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October 18, 2008

The rise of the Chinese century


"The U.N. predicts that the country's urban population will rise by nearly 80 million between 2010 and 2015 — roughly the equivalent of two New York Citys popping up each year."

Look for Chinese Nobel Prizes in the sciences beginning around 2045 and then dominating these categories for the subsequent 50 years.

The first winners are currently university students.

Photographs (top) by Sze Tsung Leong.

[via portfolio.com and Milena]

October 18, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

French Fry Cutter


From the website:

    French Fry Cutter — Make Fresh Homemade French Fries Fast

    This pro quality deluxe stainless steel cutter swiftly divides an entire potato with one quick press of the handle.

    Includes two cutting grids for making either a 3/8"-thick cut or a slimmer ¼"-thin cut fry.

    Super-strong suction base for added stability and contoured soft-grip handle.

    Great for making veggie sticks, too.

    12"W x 7"H x 4½"D.

    Dishwasher safe.


$29.95 (potato not included).

October 18, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Take a load off


[via araquebeagua.com.]

October 18, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mini Carbon Monoxide Detector


From the website:

    Personal Carbon Monoxide Detector

    Protect yourself and your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide.

    You can't see it, you can't smell it — but carbon monoxide can be deadly.

    Play it safe with this palm-size Personal Carbon Monoxide Detector.

    Designed to detect toxic CO fumes, it sounds an alarm and flashes a red LED light when it senses dangerous levels of the gas.

    Ideal for travel, it weighs just 2 ounces.

    Includes three CR2032 lithium batteries.



Perfect with the item featured in today's 9:01 a.m. post....

October 18, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: 'Each tooth has its own unique bacterial colony'


But wait — there's more!

500 species of bacteria call your mouth home.

And you're worried about who touched that doorknob?

Get a life.

I learned the FunFacts above (and many others) from Robert Lee Hotz's October 2, 2008 "Science Journal" column in the Wall Street Journal; his piece follows.

    The Body as Bacterial Landlord

    Trillions of Microbes Living in and on Us Cause Some Harm but Also Afford Protection

    When scientists discovered that bacteria, not stress, caused most stomach ulcers, the insight overturned a century of medical dogma, transformed clinical practice and garnered a 2005 Nobel Prize for the two researchers who made the connection so many others had missed. After people adopted antibiotics to treat gastric distress, though, microbiologist Martin Blaser and his colleagues at New York University began to document an odd medical trend.

    Ulcers did drop dramatically, as expected. So did the incidence of stomach cancer. As the bacteria, called Helicobacter pylori, virtually disappeared among children, however, cases of asthma tripled. So did rates of hay fever and allergies, such as eczema. Among adults, gastric reflux disease became more common, as did some forms of esophageal cancer, researchers noted.

    To Dr. Blaser's way of thinking, antibiotics and other sanitation measures are eliminating the harm these bacteria cause at the expense of the protection they provide us.

    The human body teems with so many microbes that they outnumber our own cells ten to one. Vast schools of bacteria are in us and around us, like fish nuzzling a coral reef. "They are not simply along for the ride," says Stanford University microbiologist David Relman. "They are interacting with us."

    Yet almost all of them are still unknown to science, since most cannot be grown and studied in the laboratory. In ways mysterious to medicine, this microbial menagerie of fellow travelers in and on us is controlling our health, affecting obesity, cancer and heart disease, among others.

    At this scale of biogeography, we are the world.

    As many as 500 species of bacteria may inhabit our guts, like H. pylori. Maybe 500 or so other species make themselves at home in our mouth, where each tooth has its own unique bacterial colony, Dr. Relman recently determined. No one knows how many species we contain in all. This past August, researchers at Kings College London identified yet another new species of oral bacteria between the tongue and cheek.

    Until recently, half of humanity harbored these H. pylori stomach bacteria, according to a 2002 study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Indeed, we appear to have evolved together. Among those born in the U.S. during the 1990s, however, only 5% or so still carry these microbes, largely due to the indiscriminate use of antibiotics.

    After analyzing health records of 7,412 people collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, Dr. Blaser and NYU epidemiologist Yu Chen reported this summer in the Journal of Infectious Diseases that children between three and 13 years old who tested positive for H. pylori bacteria were 59% less likely to have asthma. They also were 40% to 60% less likely to have hay fever or rashes.

    No one knows yet whether Dr. Blaser is right about H. pylori protective properties.

    "We don't know why the incidence of allergic disorders has increased so much," says National Institutes of Health genomicist Julia A. Segre. "That's why we are looking for a bacterial connection. We want to know how they are contributing to our health."

    The connection to allergies is just one of the pressing public health puzzles posed by our complex relationship with the trillions of microbes that call us home. "Recent studies have shown that changes in bacteria can be correlated with some pretty serious diseases," says Jane Peterson, head of the National Human Genome Research Institute's comparative sequencing program.

    Childhood diabetes also is on the rise in developed countries, for instance. Last week, University of Chicago immunologist Alexander Chervonsky and his collaborators at Yale University reported that doses of the right stomach bacteria can stop the development of Type 1 diabetes in lab mice.

    "By changing who is living in our guts, we can prevent Type 1 diabetes," Dr. Chervonsky says.

    Other bacteria are just as crucial to our well-being, feeding us the calories from food we can't digest on our own, bolstering our immune systems, tending our skin and dosing us with vitamins, such as B-6 and B-12, which we are unable to synthesize unaided.

    For the first time, researchers are attempting to identify and analyze the types of bacteria that live within us, in an effort that makes the Human Genome Project look like child's play. Instead of sequencing the genes of one microbe at a time, researchers in a five-year, $125 million NIH effort called the Human Microbiome Project are analyzing entire communities of mixed bacteria at once, in a technique called metagenomics.

    To start, researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md., are sequencing the genomes of 200 microbe species isolated from 250 healthy volunteers. They are sampling bacteria from the skin, gut, vagina, mouth and nose, then attempting to identify them by cataloging variations in a single gene sequence that all bacteria share.

    Working with similar metagenomics projects in Europe, Japan, China and Canada, they hope to assemble a reference collection of genomic information covering 1,000 microbial species that infest us. If all goes as planned, they may soon find themselves trying to analyze 200,000 genes, compared to only 20,000 for the human genome. "These data sets we will be generating are huge, and we don't have the tools yet to analyze them," says Dr. Peterson.

    The diversity is more than anyone expected. Dr. Segre, who specializes in the study of the skin, found one set of microbial communities thriving in the bend of the typical elbow and an entirely different set of colonies on the average forearm. In all, she identified 113 different kinds of bacteria living in concentrations of about 10,000 per square centimeter on the surface and, just beneath the skin, in densities of one million microbes per square centimeter, she reported last May.

    In a real sense, the history of all these many microbes is the history of humanity itself. "We are living beings that co-evolved with micro-organisms," Dr. Segre says. Evidence suggests that strains of helicobacter bacteria evolved along with humankind from its beginnings in primitive organisms a billion years ago. Every mammalian species appears to have its own unique variety of these microbes.

    Helicobacter pylori accompanied our ancestors on every journey. The human varietals spread from East Africa about 58,000 years ago as anatomically modern humans also first began to migrate from the region, molecular epidemiologists at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin reported last year in the journal Nature. They identified 370 strains of the bacteria that seemed to reflect the migrations and settlements of their human hosts.

    Most of us learn early to think of all micro-organisms as harmful germs. The thought of our intimate zoo, therefore, may make some of us reach reflexively for the antiseptic. In the U.S. alone, antibacterial products account for about $1 billion in sales annually. It is unclear, though, how long we could survive without each other.

    "They live with us, and they are part of us," says Dr. Chervonsky. "That does not mean there is no tug of war."


October 18, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FunSlides Carpet Skates

Gives a whole new meaning to "cut a rug."

From the website:

FunSlides® Carpet Skates™

Like sliding in socks on a hardwood floor.

These carpet skates have a friction-resistant plastic base and foam foot grip with adjustable Velcro® closure.


Just strap them on to athletic shoes and you're ready to go!

Ages 6+.

"Ages 6+" — why, that's sensational news for over three-fourths of my readers.

Blue, Lime Green, Red, Silver, Hot Pink or Purple.



[via Milena]

October 18, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

CourseIQ.net — 'Virtual flyovers of 300 U.S. golf courses'


zoom Zoom ZOOM.

Here's Michael Hiestand's October 3, 2008 USA Today item about this new site.

    New site lets golfers zoom in on flyovers

    Although they'll still be needed to carry golf bags, technology is threatening the value of caddies.

    CourseIQ.net, launched today, offers virtual flyover views of each hole on 300 U.S. golf courses and wants users to request more courses that can be added to the site.

    Launched by San Diego-based BinaryLabs, which markets educational software, the site lets users scout out courses before they play them — or figure out good places to watch tournament play on unfamiliar courses.

    Frank Jensen, BinaryLabs CEO, says the new fee-free site is different from existing sites, which offer raw satellite photos of courses, because it lets users zoom in on photos, provides information on holes such as yardage and which way fairways might tilt — and invites golfers who've played the courses to post online tips.

    Says Jensen, who's working on his 24 handicap: "We try to add value to the flyover."

October 18, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Watch Ring — Or Ring Watch?


You decide.

Designed by Carolyn Forsman.

From her website:

    Watch Ring

    Quartz movement "Speidel"-type band will fit ring sizes 6-8 and has 1"-diameter colored dial with big numbers.

    Runs 1 year on included replaceable battery.



Clockwise from top: Hot Pink, Black, Yellow, Jade, Lime Green, Mauve, White.


October 18, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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