Sunday, July 30, 2006

Looking at beauty in the city at night

Okay - so this is off the medical beat, but I am so enamored of the beautiful photography on flickr ... here is Kayode Okeyode with some London photos.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Photos of the earth

To view beautiful photographs of our earth - go to tricky (sovietyuk).

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A fun experiment with water bed testing

Watch this hilarious video on Google videos - the water bed.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Does BMI really count for all?

This is the kind of report that you want to say "of course I pretty much figured this" - this is something intuitive.

For years doctors have used the body mass index (BMI), a ratio of height and weight, to characterize the clinical weight status of their patients. The lower the number, the presumption goes, the leaner the person, and anyone with a BMI above 30 is characterized as obese and at high risk for the associated complications.

But the BMI has come under scrutiny lately, and other techniques that measure how the weight is distributed on the body are thought to provide a better way to assess risk. Now a study in mice by scientists at The Jackson Laboratory indicates that the usefulness of the BMI is suspect even at the genetic level.

In research published in PLoS Genetics, researchers used a combination of computational, molecular, and genetic tools to identify locations on the mouse genome that influence adiposity (amount of body fat), overall body size and bone structure. Applying an analytical technique called "structural equation modeling" to the genetic and physical characteristics of mouse inbred crosses, the scientists went beyond the one-gene, one-trait approach to reveal the networks of effects created by the influence of multiple genes.

The scientists say they found strong evidence that a high weight is not necessarily directly associated with a high percentage of fat.

At the clinical level, the research suggests that more refined measurements are needed to distinguish individuals with a large body mass from those who are truly obese.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Nanowires coaxed from bacteria and bioengeering electrical devices

This is pretty amazing to think about!

When Yuri Gorby discovered that a microbe which transforms toxic metals can sprout tiny electrically conductive wires from its cell membrane, he reasoned this anatomical oddity and its metal-changing physiology must be related.

A colleague who had heard Gorby's presentation at a scientific meeting later reported that he, too, was able to coax nanowires from another so-called metal-reducing bacteria species and futher suggested the wires, called pili, could be used to bioengineer electrical devices.

It now turns out that not only are the wires and their ability to alter metal connected--but that many other bacteria, including species involved in fermentation and photosynthesis, can also form wires under a variety of environmental conditions.

"Earth appears to be hard-wired," said Gorby, staff scientist at the Department of Energy's Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Developing galaxy an under-luminous blob

On occasion it is fun to look outward to the stars and far beyond - today's story is about ever-developing galaxies.

According to press materials, ESO's VLT has helped scientists to discover a large primordial 'blob', more than 10 billion light-years away. The most likely scenario to account for its existence and properties is that it represents the early stage in the formation of a galaxy, when gas falls onto a large clump of dark matter.

[ESO is the intergovernmental European research organisation for Astronomy in the Southern Hemisphere. It is supported by Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. VLT stands for very large telescope.]

Over the last few years, astronomers have discovered in the distant Universe a few so-called 'blobs'. These are rather energetic but under-luminous objects, of the size of or much larger than our Milky Way galaxy. Their exact nature is still unclear and several scenarios have been proposed to account for their existence.

An international team of astronomers have discovered a new 'blob' located at a distance of 11.6 billion light-years. It is thus seen as it was when the Universe was only 2 billion years old, or less than 15 percent its present age. The newly discovered object is located in the well-studied GOODS South field.

The blob is twice as big as our Milky Way and the total energy emitted is equivalent to that of about 2 billion suns. Despite this, the object is invisible in the images taken with various telescopes observing from the infrared to the X-ray wavebands, making it a very peculiar object. It is also the only such object found by the astronomers in their survey.

The research has been presented in a Letter to the Editor in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. To see spectacular photos visit this site.