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By Admin (from 07/12/2011 @ 10:40:24, in en - Science and Society, read 1822 times)

monsantoworstcompany2011 210x131 Monsanto Declared Worst Company of 2011Biotech giant Monsanto has been declared the Worst Company of 2011 by NaturalSociety for threatening both human health and the environment. The leader in genetically modified seeds and crops, Monsanto is currently responsible for 90 percent of the genetically engineered seed on the United States market. Outside of GM seeds, Monsanto is also the creator of the best-selling herbicide Roundup, which has spawned over 120 million hectacres of herbicide-resistant superweeds while damaging much of the soil. Despite hard evidence warning against the amplified usage of genetically modified crops, biopesticides, and herbicides, Monsanto continues to disregard all warning signs.

In a powerful review of 19 studies analyzing the dangers of GMO crops such as corn and soybeans, researchers revealed some shocking information regarding the safety of these popular food staples. Researchers found that consumption of GMO corn or soybeans may lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice – particularly in the liver and kidneys. This is particularly concerning due to the fact that 93 percent of U.S. soybeans are known to be genetically modified. Ignoring this evidence, Monsanto continues to expand their genetic manipulation.

Monsanto’s Genetic Manipulation of Nature

Outside of genetically modifying crops, Monsanto has also created genetically modified crops containing Bt. Bt is a toxin incorporated in GMO crops that are intended to kill different insects, however Bt usage has subsequently spawned insect populations which are resistant to the biopesticide. After being exposed to Bt, many insect populations actually mutated to resist the biopesticide. So far at least 8 insect populations have developed resistance, with 2 populations resistant to Bt sprays and at least 6 species resistant to Bt crops as a whole. Farmers are therefore forced to use even more pesticides to combat the resistant bugs.

What is the answer to this problem, according to Monsanto? To further genetically modify the Bt crop to make it a super-pesticide, killing the resistant insects.

Tests, however, have concluded that further modified Bt toxin crop provided ‘little or no advantage’ in tackling the insects, despite extensive time and funding put into the research. It seems that Monsanto’s solution to everything is to further modify it into oblivion, even in the face of evidence proving this method to be highly inefficient. The research shows that this will undoubtedly lead to insects that are resistant to the most potent forms of Bt and other modified toxins, resulting in the use of even more excessive amounts of pesticides in order to combat pests.

Superweeds Infesting Over 120 Million Hectacres of Farmland

Thanks to Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, farms across the world are experiencing the emergence of herbicide-resistant superweeds. The heavily resistant weeds have an immunity to glyphosate, an herbicide that Roundup contains. These resistant weeds currently cover over 4.5 million hectares in the United States alone, though experts estimate the world-wide land coverage to have reached at least 120 million hectares by 2010. The appearance of these superweeds is being increasingly documented in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Europe and South Africa.

Of course, once again, the resistant weeds are so resistant to roundup that they require excessive amounts of herbicides. It is no surprise that the company is refusing to accept responsibility for the escalating cost of combating the weeds, stating that “Roundup agricultural warranties will not cover the failure to control glyphosate resistant weed populations.”

The World Says No to Monsanto

France, Hungary, and Peru are a few of the countries that have decided to take a stand against Monsanto. Hungary actually went as far as to destroy 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds, according to Hungary deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar.  Peru has also taken a stand for health freedom, passing a monumental 10 year ban on genetically modified foods. Amazingly, Peru’s Plenary Session of the Congress made the decision despite previous governmental pushes for GM legalization. The known and unknown dangers of GMO crops seem to supersede even executive-level governmental directives.

Anibal Huerta, President of Peru’s Agrarian Commission, said the ban was needed to prevent the ”danger that can arise from the use of biotechnology.”

France is the latest nation to say no to Monsanto’s GM corn maize, even in light of an overturned ban. It all began when France’s State Council overturned the ban on Monsanto’s GMO maize stating that it was not sufficiently justified. The organization then attempted to justify its decision by saying that the government did not give enough evidence to justify a ban. Under law, an EU country can only unilaterally ban a genetically modified strain if it can scientifically prove it is a risk to the health of humans, animals, or the integrity of the environment.

Even after the ban was overturned, it surfaced that French legislatures were planning to launch new restrictions regarding the use of Monsanto’s 810 maize on French soil. Even Nicolas Sarkozy, the current president of the French Republic, voiced his opposition to Monsanto’s GMO maize:

“The French government keeps and will keep its opposition against the cultivation of the Monsanto 810 maize on our soil,” Sarkozy said.

Worst Company of 2011

In nominating Monsanto the Worst Company of 2011 we are hoping to raise awareness over the threat that Monsanto poses to human health and the environment. Genetically modified organisms will only continue to threaten all living creatures if not stopped. It is through spreading the word that real change will come about, and declaring Monsanto the Worst Company of 2011 is a great way to highlight all of their reckless actions.

 

Explore More:

  1. Monsanto Worst Company of 2011 Declaration Posted on Reuters, Yahoo, and More
  2. Monsanto’s Roundup Spawns Superweeds Consuming Over 120 Million Hectares
  3. Merck vs Monsanto | Fighting for the Worst Company Award
  4. Flashback: Forbes Magazine Declared Monsanto Company of the Year
  5. EPA Finds Monsanto’s GMO Corn Ineffective, Creating Resistant Rootworms

Source: http://naturalsociety.com

 

Whose Oil Can You Trust?

I'm here today because I am very disturbed about what is presently happening in North America. And I feel that the public need to be aware of what is truly going on so they can make informed decisions when purchasing hemp oil to treat themselves.

First off I want the public to know that I have no involvement with anyone who is supplying oil, and I have never received a penny from any of them. Also at present I have no involvement with foundations or any other organizations. The only thing I am connected with is the Phoenix Tears website and nothing else.

Until recently I was connected with the Phoenix Tears Foundation headed up by Janet Sweeney that is presently forming in Colorado. Janet has some top notch people like Dr. Bob Melamede involved and I certainly think this group is truly on the up and up.

The only reason I have withdrawn from this group was because due to the situation I am currently in, I cannot even enter the US. So for me that means there is no hands on and I really felt that I could play no active role, so I withdrew. Also at this time it's more than I can do to just keep up with the emails we receive every day that come to our website.

So at the present to avoid further stress I thought it might be best to just stick with our website until things settle down a bit.

What's happening right now is simply this. Every Tom Dick and Harry out there it seems is supplying hemp oil to people seeking help. But at present there is not quality control so in reality in most cases people have no idea what they are buying.

Unfortunately for me, many suppliers are using my name and the term Phoenix Tears to sell their substandard products and guess who gets all the complaints. The oil is everything I have told the public it is, but it must be produced from high grade starting material and it must be done in the proper way.

Unfortunately, a great number of suppliers at present seem to care little about the patient's health and well-being. So they are producing low-grade oils and supply them to the public simply so they can fill their pockets.
Even worse still some people and groups around them are literally scamming patients out of vast amounts of money. I don't like to bring up people's names but there is one such group headed by Char Richardson in Colorado whose activities must cease.

So I feel that it is my duty to warn the public about this group, since I have received many complaints about their business practices. I believe they call their group Phoenix Tears Plus but there also many others who are doing the same thing.

That's the reason I tell the public it's best to produce your own oil at this time, until we have some standards in place. If you produce the oil yourself, at least then you know you have the real thing and to a dying patient, the proper oil can mean the difference between life and death.
The public must realize that all hemp is not created equal, the medicinal qualities from strain to strain can vary a great deal so the proper strains must be used. Also low-grade strains and clippings may produce a decent treatment for some skin conditions. But if you are trying to treat someone with a serious condition like cancer, low-grade oils just don't cut it, only the best will do.

These are trying times for us all, but soon things will settle down and the public will have their medicine. It's just a matter of time now, for there is no way for the system to put a stop to the truth from spreading. Properly produced hemp oil is the greatest medicine on this earth, and soon hemp will again take its rightful place in mainstream medicinal use.

Rick Simpson
August 2010

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AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Fighting The Damage Caused By Radiation

After the horrible earthquake in Japan, that has caused all this damage to many of the nuclear reactors that are operating in that country, radiation is now spreading worldwide. With high levels of radiation being released into the atmosphere on a continuous basis, it will have a devastating effect on the lives of most living creatures. But once again if used properly high quality hemp oil can provide a solution that will be of great help to mankind in alleviating this situation. For years I have been telling the public, that every man woman and child on this earth, should be taking small doses of this oil everyday to maintain good health. With all the radiation that is now entering our atmosphere, it is basically urgent, that we now all start ingesting this oil as soon as possible to undo the damage this radiation will cause. Through my experience with the use of this oil, I have found that there is nothing more effective or more harmless that can reduce the damage caused by radiation. I have seen patients that were suffering from cancer who were badly damaged by the effects of radiation treatments, that were able to completely eliminate the damage in a short time. Some who have come to me that had radiation treatments, were burned so badly by its effects that their shin looked like red leather. After ingesting the oil treatment their skin went back to its normal healthy state and the radiation burns disappeared completely. If the oil can do this for someone that was badly damaged by such so called medical treatments, would its use not be effective to combat the effects of the radiation, now emanating from Japan.

There are thousands of reasons why the medicinal use of the cannabis plant, should never have been restricted in the first place. But now with the menace that all this escaping radiation presents, we would have to be insane to turn our backs on the use of hemp extracts to help us all deal with this situation. I truly feel sorry for the misery the people of Japan are now going through and if nothing can be done to stop the radiation from escaping, they may loose their homeland entirely. Don't be fooled by government double talk, radiation is an invisible but dangerous threat to the well being of us all and only a complete fool would try to say otherwise. The wondrous medicinal effects of properly produced oil from the cannabis hemp plant are finally being recognized once more worldwide. This is just one more reason, we must begin to start growing this plant on a grand scale and it is time that we all told our governments that we have had enough of their nonsense. Our very lives and the lives of coming generations, plus the well being of many other species are at stake and its now up to us, to determine what future mankind is to have.

Best Wishes,

Rick Simpson


My name is Rick Simpson. I have been providing people with instructions on how to make Hemp Oil medicines for about 8 years. The results have been nothing short of amazing. Throughout man's history hemp has always been known as the most medicinal plant in the world. Even with this knowledge hemp has always been used as a political and religious football.

The current restrictions against hemp were put in place and maintained, not because hemp is evil or harmful, but for big money to make more big money, while we suffer and die needlessly. Look at a proposal such as this; if we were allowed to grow hemp in our back yards and cure our own illnesses, what do you think the reaction of the pharmaceutical industry would be to such a plan? Many large pharmaceutical companies that still exist today sold hemp based medicines in the 1800's and early 1900's. They knew then what I have recently found out. Hemp oil if produced properly is a cure-all that the pharmaceutical industry can't patent.

Two years a go I contacted the Liberals, the Conservatives and the New Democratic Party about this situation. I also provided them with evidence to backup what I was saying. No one lifted a finger, in most cases I was lucky to get a reply. I contacted the R.C.M.P. along with many other organizations and Public Interest TV shows, with little or no response.

Why are all these people trying to avoid such a simple truth? If I am in some way wrong in what I have been saying then I invite the system to come and prove it. I would be happy to put on a public demonstration of what this oil can do. That would answer this question for the Canadian public once and for all. It seems unbelievable that we have a law in Canada that will not allow us to cure our own diseases with a natural herbal remedy.

While much of the evidence for the effectiveness of Hemp is reports from patients and doctors, it is important to realize that this reporting leads to restrictions of drugs and their withdrawal from the market. Such was the case with doctors reporting the birth defects from Thalidomide and heart problems with the Fen-Phen combination of drugs. Further reports led to new uses for Thalidomide as a drug to treat leprosy rather than morning sickness. Anecdotal evidence (reports and observation by patients or doctors) usually indicates to a doctor that a treatment or drug should be altered, discontinued or changed.
In addition to the evidence, much research has been done and a list of a few of the researchers and their papers or publications is here. [Penicillin was approved for use with less experience and data than is available on the effectiveness of Hemp - only six patients].
The results of the cases can be readily replicated by any practitioner, medical or otherwise, anywhere, to cure malignant melanomas and more importantly, save lives. The topical application of hemp oil salves or balms helps to control or cure various skin conditions. Taken orally, the oil tends to seek out and destroy cancer cells in the body, but as with any drug, too much can cause side effects; most notable with hemp oil is drowsiness. Unlike opiates and their derivatives, hemp oil is not addictive.

For those who may find it incredible that the medical establishment would ignore or even disdain such research we remind the reader that the history of the medical establishment includes examples of mule-like stubbornness, incompetence, mediocrity, greed, arrogance, and stupidity. Consider the case of Dr. Ignas Semmelweis:

In 1847, Dr. Semmelweis, a respected Hungarian physician who was concerned about the high mortality rate of women giving birth in hospital, instituted a procedure at one hospital whereby doctors washed and disinfected their hands before delivering babies. Immediately, the mortality rate dropped from THIRTY percent to near zero. Seven other hospitals followed suit with similar results.

The European medical establishment recognized Dr. Semmelweis's achievement by blocking his applications for further research funds, vilifying and ostracizing him, and, ultimately, causing him to lose his prestigious positions at maternity hospitals. In America, the newly formed American Medical Association added insult to injury by threatening to revoke the license of any doctor caught washing his hands. Dr. Semmelweis was so distressed that women continued to die that he suffered a mental breakdown that eventually led to his death in 1865.

Don't expect a doctor working inside the system to buck the system. The risks are still too great! The advice she or he offers you is controlled by the large medical industry that makes its money from expensive cancer fighting drugs and treatments. It is an industry that doesn't look favorably on natural supplements or other cancer treatments that they cannot patent or make a large profit from. Years from now the current conventional cancer treatments used by doctors will on the whole be viewed in the same light that we view the old medical practice of blood letting to cure illnesses.

Rick Simpson

 

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have now taken a major step toward creating artificial intelligence -- not in a robot or a silicon chip, but in a test tube. The researchers are the first to have made an artificial neural network out of DNA, creating a circuit of interacting molecules that can recall memories based on incomplete patterns, just as a brain can.

The brain is incredible," says Lulu Qian, a Caltech senior postdoctoral scholar in bioengineering and lead author on the paper describing this work, published in the July 21 issue of the journal Nature. "It allows us to recognize patterns of events, form memories, make decisions, and take actions. So we asked, instead of having a physically connected network of neural cells, can a soup of interacting molecules exhibit brainlike behavior?"

The answer, as the researchers show, is yes.

Consisting of four artificial neurons made from 112 distinct DNA strands, the researchers' neural network plays a mind-reading game in which it tries to identify a mystery scientist. The researchers "trained" the neural network to "know" four scientists, whose identities are each represented by a specific, unique set of answers to four yes-or-no questions, such as whether the scientist was British.

After thinking of a scientist, a human player provides an incomplete subset of answers that partially identifies the scientist. The player then conveys those clues to the network by dropping DNA strands that correspond to those answers into the test tube. Communicating via fluorescent signals, the network then identifies which scientist the player has in mind. Or, the network can "say" that it has insufficient information to pick just one of the scientists in its memory or that the clues contradict what it has remembered. The researchers played this game with the network using 27 different ways of answering the questions (out of 81 total combinations), and it responded correctly each time.

This DNA-based neural network demonstrates the ability to take an incomplete pattern and figure out what it might represent -- one of the brain's unique features. "What we are good at is recognizing things," says coauthor Jehoshua "Shuki" Bruck, the Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Computation and Neural Systems and Electrical Engineering. "We can recognize things based on looking only at a subset of features." The DNA neural network does just that, albeit in a rudimentary way.

Biochemical systems with artificial intelligence -- or at least some basic, decision-making capabilities -- could have powerful applications in medicine, chemistry, and biological research, the researchers say. In the future, such systems could operate within cells, helping to answer fundamental biological questions or diagnose a disease. Biochemical processes that can intelligently respond to the presence of other molecules could allow engineers to produce increasingly complex chemicals or build new kinds of structures, molecule by molecule.

"Although brainlike behaviors within artificial biochemical systems have been hypothesized for decades," Qian says, "they appeared to be very difficult to realize."

The researchers based their biochemical neural network on a simple model of a neuron, called a linear threshold function. The model neuron receives input signals, multiplies each by a positive or negative weight, and only if the weighted sum of inputs surpass a certain threshold does the neuron fire, producing an output. This model is an oversimplification of real neurons, says paper coauthor Erik Winfree, professor of computer science, computation and neural systems, and bioengineering. Nevertheless, it's a good one. "It has been an extremely productive model for exploring how the collective behavior of many simple computational elements can lead to brainlike behaviors, such as associative recall and pattern completion."

To build the DNA neural network, the researchers used a process called a strand-displacement cascade. Previously, the team developed this technique to create the largest and most complex DNA circuit yet, one that computes square roots.

This method uses single and partially double-stranded DNA molecules. The latter are double helices, one strand of which sticks out like a tail. While floating around in a water solution, a single strand can run into a partially double-stranded one, and if their bases (the letters in the DNA sequence) are complementary, the single strand will grab the double strand's tail and bind, kicking off the other strand of the double helix. The single strand thus acts as an input while the displaced strand acts as an output, which can then interact with other molecules.

Because they can synthesize DNA strands with whatever base sequences they want, the researchers can program these interactions to behave like a network of model neurons. By tuning the concentrations of every DNA strand in the network, the researchers can teach it to remember the unique patterns of yes-or-no answers that belong to each of the four scientists. Unlike with some artificial neural networks that can directly learn from examples, the researchers used computer simulations to determine the molecular concentration levels needed to implant memories into the DNA neural network.

While this proof-of-principle experiment shows the promise of creating DNA-based networks that can -- in essence -- think, this neural network is limited, the researchers say. The human brain consists of 100 billion neurons, but creating a network with just 40 of these DNA-based neurons -- ten times larger than the demonstrated network -- would be a challenge, according to the researchers. Furthermore, the system is slow; the test-tube network took eight hours to identify each mystery scientist. The molecules are also used up -- unable to detach and pair up with a different strand of DNA -- after completing their task, so the game can only be played once. Perhaps in the future, a biochemical neural network could learn to improve its performance after many repeated games, or learn new memories from encountering new situations. Creating biochemical neural networks that operate inside the body -- or even just inside a cell on a Petri dish -- is also a long way away, since making this technology work in vivo poses an entirely different set of challenges.

Beyond technological challenges, engineering these systems could also provide indirect insight into the evolution of intelligence. "Before the brain evolved, single-celled organisms were also capable of processing information, making decisions, and acting in response to their environment," Qian explains. The source of such complex behaviors must have been a network of molecules floating around in the cell. "Perhaps the highly evolved brain and the limited form of intelligence seen in single cells share a similar computational model that's just programmed in different substrates."

"Our paper can be interpreted as a simple demonstration of neural-computing principles at the molecular and intracellular levels," Bruck adds. "One possible interpretation is that perhaps these principles are universal in biological information processing."

The research described in the Nature paper is supported by a National Science Foundation grant to the Molecular Programming Project and by the Human Frontiers Science Program.

Source: ScienceDaily

 

Designed as a therapeutic option for those trying to break their addiction, the vaccine produces antibodies that stop heroin as well as other psychoactive compounds metabolized from heroin from reaching the brain to produce euphoric effects.

 

Previous efforts to create a clinically viable heroin vaccine have struggled because heroin is metabolized into multiple substances that each produce psychoactive effects. To overcome this problem the researchers, led by the study's principal investigator, Kim D. Janda, targeted not just the heroin itself, but also the chemical it quickly degrades into, 6-acetylmorphine (6AM), and morphine.

They linked a heroin-like hapten (a small molecule that elicits an immune response only when attached to a large carrier) to a generic carrier protein called keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), and mixed it with Alum, a vaccine additive, to create a vaccine "cocktail." This mixture slowly degraded in the body, exposing the immune system to different psychoactive metabolites of heroin such as 6AM and morphine.

"Critically, the vaccine produces antibodies to a constantly changing drug target," said G. Neil Stowe, who is first author of the new study. "Such an approach has never before been engaged with drug-of-abuse vaccines."

Testing the vaccine on rats provided promising results. After several booster shots of the vaccine, heroin addicted rates were found to be less likely to self-administer heroin by pressing on a lever. Only three of the seven rats that received the vaccine self-administered heroin compared to all of the control rats, including those that had been given a vaccine that only targeted morphine.

The team also found that the heroin vaccine was highly specific, only producing an antibody response to heroin and 6AM and not to other opioid-related drugs tested, such as oxycodone, and drugs used to treat opioid dependence, such as methadone, naltrexone, and naloxone.

"The importance of this is that it indicates these vaccines could be used in combination with other heroin rehabilitation therapies," said Janda.

"In my 25 years of making drug-of-abuse vaccines, I haven't seen such a strong immune response as I have with what we term a dynamic anti-heroin vaccine," Janda added. "It is just extremely effective. The hope is that such a protective vaccine will be an effective therapeutic option for those trying to break their addiction to heroin."

The Scripps Research team has also recently begun collaborating with researchers at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to see if it is feasible to develop a dual-purpose vaccine against HIV and for the treatment of heroin addiction in a single shot.

Source: GizMag

 

Craig Gundersen, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois, says food and exercise alone are not to blame for the extent of obesity among children in the United States. Psychosocial factors, such as stressors brought about by uncertainty about the economy, income inequality, and a fraying social safety net also must be considered, he says.

"Energy-in, energy-out is important, but energy imbalance isn't the only thing leading to overweight status among children," said Gundersen, the executive director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory at Illinois. "We also know that people have very different ways of responding to the same amount of food intake and exercise, and one of the factors that may influence how people react to eating and exercise is through the amount of stress they're under."

Gundersen says stressors are particularly prevalent for low-income children, a demographic group that has high rates of obesity in the U.S. and other developed countries.

"As a society, we're always looking for different ways we can address public health issues, whether it's reducing food insecurity or reducing obesity," he said. "Although there have been many different ways to reduce obesity, what we've found is that stress is a leading cause of obesity among children. So if there's any way we can reduce stressors from a policy standpoint, that will also have the effect of reducing obesity."

The calls for trimming the social safety net that are currently in vogue in Washington, D.C., as part of a larger program of government austerity would likely lead to more obesity over time because it places more stress on low-income families, Gundersen says.
"If we cut back on benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or otherwise reduce its availability to people, that would increase the amount of stress that low-income families would face, which would then subsequently lead to increases in obesity," he said.

According to Gundersen, programs such as SNAP play a vital role in the social safety net as well as in efforts to end obesity.

"I really cannot stress how great of a program SNAP is," he said. "It's a fantastic program, and I think it can do a lot to help in our fight against obesity as it's currently constructed."

But there have been calls to restrict what SNAP recipients can purchase. For example, New York City recently proposed prohibiting children from purchasing sports drinks with their SNAP benefits. Gundersen views this development as setting a "dangerous precedent."

"Ultimately, placing restrictions on what people can buy only discourage them from participating in the program because it stigmatizes the benefits," he said. "The best way to reduce obesity isn't to introduce more restrictions, but to expand SNAP as it's currently structured."

Since SNAP allows families to purchase more healthy foods that they would otherwise be able to, any further restrictions or cutbacks to the program would have a two-fold effect, Gundersen says.

"Reducing access to SNAP would increase stress, which leads to increases in obesity, but it also means that families wouldn't be able to afford healthy foods and would subsequently have to purchase less healthy foods," he said. "When thinking about these sort of policy considerations, we have to think about who bears the brunt of these cutbacks, because not only could they lead to more obesity, but also to more inequality."

Gundersen says that while many families who are facing tough times may not be eligible for SNAP, which is only available to those below 130 percent of the poverty line, private food assistance networks can also play a key role in helping reduce food-scarcity stress.

"People know that if they're short on funds at the end of the month, they can go to their local food pantry and get some food," he said. "So a lot of people may be ineligible for SNAP but are still facing a very a stressful financial situation. Food banks really help those people, which in turn lowers stress and, by extension, obesity."

As many families face financial hardship as a result of the sluggish economy, Gundersen says that public policymakers need to be aware of the relationship between stressors and childhood obesity, which has only become more pronounced as income-inequality has grown over the last three decades.

"If present trends of income inequality are maintained, and if people are stressed by this – and there is some evidence to suggest that they are, to the extent that it's your position versus others in society, and not your absolute level of income – that, too, could lead to more obesity," Gundersen said.

More information: The study, published in the journal Obesity Reviews, was co-written by Duhita Mahatmya, Steven Garasky and Brenda J. Lohman, all of Iowa State University. The paper, "Linking Psychosocial Stressors and Childhood Obesity," is available online.

Source: MedicalXpress

 

These particles, called antineutrinos, suggest that about half of Earth's heat comes from the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium – and give clues to the location of geological stashes of these elements.

Heat is needed to drive the convection currents in Earth's outer core that create its magnetic field. But exactly how much of this heat comes from radioactive decay wasn't known until now.

In 2005, researchers from the international KamLAND collaboration used a detector buried in Japan to measure antineutrinos that are produced when elements decay, allowing a rough estimate.

Chemical window

Now they have enough data – 111 geological antineutrinos to be precise – to refine their measurement, suggesting that about 20 terawatts of heat come from radioactive decay. Earth's total heat production is about 40 terawatts.

The researchers also had enough neutrinos to confirm that some must be coming from places other than the crust, something that wasn't possible before. "The uncertainty is small enough that some contribution must be from the mantle," says Giorgio Gratta, a physicist at Stanford University in California who is part of the KamLAND collaboration.

The ability to determine the location of the radioactive elements could permit better models of the Earth's interior, says Gratta. Seismic waves tell us about elasticity of the crust and mantle: now we have a small window into their chemistry, which should allow their behaviour to be better modelled. The presence of radioactive elements in the mantle, for example, could affect its flow.

There's still some uncertainly in the new measurement, because detections of antineutrinos are so infrequent. Larger detectors would help improve the measurements and might even be used to monitor undeclared nuclear facilities from afar, says Gratta.

Source: New Scientist

 

As the government runs out of fiat currency, it grows more fearful of the people. Freedomain Radio is the largest and most popular philosophy show on the web - http://www.freedomainradio.com

Molyneux speaking at Drexel University

Barack Obama has abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay.

 

Stanford materials science professor Yi Cui, who led the work, says a tremendous amount of research goes into making batteries store more energy for longer, but little attention has been paid to making them "more beautiful, and fancier."

Researchers have previously made transparent variations on other major classes of electronics, including transistors and the components used to control displays, but not yet batteries. "And if you can't make the battery transparent, you can't make the gadget transparent," says Cui.

Some battery components are easier to make using transparent materials than others. The electrodes are the tricky part, says Cui. One way to make a transparent electrode is to make it very thin, on the order of about 100 nanometers thick. But a thin electrode typically can't store enough energy to be useful.

Another approach is to make the electrode in the form of a pattern that has features smaller than the naked eye can see. As long as there is enough total electrode material in the battery, this type of electrode can still store a significant amount of energy. Cui designed a mesh electrode where all the lines of the mesh are on the order of 50 micrometers, effectively invisible, and the squares inside the mesh contain no battery materials.

Fabrication is also tricky, since the usual methods for making components at this resolution require harsh chemical processes that damage battery materials. The Stanford group instead used a relatively simple method to make the transparent mesh electrodes, which are held together inside a clear, squishy polymer called PDMS.

They start by using lithography to make a mold on a silicon wafer. Then they pour liquid PDMS over the mold, cure the polymer to solidify it, and peel it off the mold. The PDMS sheet is then engraved with a grid of narrow channels. Next they drip a solution of electrode materials onto the surface of the PDMS. Capillary action pulls the materials in until they have filled all the channels to create the mesh. The researchers used standard lithium-ion battery materials to make their electrodes.

To make the complete battery, they sandwich a clear gel electrolyte between the two electrodes, and put it all inside a protective plastic wrapping. The Stanford researchers created prototypes, and used them to power an LED whose light can be seen through the battery itself.

Cui says these batteries should, in theory, be able to store about half as much energy as an equivalent-sized opaque battery, because there is a trade-off between energy density and transparency. They can lay down a thicker mesh of electrode materials to store more energy, but that means less light will get through.

So far, his lab's prototypes can store 20 watt-hours per liter, about as much energy as a nickel-cadmium battery, but Cui expects to improve this by an order of magnitude, in part by reducing the thickness of the polymer substrate, and also making the trenches that hold the electrode materials deeper.

Another way to store more energy without sacrificing transparency would be to stack multiple cells on top of one another in such a way that the grid of the electrodes lined up, allowing light to pass through. So far, the group has made electrodes that are about an inch across, but Cui says they could be made much larger, and the material could simply be cut to the desired size.

Source: Technology Review

 

We didn’t want to write about it. Seriously, we didn’t. Sure, Michael Phelps has digital technology, the 24-hour news cycle and precision blown glass to blame for his plight but we’re better than that.* But when US Swimming went and suspended Phelps for two months for, ultimately, acting his age, we felt compelled to write something. The 'Science' part of Popular Science restricts us from condemning the insanity of the punishment (note, however, they did nothing following his 2003 DUI). So below we offer an introductory, though hardly comprehensive, summary of marijuana and its (non)role as a performance-enhancing drug.

We should start by noting that US Swimming has made it quite clear that the ban of Phelps has nothing do with performance enhancement (not much to enhance) and everything to do with serving as the morality police.

“This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero,” the Colorado Springs-based federation said in a statement.

But, that doesn’t stop us from asking why the drug is banned in sports in the first place. It’s a question English sports minister Richard Caborn , Spanish Athletics Federation President Jose Maria Odriozola and New Zealand Sports Drug Agency executive director Graeme Steel all asked several years ago. Caborn said the World Anti-Doping Agency should not be “in the business of policing society.” WADA’s science director, Dr. Olivier Rabin, added his thoughts during the discussion, “Our mandate is to fight doping in sport. We don’t go beyond that mandate and this has nothing to do with the social aspects of these drugs.”

Michael Phelps et sa

According to WADA, prohibition of a substance is based on three questions: does it enhance performance, is it dangerous for the athlete, and is it against the ‘spirit of sport’? If the answer is yes to two of the questions, the substance is banned. Conceding that cannabinoids are dangerous to the athlete (smoke inhalation can never be good), the debate rests on performance enhancement and spirit of sport questions. Given Rabin’s comments we figured data must exist showing the power of pot in sports.

An oddity worth noting is that marijuana is only sometimes banned. During competition, athletes testing positive will suffer punishment but testing positive out of competition (during training) is okay. The rationale for this depends on whom you talk to. Some argue the ability of cannabinoids to calm nerves, thus enhancing performance, only works directly before a competition (unless you found some especially sticky stuff). Others argue it’s an example of WADA waffling on how marijuana aligns with the ‘spirit of sport’.

“In the case of marijuana, it’s a call by WADA to balance the strong views by many that it shouldn’t be on the list at all and say that their primary concern is limiting it during competition,” said Steel. “What athletes do during their own personal time is not WADA’s business. That’s my own personal opinion and not speaking officially on behalf of WADA.”

Cannabinoids are not the only substance on the ‘sometimes prohibited' list. Most stimulants with short-term effects, along with narcotics for pain relief, can be used freely outside of competition. These substances clearly can benefit performance; again, suggesting marijuana has similar capability.

So back to the core question. Can marijuana enhance performance? A cursory search of PubMed found a surprising lack of quality research on whether smoking a joint could help athletes win anything other than an eating contest. We doubt scientists would have a hard time recruiting volunteers so logic might suggest that most scientists just don’t buy for a second that inhaling Cheetos is a desirable side-effect for elite athletes. WADA provided several references for this piece that focused more generally on the pharmacology of marijuana but offered little data on actual physical performance.

Saugy, et al, published a literature review of the topic in the 2006 British Journal of Sports Medicine. Saugy first references US data suggesting that 16 percent of US adults aged 18-25 reported cannabis use in the past month (again, sample size should not be a problem for any future research). The paper refers to cannabis as an ‘ergolytic’ drug, which impairs performance, rather than a ‘ergogenic’ drug that would enhance it. A referenced study showed that 12 healthy adults cycled to exhaustion in less time after smoking 10 minutes earlier. Other studies have shown that THC (the ingredient that gets you high) increases heart rate and blood pressure while decreasing cardiac output and psychomotor activity.

A detailing of the pharmacological effects of cannabis published in the British Journal of Psychiatry by Ashton, does note that colors might seem brighter. While that might help a tennis player see the balls, these additional side effects are a little less desirable when returning a 120-mph serve.

“Spatial perception is distorted and time perception is impaired so that perceived time goes faster than clock time. Hallucinations may occur with high doses.”

Most theories on potential benefits from marijuana surround its ability to alleviate stress and relax. A study of French sport students showed that "good sleep” was one reason listed for marijuana usage and that participants in extreme sports—those where competition included elevated levels of physical dangerous—reported higher rates of usage.

A WADA spokesman added in an e-mail response that, “Research showed that cannabinoids can allow athletes to better focus and diminish stress.”

And according to Saugy, “it can have a euphoric effect, reducing anxiety and increasing the sociability of a player who may be particularly nervous before an important match.”

Steel has heard those arguments but notes that in his experience in New Zealand, it is simply not the case. More than 60 percent of the positive tests in his country are for marijuana and not once has a tribunal found that the drug was taken for performance enhancing capability.

Rabin had previously disputed that contention noting that a reduction “in the sense of fear or apprehension” can classify cannabinoids as performance enhancing in certain sports. He noted that athletes have testified to such after being caught.

But, if the issue truly was about some archer wanting to smoke a joint to help him hit the bull’s-eye, why not ban it in only that sport? WADA has precedence and existing protocol for such a move. Alcohol for examples is only banned in a handful of sports (motorcycling, powerboating, etc.). Steel doesn’t expect that change to occur.

“Yes, it would be an option, but there are some strong entrenched views that it has no place in and around sports so that view is unlikely to prevail,” said Steel. “Some strong lobbying groups think it shouldn’t be there whether it effects performance or not.”

Apparently suggestions otherwise would just be blowing the proverbial smoke.

*Though we can't help but note how potent is the irony of a man with scientifically-inexplicably large lungs inhaling smoke from an oversized bong.

Source: popsci.com - Author: Brett Zarda (article from 02.09.2009)

 

Cannabis connoisseurs, former hippies, and college kids everywhere have long appreciated marijuana for its seemingly magical effects on mind and body. The fact that it is illegal (at least in the United States), has never stopped people from partaking in a little herbal refreshment. But it isn’t just Phish fans who have argued for the legalization of the popular recreational drug. Legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, specifically to alleviate the pain of those afflicted with glaucoma, is a contemporary and fairly widespread cause. But even since the 1950s, scientists have recognized, and pushed for, the antibacterial properties of Cannabis sativa.

Most recently, positive publicity for pot has emerged via a group of Italian and British researchers experimenting with tetrahydrocannabinol — the main active ingredient in marijuana. More commonly known as THC (because, let’s face it, anyone under its influence isn’t going to be able to get that octosyllabic word out of his mouth), the compound and its related compounds have proven themselves effective antibacterial agents.

A team of scientists led by Giovanni Appendino at the University of Eastern Piedmont tested the five most common cannabinoids (a group of substances that are structurally related to THC) and found each one to be effective against several common multiresistant bacterial strains. The findings were published in the Journal of Natural Products, where the team also suggested that cannabinoids without psychotropic properties may be even more useful in fighting off bacterial diseases.

Back in the fifties, scientist didn’t know much about the chemical make up of marijuana. They tested it as an agent against various infections, but their experiments never reached the practical stage. Half a century later, researchers are able to look more closely at the potential medicinal properties of the plant; however, they are still unsure of how exactly the cannabinoids work and how effective they would end up being. More research and experimentation is needed if they expect to transition it into systemic antibiotics. Still, strides are being made. Scientists say THC could be ready for use in the near(er) future as a combatant against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an often fatal bacteria responsible for difficult-to-treat infections in humans, commonly found in hospitals or jails, where the residents have open wounds, invasive devices, and weakened immune systems. The compound would serve as a topical agent, preventing microbes from colonizing on the skin. Whatever name you choose to call it—pot, reefer, weed, hemp—cannabis could end up being the drug for microbial strains that no other drugs can cure.
That’s one small step for medicine, one giant leap for marijuana.

Source: popsci.com - Author: Rachel Durfee - posted on 09.10.2008

 
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