Archive | Biogeochemical Cycles

Sea Turtles Aiding Robotics

JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga., Feb. 26 (UPI) — Studying the locomotion of baby loggerhead sea turtles is providing clues for the development of robots over varying terrain, scientists in Georgia said.

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology are studying how the newly hatched turtles move quickly from underground nests across sand, rigid surfaces and dune grass to reach the ocean.

The results will help roboticists determine the type of appendages necessary to move effectively, said physicist Daniel Goldman, noting the turtles have just a flat mitt and a claw.

On hard surfaces, the turtles push forward by digging a claw on their flipper into the ground so they won’t slip and on loose sand they advance by pushing off against a solid region of sand that forms behind their flippers, Goldman wrote in a recent issue of the journal Biology Letters.

Goldman and associate Nicole Mazouchova joined with colleagues at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to study hatchlings at Jekyll Island on the coast of Georgia.

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Posted in Aquatic Life0 Comments

Caspian Sea Beluga at Risk of Extinction

ATYRAU, Kazakhstan, Feb. 26 (UPI) — Conservation strategies for beluga sturgeon should focus on reducing the overfishing of adults, a team of U.S. and Kazakh scientists said.

Harvest rates today in the Caspian Sea are four to five times too high to sustain a healthy population of the caviar-producing sturgeon, scientists from Kazakhstan and New York’s Stony Brook University said in a recent issue of the journal Conservation Biology.

The scientists studied sturgeon in the Ural River, the only remaining Caspian Sea river where beluga sturgeon reproduce unhindered by dams, said Phaedra Doukakis, the study’s lead author.

Beluga sturgeon are extinct in the Adriatic Sea and on the brink of extinction in the Azov Sea. The fish can live to be more than 100 years old and do not reach maturity until 9 to 20 years of age.

Capturing sturgeon no younger than 31 years of age would increase population productivity tenfold because it would allow a longer period of breeding and survival for adult females, the scientists said.

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Posted in Aquatic Life, Conservation, Fish0 Comments

Oncogene Linked with Pancreatic Cancer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Feb. 25 (UPI) — Mayo Clinic scientists in Florida say they’ve discovered an oncogene important in colon and lung cancer is also linked with poor pancreatic cancer survival.

The researchers said they determined the oncogene PKC-iota is over-produced in pancreatic cancer and that genetically inhibiting it in laboratory animals led to a significant decrease in pancreatic tumor growth and spread.

They said their finding is especially encouraging because an experimental agent that targets the oncogene is already being tested at the Mayo Clinic.

“This is the first study to establish a role for PKC-iota in growth of pancreatic cancer, so it is exciting to know that an agent already exists that targets (it), which we can now try in preclinical studies,” said Nicole Murray, who led the research.

The drug, aurothiomalate, is being tested in a phase I clinical trial in patients with lung cancer at Mayo Clinic’s sites in Minnesota and Arizona. Based on findings to date, a phase II clinical trial is being planned to combine aurothiomalate with agents targeted at other molecules involved in cancer growth.

Mayo Clinic researchers led by Alan Fields, chairman of the Department of Cancer Biology and a co-author of the new report, discovered aurothiomalate in 2006. The drug was once used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

The new discovery is reported in the March 1 issue of Cancer Research.

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Posted in Ailments & Diseases0 Comments

Green Tea May Fight Eye Diseases

HONG KONG, Feb. 22 (UPI) — Chinese researchers say green tea may help fight glaucoma and other eye diseases.

The study, published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, finds the “catechins” in green tea — responsible for much of its strong anti-oxidant effect — pass from the stomach and gastrointestinal tract into the tissues of the eye and raise the possibility drinking green tea may help prevent eye diseases.

Chi Pui Pang of The Chinese University of Hong Kong and colleagues analyzed the eye tissues of laboratory rats that drank green tea. They found the retina absorbed the highest levels of the catchin gallocatechin, while the aqueous humor tended to absorb another known as epigallocatechin.

The effects of green tea catechins in reducing harmful oxidative stress in the eye lasted for up to 20 hours, the study says.

“Our results indicate that green tea consumption could benefit the eye against oxidative stress,” the study authors say in a statement.

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Posted in Ailments & Diseases, Consumption0 Comments

Thousands of New Marine Species Found

SAN DIEGO, Feb. 19 (UPI) — More than 5,000 newly discovered marine creatures are in need of environmental policies that protect vulnerable habitats, scientists in San Diego said.

The new species, part of the Census of Marine Life, were highlighted at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Diego. The census, a decade in the making by more than 2,000 scientists from 80 countries, is to be released officially in October.

The findings reinforced evidence that delicate coral reefs, some of them thousands of years old, are in need of protection from deep-sea trawlers, said Jason Hall-Spencer, a marine biologist from Britain’s University of Plymouth.

“All but one of the reefs I’ve looked at has been very badly damaged by bottom trawling — where a fishing net is dragged along the sea floor,” Hall-Spencer said.

The census included a crab so unusual it was given a new family designation — Kiwaidae, the BBC reported Friday. The crab discovered near Easter Island was named Kiwa hirsuta because it was so hairy looking.

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Posted in Aquatic Life, Policies & Solutions0 Comments

Manatees Struggling with Florida Winter

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Feb. 17 (UPI) — A state wildlife official in Florida said the state’s lengthy winter has wrought havoc on the manatee population, killing dozens and leaving others stressed.

Martine DeWit of the state Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said cold weather has been blamed for 167 of the 301 manatee deaths in Florida this year, and experts suspect cold may have killed another 50 manatees whose bodies could not be recovered, The St. Petersburg Times said Tuesday.

DeWit said manatees tend to die slowly when exposed to cold temperatures, with the animals’ immune systems eventually failing as their fat depletes.

Yet those manatees found dead of cold-related causes this year appear to have died quickly as the animals still had full stomachs and the majority of their fat remaining.

“It happened so quickly that even if we had been right there, I doubt we could have helped them,” DeWit said.

The Times said zoos and other animal sites throughout Florida have taken in a number of manatees stressed from the cold temperatures to help the wild animals survive the winter.

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Posted in Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Animals, Aquatic Life, Conservation, Fish0 Comments

Rhubarb Shows Promise in Fighting Cancer

SHEFFIELD, England, Feb. 13 (UPI) — Rhubarb, especially when cooked, shows potential for killing or preventing cancer cells, researchers at Britain’s Sheffield Hallam University said.

As with many red vegetables, rhubarb contains cancer-fighting polyphenols, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

Baking rhubarb for 20 minutes, as is done with some recipes, increases the concentration of polyphenols, Nikki Jordan-Mahy, a Sheffield biomedical researcher, wrote in a recent issue of the journal Food Chemistry.

Oriental medicinal rhubarb has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Now, Jordan-Mahy said, garden rhubarb grown in Britain has shown medicinal promise, especially a variety grown in South Yorkshire.

Jordan-Mahy’s team is studying a combination of rhubarb polyphenols and chemotherapy agents needed to kill leukemia cells.

“Cancer affects one in three individuals in (Britain) so it’s very important to discover novel, less toxic, treatments, which can overcome resistance,” she said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Ailments & Diseases0 Comments

Illegal Lobster Harvesters Going to Prison

MIAMI, Feb. 3 (UPI) — A federal judge said two men will each spend a year and a day in prison for illegally harvesting lobsters in the Florida Keys.

The Miami Herald said Wednesday in addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King ordered John Buckheim, 23, and Nick Demauro, 24, to serve two years of probation and pay nearly $23,000 in law enforcement costs.

Last October, the two men pleaded guilty to charges they illegally harvested 8,500 pounds of lobsters by using an artificial reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Authorities said the illegal harvesting took place in summer 2008 from Buckheim’s boat.

At the time of Monday’s sentencing, the two men had removed artificial habitats used for lobster harvesting from 300 sites, the Herald reported.

Since both Buckheim’s boat and truck were used in the perpetration of the defendants’ crimes, he was ordered to forfeit the truck and $1,000 for the sale of his boat.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Aquatic Life, Conservation0 Comments

Federal Agents Seize 77 Ozone Generating Medical Devices at Request of FDA

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (UPI) — Federal marshals, at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have seized 77 ozone generators because they had not been proved safe or effective.

The FDA said the generators, models AOS-1M and AOS-1MD valued at $75,000, were seized from Applied Ozone Systems of Auburn, Calif.

FDA inspectors said the medical devices were said to treat cancer, AIDS, hepatitis, herpes and other diseases and conditions, but were produced under poor manufacturing conditions and posed public health risk

“The FDA advises healthcare professionals and consumers to discontinue use of these devices … (because) the FDA has not determined that the seized products are safe and effective in treating the diseases or conditions, and officials at Applied Ozone Systems never responded to a Dec. 21, 2009, FDA request for a voluntary recall of these ozone generators.

“In addition, the agency is concerned that patients who use these AOS ozone devices as directed by the manufacturer may believe that ozone therapy serves as an appropriate treatment and as a result delay or stop conventional or prescribed effective treatment.” officials said. “There is also a risk of infection from potential contamination of the applicator or catheter.”

Ozone generators are devices that produce ozone from oxygen. FDA officials said administration methods suggested by the manufacturer of the seized generators include using a catheter to blow ozonized air into rectal and vaginal areas.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Ailments & Diseases, Healthy Living, Human Health & Wellness, Ozone0 Comments

Report: Green Energy Funds Fall Slightly

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 28 (UPI) — International support for combating climate change has slipped only slightly during the recession, a report presented in Davos, Switzerland, said Thursday.

The unexpected resilience in funding was partly the result of economic stimulus programs that leaned on green energy initiatives and partly the result of the Copenhagen Accord of December 2009 in which the international community pledged $100 billion to help developing countries, a statement issued by the World Economic Forum said.

Funding to combat global warming fell 6 percent from $155 billion in 2008 to $145 billion in 2009, said the report entitled “Green Investing, 2010: Policy Mechanisms to Bridge the Financing Gap.”

A separate report said there was still a huge gap in funding needed to restrict global warming to an average temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius.

The report, “Green Investing: Toward a Low Carbon Energy Infrastructure” said $500 billion per year would be required to keep climate change below that target.

“The world needs a substantial increase in private investment flows into clean energy and energy efficiency if we want to avoid severe impacts of climate change,” said Jack Ehnes, Chief Executive Officer, CalSTRS and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Expert Committee.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Business & Economics, Energy Efficiency, Infrastructure0 Comments

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