Science / Technology

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Do you email while drunk?

If so, Gmail has a new feature that will help try and prevent your potentially embarrassing emails from actually being sent out.  It is called “Mail Googles”.  Read about it here.

Mail Googles

Posted by SPN on 10/07 at 09:06 AM
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Friday, September 12, 2008

Please take the time to see “Earthlings”.

As we contemplate our future while discussing the merits of differing fuel sources, let’s also discuss how we treat the least among us, the animals we live with.  This is a very disturbing, but extremely important documentary.

I watched this 80 minute documentary last night and had difficulty going to sleep.  The images were too striking for me to dismiss as isolated events.  Understand that what is presented here is just the trailer.  I’ve read that the video is on Google Videos.  I haven’t checked so I don’t know for sure.

If you are strong enough to watch this video in its entirety, take the time to talk about it to the people in your life that you care about.

“OF ALL THE FILMS I HAVE EVER MADE, THIS IS THE ONETHAT GETS PEOPLE TALKING
THE MOST. FOR EVERY ONE PERSON WHO SEES EARTHLINGS,THEY WILL TELL THREE.”
-Joaquin Phoenix, actor/narrator

“IF I COULD MAKE EVERYONE IN THE WORLD SEE ONE FILM,I’D MAKE THEM SEE EARTHLINGS.”
-Peter Singer, author Animal Liberation

“EARTHLINGS IS THE DEFINITIVE FILM OF ALL TIME THATAMERICANS DON’T WANT TO SEE.”
-Gretchen Wyler, The Humane
Society of the United States

“EARTHLINGS IS THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST OF ANIMALRIGHTS FILMS.”
-Aint It Cool News

“FOR THOSE WHO WATCH EARTHLINGS, THE WORLD WILLNEVER BE THE SAME.”
-Tom Regan, author A Case
for Animal Rights

“EARTHLINGS MAY BE THE MOST POWERFUL FILMEXPERIENCE I HAVE EVER KNOWN!”
-Brent Emery, Senior VP, Maverick Films
“EARTHLINGS IS NOTHING SHORT OF A MASTERPIECE!”
-Lionel Friedberg, producer Animal Planet

“PROVOCATIVE AND DEFIANT. THIS IS A DEFINITIVE MILESTONE!”
-Edmund Stone, In Defense of Animals

“WATCHING EARTHLINGS IS THE GREATEST GIFTI HAVE EVER RECEIVED.
I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW IGNORANT I HAVE BEEN IN THE PAST.”
-Bryce Dallas Howard, actress

“IT IS A RARE EXPERIENCE TO BE CHANGED BY A FILM.  EARTHLINGS HAS THAT POWER.”
-Persia White, actress/activist

“THE MOST POWERFUL MOVIE I HAVE EVER KNOWN."-Robert Cohen, NotMilk.com

“THE CITIZEN KANE OF DOCUMENTARY FILMS.”
-Linda Blair, actress/activist

“A REAL TESTAMENT TO THE QUALITY OF A FILM.EARTHLINGS IS AMAZING!”
-Professor Cristina Gibson, UC Irvine

“ONE OF THE MOST PERSUASIVE MOTION PICTURES EVER MADE!”
-Ron Lipshultz, director
Green Reel Film Festival

“VIEWERS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME."-Carly Harrill, 944 Magazine

“BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM OF THE YEAR!”
-Progressive Awards, PETA

“ABSOLUTELY EPIC!”
-John Feldmann, musician Goldfinger

Posted by SPN on 09/12 at 10:30 AM
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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Paris Hilton for President.

If you came here looking for naked pictures of Paris Hilton, you’ve got the wrong website.

Posted by SPN on 08/07 at 09:53 AM
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Monday, June 09, 2008

Apple releases 8GB iPhone that works on 3G network for only $199!

The new phone comes in black or white
Phone, iPod, and Internet in one fast 3G device.

Introducing iPhone 3G. With fast 3G wireless technology, GPS, support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, and the new App Store, iPhone 3G puts even more amazing features in your hands. And just like the original iPhone, it combines three products in one —a revolutionary phone, a widescreen iPod, and a breakthrough Internet device.

image

Apple Store

Posted by SPN on 06/09 at 02:55 PM
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

FDA Announces That Food From Clones Is Safe To Eat

Agency Concludes that Meat and Milk from Clones of Cattle, Swine, and Goats, and the Offspring of All Clones, are as Safe to Eat as Food from Conventionally Bred Animals

After years of detailed study and analysis, the Food and Drug Administration has concluded that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. There was insufficient information for the agency to reach a conclusion on the safety of food from clones of other animal species, such as sheep.  FDA today issued three documents on animal cloning outlining the agency’s regulatory approach – a risk assessment; a risk management plan; and guidance for industry.  The documents were originally released in draft form in December 2006. Since that time, the risk assessment has been updated to include new scientific information. That new information reinforces the food safety conclusions of the drafts.  In 2001, U.S. producers agreed to refrain from introducing meat or milk from clones or their progeny into the food supply until FDA could further evaluate the issue. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will convene stakeholders to discuss efforts to provide a smooth and orderly market transition, as industry determines next steps with respect to the existing voluntary moratorium.  The agency is not requiring labeling or any other additional measures for food from cattle, swine, and goat clones, or their offspring because food derived from these sources is no different from food derived from conventionally bred animals. Should a producer express a desire for voluntary labeling (e.g., “this product is clone-free"), it will be considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure compliance with statutory requirements that labeling be truthful and not misleading.  Because clones would be used for breeding, they would not be expected to enter the food supply in any significant number. Instead, their sexually reproduced offspring would be used for producing meat and milk for the marketplace. At this time, the agency continues to recommend that food from clones of species other than cattle, swine and goat (e.g., sheep) not be introduced into the food supply.  An animal clone is a genetic copy of a donor animal, similar to an identical twin, but born at a different time. Cloning is not the same as genetic engineering, which involves altering, adding or deleting DNA; cloning does not change the gene sequence. Due to their cost and rarity, clones are intended to be used as elite breeding animals to introduce desirable traits into herds more rapidly than would be possible using conventional breeding.

Risk assessment
The risk assessment finds that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and food from the sexually reproduced offspring of clones, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. The science-based conclusions agree with those of the National Academy of Sciences, released in a 2002 report. The assessment was peer-reviewed by a group of independent scientific experts in cloning and animal health. They found the methods FDA used to evaluate the data were adequate and agreed with the conclusions set out in the document.
The risk assessment presents an overview of assisted reproductive technologies widely used in animal agriculture, the extensive scientific information available on the health of animal clones and their sexually reproduced offspring, and an assessment of whether food from clones or their sexually reproduced offspring could pose food consumption risks different from the risks posed by food from conventionally bred animals. These conclusions were first presented in draft documents over a year ago. Since then, the agency has updated the risk assessment with data that became available, as well as taking into account comments from the public comment period.  “After reviewing additional data and the public comments in the intervening year since the release of our draft documents on cloning, we conclude that meat and milk from cattle, swine, and goat clones are as safe as food we eat every day,” said Stephen F. Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Our additional review strengthens our conclusions on food safety.”

Risk management plan
The risk management plan outlines measures that FDA has taken to address the risks that cloning poses to animals involved in the cloning process. These risks all have been observed in other assisted reproductive technologies currently used in common agricultural practices in the United States.  FDA is currently working with scientific and professional societies with expertise in animal health and reproduction to develop standards of care for animals involved in the cloning process. Although the agency is not charged with addressing ethical issues related to animal cloning for agricultural purposes, FDA plans to continue to provide scientific expertise to interested parties working on these issues.

Guidance for industry
The guidance for industry addresses the use of food and feed products derived from clones and their offspring. It is directed at clone producers, livestock breeders, and farmers and ranchers purchasing clones, and provides the agency’s current thinking on use of clones and their offspring in human food or animal feed.  In the guidance, FDA does not recommend any special measures relating to the use of products from cattle, swine, or goat clones as human food or animal feed. Because insufficient information was available on clones from other species, e.g., sheep clones, to make a decision on the food consumption risks, the guidance recommends that food products from clones of other species continue to be excluded from the human food supply. The guidance states that food products from the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed for food are suitable to enter the food and feed supply.

Posted by Wayne McDonald on 01/16 at 04:20 PM
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The new Apple Macbook Air.  The world’s thinnest laptop.

How can you deny the beauty of this thing?  I know that this isn’t the first solid state laptop on the market, but it is the first one I’d seriously consider buying.  I only wish that it had built-in ethernet.  I guess that’s one of the breaks.  Watch the ad and be prepared to want it.


Posted by SPN on 01/16 at 02:43 PM
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Friday, August 24, 2007

iPhone unlocked by teen hacker to work on other carrier’s networks

NEW YORK - A 17-year-old hacker has broken the lock that ties Apple’s iPhone to AT&T’s wireless network, freeing the most hyped cell phone ever for use on the networks of other carriers, including overseas ones.

George Hotz of Glen Rock, N.J., confirmed Friday that he had unlocked an iPhone and was using it on T-Mobile’s network, the only major U.S. carrier apart from AT&T that is compatible with the iPhone’s cellular technology. In a video posted to his blog, he holds an iPhone that displays “T-Mobile” as the carrier.

While the possibility of switching from AT&T to T-Mobile may not be a major development for U.S. consumers, it opens up the iPhone for use on the networks of overseas carriers.

“That’s the big thing,” said Hotz, in a phone interview from his home.

The phone, which combines an innovative touch-screen interface with the media-playing abilities of the iPod, is sold only in the U.S.

AT&T Inc. spokesman Mark Siegel said the company had no comment, and referred questions to Apple. A call to Apple was not immediately returned. Hotz said the companies had not been in touch with him.

The hack, which Hotz posted Thursday to his blog, is complicated and requires skill with both soldering and software. It takes him about two hours to perform. Since the details are public, it seems likely that a small industry may spring up to buy U.S. iPhones, unlock them and send them overseas.

“That’s exactly, like, what I don’t want,” Hotz said. “I don’t want people making money off this.”

He said he wished he could make the instructions simpler, so users could modify the phones themselves.

“But that’s the simplest I could make them,” Hotz said. The next step, he said, would be for someone to develop a way to unlock the phone using only software.

The iPhone has already been made to work on overseas networks using another method, which involves copying information from the Subscriber Identity Module, a small card with a chip that identifies a subscriber to the cell-phone network.

The SIM-chip method does not require any soldering, but does requires special equipment, and it doesn’t unlock the phone — each new SIM chip has to be reprogrammed for use on a particular iPhone.

Both hacks leave intact the iPhone’s many functions, including a built-in camera and the ability to access Wi-Fi networks. The only thing that won’t work is the “visual voicemail” feature, which shows voice messages as if they were incoming e-mail.

Since the details of both hacks are public, Apple may be able to modify the iPhone production line to make new phones invulnerable. The company has said it plans to introduce the phone in Europe this year, but it hasn’t set a date or identified carriers.

There is apparently no U.S. law against unlocking cell phones. Last year, the Library of Congress specifically excluded cell-phone unlocking from coverage under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Among other things, the law has been used to prosecute people who modify game consoles to play a wider variety of games.

Hotz collaborated online with four other people, two of them in Russia, to develop the unlocking process.

“Then there are two guys who I think are somewhere U.S.-side,” Hotz said. He knows them only by their online handles.

Hotz himself spent about 500 hours on the project since the iPhone went on sale on June 29. On Thursday, he put the unlocked iPhone up for sale on eBay, where the high bid was above $2,000 midday Friday. The model, with 4 gigabytes of memory, sells for $499 new.

“Some of my friends think I wasted my summer but I think it was worth it,” he told The Record of Bergen County, which reported Hotz’s hack Friday.

Hotz heads for college on Saturday. He plans to major in neuroscience — or “hacking the brain!” as he put it to the newspaper — at the Rochester Institute of Technology. 

Posted by SPN on 08/24 at 08:49 PM
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Sunday, July 22, 2007

You will never wina game of checkers against this computer.

Here is the link to the checkers game that is impossible to beat.

Posted by SPN on 07/22 at 10:30 AM
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

AT&T quietly offers $10 DSL plan

NEW YORK - Without any sort of fanfare, AT&T Inc. has started offering a broadband Internet service for $10 a month, cheaper than any advertised plan.

The DSL, or digital subscriber line, plan introduced Saturday is part of the concessions made by AT&T to the Federal Communications Commission to get its $86 billion acquisition of BellSouth Corp. approved last December.

The $10 offer is available to customers in the 22-state AT&T service region, which includes former BellSouth areas, who have never had AT&T or BellSouth broadband, spokesman Michael Coe confirmed Monday. Local phone service and a one-year contract are required. The modem is free.
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The plan was not mentioned in a Friday news release about AT&T’s DSL plans, and is slightly hidden on the AT&T Web site. A page describing DSL options doesn’t mention it, but clicking a link for “Term contract plans” reveals it. It’s also presented to customers who go into the application process, Coe said.

The service provides download speeds of up to 768 kilobits per second and upload speeds of up to 128 kbps, matching the speeds of the cheapest advertised AT&T plan, which costs $19.95 per month in the nine-state former BellSouth area and $14.99 in the 13 states covered by AT&T before the acquisition.

BellSouth generally had higher prices for DSL before it was acquired, and the price difference persists, though AT&T did cut the price of the cheapest advertised plan in the Southeast region by $5 from $24.95 on Saturday.

The agreement with the FCC required the company to offer the plan for at least 2 1/2 years. Coe said he could not comment on future advertising plans for the offer.

The introduction of the plan, slightly before the deadline at the end of June, was first reported by The Tennessean in Nashville.

Another concession to the FCC is yet to come: a plan for DSL that doesn’t require local phone service. AT&T has another six months to introduce that option, which should cost at most $19.95 per month.

Consumer advocates have fought for this so-called “naked DSL plan,” because DSL can carry Internet-based phone calls for less than the price of local phone service. However, at 768 kbps, the download speed may be too low to appeal to the relatively sophisticated customers who use the Internet for phone calls.

Posted by SPN on 06/27 at 04:23 PM
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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Get ready for iPhone.


iPhone arrives on June 29. iPhone features an amazing mobile phone, is the best iPod we've ever created, and puts the Internet in your pocket with desktop-class email, web browsing, searching, and maps. And iPhone makes it all easy to use with its revolutionary multi-touch user interface. iPhone syncs with your PC or Mac just like an iPod, so organizing your content now will help you start calling, texting, emailing, surfing, listening, and watching even faster when you get your iPhone. Here are a few suggestions to help you get ready:

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Contacts
Making a call with iPhone is as simple as tapping a name. You won't need to re-enter all your contacts because iPhone syncs with the address book you already use on your computer--Address Book or Entourage on a Mac, or Outlook or Outlook Express on a PC. If you keep your contacts on the web using Yahoo! Address Book, iPhone can sync with them, too. To get ready for iPhone, organize your contacts in one of these applications and make sure they're up to date with the latest phone numbers and email addresses. If you don't have contacts on your computer, don't worry. You can still enter them directly into iPhone.

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Calendar
Using its built-in calendar, iPhone lets you check your appointments with the flick of a finger. iPhone uses iTunes to sync with the calendar application you already use on your computer--iCal or Entourage on the Mac, or Outlook on a PC--just like it does with your contacts. If you don't already use one of these applications to manage your appointments, now is a great time to start, so you'll be ready to sync when your iPhone arrives. If you choose not to use a calendar program, that's OK. You'll be able to enter appointments directly into the iPhone calendar.

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Email
iPhone is the first phone to come with a desktop-class email application. So now your phone can display rich HTML email with graphics and photos alongside the text. iPhone will even fetch your latest email every time you open the application and automatically retrieve your email on a set schedule, just like a computer does. iPhone works with the most popular email systems--including Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, AOL, and .Mac Mail. If you're not already using one of these services, now would be a great time to get an account. iTunes will make email setup on iPhone a breeze by automatically syncing the settings from email accounts stored in Mail on a Mac or Outlook on a PC. Don't worry if you're not on one of these email services; iPhone also works with almost any industry-standard POP3 and IMAP email system.

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Photos
iPhone has a 2-megapixel camera and a gorgeous 3.5-inch display, so it's a great way to enjoy and show off your digital photos. iPhone uses iTunes to sync your photos from iPhoto on a Mac or Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Photoshop Album, or any picture folder on a PC. You can carry thousands of photos on iPhone, but you can start by creating an album or two with 50 to 100 of your favorite photos, so that when you first sync your iPhone, you'll be ready to quickly show off some of your best shots.
Posted by SPN on 06/12 at 01:07 PM
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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

If this isn’t enough reason for you to get an Apple computer and use Cingular,

then you must just be crazy.

Here is Apple’s planned iPhone.

Posted by SPN on 01/10 at 02:06 PM
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Saturday, July 08, 2006

This round goes AGAIN to Macintosh and Linux.

Didn’t Microsoft say that XP would be its most secure yet and wasn’t Win2K touted as the most secure back then?  Microsoft has a long way to go in order to convince the world that it is EVER going to be as secure as Linux/Unix.  It may be true that there are more hackers trying to break into Win boxes.  It also may be true that Win boxes are easier to break into.  You don’t hear about Fort Knox getting broken into that often do you?  That’s because it is secure, unlike the generic Windo$e installations all around the world.

Threats prompt Mac switch advice
Security threats to PCs with Microsoft Windows have increased so much that computer users should consider using a Mac, says a leading security firm.

Sophos security said that the 10 most commonly found pieces of malicious software all targeted Windows machines.

In contrast, it said, none of the “malware” were capable of infecting the Mac OS X operating system.

Microsoft has pledged that the latest version of its operating system, known as Vista, will be its most secure yet.

One analyst told the BBC News website that the reason why there are fewer viruses and worms on Mac systems is that the smaller user base makes them a less attractive target for hackers.

Microsoft Windows currently runs on nearly one billion computers worldwide. The latest version will be released later this year.

“It is our goal to give PC users the control and confidence they need so they can continue to get the most out of their PCs,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

“Windows Vista contains a number of new safety features that, taken together, are designed to make Windows PCs more secure and online experiences safer.”

Microsoft said that security on Vista would be an integral part of the operating system rather than an add-on like in previous systems.

The advice from Sophos was given as it released a report, detailing the security threats posed to computers so far in 2006.

The report says that there has been a vast drop in malicious software like viruses and worms.

It seems likely that Macs will continue to be the safer place for computer users for some time to come
Graham Cluley, Sophos

However, the company warns that there has been a sharp increase in the number of Trojans. It said that 82% of new security threats this year were from these programs.

Trojans are pieces of malicious software that are hidden in other legitimate programs such as downloaded screensavers.

The Trojan may collect financial information or allow the infected computer to be controlled remotely for sending spam or launching web attacks.

“The continuing rise of malware will concern many - the criminals responsible are obviously making money from their code, otherwise they’d give up the game,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

Although Trojans dominate the list of security threats, the most widespread problem was the Sober-Z worm.

The worm, which was spread by e-mail, infected people’s computers and tried to turn off security settings. It replicated by looking for other e-mail addresses on the computers’ hard drives. 

Posted by SPN on 07/08 at 03:06 PM
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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Evolution in the bible, says Vatican

Now we are getting somewhere!  Hey, Kansas!  Go listen to the Pope.  He’s got a message for you.

http://news.com.au

THE Vatican has issued a stout defence of Charles Darwin, voicing strong criticism of Christian fundamentalists who reject his theory of evolution and interpret the biblical account of creation literally.
Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Genesis description of how God created the universe and Darwin’s theory of evolution were “perfectly compatible” if the Bible were read correctly.

His statement was a clear attack on creationist campaigners in the US, who see evolution and the Genesis account as mutually exclusive.

“The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim,” he said at a Vatican press conference. He said the real message in Genesis was that “the universe didn’t make itself and had a creator”.

This idea was part of theology, Cardinal Poupard emphasised, while the precise details of how creation and the development of the species came about belonged to a different realm - science. Cardinal Poupard said that it was important for Catholic believers to know how science saw things so as to “understand things better”.

His statements were interpreted in Italy as a rejection of the “intelligent design” view, which says the universe is so complex that some higher being must have designed every detail.

Posted by SPN on 11/09 at 05:24 PM
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Friday, November 04, 2005

Researchers reconstruct killer 1918 flu virus

I think the researchers should worry about virus mutation if people are partially immune then there are many at risk for exposure.

Scientists hope discovery will help prevent future global outbreaks
ATLANTA - It sounds like a sci-fi thriller. For the first time, scientists have made from scratch the Spanish flu virus that killed millions of people in 1918.

Why? To help them understand how to better fend off a future global epidemic from the bird flu spreading in Southeast Asia.

Researchers believe their work offers proof the 1918 flu originated in birds, and provides insights into how it attacked and multiplied in humans. On top of that, this marks the first time an infectious agent behind a historic pandemic has ever been reconstructed.

The scientists involved in the project contend theres no real risk to public safety. The vials of this frightening germ about 10 of them are locked away at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said Terrence Tumpey, the CDC research scientist who constructed the virus.

However, at least one ethicist thinks there should be a broader public discussion before scientists take such bold steps.

There isnt much input from the public. I think there should be, said Dr. Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvanias Center for Bioethics.

‘A big day for science’
Like the 1918 virus, the current avian flu in Southeast Asia occurs naturally in birds. In 1918, the virus mutated, infected people and then spread among them. So far, the current Asian virus has infected and killed at least 65 people but has rarely spread person-to-person.

But viruses mutate rapidly and it could soon develop infectious properties like those seen in the earlier bug, said Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger of the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

The effort to understand what happened in 1918 has taken on a new urgency, said Taubenberger, who led the team that did the gene-sequencing for the project.

The research involved everything from excavation of human remains to application of the latest laboratory technology. Its the sort of story you could tell high school students to get them excited about science, said Dr. William Schaffner, a vaccine specialist at Vanderbilt University.

image

It is a big day for science, said Schaffner, who was not involved in the project.

The Spanish flu of 1918 was a worldwide contagion that in a few months killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million worldwide, including roughly 550,000 in the United States.

In severe cases, victims lungs filled with fluid and they essentially drowned in a disease process that took less than a week. It was known for being particularly dangerous to young adults, a group usually less susceptible to flu complications than older people.

Some public health experts believe the virus was also devastating because of the malnutrition and poor living conditions that existed in that period at the end of World War I.

The reason the scientists believe their reconstructed virus poses no public health threat is that based on previous research, modern-day medicines are effective against the 1918 flu. And they think most people today are already at least partially immune.

The subtype of virus that caused the 1918 pandemic is now common, and so it would not be as unknown to the immune defense systems of people today. In other words, it would not be as deadly, said Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, microbiologist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

In each pandemic, its been a new subtype of virus, not an existing one, said Garcia-Sastre who participated in the effort to reconstruct the virus.

In their research detailed Wednesday in the journals Science and Nature, the scientists explained how they reconstructed that 1918 virus.

Using the remains of a female flu victim buried in the Alaskan permafrost in 1918, federal researchers sequenced the viruss genetic information. They shared it with Garcia-Sastre and others at Mount Sinai, who used the coding to create microscopic, virus-like strings of genes, called plasmids. The plasmids then went to the CDC, where they were inserted into human kidney cells for the final step in the virus reconstruction.

Once you get the plasmids inside the cell, the virus assembles itself, said Tumpey, the CDC scientist. It only takes a couple of days.

A flu virus has eight gene segments. Taubenberger and other researchers previously had published the sequences of five of them; the new work completes it.

The three new segments appear to be crucial in explaining how the bird-based virus became adapted to humans, Taubenberger said.

Tumpey also confirmed the 1918 viruss avian-like characteristics by injecting it in fertilized bird eggs. It killed the eggs, just like the Asian bird flu does. Other modern-day flu strains that are human-based dont kill fertilized bird eggs, he noted.

Scientists had already believed the 1918 virus was a bird-adapted agent. This offers evidence of that, Tumpey noted.

The researchers also refined their focus on one gene, the HA gene, that encodes the hemagglutinin surface protein that help the virus attach to cells and multiply. The 1918 virus is deadly with the HA gene, but when the gene was replaced, it was not virulent, Tumpey said.

Why the virus was so deadly
The viruss genetic properties may explain why it was able to settle deeper in the lungs than most current flu strains, causing the drowning condition, he said.

The gene sequencing information from the new research is being placed in GenBank, a public database operated by the National Institutes of Health. Sequence information for smallpox and other deadly infectious agents is also stored there. It is accessible to scientists and others, including some who may have harmful intent.

But it wont be simple for terrorists or anyone else to reconstruct their own versions of the 1918 virus, said Diane Griffin, chair of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins Universitys Bloomberg School of Public Health.

These are not easy viruses to reconstruct, she said. Youre not going to do this in a cave in Afghanistan.

Researchers say their work was carefully reviewed before they were allowed to complete the reconstruction. Among the sign-offs was an approval from the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a panel created last year to advise federal health officials on biological research that might threaten public health.

That panel includes appointed experts who are outside government, so there was important public involvement in the pre-approval process, Garcia-Sastre said.

Caplan, the ethicist, said hed like to see more, but he added that the public until now hasnt been particularly interested in the kind of science that allows reconstruction of infectious agents.

The power of synthetic genomics to make and recreate life is astounding, he said. But policy-makers and the public have been far more interested in human cloning a scientific development believed to still be years away.

Were arrogant. We tend to focus on what doctors and engineers can do to genetically engineer us. We tend not to worry as much about what theyre doing with tiny little critters that we cant see. But science is much more advanced in terms of microbial engineering, Caplan said.

2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7279844/did/9598565/

Posted by loni on 11/04 at 03:07 PM
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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Giant Squid Photographed for First Time

UcTYWYWZV&urcm=y][url=http://www.ajc.com]http://www.ajc.com[/url]

By HIROKO TABUCHI
Associated Press Writer

OKYO The giant squid can be found in books and in myths, but for the first time, a team of Japanese scientists has captured on film one of the most mysterious creatures of the deep sea in its natural habitat.

The team led by Tsunemi Kubodera, from the National Science Museum in Tokyo, tracked the 26-foot long Architeuthis as it attacked prey nearly 3,000 feet deep off the coast of Japan’s Bonin islands.

“We believe this is the first time a grown giant squid has been captured on camera in its natural habitat,” said Kyoichi Mori, a marine researcher who co-authored a piece in Wednesday’s issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

The camera was operated by remote control during research at the end of October 2004, Mori told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Mori said the giant squid, purplish red like its smaller brethren, attacked its quarry aggressively, calling into question the image of the animal as lethargic and slow moving.

image

“Contrary to belief that the giant squid is relatively inactive, the squid we captured on film actively used its enormous tentacles to go after prey,” Mori said.

“It went after some bait that we had on the end of the camera and became stuck, and left behind a tentacle” about six yards long, Mori said.

Kubodera, also reached by the AP, said researchers ran DNA tests on the tentacle and found it matched those of other giant squids found around Japan.

“But other sightings were of smaller, or very injured squids washed toward the shore or of parts of a giant squid,” Kubodera said. “This is the first time a full-grown, healthy squid has been sighted in its natural environment in deep water.”

Kubodera said the giant squid’s tentacle would not grow back, but the squid’s life was not in danger.

Jim Barry, a marine biologist at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, has searched for giant squid on his own expeditions without luck.

“It’s the holy grail of deep sea animals,” he said. “It’s one that we have never seen alive, and now someone has video of one.”

New Zealand’s leading authority on the giant squid, marine biologist Steve O’Shea, praised the Japanese team’s feat.

“Through sheer ... determination the guy has gone on and done it,” said O’Shea, chief marine scientist at the Auckland University of Technology, who is not linked to the Japanese research.

O’Shea said he hopes to capture juvenile giant squid and grow them in captivity. He captured 17 of them five years ago but they died in captivity.

“Our reaction is one of tremendous relief that the so-called ... race (to film the giant squid) is over ... because the animal has consumed the last eight or nine years of my life,” O’Shea said of the film.

Giant squid have long attracted human fascination, appearing in myths of the ancient Greeks, as well as Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” Scientific interest in the animals has surged in recent years as more specimens have been caught in commercial fishing nets or found washed up on shores.

Kubodera would make no claims about the scientific significance of his team’s work.

“As for the impact our discovery will have on marine research, I’ll leave to other researchers to decide,” he said.

Other biologists saidi they expected the video would provide insight on the animal’s behavior underwater.

“Nobody has been able to observe a large giant squid where it lives,” said Randy Kochevar, a deep sea biologist also with the Monterey aquarium. “There are people who said it would never be done.”

Posted by loni on 09/28 at 09:03 AM
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