Archive for December, 2009

Booming Music May Have Triggered Club-Goer's Heart Attack

By Darlene Cavalier | December 31, 2009 9:00 am

clubABC News reports on an unusual and tragic case of a heart attack triggered by blasting music. A British teenager died shortly after complaining of loud music at a London nightclub, according to reports. Details are sketchy but U.S. doctors suspect a genetic condition may be to blame.

From ABC News:

“Any time someone in a setting of excitement has a sudden cardiac arrest, especially at a young age with a seemingly normal heart, you have to consider [an inherited condition] such as long QT,” said Dr. Richard Page, chair of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and president of the Heart Rhythm Society. “One of the genetic variants is especially predisposed to having an arrhythmia when exposed to loud sound.”

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MORE ABOUT: heart disease, music

Will Glowing Wallpaper Make Light Bulbs Obsolete?

By Brett Israel | December 30, 2009 4:05 pm

cfl-bulb-webFor those tired of changing light bulbs, we’ve got some good news. A light-emitting wallpaper may replace light bulbs as soon as 2012, according to The Times:

A chemical coating on the walls will illuminate all parts of the room with an even glow, which mimics sunlight and avoids the shadows and glare of conventional bulbs.

Apply a low voltage current to the wallpaper and bam!—no more light bulbs. The organic LED wallpaper, under development by the Welsh company Lomax, will be at least twice as efficient as current energy saving bulbs. And no, the glowing wallpaper will not create an electric fence in your living room—Lomax says their electric wallpaper will be safe to touch.

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Image: flickr / nodomain1

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: electronics, energy, light

Food Fraud: High Schoolers Use DNA Tests to Expose Fake Caviar

By Brett Israel | December 30, 2009 11:59 am

dna-investigators-webA pair of genetic sleuths from New York City’s Trinity high school discovered a bit of food foul play.  Seniors Matt Cost and Brenda Tan collected DNA samples from items around their homes and school, sequenced the fragments and analyzed them with a publicly available database, and found there is little truth in advertising, according to Cosmic Log:

The real detective work came into play when [they] matched the DNA code against a couple of publicly available databases for animal species. They found out that an expensive brand of sheep’s-milk cheese was actually made from cow’s milk, that “sturgeon caviar” was actually Mississippi paddlefish, and that dog treats supposedly made from venison were actually made from beef.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Food, Nutrition, & More Food

Free Tropical Vacation! (If You Try an Experimental Diarrhea Drug)

By Andrew Moseman | December 29, 2009 12:37 pm

MexicoBeachIt’s about that time of year when people return home from spending holidays with the family, only to realize they need a vacation to recover from their vacation. Well, if you’re a resident of the U.K. or Germany who’s in good health, between 18 and 64 years old, and can keep a diary for two and a half weeks, your vacation to Mexico or Guatemala could be gratis. Oh, and one more thing: You have to be a guinea pig for a potential diarrhea drug.

A U.S. vaccine manufacturer called Intercell calls it the “Trek Study.” The company says it needs 1,800 volunteers between now and May to visit these locales, where sun-seeking tourists often get diarrhea. But fear not, travelers: A smaller study Intercell did on Americans showed a 75 percent reduction in diarrhea incidence, so perhaps fewer of you will spend your Caribbean holiday in excruciating, gut-wrenching pain than you normally would.

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Model Choo-Choo to Fusion-Reactor Physicists: "I'm Goin' In!"

By Brett Israel | December 29, 2009 2:00 am

toy-train-webNever let a group of scientists have too much time on their hands. While a fusion reactor was down for improvements, scientists at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory unleashed their inner child and built a model train track inside the reactor. A toy train then chugged around the track for three days, according to The New York Times:

It was not an exercise in silliness, but in calibration.

The modified model of a diesel train engine was carrying a small chunk of californium-252, a radioactive element that spews neutrons as it falls apart.

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MORE ABOUT: nuclear, toys

The Long Tentacles of the Law Could End Car Chases Safely

By Brett Israel | December 28, 2009 6:01 pm

There is really no good way to end a high speed car chase. Shooting out the tires of a fleeing vehicle or laying down old fashioned spike strips are both terribly dangerous. Ramming the getaway car with a police cruiser until it spins out is obviously risky. Thankfully, the government is hard at work on the problem and they’ve come up with a solution that maybe ready by next year, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The technology is named the Safe Quick Undercarriage Immobilization Device, but you can call it SQUID.

“SQUID was inspired by a sea creature and a superhero,” says [Engineering Science Analysis Corporation] president Martín Martínez. Like its oceanic namesake, SQUID ensnares its prey with sticky tendrils. Like Spiderman’s webbing, these tendrils stretch to absorb the kinetic energy of their fleeing target.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: weapons & security

Incompetent Xbox Thief Busted Via Online Gaming

By Brett Israel | December 28, 2009 12:32 pm

xbox-360-flickr-webWhat with crooks who post status updates while on the lam and snap self-portraits with stolen iPhones, it seems incompetent criminals find technology irresistible. Our latest tale of blundering criminality involves a Bronx man who is quite adept at stealing electronics, but a bit confused about how they work, according to the New York Post:

Jeremiah Gilliam, 22, was caught after playing a stolen game console online — allowing cops in Pelham, where it was stolen, to trace the IP address to his grandmother’s address, cops said.

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A New Facebook Game: Taunting the Cops When They Can't Catch You

By Brett Israel | December 23, 2009 1:41 pm

Some people are simply addicted to Facebook, even those that should keep a low profile, according to CNN:

Craig Lynch, 28, escaped Hollesley Bay open prison near Suffolk, eastern England, back in September, but has continued to update his Facebook status regularly — describing everything from his meals to who his next girlfriend will be.

On his Facebook page, Lynch, who was sentenced to seven years for aggravated burglary, is literally giving the finger to the law. The police have spoken with Facebook and are following his status updates like bread crumbs in an attempt to track him down. Then again, “We’re taking what he’s saying on Facebook with a pinch of salt because he’s now aware that people may be reading what he’s writing,” says one cop.

Uh, not to tell you how to do your job, officers, but maybe you should try tracking the data packets back to the computer he’s using rather than just hoping he’ll make slip up and tell you where he’s hiding out.

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MORE ABOUT: crime, facebook

Kazakh Prez Brags That His Capital Is So Cold That It's Germ-Free

By Brett Israel | December 23, 2009 12:09 pm

Come to Kazakhstan—specifically the ice-cold capital of Astana—said Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev in an annual speech yesterday. Here is part of his pitch to diplomats and government officials, via Reuters:

“Well today it’s only -30 C (-22 F). It only strengthens our spirit,” Nazarbayev, in power for 20 years, told diplomats at his lavish marble-and-turquoise presidential palace.

“This city is so sterile. Even germs can’t survive in this weather. So we can enjoy living long lives here. Well, maybe not as long as those of mammoths, but still quite long.”

Great success! Nazarbayev thinks Astana is so extreme that he moved Kazakhstan’s capital there in 1997, which makes Astana the second-coldest capital city in the world. Watch your back, Ulaanbaatar!

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MORE ABOUT: weather

"Survivor: Death Valley" Winner: Microbes That Live in Salt Crystals for 30,000 Years

By Andrew Moseman | December 22, 2009 6:53 pm

deathvalleyThirty thousand years is a long time to hang out in any one place, much less stuck inside a tiny salt crystal. But microbiologist Brian Schubert says he found just that in a crystal from sediments in Death Valley—bacteria-like archaeans that have lived inside the tiny enclosure for all those years.

The researchers announced in a paper in Geology that they could culture the archaeans in the liquid from inside the crystal, liquid they estimate to be 22,000 to 34,000 years old. Previous studies suggesting even longer lives for microbes stuck in salt crystals (one even getting up to an insane-sounding 250 million years) have been met with skepticism. But even doubters of those studies say Schubert’s could have more validity, as the Death Valley area wouldn’t have allowed recrystallization (which would permit the liquid to escape and fresh microbes to get in) for 10,000 years at the least.

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