Friday, February 5, 2010

Tiny bubbles destroy cancer cells.

From LiveScience:
Tiny bubbles can pack quite a punch — creating nanoscale explosions that destroy cancer cells.

Using lasers and nanoparticles, scientists discovered a new technique for singling out individual diseased cells and demolishing them.

The scientists used lasers to make "nanobubbles" by zapping gold nanoparticles inside cells. In tests on cancer cells, they found they could tune the lasers to create either small, bright bubbles that were visible but harmless or large bubbles that burst the cells.

The term "nano" generally refers to stuff at the nanoscale that's no larger than 100 nanometers, where 1 nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. For comparison, a hair is about 100,000 nm wide.

"Single-cell targeting is one of the most touted advantages of nanomedicine, and our approach delivers on that promise with a localized effect inside an individual cell," said study author Dmitri Lapotko, a physicist at Rice University in Texas. "The idea is to spot and treat unhealthy cells early, before a disease progresses to the point of making people extremely ill."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New device could give us Spidey powers.

From TechNewsDaily:
A new high-tech suction device could allow humans to walk on walls like Spider-Man or create adhesive devices that could be turned on and off with the flick of a switch.

The contraption, inspired by a beetle that can hold on to a leaf with a force 100 times its weight, uses the surface tension of water to make an adhesive bond, but it does so with a creative twist. It could be used to create sticky shoes or gloves, researchers said today.

The device consists of a flat top plate riddled with tiny holes, each just a few hundred microns (a millionth of a meter) wide. A bottom plate holds water. In between is a porous layer. A 9-volt battery powers an electric field that forces water to squeeze through the tiny holes in the top layer.

The surface tension of the exposed droplets makes the device grip another surface — much the way two pieces of wet glass stick together. Turn the electricity off, and the bond breaks.

"In our everyday experience, these forces are relatively weak," explained Paul Steen, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Cornell University. "But if you make a lot of them and can control them, like the beetle does, you can get strong adhesion forces."

More work is needed to create a version of the device that would hold you to the side of a building in Spider-Man fashion, however. One prototype has 1,000 holes and can hold about 30 grams, or roughly 70 paperclips. But tests showed that with more and smaller holes, a 1-inch square device could hold 15 pounds.

Woman forced to show ID to buy quiche.

This is why I only get prescription-strength quiche. From Ananova:
A 24-year-old Warwickshire woman was asked for proof of her age when she tried to buy a slice of quiche from Tesco.

Christine Cuddihy, 24, thought the cashier was joking when she refused to let the sale go through because she 'looked under 21'.

Eventually, as the shoppers queueing behind her grew restless, the embarrassed office worker had to produce her driving licence to prove her age.

"The girl told me: "You don't look over 21. I need to see some proof of age"," Ms Cuddihy told the Daily Mail.

"I told her I was certain the proof of age laws do not apply to quiche but she just said: "We have to be really strict now and this applies to quiche bought over the counter".

"It was very embarrassing, what on earth is dangerous about a slice of quiche? It was rush-hour and the shop was really busy. I was so insulted that they thought I couldn't be trusted with a harmless snack."

The incident happened at the Tesco store in Cannons Park, Coventry. Miss Cuddihy, from nearby Leamington Spa, was on her way home from work when she popped in to buy the quiche for her supper.

Tesco has apologised for the incident. A spokesman for the supermarket said shoppers did not have to prove their age to buy quiche.

Batman & Robin voted worst movie ever.

I can think of worse. From The Sun:
GEORGE CLOONEY's comic book adventure Batman And Robin has been voted the worst movie of all time.

The 1997 film - which cost £90million to make and also starred CHRIS O'DONNELL and UMA THURMAN - was blamed for almost killing off the Caped Crusader franchise.

It was slammed for its camp "Batsuits" - which had nipples - and an "overblown" script.

Empire magazine, which ran the "most disastrous movie" poll, said: "It has become a byword for franchise-killing and bad movie-making."

The film got almost three times as many votes as the next entry - JOHN TRAVOLTA's bizarre sci-fi flick Battlefield Earth.

And Austin Powers funnyman MIKE MYERS' comedy The Love Guru came in third place.

The top 10 bad movies: 1. Batman and Robin; 2. Battlefield Earth; 3. The Love Guru; 4. Raise The Titanic; 5. Epic Movie; 6. Heaven's Gate; 7. Sex Lives Of The Potato Men; 8. The Happening; 9. Highlander II: The Quickening; 10. The Room.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

England and France warring over the G-spot.

From CBS News:
As if soccer, wars of incredible length, and the relative worth of wine vs. beer didn’t account for enough disagreements between Britain and France, add another spat to the pile: whether or not the G-spot really exists.

A few weeks ago, a team of scientists from King’s College London joined the ongoing scientific fray by publishing a new study on the much-debated female erogenous zone. It was the biggest to date, involving 1,800 women - all of whom were pairs of identical or non-identical twins. If the G-spot did exist, it said, then genetically identical twins would have been expected to both report having one. However, no such pattern emerged.

As a result of the study, coauthor Tim Spector said, the study "shows fairly conclusively that the idea of a G-spot is subjective."

It didn’t take long, however, for this news to reach the French, who aren’t about to start taking sex advice from across the channel. A group of gynecologists there convened their own conference in Paris to denounce this assault on female pleasure. Surgeon Pierre Foldes told a "G-Day" conference across La Manche: "The King’s College study shows a lack of respect for what women say. The conclusions were completely erroneous because they were based solely on genetic observations".

The angry French gynecologists said they’d found the real problem with their British counterparts: that they're British.

The King's College study, they said, had fallen victim to an Anglo-Saxon tendency to reduce the mysteries of sexuality to absolutes. This attempt to set clear parameters on something variable and ambiguous, they said, was characteristic of British scientific attitudes to sex.

Gynecologist Odile Buisson went even further in blaming national sex attitudes for supposedly leading the British researchers astray: “I don’t want to stigmatise at all but I think the Protestant, liberal, Anglo-Saxon character means you are very pragmatic. There has to be a cause for everything, a gene for everything,” she said, adding: “I think it’s totalitarian” [The Guardian]. She also told The Telegraph that the G-spot is real for upwards of 60 percent of women, and that saying anything else is "medical machismo."

No word yet of the British team responding to this challenge to their study (and national pride).

Giant squid invade California.

Cthulhu's children have awoken! From the Telegraph:

Giant squid weighing up to 60 pounds (27 kilograms) have swum into waters off Newport Beach and are being caught by sport fishermen by the hundreds.

The squid were noticed last week and fishermen started booking twilight fishing trips to catch them the huge creatures.

Robert Woodbury, from Newport Landing Sportfishing, told the LA Times that the anglers come in two main types: those hungry for the relatively pricey delicacy, and the sports angler eager to tangle with a feistier sea creature.

"Most of the fish we catch are better to eat, but they don't give you much of a fight."

He said the squid were "trying to crawl around and blow ink all over everybody."

14-year-old girl fights off shark.

From BBC:
A teenager from New Zealand has saved herself from the jaws of a shark by using her body-board to defend herself.

Fourteen-year-old Lydia Ward said she was at a beach near the southern city of Invercargill when the shark struck.

The shark, about 1.5m (4.9ft) in length, is reported to have lunged at her and tried to bite her hip.

Standing in water that only reached up to her waist at Oreti Beach, she said she hit the "big, grey, slippery thing" repeatedly with her body-board.

Man loses teeth in cigarette explosion.

From BBC:
An Indonesian man has been given compensation after a cigarette he was smoking exploded, taking out six teeth.

Andi Susanto, 31, told Indonesian media the cigarette had blown up in his mouth while he was riding a motorcycle.

He accepted a payment of 5m rupiah ($535; £335) and all his medical costs from PT Nojorono Tobacco, makers of the brand of cigarette he was smoking.

Police are investigating what caused the blast, but Mr Susanto said he would try to give up smoking now anyway.

He told the Jakarta Post newspaper he had been smoking since he was a schoolboy and had never had any problems.

"The incident was all so unexpected," he said.

Woman raises goldfish from the dead.

From Ananova:
A mother has revived a goldfish with the kiss-of-life after it was found in a dried-up stream. Maria Venghaus's young sons found the lifeless fish in the muddy stream near their home in Swindon, Wiltshire, and rescued it.

Mum Maria, 30, sprang into action and blew hard into its mouth and then dropped it into a tank of water when he revived. Maria told the Daily Record: "I used to win fish from fairs when I was younger. My grandad taught me how to blow into their mouths when they are weak and it usually did the trick."

The new fish - named Boris - is now enjoying life with the family's 16 other goldfish.

Man tries to board plane with severed seal head.

From Ananova:
A US man was arrested as he tried to board a plane with the severed head of a seal. The man, said to be from Colorado and in his 40s, tried to take the head onto a flight at Logan Airport, Boston. Airport security agents discovered it in a small canvas cooler and immediately notified state and federal authorities, reports the Boston Globe.

The man, who was bound for Denver, told investigators that he was a biology professor and that he had found a dead seal on a beach. He told officials that he cut off its head so he could take it home for educational purposes.

After more than an hour of questioning at the airport by federal and state authorities, investigators said the man was allowed to board a plane - without the seal's head. The head is now in the possession of investigators from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement.

The man could face charges under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, which carries civil fines of up to $12,000, criminal fines up to $20,000, and possible imprisonment of up to a year.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Study: Running barefoot better than sneakers.

From PopSci:
All the latest footwear engineering in your running sneakers might not mean a thing when it comes to preventing injuries. The latest barefoot running study in the journal Nature deployed 3-D infrared tracking to gauge the difference in foot strike between shod and shoeless runners, Scientific American reports. Here's a modern-day meme summation of the findings: "Shoes? You're doing it wrong."

Runners who wore sneakers ended up landing heel-first 75 to 80 percent of the time. By contrast, barefoot runners usually land toward the middle or front of the foot -- a dramatic difference that recalls the more natural foot strike of early Homo sapiens. Needless to say, early humans certainly were not born to run wearing Nike or Reebok.

The heel-landing without shoes means a painful collision force of 1.5 to 3 times human body weight. But cushioned sneaker heels have allowed runners to change their stride to high-impact running, and likely open up a whole world of pain involving foot and leg injuries.

"Most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts," said Daniel Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and lead author on the study. "But actually you can run barefoot on the world’s hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

13 young students killed at party on Mexican border.

From the Houston Chronicle:
Armed men stormed a party in a violent Mexican border city, killing 13 high school and college students in what witnesses thought was an attack prompted by false information.

The deaths in Ciudad Juarez were part of a total of 24 people killed across Mexico since Saturday in violence caused by ongoing turf battles between powerful drug cartels.

About two dozen teens and young adults were hospitalized following the late Saturday assault in Ciudad Juarez, one of the deadliest cities in the world located across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Grieving witnesses and family members told The Associated Press on Sunday they thought the victims, mostly residents of the housing complex where the attack occurred, had no ties to drug traffickers.

"It must have been a huge mistake," said Martha Lujan, who lives at the housing complex.

The young adults had gathered to watch a boxing match, Lujan said, when two trucks pulled up loaded with armed men who opened fire.

Ten people were killed at the scene and other three died at local hospitals, Chihuahua State Attorney Patricia Gonzales said.

The bodies of the victims, whose ages ranged from 15 to 20, lay scattered around the house where the attack happened.

A witness said he was just outside when the gunfire broke out. Hector, who only gave his first name because he feared retaliation, said the party was an innocuous gathering of friends who must have been targeted incorrectly.

Sexual vs. emotional infidelity for men and women examined.

From ScienceDaily:
When South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was caught red-handed returning from a tryst with his Argentine mistress last June, he told the Associated Press that he had met his "soul mate." His choice of words seemed to suggest that having a deep emotional and spiritual connection with Maria Belen Chapur somehow made his sexual infidelity to his wife Jenny Sanford less tawdry.

What the two-timing governor didn't understand is that most women view emotional infidelity as worse, not better, than sexual betrayal. This may explain why Hillary Clinton stayed with Bill Clinton and seemed unconcerned about his sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky. Research has documented that most men become much more jealous about sexual infidelity than they do about emotional infidelity. Women are the opposite, and this is true all over the world. The prevailing theory is that the difference has evolutionary origins: Men learned over eons to be hyper-vigilant about sex because they can never be absolutely certain they are the father of a child, while women are much more concerned about having a partner who is committed to raising a family.

New research now suggests an alternative explanation. The new study does not question the fundamental gender difference regarding jealousy -- indeed it adds additional support for that difference. But the new science suggests that the difference may be rooted more in individual differences in personality that result from one's relationship history but that can fall along gender lines.

Molecular Venus flytrap could munch nuclear waste.

Microscopic creatures that chomp down on things? What if we accidentally create Langoliers? From New Scientist:
The molecular equivalent of a Venus flytrap could capture water-borne nuclear waste.

So say Mercouri Kanatzidis and Nan Ding from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. They have synthesised a sulphide-containing material with a flexible structure that mimics the flytrap's jaws.

The structure has "windows" measuring 0.8 nanometres by 0.3 nanometres - just large enough for caesium ions to squeeze through. Once inside, the caesium bonds with sulphide ions, and this changes the material's structure in a way that closes the windows and traps the caesium.

"The trigger for closing the trap comes from the caesium-sulphide interactions in the material," says Kanatzidis. Even if other ions such as sodium are present, they bond so strongly to water molecules that they can't react with the sulphide, he says (Nature Chemistry, DOI: 10.1038/nchem.519).

Kanatzidis thinks the flytrap could be used to trap radioactive caesium at nuclear disposal sites.

Weight Watchers meal includes free crunchy frog.

This dieting shopper posts on Consumerist:
I have been eating a Weight Watcher’s Smart One for lunch just about every day of 2010. After microwaving yesterday’s Fettuccini Alfredo, I peeled back the plastic cover to find a small frog nestled among the broccoli. Ugh!

Weight Watchers graciously offered me coupons good toward the purchase of future products which I declined as I never intend to eat a SmartOne product again. They then reluctantly agreed to refund the price of the meal that included the frog. After first being told that they would not offer any refund for the as-yet-uneaten SmartOnes in my freezer because they were certain in was a one-time occurrence, I was told that WW might consider refunding those purchases but only if I could provide the UPC codes and receipts.

In addition to wondering just how a practically intact frog winds up in a frozen meal, I am left to ponder just how many points there are in frog. Oh well, the diet worked yesterday since all I could manage to eat was a 100 calorie yogurt.

Airports to start scanning... YOUR MIND!

From LiveScience:
WeCU Technologies is building a mind-reading scanner that can tell if a given traveler is a potential danger - without the subject's knowledge. WeCU Technologies (pronounced "we see you") is creating a system that would essentially turn the public spaces in airports into vast screening grounds:.

"The system ... projects images onto airport screens, such as symbols associated with a certain terrorist group or some other image only a would-be terrorist would recognize, company CEO Ehud Givon said.

"The logic is that people can't help reacting, even if only subtly, to familiar images that suddenly appear in unfamiliar places. If you strolled through an airport and saw a picture of your mother, Givon explained, you couldn't help but respond.

"The reaction could be a darting of the eyes, an increased heartbeat, a nervous twitch or faster breathing, he said. The WeCU system would use humans to do some of the observing but would rely mostly on hidden cameras or covert biometric sensors that can detect a slight rise in body temperature and heart rate," as reported in Raw Story.

Rip Torn arrested drunk, armed in bank.

Emmy award-winning actor Rip Torn, who has had a recurring role in the NBC hit 30 Rock, has been arrested after police found him intoxicated and armed inside a Connecticut bank at the weekend.

Torn, 78, was being held on $US100,000 bond after state police responded to an alarm at the Litchfield Bank in Salisbury, the Connecticut town where the actor lives, and found him inside the closed bank "with a loaded revolver" and "highly intoxicated," according to a police report issued on Saturday (local time).

He was charged with burglary, criminal trespass and criminal mischief and weapons charges.

Torn, who won an Emmy for The Larry Sanders Show in 1992, has most recently appeared in several episodes of 30 Rock as network head Don Geiss.

Army: Trauma is a good thing!

Some reassuring news from Army Times:
“Ever since my truck was hit with that IED, I’m getting along better with people and my views about things have changed. I actually seem happier. I thought things like this were supposed to mess you up. Am I crazy?”

Those words came from a service member with whom I worked during my first tour in Iraq. My response to him: “No, you are not crazy.”

Being exposed to traumatic experiences can alter how a person views the world — sometimes for the better. Post-traumatic growth is receiving much attention in the military mental health community. PTG is a scientific and philosophical approach to understanding the positive changes that can occur in individuals after a traumatic experience.

In the past, trauma has been viewed as a cause of psychological dysfunction. However, research shows that not all people develop sustained psychological problems after trauma. Some actually become emotionally and socially healthier after trauma exposure.

Why does this happen? Just as a building’s foundation can shift from an earthquake, how a person views and interprets the world can be shaken from a traumatic or series of traumatic events.

For example, after narrowly escaping serious injury or death, a service member who hates his life may adopt the worldview that “life is precious and I should be thankful for each day I have on Earth.” A service member who loses a best friend to a Humvee rollover comes to believe that “loved ones can leave this world at any moment, so it’s important to spend as much time with them as you can.”