Daily Archives

Swine Flu Vaccine Trials Begin in Children

ABC NEWS (America) – With adult trials already under way without serious incident, researchers began giving H1N1 swine flu vaccine to children Wednesday to test the safety and effectiveness for the upcoming flu season.
The trials among children, which will ultimately be conducted at five universities in the United States, will allow researchers to determine effective and safe dosing of the vaccine, which has been designed to prevent a strain of influenza that has already claimed more than 1,000 lives worldwide. [Read article]

Is paleontology going extinct? – The author of a new book on dinosaurs laments the demise of his discipline

The Scientist – Even before Jurassic Park brought dinosaurs to cinematic life, the ancient reptiles were fascinating to most people, especially kids. These days, mountains of…paraphernalia are marketed to kids between ages 2 and 10. Most youngsters know Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops by sight, and many have mastered hundreds of arcane paleontological names as well. People assume that with all this dinophilia,… paleontology must be rolling in dough. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, paleontology in the US and in most of Europe is starved for funds and jobs, and in many places paleontology is on its way to extinction. [Read Article]

The Biochemist – Same old story (sigh). The big ‘flash’ projects get the funding, rather than pure knowledge accumulation (science) that will benefit us as a species. Unless dollar signs are visible, investment doesn’t happen anymore. Scientific curiousity is dying, and we need to resurrect it in our kids – or face the consequences.

‘Simple’ endometriosis test hope

BBC NEWS – Scientists have developed a quick and simple way to diagnose endometriosis, without requiring surgery.
All that is needed is a small sample of womb lining, taken in a similar way to a smear test, that can be checked for the presence of nerve fibres. [Read Article]

Primary liver cancers ‘soaring’ – preventable

BBC NEWS – Cases of primary liver cancer, an often preventable disease, have trebled in the last 30 years, figures suggest.
While it is not uncommon for cancer to spread to the liver, Cancer Research UK statistics show incidents where it starts in the organ have risen sharply. [Read article]

Satellites Unlock Secret To Northern India’s Vanishing Water

Science Daily – Using satellite data, UC Irvine and NASA hydrologists have found that groundwater beneath northern India has been receding by as much as 1 foot per year over the past decade ““ and they believe human consumption is almost entirely to blame. More than 109 cubic kilometers (26 cubic miles) of groundwater disappeared from the region’s aquifers between 2002 and 2008 ““ double the capacity of India’s largest surface-water reservoir, the Upper Wainganga, and triple that of Lake Mead, the largest manmade reservoir in the U.S. Read Article

Opposition MP has DNA profile deleted from UK database

Daily Telegraph – Tory MP Damian Green has won a battle with police to have his DNA profile removed from the national database. In a case that will prompt widespread calls for the records of hundreds of thousands of innocent people to be deleted, the shadow immigration minister successfully argued that he was an “exceptional case”. He had demanded he be erased from the system after no charges were brought against him following his arrest over Whitehall leaks last year. But the decision by Scotland Yard immediately is certain to spark fresh demands that the DNA of all innocent people should be removed. Ministers are under intense pressure to delete the records of at least 850,000 people on the database who have never been convicted of an offence. Read Article

Iraq forces admit lapses after blasts kill 95

Reuters – A series of blasts in Baghdad killed 95 people and wounded 536 in Iraq’s bloodiest day this year, prompting a rare admission of culpability from Iraqi security forces struggling to cope without U.S. help. At least six blasts struck near government ministries and other targets at the heart of Iraq’s Shi’ite-led administration, weeks after U.S. combat troops withdrew from urban centers in June, thrusting Iraq’s security forces into the lead role. Read Article

The Historian – By an amazing coincidence Iraq’s parliament is currently voting on wherther to allow the US forces to stay in Iraq beyond 2012. Which way do you think it will go?

Tamiflu puts 600,000 at greater risk of a stroke

Dailymail.co.uk – GPs have been put on alert over fears that Tamiflu can put some people at greater risk of suffering a stroke.
A Government watchdog is concerned that the anti-swine flu drug can interact with the blood-thinning medication warfarin, which is taken by more than 600,000 people in the UK. [Read Article]

The Biochemist – Last weeks article referred to in this article is probably ‘Swine flu drug Tamiflu ‘a danger to children’ and should not be given to them, expert warns’.

DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show

New York Times - Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases.The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person. ”You can just engineer a crime scene,” said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. “Any biology undergraduate could perform this.” Read Article

School league tables ‘a flawed beauty parade’

Telegraph.co.uk – Perse School for Girls, which is consistently at the top of annual rankings, said it would withdraw from rankings this year in protest over the system.
Teachers claim league tables provide a “very crude measurement” of success and fail to recognise anything beyond performance in the exam hall. [Read article]

US military cyber force activated

The Register - The US air force held an activation ceremony in Texas yesterday for its new cyberspace combat unit, the 24th Air Force, which will “provide combat-ready forces trained and equipped to conduct sustained cyber operations”. The 24th will be commanded by former Minuteman missile and satellite-jamming specialist Major-General Richard Webber. Under his command are two cyber “wings”, the 688th Information Operations Wing and the 67th Network Warfare Wing, plus combat communications units. Read Article

NSIDC on arctic ice: It is now unlikely that 2009 will see a record low extent

National Snow & Ice Data Centre - During the first half of August, Arctic ice extent declined more slowly than during the same period in 2007 and 2008. The slower decline is primarily due to a recent atmospheric circulation pattern, which transported ice toward the Siberian coast and discouraged export of ice out of the Arctic Ocean. It is now unlikely that 2009 will see a record low extent. Read Article

Climate sceptics like Nazi appeasers: NSW Premier

Sydney Morning Herald - NSW Premier Nathan Rees compared climate change sceptics to Nazi appeasers as he addressed a roomful of scientists at the Eureka Awards last night. In a speech about good policy based on good science, Mr Rees said it was important not to ignore the messages scientists were giving about the environment.”The threat of climate change is catastrophic. In fact, the current wave of climate change scepticism smacks of 1930s-style appeasement: ‘Hide under the blankets and it will go away’. But it won’t go away.’ Read Article

The Historian – Do you think that all research grant seeking scientists at Australia’s premier scientific awards ceremony got the underlying message loud and clear? If a scientist could show me how the very slow (in fact backwards moving since 1998) temperature rise since the end of the mini-ice age in about 1850′s is anything different than the very rapid temperature changes, and higher temperatures that my history books tell me about (eg: 5 degrees in 20 years at the end of the last ice-age, growing vines in the North of England in the Roman times,  or arable crop production by Vikings in Greenland around the 11th century) then I might be less skeptical. Ditto if the banks weren’t about to make trillions from climate trading I may be less skeptical. Lucky for me to burn someone at the stake these days is not allowed because of the CO2 emissions!

South Africa faces deepening economic gloom as other countries recover

Daily Telegraph - South Africa is preparing for a long economic winter just as the rest of the world is setting its sights on the green shoots of recovery.The finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, told his compatriots to hang up their hopes for a speedy recovery on Monday, predicting South Africa’s recession would be deeper and longer lasting than that of other countries. Read Article

German firms join for solar-thermal push in the U.S.

Physorg - German firms Solar Millennium AG and MAN Ferrostaal AG on Monday said they formed a joint venture to build up to three utility-scale plants in Southern California at a cost about $1 billion each. Read Article

Bank of England governor defeated in bid to expand money printing plan to £200bn

Daily Telegraph - Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, was overruled in a bid to expand the size of the radical programme of printing money to £200bn, it has been revealed. Mr King and two fellow members of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee wanted to increase the scale of the programme – known as quantitative easing (QE) by £75bn to £200bn, minutes of this month’s meeting of the MPC showed. The six other members of the MPC voted to lift the programme by £50bn to £175bn in a decision that itself shocked markets. Read Article

The Historian – The pefect recipe for making inflation: Create a nice big national debt, then mix in a debased money supply by printing money (quantitative easing). If you cook it long enough you will have hyper-inflation and that is one genie that it is difficult to get back into the bottle.