destination.

Kilincli's taxi is a bit different from others in the north-western German city of Muenster. The German association of taxi and rental car companies says his is the only karaoke taxi in Germany.

The cab is specially equipped so that customers can sing while travelling to their destination. Two years ago the 46-year-old taxi driver came up with the idea of putting a video screen on the ceiling behind the driver's seat. Passengers can request music videos and they are encouraged to sing along with the lyrics, which appear in red.


Health: Green tea may block lung cancer.

Dorky: Most beautiful math structure appears in lab for first time.

Film: How to make a Michael Cera movie.

Cthulhu Watch: 2010 summed up so far in squid.

Yipes: Monster Great White shark, longer than a bus, eats swimmer.

Cthulhu Watch: Mysterious tentacled creature washes up in British Columbia.

David Copperfield makes rape case magically disappear.

From BBC:
A two-year rape investigation against magician David Copperfield has been closed without charges being filed, US authorities have said.

A Seattle woman, whose identity has not been disclosed, claimed he sexually assaulted her on his private island in the Bahamas in 2007.

His lawyers have previously dismissed her claims as an attempt at "extortion for money, plain and simple".

The woman's lawyer, Rebecca Roe, said her client was "disappointed".

"But it wasn't completely unexpected given the jurisdictional issue of prosecuting him here for something that happened on his private island," Ms Roe added.

The US Attorney's Office in Seattle said the decision "should not be perceived as a comment on guilt or innocence".

Girls grows new face.

This.. just... wow. From here.
A Swedish teenager has a new face - re-grown after a rare illness tore off her skin.

Eva Uhlin, 19, was hit by Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis following an allergic reaction to painkiller paracetamol.

The disease gripped her whole body, causing her skin to burn up and scab over before falling off. Eva spent weeks lying zombie-like in a hospital bed as the condition ran its course.

But three years on the skin has grown back, leaving her finally happy to reveal her face in public.

Eva, from Linkoping, Sweden, said: "What happened was terrifying - like something out of a horror film.

"It felt like something was crawling around under my skin. I was in shock."

One doctor who treated her said: "This condition strikes only one in a million people. It was due to the painkiller and a virus Eva had."
Horrific pictures of her face in zombie phase are here. Warning: Graphic.

Blood bank offers beer for blood.

Awesome, just hook it up in the IV! From Ananova:
A US blood bank is offering beer in exchange for blood to try to encourage more people to donate.

Cascade Regional Blood Services in Tacoma, Washington state, is offering donors a free pint of beer every time they give blood, reports Metro.

Donors, who have to be over 21, are given a coupon entitling them to the free pint when they donate blood through the 'Give blood, get beer' scheme.

The blood centre says that the scheme has worked so well that it is being expanded.

The coupon can be redeemed at a number of local pubs and restaurants - although, in the interests of health, they have to wait at least four hours after the donation has taken place before they can give the person their beer.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to help Haiti's earthquake victims.

Haiti is one of the world's poorest countries. It has just been hit with its worst earthquake in 200 years. Port-au-Prince has been devastated and thousands are feared dead. This link has a list of organizations that are responding immediately and links to their donation pages.

And from the US State Department:

"For missing family, call 1-888-407-4747. To help with relief efforts, text "HAITI" to "90999" and $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross, charged to your cell phone bill. Or visit Red Cross and Mercy Corps to contribute."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Avatar audiences depressed by real life.

From CNN:
James Cameron's completely immersive spectacle "Avatar" may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora.

On the fan forum site "Avatar Forums," a topic thread entitled "Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible," has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie.

"I wasn't depressed myself. In fact the movie made me happy ," Baghdassarian said. "But I can understand why it made people depressed. The movie was so beautiful and it showed something we don't have here on Earth. I think people saw we could be living in a completely different world and that caused them to be depressed."

A post by a user called Elequin expresses an almost obsessive relationship with the film.

"That's all I have been doing as of late, searching the Internet for more info about 'Avatar.' I guess that helps. It's so hard I can't force myself to think that it's just a movie, and to get over it, that living like the Na'vi will never happen. I think I need a rebound movie," Elequin posted.

A user named Mike wrote on the fan Web site "Naviblue" that he contemplated suicide after seeing the movie.

"Ever since I went to see 'Avatar' I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na'vi made me want to be one of them. I can't stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it," Mike posted. "I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in 'Avatar.' "

Other fans have expressed feelings of disgust with the human race and disengagement with reality.

Burglar steals shoes, photos of men.

From Breitbart:
NEWARK, Del. (AP) - Newark police are looking for a burglar who steals men's shoes and photos that depict men. Five homes have been burglarized since Dec. 26 by a man who entered through an unlocked door or window or forced entry through a rear door. Police said the burglar searches the bedrooms and makes off with men's shoes and photographs of men.

After one of the burglaries, the suspect was seen driving away in a yellow Mitsubishi with Delaware tags.

Dopamine levels influence decision making.

From BBC:
Dopamine, a chemical with a key role in setting people's moods, could have a much wider-ranging impact on their everyday lives, research suggests.

Experiments show that altering levels of the chemical in the brain influences the decisions people make.

One expert said the results showed the relative importance of "gut feeling" over analytical decision making.

The Current Biology study could help understand how expectation of pleasure can go awry, for example in addiction.

It follows previous research by the University College London team, which, using imaging techniques, detected a signal in the brain linked to how much someone enjoyed an experience. They found that signal could in turn predict the choices a person made.

With the suspicion that the signal was dopamine, the researchers set up a study to test how people make complex decisions when their dopamine system has been tampered with.

Smoke flavor may be toxic to humans.

So much for my bacon-flavored beer idea. From BBC:
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says one of the flavourings used to give smoke flavour to meat, cheese or fish, may be toxic to humans.

The authority looked at 11 smoke flavourings commonly used in the European Union.

It says several of the flavourings are dangerously close to levels which may cause harm to humans.

The European Commission will now establish a list of smoke-flavouring products that are safe for use in food.

The smoke flavourings are products which can be added to foods to give them a "smoked" flavour, as an alternative to traditional smoking.

EFSA says it "cannot rule out concerns" about a flavouring called Primary Product AM 01, which is obtained from beech wood.

The wood particles are burnt under controlled conditions and the hot vapours are dissolved in a solvent.

The Panel says the use of the substance "at the intended levels is a safety concern".

Mysterious planet is vaporized.

Oh, CoRoT-7b, we hardly knew ye. From ABC:
Astronomers appear to have caught an exoplanet – a planet orbiting another star – in the middle of a cosmic vanishing act.

The planet, tagged CoRoT-7b, first hit the headlines last September when a team of astronomers confirmed the orb as the smallest exoplanet yet found. Its diameter is roughly 1.7 times that of Earth. Based on its size and mass, its density is similar to Earth's, indicating that it is a rocky Earth-like orb.

But it wasn't always this small. Scientists estimate that CoRoT-7b initially tipped the cosmic scales at 100 times more mass than Earth and orbited the star at a distance of about 2.3 million miles.

New findings suggest its proximity to its sun gives it a molten-hot surface temperature that is causing the planet to slowly vaporize.

If the astronomers' calculations are correct, the planet could be the first of a new class of planets, which astronomers have dubbed "evaporated remnant cores."


Duh: Americans ask stupid questions when traveling (within the US).

Politics: Japan comes clean on secret nuke deals with the US.

RUW: World's first sex robot can also discuss football.

Cthulhu Watch: Deadly jellyfish attacks man... 25 meters above the water!

Creepy: More on the girl who weeps blood.

WTF: Crime lord's penis falls off during raid.

Health: Urine test can detect dangerous snoring.

Yipes: Man arrested for assault with cable box.

Hero: Obama doesn't want his speech interrupting the Lost premiere.

Soda fountains contain fecal bacteria.

Even more disgusting than that, some soda fountains even contain Mountain Dew. From CNN:
It fizzes. It quenches. And it could also contain fecal bacteria.

Nearly half of the 90 beverages from soda fountain machines in one area in Virginia tested positive for coliform bacteria -- which could indicate possible fecal contamination, according to a study published in the January issue of International Journal of Food Microbiology.

Researchers also detected antibiotic-resistant microbes and E.coli in the soda samples.

"Certainly we come in contact with bacteria all the time," Renee Godard, lead author of the study and professor of biology and environmental studies at Hollins University, a private liberal arts college in Roanoke, Virginia. "It's simply that some bacteria may potentially cause some disease or gastrointestinal distress. One thing we hesitate with is that people get afraid of bacteria. Many of them are benign or helpful, but certainly, I don't want E.coli in my beverage."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's drinking-water regulations require that all samples test negative for E.coli.

Many of the soda beverages from the dispensers fell below U.S. drinking-water standards, according to the findings.

"The large number of beverages and soda fountain machines containing E. coli is still of considerable concern... and suggests that more pathogenic strains of bacteria could persist and thrive in soda fountain machines if introduced," the authors wrote.