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February 10, 2010

Scientists discover way to freeze water by heating it

Water Freezes When Heated : Discovery News
Usually water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and temperatures below that. But now scientists - reporting today in the journal Science -- have found a way to keep water in a liquid form at -40 degrees F. What's more, the scientists have found another way to make the water freeze when it's heated. It's a curious phenomenon to say the least, but the results could have implications for computer climate modeling. Igor Lubomirsky and his colleagues from Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science achieved this unusual feat using dust-free water on materials called pyroelectric amorphous solids, which change their electrical charge depending on their temperature. One of the materials the scientists looked at was lithium tantalate. At 12 degrees F, the material has a negative charge. But raise the temperature to 17.6 degrees F, and it has a positive charge. When the scientists put dust-free water on the material, the freezing point no longer was the normal 32 degrees. In fact, the freezing point depended on the charge. The scientists were able to supercool the water down -40 F without it freezing. A negative charge did the opposite. So when they applied a negative charge to the surface, thereby raising the temperature to 17, the "heated" water froze. Another strange thing happened: on a positively charged surface, the water froze from the bottom up, and on a negatively charged surface, the water froze from the top down.
*Thanks, Clint*

Asperger's Syndrome now officially classified as a form of autism

Asperger's Officially Placed Inside Autism Spectrum : NPR Which of course righteously pisses off people with Asperger's Syndrome. And I have to say, I see their point. Asperger's may be a form of autism-light, but erasing the current definition of Asperger's and dumping all of the people who have that condition into the big autistic pool doesn't seem to serve any medical purpose. Until you consider the fact that several states provide help to parents of autistic kids, while none provide help to the parents of Aspie kids. Is this redefinition just a way to game the system? COMMENTS are open until the spambots arrive.
Asperger's syndrome is really just a form of autism and does not merit a separate diagnosis, according to a panel of researchers assembled by the American Psychiatric Association. Even though many researchers already refer to Asperger's as high-functioning autism, it hasn't been listed under the autism category in the official diagnostic guide of mental disorders, called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM. The DSM serves as a guide for mental health professionals and government agencies. But a new draft fifth edition released Wednesday moves Asperger's officially into the autism category, provoking a wide range of responses among people with Asperger's — some of whom say they do not want to be labeled as autistic. . . . Many people with Asperger's take pride in a diagnosis that probably describes some major historical figures, including Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, Carley says. Under the new system, those people would represent just one extreme of a spectrum. On the other extreme is "somebody who might have to wear adult diapers and maybe a head-restraining device. This is very hard for us to swallow," he says.

January 29, 2010

Activists protest homeopathy by "overdosing" on homeopathic pills

Homeopathy: Overdosing on nothing - opinion - 29 January 2010 - New Scientist
AT 10.23 am on 30 January, more than 300 activists in the UK, Canada, Australia and the US will take part in a mass homeopathic "overdose". Sceptics will publicly swallow an entire bottle of homeopathic pills to demonstrate to the public that homeopathic remedies, the product of a scientifically unfounded 18th-century ritual, are simply sugar pills. Many of the sceptics will swallow 84 pills of arsenicum album, a homeopathic remedy based on arsenic which is used to treat a range of symptoms, including food poisoning and insomnia. The aim of the "10:23" campaign, led by the Merseyside Skeptics Society, based in Liverpool, UK, is to raise public awareness of just exactly what homeopathy is, and to put pressure on the UK's leading pharmacist, Boots, to remove the remedies from sale. The campaign is called 10:23 in honour of the Avogadro constant (approximately 6 * 10^23, the number of atoms or molecules in one mole of a substance), of which more later.