LHC gets its own rap song
You know a science experiment has arrived when a rap song extolling its virtues just hit YouTube. After 14 years, CERN, the European particle physics lab near Geneva, is getting ready to switch on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), designed to seek out new particles including the long-awaited Higgs boson and the possible source of dark matter as well as study the differences between matter and antimatter. The lab says it plans to send the first particles through the LHC's 17-mile- (27-kilometer-) diameter ring in early September and gradually bring it up to full speed over two months. In honor of the impending start-up, Alpinekat, aka Kate McAlpine, a science writer for CERN, has produced a five-minute rap video starring herself and friends dancing in the bowels of the machine. McAlpine's rap, written during her 40-minute bus commute from Geneva to CERN, gives a rhythmic tour of the mysteries of modern physics and the workings of the LHC, noting that "the things that it discovers will rock you in the head." It even has a good hook.
Peter Piper (actually the FDA) picked a pack of poison peppers
Peppers were apparently the perps in the salmonella outbreak that sickened some 1,300 people in the U.S. and Canada since April. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced this week that it had traced the responsible bacterial strain, Salmonella Saintpaul, to a serrano pepper grown on a Mexican farm that irrigated its fields with water contaminated by the bug. The farm is located in Nuevo Leon in northeastern Mexico, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of McAllen, Tex., where authorities last week found a salmonella-tainted jalapeño pepper at a packing plant owned by Agricola Zarigoza, Inc. Government officials warned consumers last week not to eat fresh jalapeños and have since added serranos—but the advisory only covers peppers grown in Mexico. FDA officials says tomatoes, once considered prime suspects in the outbreak, are safe to eat but caution that those grown on a second Mexican farm may have played an early role.
New drug shows early promise in Alzheimer's trial
A drug called PBT2, developed by Australian company Prana Biotechnology, appears to improve cognitive abilities in patients with early-stage Alzheimer's disease and reduce protein buildup blamed for the debilitating neurological disorder, researchers report in The Lancet Neurology. After a 12-week course of 250 milligrams of the experimental med daily, patients scored significantly better than untreated study participants on tests analyzing executive functions (organizational skills, planning and reasoning). The drug also appeared to reduce the amount of the protein amyloid beta (which forms toxic plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients) by decreasing the levels of metals such as zinc and copper. These metals help amyloid beta congeal into harmful clumps. Researchers say larger, longer clinical trials are needed to prove the drug's safety and effectiveness before it can be approved for sale.