NTS LogoSkeptical News for 17 October 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

****** Special bulletin for Sigma Xi members and members of the media ******

2001 Sigma Xi Forum: Science, the Arts and the Humanities: Connections and Collisions

Click on the link below to view a detailed program of events, read about the featured presentation of the play "Oxygen," and register to attend.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/2001Forum/Forum2001.htm

***************

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - October 17, 2001

STUDY: BREAST CANCER RISK GREATER FOR WOMEN ON NIGHT SHIFTS
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Women who are exposed to a large amount of light at night -- whether they work the graveyard shift or just endure frequent sleep interruptions -- appear to have a higher risk of breast cancer, scientists are reporting today.

In two separate studies, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and at Harvard Medical Center found a strong link between nighttime light exposure and elevated cancer risk.

The risk can be as much as 60 percent higher for those exposed to light at night, according to the Seattle study.

A family history of breast cancer poses a much higher relative risk, but the night-light factor appears to bring roughly the same extra risk as some other well-known breast cancer risks, including alcohol use, delayed childbirth and use of high-dose birth control pills.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/10/17/MN207770.DTL&type=science

ANTIBIOTIC: OVERUSE OF CIPRO CAN BREED LETHAL BACTERIA
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Doctors are warning that inappropriate use of a potent antibiotic to guard against anthrax could wind up exposing Americans to dangerous infections of drug-resistant bacteria.

Faced with growing concern of terrorist attacks, health experts began issuing new alarms yesterday about the dangers of overprescribing the drug Cipro, one of the last and best weapons in the arsenal against routine bacterial infections.

Hundreds of employees of NBC News in New York and American Media Inc. in Florida -- where anthrax has been found -- have been placed on a 60-day course of the antibiotic because it can prevent the spores from blossoming into a deadly blood infection.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/10/17/MN159235.DTL&type=science

TURTLES GUIDED BY MAGNETIC FIELDS
from The Boston Globe

WASHINGTON - From the moment they hatch in sandy nests on Florida beaches, tiny loggerhead turtles can navigate across the Atlantic Ocean and back home again using the subtle signals of the Earth's magnetic field, a new study shows.

The study, appearing Friday in the journal Science, reports on a laboratory experiment that showed the baby sea turtles used natural magnetic field patterns as navigation guides to stay within the Atlantic gyre, an ocean-wide current of warm water.

The gyre forms a huge circular ocean current, moving clockwise from the US East Coast, across the North Atlantic and then south along the coasts of Spain and Africa, before turning west to complete the circle.

After hatching, baby loggerhead turtles swim out into this current and flow with it for years, nudged along by warm waters rich in food. Their migration, lasting for years, carries them on an 8,000-mile path around the Atlantic Ocean.

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/289/science/Turtles_guided_by_magnetic_fields+.shtml

ORGANIC MACHINES AREN'T EXPENDABLE
from The Boston Globe

They took the stage as representatives of ''reason and wildness,'' respectively, two articulate authors and thinkers who come at the world very differently.

E.O. Wilson, author of ''Consilience,'' influential naturalist, and one of the world's best-known scientists, championed the power of the human mind to escape the limitations of our unaided senses and achieve something approximating objective truth.

Philosopher David Abram, author of the ''The Spell of the Sensuous,'' was the voice of wildness, respectful of science, but distrustful of reason that has lost its moorings in raw animal experience.

Appearing with Wilson at the New England Aquarium Environmental Writers Festival, Abram took scientists to task for using the metaphor of the machine to explain the natural world, and especially to explain organisms. Living things are not machines, he said, and should not be likened to them.

Science should draw its explanatory metaphors from the organic world, Abram stated.

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/289/science/Organic_machines_aren_t_expendable+.shtml

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage
http://www.sigmaxi.org

Media Resource Service
http://www.mediaresource.org

American Scientist magazine
http://www.americanscientist.org

For feedback on In the News,
inthenews@sigmaxi.org

Articles of Note

Anthrax attack -- or panic attack?
By Arthur Allen
Salon.com Oct. 13, 2001

http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/10/13/anthrax_psychology/index.html

Anthrax anxiety -- or panic attack? As suspected bioterror incidents are reported from Oregon to New York, medical experts fear the nation is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. One of pediatrician Al Mehl's patients in Boulder, Color., today was a young boy with a chest cold. The illness was routine, but his mother's take on it was anything but. "Tell me it isn't anthrax," she begged Mehl. "Tell me it isn't anthrax."

Monday, October 15, 2001
The Star (Malaysia)

Cellphones "killing off ghosts"

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2001/10/15/world/worghost&sec=world

LONDON: Mobile phones are killing off ghosts, a British expert who has spent years researching the occult said yesterday. Tony Cornell, of the Society for Psychical Research, told the Sunday Express newspaper that reports of ghost sightings had started to decline when mobile phones were introduced 15 years ago.

By Kathleen Laufenberg
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER Tallahassee FL Sunday, October 14, 2001

http://web.tallahasseedemocrat.com/content/tallahassee/2001/10/14/features/1014.fea.healermain.htm

You may doubt many things about faith healer Willard Fuller, but there's no doubting this: He does have a presence.

At 86, he still stands relatively tall (6-foot-1), and his blue eyes still catch your attention, even from behind his substantial glasses. But it's his mane of white, shoulder-length hair that grabs most people first - if, that is, he doesn't have a clutch of dental mirrors sprouting from his pocket.

The Scotsman Online

http://www.thescotsman.co.uk/world.cfm?id=116404

Magician's lottery list accurate

THE American illusionist David Copperfield said yesterday he has been bombarded by requests for tips on the winning numbers in Germany's national lottery on Saturday night - numbers he said he predicted seven months ago.

Copperfield wrote down his forecast on 17 February for the multi-million mark lottery drawing due on 13 October. The prediction was sealed by a notary and locked in a box that was kept under round-the-clock surveillance.

The Devil's playthings
By Suzy Hansen
Salon.com Oct. 16, 2001

http://www.salon.com/books/int/2001/10/16/exorcism/index.html

The Devil's playthings
An author who traveled across the U.S. observing exorcisms talks about the strange things he's seen and the likelihood of demonic possession.

In 1971, William Peter Blatty published the bestselling book "The Exorcist," based on a 1949 newspaper story about a Washington, D.C., 14-year-old. After being tortured by mysterious scratchings and rappings on his bedroom walls, the seemingly incurable teenager was exorcised by a Jesuit priest. Blatty's version, however, concocted the much more romantic and outlandish story of Regan, a young girl unforgettably played on screen by Linda Blair, who would make her mark spewing vomit and masturbating with a crucifix while being exorcised by dashing and charismatic priest heroes.

By GAYLE WHITE
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer 10.15.2001

http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/living/1015tribulation.html

Tribulation Trail: End-times tableau designed to scare you out of hell

Members of Metro Heights Baptist Church outside Stockbridge think they've found something more frightening than terrorism: eternal damnation. Now, they've combined the two in an attempt to scare people out of hell.

The Trickster and the Paranormal (softcover edition)

Buy it here

By: George P. Hansen
564 pages
Copyright 2001
Library of Congress Number 2001116933
ISBN#: Hardcover 1-4010-0081-9
Softcover 1-4010-0082-7
Xlibris Corporation
1-888-795-4274
http://www.Xlibris.com
Orders@Xlibris.com

Update on Mark A Hall Publications

Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2001 13:08:48 +0000
From: mark.hall.wonders@att.net

We are at a new location.

Please take note of our new address:
407E Racine Drive, Wilmington, NC 28403.

You can also find us on the web at
http://home.att.net/~mark.hall.wonders.

THE YETI, BIGFOOT & TRUE GIANTS (1994, 1997) $20
Second Edition (EUROPE US$24, ELSEWHERE US$27)

LIVING FOSSILS: THE SURVIVAL OF HOMO GARDARENSIS,
NEANDERTAL MAN, AND HOMO ERECTUS (1999) $20
(EUROPE US$24, ELSEWHERE US$27)

THUNDERBIRDS -- THE LIVING LEGEND! (1988, 1994) $20
Second Edition (EUROPE US$24, ELSEWHERE US$27)

NATURAL MYSTERIES (1989, 1991) $16
Second Edition (EUROPE US$21, ELSEWHERE US$24)

I also have in print 6 complete volumes of the
publication WONDERS covering 1992 to 2001.

It is a quarterly. Subscription is $19 in North America for four issues.
US$30 in Europe; US$32 Elsewhere.

Back Issues: Vol. 1 complete (1992): 72 pp. $11 (EUROPE US$17; ELSEWHERE US$20)

Vol. 2 complete (1993): 102 pp. $16 (Europe $ 21, Other $24)
Vol. 3 complete (1994): 120 pp. $20 ( $24 & $27)
Vol. 4 complete (1995): 120 pp. $20 ( $24 & $27)
Vol. 5 complete (1998): 128 pp. $20 ($24 & $27)
Vol. 6 complete (2001): 128 pp. $20 ($24 & $27)

I have also a 5-VOLUME INDEX (1992-1998) to WONDERS for US$4 in North America; US$7 in Europe and Elsewhere.

My address is now: Mark A Hall, 407E Racine Drive,
Wilmington, NC 28403.

Titanic show is haunted, claim visitors

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_425148.html?menu=news.quirkies

Visitors say a Chilean museum's exhibition of objects from the Titanic is haunted.

They have reported seeing ghosts and hearing strange noises.

The display in Santiago includes original objects from the liner.

"Guards, visitors and even the police have all reported experiencing strange phenomena such as seeing apparitions," exhibition organiser Juan Pablo Cuadra told Las Ultimas Noticias newspaper.

A number of visitors report hearing human voices and footsteps when there is no one near them. One married couple told the exhibition's organisers they had seen a woman dressed in a long white dress typical of the period.

Mr Cuadra denied the reports are an attempt to generate publicity for the exhibition.

"My security guards aren't the kind of people to make things up," he said.

"Some of them were very reluctant to come forward and discuss what they have experienced and I'm sure there are others who are too embarrassed to talk."

The exhibition was previously shown in Argentina, where visitors also reported hearing whispering and human voices coming from the objects on show.


Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

****** Special bulletin for Sigma Xi members and members of the media ******

2001 Sigma Xi Forum: Science, the Arts and the Humanities: Connections and Collisions

Click on the link below to view a detailed program of events, read about the featured presentation of the play "Oxygen," and register to attend.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/2001Forum/Forum2001.htm

***************

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - October 16, 2001

PAY GAP REMAINS FOR WOMEN IN LIFE SCIENCES
from The New York Times

In the robust and decidedly lively field of the life sciences, at least one verity refuses to die: for every dollar that a male scientist earns, a woman earns not quite 77 cents.

A new survey by the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences of the salaries and comparative career happiness among researchers in biology, medicine and related disciplines offers a mix of the good and the grating.

On the one hand, median salaries for all life scientists increased a generous 7 percent between May of 2000 and May of this year, about twice the standard raise for American workers as a whole. Moreover, life scientists are overwhelmingly pleased with their profession: 59 percent claim they are "highly satisfied," another 27 percent say they are "fairly satisfied," and only 5 five percent fall into the gloomy ranks of the "highly dissatisfied."

On the other hand, women employed full time as life scientists earn some $72,000 a year, 23 percent less than the $94,000 their male counterparts make. That disparity may in part explain why women are more likely than men to count themselves as "fairly" rather than "highly" happy about their jobs.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/16/science/life/16SALA.html

Source links:

The Bottom Line for U.S. Life Scientists (Access the original AAAS report by clicking on link below)

http://recruit.sciencemag.org/feature/salsurvey/v294i5541p395.htm

An analysis of the numbers by Constance Holden:

http://recruit.sciencemag.org/feature/salsurvey/v294i5541p396.htm

OZONE HOLE SMALLER BUT RADIATION RISK SEEN HIGHER
from Reuters

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - This year's ozone hole over Antarctica is likely to last longer than last year's and spread more harmful ultra-violet radiation over the southern hemisphere, New Zealand scientists said on Tuesday.

The ozone hole forms in the southern spring over Antarctica and, as it breaks up, it reduces ozone levels throughout a huge swathe of the southern hemisphere -- increasing ultraviolet (UV) radiation which contributes to skin cancers and eye cataracts.

Last year the hole reached a record 11.6 million square miles -- three times the size of the United States.

This year saw a slightly smaller 10 million square mile hole at its peak in September but it was more stable and likely to last longer, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) said in a statement.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=292961

FUEL CELL CARS FACE OBSTACLES, BUT SAID VIABLE
from Reuters

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Fuel cell vehicles can be commercially viable in California, North America's largest auto market, but a focused development effort and government help are needed to get them on the road, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The study, prepared for a private-public coalition testing the environmentally friendly vehicles, is one of the first detailed examinations of the hurdles faced by a technology that is sometimes hailed as a replacement for the internal combustion engine.

Car designers still faces obstacles, such as creating adequate fuel processing equipment on the vehicles, but if progress continues "all other challenges to (fuel cell vehicle) commercialization can be overcome," according to the study for the California Fuel Cell Partnership.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=292714

Notice on "anthrax" coverage and recent editions of "Science In the News": Scientific research unrelated to the tragic events of September 11 and the recent spate of threats of biological attack is undoubtedly still going on in the United States and around the world. But that research is not garnering a lot of coverage in the mainstream media at this time. We will continue to try to find breaking news and features covering all scientific disciplines for "Science In the News," but we ask readers to understand that a preponderance of science reporting in the most widely read media outlets deal with the threat of terrorism.

For example, by our estimation roughly two-thirds of stories appearing today on the A.P. and Reuters wires deal with the anthrax scare. As the media seem to have been specifically targeted, the nearly overwhelming coverage of anthrax is understandable -- not to mention a possible motivation for prescient perpetrators. And while "Science In the News" does strive to accurately reflect what is being reported in the mainstream press as science, and the manner in which it is being reported, we would also like to achieve some cross-disciplinary balance. Therefore, we will attempt to restrict our inclusion of anthrax-related stories to new angles investigating the science behind the scare; like the following:

C.D.C. TEAM TACKLES ANTHRAX
from The New York Times

Fifty years ago, the federal government set up an elite corps of medical detectives to counter a threat it hoped never to face. Now, with the emergence of anthrax, that corps, the Epidemic Intelligence Service, is facing the challenge of that mission: tracing the cause and stemming the spread of a disease that that may have been deliberately introduced - in other words, a biological attack.

Summoned to action immediately after the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, the Epidemic Intelligence Service has been working with the F.B.I. and state and local health departments to conduct its effort on two fronts. One is directed at detecting any communicable agent that might have been released. After anthrax was detected in Florida, the epidemic service, which is based at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, set out to determine how the patient contracted the disease. The information is crucial in assessing the potential harm to other people.

The second front is informing the public of the anthrax cases, the steps the C.D.C. is taking to combat the threat to public health, and what people can do.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/16/health/16DOCS.html

QUANTUM STEW: HOW PHYSICISTS ARE REDEFINING REALITY'S RULES
Essay from The New York Times

Struggling to understand the strange implications of modern physics, readers in the 1930's and 40's turned to a popular children's book for adults called "Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland" by the physicist George Gamow. In a series of dreams, Mr. Tompkins finds himself in surreal surroundings where the constants of nature have been changed so that matter behaves in ways that defy common sense.

In one dream, a number known as Planck's constant, which governs the intensity of quantum theory's perplexing effects, is cranked up so high that ordinary objects behave like elementary particles, which have the curious ability to act like both hard little kernels and ethereal waves. Things as large as billiard balls suddenly behave like electrons, spreading out all over the table, following many different paths at once. A visit to a quantum pool hall leaves poor Mr. Tompkins feeling drunk. The reason "quantum elephantism" doesn't really happen, the book explains, is that Planck's constant is extremely small, affecting only the tiniest objects - electrons and photons but not billiard balls.

But nothing involving quantum theory is ever so clear-cut. Recent experiments are demonstrating that quantum weirdness is not limited to the atomic realm. In late September, a team of Danish physicists reported that a phenomenon called quantum entanglement - the "spooky action at a distance" that troubled Einstein - can affect not just individual particles but clusters of trillions of atoms. And last week, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for experiments showing how quantum mechanics can be exploited to make a couple of thousand atoms crowd together into a single superatom - what the scientists called "a kind of smeared-out, overlapping stew."

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/16/science/physical/16ESSA.html

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage
http://www.sigmaxi.org

Media Resource Service
http://www.mediaresource.org

American Scientist magazine
http://www.americanscientist.org

For feedback on In the News,
inthenews@sigmaxi.org

Study reveals saint's remains are genuine - Ananova Alerting

Genetic analysis of a body said to be that of St Luke the Evangelist indicate the remains are genuine.

A team of Italian scientists has described how they found DNA evidence to support the authenticity of the body in samples taken from two teeth.

The researchers, led by Guido Barbujani, from the University of Ferrara, compared DNA from the teeth to similar genetic sequences taken from modern Syrian, Greek and Turkish individuals.

St Luke was born in Antioch, which in Roman times belonged to Syria but was ceded to Turkey in 1939.

They found genetic markers which showed that the body was three times more likely to have had a Syrian than a Greek origin.

However the possibility could not be ruled out that the man in the coffin was Turkish. The DNA sequences were only slightly less likely to have originated from Turkey than from Syria.

According to historical sources, died aged 84 in Thebes, Greece, about 150 years after the death of Christ. Records say his body was initially buried in Thebes but then transferred to Constantinople in Turkey and eventually to Padua, Italy some time before the year 1177.

He is believed to be resting in a lead coffin placed within a marble sarcophagus in the basilica of the church of St Justina in Padua.

Although the body could have come from St Luke's birthplace, the scientists say there was a chance that it was replaced in Constantinople.

St Luke was a physician who followed the apostle Paul on his missionary journeys and wrote large sections of the New Testament, including the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.

*Genetics story sent by Ananova

See this story on the web at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_424471.html

The Devil's playthings

An author who traveled across the U.S. observing exorcisms talks about the strange things he's seen and the likelihood of demonic possession.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Suzy Hansen

http://www.salon.com/books/int/2001/10/16/exorcism/index.html

Oct. 16, 2001 | In 1971, William Peter Blatty published the bestselling book "The Exorcist," based on a 1949 newspaper story about a Washington, D.C., 14-year-old. After being tortured by mysterious scratchings and rappings on his bedroom walls, the seemingly incurable teenager was exorcised by a Jesuit priest. Blatty's version, however, concocted the much more romantic and outlandish story of Regan, a young girl unforgettably played on screen by Linda Blair, who would make her mark spewing vomit and masturbating with a crucifix while being exorcised by dashing and charismatic priest heroes.


Monday, October 15, 2001

The Integratron

"The purpose of the Integratron is to recharge energy into living cell structure, to bring about longer life with youthful energy."

-- George Van Tassel
builder of the Integratron

"There is no other building like it in the US. The fountain of youth is not in Florida, but it is in southern California at the Integratron."

--Weekend Travel Update
a nationally syndicated TV travel show

http://www.integratron.com/

The Integratron is a 38-foot high, 50-foot diameter, non-metallic structure designed by the engineer George Van Tassel as a rejuvenation machine. Van Tassel was a legendary figure, a former test pilot for Howard Huges and Douglas Aircraft, who made his home in a cave hollowed out under nearby Giant Rock. Van Tassel led weekly meditations during the 1950s, which he claimed led to UFO contacts. He said UFO channelings and ideas from Nikola Tesla and other pioneers in the field of electromagnetics led to the unique architecture of the Integratron. He spent 18 years constructing the building.

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

****** Special bulletin for Sigma Xi members and members of the media ******

2001 Sigma Xi Forum: Science, the Arts and the Humanities: Connections and Collisions

Click on the link below to view a detailed program of events, read about the featured presentation of the play "Oxygen," and register to attend.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/2001Forum/Forum2001.htm ***************

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - October 15, 2001

COULD GEOLOGY GIVE BIN LADEN AWAY?
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Geologists are examining rocks visible in a recent videotape of Osama bin Laden, in hopes of shedding light on his whereabouts.

In theory, by identifying the rock types, they might provide new clues to bin Laden's movements. But so far they disagree in their interpretations of the videotape. That's partly because of uncertainty about the rocks' color and distance from the camera.

"You would be surprised at how many people wonder whether or not the geologic information in the picture will be useful. The short answer is 'yes, most definitely,' " said John Shroder Jr., a geologist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who has worked in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, he and other geologists complained, the available tape is frustratingly short -- just several minutes -- and the image is of poor quality.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/10/15/MN232579.DTL&type=science

HOW BIOTERROR CHANGES EVERYTHING FOR SCIENTISTS
from Newsday

Anthrax attacks in three states are influencing new legislation and ultimately could change the way scientists do business, according to a leading expert on dangerous microbes.

Dr. Ronald Atlas, president of the American Society for Microbiology, labels the anthrax cases in New York and Florida as biocrimes, not bioterrorism, the latter being more keenly focused on mass killings. Coming in the wake of the World Trade Center disaster, though, the anthrax issue now serves as an impetus to speed new anti-bioterrorism legislation through Congress. Bills on the floors of both houses are aimed at dramatically limiting all access to deadly germs.

Biocrimes, Atlas said, have a long but sporadic history in the United States.

"There were about 200 [instances of] biocrimes in the last century," Atlas said in an address to fellow scientists over the weekend at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Most of them involved divorce cases. Instead of shooting someone with a gun, they injected them with something."

http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-warbio152415563oct15.story?coll=ny%2Dhealth%2Dheadlines

MAYO CLINIC RESEARCHERS FIND GENETIC KEY TO HUNTINGTON'S DISEASE
from The Minneapolis Star Tribune

In the quest to cure the fatal genetic disorder called Huntington's Disease, scientists apparently haven't been looking in all of the right places, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in today's issue of Nature Genetics.

The search for the cure had been like a street map that depicted a few major intersections. The Mayo study expands the map to show important new avenues, said one researcher, Cynthia McMurray of Mayo's Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in Rochester, Minn. The other scientist was Roy Dyer of the same department.

"It really was a surprising result," said Scott Zeitlin, a Huntington's researcher at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He reviewed the article, but was not involved in the research. "It definitely makes us rethink some of the hypotheses that are being considered in the field."

http://www.startribune.com/stories/965/758396.html

BABOONS SHOW SIGNS OF ABSTRACT THINKING
from The Associated Press

Baboons in laboratory experiments showed signs of abstract thinking by picking out various images on a computer screen, a surprising finding that raises new questions about evolution and what distinguishes humans from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Scientists in France and the United States cautioned that only two baboons participated in the comparative tests, and those monkeys were veterans of earlier cognitive experiments.

And, the baboons had to repeat the tests thousands of times to learn how sets of images were the same or different.

Even so, researchers said, the results suggest baboons are capable of analogical judgment - the kind of "this-is-to-that" comparisons that psychologists say is fundamental to reasoning.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/136818p-1389576c.html

HOW LA JOLLA WINS HEARTS AND MINDS OF NOBELISTS
from The Los Angeles Times

LA JOLLA -- The owner of Top o' the Cove Restaurant along swank Prospect Street here says he knows when the high-powered science crowd is dining at his establishment.

The scientists don't dress as flashily as the moneyed tourists. And their table conversation--even when it's in English--is incomprehensible.

"They're talking about things that nobody around them understands," said owner Ron Zappardino. "I just figure it's probably going to end up being the next Nobel Prize." Such is life in the San Diego beachfront community of La Jolla, where one of the nation's premier resort areas and exclusive neighborhoods is also home to a string of world-famous scientific research institutions.

With the award last week of the 2001 Nobel Prize for chemistry to K. Barry Sharpless of Scripps Research Institute, there are now seven Nobel laureates who work along a few blocks of North Torrey Pines Road near the Torrey Pines Golf Course.

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-000082016oct14.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dscience

USING HUMANS AS A COMPUTER MODEL
from The New York Times

THINK of it as computing's crisis of complexity, revisited.

For more than three decades, the big advances in computing have soon brought new headaches. The initial steps ahead are typically in hardware - processors, storage and networks - and the headaches are manifested in software.

It is software that is the medium for doing all the new things in computing that hardware makes possible - whether simple numeric calculations or increasingly sophisticated functions like symbolic processing, graphics, simulations, artificial intelligence and so on.

In computing, opportunity breeds complexity. And complexity begets systems that can be buggy, unreliable and difficult to manage.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/15/technology/ebusiness/15NECO.html

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage
http://www.sigmaxi.org

Media Resource Service
http://www.mediaresource.org

American Scientist magazine
http://www.americanscientist.org

For feedback on In the News,
inthenews@sigmaxi.org

New Age remedy for BioWarfare

Last portion of article by Bill Sardi

http://www.sdm2000.com/toxinreport.doc

Natural antidotes to biological toxins

Americans have grown so accustomed to relying upon prescription medications that they will probably have difficulty believing there are natural compounds as close as the kitchen cupboard that are potent antidotes against biological warfare. These natural antibiotics and antioxidants may give unvaccinated people who have been exposed to biological or chemical weapons enough time to secure professional care. They may even save lives.

It is a fact that chaotic events will make it difficult to obtain appropriate treatment even if it were available. So we must learn more about natural antidotes. Furthermore, it is clear that antidotes to biological attacks need to be employed at home or the workplace in an expedient manner. The idea of the masses running to obtain medical care or vaccines at doctor's offices, clinics or hospitals needs to be abandoned if civilian defense against biological weapons is to become a reality.

Natural rescue remedies

Since anthrax is the most feared toxin it will be addressed first. The Garlic Information Center in Britain indicates that deadly anthrax is most susceptible to garlic. Garlic is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that even blocks toxin production by germs. [Journal Nutrition, March 2001] Before vaccines were developed against polio, garlic was used successfully as a prophylactic. In one test garlic was found to be a more potent antibiotic than penicillin, ampicillin, doxycycline, streptomycin and cephalexin, some of the very same antibiotic drugs used in the treatment of anthrax. Garlic was found to be effective against nine strains of E. coli, Staph and other bugs. [Fitoterapia, Volume 5, 1984] Freshly cut cloves of garlic or garlic powder may be beneficial.

The antibiotic activity of one milligram of allicin, the active ingredient in garlic, equals 15 units of penicillin. [Koch and Lawson, Garlic: The Science and Therapeutic Application, 2nd edition, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore 1996] Garlic capsules that certify their allicin content are preferred and may provide 5-10 milligrams of allicin, which is equivalent to 75-150 units of penicillin.

The anthrax bacterium's toxicity emanates from its ability to kill macrophage cells which are part of the immune system. Studies have shown that sulfur-bearing antioxidants (alpha lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, taurine) and vitamin C, which elevate levels of glutathione, a natural antioxidant within the body, counters the toxicity produced by anthrax. [Molecular Medicine, November 1994; Immunopharmacology, January 2000; Applied Environmental Microbiology, May 1979] The above sulfur compounds can be obtained from health food stores and taken in doses ranging from 100-500 mg. Vitamin C should be the buffered alkaline form (mineral ascorbates) rather than the acidic form (ascorbic acid) and should be combined with bioflavonoids which prolong vitamin C's action in the blood circulation. The powdered form of vitamin C is recommended to achieve optimal dosing. A tablespoon of vitamin C powder (about 10,000 mgs) can be added to juice. Good products are Twinlab's Super Ascorbate C powder and Alacer's powdered vitamin C.

Melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone available at most health food stores, has been shown to help prevent lethal toxins from anthrax exposure. [Cell Biology Toxicology, Volume 16, 2000] It could be taken at bedtime in doses ranging from 5-20 mg. Melatonin boosts glutathione levels during sleep.

Of additional interest, one of the methods by which mustard gas works is its ability to bring about cell death by depleting cell levels of glutathione. [eMedicine Journal, April 9, 2001] So glutathione is also an antidote for mustard gas poisoning.

Virtually all bacteria, viruses and fungi depend upon iron as a growth factor. [Iron & Your Health, T.F. Emery, CRC Press, 1991] Iron-chelating (removing) drugs and antibiotics (Adriamycin, Vancomycin, others) are effective against pathogens. The plague (Yersinia pestis), botulism, smallpox and anthrax could all be potentially treated with non-prescription metal-binding chelators. For example, iron removal retards the growth of the plague. [Medical Hypotheses, January 1980] The biological activity of the botulinum toxin depends upon iron, and metal chelators may be beneficial [Infection Immunology, October 1989, Toxicon, July, 1997].

Phytic acid (IP6), derived as an extract from rice bran, is the most potent natural iron chelator and has strong antibiotic and antioxidant action. [Free Radical Biology Medicine, Volume 8, 1990; Journal Biological Chemistry, August 25, 1987] IP6 has been found to have similar iron-chelating properties as desferrioxamine, a drug commonly used to kill germs, tumor cells or to remove undesirable minerals from the body. [Biochemistry Journal, September 15, 1993] IP6 rice bran extract (2000-4000 mg) should be taken in between meals with filtered or bottled water only (no juice).

The antibacterial, antiseptic action of plant oils has been described in recent medical literature and may be helpful in fighting biological toxins. [Journal Applied Microbiology, Volume 88, 2000] A potent natural antibiotic, more powerful than many prescription antibiotics, is oil of oregano. One study showed that oregano completely inhibited the growth of 25 germs such as Staphylococcus aureas, Escherichia coli, Yersinia enterocolitica and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. [Journal Food Protection, July 2001] Oregano has been shown to be effective in eradicating intestinal parasites in humans. [Phytotherapy Research, May 2000] Wild oregano, which is quite different than the variety on most kitchen spice racks, has over 50 antibacterial compounds. Just one part wild oregano oil in 4000 dilution sterilizes contaminated water. [London Times, May 8, 2001]

Oregano powder from whole leaf oregano is available as OregamaxTM capsules (North American Herb & Spice Co.). A spectacular development in natural antibiotic therapy is the manufacture of oregano powder from 100% pure oregano oil, producing one of the most potent antibiotics known. It has recently become available under the trade name OregacinTM (North American Herb & Spice Co.). It costs about $1 per pill, but this is a far cry from the $16 per pill for Vancomycin, known as most potent prescription antibiotic.

Nature also provides nerve gas antitoxins. Nerve gas interrupts the normal transmission of nerve impulses by altering levels of acetycholinesterase, the enzyme that degrades the nerve transmitter acetycholine. Huperzine A, a derivative of Chinese club moss, has been suggested as a pre-treatment against nerve gases. [Annals Pharmacology France, January 2000] The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research conducted studies which revealed that huperzine A protects against nerve gas poisoning in a superior manner to physostigmine, a long-standing anti-nerve toxin.drug. [Defense Technical Information Center Review, Volume 2, December 1996] Huperzine A is available as a food supplement at most health food stores. Suggested dosage is 150 mcg per day. Pretreatment is advised prior to nerve gas exposure.

Summary

The threat of biological warfare is real and concern over preparedness of the civilian population and medical professionals is growing. There is virtually no practical way that vaccines, antibiotics or other treatment can be delivered to a frightened populace in a timely manner during a crisis. The current strategy of having an unprotected citizenry travel to physicians ' offices or hospitals to receive prophylactic care or treatment is unfeasible. The public must be armed with preventive or therapeutic agents in their vehicles, homes and the workplace. Natural antibiotics and antitoxins are well documented in the medical literature, but overlooked by health authorities. These antidotes are readily available for the public to acquire and place in an emergency biological response kit.

Copyright Bill Sardi
Knowledge of Health, Inc.
457 West Allen Avenue #117
San Dimas, California 91773

Reproduction or distribution of this report for commercial purposes is strictly forbidden.

Scientific Proof Of Global Consciousness May Be Emerging

September 11 Attacks Registered Strongly

By Bernadette Cahill

Science may be on the verge of proving what the spiritual community has claimed all along about prayer and meditation: that group consciousness exists and it can show up on a worldwide scale.

The events in the US on September 11 provided the latest indications of this possibility, when devices around the world registered significant anomalies before, during and for some time after the attacks.

As yet, scientists are not exactly sure what their results mean, but they do admit that something significant has occurred – and it has done so in similar circumstances before.

A Brief history of Time will be briefer - Ananova Alerting

Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time is to become briefer when it's published next autumn.

The new work is likely to be titled A Brief History of Time for Children or for Young Adults, and will be aimed at readers aged 12 upwards.

The new book will have fewer words, more pictures and is expected to run to 100 pages.

Stephen Hawking will write the more accessible version after an admission many of his 10m or more readers found the original impenetrable.

The Cambridge physicist's 1988 international bestseller purports to unravel the fundamental questions of the universe in 144 pages. It's expected the new version will have wider appeal.

"It will be bought for children, not necessarily by children, but I think a lot of adults - and I include myself - will buy it to understand better what we have read in the original," said Patrick Janson-Smith, the managing director of Professor Hawking's publishers, Transworld. "The aim is to put it in a form that's understandable."

The new version is being written in collaboration with Leonard Mlodinow, an American scientist who worked at the California Institute of Technology before moving to Hollywood, where he co-wrote Star Trek.

The work will initially appear in hardback, but it will swiftly move into softback and is expected to become a bestseller, reports The Guardian.

*Stephen Hawking story sent by Ananova

See this story on the web at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_423768.html

Eight new planets have been discovered in other parts of the galaxy.

The finds include at least two with circular orbits like the Earth and its neighbours.

A total of almost 80 planets have now been found orbiting nearby stars.

Two extra-solar planets previously found by the same team also had circular orbits, which increases the chances of life.

Most star-orbiting planets found so far have elongated, eccentric orbits, which make them easier to detect.

But planetary systems with circular orbits are more likely to have an Earth-like world in a stable "habitable zone" where conditions are right for life.

Astronomers do not yet have the technology to detect small, rocky planets such as the Earth orbiting stars.

One of the team, Steve Vogt, of the University of California's Lick Observatory at Santa Cruz, said: "Most of the planetary systems we've found have looked like very distant relatives of the Solar System - no family likeness at all.

"Now we're starting to see something like second cousins. In a few years time we could be finding brothers and sisters."

The astronomers, from the US, Australia, Belgium and the UK, are searching for planets among the nearest 1,200 stars in our galactic neighbourhood.

*Space story sent by Ananova

See this story on the web at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_424496.html

Virgin Mary painting restores itself, say villagers

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_419100.html?menu=news.quirkies

Romanian villagers claim a portrait of the Virgin Mary re-painted itself.

The oil painting in the village church at Smulti in Galati was being restored.

Some of the paint had been removed but the picture re-painted itself overnight.

The painter, Gigel Dumitriu, had removed the paint because it had faded and he planned to repaint it later.

Villagers believe the painting is magic. They claim a group of thieves once tried to steal it but suddenly broke down in tears. Man believes tiger was his lover in previous life From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_418991.html?menu=news.quirkies

Indian police have arrested a man for threatening to kill a tiger he believes is his lover from a previous life.

The businessman allegedly called a zoo in Hyderabad and said he had plans to murder the tigress.

A hotel attendant overheard him and alerted the authorities at Nehru Zoological Park.

Himanshu Das was picked up for questioning after subsequent calls were traced to his hotel room.

Police say he claimed Rani, the white tigress, was his lover from a previous life. He said the animal had come to him in a dream and asked him to take her away from the zoo, and that he had then been angered by her refusal to return with him to Calcutta.

A zoo official told the police that the man was found wandering near the animal's cage in a suspicious manner the previous day.

"I thought he was just some nut. He was pleading with Rani to look into his eyes but she kept ignoring him, and that probably made him more mad, he began shouting abuse her," zookeeper Narsimhulu told Hindi language newspaper Aaj Kal.

The man has since been released by the police with a stern warning to leave the tigress alone and to keep away from the zoo.

Bank investigating magician for 'conjuring up money' during act

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_419987.html?menu=news.quirkies

Bank officials are investigating a Swaziland magician's claims he conjures money during his act.

The Central Bank says it is the only institution with authority to issue notes and coins.

Magician German Lukhele claims he can make money in a newspaper interview.

Central Bank secretary, Sydney Khumalo, told the Swaziland Times it is against the law for individuals to issue currency.

Mr Khumalo said: "It is only the Central Bank that knows all the features of notes, which ranges from security features, natural features and serial number features."

He says bank officials will be checking money used in the magician's act to see if it is counterfeit.

Lukhele is from Piggs Peak in Swaziland. He made his claims in an interview with the Swaziland Times.

Story filed: 13:11 Wednesday 10th October 2001

Cellphones spook British ghosts

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/011014/80/c9izn.html

LONDON (Reuters) - Mobile phones are killing off ghosts, an expert who has spent years researching the occult has said.

Tony Cornell, of the Society for Psychical Research, told the Sunday Express newspaper that reports of ghost sightings had started to decline when mobile phones were introduced 15 years ago.

"Ghost sightings have remained consistent for centuries. Until three years ago we'd receive reports of two new ghosts every week," said Cornell, of Cambridge in Eastern England.

"But with the introduction of mobile phones 15 years ago, ghost sightings began to decline to the point where now we are receiving none."

According to the paper, haunted tourist attractions in Britain could be under threat if the number of cellphones continues to grow from the present figure of 39 million

Apparently paranormal events, which some scientists put down to unusual electrical activity, could be drowned out by the electronic noise produced by phone calls and text messages.


Sunday, October 14, 2001

Copperfield Says German Lottery Forecast No Trick

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20011014/re/people_germany_copperfield_dc_1.html

BERLIN (Reuters) - American illusionist David Copperfield said Sunday he was bombarded by requests for tips on the winning numbers in Germany's national lottery Saturday night -- numbers he said he had predicted seven months ago.

Copperfield wrote down his forecast on Feb. 17 for the multi-million mark lottery drawing due Saturday Oct. 13. The prediction was sealed by a notary and locked in a box that was kept under round-the-clock surveillance.

One hour after the winning numbers were drawn, the box was opened on a live television broadcast and the numbers on the slip of paper matched the winning draw: 2, 9, 10, 15, 25, 38, 4.

Profile of Dr. Thomas E. Stone ND, CNHP

http://www.amazin.com/stone/stone_bio.htm

Homeopathy, Kinesiology & Iridology as written by his wife and right hand assistant Pammy Stone

Dr. Thomas E. Stone is totally committed to serving God and his fellow man in a healing ministry through education. As Thomas so plainly puts it, "I am a doctor only in the sense that I am a teacher and mentor to mankind under the umbrella of the church; I have no patients, only friends."

Dr. Tom is a trained specialist in a separate and distinct healing art which uses totally non-invasive natural medicine. Thomas is not an orthodox medical doctor, although he does work with an elite group of MD's and OD's across the country. Being as MD's and OD's are not taught the nutritional factor, Thomas makes himself available to teach and train open-minded medical doctors non-pharmaceutical and non-invasive approaches to the healing arts.

Dr. Tom has appeared on Christian TV. and radio stations across the U.S. and has spoken to thousands of churches in one to four-day Biblical Health Seminars in both the U.S. and Canada. In his "laid-back " and common-sense approach to wellness, his knowledge and gifts are shared with everyone to empower them to become their own "doctor". Dr. Stone is conventionally trained and certified in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, counseling, dietary education, nutrition, herbology, acupressure, muscle relaxation, structural normalization, homeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, exercise therapy, hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, oxygen therapy, thermal therapy, soft touch therapy, light therapy, natural child-birth, tachyon energy therapy and prayer therapy.

Recognizing that no two individuals are identical and that no two have the same needs, Dr. Stone tailors the healing modality to the needs of the individual with methods that are effective for both chronic and acute problems. Although he is quick to cooperate with all branches of medical science, referring individuals to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate, Dr. Stone is quick to draw the line at being a partner in anything that may violate the "Temple of God" such as pharmaceutical or drug therapy.

In "practice", Dr. Tom performs physical examinations, laboratory testing, nutritional and dietary assessments, metabolic analysis, and other non-invasive evaluative procedures. He is trained to use a wide variety of natural methods which involve the individual in the healing process. Dr. Tom's methods are based on the Biblical concept and belief in the body's innate God-given natural ability to heal itself when given an appropriate internal and external healing environment.

Dr. Tom is not involved in the practice of medicine and does not advocate or use drugs or pharmaceuticals, nor does he advocate or perform abortions or surgery. Traditionally, all naturopaths are referred to as the "drugless doctors". In reality, a naturopath, or doctor of naturopathy, deals with conditions which are the result of stress, whether from mental, nutritional, environmental, or physical factors.

Dr. Tom follows the Biblical principle and teaching that every man, woman and child is created, not evolved, in the image of a living God, and therefore one physical, mental, and spiritual being, and that all the fractions of that being must be in balance to be whole and complete.

Dr. Stone strongly adheres to all the philosophies and advocates the principles of the profession of Naturopathy, promoting health through education and non-invasive natural agents. These are:

1. Do No Harm: "Primum non necere" is taken from the Hippocratic Oath. Certainly anyone that is sick and has a compromised immune deficiency does not need any therapy or treatment which can bring further harm to them. Since all prescription medications and drugs have such a potential to make a well person sick, you may wonder how those chemicals can be expected to make a sick person well. Treating symptoms with drugs at the risk of creating new problems with the side effects caused by these drugs is not the common sense approach to wellness. Dr Tom embraces only therapies or procedures which are designed to enhance self-healing and produce wellness.

2. Identify the Cause: "Tolk causam". In allopathic medicine, pharmaceutical medicine, the name of the disease is the name of the symptom in Greek. For example, the term "arthritis" is made up of two Greek words, or roots, "arthro" which means having to do with the joint and "itis" meaning pain or inflammation. Allopathic doctors seek to treat the joint pain by reducing the joint pain. They do this by administering pain killers, nerve blockers, or on the extreme end, removing the joint or digit in question and replacing it with artificial joints, and any number of procedures in between. Dr. Tom's approach and commitment is simply to find the cause of the joint pain, which is most commonly nutritional, and educate the individual to remove the cause. Perhaps this may prove to be an inability of the individual to absorb calcium, or a mineral deficiency caused by either a primary or secondary nutritional deficiency. Or perhaps it could be caused by an old injury or possibly from an over acid condition in the body. For the naturopath, the correction of the cause is the most plausible way of eliminating the symptoms and restoring health to the body.

3. Recognizing the healing power of God through Nature: "Vis medicatrix naturae". The human body is created with the capacity to heal itself and to maintain homeostasis. There is healing energy and power in nature and this principle is the basis for all of naturopathy. Naturopathy is a system designed to work in harmony with God's creative forces in the restoration and support for the inherent natural healing systems of the body.

4. Treat the Total Person: Man is fearfully and wonderfully made other than in trauma type injuries, seldom does the body have isolated mono-factorial conditions, but rather simply, experiences "dis-ease" as a consequence of a number of health debilitating events that have a direct root to the physical, mental, and spiritual hemispheres. Germs are considered the culprit for many conditions found by allopathic physicians. Naturopathic philosophy understands that germs are a normal part of the economy of the earth and that they are put here by the Creator to destroy sick, weakened and devitalized tissues in the body. In order to reverse the dis-ease process, the body needs to have its tissues revitalized. This explains why when two people are exposed to the same germs, only one person gets sick, and that is the person with devitalized tissue. It is this common sense approach that Dr. Tom Stone prayerfully shares with each individual ministering to the needs of the total person, physical, mental , and spiritual.

5. Teach rather than Treat: Dr. Tom's philosophy places the full responsibility for wellness with the individual. "You can lead a horse to water, but...", you know how it goes. If you give the horse the enticement or stimulant of a salt block, it will find the water on its own. The individual is the steward of his or her own body and the doctor is simply the teacher, advisor, and mentor to the individual on how to regain and maintain good health. One must recognize that a headache is not an aspirin deficiency, but rather the result of some imbalance within the body. Some principles of health have been violated and the body is simply responding with pain as a warning signal that the individual isn't being a good steward of his body. Dr. Tom will evaluate the connotation and advise or teach the individual what lifestyle, nutritional, emotional, or dietary changes should be made to alleviate the condition. The condition is alleviated by the individual making those changes and not by anything that Dr. Tom or any outside agency has done. Recognize that God has given you the power to heal yourself because He is the only Source of Healing.

6. Identify the Source: Dr. Stone is aware that a person can have a physical, spiritual, or emotional illness, and that one imbalance can effect all these. The chosen therapy is determined by what kind of problem the person is experiencing. A person can not be well or healthy if they have a spiritual or mental problem even if they appear perfectly fit. Dr. Tom uses various counseling stress management and bio-feedback techniques for those experiencing emotional or spiritual problems. But all treatment has a foundation of prayer. Biblical counseling should be expected as the root therapy for any consultation with Dr. Tom. If you read the writings of the fathers of Naturopathy like Dr. John R. Christopher, you will find that they were all Godly people who recognized that the Creator was and is responsible for all healing and give Him the honor and glory for as He alone is the author of Life.

7. Prevent Dis-ease: It is admirable that there is an effective system based on natural restorative methods. However, it is preferable for the body not to experience the imbalance and their resulting consequences. As with all natural health practioners, Dr. Stone is prepared to advise clients on simple dis-ease prevention principles which are designed to produce health and avoid the destructive consequences which occur as a result of violating those principles.

Dr. Stone requires a 90-day commitment to the personalized protocol established for each individual patient.


Saturday, October 13, 2001

Panel of scientists to tackle terrorism

Panel of scientists to tackle terrorism

By John Donnelly, Globe Staff, 10/13/2001

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/286/nation/Panel_of_scientists_to_tackle_terrorismP.shtml

WASHINGTON - The directors of the prestigious National Academies, who hosted an extraordinary summit of some of the nation's top scientific minds last month, plan to submit recommendations to the White House for ways the research and academic communities can fight terrorism threats.

The three academy presidents have already decided to convene a special panel that will make a priority list of terrorist threats - notably to the country's computer networks - and they have begun to mobilize the research community to develop new technologies to thwart organized terror networks.

Polygraph musings by Bob Carroll

From: Leonard R. Cleavelin leonard@cleavelin.net

Bob Carroll, in the "Mass Media Bunk" section of his "Skeptic's Dictionary and Refuge" has a couple of interesting entries on the polygraph. Point your Web browser to:

http://skepdic.com/refuge/bunk.html

and read the entries dated July 23 and July 19, 2001

http://skepdic.com/refuge/bunk16.html

Best regards,

Len Cleavelin

Elfman to Open Scientology Mission

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Actress Jenna Elfman is establishing a Church of Scientology mission in her hometown.

Elfman, the star of ABC's ``Dharma and Greg,'' announced plans to open the Church of Scientology Mission of San Francisco SoMa (the local term for the area south of Market Street).

Other celebrities who have opened Scientology chapters include Lisa Marie Presley and Isaac Hayes in their hometown of Memphis, Tenn., and Kirstie Alley in Wichita, Kan.

The Los Angeles-based church was established in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

Police Use Black Magic Against Law

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010928/od/police_dc_1.html

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Police in a western Venezuelan state who are accused of dozens of unlawful killings used witchcraft to try to ward off an investigation by state prosecutors, authorities said on Thursday.

Venezuela's National Guard units that took over police stations in Portuguesa state this week discovered crude witchcraft altars carrying photographs of the investigating prosecutors placed head down amid lit candles and effigies of saints.

``They were using black magic...trying to cause the death (of the prosecutors) through supernatural methods,'' Venezuela's public prosecutor, Isaias Rodriguez said, adding the investigators also received more conventional death threats.

The National Guard was called in to disarm and take control of the police in Portuguesa, a small rural state in the largely Roman Catholic country, after the state governor said she could no longer guarantee control of the force.

PROSE AND CONS

By MICHAEL GILTZ

http://www.nypost.com/entertainment/5299.htm

-----

September 30, 2001 -- Ricky Jay's latest book - "Jay's Journal of Anomalies" - is a fascinating chronicle of the world's wackiest scams, tricks, pranks and public hoaxes. A droll, erudite tour filled with con artists and hucksters, Jay's new book features such characters as Monetto, a dog in the early 1800s that could "solve" math problems and answer questions about geography. It also tells you how some unsportsmanlike fellows cheat at bowling, and why so many illusionists favor the trick of cutting off their noses.

The book is squarely in the "carny" tradition of Jay's previous best sellers, "Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women" and "Cards as Weapons," which turned sideshow distractions into the main event.

In other words, it's business as usual for the author.

"I do seem to have the ability to interest people in things that interest me," says Jay. "That's kind of what I do."

He does this through his self-published, now deceased "Journal," which had a circulation in the hundreds ("a labor of love," he calls the publication), and through his exceptionally varied appearances.

The DVD of "Forrest Gump" just hit stores, and in it you can hear references to how Jay helped director Robert Zemeckis create the illusion that Gary Sinise had no legs.

Jay also has a supporting role in the new David Mamet film, "Heist," out Oct. 19. And he appears as a poker player in a commercial for the new Bob Dylan album, "Love and Theft" (emphasis on the theft, obviously).

In March, Jay will return to New York with his acclaimed one-man show. A previous edition combining his trademark patter with astonishing displays of card manipulation sold out immediately.

Jay even wrote the essay on magicians and sleight of hand for the next edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

And this Thursday, he appears with David Mamet at Town Hall to - as one ad states - "read from and shamelessly flog their new books while ostensibly engaging each other in a colloquy concerning the history, present state and future of the performing arts."

The advertisement for their lecture/performance mysteriously lacks a ticket price. Is it some sort of elaborate con, a bait-and-switch to get people into their seats before they realize they must fork over hundreds if not thousands of dollars?

"It would be lovely to make that part of some deceptive plot," laughs Jay, "but I think it was a mistake on the part of the promoters. I think tickets are $25."

Jay's clearly no stranger to subterfuge. Mention a bizarre newspaper story from Nigeria that you thought might interest him, and he's off.

"Normally, what we get from Nigeria these days are variations of 'Spanish Prisoner' letters," he says, explaining how e-mails are flooding virtual mailboxes all over the world with offers for people to make thousands of dollars if they just agree to deposit someone's stash of cash.

First, of course, you must send them a little cash yourself.

"Have you ever gotten one? I have a file with literally hundreds of them. The thing that I love about them - and it's probably one of the things David and I will talk about - is the cyclical nature of con games."

In other words, no matter how many times a scam is revealed, wait a short time and people will readily fall for it again.

"I would say that's true of the whole area of supposed contact with the dead, for instance, which is now a television show! It doesn't seem to matter how many times this stuff is exposed. People have this incredible sense of credulity, and if that's the path they want to go down, they ignore all previous logic."

Not that Jay has seen the paranormal syndicated talk show "Crossing Over with John Edwards," in which the medium/host gives people messages from their deceased loved ones.

"All I can say is, I've never seen any indication of someone who can talk to the dead," he says.

Just as rare is personal information about Jay himself, who has homes in New York and Los Angeles. Ask him if he's married and he replies genially, "Ah, the barest of facts. Well, I never talk about the barest of facts. So probably we're at a mild impasse." (He later 'fesses up to living with a woman.)

Even his age is in doubt. Though some sources say he is 52 years old, Jay remains just as mum on that as he is on how various illusions are actually pulled off.

"That's something [his age] I never reveal," says Jay, who offers a (not) very helpful ballpark figure perfectly in keeping with a life devoted to cons and misdirection, where any offer of help is sure to be anything but.

"You can obviously make a fairly astute guess that I'm not 20 and I'm not 80," he laughs, and says no more.

Businesses want satanic phone code changed

From Ananova at:

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_411224.html

Businesses in Tijuana, Mexico, have asked the government to change the new 666 area code to be assigned to the city.

They fear it could give the violence-plagued area a bad reputation.

The number 666 is associated with Satan in the Bible and was made famous by The Omen films.

Tijuana's National Chamber of Commerce said: "This will give our city a bad image".

He added that Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, California, had already suffered from "out-of-control situations and tragedies that happen to occur here".

Vicar blames medieval stone for foot-and-mouth crisis

From Ananova at:

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_411037.html?menu=

A Cumbrian vicar says a medieval stone could be to blame for the severity of the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Rev Kevin Davies launched an attack on the stone which is said to invoke a curse against border raiders.

He says it should be smashed to pieces to stop the spiritual power of the curse.

The text on the stone, which is in Carlisle's Millennium Gallery, dates from the 14th century when the Borders were in the grip of pillaging Reivers.

"This stone, whatever the council's original intent, is a lethal weapon," he wrote in his parish magazine for Scotby and Cotehill with Cumwhinton, reports the News & Star.

"Its spiritual violence will act like a cancer underneath the fabric of society. I don't think anyone in their right mind could argue that this is what Cumbria needs just now.

"Is it a coincidence that the curse was first bandied about in 1999-2000 and now, in 2001, we find that North Cumbria is the worst affected region in the entire country in the foot-and-mouth crisis?

"The land retains what is spoken against it and the violence acted upon it. As to the future of the stone and the curse it brings, they need to be broken, both literally and spiritually, for all time."

Cow shelter sells animals' urine as cure for indigestion

From Ananova at:

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_410521.html?menu=

An Indian cow shelter is selling its animals' urine for people to drink as a cure for indigestion and skin cancer.

The business in Jaipur has a hospital attached to it which also sells soap containing cow dung.

Its most popular product is undiluted cow urine. A 78-year-old patient says a daily dose keeps him fit.

The Gau Seva Sangh centre also sells a digestive mixture that combines urine with pepper and another urine-based mix which claims to cure skin cancer.

Every morning, urine from the 155 Thar Parker cows is collected and treated over a slow fire.

The liquid is then used in the products which are sold for between 10 and 100 rupees (14p to £1.40).

The centre has sales of up to £1,400 a month.

Patient Brahmdutt Sharma, 78, says: "Here, we don't consider urine as waste matter. It improves circulation and purifies the blood."

He says he strains fresh cow urine through a cloth folded eight times and then drinks it on an empty stomach.

The centre also sells cow dung which it says can protect homes from nuclear radiation when spread on the roof, the Indian Express reports.

Wizards and witches 'steal skeletons and leave spells in graveyard

From Ananova at:

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_410084.html?menu=

Residents of a town in Ecuador say witches and wizards are stealing skeletons from their local graveyard.

The parishioners in Daule also claim they are using the graveyard for their black magic ceremonies.

One man says he found voodoo dolls along with written spells near a grave.

Some of the spells were love charms, but others were sinister curses, he says.

Local residents told the Extra newspaper the authorities have a responsibility to protect the graves.

"This is the final resting place of our loved ones," one resident says. "We don't want it turned into some kind of wizards' clubhouse."


Friday, October 12, 2001

New Survey on Public Attitudes to Science

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

The full survey is available at
http://www.vcu.edu/lifesciencessurvey/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 4, 2001 CONTACT: Cary Funk | Director of the Commonwealth Poll
804/827-1430
Email: clfunk@vcu.edu
www.vcu.edu/uns

Americans Welcome Scientific Advancements with Caution Life Sciences Survey Conducted by the VCU Center for Public Policy

RICHMOND, Va. -- Americans are extremely supportive of the giant strides being made in science and technology but also are very concerned about the moral implications inherent in areas such as stem-cell research and genetic testing, according to a new nationwide survey conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

The VCU Life Sciences Survey was conducted with 1,122 adults nationwide. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 3 percent. Highlights of the survey found that:

Scientific Progress and Moral Values
An overwhelming majority of Americans (85 percent) believe that science and technology have made society better, but at the same time a majority (72 percent) also believe that science doesn't pay enough attention to moral values. More religious Americans are especially likely to think that science doesn't pay enough attention to moral values.

Americans are more confident about the capacity of science and medicine to solve problems associated with disease than they are about society's capacity to address many other problems. 83 percent are confident that genetic research will lead to major advances in the treatment of diseases during the next 15 years. 73 percent believe it is likely that mortality rates from cancer will be reduced by half in the next 15 years compared to only 20 percent who think the crime rate will be reduced by half and 31 percent who said the number of deaths from truck and automobile accidents will be reduced by half.

Stem Cell Research
Medical research that uses stem cells from human embryos is favored by a 48 to 43 percent plurality. There are clear divisions in viewpoint over stem cells depending on the importance of religious beliefs. 71 percent of those who say religion is not important to them favor stem cell research compared to 38 percent who say religion provides a great deal of guidance in their life. At the same time, the vast majority of Americans (78 percent) believe that ethical concerns over stem cell research are serious.

The public is more likely to trust information on stem cell research from scientific researchers and medical ethicists than information that comes from other groups. 86 percent say they would trust information on stem cell research that comes from scientific and medical researchers and 81 percent would trust information from specialists in medical ethics. This compares with 58 percent who would trust information from family and friends on this issue, 54 percent from religious leaders, and 46 percent from the media.

Genetic Testing and Discrimination
A clear majority (77 percent) believe that genetic testing should be made easily available. Six in ten report they would get tested if it was easily available and even more (67 percent) would get their children tested if it was easily available.

Large majorities believe that genetic testing results will lead to discrimination by health insurance companies and employers. 84 percent believe that health insurance companies will deny coverage and 69 percent believe that employers will deny people jobs because of genetic testing results. Americans are almost evenly split (by 46 to 43 percent) over whether it is even possible to prevent discrimination from genetic testing results.

On the issue of which groups or individuals can protect people from the misuse of genetic information, large majorities express confidence in physicians, genetic counselors, and scientists. Just under half, 47 percent, have confidence that the federal or state government can protect people from misuse of this information. Confidence in the media is strikingly lower than any other group asked about. Only 21 percent of Americans have confidence in the media to protect people from the misuse of this information.

Trust and the News Media
While a 45 percent plurality say they would turn first to the news media to learn more about stem cell research, few appear to trust the information provided by the media. Trust for the media on this issue was lower than that for all but one other group â€" the U.S. Congress. Similarly, fewer people expressed confidence in the media to protect people from the misuse of genetic information than did so for any of ten other groups.

Religion, Catholics, and Science
While the Roman Catholic leadership has been active in the debate against stem cell research, Catholics in America hold views quite similar to the public at large on stem cells. The same holds for opinion on abortion. More religious Americans depart sharply from other Americans on new developments in science and medicine. Those who are more religious are more likely to oppose stem cell research, are less likely to think the benefits of genetic research outweigh the risks and are more likely to believe that "science doesn't pay enough attention to moral values."

NASA's Controversial Gravity Shield Experiment Fails to Produce

By Jack Lucentini
Special to SPACE.com
posted: 11:50 am ET
10 October 2001

After a second round of tests, NASA researchers have failed to detect signs that a machine can weaken gravity's pull.

But they plan to continue the research – shocking some mainstream physicists, who call it junk science. The researchers say a device that loosens the clutch of gravity, sometimes called a gravity shield, may be the only way to enable human spacecraft to blast off to other star systems.

But the research lies on the fringe of accepted science. Some of its own proponents admit it flies against virtually every established law of physics.

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/anti_grav_update_011010.html

Skeptic News from Denmark

Scientific Proof of Crop Circle Authenticity !

The below photo provides solid proof that crop circles are genuine. In addition to the photo, reliable statements from the eyewitnesses Mogens Winther*, teacher at the Danish college "Amtsgymnasiet i Sønderborg" and 20 members of his astronomy class certify that the crop circle is indisputably genuine and was created by them. They are all ready to testify that they are living in the Universe and as terrestrial beings are aliens - in relation to e.g. Mars and any planet orbiting Alpha Centauri.

http://www.skeptica.dk/2001/05_5_cropnews.htm

"Clones of Aliens Are Among Us?

By Hans S. Nichols

The leader of a growing cult, the Raelians, claims to have been contacted by aliens who told him that mankind has been cloned from an alien race called 'the Elohim.'"

...

"The group's response to Sept. 11 was no less paranormal: Clone the charred remains of the perpetrators and make their doubles stand trial."

...That'll show 'em they can't get away with it!

http://www.insightmag.com/archive/200110299.shtml

Royal Mail's Nobel guru in telepathy row

Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday September 30, 2001
The Observer

It was meant to be a simple celebration of the world's greatest intellectual prize. But this week's issue of six special stamps to honour the 100th anniversary of the Nobel prize has dropped the Royal Mail into an unexpected, and decidedly bitter, scientific row.

Scientists are furious that a booklet, published as part of the stamps' presentation package, contains claims that modern physics will one day lead to an understanding of telepathy and the paranormal.

'It is utter rubbish,' said David Deutsch, quantum physics expert at Oxford University. 'Telepathy simply does not exist. The Royal Mail has let itself be hoodwinked into supporting ideas that are complete nonsense.'

Last week Royal Mail officials defended their actions by pointing out that the offending paragraphs had been written by a Nobel laureate, Cambridge physicist Brian Josephson. 'Yes, I think telepathy exists,' he told The Observer, 'and I think quantum physics will help us understand its basic properties.'

Professor Josephson won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1973 for proving that some materials could act as switches operating close to the speed of light, and could revolutionise computing and power transmission. He said he had deliberately used the booklet to redress a serious imbalance in reporting paranormal research work. 'I think journals like Nature and Science are censoring such research,' he said. 'There is a lot of evidence to support the existence of telepathy, for example, but papers on the subject are being rejected - quite unfairly.'

Josephson believes that psychics and telepaths may be able to direct random energy at sub-atomic levels for their own purposes, and in the commemorative stamp booklet writes that developments in information and quantum theories 'may lead to an explanation of processes still not understood within conventional science, such as telepathy'.

Full text -
http://www.observer.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,560604,00.html

Mick.

Thanks for the memory

Experiments have backed what was once a scientific 'heresy', says Lionel Milgrom

Lionel Milgrom
Guardian
Thursday March 15, 2001

About homeopathy, Professor Madeleine Ennis of Queen's University Belfast is, like most scientists, deeply sceptical. That a medicinal compound diluted out of existence should still exert a therapeutic effect is an affront to conventional biochemistry and pharmacology, based as they are on direct and palpable molecular events. The same goes for a possible explanation of how homoeopathy works: that water somehow retains a "memory" of things once dissolved in it.

This last notion, famously promoted by French biologist Dr Jacques Benveniste, cost him his laboratories, his funding, and ultimately his international scientific credibility. However, it did not deter Professorc Ennis who, being a scientist, was not afraid to try to prove Benveniste wrong. So, more than a decade after Benveniste's excommunication from the scientific mainstream, she jumped at the chance to join a large pan-European research team, hoping finally to lay the Benveniste "heresy" to rest. But she was in for a shock: for the team's latest results controversially now suggest that Benveniste might have been right all along.

Full text -
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4152521,00.html

Mick.

Housewives throw away flowering cacti after rumour

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_420856.html?menu=news.quirkies

Housewives in a Romanian neighbourhood have thrown away all their cacti because of a rumour.

A suggestion raced around streets in Ploiesti that the plants caused owners bad luck and poverty.

Garbage cans in one street ended up filled with flower pots.

Local homeless people ignored the rumours and took advantage by selling plants to people in other neighbourhoods, reports the daily newspaper National.

One woman who dumped her cactus said the rumour had become a revelation for some in the neighbourhood.

"So this is why we can't find jobs and don't have enough money. Now I realise why nothing turns out good for me," she said.

Meditation enhancing article

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=/netahtml/search-adv.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&p=1&S1=6,205,589.WKU.&OS=PN/6,205,589&RS=PN/6,205,589

Abstract

A meditation enhancing apparatus is provided. The apparatus is a head covering which is made of a highly conductive metal such as copper. The head covering or helmet has several ports which are adapted to hold crystals, the ports being connected to conduits. The conduits serve to hold the crystals in position directly in front of the user's eyes and temples, as well as to conduct electromagnetic and other energy to the user's brain. The user may select crystals which have been effective in enhancing previous meditation sessions for placement in the device.

Salesman who pitches 'free electricity' jailed

Reported in Louisville Courier-Journal on Wed.:

By Darla Carter

A traveling salesman was in the Jefferson County Jail last night on charges of violating Kentucky's consumer-protection laws in what authorities call a ''free electricity scheme.''

Dennis Lee of United Community Services of America was arrested about 3:30 p.m. Monday at the Holiday Inn on Fern Valley Road, where he was scheduled to conduct a seminar, said Todd Leatherman, director of the consumer protection division of the attorney general's office....

He travels around the country promoting the Hummingbird/Sundance generator, ''a possible Free Electricity machine nearing completion,'' according to the Web site...

The Web site for Lee's company says people attending the ''free shows'' will be able to witness a dozen seemingly impossible things. These include water flowing uphill without the aid of a mechanical device, burning pure water to cut through thick steel or ''even as fuel for an engine,'' and transmutating the nucleus of an atom to neutralize radioactive waste and turn one element into another ''as the alchemists believed.''

The site also promises, ''we will mix up a fuel consisting of equal parts of pickle juice, soda pop, water, sugar, crude oil or old transmission gear oil, gas, soy sauce, even human urine, and a touch of perfume for smell and shake it up and run an internal combustion engine using that as fuel. . . .''

Full story at:

http://www.courier-journal.com/localnews/2001/10/10/ke101001s84866.htm

Tom Wheeler

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

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****** Special bulletin for Sigma Xi members and members of the media ******

2001 Sigma Xi Forum: Science, the Arts and the Humanities: Connections and Collisions

Click on the link below to view a detailed program of events, read about the featured presentation of the play "Oxygen," and register to attend.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/2001Forum/Forum2001.htm

***************

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - October 12, 2001

ANOTHER SUSPECTED CASE OF MAD COW DISEASE FOUND IN JAPAN
from The Associated Press

TOKYO - Japanese authorities said Friday they have found a second cow in Japan suspected of having mad cow disease.

Investigators conducted an examination after slaughtering the cow and expected to have the final test results Saturday, said Tokyo city management official Mamoru Sato.

Tokyo's main wholesale meat market on Friday stopped sales of beef and internal organs from about 500 cows butchered over the past two days, Sato said. It will also recall meat already sold to retailers, he added.

Officials are investigating the cow's origin, Sato said.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/134982p-1373319c.html

SCIENTIST: EPIDEMIOLOGICAL EVIDENCE DOES NOT SUPPORT 'BSE -- CREUTZFELD-JAKOB LINK
from Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Mad cow disease and the illness thought to be its human equivalent may not be linked after all, a Scottish scientist said on Friday.

George Venters, an expert in public health medicine in Hamilton, Scotland, believes the rogue prion brain protein that causes mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), does not cause new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD).

"I believe that the evidence now available casts serious doubts on the case for a causal link between bovine spongiform encephalopathy and new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease," Venters said.

"The epidemiological evidence just doesn't stack up," he told Reuters.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=284084

MASSIVE DUST STORM SWEEPS ACROSS MARS
from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - A planetwide dust storm that began in June is still raging across Mars and may force NASA engineers to alter the flight path of a probe set to orbit the red planet in less than two weeks.

Scientists said the storm, photographed by both amateur and professional astronomers, has erupted into the most massive Mars dust storm ever seen from Earth.

Photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope and from Mars Global Surveyor, now orbiting the planet, show that dust is obscuring virtually the entire surface of the red planet.

Mars is covered with "a veil of hazy, reddish dust," said Jim Garvin, head of the Mars exploration program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/134981p-1373285c.html

ORDERING GERMS? THERE ARE HURDLES FIRST
from The Washington Post

Deadly microbes, including the bacterium that causes anthrax, are not especially difficult to obtain in today's global microbiological marketplace. Some can be ordered by phone, fax or e-mail and arrive in the mail a few days later.

But anyone seeking such bugs inside the United States faces hurdles that didn't exist five years ago, thanks largely to the antics of former Ohio State University student Larry Wayne Harris.

On May 4, 1995, Harris sent a letter with a fake laboratory letterhead to the American Type Culture Collection, the world's largest distributor of frozen germs, then located in Rockville. The collection, now in Manassas and known to scientists as ATCC, keeps a frozen menagerie of bacteria, viruses and DNA snippets for distribution to researchers.

Harris, who turned out to be affiliated with the white supremacist group Aryan Nations, ordered three vials of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46338-2001Oct11.html

CALLS FLOOD JOHN HOPKINS' BIOTERRORISM CENTER
from The Associated Press

BALTIMORE - The phones have been ringing off the hook at Johns Hopkins University's bioterrorism center as on-edge callers look for guidance in the aftermath of terror attacks that have raised the threat of a biological attack.

Some callers are health officials and policy-makers seeking advice. Others are ordinary citizens fearful about their safety at a time of heightened concern about anthrax and further attacks.

The sudden demand has prompted the center to hire extra help and put up a list of frequently asked questions on its Web site, such as "Should I buy a gas mask?" (The answer: not unless you plan to wear it all the time.)

"Quite frankly, people are hungry for clear-headed direction on issues of bioterrorism preparedness," said Monica Schoch-Spana, a medical anthropologist and research associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies. "They're looking for concrete steps to take right now, post-Sept. 11, to enhance protection."

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/135094p-1374180c.html

BETTER LIVING, AT LEAST FOR A WHILE, THROUGH CHEMISTRY
Book Review from The New York Times

The son of two physicians in wartime England, Oliver Sacks says it was "understood, almost from my birth, that I would be a doctor," and in fact he would grow up to become a doctor, a humane, philosophical doctor, uncommonly attuned to the passion and pathos of his patients and the astonishing resilience of human life, as his earlier books ("Awakenings," "An Anthropologist on Mars," "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat") so eloquently attest.

Dr. Sacks's first love, however, was not medicine but chemistry, and in his new memoir, "Uncle Tungsten," he gives us a moving account of his childhood ardor for science: for numbers, for the chemical elements, for formulas and systems. Science offered this shy, young boy - bullied and abused at school and rocked by the convulsions of World War II - a kind a refuge; it offered him the promise of stability and order in an unstable world.

No one better conveys the romance of science than Mr. Sacks. In these pages he not only communicates his own boyhood fascination with the magical realm of chemistry - with the mysterious qualities of the different elements, their resonant names and pungent smells and colors - but he also leaves us with an appreciation of the beauty and economy of the natural world, the mathematical workings, as he puts it, of "God's abacus."

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/12/books/12BOOK.html

SOME PEARLS OF WISDOM AND DELIGHT
Art Review from The New York Times

On the subject of pearls, ancient Romans held them to be the frozen tears of oysters or the gods. Greeks attributed pearls to lightning strikes at sea. Then there was the dew theory, espoused in the first century A.D. by the learned but often fanciful Roman Pliny the Elder, who wrote:

"When the genial season of the year exercises its influence on the animal, it is said that, yawning, as it were, it opens its shell, and so receives a kind of dew, by means of which it becomes impregnated; and that at length it gives birth, after many struggles, to the burden of its shell, in the shape of pearls, which vary according to the quality of the dew."

Today science has identified the true organic origins of pearls but without diminishing their ineffable allure. Science can indeed be said to have opened our minds to the pearl as a modern parable. In a pearl we see nature's capacity to deal with a chronic irritant in a way that brings forth a thing of beauty. Pearls, you see, are the resplendent creations of certain invertebrate animals known as mollusks, one of nature's most diverse phyla. It includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and snails, even octopus, squid and the chambered nautilus. Not all of the species have a pearl-making capability, and not all that do live up to their potential. If they did, oyster eating would be an adventure fraught with surprise and peril.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/12/arts/design/12PEAR.html

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Institute of Holistic Computer Wellness

http://users.bestweb.net/~bennetc/holistic

Everybody working with computers has probably experienced days when nothing seemed to work, from an unusual frequency of typos to difficulties in clicking the mouse on exactly the right spot to downright crashes. Of course, the technical people always either blame the user for such things, or some program, or the hardware. But when it comes to actually finding the mistake, the "experts" are often enough at loss just like anybody else. There is a special term they use for the problems that are the hardest to diagnose: intermittent failures. What they mean is, that although you may go through exactly the same steps that once led to a crash, it may not happen the next time round. But, of course, this also works other way around: doing exactly what you always do may sometimes crash your machine.


Thursday, October 11, 2001

TOMMY: ME AND MY PSYCHIC

http://www.pagesix.com/pagesix/3359.htm

WHEN Tommy Hilfiger makes an important decision, he calls his lawyers, his accountants - and his psychic. At the Hilfiger-sponsored party for psychic Judith Turner's new tome, "The Hidden World of Relationships," at the Hudson hotel Tuesday night, Hilfiger told PAGE SIX, "Judith is amazing - she knows everything." He said she even predicted the World Trade Center attack on a radio show. On a personal note, Hilfiger has just bought another new house in Elmira, N.Y., that he has loved for years: "I used to deliver papers to that house as a boy and always dreamed one day it would be mine." Unfortunately, it's too big to live in, and Elmira locals say they've heard it will be turned into a museum. Hilfiger is also working on a movie with screenwriter Mary Pat Kelly about the U.S.S. Mason - the only World War II naval ship with an all African-American crew, and for which a newly launched destroyer is named. Hilfiger is talking to his pals Quincy Jones and Denzel Washington about starring.

Saving Us from Darwin, Part II

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/14622

By Frederick C. Crews

In a recent essay in these pages I argued that "intelligent design"--the theory that cells, organs, and organisms betray unmistakable signs of having been fashioned by a divine hand--bears only a parodic relationship to a research-based scientific movement.[1] In a world where empirical issues were settled on strictly empirical grounds, ID would be a doctrine without a future. But scientific considerations can take a back seat when existential angst, moral passions, and protectiveness toward sacred tradition come into play.

One doesn't have to read much creationist literature, for example, before realizing that anti-Darwinian fervor has as much to do with moral anxiety as with articles of revealed truth. Creationists are sure that the social order will dissolve unless our children are taught that the human race was planted here by God with instructions for proper conduct. Crime, licentiousness, blasphemy, unchecked greed, narcotic stupefaction, abortion, the weakening of family bonds--all are blamed on Darwin, whose supposed message is that we are animals to whom everything is permitted. This is the "fatal glass of beer" approach to explaining decadence. Take one biology course that leaves Darwin unchallenged, it seems, and you're on your way to nihilism, Eminem, and drive-by shootings.

GOD ON THE BRAIN

The curious coupling of science and religion.
by JEROME GROOPMAN
Issue of 2001-09-17
Posted 2001-09-10

http://www.newyorker.com/PRINTABLE/?THE_CRITICS/BOOKS/010917crbo_books

Each morning, as the sun rises I pray. The shaharith service is largely unvarying, except that there is a different Psalm for each day of the week. I know most of the prayers by heart, and often close my eyes as I recite them. This purposeful blindness allows me to retreat from the distractions of the surrounding world. My Jewish heritage is mixed—the tight scholastic rationalism of Vilna, in Lithuania, on my father's side, and the ecstatic Hasidic mysticism of Hungary's Carpathian Mountains, on my mother's—and, while praying, I try to touch both traditions. Sometimes I will think about the root of a particular word in an attempt to delve deeper into the message of the text. Other times, I recite the ancient Hebrew words in a rapid monotone until they flood over me, submerging distinct thought.

As I near the end of the prayers, I search for a kernel of meaning for the day ahead. For example, on Tuesdays, which I generally spend in the clinic, seeing people with cancer, blood diseases, and AIDS, I recite Psalm 82; it instructs us to "uphold the downtrodden and the destitute." Fridays are devoted to analyzing the week's accumulated laboratory data—the sequence or function of a novel gene, the structure of a cellular protein, the effects of a new drug—and that day's Psalm, No. 93, celebrates the mystery and majesty of the physical world.

But there are many mornings, at home or in synagogue, when ritual fails to bring meaning. Etymology then feels like a self-indulgent parlor game; the rhythmic chanting is distracting rather than transporting. Closing my eyes brings only darkness and a chilling sense of emptiness. In the past, religion and biology have usually been in sharp conflict, but in recent years scientists of faith have sought to narrow the divide. Technological advances have made it possible to chart the neural circuits that are switched on and off during religious experiences; this work dovetails with studies examining the physiological effects of repetitive prayer, chanting, and meditation, and with recent attempts to measure the effects of religion on health. Data on the science of spirituality are being sought not only in the laboratory and in the clinic but also in the church and the synagogue and the mosque. Much of the funding for these studies has come from the John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropy that focusses on reconciling science and religion. But what does this new partnership signify? And can the burgeoning biology of religious experience be used to argue convincingly for the existence of God?

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

****** Special bulletin for Sigma Xi members and members of the media ******

2001 Sigma Xi Forum: Science, the Arts and the Humanities: Connections and Collisions

Click on the link below to view a detailed program of events, read about the featured presentation of the play "Oxygen," and register to attend.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/2001Forum/Forum2001.htm

***************

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - October 11, 2001

CHEMISTRY NOBEL WINNER: EXPERIMENT BEGAN WITH PAINT AND WINE
from Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The experiment that eventually led to a Nobel Prize in chemistry and the development of important new heart medicines began in a California lab with a dab of white paint and a splash of wine.

The most immediate outcome was a sex lure for Gypsy moths.

"It's a romantic story actually," said Barry Sharpless, 60, a professor at the Scripps Research Institute outside San Diego who shared the $1 million annual award with fellow American William Knowles and Ryoji Noyori of Japan's Nagoya University.

The three researchers, who worked independently, studied the chemical processes that produce molecules that have a certain kind of mirror-image structure.

Molecules often appear in nature in structures that parallel the way the right hand mirrors the left hand. The difference between the two forms and the ability to produce only one have proven crucial in the development of everything from drugs to sweeteners to insecticides.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=279784

FLORIDA INQUIRY FINDS ANTHRAX IN THIRD PERSON
from The New York Times

BOCA RATON, Fla., Oct. 10 - Federal officials announced tonight that a third person in South Florida had tested positive for exposure to anthrax and said forcefully that their efforts had become a criminal investigation. The latest exposed is a 35-year-old woman who works in the same building where two other people were exposed, one of whom died last week.

The officials said they found traces of anthrax in the woman's nasal passage and that she was taking antibiotics. The officials withheld the woman's identity, saying they were doing so at her request.

"There is another individual who has tested positive for the presence of this virus," said Guy Lewis, the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida. "It is now a criminal investigation."

The authorities said that there was "no indication" that the exposures were related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but would not rule out that possibility.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/11/national/11FLOR.html

INDIAN COMPANIES COULD SUPPLY CHEAP ANTHRAX DRUG
from Reuters

BOMBAY (Reuters) - If the anthrax scare were to spread from the U.S. across the globe, cash-strapped governments would find dozens of suppliers in India willing to sell the costly medicine needed to treat the disease at cut-rate prices.

Every Indian drugmaker worth the name turns out its copy of German giant Bayer's Cipro, the only U.S.-approved treatment for anthrax. Demand for the drug surged in the U.S. after a man died of the disease, raising fears of possible biological warfare.

Bayer said on Wednesday it would increase production by 25 percent starting from November 1.

But consumers outside the West could also buy cheaper copy-cat versions from at least 78 Indian producers, like Ranbaxy Laboratories, who churn out large volumes of the drug at a fraction of international prices.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=282453

U.S. LIFE EXPECTANCY REACHES ALL-TIME HIGH
from Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Heart disease and cancer are still the biggest killers, but Americans are surviving longer and more are dying of diseases associated with old age, a government report issued on Wednesday showed.

Life expectancy for Americans has reached a new high of 76.9 years, compared with 76.7 years in 1999, mostly because fewer people are dying early from heart disease and cancer, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Death rates from murder, suicide, accidents, stroke, diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases, chronic liver disease and AIDS were also down in 2000, the report said.

More and more Americans are lucky enough to die of old age, said Ari Minino, a demographer at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, who helped write the report.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=280601

POSSIBLE MAD COW DISEASE DRUG TESTED
from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- One of the first patients to test a possible therapy for a brain-destroying illness similar to mad cow disease has died while a second patient grew worse, the lead researcher said Wednesday.

Tests are continuing in hopes the drug ultimately will work.

"I am optimistic we will have some success," Dr. Stanley Prusiner of the University of California, San Francisco, told a neuroscience meeting at the National Institutes of Health.

Part of the experiment is figuring out if scientists are using the best dose of the drug, he said.

http://www.newsday.com/news/health/sns-madcow.story?coll=sns%2Dhealth%2Dheadlines

TRANSFORMING A FLUORESCENT GLARE INTO A GUIDING LIGHT
from The New York Times

THEY were once the hallmark of institutional monotony. No more, though: the drab fluorescent tube has been rehabilitated.

A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has figured out a way to transform the ubiquitous fixtures in the ceilings of airports, museums, offices and factories into inexpensive data transmitters. Pass under one these revamped fluorescent lights at the airport, and it may send out not just its characteristic cold glow, but also a message that flashes on your hand- held computer screen saying: "Turn left at the next corridor for Gate A. There's a cash machine just as you reach the intersection."

To create fluorescent tubes that can communicate, their inventor, Dr. Steven Leeb, has modified ordinary fluorescent fixtures so that they beam data as well as illumination. Dr. Leeb, who teaches circuit design and other subjects at M.I.T., does this by changing one component in the fixture to produce fluctuations in the light that can be read as a digital signal. These fluctuations, imperceptible to the eye, are easily detected by light sensors that pick up the signals and pass them to processors and software that produce voice, music or text messages. The lights may be linked to create inexpensive data networks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/11/technology/circuits/11NEXT.html

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