Science & Technology

Biology, physics, geology, astronomy, ecology, chemistry, robotics, computers, artificial intelligence, and topics related to these fields.

Unnatural Selection: Genetically-Modified, Malaria-Proof Mosquitoes

— Filed under: Breaking News, Science & Technology
None - This image is in the public domain and ...

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Scientists have at long last succeeded in creating a mosquito which is immune to the malaria parasite. Via genetic modification they have shortened the insect's lifespan by 20%, which deprives the parasite of sufficient time to mature in the mosquito's gut. The LA Times states that the researchers "don't yet understand how the genetic change makes the mosquitoes malaria-proof." That doesn't diminish the tremendous potential it represents for tropical regions around the world, where malaria remains a major scourge and kills nearly 1 million people each year.

According to the BBC, "[the researchers'] ultimate goal is to introduce malaria-resistant mosquitoes into the environment." Professor Michael Riehle, working on the project, elaborates:

"Before we do this, we have to somehow give the mosquitoes a competitive advantage over the disease-carrying insects."

Is Our Society Addicted to Prescription Drugs?

— Filed under: Science & Technology
Fluoxetine HCl 20mg Capsules (Prozac)

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On a recent trip back to the United States I was shocked by the amount of commercials on TV advertising prescription drugs. It seems that pharmaceutical companies have developed a drug for just about every little problem we have. But is it healthy for us, our society and the environment? Are doctors too quick to prescribe medication as a solution to all our little problems?

In the USA there are over 200 million prescriptions for antidepressants every year. This is in spite of research which has shown they only work marginally better on a patient than a placebo pill This must have a negative impact on society as a whole.… Continues …

When will the world find independence from oil?

— Filed under: Politics & Government, Science & Technology

The Largest Mass Poisoning in Human History

— Filed under: People & Culture, Science & Technology
Arsenic poisoning

Image by AJC1 via Flickr

The effects of arsenic poisoning

It has been called "the largest mass poisoning in history" by the World Health Organization, and "beyond the accidents of Bhopal, India, in 1984 and Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986." The exposure of 77 million Bangladeshis (half of the country's population) to toxic levels of arsenic over the past several decades has potentially killed or shortened the lives of millions. On Saturday, the British medical journal The Lancet released the results of a ten-year study of 12,000 Bangladeshis which concluded that fully 20% of deaths were directly attributable to arsenic poisoning from ground-well contamination.

What's more, it appears that reducing their exposure to arsenic doesn't reduce their chances of dying. In short, for those who have already been poisoned, it may take up to twenty years before their health improves.… Continues …

The Future is Now: "Pain Ray" Weapon in Afghanistan

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government, Science & Technology
An operational version of the Active Denial Sy...

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The United States is considering testing a new microwave weapon in Afghanistan, a "pain ray" which causes unbearable pain akin to being burned. The military denies that any decision has been made to commence testing the Active Denial System, but admits that the weapon is in Afghanistan and is being discussed for potential use.

According to the Air Force, the Active Denial System has been heavily tested. However, one test subject had to be airlifted to a burn center for treatment, and questions remain as to whether the weapon can be used safely.… Continues …

Sperm Whales Not the Cure for Global Warming

— Filed under: Breaking News, Science & Technology
Sperm whale from above

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An interesting article which seems to have hit every news outlet over the last 6 days in relation to the benefits of sperm whale faeces has been stated before, over 20 years ago. The report by Australian university Flinders suggests that sperm whale waste could help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

Sperm whales produce up to 50 tons of iron per year via defecation, which is usually deposited in the upper waters and helps phytoplankton flourish. Phytoplankton naturally absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, and the reports suggest that the amount absorbed could be twice the amount that the sperm whales produce from breathing.… Continues …

Oh My God, We're All Gonna Die!

— Filed under: Science & Technology
Betelgeuse art ESO

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Or not, depending on who you talk to. The latest buzz is that Betelgeuse, a red supergiant and the ninth brightest star in the sky, is about to go supernova in the next few weeks or months. Apparently the panic originated from a forum posting, which claimed to have firsthand information from an astronomer in Mauna Kea. Although not predicting immediate annihilation for Earth, the author postulated that the bright explosion would cause 24-hour daylight and might destroy crops. That posting has been elaborated upon here, and debunked here.

It seems as though every few months we're subjected to warnings of some new disaster that threatens to destroy us. We're told that swine flu could kill hundreds of millions around the globe. We're warned that global warming will melt the polar ice caps and raise the sea levels much sooner than anticipated, wreaking havoc worldwide. We're shown via Hollywood that the world will end in 2012. The world didn't end as predicted in 2000, but it certainly went a little crazy as programmers raced to fix "the millennium bug". And apparently we're under constant threat from unknown and untracked asteroids which could demolish the Earth at any moment.… Continues …

Evolution vs. Creation?

— Filed under: People & Culture, Science & Technology

How much TV do you watch every day?

— Filed under: Science & Technology
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