Archive | History

Uranus May Have Been Cosmic 'pinball'

PARIS, Sept. 17 (UPI) — Jupiter and Saturn may have played a game of cosmic “pinball” with the planet Uranus before finally tossing it into its present orbit, French researchers say.

Computer simulations have shown that Jupiter and Saturn moved out of their orbits in the early history of the solar system, scattering other nearby orbiting objects, NewScientist.com reports.

Alessandro Morbidelli of the Cote d’Azur Observatory in France says simulations show Uranus crossing the path of Saturn, which could then have flung it towards Jupiter, which lobbed it back to Saturn.

The process might have repeated itself three times before Uranus was finally thrown beyond Saturn to where it now resides, the simulations show.

Morbidelli says the simulation of this pinball game, which would have lasted just 100,000 years, fits with observations.

“The evolution of the giant planets has been more violent than we thought,” Morbidelli says.

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Activists Say Cod Increase 'misleading'

OTTAWA, Sept. 17 (UPI) — Conservationists say data showing strong growth in cod numbers off Canada’s east coast may lead to pressure to revive commercial fishing, banned since 1994.

The World Wildlife Fund announced Thursday the cod population on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland had jumped by 69 per cent from numbers taken in 2007.

But biologist Jeff Hutchings says cod are still in a precarious state, representing just a 10th of historic levels seen in the 1960s.

Hutchings said he is worried that politicians will be lobbied to open up commercial activity.

“All too often, certain sectors of the fishing industry look to very short-term increases, think about their short-term interests and increase pressure on politicians and whomever to increase quotas,” Hutchings told Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News.

In the past, fishing interests have lobbied for commercial activity to resume before a stock can adequately recover, he said.

“Sadly, that’s been the history of fishery reopenings and catch-quota increases,” he said.

Gus Etchegary, a retired Newfoundland fisheries executive turned conservationist, said the WWF’s release is not only misleading but also potentially dangerous.

“Sixty-nine per cent of nothing is nothing,” Etchegary said.

“It’s misinformation beyond belief,” he said. “It’s creating an entirely false expectation and, unfortunately for an organization such as the WWF, it’s irresponsible.”

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New Details of Moon's Surface Revealed

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 (UPI) — Our moon was bombarded by two distinct waves of asteroids or comets in its youth, leaving it surface more complex than previously thought, U.S. scientists say.

New results from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft are featured in papers appearing in the Sept. 17 issue of Science, NASA said in a release Thursday.

LRO data shows there were two separate populations of impacts on the moon’s surface with the earlier period featuring much larger impacts than the later assault, James Head of Brown University wrote in a study.

The rich record of craters on the moon can give clues to the effects of similar impacts in Earth’s early history, he said.

“The moon is thus analogous to a Rosetta stone for understanding the bombardment history of the Earth,” Head said. “Like the Rosetta stone, the lunar record can be used to translate the ‘hieroglyphics’ of the poorly preserved impact record on Earth.”

Previous lunar maps had different resolutions, viewing angles and lighting conditions, which made it hard to consistently identify and count craters. Head and his team used instruments aboard the NASA orbiter to build a map that highlights lunar craters with unprecedented clarity, they 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: Glaciers May Help Mountains Grow

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Sept. 15 (UPI) — Glaciers, long believed responsible for eroding and wearing down the Earth’s mountain ranges, can actually encourage mountain growth, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists at Yale University say glaciers in the southern Andes in South America may have in fact acted as a kind of protective shield during the mountain range’s 25 million-year history, a university release said Wednesday.

Until now, scientists thought glaciers always erode mountains. Above the tree line, where glaciers remain permanently frozen, scientists believed the masses of ice carve away at the mountain face as they slide down its surface — an idea known as the “buzz saw theory.”

But in the southern Andes, researchers say, they found just the opposite.

Rather than carving away at the mountain peaks, the glaciers instead seem to have helped the mountains grow.

“The glaciers act like armor to protect the uplifting mountains from erosion, allowing them to reach heights well above those predicted by the glacial buzz saw theory,” Yale geologist Mark Brandon said.

In the far southern Patagonian Andes the glaciers remain cold enough that their bases are frozen and stuck to the mountain surface, Brandon said.

Whereas warmer glaciers melt at their base and slide down the mountain, these colder glaciers appear to have provided an icy shield, he 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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U.S. Panel to Discuss Pulling Diet Drug

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (UPI) — A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee says it will discuss removing the diet drug Meridia from the market because of health concerns.

The drug, already pulled from shelves in Europe, has been the focus of an ongoing FDA safety review of side effects in patients with a history of heart disease or diabetes, The Wall Street Journal reported.

On Wednesday, the agency’s endocrinologic and metabolic drugs advisory committee, made up of non-FDA medical experts, will be asked to vote on what additional regulatory action it thinks the FDA should take, or if the product should be withdrawn from the U.S. market, the newspaper said.

The FDA usually follows the advice of its advisory committees but isn’t required to do so.

The panel will discuss a clinical study conducted in patients with a history of heart disease or diabetes. It showed patients on Meridia had a higher rate of cardiovascular events compared to patients on a placebo medication.

Given the modest decrease in body weight seen with most patients taking Meridia, “even a small increase in cardiovascular risk seems unwarranted,” an FDA memo said.

Abbott Laboratories, the makers of Meridia, said it supports placing a boxed warning on the product giving doctors “advice on monitoring and discontinuation of therapy based on blood pressure, pulse and weight loss parameters.”

A boxed warning is the FDA’s toughest warning on a drug label.

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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Men Should Track Yearly PSA Numbers

HOUSTON, Sept. 9 (UPI) — A urologist at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston suggests men who get prostate-specific antigen tests should track the results.

Dr. John W. Davis, an assistant professor, says the PSA test is a simple blood test that measures the amount of PSA — a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland in a man’s bloodstream — that men usually get beginning at age 40.

“Recent reports have debated the usefulness of the PSA test, but men should not write off this exam,” Davis says in a statement. “It’s still an effective way to track trends in your prostate over time.”

The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center recommends men age 50 and older, with no family history of prostate cancer, get a prostate cancer screening exam annually, but African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer should be screened beginning at age 45.

“If you decide to do the PSA test after talking to your doctor, start tracking your PSA levels as soon as you begin testing,” Davis says. He suggests to:

– Download M.D. Anderson’s PSA tracking tool at www.mdanderson.org/focusedonhealth as an easy way to track PSA levels.

– Note the testing standard used to find your PSA level each year.

– Ask the doctor for the actual PSA number. Don’t just record the results as normal or elevated.

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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Angelina Jolie Visits Pakistan to Plead for Flood Relief

Angelina Jolie visited flood ravaged Pakistan this week to bring attention to that country’s humanitarian plight. Speaking with CNN, Jolie said there is “no choice but to be optimistic and to have hope.”

Despite this optimism, the situation in Pakistan is dire, with millions injured and displaced.

“The floods here in Pakistan have affected almost 21 million people — it is one of the biggest humanitarian crises the world has seen,” said Valerie Amos, the UN humanitarian chief.

So far, 1,738 people have died from the floods and resulting diseases, according to the Pakistan Disaster Authority. Additionally, water-borne illnesses have been spreading rapidly. Over 1 million Pakistanis have serious diarrhea and other infections. About 65,000 cases of malaria have also been reported.

While visiting, Jolie toured the flood ravaged areas of Pakistan, including the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region near Afghanistan. Jolie is in Pakistan as the personal envoy of UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

The UN and Jolie hope the visit will focus additional attention of the terrible situation in Pakistan and help lead to more financial support. Of the $460 million requested by the UN so far, only $294 million has been donated. According to Maurizio Giuliano, the spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the flooding in Pakistan is “one of the worst humanitarian disasters in UN history, in terms of number of people that we have to assist and also the area covered.”

Link to this article: http://www.ecoworld.com/nature/natural-disasters/angelina-jolie-visits-pakistan-to-plead-for-flood-relief.html

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Pa. Kayaker Finds Ancient Tree Fossil

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 6 (UPI) — A Pennsylvania man kayaking on a local river found a tree fossil embedded in a rock at the river’s side that experts say is almost 300 million years old.

Shaun Blackham of Demont, Pa., was paddling his kayak on the Kiskiminetas River in Armstrong County in July when he spotted the fossil imprinted on the surface of a rock, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

“There it was, staring me right in the face,” said Blackham, 45.

The plant fossil was 3 to 4 feet long and 10 to 14 inches wide.

Blackham kayaked back to the site later and photographed the fossil.

He e-mailed the photos to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

Museum geologist Albert Kollar recognized the fossil as bark from a now-extinct lepidodendron tree, a large, palm-like tree that grew in coal swamps during the Carboniferous period of the Paleozoic Era.

“It was a pretty interesting find,” Kollar said.

Blackham has enjoyed history and the outdoors since childhood, he said, and has found other, smaller fossils in the area.

“This kind of brought the kid out in me again,” he said. “I always thought it would be cool to find something of this magnitude.”

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 Coal, History, Other0 Comments

Dopamine Genes Linked to Lower Grades

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 5 (UPI) — The brain chemical dopamine may negatively impact grades, Florida State University researchers suggest.

Kevin Beaver and colleagues linked a variant in a gene known as DAT1 — with marginally negative effects on English grades and no apparent effect on math, history or science. However, a variant in the DRD2 gene correlated with a markedly negative effect on grades in all four subjects. Single DRD4 variant students had significantly lower grades in English and math, but only marginally lower grades in history and science. As certain dopaminergic gene variants increased, grade point average decreased.

“For example, the GPA of a student with specific variants of three dopaminergic genes might be around 2.8, versus a GPA of around 3.3 without the variants,” lead author Beaver said in a statement. “That could mean the difference between being accepted into a college versus being rejected.”

Beaver suggests genetic liability for low GPA could be moderated by environmental conditions such as school structural characteristics, teacher performance or behavior of other students.

The study, published in Intelligence, was based on DNA and lifestyle data from a representative group of 2,500 U.S. middle- and high-school students tracked from 1994 to 2008 as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

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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School Athletes May Need Longer Phys. Exam

DALLAS, Sept. 4 (UPI) — Some schools only require a cursory medical review for athletes on teams but advanced athletes may need a more thorough medical exam, a doctor says.

Dr. Robert Dimeff, director of primary care sports medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, says a full history and medical exam can help detect problems early, help avoid inflaming old injuries and establish critical baseline information in case of concussions or other injuries. This is also the time to inform the doctor of any relative who has had early cardiac disease, Marfan syndrome or sudden cardiac death — particularly in relatives younger than age 50.

Dimeff suggests parents consider the following screening and baseline tests:

– A routine musculoskeletal screening exam to evaluate injuries that may not have fully resolved from previous seasons or during the summer.

– Baseline computerized neuropsychological testing programs — such as ImPACT, HeadMinder or CogSport — for athletes participating in contact sports like football, soccer or for those who had a previous concussion.

– Vision screening to determine the need for glasses.

Weight, nutrition, supplements and off-season training should all be discussed with the physician and mention any new diseases, medications or surgeries since the prior year to determine if there are special requirements. The doctor should also determine if all immunizations are up to date, including tetanus.

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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