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Sherlock

Why Do We Have Fingerprints?

© Wikimedia
The grooves in fingerprints enhance our ability to sense textures, according to a recent study.
Unlike most wrinkles on our bodies, which appear due to bending and stretching of the skin, fingerprints aren't the result of repeated motion. Each of us is born with a unique set of them, although scientists aren't exactly sure what purpose fingerprints serve.

One possible purpose of fingerprints is that they improve our sense of touch. In a recent study, scientists have investigated this idea by performing a series of experiments with artificial fingertips made of rubber-like sensors. The scientists compared the sensitivity between these grooved artificial fingertips and a smooth skin-like material, and found that the grooved fingertips produced vibrations up to 100 times stronger than the smooth material when sliding against a slightly rough surface.

Bell

Perchlorate Chemicals Found in 100% of Tested Infant Formula Products

The CDC has conducted a study of infant formula products sold in the United States and shockingly found they were all contaminated with rocket fuel chemicals!

Published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, these findings reveal that every single infant formula product tested was found to contain perchlorate. The highest levels were reportedly found in the cow's milk formula products.

How does perchlorate get into infant formula? It's simple: It's a contaminant in the water supply that's given to dairy cows. Those cows, in turn, pass the perchlorate chemicals through their milk, and that milk is used to make infant formula that many (ignorant) parents still feed their babies.

(Can you believe human mothers still feed their human babies milk made from bovine animals?)

Bell

Chemicals Used to Disinfect Water Create Dangerous Toxins

If you swim in a pool or drink water from your public water supply, you know the water has been disinfected by chemicals. But this process, which is often called "purifying" water, appears to not make water "pure" for the body. In fact, a recent study by University of Illinois scientists published in the scientific journal Mutation Research shows the chemicals used to treat water we drink and use in swimming pools causes a reaction with organic materials in the water that creates dangerous, cancer-causing toxins known as disinfection by-products (DBPs).

"The reason that you and I can go to a drinking fountain and not be fearful of getting cholera is because we disinfect water in the United States. But the process of disinfecting water with chlorine and chloramines and other types of disinfectants generates a class of compounds in the water that are called disinfection by-products. The disinfectant reacts with the organic material in the water and generates hundreds of different compounds. Some of these are toxic, some can cause birth defects, some are genotoxic, which damage DNA, and some we know are also carcinogenic," University of Illinois geneticist Michael Plewa said in a statement to the media.

A 10-year, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded study headed by Dr. Plewa used specially developed mammalian cell lines to analyze the impact of these compounds. Specifically, the researchers analyzed the cytotoxicity (ability to cause cell death) and DNA genome damage caused by disinfection by-products.

Bell

Airplane Cabin Air Filled with Toxic Chemicals

A new undercover investigation has found traces of toxic chemicals on board the planes of several popular commercial airlines, bolstering claims from pilots and others that contamination of the air in jet cabins is widespread.

A Swiss and German television network collaborated to secretly swab the cabins of 31 airplanes from several popular airliners. The swabs were then sent off to the University of British Columbia for analysis. Twenty-eight of them tested positive for high levels of a jet oil ingredient called tricresyl phosphate (TCP).

TCP is used to prevent wear inside jet engines, but is also known to cause respiratory distress, drowsiness, headaches or other neurological problems in humans.

This cluster of symptoms is known as Aerotoxic Syndrome. Former British Airways pilot Tristan Loraine has conducted research into the condition for seven years, leading eventually to a documentary about his findings. Loraine claims that it was contaminated cabin air that made him unable to work after 19 years as a pilot.

Comment:
"One curious and unintended consequence of the aeroplane ban [on smoking] was that airlines began to save money by changing the air in the cabin less frequently. Traditionally, this was done every two minutes and old air was never recirculated, but with no tobacco smoke to draw attention to the quality of air, the carriers reduced air changes to once every twenty minutes. This led to a musty aroma on board and, according to a report in The Lancet, contributed to the appearance of Deep Vein Thrombosis, a disease unknown in airline passengers until the 1990s."
Christopher Snowdon - Velvet Glove, Iron Fist: A History of Anti-Smoking


Sun

Mushrooms Synthesize Vitamin D When Exposed to Ultraviolet Light

Recent research suggests that like humans, some animals and certain species of algae, mushrooms may also be able to synthesize vitamin D upon exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin D is synthesized by the body upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. Synthesis of the vitamin does not appear to be possible in the absence of ultraviolet radiation. The vitamin D in the diet of fish, for example, ultimately comes from several varieties of shallow water algae that produce it from sunlight.

Mushrooms, however, contain 4 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D per serving, and early studies suggest that this can be increased to 100 percent simply by exposing the mushrooms to sunlight for just five minutes.

A further test of this phenomenon was recently conducted by researchers from Crosby House Surgery in England. In a case study, a single 30-year-old, vitamin D deficient Indian man was fed mushrooms that had been treated with ultraviolet-B radiation. After three months of eating the mushrooms daily, his blood vitamin D levels increased by 129 percent.

Attention

Rocket Fuel Chemical Found in Baby Formula

Image
© PhotoDisc
When a parent puts a bottle of baby formula to a child's lips, the parent might not know exactly what ingredients are in that thick, nutritionally packed mix. But rocket fuel? That's not an ingredient many expect to find.

A study by government researchers released Thursday tested 15 different brands of formula and found a chemical -- also found in rocket fuel -- contaminating every single one. While the levels of the chemical, perchlorate, have been deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency, some worry public health is at risk.

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested the formula for the presence of perchlorate, a chemical used as the main ingredient in solid rocket fuel. It's a worry because perchlorate can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones by inhibiting the absorption of iodine.

Syringe

Nicotine may have more profound impact than previously thought

© Hawrot Lab/Brown University
Researchers have found that the alpha-7 receptor, a site known to bind with nicotine, interacts with 55 different proteins. Nicotine may affect bodily processes -- and perhaps the actions of other commonly used drugs -- more broadly than was previously thought.
Nicotine isn't just addictive. It may also interfere with dozens of cellular interactions in the body, new Brown University research suggests.

Conversely, the data could also help scientists develop better treatments for various diseases. Pharmaceutical companies rely on basic research to identify new cellular interactions that can, in turn, serve as targets for potential new drugs.

"It opens several new lines of investigation," said lead author Edward Hawrot, professor of molecular science, molecular pharmacology, physiology and biotechnology at Brown University.

Hawrot's research is highlighted in a paper published April 3 in the Journal of Proteome Research. He and a team that included graduate students William Brucker and Joao Paulo set out to provide a more basic understanding of how nicotine affects the process of cell communication through the mammalian nervous system.

Comment: Notice that the article makes no mention of whether the interaction of nicotine with the alpha-7 receptor is negative or not. And that it shows promising research possibiities with respect to treating schizophrenia. Yet this substance, which has been in use for thousands years by indigenous peoples is still demonized. Why?

Nicotine Activates More than Just the Brain's Pleasure Pathways
Nicotine and Autism: Another study demonstrates nicotine's neurological benefits
Nicotine Found To Protect Against Parkinson's-like Brain Damage
Researchers Light Up for Nicotine, the Wonder Drug
Let's All Light Up!


Sun

Tea Tree Oil And Silver Together Make More Effective Antiseptics

In the fight against infected skin wounds, mixing tea tree oil and silver or putting them in liposomes (small spheres made from natural lipids), greatly increases their antimicrobial activity and may minimise any side effects.

Syringe

Olmsted on Autism: 1 in 10,000 Amish

Managing Editor's Note: Dr. Max Wiznitzer of University Hospitals in Cleveland is an expert witness for the government against the families who file in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

It is unanimous, apparently -- the rate of autism among the Amish is low. Really, really low. So low that if it were the same in the rest of the population, we wouldn't even be talking about the subject. Shockingly low.

But not so shocking that anyone feels compelled to follow up on the information or its logical implications -- not four years ago when I first pointed it out, not today when the clues it contains are more intriguing than ever -- in fact, never, never, never.

Bell

Study Says Vitamin D Deficiency Has Increased Alarmingly

Vitamin D is a critically important nutrient. However, with most people spending an increasing amount of time indoors, and wearing long-sleeved tops or slapping on sunscreen lotions when they do go under the sun, levels of vitamin D in our bodies are falling to dangerously low levels. And a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has suggested that the state of widespread deficiency in the United States population may be even more staggering than most of us realize.

Details of Study

The study team had compared data on serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES III, which had been collected from 1988 to 1994, with NHANES data which had been collected from 2001 to 2004. In total, complete data on 18,883 persons in the former survey and 13,369 persons in the latter survey was used. Data on 5,362 African Americans was used in the first exercise, while data on 3,149 of them was used in the second one.