Earth Hour 2009

•March 30, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here is a video about Earth Hour 2009, which is turning into an international-wide initiative to combat global warming.  This event was held on March 28, 2009.

Baby Mental Illness Chances Increases with Father’s Age

•March 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

There has been some recent findings that the older the father’s age gets, the higher the chances of having a newborn acquiring a mental illness at a later stage in his or her life or at birth.

The cutoff age seems to be at around 40-years-old, where the chances of autism, schizophrenia, “birth defects, cleft lip and palate, water on the brain, dwarfism, miscarriage and decreased intellectual capacity” can ensue. Quite a lot to swallow, huh?

Well the stats get more serious.

“Children born to fathers 40 or older had nearly a sixfold increase in the risk of autism as compared with kids whose fathers were younger than 30, and children of fathers older than 50 had a ninefold risk of autism,” according to an article in Scientific American Magazine.

Children are born all the time – and people die all the time as well.  There has to be a balance.  The problem is that this equilibrium is offset when children are born with these birth-defects or acquire an inhibitory disease later in life due to the age of the child’s parent(s)  (As an aside, the chances of a baby getting Down Syndrome also increases as the mother’s age increases).  These problems and diseases are natural and can occur even if the father is young or below 30-years of age. 

Having a child and knowing that he or she will have one of these debilitating diseases later in life or throughout his or her life is one of the hardest things to deal with.  A good parent knows, however, that love must be unconditional for a child, because at the very least, it’s not the child’s fault.  That does not imply that it is the parent’s fault either— sometimes these things happen.  There isn’t always an explanation for things, but the healthcare system and physicians/other medical professionals are out there to make these issues easier to handle, and it’s nice to know that there are indiviuduals who are sensitive toward this subject and who understand a thing or two about how to make the child’s life better.  

A child’s life is a gift, so is life in general in all its forms, and although certain complications may occur, the child deserves all of the opportunities that any other child would receive and then some.  

The article that cites much of this information and goes into much greater detail can be found here

Video Games Holds Promise to Improve Vision

•March 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Recently, there has been research that has proved the case that playing action-packed video games, like Unreal Tournament and Halo, actualyl improves contrast sensitivity naturally.  

It was previosuly thought that this type of improvement could only be done with eyeglasses, contacts or surgery, until an article published by Nature Neuroscience revealed otherwise.  

The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by University of Rochester in New York professor of brain and cognitive sciences Daphne Bavelier.  As mentioned in an article in Scientific American Magazine, “research published in 2007 in the journal Psychological Science and 2003 in Nature indicated that action-filled video games significantly sharpen vision, helping the brain focus on visually complex situations, keep track of multiple items at once and process fast-changing information.”

It is amazing that video games have come such a long way from Atari gaming to mega-bit and top technological advancements in new and improved gamer interfaces.  The amazing part is not that, however, but in the miraculous realization that visual acuity and contrast sensitivity can be posivitely modified simply by playing a large quantity of action-packed video games.

Now, these video games aren’t puzzle, Pac-man-like games that tantalize strategy-making parts of the brain.  Rather, they are first-shooter, sports and driving simulation games, such as Halo and Call fo Duty, Madden and Fifa, and Gran Turismo.  Even Grand Theft Auto would fit into this criteria, which is mind-boggling if one thinks about the positive possiblities of altering the cognitive receipt of the information stemming from the retina in the brain.  In other words, these video games can potentially alter the way the brain receives information from the retina, ultimately “training the brain to make better use of this information.”  

Play on gamers!

The article can be found here

Hormones in Food Additives – – – taste-ay

•March 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here is an article published by Scientific American Magazine about how food additives already in the food supply can potentially alter human hormones.

Click Here 

Solar Energy and the DOE

•March 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The Department of Energy recently announced that  Solyndra Inc., a solar energy company based in Fremont, Calif., will receive $535 million.  This is the DOE’s  first alternative-energy loan guarantee, which “break[s] a four-year logjam in the federal loan program.”

According to Scientific American Magazine, “the company plans to use the money to ramp up production of its cylindrical, thin-film solar panels that lie flat on rooftops.”

Also according to a New York Times article, the $535 million will accomodate for rughly 75 percent of future projects costs, and this movement has the potential to create a consortium of jobs, ranging from construction, manufacturing and installation.  “Once the panels are installed and producing power, the company said, they will generate up to 15 gigawatts of electricity and save some 300 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.”

This loan guarentee must still be finally approved before any money can be dispersed or earmarked, for a program that was initially approved by Congress in 2005.  “The application process has been hindered by bureaucratic inertia and lengthy reviews of hundreds of applications for more than $40 billion in loan guarantees.”

It is extremely important to impose oversight regarding these loans to ensure that the money goes into the technology and materials necessary to promote a modern solar energy acquisition.  In times of economic stagnation and environmental conflict (global warming), these sorts of legislation and proposals are pragmatic strategies to lift a nation out of the subsoil and into the playing fields.  It is important to act with haste, while also organizing proper management to assure that the monies are directed smoothly and the technology is utilized at ahigh threshold.

Picture by Solyndra Inc.

Picture by Solyndra Inc.

Happy World Water Day

•March 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Today is World Water Day, which is the 16th annual United Nations-sponsored water awareness day.  The main goal of this long-held initiative is to “up knowledege about all of the bodies of fresh water (263 by the U.N.’s count) that cross – or create – international borders.”

This is a vital objective, especially as the demand for water has been increasing, even in the superpower United States where the demand for water has increased by 300 %, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to an article posted on the Scientific American Magazine website, “More than half of the world’s population lives in river basins shared with other countries, according to the U.N., yet only 16 countries (Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, South Africa, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic and Uzbekistan) have signed the group’s Convention on Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses (an agreement to ensure countries don’t hog or harm shared water resources).”

The global need for water is immensely important, and its uses ranges from energy, sanitation, health and food to other benefits.  Any initiative that is aimed at promoting awareness concerning these issues should be praised with high regard, especially at the present time where global warming is threatening standing water and is ruining ecosystems and habitats, along with millions and millions of human lives.

 

Irresistable Antibiotics?

•March 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here is a story by Scientific American Magazine that discusses new developments in antibiotics and pharmacology.

Click here