Sunday, September 25, 2005

Nanotechnology - how small?

Here is a companion item on nanotechnology to the story below.

Physicists have directly measured how close speeding atoms can come to a surface before the atoms' wavelengths change.

The scientists at the University of Arizona say, "The measurement tells nanotechnologists how small they can make extremely tiny devices before a microscopic force between atoms and surfaces, called van der Waals interaction, becomes a concern. The result is important both for nanotechnology, where the goal is to make devices as small as a few tens of billionths of a meter, and for atom optics, where the goal is to use the wave nature of atoms to make more precise sensors and study quantum mechanics."

Learn more about this interesting study by visiting the University of Arizona's news story. The work is reported in Physical Review Letters.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Nanotechnology finds cancer with a finger prick

This is important work in the detection of cancer with a simple prick of the finger for blood - and it is another win for nanotechnology. You can read about it in Nanotechnology Now ("your gateway to everything nanotech").

Scientists at Harvard say molecular markers indicating the presence of cancer in the body are readily detected in blood scanned by special arrays of silicon nanowires, even when these cancer markers constitute only one hundred-billionth of the protein present in a drop of blood. And the minuscule devices also promise to pinpoint the exact type of cancer with greater speed than exists today.

Reporting in Nature Biotechnology author Charles M. Lieber says in a press release on Eurekalert, "A nanowire array can test a mere pinprick of blood in just minutes, providing a nearly instantaneous scan for many different cancer markers. It's a device that could open up substantial new possibilities in the diagnosis of cancer and other complex diseases."

While initial rounds of cancer testing today identify only whether or not cancer is present, nanowire arrays have the potential to immediately fill in details on exactly what type of cancer is present. Nanowires could also track patients' health as treatment progresses. Because the arrays detect molecules suspended in fluids, drops of blood could be tested directly, in a physician's office, without any need for biochemical manipulation.

And to find more about what Dr. Lieber is up to with nanotechnoloy, go to the Leiber Research Group.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Intense hurricanes linked to global warming

I guess I will be covering global warming from time to time because this trend is getting front and center more and more.

A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Center for Atmospheric Research says the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has nearly doubled over the past 35 years, even though the total number of hurricanes has dropped since the 1990s. The shift occurred as global sea surface temperatures have increased over the same period,the scientists say.

This research appears this week in Science.

The only region that is experiencing more hurricanes overall is the North Atlantic, say the researchers, where they have become more numerous and longer-lasting, especially since 1995. The North Atlantic has averaged eight to nine hurricanes per year in the last decade, compared to the six to seven per year before the increase. Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the North Atlantic have increased at an even faster clip: from 16 in the period of 1975-89 to 25 in the period of 1990-2004, a rise of 56 percent.

Find more about this troubling trend at the Georgia Tech hurricane research web site.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Start sleeping with behavioral therapy

Back to the basics this time - getting a good night's sleep.

According to a HealthDay story, a new online, six-week behavioral therapy program that costs $35 could help.

The HealthDay story goes on to say, "Insomnia, to a large extent, is a learned problem," explains developer Gregg Jacobs, an insomnia specialist at the Sleep Disorders Center of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston. "It is due to the way people think about their sleep and their sleep behaviors. These actually cause the insomnia, but they can be changed to eliminate the insomnia."

Although medications can help people sleep, they are no cure for insomnia, Jacobs says. He says that an NIH consensus panel of experts endorsed cognitive behavioral therapy as being more effective, and the preferred treatment for chronic insomnia over sleeping pills.

Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches poor sleepers how to modify stressful thought about their sleep, modify negative or disruptive sleep behaviors, improve relaxation skills, and improve lifestyle practices, Jacobs says.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Katrina cancer patients' resources

Many organizations are coming together to provide medical help to Katrina survivors. One of these is the American Cancer Society.

Visit the Society web site to find out where many of the resources can be found for cancer patients in need both in the areas affected by Katrina and locations where survivors have been relocated.

The web site says, "As we face the aftermath of this storm, the Society is working to continue providing patient services and programs in those areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.

"Individuals in need of American Cancer Society services in the affected area should contact our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-ACS-2345. Cancer information specialists are available to answer calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. "

And, "Download a list of Hurricane Katrina Resources - This document is a list of public resources available nationally as well as in the affected regions for those displaced by the storm."