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The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 12:00:46 PM EST
U.S. Lags in Global Measure of Preterm Births - NYTimes.com

Fifteen million babies are born prematurely each year, and the United States fared badly in the first country-by-country global comparison of premature births, which was released Wednesday by the World Health Organization and other agencies.

Although American hospitals excel at saving premature infants, the United States is similar to developing countries in the percentage of mothers who give birth before their child is due, the study's chief author noted. It does worse than any western European country and considerably worse than Japan or the Scandinavian countries.

That stems from the unique American combination of many pregnant teenagers and many women over 35 giving birth, sometimes to twins or triplets implanted after in vitro fertilization, the authors said. Twins and triplets are often deliberately delivered early by Caesarean section to avoid the unpredictable risks of vaginally delivering multiple full-term babies.

Also, many American women of childbearing age have other risk factors for premature birth, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or smoking habits. And the many women who lack health insurance often do not see doctors early in their pregnancies, when problems like high blood pressure or genital infections can be headed off.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 03:36:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Controversial Bird-Flu Research Published: How Worried Should We Be? | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

A highly controversial research paper on bird flu was released today by the journal Nature. It shows that a particularly troublesome strain of avian influenza, designated H5N1, which has been worrying public health officials for more than a decade, has the potential to become a human pandemic. In other words, H5N1 bird flu, which so far has been highly lethal to humans but has not acquired the ability to spread easily among us, could do so at any time.

The researchers, under the direction of Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, crossed an H5N1 virus with the H1N1 pandemic virus of 2009, which spread like wildfire from one end of the world to another. The 2009 pandemic, you'll recall, caught public health officials by surprise but luckily turned out to be mild. Kawaoka's lab-made hybrid virus spreads among ferrets by airborne droplets expelled during the course of respiration-just as human influenza viruses such as the 2009  pandemic strain spread from person to person. Kawaoka's concoction does not kill ferrets, and probably wouldn't kill humans, but the feat is troubling because it demonstrates that an H5N1 virus that can spread among humans is most likely possible. (We don't know for sure because it was tested only on ferrets, not humans, of course.)

Whether an H5N1 virus could acquire the two deadly traits-transmissibility and lethality-at the same time is a burning question. (Kawaoka's paper does not address it.) If one could, it would be bad news indeed. The 1918 flu virus, an H1N1 type, killed about 2 or 2.5 percent of the people it infected but spread so readily the death toll reached 20 million to 50 million. By contrast, about 60 percent of the 600 or so people who have caught H5N1 in the past few years have died. A highly transmissible H5N1 virus with a 60 percent fatality rate could kill hundreds of millions of people, perhaps billions.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 03:48:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Big Gulp: Flaring Galaxy Marks the Messy Demise of a Star in a Supermassive Black Hole: Scientific American

Once in a while, a supermassive black hole gets a sumptuous treat. A passing star wanders too close and gets caught in the black hole's gravitational pull, like a fly trapped in a spider's web. The star then becomes an easy meal for the black hole, which tears its prey to bits and ingests a good portion of it. 

Astronomers have witnessed several such disruptions before in distant galaxies, but usually only toward the end of the process. (These feedings are far too rare, however, to have been witnessed in our own Milky Way anytime in recent human history; they occur only once every 10,000 years or so per galaxy.) Now researchers have documented a black hole's feasting in such detail that they were able to infer its size as well as the type of star that fell prey to its gluttony. 

Astronomers cannot peer inside a black hole itself; beyond the event horizon, a black hole's point of no return, even light cannot escape into the outside world. But material falling into a black hole gives off intense flares of radiation as it compresses and heats up outside the event horizon. 



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 03:48:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iceman mummy: 5,000-year-old red blood cells discovered -- oldest blood known to modern science

ScienceDaily (May 2, 2012) -- His DNA has been decoded; samples from his stomach and intestines have allowed us to reconstruct his very last meal. The circumstances of his violent death appear to have been explained. However, what had, at least thus far, eluded the scientists, was identifying any traces of blood in Ötzi, the 5,000-year-old glacier mummy. Examination of his aorta had yielded no results. Yet recently, a team of scientists from Italy and Germany, using nanotechnology, succeeded in locating red blood cells in Ötzi's wounds, thereby discovering the oldest traces of blood to have been found anywhere in the world.

"Up to now there had been uncertainty about how long blood could survive -- let alone what human blood cells from the Chalcolithic period, the Copper Stone Age, might look like." This is how Albert Zink, Head of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Academy, Bozen-Bolzano (EURAC) explains the starting point for the investigations which he undertook with Marek Janko and Robert Stark, materials scientists at the Center of Smart Interfaces at Darmstadt Technical University. Even in modern forensic medicine it has so far been almost impossible to determine how long a trace of blood had been present at a crime scene. Scientists Zink, Janko and Stark are convinced that the nanotechnological methods which they tested out on Ötzi's blood to analyse the microstructure of blood cells and minute blood clots might possibly lead to a break-through in this area.

The team of scientists used an atomic force microscope to investigate thin tissue sections from the wound where the arrow entered Ötzi's back and from the laceration on his right hand. This nanotechnology instrument scans the surface of the tissue sections using a very fine probe. As the probe moves over the surface, sensors measure every tiny deflection of the probe, line by line and point by point, building up a three-dimensional image of the surface. What emerged was an image of red blood cells with the classic "doughnut shape," exactly as we find them in healthy people today.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 03:49:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When visiting the museum several years ago, I remember reading this.
DNA analysis revealed traces of blood from four other people on his gear: one from his knife, two from the same arrowhead, and a third from his coat.
Is the article you quoted confusing "traces of blood" with "red blood cells" or is one of the two sources simply wrong?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 06:35:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't the point that using a new tool they looked at the traces of blood and found intact red blood cells in them?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 06:42:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the only plausible explanation I can think of, but they keep talking of "traces on blood" in the article.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 06:53:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Red blood cells don't contain DNA do they ? So traces of blood (with DNA) and red blood cells will be different

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 07:13:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German court rules against Microsoft in Motorola patent fight | Reuters

(Reuters) - A court in Mannheim ruled on Wednesday that Microsoft infringed Motorola Mobility's patents and ordered Microsoft to remove its popular Xbox 360 gaming consoles and Windows 7 operating system software from the German market.

However, Microsoft said that the ruling did not mean that its products would be taken off retailers' shelves because a U.S. district court in Seattle has granted Microsoft a preliminary injunction against Motorola to prevent the phone maker from enforcing any German court order.

"Motorola is prohibited from acting on today's decision, and our business in Germany will continue as usual while we appeal this decision and pursue the fundamental issue of Motorola's broken promise," Microsoft said in a response to the ruling.

The Mannheim case is related to the larger smartphone patent war being fought by Apple, Microsoft and mobile phone makers who use Google's Android software such as Samsung.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 03:56:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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