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July 12, 2010

Mojoceratops!

Clearly this is the new Best Dinosaur Ever. Fossilized but still funky, dinosaur gets offbeat name - The Boston Globe
A Yale University researcher has discovered a horned dinosaur about the size of a small rhinoceros with an ostentatious heart-shaped frill that even Lady Gaga might envy. He dubbed it Mojoceratops. “A funky dinosaur needs a funky name,’’ said Nicholas Longrich, a postdoctoral associate at Yale who devised the name over beers after a long day digging fossils in the field. “It was a joke. . . . But we kind of all stopped and said, ‘Hey, wait a minute.’ It had a good ring to it.’’ The Mojoceratops was hiding in plain sight for years. Longrich was studying a dinosaur called a Chasmosaurus from museum fossil specimens when he realized that he was looking at a mishmash of two species. Mojoceratops lived 75 million years ago in what is Canada today and probably survived for only about 1 million years.

July 01, 2010

Comic: The Truth Behind Homeopathy

a 19 page comic from Darryl Cunningham, who previously looked at the MMR vaccine controversy. Darryl Cunningham Investigates: Homeopathy

June 30, 2010

Environmental group sues FDA for failing to regulate bisphenol A

FDA is sued for failing to regulate bisphenol A
A top environmental group has sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over its failure to regulate bisphenol A, a ubiquitous chemical linked to reproductive harm, cancer and obesity in studies. The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit arguing that millions of Americans have been unnecessarily exposed to the substance - found in everything from soda bottles and tuna cans to children's sippy cups - in the two years since it first petitioned the agency to outlaw bisphenol A. Under the FDA's own rules, it was required to approve, deny or otherwise respond to the October 2008 petition within 180 days, the lawsuit said. After maintaining for decades that bisphenol A was safe, the FDA reversed position in January, saying exposure to the chemical was of "some concern" for infants and children. The FDA also said it would further study bisphenol A over the next two years. "More research is always welcome and interesting, but at some point you have to say, 'We know enough,' and take action. We've reached that point," said Sarah Janssen, senior scientist at the NRDC's Environment and Public Health program in San Francisco.

June 25, 2010

24-week fetuses cannot feel pain

24-week fetuses cannot feel pain - health - 25 June 2010 - New Scientist
Fetuses aged 24 weeks or less do not have the brain connections to feel pain, according to a working party report published this week by the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). Its conclusion is the latest to challenge the rationale for a law introduced in the US state of Nebraska in April. This law, which bans almost all abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy, was introduced primarily on the grounds that the fetus feels pain. The report, which reviews recent scientific literature on the subject, also concludes that the fetus is sedated throughout pregnancy by chemicals such as adenosine contained in the amniotic fluid that surrounds it.

Worst Case Scenario: Supersonic Methane Vortex destroys Gulf region

Will the BP Oil Spill Set Off A Tsunami? [Updated: 6/21 - See Below] | David DeGraw
I was sent an article yesterday that presented a worst case scenario in the BP Gulf oil spill which described a possibility that sounded too horrifying to be true. The report said the BP drill site is directly over a massive underground reservoir of methane that could result in a huge explosion that would create “a supersonic tsunami” that “would literally sweep away everything from Miami to the panhandle in a matter of minutes. Loss of human life would be virtually instantaneous and measured in the millions.” Sounded like exaggerated fear mongering to me, until I saw this report from AP today: Gulf oil full of methane, adding new concerns It is an overlooked danger in oil spill crisis: The crude gushing from the well contains vast amounts of natural gas that could pose a serious threat to the Gulf of Mexico’s fragile ecosystem. The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill. That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, scientists say, potentially suffocating marine life and creating “dead zones” where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives.

June 16, 2010

Using tapwater in your windshield cleaner can give you Legionnaire's Disease

BBC News - Windscreen water infection risk
Windscreen wiper water may be the cause of 20% of cases of Legionnaires' Disease in England and Wales, the Health Protection Agency says. Stagnant, warm water is a breeding ground for the Legionella bacterium, which when inhaled causes pneumonia. Yet adding screenwash kills the bacteria and could save lives, the Agency advised. The finding came after researchers spotted that professional drivers are five times more likely to be infected.