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Expectant parent' desire to see images of their unborn children has given rise to commercial companies offering keepsake ultrasound scans without medical supervision, often referred to as "boutique ultrasonography."

In a special report in this week's British Medical Journal, journalist Geoff Watts considers whether this non-medical use of the technique can be justified.

Improvements in ultrasound technology have transformed antenatal scans from two dimensional black and white images to 3D, 4D and even moving pictures of the unborn child.

The time is ripe for scientific organizations to adopt codes of ethics, according to a scientist and bioethicist from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in the current issue of Science and Engineering Ethics.

"Medical practice and human subject research is influenced by the Hippocratic tradition," said Nancy L. Jones, Ph.D., "but no similar code of ethics has been formalized for the life and biomedical sciences.

Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that has become a bane of modern society, may have saved Earth from freezing over early in the planet's history, according to the first detailed laboratory analysis of the world's oldest sedimentary rocks.

Scientists have theorized for years that high concentrations of greenhouse gases could have helped Earth avoid global freezing in its youth by allowing the atmosphere to retain more heat than it lost.

A novel experiment conducted by Carnegie Mellon University Professor George Loewenstein and colleagues may explain why people try a drug, such as heroin, for the first time despite ample evidence that it is addictive. The results of the study, which are being published in the Journal of Health Economics, reveal that even longtime addicts underestimate the influence that drug cravings have over their behavior.

Almost all drugs produce a craving in their users. Loewenstein and his colleagues hypothesized that people experiment with drugs that they know are addictive in part because they can't appreciate the intensity of drug cravings, and thus underestimate the likelihood that they will become addicted.

A novel experiment conducted by Carnegie Mellon University Professor George Loewenstein and colleagues may explain why people try a drug, such as heroin, for the first time despite ample evidence that it is addictive. The results of the study, which are being published in the Journal of Health Economics, reveal that even longtime addicts underestimate the influence that drug cravings have over their behavior.

Almost all drugs produce a craving in their users. Loewenstein and his colleagues hypothesized that people experiment with drugs that they know are addictive in part because they can't appreciate the intensity of drug cravings, and thus underestimate the likelihood that they will become addicted.