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Falls Are Leading Cause of Injury in China

BALTIMORE, Aug. 6 (UPI) — Falls cause more than two-thirds of all injuries to Chinese 65 and older, Chinese and U.S. researchers say.

Researchers in China and at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Injury Research and Policy in Baltimore find 70 percent of all injuries occurred in the home or in the street, with public buildings being the third most common place of injury for rural residents.

The study, published in Injury Prevention, finds divorced elders have 4.6 times the risk of injury, and widowed elders have 2.2 times greater risk, as those elderly who are single.

“The identification of the most common locations and causes of injury is useful for the development of interventions and priorities,” study author Susan Baker of John’s Hopkins says in a statement. “The results indicate the divorced and widowed elderly should be targeted as high-risk groups for injury. Prevention programs for all major causes of injury need to be developed as soon as possible in China.”

Baker and colleagues analyzed data from the 2008 National Health Services Survey of China — an assessment of health services needs conducted every five years based on face-to-face interviews with representatives from more than 56,000 households.

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Tiny Robot Proves Adept Wall Climber

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 5 (UPI) — A robot that can climb like a human rock climber may have many applications, its inventor says, but he also admits it’s a “really cool toy.”

Developed at the University of Utah, ROCR — as in “rocker” — uses two claws, a motor and a tail that swings like a clock’s pendulum to clamber up an 8-foot carpeted wall in a little more than 15 seconds, like a human rock climber or an ape swinging from branch to branch in trees, a university release said Wednesday.

“While this robot eventually can be used for inspection, maintenance and surveillance,” developer William Provancher, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, says, “probably the greatest short-term potential is as a teaching tool or as a really cool toy.”

Most climbing robots “are intended for maintenance or inspection in environments such as the exteriors of buildings, bridges or dams, storage tanks, nuclear facilities or reconnaissance within buildings,” Provancher says.

But “there’s a lot more work to be done” before climbing robots are in common use, he says.

Compared to some large climbing robots that can weigh in at hundreds of pounds, ROCR is small and lightweight at 12.2 inches wide, 18 inches tall and weighing only 1.2 pounds.

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.

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'Minority Report' Billboards Are Coming

WINCHESTER, England, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Billboards like those depicted in the film “Minority Report” that “recognized” Tom Cruise’s character to deliver targeted ads may be here soon, scientists say.

Researchers at an IBM laboratory near Winchester, England, say they are working on technology that will have consumers being shown tailor made ads based on their personal interests, The Daily Telegraph reported Sunday.

Digital advertising screens are showing up in train stations, on bus stops and on the sides of buildings, although for now they only show generic ads, the newspaper said.

The technology would make use of wireless technology tags, knows as RFID chips, increasingly being used in transport passes, credit cards, cellphones and other personal devices.

If the chips were encoded with personal information, digital advertising billboards could identify people as they passed by and display advertising based on shopping habits and personal preferences, researchers say.

Japanese engineers have already developed a billboard capable of identifying shoppers’ age and gender as they walk past, using cameras and facial recognition software, to offer products more accurately suited to them, the newspaper 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.

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Study: New Yorkers Should Expect More Heat

NEW YORK, July 29 (UPI) — New Yorkers should brace themselves for more frequent and more intense heat waves in the future, climate scientists say.

Temperatures like those baking the city this month are likely to continue, and their effects will be particularly felt in densely built urban environments like Manhattan, a City College of New York release said Wednesday.

Overnight temperatures during a recent heat wave were 10 to 15 degrees lower in outlying suburban areas than in Manhattan, CCNY researchers say.

“Manhattan is subject to an urban heat island effect because its physical landscape is significantly different from the surrounding suburbs,” Jorge Gonzalez of CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering said. “This makes heat waves here more intense because Manhattan cannot cool off as readily as outlying areas.”

High temperatures do not dissipate as quickly in Manhattan as in other areas because of the large amount of stored energy contained in its massive buildings, Gonzalez said.

“While surrounding suburban and green areas may perceive the same maximum temperatures,” he said, “the built regions will perceive them for longer periods of time.”

Factors exacerbating the urban heat island effect include energy demand, air quality, asphalt surfaces and exhaust fumes, the CCNY release said.

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NYC to Use Low-sulfur Oil, Improves Health

NEW YORK, July 29 (UPI) — The New York City Council is expected to agree to cut sulfur levels in half by requiring buildings to burn low-sulfur oil to improve health, officials said.

Mayor Bloomberg and council leaders agreed on legislation that requires buildings to burn low-sulfur No. 4 oil by October 2011. The fuel contains 1,500 parts per million of sulfur — vs. the current standard of 3,000 ppm — and will emit 40 percent less soot pollution.

“New Yorkers burn more than 1 billion gallons of heating oil each year and by changing the type of oil we use, we will reduce pollutants and spend less money on maintaining and operating our heating systems, while simultaneously reducing our dependence on overseas sources of energy,” Bloomberg says in a statement. “But most importantly, it will help us fight asthma, lengthen lifespans and improve the quality-of-life in neighborhoods throughout our city.”

New York’s sustainability agenda, PlaNYC calls for having the best air quality of any major city in the nation by 2030, Bloomberg says.

Burning of heating fuels accounts for nearly 14 percent of fine particulate matter pollutants — which contain heavy metals and other pollutants that damage lungs and hearts, contribute to asthma and decrease life expectancy. More pollution comes from heating oil than from vehicles or power plants, Bloomberg says.

The new heating oil is required to contain 2 percent biodiesel that may use cooking grease from city restaurants.

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.

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'Cool' Roofs Could Combat Climate Change

BERKELEY, Calif., July 20 (UPI) — Light-colored rooftops and roads could significantly cut emissions and combat global climate change by cooling cities and the world, researchers say.

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California say cool roofs and cool pavements in cities around the world could cancel the heating effect of up to two years of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions, ScienceDaily.com reported Tuesday.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced efforts at the Department of Energy to implement cool roof technologies on department facilities and on buildings across the federal government, ScienceDaily said.

“Cool roofs are one of the quickest and lowest cost ways we can reduce our global carbon emissions and begin the hard work of slowing climate change,” said Chu.

Berkeley Lab researchers found that increasing the reflectivity of roof and pavement materials in cities with a population greater than 1 million would achieve a one-time offset of CO2 emissions double the worldwide CO2 emissions levels in 2006.

“These offsets help delay warming that would otherwise take place if actual CO2 emissions are not reduced,” Berkeley Lab scientist Surabi Menon said.

“Cool roofs have worked for thousands of years in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cities, where demand for air conditioning is low,” Menon’s colleague Hashem Akbari said. “If you have a cool roof on your house, that will reduce your energy use from air conditioning and it’s a gift that keeps on giving for many, many years, for the life of the roof.”

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.

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New Facial Bones Could Be 'engineered'

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., July 12 (UPI) — An engineering technique used to design high-rise buildings may soon give facial reconstruction patients better chances of a good outcome, U.S. researchers say.

An engineering design technique called topology optimization can be used to aid in bone replacement that improves the patient’s ability to chew, swallow, speak and even breathe, a University of Illinois release said Monday.

“The mid-face is perhaps the most complicated part of the human skeleton,” Glaucio Paulino, a professor of engineering, said. “What makes mid-face reconstruction more complicated is its unusual unique shape (bones are small and delicate) and functions.”

Topology optimization used 3-D modeling to design structures to support specific loads in tight spaces. It is often used in engineering structures, including high-rise buildings, and automobile parts.

“It tells you where to put material and where to create holes,” Paulino said. “Essentially, the technique allows engineers to find the best solution that satisfies design requirements and constraints.”

For bone replacements, surgeons often harvest bones from elsewhere in a patient’s body – the shoulder blade or hip, for example — and reshape them to replace the missing portion.

Topology optimization could create improved bone replacements, based on a 3-D computer model of the patient’s injury and the missing bone parts, researchers say.

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.

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Mangrove Forests Could Combat Tsunamis

WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) — Coastal mangrove forests could substantially reduce the damage from tsunamis like the 2004 disaster that struck Indonesia, researchers say.

A study of an Indonesian coastline ravaged by the December 2004 tsunami has estimated the buffering capacity of intact mangrove forests, which could protect homes and buildings, ScienceNews.org reported Friday.

Forests of mangroves, with their dense, broad networks of thick roots that prop up the trees’ trunks, can absorb the coast-battering energy in tsunamis of various heights, the study says.

Shunichi Koshimura, a civil engineer at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, and his colleagues estimate that a 500-yard-wide forest of 10-year-old mangroves would reduce the force of flowing water in a 10-foot tsunami by 70 percent.

“Mangroves make an effective bioshield against tsunamis,” Koshimura said. “It is not possible to build concrete walls along all the coasts,” he said.

They reported their findings in the Journal of Geophysical Research–Oceans.

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.

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New Facial Bones Could Be 'engineered'

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., July 12 (UPI) — An engineering technique used to design high-rise buildings may soon give facial reconstruction patients better chances of a good outcome, U.S. researchers say.

An engineering design technique called topology optimization can be used to aid in bone replacement that improves the patient’s ability to chew, swallow, speak and even breathe, a University of Illinois release said Monday.

“The mid-face is perhaps the most complicated part of the human skeleton,” Gabriel Paulino, a professor of engineering, said. “What makes mid-face reconstruction more complicated is its unusual unique shape (bones are small and delicate) and functions.”

Topology optimization used 3-D modeling to design structures to support specific loads in tight spaces. It is often used in engineering structures, including high-rise buildings, and automobile parts.

“It tells you where to put material and where to create holes,” Paulino said. “Essentially, the technique allows engineers to find the best solution that satisfies design requirements and constraints.”

For bone replacements, surgeons often harvest bones from elsewhere in a patient’s body – the shoulder blade or hip, for example — and reshape them to replace the missing portion.

Topology optimization could create improved bone replacements, based on a 3-D computer model of the patient’s injury and the missing bone parts, researchers say.

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.

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U.S. Will See 'moon Illusion' Eclipse

WASHINGTON, June 25 (UPI) — A partial lunar eclipse Saturday will appear magnified in the United States by an effect known as the “moon illusion,” scientists say.

In many parts of the United States and Canada, the early Saturday eclipse will appear larger because it will occur while the moon is close to the western horizon, the BBC reported Friday.

At its maximum, 54 percent of the moon’s diameter will be covered. This will occur about 7:30 a.m. EDT, halfway through the 3-hour eclipse event.

Because the moon, sun and Earth aren’t perfectly aligned, the eclipse won’t reach totality, the BBC said.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said when the moon is low-hanging, it looks “unnaturally large when (it) beam(s) through trees, buildings and other foreground objects.”

“Observers in India, Japan, and parts of East Asia will experience the same phenomenon,” NASA wrote on its Web site.

“They’ll see the eclipse on Saturday evening as the moon is rising.”

Because of the timing, the eclipse won’t be visible from Europe, the BBC 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.

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