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A plant-like micro-organism mostly found in oceans could make the manufacture of products, from iridescent cosmetics, paints and fabrics to credit card holograms, cheaper and ‘greener’.

The tiny single-celled ‘diatom’, which first evolved hundreds of millions of years ago, has a hard silica shell which is iridescent – in other words, the shell displays vivid colours that change depending on the angle at which it is observed. This effect is caused by a complex network of tiny holes in the shell which interfere with light waves.

Diatoms are classified as eukaryotic algae and represent one of the commonest types of phytoplankton. Each diatom is encased in a silica frustule, or cell wall. Although usually microscopic, some species of diatom may grow to as much as 2mm long.

Lubrication oil appears to be an important yet little-recognized source of toxic particle emissions from motor vehicles -- even those fueled by clean-burning hydrogen, according to a joint study by government and academic researchers in Washington State and Minnesota.

Scientists have long recognized diesel-fueled vehicles as important sources of air pollution that can increase the risk of asthma, bronchitis, and other health problems. Most research, however, has focused on diesel soot, rather than emissions produced by lubrication oil.

In the new study, Arthur L. Miller and colleagues modified a truck diesel engine to run on clean-burning hydrogen instead of diesel fuel, allowing the researchers to focus solely on particle emissions from lubrication oil.

A new study published in the October 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology is the first of its kind to evaluate the effect of flavonols on developing pancreatic cancer.

The study determined that eating flavonol-rich foods may help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. Quercetin, which is found naturally in apples and onions, has been identified as one of the most beneficial flavonols in preventing and reducing the risk of pancreatic cancer. Although the overall risk was reduced among the study participants, smokers who consumed foods rich in flavonols had a significantly greater risk reduction.

Though found in many plants, flavonols have high concentrations in apples, onions, tea, berries, kale, and broccoli. Quercetin is most plentiful in apples and onions.

An international team has opened a virtual bazaar, called PAZAR, which allows biologists to share information about gene regulation through individually managed 'boutiques' (data collections). According to research published in the online open access journal, Genome Biology, customers can access data without any charge from any boutique or extract information from the 'superstores' that aggregate data of similar types.

In deciphering the human genome sequence, researchers hope to understand the when and where of gene expression because this could speed development of novel cancer therapies or stem cell treatments for degenerative disease, and explain complex diseases such as diabetes.

Adolescents have grown taller and put on weight over the last thirty years, but the problem of underweight teens may be worse, a study in the online open access journal BMC Public Health suggests.

An analysis of the height, weight, and body-mass index of teenagers during 1966-1969 and 1995-1997 in Norway demonstrates a shift towards taller and heavier teenagers, but also hints that there are more underweight adolescents.

Health researchers commonly use body mass index (BMI), calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the height in meters squared, in weight-related health studies. Sigrid Bjørnelv of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and colleagues write that changes in these measurements across society over periods of time often reflect changes in nutrition.

Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD) occurs in 20-40% of infants born below 2.5 lbs. and before 28 weeks of gestation, and means babies still need supplemental oxygen at 36 weeks postmenstrual age. It is the second leading cause of death among infants born within this gestational age and is characterised by inflammation and scarring in the lungs.

Diagnosing a risk of fatal lung disorders may be possible by analysing the umbilical cords of premature babies, according to research published in the online open access journal Genome Biology.