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December 12, 2009

Therapeutic Touch methodology debunked by 4th grade girl

Emily Rosa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia It's an old story, but new to me. Emily Rosa is a science hero.
In 1996, Emily saw a video of Therapeutic Touch (TT) practitioners claim they could feel a "Human Energy Field" (HEF) when they held their hands over — but not touching — the human body and could use their hands to manipulate the HEF for the purpose of diagnosing and treating disease. She heard Dolores Krieger, the co-inventor of Therapeutic Touch, claim that everyone had the ability to feel the HEF and heard other nurses say the HEF felt to them "warm as Jell-O" and "tactile as taffy." Emily was impressed by how certain these nurses were about their abilities. She said, "I wanted to see if they really could feel something."[1] Using a standard science fair display board, Emily devised a single-blind protocol, later described by other scientists as "simple and elegant," for a study she conducted at age nine for her 4th grade science fair. Basically, Emily's study tested the ability of 21 TT practitioners to detect the HEF or "aura" when they were not looking. She asked each of the practitioners to sit at a table and extend their hands through a screen. On the other side of the screen, Emily flipped a coin as a means of randomly selecting which of the TT practitioner's hands she would hold her hand over. The TT practitioners were then asked which of their hands detected Emily's HEF. Subjects were each given ten tries, but they correctly located Emily's hand an average of only 4.4 times. The paper concluded, statistically, that "the null hypothesis cannot be rejected at the .05 level of significance for a 1-tailed test, which means that our subjects, with only 123 of 280 correct in the 2 trials, did not perform better than chance." Some subjects were asked before testing to examine Emily's hands and select which of her hands they thought produced the strongest HEF. Emily then used that hand during the experiment, but those subjects performed no better. This portion of the experiment was filmed by Scientific American Frontiers. . . .

Japanese scientists raise flies in complete darkness for fifty years, watch evolution happen

50 yrs of darkness creates sharper flies : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)
KYOTO--A university study that kept about 1,400 generations of pomace flies in the dark for more than 50 years has witnessed significant changes in their appearance and reproductive behavior. Discovered by a Kyoto University research team, the findings are expected to attract attention as the first successful attempt to unravel the mysteries of biological evolution through laboratory experiments. . . . Over their subsequent generations, pomace flies that were bred in the dark room developed sensory hairs over their bodies that were 10 percent longer than those of normal pomace flies--giving them a better sense of smell. The flies also developed the ability to recognize each other by differences in their pheromones. As a result, they reached a point where they rarely copulated with normal flies even when kept in the same container. When studying the genetic information of flies from the experiment, the research team discovered more than 400,000 variations in their DNA sequences, such as genes related to olfaction and pheromones. Some genes related to the flies' sense of vision also had mutated, but because the flies show great sensitivity to light, they are believed to have maintained the ability to see despite being kept in a dark room.

December 09, 2009

Gas fumes may fuel road rage

Gasoline Fumes May Fuel Road Rage | Autopia | Wired.com
Amal Kinawy of Cairo University found that rats exposed to gasoline fumes were more aggressive than those breathing clean air and more likely to show signs of anxiety. What’s more, their brains experienced changes in neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus, hippocampus and cerebellum. Although Kinaway limited her research to rats, she says the findings could apply to humans and be a factor in road rage. “Heightened aggression may be yet another risk for the human population chronically exposed to urban air polluted by automobile smoke,” she said. “Millions of people every day are exposed to gasoline fumes while refueling their cars.” Kinawy subjected 15 rats to leaded gasoline — which is still available in Egypt — and 15 to unleaded fuel. Fifteen others were used as a control group. The rats were exposed to gasoline vapors for 30 minutes each day for six weeks, then housed for 10 days with litter mates that had not been used in the test. She found the rats that had breathed gas fumes were more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior such as chattering their teeth, arching their backs and biting. Rats exposed to unleaded fuel were slightly more likely to show aggression than those exposed to leaded fuel.