Sunday, October 27, 2013

New blood-scanning camera to help solve violent crimes and sexual assaults

Recently in a study of forensic sciences, a team of ‘blood detectives’ are looking into creating a working model of a camera that can detect and date blood traces more accurately. Since blood samples and splatter patterns are some of the most commonly used forms of prosecution evidence in violent crimes, these scientists are hoping to use this new camera to better date blood samples and create a more accurate chronology of events, let alone a precise time of death. This technology could also be used to detect and date other fluids, such as saliva, sweat, and semen, which could help improve conviction rates in rape cases and other sexual assaults.

Dr Meez Islam, the leader of the team working on the project, said forensic teams are still using techniques devised over a century ago because there currently is no effective way of dating blood. These include what is commonly seen on television where forensic scientists paint on chemicals to areas where blood is believed to be and hope a color reaction takes place due to the iron found in the hemoglobin of the blood.

He also stated that the forensic scientists often go to a crime scene and what appears to be blood is actually not. Blood on dark backgrounds are hard to see, and there are also traces of blood that are not visible to the naked human eye, so this new camera will allow for a fast, at-the-scene identification of the blood to speed up the investigative process. This imaging will scan the crime scene for blood and make the chances of missing a bloodstain very low.

A prototype built in Teesside University has apparently shown extremely high accuracy in blood sample laboratories. So far, police forces have shown a very high interest in the creation of these cameras, but Dr Islam says his team needs about 100,000 euros to fund the creation of a working model. This small investment though would lead to a large societal impact.

New machine chills beverages in 45 seconds

Have you ever wanted a machine that would actually chill your drink for you? Well the technology has been found, and the ‘reverse-microwave’ has been created! This machine was created by V-Tex, a United Kingdom company, and funded from the European Union.

The creation cools drinks in all kinds of containers, including wine bottles and soda cans, from room temperature to a low of four degrees in a matter of seconds. The drink, once put into the machine, is rotated at a low speed in water to keep the beverage from fizzing while the water quickly brings down its temperature.

According to V-Tex, their machine uses around 80 percent less energy than standard machines used in grocery stores and markets to keep beverages cool. A commercial product is currently being used in retail outlets across the UK, but a domestic product is currently being created for the average household to purchase. The V-Tex site even has a prototype gallery!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Possible AIDS vaccine found, 10 years until mass-production

According to researchers who attended the 13th Aids Vaccine Conference last week in Barcelona, providing a commercial product to the world markets to combat AIDS might finally be a possibility. Scientists and drug companies say that consumers will have to wait for about 10 years if said vaccine was created and effective; but since AIDS has been around for only 30 years and has already killed over 36 million people, any hope in a widespread vaccine is good news.

This new vaccine, RV 144, as created by combining two previous vaccine's approaches at combating the HIV strain. The RV 144 combines a DNA vaccine with a protein vaccine effectively protecting the immune system 31% more than a placebo. This jump in efficiency sparked the creation of the Pox Protein Public-Private Partnership, (P5), a combination of companies and nongovernmental organizations that hope to make RV 144 a licensed product.

Other researchers, although ecstatic with these findings, wonder if governments should be investing in a concentration on prevention and treatment strategies instead of investing in a possible vaccine

Air pollution causes lung cancer

A new study scientifically confirmed a commuter’s worst fears last week: air pollution directly causes lung cancer. The ultimate decision was chosen by an expert panel of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), based in Lyon, France.

The IARC confirmed that air pollution is a carcinogen (a cancer causing agent) such as asbestos, tobacco, and ultraviolet radiation. Previously, the IARC had classified components of air pollution, such as diesel fumes, to be carcinogens; but this is the first air pollution in its entirety has been classified as such.

The researchers are concerned that, unlike secondhand smoke, the population is not able to just maneuver their way around air pollution. This hopefully will prompt governments and other agencies to create and implement stricter controls on spewing fumes.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Smoking is more dangerous than previously believed according to Australian study

A new Australian study on the effects of smoking shows that this bad habit is even more deadly than scientists previously thought. According to the study, supported by the National Heart Foundation in collaboration with Cancer Council NSW, smoking cuts ten years off of the average smoker's life and it is directly linked to two-thirds of deaths in current smokers.

The study involved 200,000 Australians and states that even moderate smoking is deadly, and the risk of complications increases with the number of cigarettes smoked each day. The good news is that at any age, completely stopping smoking reduces the risk.

The scientists believe that this new study will help smokers realize just how dangerous this habit is and give them an incentive to quit. According to The Heart Foundation’s Dr. Rob Grenfell, a worker on the study, smoking is the single-most preventable cause of death in Australia and kills 15,000 people a year.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Haitian cholera survivors sue United Nations

A very deadly strain of cholera has recently been reported in Haiti, a country that has not known cholera for over 100 years. So far, there have been roughly 700,000 deaths from this outbreak, and the survivors and family members of these Haitians are suing the United Nations for billions of dollars in unspecified damages. These include  over 679,000 victims of personal injury, wrongful death, and loss of use of property and natural resources.

The UN has stated that they have legal immunity from the compensation claims, even going so far as not allowing a resolution to the claims using its own internal procedures, which is why proceedings for the court action are being held in New York.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is beyond any serious doubt that UN peacekeeping troops are the culprit in the outbreak of cholera. This strain has been found to be entering other countries too, such as Venezuela, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, killing more than 8,500 people there.

The lawsuit states that the cholera was brought by UN troops from Nepal, in which cholera is an epidemic and recent infections have already been reported.

Nationwide tobacco use and health concerns study

Within the past few weeks, I have been a part of a new scientific study through the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH). This study, in collaboration between The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was announced in October 2011 and aims to teach the public why and how people are using – or not using – different types of tobacco products and how use may affect health. The PATH’s goal is to interview about 59,000 people aged 12 and older, which makes this new study the largest of its kind ever done.

How it works is a household is chosen at random from any city across the nation and an interviewer contacts the residents of the home or apartment. Anyone, 12 or older, living at the address can take a quick survey to see if they are eligible. If the residents agree to take the survey, a residential interviewer sets up a date and time to come to the address and guide the residents through the survey. If you are chosen, you can then choose to be a participant in the study. As compensation, PATH offers a $35 debit card as a thank you for participating in the study.

David Hinson, a fellow CSU Ram randomly selected to partake in the study said that although he has never used a tobacco product before in his life, his participation was greatly encouraged and appreciated. His interviewer said to him that there were practically no participants so far who had not used tobacco products before, so it was very important to have his participation to account for at least 1,000 of our peers who have the same non-tobacco habits as him.

When I contacted PATH, the man who I spoke with said that I was a prime participant, for I am a college student of average height and weight with a part-time job. The man explained that since they are hoping for about 60,000 participants, I would roughly represent 1,000 of my peers.

Emily A. Gossner, the woman who conducted my study, also filled me in with other questions I had and gave me more insight about the study. Gossner said every year, for at least three years, I will be contacted and encouraged to re-participate in the study as a follow-up on tobacco their use. Also, for more of my heath information, PATH is asking me if they could acquire urine, blood, and saliva samples, or any combination of the three. I was allowed to decline though, and I did.

Gossner also said that the study will conclude and by published hopefully near the end of 2015.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

California and Japanese researchers find new hope for delaying early menopause

Researchers at St Marianna University in Kawasaki, Japan and Stanford University in California have found a new hope for women diagnosed with early menopause. This breakthrough in ‘reawakening the woman’s ovaries’ is done by removing the ovary, activating them in the laboratory, and re-implanting the fragments of the ovarian tissue.

Until now, the only option for having children with women going through early menopause was to accept IVF treatment using donated eggs, which would mean that the baby would be the result of another biological mother.

So far, this procedure has resulted in one baby born and another expecting. The researchers now plan to help other age groups of women, mostly women who become infertile between the ages of 40 and 45.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Facebook linked to declining social well-being

A new study involving social media’s effect on mental health as correlated Facebook to an overall decline in life satisfaction. The study, created by the University of Michigan, had college students fill out a questionnaire about their overall life contentment, then over the course of two weeks, had these same students respond to five daily text messages asking them about their current mood.

The study found that, after using Facebook, students had a decline in overall well-being. The researchers decided to see if there was a relation with any form of social interaction, so the students were asked the text questions again after having a face-to-face social interaction. The findings were that the students actually felt an increase in well-being, thus confirming their findings.

This has yet to be proven as a causal claim though and is only based off of the correlation.