Monday, September 21, 2015

Is There A Safe Level Of Alcohol Consumption?

Photo courtesy of

The Guardian: There is no such thing as a safe level of alcohol consumption

The idea that drinking small amounts of alcohol will do you no harm is a myth, claims Professor David Nutt

Last week I attended a discussion group chaired by the Observer's health correspondent Denis Campbell where one of the other experts, a public health doctor, asserted that alcohol should be treated differently from tobacco (and by inference other drugs) because there is no safe dose of tobacco whereas alcohol is safe until a person's drinking gets to "unsafe" levels. Its health benefits for the cardiovascular system are also often used to support the claim that in low doses alcohol is safe, for how else could it be health-promoting?

The myth of a safe level of drinking is a powerful claim. It is one that many health professionals appear to believe in and that the alcohol industry uses to defend its strategy of making the drug readily available at low prices. However, the claim is wrong and the supporting evidence flawed.

There is no safe dose of alcohol for these reasons:

CSN Editor: I need a drink.

Glitches Prevent Users From Using Skype

Daily Mail: Skype goes offline: Glitch prevents users from making calls and logging in

* Skype says glitch makes users appear to be offline even if they are online
* The technical problem is thought to be affecting users around the world
* Microsoft, which owns Skype, said engineers were working to fix the issue

Skype users around the world have been left unable to make calls with service after a glitch made everyone appear as if they were offline.

Microsoft, which owns Skype, said the technical problem meant users signed into were unable to change their status and all contacts showed as offline even if they were online.

This meant users were unable to initiate calls to each other.

CSN editor: I needed Skype today .... but in the end I had to make a long distance phone call. Yup .... you never appreciate the tech that we have until we no longer have it.

Some Surprising Facts About LEGOs

Popular Mechanics: 10 Surprising Facts About LEGO

You're never going to look at your favorite toy the same way again

Like Easy-Bake Ovens and Troll dolls, you probably remember these famous plastic bricks fondly from your childhood. But did you know the first one was made in 1932 and out of wood? Didn't think so. Here are a few more facts you might not know about the toy of the century:

CSN Editor: I guess this explains why they are so expensive.

How One Drop Of Blood Can Tell Your Medical History

The virus SV40, which might cause cancer in humans. Phoebus87 via Wikimedia Commons

Popular Science: Your History In A Drop Of Blood

A new test can see just about every virus you've ever had

A blood sample can now reveal a record of viruses you’ve had throughout life, thanks to a new test developed at Harvard called VirScan. It looks for evidence of antibodies produced by the immune system to kill viral invaders. “It’s kind of like fishing,” says geneticist Tomasz Kula. “We’ve made this huge pond [of viral bits], and we see which ones the antibodies stick to.”

How it works: VirScan matches antibodies in a person’s blood sample to a library of 93,000 snippets of viral code. It can find evidence of up to 1,000 different viruses.

Here are the viruses the team found in 303 blood samples--hover over the yellow circles to learn more.

CSN Editor: Recent advances in diagnostics have been truly impressive.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Science Behind Melting Cheese

Serious Eats: The Science of Melting Cheese

Have you ever gotten all excited to make a grilled cheese and then...your cheese just doesn't melt? Or maybe it breaks, separating into a tough, stringy mass surrounded by a pool of oil? Yup, it's a crappy feeling. Luckily, there are ways to know what you're getting into before that happens. Science ways.

Want to reliably tell whether the cheese you're buying is gonna dominate the melting game or stay nice and solid for cooking or grilling? Wish you could make any melting cheese melt better? Here's what you need to know.

CSN Editor: Damn .... I feel hungry.

This Is What One Year In Space Does To Your Body

The Verge: Here’s what one year in space does to your body

Want to know how much poop an astronaut produces while spending a year on the International Space Station? It's somewhere around 180 pounds.

That fun fact is brought to you by NASA, which just released an infographic breaking down all the numbers surrounding astronaut Scott Kelly's one-year stay on the ISS. Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are both in the midst of spending a full year on the station as part of the One Year Mission — an experiment to study the long-term effects of spaceflight on the human body. The mission will help NASA better prepare for its eventual journey to Mars in the 2030s. A trip to the Red Planet is going to take multiple months, so NASA wants to know how the microgravity environment of space will affect the body during that time.

CSN Editor: One year in space .... that is a long time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Killer Whales Can 'Talk' Like Dolphins

Killer Whales Can 'Talk' Like Dolphins When The Two Species Spend Time Together: Orcas Imitate Sounds To Help Them Communicate -- Daily Mail

* Killer whales can engage in cross-species ‘vocal learning’ by matching the types of sounds made by bottlenose dolphins when spending time with them
* Results suggest vocal imitation may enable social interactions in cetaceans
* Killer whales make clicks, whistles and pulsed calls, which are repeated brief bursts of sound punctuated with silence
* When they spent time with dolphins they altered these noises to make more dolphin-like clicks and fewer pulsed calls, which dolphins don't make
* Study was conducted by Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego

Most animals make noises that are innate, not learned.

But scientists claim killer whales can learn to ‘talk’ like dolphins when the two species spend time together.

This means the ocean predators join the likes of bats, some birds and humans that each copy sounds and use them in appropriate social contexts.

Read more ....

My Comment: I always find it amazing that we are still making discoveries even though we have been studying animals .... like killer whales .... for years.

A Means To Harness Wind Energy At 2,000 Feet

Altaeros' Buoyant Air Turbine: Last year, Altaeros tested a prototype of the turbine at a height of 500 feet in Maine, where it flew in 45mph winds. courtesy Altaeros

The Quest To Harness Wind Energy At 2,000 Feet -- Popular Science

High-altitude wind contains enough energy to power the planet. A Boston start-up wants to be the first to bring it down to Earth.

Nothing about the grooved, inflatable body taking shape inside Greentown Labs in Somerville, Massachusetts, resembles a wind turbine. It looks more like a jetliner's emergency ramp, or something you'd tie behind a boat and cling to desperately while bumping across the surface of a lake. But the 14-foot-long structure most resembles what it actually is--an air-filled wing.

To be more precise, it's a stabilizing fin, part of a tube-shaped, robotic airship designed to tap the power of high-altitude winds. The blade tips of today's tallest conventional wind turbine, installed at a test center in Denmark this year, stretch to 720 feet. The fully autonomous, lighter-than-air BAT (short for buoyant airborne turbine) will climb as high as 2,000 feet, where winds blow stronger and steadier.

Read more ....

My Comment: People are protesting windmills on the ground .... I expect the same protests for these wind turbines 2,000 feet in the air.

'Tyupkin' Malware Lets Criminals Steal Millions From ATMs Around The World

Infected Cash Machines Are Giving Away Money: 'Tyupkin' Malware Lets Criminals Steal Millions From ATMs Around The World -- Daily Mail

* Malicious software allows thieves to visit cash machines and empty them
* Money has been stolen from machines in Latin America, Europe and Asia
* ATMs are deliberately infected with so-called Tyupkin malware by criminals
* They then visit the machines at night and enter codes to access the cash
* Security experts have warned banks to boost the security of ATMs

Computer viruses may make your laptop run slower and even steal personal details such as passwords, but they can also attack cash machines - with expensive results.

Experts have forensically investigated cybercriminal attacks targeting ATMs around the world and have discovered a piece of malware called 'Tyupkin' that is leaving hundreds of machines at risk.

This malicious software allows thieves to visit cash machines and empty them – stealing millions in the process - without the need for a card.

Read more ....

My Comment: Not so secure after-all.

Everything Is CGI

This Is CG -- Techcrunch

This is your semi-regular reminder that CGI is at or beyond the point of absurdity, that everything on the Internet is fake, that there is no spoon, etc.

Because seriously. Look at that. Look at it.

I think this is the first time I’ve watched a video like this and wandered right on past the uncanny valley, only to plummet backwards into it when I realized — about halfway through, mind you — that it was rendered.

Read more ....

My Comment: It fooled me.