Sep 24, 2008 | 21
According to the latest report from the Associated Press, dairy products made in China and contaminated with a chemical called melamine have sickened at least 54,000 babies and killed four. In the wake of the outbreak, first reported two weeks ago, a dozen countries, mostly in Africa and Asia have banned import of Chinese dairy products, including powered milk, baby formula, ice cream and yogurt. New Zealand authorities are now warning its citizens not to eat White Rabbit Creamy Candies; the international supermarket giant Tesco pulled the product from shelves (in groceries from from Britain to Malaysia) after the sweets were found to contain high levels of melamine.
So what is it?
Sep 17, 2008 | 4
Chinese state television reported yesterday that an industrial contaminant was found in samples from more than 20 companies that manufacture baby milk powder. One of these companies exported its formula to Bangladesh, Myanmar and Yemen, according to the Associated Press; tainted powder may also have entered Gabon and Burundi. Chinese officials launched a probe of 175 baby-formula makers last week, after more than 6,000 babies fed the stuff became ill and three infants died.
The Food and Drug Administration says it's unlikely that any of the poisoned baby formula is on U.S. stores shelves. "There is no known threat of contamination in infant formula manufactured by companies that have met the requirements to sell infant formula in the United States," it said in a statement. But the agency added that officials were investigating further to make sure that it was not being sold in " specialty markets which serve [the U.S.'s] Asian community."
Aug 29, 2008 | 14
Actor David Duchovny, best known for his role as Fox Mulder on the FOX TV series The X-Files and its related movies, checked himself into a rehab facility for sex addiction, according to news reports and a statement released by his lawyer yesterday.
Duchovny, 48, is married to actress Tea Leoni; they have two children. He is currently starring in the Showtime series Californication. In it, he plays a curmudgeonly writer named Hank Moody with self-destructive tendencies—among them a lecherous lifestyle.
In 2000, ScientificAmerican.com's own Ivan Oransky wrote a story about sex addiction—which is still not officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association—for Rx.magazine. In the piece, John Sealy, a Torrance, Calf.-based psychiatrist calls the condition that has been said to plague 8 percent of men and 3 percent of women as "a pathological relationship with a mood-altering experience with associated denial of escalating adverse consequences and/or loss of control." (Well, that clears it up.)
Aug 25, 2008 | 3
By picking Joe Biden as a running mate, Barack Obama may have reassured the electorate about his lack of experience and foreign policy bona fides, according to some pundits. But the coal-state senator may have also taken a step toward shoring up his enviro cred.
The Delaware senator is as serious as a heart attack about energy policy—a point The Wall Street Journal's Jeffrey Ball made this weekend.
Biden has been harping on the need for a new energy initiatives for years. When he sat on a Real Time with Bill Maher panel in the spring of 2006, he called 9/11 a "squandered opportunity" for enacting new socialized energy programs. The American public at that point, he claims, was uniquely united in acting for the greater public good.
Aug 19, 2008 | 3
Scientists have created red blood cells from human embryonic stem cells, in a step that they say could mean an infinite source of blood for transfusions.
According to the American Red Cross, 15 million units of blood are donated in the U.S. each year. Fourteen million units are transfused into Americans every year. The World Health Organization notes that people still die—especially in developing countries—because of an inadequate blood supply.
The team at Worcester, Mass.-based Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) says that if they can develop type-O negative blood—so-called "universal donor" blood because the body's immune system will not reject it—there could be an inexhaustible supply. They were able to grow type A, type B, and type O blood, but did not make type O negative. ACT's chief scientific officer Robert Lanza told Wired News that he doesn't think it will be a problem to make oodles of O negative.
Aug 18, 2008
On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever treatment for Huntington's disease—the crippling illness that killed folksinger Woody Guthrie and that plagues 30,000 Americans.
Tetrabenazine, known commercially as Xenazine, was originally developed in the 1950s to treat symptoms of psychosis. It's not a cure-all for sufferers of the disease. Rather, it addresses a primary symptom of Huntington's—which is seen in 90 percent of patients: involuntary, spastic movements. According to a 2006 study, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center were able to reduce these movements in 54 patients by an average of 25 percent.
Aug 11, 2008 | 1
Score one for athletes over sportswriters: Basketball players are nearly twice as good as sportswriters at predicting whether a shot will go in the basket.
According to new research appearing in Nature Neuroscience, 'ballers can imagine the shooting motion of another player to predict whether a basketball shot is headed for nothing but net or will brick off the rim. The key to their trick: the muscles that control the pinky finger.
Sportswriters’ pinky fingers, it seems, are too busy hitting “return” and punctuating.
Researchers at Rome's Sapienza University showed footage of a man shooting free throws to 10 players from Italy's professional basketball league, five coaches, five sports journalists and 10 college students, who do not play the game. Their task: Predict whether the shooter's next shot will go in.
Aug 8, 2008 | 4
Viruses are world champion parasites—think of all the trouble they give us, from Ebola to HIV. Now French researchers have discovered a viral first … a virus that infects another virus.
A virus that scientists are calling Sputnik was found in a newly discovered strain of so-called mimivirus, which is the world's largest known virus. Virologist Jean-Michel Claverie, of France's National Center for Scientific Research and a team from the University of the Mediterranean in Marseille, happened upon the strain of mimivirus swimming in the water of a Parisian cooling tower. When they peeked inside the viral particle, they discovered Sputnik, which consists of only 21 genes.
Aug 4, 2008 | 1
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) missed more than 16,000 new HIV infections in its last tally of the disease, according to a new analysis.
The CDC reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association yesterday that its 2006 estimate of new HIV infections in the U.S. was 40 percent off: 56,000 contracted the human immunodeficiency virus—the virus that leads to full-blown AIDS—that year, not 40,000.
Here's why they got it wrong: First, previous estimates relied on extrapolating from limited data taken from small studies on HIV incidence in high-risk populations, like men who have sex with men. Also, the earlier estimates did not take advantage of a new HIV test (called STARHS or Serological Testing Algorithm for Recent HIV Seroconversion), which can tell whether a person has been infected within the last six months. Beforehand, researchers only knew that someone had been diagnosed with HIV, not when someone contracted the virus—and many people diagnosed with HIV contracted it several months or even years prior.
Jul 31, 2008 | 2
Peppers were apparently the perps in the salmonella outbreak that sickened some 1,300 people in the U.S. and Canada since April. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it traced the responsible bacterial strain—Salmonella Saintpaul—to a Serrano pepper grown on a Mexican farm that irrigated its fields with water contaminated with it.
The farm is located in Nuevo Leon, in northeastern Mexico, about 100 miles southwest of McAllen, Tex., where authorities last week found a salmonella-tainted jalapeño at a packing plant owned by Agricola Zarigosa. It traced that pepper back to a farm in Mexican state of Tamaulipas.
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