Science

New digital map reveals stunning hidden archaeology of Stonehenge

Photo: Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project

A host of previously unknown archaeological monuments have been discovered around Stonehenge as part of an unprecedented digital mapping project that will transform our knowledge of this iconic landscape — including remarkable new findings on the world’s largest super henge, Durrington Walls.

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, led by the University of Birmingham in conjunction with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, is the largest project of its kind.

Remote sensing techniques and geophysical surveys have discovered hundreds of new features which now form part of the most detailed archaeological digital map of the Stonehenge landscape ever produced. The startling results of the survey, unveiled in full at the British Science Festival, include 17 previously unknown ritual monuments dating to the period when Stonehenge achieved its iconic shape. Dozens of burial mounds have been mapped in minute detail, including a long barrow (a burial mound dating to before Stonehenge) which revealed a massive timber building, probably used for the ritual inhumation of the dead following a complicated sequence of exposure and excarnation (defleshing), and which was finally covered by an earthen mound.

The project has also revealed exciting new — and completely unexpected — information on previously known monuments. Among the most significant relate to the Durrington Walls super henge, situated a short distance from Stonehenge. This immense ritual monument, probably the largest of its type in the world, has a circumference of more than 1.5 kilometres (0.93 miles).

A new survey reveals that this had an early phase when the monument was flanked with a row of massive posts or stones, perhaps up to three metres high and up to 60 in number — some of which may still survive beneath the massive banks surrounding the monument. Only revealed by the cutting-edge technology used in the project, the survey has added yet another dimension to this vast and enigmatic structure — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

‘Crap’ Australian parents raising a generation of spoilt brats by not setting boundaries, psychologist warns

A prominent Australian psychologist has warned Australia is currently raising a generation of spoilt brats, because their parents are crap and never say no.

Dr Michael Carr-Gregg believes today’s parents have a lot to answer for, and there may be serious long-term consequences for Australia.

Dr Carr-Gregg attributes the rise of poorly-behaved children to five major parenting problems.

The first [problem] is that there are too many parents being doormats for their kids. They have got what I call a vitamin N deficiency, which is a failure to say no.

It’s incredibly important that parents set limits and boundaries and I don’t know that that’s happening at the moment.

Dr Carr-Gregg identified the helicopter parent as another model of crap parenting he was targeting in his work.

The high-strung, control-freak parents that want to smother their kids with so much love and attention and monitoring and supervision that they never, ever develop any self-reliance and can’t solve their own problems later on — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

‘Dingo Simon’ builds sanctuary in fight to save species from extinction in wild

A Queensland disability pensioner with a love of dingoes has begun a personal crusade to save the animals from extinction in the wild.

Simon Stretton is battling biosecurity regulations and opposition from farmers as he tries to create a reservoir of purebred dingo genes to preserve wild populations.

Mr Stretton, who calls himself Dingo Simon, has started his own sanctuary at Durong in the state’s South Burnett region.

What I’m trying to do is save dingoes from extinction, basically, due to interbreeding from the wild dogs [and] also from the State Government’s excessive use of 1080 baiting, he said.

The dingo is considered to be a pest in Queensland — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

I thought long and hard about how we could incorporate a hands-on activity for mummification. Someone suggested we mummify a chicken, but I opted not to do that mainly because it sounds nasty, but also because we don’t eat meat and therefore don’t buy it. Then I heard about a project in which you can mummify fruits or veggies. Sounded a bit more like my kind of thing, but ultimately I really I wanted to do something that had more to do with the ritual aspect of mummification. So, we decided to mummify Barbie! — via Kids Activities Blog

Science

What makes tattoos permanent? / Claudia Aguirre

The earliest recorded tattoo was found on a Peruvian mummy in 6,000 BC. That’s some old ink! And considering humans lose roughly 40,000 skin cells per hour, how do these markings last? Claudia Aguirre details the different methods, machines and macrophages (you’ll see) that go into making tattoos stand the test of time.

Lesson by Claudia Aguirre, animation by TOGETHER — via Youtube

Entertainment, Science

BSSCo. Antimatter reverses the process by which subatomic energy organises into material form. Suggested for use in the dissolution of all material structures, including human and non-human bodies, all forms in nature, buildings, material planets, unwanted hair, paperwork.

Each serving of Antimatter does not provide the recommended daily allowance of anything. AntiFat, AntiSodium, and AntiProtein content have not been evaluated by the FDA. If you reside in an Anti-Universe, Antimatter will not work as indicated.

Antimatter is not a form of Invisibility. Do not attempt to use it as one!

Warning: Ordering in the same shipment as Matter is a waste of 20 bucks — via BSSCo

Health, Science

No more fillings as dentists reveal new tooth decay treatment

Scientists have developed a new pain-free filling that allows cavities to be repaired without drilling or injections.

The tooth-rebuilding technique developed at King’s College London does away with fillings and instead encourages teeth to repair themselves.

Tooth decay is normally removed by drilling, after which the cavity is filled with a material such as amalgam or composite resin.

The new treatment, called Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER), accelerates the natural movement of calcium and phosphate minerals into the damaged tooth.

A two-step process first prepares the damaged area of enamel, then uses a tiny electric current to push minerals into the repair site. It could be available within three years — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics, Science

‘I am a conservationist’ – is Abbott the only person who believes that?

In February 2012, as leader of the Greens, I made a courtesy call on Tony Abbott. He had just pipped Malcolm Turnbull in a party room vote for the leadership of the opposition. He looked straight at me and said, I am an environmentalist! I did not roll my eyes or argue. I had heard the like before. The CEO of Tasmania’s Hydro-Electric Commission, after flooding Lake Pedder and at the height of the controversy over damming the Franklin River, maintained that he was an environmentalist. So have a string of other dam-builders, loggers and gougers of the Earth.

Quite a few embellish this absurdity by calling themselves the true or real environmentalists. Even the Japanese whale killers fire their grenade-tipped harpoons in the name of environmental science.

US president George Bush senior flew to the Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 claiming to be the environmental president. One US cartoonist had him being greeted there by three other male heads-of-state with I’m Little Red Riding Hood, I’m Miss Muffet and I’m Goldilocks!.

John Howard went no further than to claim that he was greenish, but Tony Abbott is staking his claim to be the environmental prime minister. In Washington last week he repeated his self-assessment — I am a conservationist — to bewildered journalists — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

Why Is Canada’s Wolf Population Splitting Into Two Groups?

Photo Credit: Chris Darimont/Raincoast Conservation Project

Chester Starr of the Heiltsuk First Nation knows that the wolves of British Columbia come in two varieties: timber wolves on the mainland and coastal wolves on the islands. Genetic research has finally confirmed what Starr’s tribe has always known.

It was Starr’s traditional ecological knowledge that initially inspired Polish Academy of Sciences researcher Astrid V Stronen and University of Calgary scientist Erin Navid to take a closer look at British Columbia’s wolves. They wanted to see whether the Heiltsuk Nation’s folk knowledge was reflected in the wolves’ genes.

The puzzling thing is that wolves are capable of moving over vast geographical distances. They can easily travel more than 70 kilometers per day without even breaking a sweat. They can cross valleys and mountains, and can swim across rivers and even small channels of sea. Yet Stronen, Navid, and colleagues found stark genetic distinctions among wolf groups in an area just 2000 square kilometers.

Why are there such clear genetic groupings among wolf groups who ought to be able to intermix?

According to the researchers, it’s all about what they eat. Despite the tiny distances between the mainland and the islands — sometimes less than 1500 meters of water — there are tremendous ecological distinctions. The mainland is rugged and is home to tons of wildlife, while the islands are less mountainous and host fewer species. On the mainland, grizzly bears compete with wolves, but on islands, wolves are the top dogs. On the mainland, wolves can feast on moose and mountain goats. On the islands, wolves rely on marine resources, like fish, for 85% of their diets — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

45kg of Magnetic Putty / Vat19

We’ve been selling Magnetic Thinking Putty for years and have always been astounded by the burning questions we’ve received for this ever-popular item. So, we decided to do some experimentation utilising a 100-pound ball of Magnetic Thinking Putty and a ridiculously strong magnet — via Youtube

Science

Blasting bushfires with explosives / UNSW

UNSW researchers are a step closer to proving whether explosives — rather than water — can be used to extinguish an out-of-control bushfire.

Dr Graham Doig, of the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, is conducting the research, which extends a long-standing technique used to put out oil well fires.

The process is not dissimilar to blowing out a candle: it relies on a blast of air to knock a flame off its fuel source.

Doig travelled to the Energetic Materials Research Testing Center — a high-explosives and bomb test site in a remote part of New Mexico — in January this year to scale up tests he originally conducted at UNSW’s heat transfer and aerodynamics laboratory.

The New Mexico tests used a four-metre steel blast tube — which contained a cardboard cylinder wrapped in detonation cord — to produce a concentrated shockwave and rush of air. This was directed at a metre-high flame fuelled by a propane burner.

The sudden change in pressure across the shockwave, and then the impulse of the airflow behind it pushed the flame straight off the fuel source. As soon as the flame doesn’t have access to fuel any more, it stops burning.

Doig hopes the concept can now be scaled up to fight out-of-control forest and bushfires burning in remote parts of the world — via Youtube

Health, Science

Homoeopathy: National Health and Medical Research Council says Australians ‘wasting money’ with the alternative therapy

Australians have been told they are wasting their money on homoeopathy, with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) reporting there is no reliable evidence homeopathic remedies are effective in treating health conditions.

The finding, which has been documented in a draft information paper, has been welcomed by some in the medical research community, who argue patients should not pay money for unproven folk remedies.

Doctor Nick Zeps, who was part of the working group that developed the paper, says the evidence that was gathered in the review would suggest that there is no reliable evidence in many instances that homoeopathy has an effect that is different from a placebo.

If it’s no better than a placebo, then objectively you could say that they [patients] were wasting their money, he said.

The finding has been supported by Emeritus Professor of medicine at the University of New South Wales, John Dwyer.

I think there’s no question … that people are relatively easily hoodwinked into thinking that these preparations might be effective, he said — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

Fraser Island dingo advocates hope new classification promises more protection

Advocates on Fraser Island off south-east Queensland say the classification of dingoes as a distinct native species will allow the animals to be better protected.

University of Sydney research has led to authorities classifying the dingo as a distinct Australian animal.

Malcolm Kilpatrick from Save Fraser Island Dingoes says it will allow purebred dingoes to be distinguished from dingo dogs.

He says purebreds need to be conserved as they play an important role in the Fraser Island ecosystem.

When you take an apex predator out of any ecological circle you’ve got a major disaster on your hands — that the next one up is going to step up and take the position of the animal that’s gone, he said.

On the mainland whether it’s a coyote or a fox or anything like that, it can be a real problem because they spare nothing.

Mr Kilpatrick says the classification will allow better dingo protection — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Fusion v Fission / NASA + GLaDOS

When a science-mad AI system (voiced by GLaDOS actress Ellen McLain) is installed at NASA, two hapless computer technicians learn the process behind nuclear fusion in the Sun, and how it differs from fission.

This video was produced by the education & public outreach department of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, focusing on STEM education. It addresses content included in the Next Generation Science Standards, PS1.C: Nuclear Processes

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Centre at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Centre at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA — via Youtube

Craft, Science

Now you have the power to create your own element! One of the greatest features of our Periodic Table cutting board design is the ability to personalise the 118th element Ununoctium. You may use this power to create an element named specifically for a person you know, or to commemorate a special occasion such as a graduation or wedding anniversary. Our Periodic Table of the Elements cutting board makes the perfect gift for science students and teachers, or anyone who just likes a little chemistry in the kitchen — via Etsy

Science

Spectroscopic Discrimination of Shit from Shinola

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research; by Thomas H. Painter, National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Center for the Study of Earth from Space (CSES), University of Colorado at Boulder, USA Michael E Schaepman, Centre for Geo-Information, Wagenigen University, The Netherlands Wolf Schweizer, Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Zurich, Switzerland Jason Brazile, Remote Sensing Laboratories, Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland

We conducted an experiment to determine whether people can tell shit from Shinola.

Shinola is a brand of shoe polish once manufactured in the United States. Today we care about Shinola only because it is part of the slang expression doesn’t know shit from Shinola, meaning is completely ignorant. Shinola is posited for comparison with shit because the two substances have a similar dark brown color and smeary consistency.

The expression now has a special degree of irony. Most people truly do not know shit from Shinola — because they have never heard of Shinola — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

New river dolphin species discovered in Amazon for first time in 100 years

Scientists have discovered a new species of dolphin in the Amazon River system for the first time in almost 100 years – and say it should immediately be given endangered status.

Experts from the Federal University of Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil found that a small group of river dolphins, also known as botos, in the Araguaia basin were separated from other populations by only a narrow canal and series of rapids.

Upon closer inspection and after DNA testing, Tomas Hrbek and his team discovered that the group was in fact a distinct species, which they suggest naming the Araguaian boto.

Publishing their research in the journal Plos One, the scientists said the Araguaian boto was most likely separated from other dolphin species more than two million years ago, and that a series of morphological and genetic differences represent strong evidence that individuals from the Araguaia River represent a distinct biological group — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

A fox has been tracked more than 40 miles (70km) away from its home range, breaking the previous British record.

The fox was named Fleet by University of Brighton researchers and fitted with a satellite tagged collar.

Scientists were surprised to record Fleet walking a total of 195 miles (315km) as he headed into the Sussex countryside from his home in the city — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Draff to dram: water cleanser created in chance study of whisky byproduct

A project to remove arsenic from groundwater in Bangladesh began by accident, when Dr Leigh Cassidy from Aberdeen University was working on technology to treat industrially contaminated water in the UK.

Cassidy, who was working on her Phd, thought draff, the residue of barley husks that is a byproduct of using grain in brewing alcohol products such as whisky, would act as a cleansing agent. The idea was brusquely dismissed by one colleague.

I was told ‘don’t be stupid it will never work’, Cassidy says. But someone else said to go ahead.

Cassidy did indeed go ahead, modifying the draff with a secret ingredient, transforming it into a cleansing agent. She is now credited as the inventor of the appropriately named Dram — she admits to trying to think of a clever name. Dram is short for device for the remediation and attenuation of multiple pollutants. Instead of using draff in Bangladesh, Dram will use local ingredients such as coconut shells or rice husks to act as the organic filter media that traps the arsenic.

The arsenic crisis in Bangladesh is considered by the World Health Organisation to be the largest mass poisoning of a population in human history. About 77 million people are at risk of arsenic poisoning despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent in addressing the problem. One in five deaths in Bangladesh are due to arsenic poisoning — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Food, Science

The team at Information is Beautiful have visualised the scientific evidence — or lack thereof — behind what they dub Snake Oil Superfoods, breaking down hard data in an infinitely clickable format. Each of the coloured bubbles on the page corresponds to a specific food, but also a specific claim; so, some edibles make multiple appearances on way opposite ends of the spectrum — via Gizmodo

Science

Tequila plant agave could produce cost-effective biofuel for farmers

The agave plant has long been used to make tequila, the drink often blamed for a big night, but it could now help produce a cost-effective biofuel for Australian farmers.

The plants are being grown at Central Queensland University in Rockhampton for a science project.

Scientists say the plants are hardy so they are well suited for drought conditions.

Associate Professor Nanjappa Ashwath says the stem of the plant is used to make alcohol but the discarded leaves could be used to make biofuel.

People have been using the stem for a long time, for decades, and nobody has used the leaves to produce bioethanol, he said.

It can take five to seven years for the plants to be ready for harvesting tequila, but researchers in Rockhampton hope the leaves will be harvested all year round to make bio ethanol — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

CSIRO 3D-prints blue titanium dragon for Brisbane girl Sophie

A seven-year-old girl who wrote to the CSIRO asking for a dragon has had her dream come true.

The CSIRO has created a blue 3D titanium dragon and sent it to Sophie’s home in Brisbane.

Seven-year-old Sophie wrote to the CSIRO after her father told her about the work of the scientists there.

Would it be possible if you can make me a dragon? Sophie wrote.

I would call it Toothless if it was a girl and if it is a boy I would call it Stuart.

The CSIRO posted the letter online, telling Sophie they were looking into it.

But the letter went viral, appearing on international news sites and prompting a flood of interest, including from financial institutions who wanted to bankroll the dragon.

Even Hollywood animation studio DreamWorks got in on the act.

They said they knew how to train dragons and they wanted to speak with Sophie.

Our work has never ventured into dragons of the mythical, fire-breathing variety, the CSIRO said.

And for this, Australia, we are sorry.

The result was the birth of the CSIRO’s first dragon at the additive manufacturing facility Lab 22 in Melbourne — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

This Clear, Flexible Electronic Circuit Can Fit on the Surface of a Contact Lens

Over the past few years, electronics have evolved way past the silicon wafer. Researchers have developed functional circuits that can meld with human tissue and dissolve when sprayed with water, and stretchable batteries that could soon power wearable gadgets.

Now, a group of Swiss scientists has revealed the latest in innovative electronics: a flexible, transparent circuit that is tiny and thin enough to fit on the surface of a contact lens.

The researchers put their new device on a contact lens as a proof-of-concept in a paper published today in Nature Communications—an electronically-enabled lens, they suggest, could be useful in monitoring the intraocular pressure of people with glaucoma, for instance—but they envision the circuitry someday being implanted in all sorts of biological contexts — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Health, Science

This image is a balloon race. The higher a bubble, the greater the evidence for its effectiveness. But the supplements are only effective for the conditions listed inside the bubble. You might also see multiple bubbles for certain supplements. These is because some supplements affect a range of conditions, but the evidence quality varies from condition to condition. For example, there’s strong evidence that Green Tea is good for cholesterol levels. But evidence for its anti-cancer effects is conflicting. In these cases, we give a supplement another bubble — via Information Is Beautiful

Science

Terrible Twos Who Stay Terrible

To understand the violent criminal, says Richard E Tremblay, imagine a 2-year-old boy doing the things that make the terrible twos terrible — grabbing, kicking, pushing, punching, biting.

Now imagine him doing all this with the body and resources of an 18-year-old.

You have just pictured both a perfectly normal toddler and a typical violent criminal as Dr Tremblay, a developmental psychologist at University College Dublin in Ireland, sees them — the toddler as a creature who reflexively uses physical aggression to get what he wants; the criminal as the rare person who has never learned to do otherwise.

In other words, dangerous criminals don’t turn violent. They just stay that way.

These findings have been replicated in multiple large studies by several researchers on several continents — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Technology

Polymer gel, heal thyself: Engineering team proposes new composites that can regenerate when damaged

When a chair leg breaks or a cell phone shatters, either must be repaired or replaced. But what if these materials could be programmed to regenerate — themselves, replenishing the damaged or missing components, and thereby extend their lifetime and reduce the need for costly repairs?

That potential is now possible according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, who have developed computational models to design a new polymer gel that would enable complex materials to regenerate themselves — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Health, Science

Setting the record straight: Debunking all the flu vaccine myths

I could be wrong, but I’d venture to guess there is more nonsense and misinformation about the flu vaccine than any other vaccine out there. Perhaps it’s because it’s a once-a-year vaccine, so that cyclical nature brings out new myths each year. Or maybe it’s because it’s for an illness that many people have had, even more than once, and survived, so they mistakenly assume a vaccine is unnecessary. Whatever the reasons, I’ve decided a comprehensive post addressing every myth I’ve been able to find is long overdue. I plan to update this post as necessary, and I’ll likely republish it each year as a reference — via Red Wine & Apple Sauce

Politics, Science

Nebraska approves climate-denying study; scientists refuse to conduct it

A study on the impact of climate change on Nebraska, recently approved by the state, may not be carried out — because its own scientists are refusing to be a part of it.

The problem, according to members of the governor-appointed Climate Assessment and Response Committee, is that the bill behind the study specifically calls for the researchers to look at cyclical climate change. In so doing, it completely leaves out human contributions to global warming.

At a discussion yesterday, the Omaha World-Herald Bureau reports, Barbara Mayes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, pointed out that cyclical isn’t even a scientific term.

And it’s not just a misuse of language: State Senator Beau McCoy, who added the word to the bill, is a known climate denier. I don’t subscribe to global warming, McCoy said during an earlier debate about the legislation. I think there are normal, cyclical changes.

At the meeting, a number of scientists stood up to declare that they refused to take part in the study — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Rights, Science, Technology

A Case Study in Closed Access

One of the core messages of Open Access Week is that the inability to readily access the important research we help fund is an issue that affects us all—and is one with outrageous practical consequences. Limits on researchers’ ability to read and share their works slow scientific progress and innovation. Escalating subscription prices for journals that publish cutting-edge research cripple university budgets, harming students, educators, and those of us who support and rely on their work.

But the problems don’t stop there. In the digital age, it is absurd that ordinary members of the public, such as healthcare professional and their patients, cannot access and compare the latest research quickly and cheaply in order to take better care of themselves and others.

Take the case of Cortney Grove, a speech-language pathologist based in Chicago, who posted this on Facebook:

In my field we are charged with using scientific evidence to make clinical decisions. Unfortunately, the most pertinent evidence is locked up in the world of academic publishing and I cannot access it without paying upwards of $40 an article. My current research project is not centred around one article, but rather a body of work on a given topic. Accessing all the articles I would like to read will cost me nearly a thousand dollars. So, the sad state of affairs is that I may have to wait 7-10 years for someone to read the information, integrate it with their clinical opinions (biases, agendas, and financial motivations) and publish it in a format I can buy on Amazon. By then, how will my clinical knowledge and skills have changed? How will my clients be served in the meantime? What would I do with the first-hand information that I will not be able to do with the processed, commercialised product that emerges from it in a decade? — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Brit boffins trap light in Lego-like lumps

It’s long been known that texturing the surface of solar cells can help them retain light and get more efficient. Now, a group of researchers led by Imperial College, London, has found that nano-scale aluminium studs on a cell’s surface can improve its light-gathering by as much as 22 percent.

The team, which includes scientists from Belgium, China and Japan, says the idea is to reduce the cost of panels by reducing the area of absorbing material required for a given output since the absorbing material can make up half the cost of a panel.

As Dr Nicholas Hylton, of Imperial College London’s Department of Physics, explains: As the absorbing material alone can make up half the cost of a solar panel our aim has been to reduce to a minimum the amount that is needed.

The 100-nanometre rows of aluminium cylinders were attached to the top of the solar panel in an arrangement not unlike Lego. This structure helps reflect and trap individual rays of light in the absorbing material for longer, extracting more energy from the light — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Health, Science

Medical journals refuse to publish tobacco-funded research

Editors of journals published by the BMJ Group will no longer consider publishing research that is partly or wholly funded by the tobacco industry, the journals have said in an editorial published this week.

Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than five million deaths every year, and current trends show that it will cause more than eight million deaths annually by the year 2030.

Editor-in-chief of BMJ Open Trish Groves said editors of the BMJ, BMJ Open, Heart, and Thorax could no longer ignore the growing body of evidence — from the tobacco industry’s released internal documents — that the industry continues to actively play down the risks of its products.

What’s worse is that scientific journals have published potentially biased studies that were funded by industry, often without realising that research funding bodies that sounded independent and academic were largely paid for by industry.

Other journals that have previously introduced such bans include PLOS Medicine in 2010 and the journals published by The American Thoracic Society in 1995 — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Norway Is Overrun With Plastic-Covered Corpses That Refuse To Rot

Norway’s got a major corpse problem that isn’t going away anytime soon. Literally — they won’t rot. What’s the culprit behind this profusion of bodies that refuse to take their place in the circle of life? The same thing that’s also working to keep your sandwich fresh: plastic wrap.

For three decades following World War II, Norway’s burial practices involved wrapping their dead nice and tight in a layer of plastic before setting them into wooden coffins for the Big Sleep. Apparently, they believed it to be more sanitary. Hundreds of thousands of burials later, though, Norwegian funeral directors have found themselves in a bit of a tight spot. These non-rotting corpses are squatting on prime burial spots, leaving the newly deceased high and (figuratively) dry.

For smaller countries like Norway and a few other European states, land is a scarce commodity, so 20 years after a Norwegian is first buried, their plot opens up to let in a new inhabitant (unless the bereaved want to pay an annual fee to keep their loved ones roommate-free). With about 350,000 plastic-filled graves and politicians unwilling to give any extra land to the dead, one former graveyard worker, Kjell Larsen Ostbye, may have found the solution.

By relying on what he remembered from a past chemistry class, Ostbye came up with a technique for poking holes into the ground and through the plastic wrap, allowing him to inject a lime-based solution that would rapidly accelerate the decomposition process to no more than a year. It’s more than just being a great idea — it actually works. Ostbye has already treated over 17,000 Norwegian graves (which takes about 10 minutes each) in multiple cities, earning him about $US670 per plot — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Health, Science

Alzheimer’s treatment breakthrough: British scientists pave way for simple pill to cure disease

Scientists have hailed an historic turning point in the search for a medicine that could beat Alzheimer’s disease, after a drug-like compound was used to halt brain cell death in mice for the first time.

Although the prospect of a pill for Alzheimer’s remains a long way off, the landmark British study provides a major new pathway for future drug treatments.

The compound works by blocking a faulty signal in brains affected by neurodegenerative diseases, which shuts down the production of essential proteins, leading to brain cells being unprotected and dying off.

It was tested in mice with prion disease — the best animal model of human neurodegenerative disorders – but scientists said they were confident the same principles would apply in a human brain with debilitating brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

The study, published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine, was carried out at the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Toxicology Unit at the University of Leicester — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Health, Science

Ballet dancers’ brains adapt to spins

Ballet dancers develop differences in their brain structures to allow them to perform pirouettes without feeling dizzy, a study has found.

A team from Imperial College London said dancers appear to suppress signals from the inner ear to the brain.

Dancers traditionally use a technique called spotting, which minimises head movement.

The researchers say their findings may help patients who experience chronic dizziness — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Health, Science

Surgery, radiation and chemo didn’t stop the tumour, but an experimental treatment did

The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Cancer Centre at Duke University has the largest experience on the East Coast with my sort of tumour, so I went there for further consultation and treatment.

As doctors there examined me, it was obvious that my tumour had already grown again; in fact, it had quadrupled in size since my initial chemo and radiation. I was offered several treatments and experimental protocols, one of which involved implanting a modified polio virus into my brain. (This had been very successful in treating GBMs in mice.) Duke researchers had been working on this for 10 years and had just received permission from the FDA to treat 10 patients, but for only one a month. (A Duke press release last May explained that the treatment was designed to capitalize on the discovery that cancer cells have an abundance of receptors that work like magnets in drawing the polio virus, which then infects and kills the cells. The investigational therapy… uses an engineered form of the virus that is lethal to cancer cells, while harmless to normal cells. The therapy is infused directly into a patient’s tumour. The virus-based therapy also triggers the body’s immune system to attack the infected tumour cells) — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Health, Science

Auto-Brewery Syndrome: Apparently, You Can Make Beer In Your Gut

This medical case may give a whole new meaning to the phrase beer gut.

A 61-year-old man — with a history of home-brewing — stumbled into a Texas emergency room complaining of dizziness. Nurses ran a Breathalyser test. And sure enough, the man’s blood alcohol concentration was a whopping 0.37 percent, or almost five times the legal limit for driving in Texas.

There was just one hitch: The man said that he hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol that day.

He would get drunk out of the blue — on a Sunday morning after being at church, or really, just anytime, says , the dean of nursing at Panola College in Carthage, Texas. His wife was so dismayed about it that she even bought a Breathalyser.

Other medical professionals chalked up the man’s problem to closet drinking. But Cordell and Dr Justin McCarthy, a gastroenterologist in Lubbock, wanted to figure out what was really going on.

So the team searched the man’s belongings for liquor and then isolated him in a hospital room for 24 hours. Throughout the day, he ate carbohydrate-rich foods, and the doctors periodically checked his blood for alcohol. At one point, it rose 0.12 percent.

Eventually, McCarthy and Cordell pinpointed the culprit: an overabundance of brewer’s yeast in his gut.

That’s right, folks. According to Cordell and McCarthy, the man’s intestinal tract was acting like his own internal brewery — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Health, Science, Technology

Bionic eye testing moves into the field

A backpack computer has been developed to let people test a bionic eye so the implant can be perfected for those needing it.

The bionic eye project aims to give some vision to people who have lost their sight by transmitting images from a pair of glasses which have been fitted with a video camera.

Those images go to the implant, which stimulates the optic nerve.

The prototype computer will simulate the experience for testers and help researchers develop the algorithms required for mobility and orientation.

The head of the wearable computer laboratory at the University of South Australia, Bruce Thomas, says the testing project involves equipment readily available which has been modified and made easy to use for practical medical research — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

Short-haired bumblebee nests in Dungeness

A species of bee reintroduced to the UK after becoming extinct has nested for the first time in a quarter of a century.

The short-haired bumblebee started dying out in Britain in the 1980s and officially became extinct in 2000.

A reintroduction project saw queen bees brought over from Sweden.

After two releases of queens at the RSPB’s Dungeness reserve in Kent, offspring worker bees have been recorded there for the first time.

Short-haired bumblebees were once widespread across the south of England but declined as their wildflower rich grasslands disappeared.

Nikki Gammans, who leads the project, said: This is a milestone for the project and a real victory for conservation.

We now have proof that this bumblebee has nested and hatched young and we hope it is on the way to become a self-supporting wild species in the UK — via redwolf.newsvine.com