Wednesday, February 11, 2009
By Will Stewart
Scientists are genetically engineering goats to produce the same milk as a human mother.
They claim the breakthrough will allow babies whose mothers can't feed them to receive all the goodness of breast milk.
Researchers behind the experiments reject fears of Dr Frankenstein-style tinkering with nature.
The goats being bred at a secret farm near Moscow
They say their work will also lead to the development of medicines exploiting the antibiotic qualities of lactoferrin, a protein found in women's milk.
The revelations follow research by scientists in Russia and Belarus in which male mice were implanted with human genes.
'This led to surprising amounts of lactoferrin being produced in their female offspring - 160grams per litre of milk,' said the project's chief, Dr Elena Sadchikova.
Researchers then switched to goats to obtain much larger quantities of lactoferrin.
Now 90 females sired by GM male goats are being raised on a secret farm outside Moscow.
They believe that from later this year when the goats mature they will obtain larger amounts of lactoferrin than found naturally in human breast milk.
'The new programme will be aimed at producing milk with the human protein, as well as making medicines from it,' said Dr Pyotr Vitsyaz, of the Belarussian National Academy of Sciences.
The scientists say that the medicines will be used to treat cancer and illnesses of the immune and digestive systems.
Igor Goldman, head of the transgenebank at the Russian Academy of Science, said: 'Human lactoferrin is a natural antibiotic, and it provides babies who don't have their own developed immune system.'
He dismissed complaints about genetic engineering. 'In this case, genetically modified milk is a drug, not a food.
'I am personally concerned about GM products. You never know how they would affect your body. But with drugs it's different. There is no way to create protein. It is too expensive to get it from human cells and impossible on an industrial scale.
'Protein in this form is the best drug invented by God. It is a natural thing that we already have in our bodies. You don't get allergies to it, nor any side effects.'
Dr Goldman said the ' transgenetic' milk could be drunk by adults as well as children.
Two years ago GM rice crops containing human genes were approved for commercial production in America.
The rice was altered to produce human proteins found in breast milk which could then be used in drinks, desserts and muesli bars.
That came ten years after scientists made a major breakthrough by inserting copies of genes from flounder fish into tomatoes to help them withstand frost.
Travel guidebook author Rick Steves addresses the crowd during the “Marijuana: It’s Time For a Conversation” event at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center on
Only days after a photo surfaced of Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps smoking marijuana, television host Rick Steves criticized the press for giving the athlete a hard time.
In his quest to decriminalize marijuana, Steves has criticized local media as well.
The travel writer produced a televised “infomercial” out of his own pocket last year to get viewers thinking about the issue, but local television stations, such as KING, KOMO and KIRO refused to broadcast it or offered 1 a.m. Sunday broadcast times.
“If you care about democracy and it’s considered courageous to talk about a law that is counter-productive, we’ve got problems,” he said.
Host to a sold-out crowd Feb. 4 at the Kirkland Performance Center, Steves and other speakers such as State Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) discussed the history of marijuana laws and their effects for the “Marijuana: It’s time for a Conversation” program.
He took the opportunity to criticize local media companies for failing to foster a dialogue on the issue, claiming the law is more costly than the drug problem. Steves did acknowledge, however, a unique advantage in campaigning for the issue.
“Nobody can fire me, basically,” he said amidst a roar of laughter.
Steves screened the station-censored 30-minute “infomercial,” which was filmed at KOMO’s Seattle studios, detailing marijuana’s emergence as a controlled substance after the U.S. prohibition on alcohol was lifted.
Washington State Institute for Public Policy estimates that the state could save $7.6 million a year if the law were changed, based on the 11,553 misdemeanor arrests made in 2007. The heavy influx, said local attorney Ken Davidson of Davison, Czeisler and Kilpatric, could be clogging up the courts. He asked the panel of speakers if using the criminal justice system was an appropriate method to control the drug.
“To file a lawsuit with Superior Court, your trial date is 18 months off,” Davidson noted. “Justice delayed is often justice denied.”
Steves and others also said the mandatory jail time for misdemeanor possession was in part prompting the need for a proposed regional jail, which may be built in the Kingsgate area. According to a 2006 Jail Action Group (JAG) study, about 3 percent of King County misdemeanor inmates were jailed on drug-related charges.
Former director of the King County Bar Association’s Drug Policy Initiative, Goodman supports a full legalization of regulated quantities of marijuana as a “soft” drug.
“We’ve made a lot of progress,” he said of legislative efforts to decriminalize marijuana, including his work with national bar associations, urging them to set up task forces. “Let’s not lock people up so much, let’s provide more treatment opportunities for those who are in trouble. And frankly, let’s leave a bunch of people alone.”
Steves urged the audience to contact their local legislators and councilmembers and talk to them about the issue.
“If I can inspire you to talk about marijuana in polite company, we’re all going to get somewhere,” he said.
Seated in the audience next to Sammamish Mayor Don Gerend and several Issaquah Councilmembers, Deputy Mayor Joan McBride said she was surprised by some of the presentation’s claims, such as the stiff penalties for posession. Possession of 40 grams of marijuana (a little over an ounce) or less in Washington state is a misdemeanor offense that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of one day in jail and a fine of $250 for the first offense. Any amount over that is a felony, which could result in up to a 5-year jail term and a $10,000 fine.
“I’m information gathering right now,” McBride said. “I just put in a call to the chief of police and would like to sit down and talk to him.”
In the state legislature, legislation on decriminalizing marijauna is working its way through both the house and senate. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) introduced a bill scheduled for a committee hearing this week. The proposed change would reclassify possession of 40 grams of marijuana or less to a civil infraction.
On the enforcement side, Kirkland Police Lt. Bradley Gilmore said the department hasn’t “noticed an upswing” of illegal marijuana use. “Nothing out of the ordinary.”
The KPD made over 200 arrests for marijuana possession last year, making up the majority of local misdemeanor drug arrests. Police have also assigned a detective to serve full-time with the Eastside Drug Task Force (ENTF), a regional drug enforcement initiative.
Light up the marijuana conversation
Contact Rep. Roger Goodman of Kirkland’s 45th Legislative District by sending him a letter to: 320 John L. O’Brien Building, PO Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600 or by calling him at 360-786-7878. You can also find him online on his official Legislative Web page.
Volkswagen’s launched a new brand: BlueMotionTechnologies.
It houses all of Volkswagen’s best eco-friendly tech. It currently includes a new start-stop system, regenerative braking, SCR catalytic converter and the NOx storage catalytic converter.
BlueMotionTechnologies is aimed at bringing fuel-efficient and low-emission systems to market without skimping on the fahrvergnügen. Yah, I had to dust that one off…sorry.
But unlike the Polo and the Passat, the concept behind the newly branded BlueMotionTechnologies is not limited to diesel engines. In fact, it won’t be defined by a single set of technologies at all; it will evolve.
Alongside the BlueMotionTech launch, VW has also announced a new set of “principles for the sustainable development and production of its models.” These new tenets are:
- Reducing the fuel consumption of its vehicles and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
- Resource efficiency and resource conservation: recyclability and the use of renewable and secondary raw materials. Moreover, alternative powertrain technologies will be developed and the use of alternative fuels and other energy storage systems.
- Health protection: focus is on exhaust emissions and interior emissions as well as reducing exterior and interior noise levels.
VW is kicking off the new brand with three different versions of its Passat:
Here a common rail TDI (81 kW/110 PS) provides for 4.9 liter fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of just 128 g/km. The Passat BlueMotion has a Start-Stop system and conforms to limits of the Euro-5 emissions standard. Its range of over 1,400 kilometers on one tank of fuel is a minor sensation – travelers starting out in Berlin will not be looking for a gas station until shortly before Rome. Naturally, the Passat BlueMotion will also be available as a wagon.
Its 105-kW diesel is ahead of its times; that is because Volkswagen is introducing the first TDI to conform to limits of the Euro-6 emissions standard that does not take effect until 2014. Aboard the Passat BlueTDI, a SCR catalytic converter reduces nitrogen oxides to less than 80 mg/km. Fuel economy of the sedan shifted by a 6-speed gearbox: 5.2 liter/100-km (CO2 emissions: 137 g/km). Further options: the “BlueTDI” will also be available as a wagon, and it will be available with a 6-speed DSG.
Passat TSI EcoFuel:
The Passat TSI EcoFuel is ushering in a new era of cars powered by natural gas. Until now, one of the drawbacks of cars powered by natural gas is that their performance can be rather unexciting. Thanks to its 110 kW strong high-tech engine, the Passat TSI EcoFuel combines a maximum speed of 210 km/h with excellent fuel economy and finally puts an end to these limitations. The car accelerates to 100 km/h in just 9.7 seconds. Despite its great agility, the world’s first turbocharged and supercharged direct-injection engine configured for natural gas operation is satisfied with just 4.4 kilograms of natural gas, which is about € 4.25 per 100 kilometers. With a 7-speed DSG, the Passat breaks the magic CO2 limit of 120 g/km in this class (6-speed transmission: 4.5 kg/100-km and 123 g/km CO2). If the natural gas on board should run low before the next fill-up station, the engine controller switches over to gasoline mode. The car has a total range of more than 900 kilometers.
And on the heels of these three new Passats, VDub is also previewing its Touareg hybrid:
Touareg V6 TSI Hybrid:
Because the future of the automobile – and BlueMotionTechnologies as well – offers more than just one answer, in parallel Volkswagen is presenting a prototype of the future Touareg V6 TSI Hybrid (333 PS / under 9.0 l/100 km). This car will enter production in 2010 as the world’s first hybrid SUV to have 3.5 metric ton towing capacity. Volkswagen is introducing one of the highest performance parallel hybrid systems in the world in this SUV. The German carmaker is utilizing a high-tech alliance of a V6 TSI (245 kW) boosted by supercharger and an electric motor (38 kW). Up to a speed of 50 km/h, the Touareg V6 TSI Hybrid can be driven by just the electric motor. In this case, no emissions are generated.
Posted by Gary at 12:31 PM
| Laser healing: Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital are developing a method to heal surgical incisions with laser light. Surgeons Ying Wang and Min Yao position a metal frame that directs a green surgical laser over the incision. The frame keeps the instrument steady and at a measured distance from the skin. They shine the light onto the cut to activate the dye, leaving it on for three minutes. |
Credit: Porter Gifford
Despite medicine's inestimable progress over the past century, surgery can still leave scars that look more appropriate to Frankenstein's monster than to the beneficiary of a precise, modern operation. But in the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Irene Kochevar and Robert Redmond have developed a method that has the potential to replace the surgeon's needle and thread. Using surgical lasers and a light-activated dye, the researchers are prompting tissue to heal itself.
Laser-bonded healing is not a new idea. For years, scientists have been trying to find ways to use the heat generated by lasers to weld skin back together. But they've had a difficult time finding the right balance. Too little heat and a wound won't heal; too much and the tissue dies. Eight years ago, one of Kochevar and Redmond's colleagues was examining pathology slides of cells killed by this kind of thermal healing when it occurred to him that it might be possible to use just the light of a laser, rather than its heat.
While the idea of skin weaving itself back together may sound more like superhero lore than surgical skill, the science is startlingly simple. The team took advantage of the fact that a number of dyes are activated in the presence of light. In the case of Rose Bengal--a stain used in just about every ophthalmologist's office to detect corneal lesions--the researchers believe that light helps transfer electrons between the dye molecule and collagen, the major structural component of tissue. This produces highly reactive free radicals that cause the molecular chains of collagen to chemically bond to each other, or "cross-link." Paint two sides of a wound with Rose Bengal, illuminate it with intense light, and the sides will knit themselves back together. "We call this nano suturing," Kochevar says, "because what you're doing is linking together the little collagen fibers. It's way beyond anything that a thread of any kind can do."
The benefits of such nano suturing are manifold. In just about every case, it appears to result in faster procedures, less scarring, and possibly fewer infections, since it seals openings completely and leaves no gap through which bacteria can penetrate. This makes it particularly well suited for closing not only superficial skin incisions but also those made in eye and nerve operations. In eye surgeries, such as corneal replacement, stitches that can cause irritation and infection must sometimes be left in place for months, which can aggravate complications. In nerve surgeries, damage from scar tissue can decrease the conduction of neural impulses. "If you put a needle through skin, it's not a big deal," says Redmond. "But if you put it through a nerve it's a big deal, because you're destroying part of the nerve."
The operations take place in a surgical suite of tile and stainless steel. Min Yao, a surgeon on Kochevar and Redmond's team, has carted a medical laser up from the lab downstairs. The instrument is already used for eye, ear, nose, and throat procedures, and its green light has just the right wavelength for maximum absorption by the pink Rose Bengal stain. The better the light is absorbed, the more it activates the dye and the more complete the collagen cross-linking. The box that generates the laser light is barely larger than a stereo receiver; a thin fiber-optic cable snakes out of its side, and it gives off an appletini-green glow.
| Air supply: Guzzella's design replaces a two-liter gasoline engine with a very small 750-milliliter one that's adequate for cruising speeds. |
Credit: Lino Guzzella
A new kind of hybrid vehicle being developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich could save almost as much fuel as today's gas-electric hybrids, but at a fraction of the cost. Swiss researchers will present the results of experiments with a test version of the new system at the Society for Automotive Engineer's Congress in April.
Conventional gas-electric hybrids use batteries to store energy recovered during braking, which would otherwise be wasted as heat. They later use that energy to drive an electric motor that assists the car's gas engine. But the high-cost of batteries, and the added cost of including two forms of propulsion -- an electric motor and a gasoline engine -- make such hybrids expensive. This has slowed their adoption and limited their impact on overall greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.
Lino Guzzella, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Swiss Institute, is developing a hybrid that requires no battery or electric motor. Instead, it stores energy by using the engine's pistons to compress air. That air can later be released to drive the pistons and propel the vehicle along. Guzzella says that the system will add only about 20 percent to the cost of a conventional engine, whereas the extra components required in hybrid electric vehicles can add 200 percent to the cost. Computer simulations suggest that the design should reduce fuel consumption by 32 percent, which is about 80 percent of the fuel-savings of gas-electric hybrids, he says. Initial experiments have demonstrated that the design can be built.
The overall idea of air (or pneumatic) hybrids isn't new, but making them efficient has been challenging. "It's difficult to keep the [energy] losses involved in moving air around small enough that it looks attractive," says John Heywood, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT who has also worked on developing air hybrids. What's more, tanks of compressed air store far less energy than batteries, severely limiting the fuel savings in typical air-hybrid designs, says Doug Nelson, a professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech. This is one of the major drawbacks of cars designed to run solely on compressed air.
Guzzella's new air-hybrid design makes use of advanced control systems to more precisely control the flow of air, improving overall efficiency. To overcome limited storage capacity, the design relies less on capturing energy from braking than other hybrids, and more on another approach to saving energy: using pneumatic power to boost the performance of smaller, more efficient gasoline engines.
Conventional vehicles use engines that can provide far more power than is needed for cruising--this excess power is used during acceleration and for sustaining very high speeds. But these engines are inefficient, especially since most of the time they operate at far lower loads than they were designed for.
| Puff power: A test engine demonstrates a new design that would store energy in the form of compressed air, then use that air to help propel a vehicle. Two of the pipes leading from the engine deliver compressed air to and from an air tank. |
Credit: Lino Guzzella
Guzzella's design replaces a two-liter gasoline engine with a very small 750-milliliter one that's adequate for cruising speeds. It uses compressed air to provide boosts of power for acceleration. The dense, compressed air provides the oxygen needed to burn larger amounts of fuel than usual, a technique called supercharging.
A similar approach is already used in some production vehicles, where exhaust gases drive a turbocharger. But turbochargers are known for a problem called "turbo lag"--a noticeable delay between when the accelerator is depressed and when the extra power kicks in. The lag is the result of the time it takes for the turbine in a turbocharger to start spinning fast enough. Guzzella says his system suffers no such delay, providing extra power instantly. That's could make the technology more appealing to consumers, says Zoran Filipi, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, who was not involved with the research.
About 80 percent of the efficiency gain in Guzzella's system comes from using the small engine. Some of the rest comes from capturing energy from braking and then using it for acceleration--over short distances the car can be propelled by compressed air alone, using no fuel. Fuel is also saved by adjusting the load on the engine to keep it running at optimal efficiency, either by increasing the load by using some of the pistons to compress air, or by decreasing the load by using some compressed air to drive the pistons. Finally, compressed air can be used to restart the engine, making it practical for the system to turn the engine off whenever the car comes to a stop, rather than idling.
Guzzella's efficiency and performance claims are based on computer models. But he has also demonstrated the basic components of his design in a test engine. The test set-up uses compressed air to drive the pistons, provide supercharging and start the engine. The next steps are to optimize the engine in an attempt to achieve the efficiency levels predicted by the computer models.
Guzzela's hybrid concept will face stiff competition from other technologies designed to improve fuel efficiency however.
Turbochargers are getting better, and other new technologies have shown promise for addressing the turbo-lag problem, says Michael Duoba, a researcher at the Energy Systems Division of Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, IL. He also says that what's most important is not the performance on any one technology, but how well that technology can combine with others now being employed to improve efficiency, such as direct injection and improved transmissions.
But Duoba notes that Guzzella's system has a distinct advantage. It requires very little extra equipment--just the controls for an extra valve for managing the compressed air and an air tank. The existing engine does the rest. Any time you can make the same equipment do more, he says, "that's a good thing."
By Matt SandyA split second from oblivion, he saunters across a level crossing, seemingly oblivious to the train thundering towards him.
After suddenly realising his fate, he manages to leap clear of the 75mph express , but only after it catches his trailing foot, sending his trainer spinning into the air.
This astonishing CCTV footage, taken in Rainham, East London, shows an unnamed 19-year-old ignoring warning lights and climbing a barrier to follow a friend who had crossed the track ahead of him.
Scroll down to watch the video
Leaping for his life: The train misses the man by millimetres as he jumps out of its path, in Rainham, Kent
Close shave: The man's shoe lies on the track after being knocked off by the train
The chilling images show just how close to a horrifying death he came.
The man, from Romford, was later arrested and cautioned for obstructing a train on the railway.
The footage was just one of the hair-raising clips released by Network Rail yesterday as part of an ongoing TV and radio advertising-campaign warning of the dangers of level crossings.
Seconds before the drama the man was caught on CCTV nonchalantly strolling onto the track, having climbed over a closed barrier
It said the number of motorists taking dangerous and illegal risks on them has reached a four-year high.
Fifteen people died and there were more than 3,400 incidents of misuse recorded last year alone, it added, with five pedestrians and three motorists a week involved in near-misses.
Network Rail is calling on the courts to 'stamp down' on motorists who jump lights and dodge barriers.
Chief executive Iain Coucher said: 'Every week we see people who ignore warning signs and lights, or drive round barriers at level crossings just to save a few minutes.
'This behaviour has the potential for massive damage, disruption and death. We think the judiciary penalties received need to reflect the seriousness of these crimes.'
Network Rail said its TV and radio advertising campaign warning of the dangers of level crossing misuse which launched in November is running across Britain again this month.
Mr Coucher added: 'We hope that increased awareness of the dangers of taking risks at level crossings, coupled with tough sentences for those caught breaking the law, will act as a deterrent and help bring down the number of offences and ultimately save lives.'
Huey Duck, Dewey Duck, Louie Duck, ? Duck, Della Duck, Donald Duck, Gladstone Gander, Fethry Duck, Abner "Whitewater" Duck, Gus Goose, Matilda McDuck, Scrooge McDuck, Hortense McDuck, Quackmore Duck, Goostave gander, Daphne Duck, Lullubelle Loon, Eider Duck, Fanny Coot, Luke Goose, Cuthbert Coot, Downy O'Drake, Fergus McDuck, Jake McDuck, Angus "Pothole" McDuck, Humperdink Duck, Elvira "Grandma" Coot, Casey Coot, Gretchen Grebe, Quackmire McDuck, "Dirty" Dingus McDuck, Molly Mallard, Gertrude Gadwall, Clinton Coot, Sir Roast McDuck, Sir Swamphole McDuck, Hugh "Seafoam" McDuck, Malcolm McDuck, Sir Quackly McDuck, Sir Stuft McDuck, Sir Eider McDuck, Pintail Duck, Cornelius Coot.
Sidebar (Friends of the family):
Daisy Duck, April, May, June, Gyro Gearloose.
The Clan McDuck, The Duck Family, Coot Kin
By Adnan Shabrawi
JEDDAH – A 23-year-old unmarried woman was awarded one-year prison term and 100 lashes for committing adultery and trying to abort the resultant fetus.
The District Court in Jeddah pronounced the verdict on Saturday after the girl confessed that she had a forced sexual intercourse with a man who had offered her a ride. The man, the girl confessed, took her to a rest house, east of Jeddah, where he and four of friends assaulted her all night long.
The girl claimed that she became pregnant soon after and went to King Fahd Hospital for Armed Forces in an attempt to carry out an abortion. She was eight weeks’ pregnant then, the hospital confirmed.
According to the ruling, the woman will be sent to a jail outside Jeddah to spend her time and will be lashed after delivery of her baby who will take the mother’s last name. – Okaz/SG
By DON THOMPSON
Associated Press Writer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Without a U.S. Supreme Court reprieve, California will have to free roughly a third of its prison inmates in a few years, and how that can be done safely is still hotly debated.
Corrections officials said Tuesday they are struggling with their response to a tentative federal court ruling this week that the state must remove as many as 57,000 inmates over the next two or three years.
The state's 33 adult prisons now hold about 158,000 inmates. But the judges said overcrowding is so severe it unconstitutionally compromises medical care of inmates, and releasing prisoners is the only solution.
"We are just now beginning to have discussions (about) who these types of inmates would be. Then, how do we get to that number?" said Matthew Cate, secretary of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The department has no contingency plan, he said, other than appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court once the ruling becomes final.
The judges said their ruling does not amount to throwing open the cell doors.
"The state has a number of options, including reform of the earned credit and parole systems, that would serve to reduce the population ... without adversely affecting public safety," they judges wrote in the decision released Monday.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger already has asked lawmakers to take a number of steps to reduce the inmate population:
-Ending parole for former inmates not convicted of a violent or sex-related crime. That would lead to fewer parolees being sent back to prison because they violated rules.
-Raising the monetary limit for property crimes to be considered felonies. That would send more petty thieves to county jails instead of state prisons.
-Giving inmates more early release credits for completing educational or vocational programs.
Even if all Schwarzenegger's proposals were adopted, they still would fall short of the judges' target, said Cate, the corrections secretary.
Freeing or diverting inmates as the judges suggest is "a dangerous game of Russian roulette," said Stanislaus County Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers, who heads the statewide chief probation officers association.
He said counties lack the capacity to handle additional offenders.
Law enforcement groups also object that Schwarzenegger's proposal would rule out prison for those convicted of drug offenses, drunken driving, white collar or property crimes such as vehicle theft, grand theft or receiving stolen property, among others.
The state likely could not reach the judges' target without also freeing some serious repeat offenders and inmates serving life sentences, they said.
Republican Assemblyman Jim Nielson, a former chairman of the state parole board, said California should accelerate construction of new prison cells to ease the overcrowding rather than release inmates, although building plans have stalled for nearly two years.
The state already has transferred 6,600 inmates to private prisons in other states, and could try to boost the transfers as an alternative to freeing convicts early.
By The Auto Insider
We've now shown you a few supercar teardowns from Ferrari's stable including an F40 and a 360 Modena. Today we bring you the often misunderstood, but highly respected Ferrari F50. Some may consider this NSFW.
Ferrari F50 Showing Off It's Naughty Bits
Mr. Luigi Scala once again frightens us again with his unabashed knowledge of the prancing horse stable, by ripping apart a seemingly perfect Ferrari F50. Though all was not perfect as there was an apparent oil leak and a need for a new clutch which looks to be quite the job from the above photos. Thankfully, they took the time to document the journey that most would not want to endure themselves. Stay tuned for more for more Supercar Teardowns.
As reported, Audi will unveil its new R15 race car at the 12-hour endurance race at Sebring International Raceway. Although the German automaker announced plans to withdrawal from the American Le Mans Series, it is committed to running the ALMS season-opening race at Sebring as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans later in the year.
Audi will campaign two R15s in the Sebring race that begins March 21. The automaker promises the racecars are “packed with numerous technically innovative detail solutions” (Audi-speak for "nifty go-fast stuff") and that they differ quite a bit from their R10 predecessor (pictured).
This little town is in the dark and proud of it.
Where other places greet the night by lighting up their streets and tourist attractions, this one goes the other way — low-energy sodium lamps are shielded from above, and household lights must face down, not up.
The purpose: to bring out the stars.
The town of 830 people on New Zealand's South Island is on a mission to protect the sight of the night sky, even as it disappears behind light and haze in many parts of the world.
The ultimate prize would be UNESCO's approval for the first "starlight reserve," and already the "astro tourists" are coming.
A group of 25 are huddled at midnight on a bare New Zealand hilltop, their faces numbed by an icy wind as they gaze up at the Milky Way.
"It's awesome, I mean it's like beyond words," says Simon Venvoort, 46, a management consultant from Amsterdam. "You see so much you aren't aware of."
"You know that two generations now are growing up not being aware that all this is out there because ... half of the world is light-polluted."
It's estimated that about one fifth of the world's population and more than two-thirds in the U.S. cannot see the Milky Way from their homes.
The "starlight reserve" idea germinated in UNESCO in 2005. Tekapo, in the McKenzie Basin of South Island, was already on its own track, seeking what locals were calling their "park in the sky." So Tekapo was suggested as a pilot site because of its haze-free sky and lighting controls already in place.
A UNESCO working party agreed last month to study what Graeme Murray, chairman of the Mackenzie Tourism and Development Board, calls "a heritage park in the sky."
"We helped make UNESCO world heritage look upward as well as around them in protecting the world's heritage," he says.
The U.N. body has extended world heritage status to 878 historic, cultural, ecological and natural sites around the planet, but none includes the sky.
The idea faces significant challenges — UNESCO's conventions do not mention the space above and around heritage sites, and there's still the question of how to define a piece of open sky for conservation purposes.
The darkening of Tekapo began in 1965 to serve the Mount John Observatory that opened on nearby Mount John. Town officials later turned necessity into a virtue by expanding controls on public and private lighting in a 19-mile ring around the town and observatory to keep the sky dark.
Three new housing developments have spent extra money for "sky-friendly" lighting. A skating rink even installed special lighting to prevent ultraviolet light reflecting off its ice surface into the night sky.
"We've got a dark sky and we've got to hang on to it," said Murray, who also runs a sky-watching ecotourism company.
Not that people here are bumping into each other or driving blind during the night hours. And anyway, there's plenty of starlight, as residents note.
"We're certainly not living in the dark," said Lorna Inch, a real estate agent. "We've got a beautiful sky that we all enjoy many nights of the year. There's a lot of natural light from the stars," plus those dimmed residential lights.
Some 150 years ago, unlit nights were the friend of a sheep rustling legend named James McKenzie and his faithful dog, Friday, as they stole through the landscape, driving flocks of stolen livestock deep into the basin that is now named after him.
Today a bronze statue of McKenzie's sheepdog stands — not floodlit — on Tekapo's lake front.
Resident Fraser Gunn, a night sky photographer, said people initially worried that with the light restrictions they wouldn't be able to develop the town. "But that isn't the case at all."
Regional economic development manager Phil Brownie said the lighting control ordinances "are not severe at all ... they do allow the community to develop and build ... and haven't imposed any difficulties."
Anna Sidorenko-Dulom, UNESCO coordinator of Astronomy and World Heritage, calls the sky park "an interesting proposal which needs to be evaluated," but adds that existing guidelines don't allow for protecting the sky.
"We cannot promote sky protection or sky recognition through the Convention on World Heritage. These are two completely different things," she said by telephone from Paris.
The chairwoman of New Zealand's National Commission of UNESCO, Margaret Austin, is more positive. She expects the park idea to be considered by UNESCO's general conference in October.
The former science minister says other countries interested in the idea are La Palma in the Canary Islands, Hawaii, Easter Island, the Galapagos Islands, Portugal, Canada, Romania and northern Chile.
Death Valley, Calif., is one of several U.S. national parks working to keep its lights low, the better to see the night sky. In Thailand, people living alongside the Mae Klong River say the fireflies are dwindling in number, chased away, they believe, by the ever-spreading glow of electric light.
"There's enough movement now among the principal players for it to gather momentum," said Austin. "The main sticking point is to get the criteria in the convention changed so it can include the sky above the land."
Atop Mount John, an astronomy guide's green laser stabs the night, picking out another stellar feature for the astro tourists.
For the guide, Chris Monson from Phoenix, Tekapo offers a chance to see something long lost to city-dwellers — "such pristine, dark skies."
Back in cities like Phoenix, grandparents may have seen starlit skies, but "now it's just something we hear about," he said. "We don't get to experience the stars and those constellations."
If any automotive segment can handily buck the current sales trends, it's the specialty exotic car market. And despite recent reports with predictions to the contrary, Ferrari, arguably the world's most famous sports car brand, recently posted a 339 million euro ($437.7 million) profit for 2008 and saw a vehicle sales increase of 2% globally during the same time as well.
A total of 6,587 supercars were moved out of showrooms last year, up 122 over 2007. Sales in the U.S. remained on par with the year prior -- 1,700 new Prancing Horses found American homes in '08. Ferrari claims the U.S market comprises 26% of Ferrari's total global sales. Eastern European sales rose 23%, Middle East and South Africa's numbers were up 12%, while Chinese buyers purchased a record 212 hand-built Italian beauties (up 20%) in 2008.
Industry documents reveal modern reactors more dangerous in an accident than the ones they replace
Posted by Chismillionaire at 9:58 AM
Pills, Gel May Help Protect Women
By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 10, 2009; A02
AIDS researchers who were gathered in Montreal yesterday heard encouraging results from studies of three strategies for preventing HIV infection using pharmaceuticals, particularly in women.
Two experiments in monkeys showed that antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, given by mouth or by vaginal gel, were highly effective in blocking infection by the virus that causes AIDS.
A third study, in 3,100 women in the United States and Africa, showed a small amount of protection from a vaginal gel that acts by binding up the AIDS virus and preventing it from invading cells.
Many experts believe that, short of a vaccine, a virus-blocking substance that could be inserted in the vagina or rectum before sexual activity would be the most important tool in fighting the AIDS pandemic. Numerous topical microbicides have been tried, but none have worked, and two have actually increased the risk of infection.
"The field of microbicide gels is now moving into a new generation," said Walid Heneine, a virologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who led one of the monkey studies.
Microbicides can be applied without the knowledge of sexual partners. They are seen as being especially important in cultures where the subservient status of women makes it difficult for them to insist on abstinence or condom use, the two proven methods of preventing infection through sexual contact. In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 60 percent of HIV-positive people are women.
The gel used in the human study reduced the risk of infection by 30 percent over the course of about two years, an effect that did not reach the level of statistical significance. The women -- from the United States, South Africa, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe -- also used condoms in about three-quarters of their sexual encounters.
A study by British and African researchers that is testing the same microbicide in 9,400 women may have interim results later this year.
Although this result was marginal, the substance, called PRO 2000/5, may ultimately prove useful to women who are monogamous, are married to high-risk men and do not want to use condoms because they want to conceive, the lead researcher said.
"This could be a niche product for a group of women who have no other option," said Salim Abdool Karim of Durban, South Africa. He spoke at a news conference at the 16th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, the annual mid-winter AIDS meeting in North America.
In the first monkey study, researchers gave rhesus macaques oral doses of a compound containing two ARV drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine (which is sold under the name Truvada). The medicine was administered at different intervals, both before and after the animals were rectally exposed to the AIDS virus once a week for three months.
When the first dose was given either one or three days before contact with the virus, five out of six animals were protected. When it was given seven days before exposure, four in six animals were protected. When the dose was two hours before exposure, however, only three in six were protected.
Of 27 untreated animals, 26 became infected after an average of two exposures.
Tenofovir has a very long active life inside the body. But two hours appears to be not enough time for it to be absorbed and carried into the cells of the immune system, which are HIV's target, said J. Gerardo García-Lerma, the CDC virologist who led the study.
There are seven studies in people testing either Truvada or tenofovir alone as an HIV-prevention pill. In each of the experiments, which are enrolling a total of 18,000 volunteers in the United States, Kenya, Uganda, Botswana and Thailand, the drugs are administered every day. The monkey study suggests that intermittent dosing might work, too.
In the other monkey study, researchers used vaginal gels containing either both drugs or tenofovir alone. The gel was applied half an hour before twice-weekly vaginal exposure to the virus.
The six monkeys that received the two-drug gel were all protected, as were the six who got the tenofovir-only gel. Of 11 monkeys in a control group, 10 became infected after an average of four exposures to the virus.
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he was buoyed by the results of the animal experiments and not entirely discouraged by the human results.
"In such a sea of disappointment as microbicide research, a study that is even a little encouraging is something to notice," he said.
CAIRO – A storeroom housing about two dozen ancient Egyptian mummies has been unearthed inside a 2,600-year-old tomb during the latest round of excavations at the vast necropolis of south of Cairo, archaeologists said Monday.
Eight sarcophagi were also found in the tomb. Archaeologists so far have opened only one of the sarcophagi — and found a mummy inside of it, said Hawass' assistant Abdel Hakim Karar. Mummies are believed to be inside the other seven, he said.
The "storeroom for mummies" dates back to 640 B.C. during the 26th Dynasty, which was last independent kingdom before it was overthrown by a succession of foreign conquerors beginning with the Persians, Hawass said. But the tomb was discovered at an even older site in Saqqara that dates back to the 4,300-year-old 6th Dynasty, he said.
Most of the mummies are poorly preserved, and archeologists have yet to determine their identities or why so many were put in one room.
The name Badi N Huri was engraved into the opened sarcophagus, but the wooden coffin did not bear a title for the mummy.
"This one might have been an important figure, but I can't tell because there was no title," Karar said.
Karar also said it was unusual for mummies of this late period to be stored in rocky niches.
"Niches were known in the very early dynasties, so to find one for the 26th Dynasty is something rare," he said.
In the past, excavations have focused on just one side of the site's two most prominent pyramids — the famous Step Pyramid of King Djoser and that of Unas, the last king of the 5th Dynasty. The area where the current tomb was found, to the southwest, has been largely untouched by archeologists.
In December, two tombs were found near the current discovery of mummies. The tombs were built for high officials — one responsible for the quarries used to build the nearby pyramids and the other for a woman in charge of procuring entertainers for the pharaohs.
According to Hawass, only 30 percent of Egypt's monuments have been uncovered, with the rest still under the sand.
Doctors who performed the operation believe 67-year-old Lakhmani Devi's parotid gland tumour, which weighed nearly two kilogrammes, may have been the biggest ever removed from a human. "It was made of solid tissue and was the largest I have come across in all the medical books," K.K. Handa, the operating surgeon at New Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences, told AFP on Monday. "The patient was told by doctors in her village that she would die if it was removed so she coped with it for decades. But she is now eating well and should make a full recovery." Devi, from the eastern state of Jharkhand, is expected to be discharged from hospital 10 days after the surgery on February 4. Her son, Lallan Singh, said that the operation would give his mother a new lease of life. "The tumour kept on increasing," he said. "She felt uncomfortable and embarrassed and stopped going out of the house. We can't thank the doctors enough."
Photograph released by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) ...
An Indian woman has had a tumour as big as a football removed from the side of her face, 25 years after it first developed.
Copyright AFP 2008, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium
Doctors who performed the operation believe 67-year-old Lakhmani Devi's parotid gland tumour, which weighed nearly two kilogrammes, may have been the biggest ever removed from a human.
"It was made of solid tissue and was the largest I have come across in all the medical books," K.K. Handa, the operating surgeon at New Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences, told AFP on Monday.
"The patient was told by doctors in her village that she would die if it was removed so she coped with it for decades. But she is now eating well and should make a full recovery."
Devi, from the eastern state of Jharkhand, is expected to be discharged from hospital 10 days after the surgery on February 4.
Her son, Lallan Singh, said that the operation would give his mother a new lease of life.
"The tumour kept on increasing," he said. "She felt uncomfortable and embarrassed and stopped going out of the house. We can't thank the doctors enough."