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May 18, 2009

In Alaska, the land is rising

As Alaska Glaciers Melt, It’s Land That’s Rising - NYTimes.com

JUNEAU, Alaska — Global warming conjures images of rising seas that threaten coastal areas. But in Juneau, as almost nowhere else in the world, climate change is having the opposite effect: As the glaciers here melt, the land is rising, causing the sea to retreat.

. . .

The geology is complex, but it boils down to this: Relieved of billions of tons of glacial weight, the land has risen much as a cushion regains its shape after someone gets up from a couch. The land is ascending so fast that the rising seas — a ubiquitous byproduct of global warming — cannot keep pace. As a result, the relative sea level is falling, at a rate “among the highest ever recorded,” according to a 2007 report by a panel of experts convened by Mayor Bruce Botelho of Juneau.

May 17, 2009

How Neanderthals met a grisly fate: devoured by humans

How Neanderthals met a grisly fate: devoured by humans | Science | The Observer

One of science's most puzzling mysteries - the disappearance of the Neanderthals - may have been solved. Modern humans ate them, says a leading fossil expert.

The controversial suggestion follows publication of a study in the Journal of Anthropological Sciences about a Neanderthal jawbone apparently butchered by modern humans. Now the leader of the research team says he believes the flesh had been eaten by humans, while its teeth may have been used to make a necklace.

Fernando Rozzi, of Paris's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, said the jawbone had probably been cut into to remove flesh, including the tongue. Crucially, the butchery was similar to that used by humans to cut up deer carcass in the early Stone Age. "Neanderthals met a violent end at our hands and in some cases we ate them," Rozzi said.

May 16, 2009

Human noses too cold to support bird flu

BBC NEWS | Health | Human noses too cold for bird flu

Bird flu may not have become the threat to humans that some predicted because our noses are too cold for the virus to thrive, UK researchers say.

An Imperial College London recreation of the nose's environment found that at 32 degrees Celsius, avian flu viruses lose function and cannot spread.

It is likely that the viruses have adapted to suit the warmer 40 degree environments in the guts of birds.

A mutation would be needed before bird flu became a human problem, they said.

May 15, 2009

This is a photo of our sun

Photo of Space Shuttle Atlantis & Hubble Space Telescope Transiting The Sun

The dot in the lower left is the shuttle.

May 14, 2009

Science! Acupuncture does not work for lower back pain

Science-Based Medicine -- Acupuncture Does Not Work for Back Pain

The methodology is interesting. They had three groups of people receiving acupuncture. One group had the needles applied to the suggested meridian points, following all the usual methods. One group had needles applied willy-nilly. And the third group were actually pinched and poked with toothpicks. They all performed the same.

. . . Imagine if we were evaluating the efficacy of a new pain drug. This drug, when tested in open trials (no blinding or control) has an effect on reducing pain - it is superior to no treatment. When compared to a placebo, however, the drug is no more effective than the placebo, although both are more effective than no treatment.

Now imagine that the pharmaceutical company who manufactures this drug sends out a press release declaring that their drug is effective for pain, but that their research shows that a placebo of their drug is also effective (FDA applications are pending). Therefore more research is needed to determine how their drug works. Would you buy it?

That is the exact situation we are facing with acupuncture research.