NTS LogoSkeptical News for 11 July 2002

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Thursday, July 11, 2002

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.

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Today's Headlines – July 11, 2002

from The San Francisco Chronicle

An international team of fossil hunters scouring the sands of a windswept Central African desert have unearthed the skull and jaw fragments of a creature that lived nearly 7 million years ago -- by far the earliest of all known human ancestors.

Their spectacular find will force anthropologists to rethink their ideas of a mysterious period when our human forebears and the apes first evolved separately from a common ancestor and the first hominids began to walk upright.

"Unquestionably, this is one of the most important fossil discoveries of the last 100 years," said Harvard University anthropologist Daniel Lieberman. "It is the oldest skull by far of a human ancestor. This will have the scientific impact of a small nuclear bomb."


from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, July 10 — Cloning for biomedical research should not be banned outright, but rather prohibited during a four-year moratorium that would allow time for more public debate, according to a long-awaited report by President Bush's bioethics advisers.

By endorsing a moratorium on research cloning, the President's Council on Bioethics put itself slightly at odds with Mr. Bush, who supports a ban on all human cloning experiments. In a dissent, 7 of the panel's 18 members went even further, recommending that research cloning proceed under government regulation.

Even the majority was split, according to an executive summary of the report, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.

"Some of us hold that cloning for biomedical research can never be ethically pursued, and endorse a moratorium to enable us to continue to make our case in a more democratic way," the majority wrote. "Others of us support the moratorium because it would provide the time and incentive required to provide a system of national regulation."


from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, July 10 — If the International Space Station is to be considered a scientific project that produces first-rate research, it will have to grow beyond current plans, which reduced its original size and scope, a review panel said today.

The panel says there is more than enough substantial work to do on the space station if the proper equipment is aboard and enough crew work time is allocated. The panel is an independent task force charged with identifying research priorities for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the space station in particular.

Because of overruns of the United States' costs for the international project, the White House last year told the space agency to trim the budget by cutting back on planned segments. These included a dormitory and a rescue module, which would have allowed seven astronauts to work on the station at once.


from Newsday

Cape Canaveral, Fla. - NASA's newest shuttle was diagnosed yesterday with the same potentially dangerous problem as the rest of the fleet: cracked fuel lines.

The news came as no surprise to the space agency, which has already delayed at least one flight and, despite weeks of exhaustive work, has no clear picture as to how or when the cracks occurred.

As of yesterday afternoon, two cracks had been discovered in the metal liners of hydrogen- fuel lines inside Endeavour, the last of the four shuttles to be examined. The inspection was expected to continue into today.

The problem was first detected three weeks ago on Atlantis. Inspections quickly uncovered cracks in the plumbing of Discovery and then Columbia. The work on Endeavour had to wait until the shuttle returned from Edwards Air Force Base in California, where it landed June 19 following a space station visit.


from The Associated Press

GENEVA - The United Nations said severe food shortages brought on by two years of drought could kill as many as 300,000 people in Southern Africa in the next half year.

"There is now a severe humanitarian crisis," said Dr. David Nabarro, a senior official of the World Health Organization.

Earlier this month the United Nations asked for $507 million to buy food for people in the hardest-hit region, which includes Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Mozambique and is home to 60 million people. Of those people, about 12 million will suffer food shortages in the coming year.

But food supplies are only part of the problem.


from The Washington Post

They were beautiful, fast and glamorous -- a rare opportunity for a young reserve officer like John F. Kennedy to earn a coveted command at sea. But should a PT boat ever be caught with idling engines in the path of a Japanese warship, the outcome was quick and final.

In the predawn hours of Aug. 2, 1943, the Japanese destroyer Amagiri rammed Kennedy's PT-109 in the waters of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, killing two crewmen, nearly slicing the boat in half and leaving Kennedy and the rest of his crew to ride the crippled hulk until they could swim to a nearby island.

The ordeal earned Kennedy the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and contributed to the charismatic aura that envelops him even now. And, yesterday, nearly 59 years after PT-109's fatal encounter, marine archaeologist Robert Ballard announced that he had found its sunken remains in tumbling underwater sand dunes 1,300 feet below the surface of the Solomons' Blackett Strait.


from The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON – The FBI has someone in mind. He is a loner, a science nerd with access to a sophisticated lab. He has a reason to be peeved, and he's familiar with the Trenton, N.J., area. This Unabomber-like person, officials say, mailed the anthrax-laced letters last fall that resulted in five deaths.

Narrowing its nine-month search in the past two weeks, the FBI has closed in on two government labs that work with anthrax, and to several scientists who have the expertise, the access, and possibly the motive to carry out the worst bioweapons attack against this country.

A government official says they are now focused "more heavily than other places" on the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) – the Pentagon's primary biodefense research center – and the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. He says the FBI has narrowed the list of people it's "interested in interviewing" to some 30 people – all US-based biological warfare experts.

Jerrold Post, professor of psychiatry at The George Washington University and a former personality profiler for the CIA, says the FBI's personality sketch sounds quite accurate. But he says the perpetrator's characteristics are also what make this case so difficult to solve.


from The Associated Press

A type of knee surgery performed on more than 300,000 Americans each year to ease arthritis pain is worthless and perhaps even harmful, government researchers say.

The study looked at arthroscopic knee surgery for osteoarthritis, the painful, steadily worsening, wear and tear on joints that affects 12 percent of senior citizens. The operation is done to clear out debris or repair damaged cartilage.

In a type of study only rarely conducted, some patients got a real knee operation, while others underwent sham surgery.

At every point over the next two years, those who had the fake surgery could climb stairs and walk slightly faster on average than those who had gotten real operations.


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Skull sparks an evolution revolution


Fossil found in Chad
is earliest-known member of human family tree, researchers say

July 10 — The discovery of a fossil skull in a remote Chadian desert could rewrite the scientific saga of human origins, researchers said Wednesday. The skull and other fossil remains have been dated at 6 million to 7 million years old — which would make them the oldest-known relatives of modern humans. If confirmed, the find would dramatically change scientists' conception of where and when our ancestors arose.

Book Finds Critics


A college reading assignment has generated a growing constitutional controversy.

In May, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced the Carolina Summer Reading Program assignment would be "Approaching The Qur'an: The Early Revelations" by Michael Sells.

All of the university's incoming freshmen and transfer students, some 3,500, are required to read the book and participate in Aug. 19 discussions.

The book translates and offers commentary on the Quran's earliest 35 suras, the first words Muslims believe God revealed to the prophet Mohammed.

In the wake of Sept. 11, university officials say they believe it's important for university students to better understand Islam.

Family hail 'miracle' as boy wakes up in morgue

From Ananova at


A Chilean family are claiming a miracle after their 14-year-old son woke up in a morgue after being declared dead. Doctors at Santiago's Padre Hurtado Hospital declared the boy dead after he accidentally strangled himself during a game.

But later that evening, mortuary workers heard strange noises and discovered the boy was still breathing. Hospital director Dr Ernesto Behnke claims there was no mistake and Luis Alfredo Pinilla had been clinically dead.

The family believes the boy's life was saved because friends and neighbours prayed to the Virgin of Lourdes.

They believe the Virgin rescued Luis Alfredo because he is an altar boy and wants to become a priest.

Dr Behnke added: "His heart had stopped and he didn't respond to cardiac massage, medication or resuscitation techniques. The PH of his blood was 6.7, which is incompatible with life."

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Blind Psychic Gropes Buttocks to See Future

Tue Jul 9,11:55 AM ET
By Nick Tattersall

BERLIN (Reuters) - Forget palm-reading. A blind German psychic claimed Tuesday he could read people's futures by feeling their naked buttocks.

Clairvoyant Ulf Buck, 39, claims that people's backsides have lines like those on the palm of the hand, which can be read to reveal much about their character and destiny.

"The bottom is much more intense -- it has a much stronger power of expression than the hand in my experience," Buck told Reuters. "It goes on developing throughout your life."

By running his fingers along a number of lines on the surface of a client's posterior, he says he can tell them about their future monetary success, family life, health and happiness.

He says lines representing success, career and artistic ability extend inwards from the outer extremities of the buttocks, while a further five lines radiate outwards.

"I began on a circle of friends and the circle grew," Buck said. "I am not a new-age freak. I treat people with great care and conscientiousness."

Buck, who lives in the northern village of Meldorf, northwest of Hamburg, says all types come to him to have their bottoms read.

He sees his blindness as a great asset, not least because it means customers do not risk having their identities revealed.

"All sorts come, from cleaning ladies and secretaries to prominent members of the community. For them, my being blind is an advantage because I can do it without recognizing them again in the future." Buck has been blind since the age of three.

Although he claims to have spent many years training his fingers, with his index and middle fingers the most sensitive, Buck says even amateur buttock readers can make a broad-brush assessment of people's personalities.

"An apple-shaped, muscular bottom indicates someone who is charismatic, dynamic, very confident and often creative. A person who enjoys life," he said. "A pear-shaped bottom suggests someone very steadfast, patient and down-to-earth."

He is quick to shoot down any suggestion that his buttock groping might be motivated by anything other than a genuine desire to probe people's futures.

"I do not need to feel bottoms for my own pleasure. My wife is quite beautiful enough for me," he said.

Buck is reluctant to speak about his successes, but says he correctly predicted an actress from a popular German soap-opera was going to write a book, and says a stockbroker has been using his services for over two years.

"No stockbroker would keep asking a blind clairvoyant to tell them about future stock prices if they didn't believe I could to it," he said.

Michael W. J. Powers
Administrative Assistant, Resource Sharing / Support

Articles of Note

Cult Shock


"During a thundershower of biblical proportions, hundreds of people dash from a train station in the Tokyo suburb of Kawaguchi, across a bricked plaza and into a modern civic center. Inside, there are English lessons on the 11th floor, "welcome to kabuki world" on the first floor, a seminar on working at home on the sixth floor. It's a busy night for the self-improvement crowd. But the main attraction on this Tuesday night in late June is holding forth in the auditorium. There, more than 2,000 people have gathered to see a man whom they believe possesses unsurpassed wisdom and power. In their eyes, Shoei Asai, the 70-year-old leader of a religious sect called Nichiren Kenshokai, is a healer and a prophet who envisions a looming calamity for Japan that he alone can avert. "Asai sensei understands" says Kazuhito Suzuki, a disillusioned, young construction worker who professes nothing but disdain for Japan's establishment and despair for the future. "He has the answers.""

Divine mystery of leaking water at Wailing Wall
By Patrick Bishop
The Telegraph [UK]


"Sages across the Holy Land were yesterday trying to fathom the significance of a mysterious damp patch that has appeared on Jerusalem's Wailing Wall."

Elderly 'witches' persecuted in Mozambique
By Tim Judah
BBC News


"There has been an alarming increase in accusations of witchcraft in Mozambique."

Salmon in lake ends old curse and brings locals new blessing
By Anne Lucey
Irish Times


"A Kerry lake believed by locals to have been cursed by a monk has produced its first salmon in hundreds of years."

Temple treatment for psychiatric illness
New Scientist


"A six-week stay at a Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu can produce the same improvement in people with severe psychiatric disorders as a month-long course of standard drugs, say researchers in India."

Give me $1 bn, I'll give you peace: Maharishi Yogi


"Beatles guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said on Wednesday in a July 4 message to Americans nervous about new September 11-style attacks that he could kill world terrorism with love β€" but he would need $1 billion to do it."

Testimony: Slaying tied to bad spiritual advice
Gainesville Sun


"Advice from a spiritual adviser and the Miss Cleo hot line helped convince an alleged drug dealer that a Newberry man, shot execution-style last year, was the culprit behind his missing money, witnesses testified at an Alachua County murder trial Tuesday."

White supremacist a β€˜group of one’
York Daily Record


"The white supremacist who wants to hold a rally in York next January has been threatening York officials with his interpretation of the law."

Artifacts challenge evolution theories


"Three distinct groups of early humans may have migrated from Africa and perhaps lived together in Eurasia about 1.7 million years ago, according to researchers who uncovered a primitive skull and other fossils in the Republic of Georgia."

Oil company's 'microlepton' technology dismissed


"A company is seeking permission to search for oil in the UK using "microleptons" - particles that are completely unknown to high-energy physicists. Technology Investment and Exploration Limited (TIEL) has already won outline planning permission from the local council to build a borehole at a site in rural Leicestershire, and has secured an oil-exploration licence from the UK government."

About the hoax, folks
By Damon Hodge
Las Vegas Weekly


"The rumor, Mary Hausch says, should have sent up one red flag; its implausibility, another."

The price of peace


Give me $1 bn, I'll give you peace: Maharishi Yogi

REUTERS [ THURSDAY, JULY 04, 2002 9:15:25 AM ]

NEW YORK: Beatles guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said on Wednesday in a July 4 message to Americans nervous about new September 11-style attacks that he could kill world terrorism with love — but he would need $1 billion to do it.

"July 4 could be a great day for freedom," Maharishi, who brought Transcendental Meditation to the West more than 40 years ago and is a spiritual inspiration to some 6 million people worldwide, said in a conference call from the Netherlands.

Maharishi said that with $1 billion he could train 40,000 expert meditators, or "Vedic Pandits", who would generate enough good vibes to save the world. His press office said $85 million toward that goal had already been raised.

The guru has largely shunned the public eye for the last 20 years, but is now determined to drum up support for his concept of "Natural Law — the Constitution of the Universe."

"I am setting up groups of knowers of this total knowledge of natural law, here, there and everywhere, particularly large groups in India, which is the seed for total knowledge of natural law," Maharishi said.

"I have confidence that India will be the lighthouse for total knowledge. From there this total knowledge will radiate in the whole family of nations ... that would generate a powerful influence of peace that would spread throughout the whole world and neutralise the stress, the hatred and tensions that fuel terrorism and war today."

Maharishi also criticized the US response to terror attacks. "Bush's war on terrorism pushes the world toward destruction," he said. "This promotes the birth of an enemy."

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Police hunt 'monster man'


People are fleeing Indian villages to escape a man who allegedly plucks flesh from his victims with long claws.

Around 50 villages in the Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh are in fear of the so-called monster man who is reported to have attacked 36 people.

One of the man's victims claims to have seen red and green lights coming from his body before he struck.

He is also rumoured to have long hair, blood-shot eyes and claws like a tiger.

Weddings have been cancelled and people have stopped sleeping outside their homes at night despite the summer heat, reports Sify News. People have fled Loharpur, Balua Tarao, Dharam Purwa, Jagatpur and many other villages.

Director general of Police RK Pandit has launched an investigation into the alleged attacks by the man, known as Mooh Nochva.

Inspector General of Police in the Varanasi zone, S N Singh, said a team of officers is trying to identify the man.

Sify reports his victims have included a woman called Pikkhi who had flesh ripped off her face, neck and arms, and student Jai Prakash Paswan whose face and arms were badly scratched.

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.


Today's Headlines – July 9, 2002

from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Government scientists abruptly ended the nation's biggest study of a type of hormone replacement therapy, saying long-term use of estrogen and progestin significantly increased the women's risk of breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks.

Six million American women use this hormone combination, either for short- term relief of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms or because of doctors' long-standing assumptions that long-term use would prevent heart disease and brittle bones and generally keep women healthier longer.

Two of those assumptions are wrong, the National Institutes of Health announced Tuesday. In fact, yearslong use of estrogen and progestin increased otherwise healthy women's risk of a stroke by 41 percent, a heart attack by 29 percent and breast cancer by 24 percent.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

Barcelona, Spain -- For the first time in years, American drug researchers have begun testing a new class of AIDS drugs on humans, the researchers said Monday at the 14th International AIDS Conference.

At a packed session that surveyed potential new AIDS drugs, a top scientist at Merck Research Laboratories reported that a long-sought chemical known as an integrase inhibitor has knocked down an AIDS-like virus in monkeys and has been tested safely in human volunteers.

Integrase is one of three enzymes inside the AIDS virus that help it make copies of itself after it invades a human blood cell. The others are known as reverse transcriptase and protease. Every AIDS drug on the market today tries to block one of those two enzymes.

"This completes a triangle," said Dr. Warner Greene, director of UCSF's Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology. "It is very good news."


from The New York Times

South of Suez, the Egyptian shore of the Red Sea used to be sprinkled with ports that throbbed with life and commerce in antiquity, especially the heyday of the Roman Empire. But long ago, the relentless desert buried their remains so completely that it was almost beyond imagination that these places once were pivotal links in a maritime trade route that rivaled the better-known overland Silk Road.

From here ships ventured down the coast to Ethiopia and Somalia and beyond, bringing back ivory and tortoise shells, drugs and slaves. Other vessels headed for the southern shore of Arabia, mainly for frankincense and myrrh. The biggest ships sailed the monsoons to and from India to satisfy the bounding appetites in the Mediterranean world for spices, precious stones and other exotic goods.

So robust was the India trade 2,000 years ago that Emperor Tiberius, concerned over Rome's increasingly adverse balance of payments, complained that "the ladies and their baubles are transferring our money to foreigners."


from The New York Times

Every year, swaths of the United States coastline are attacked by poisonous enemies that massacre fish and shellfish, unnerve beachgoers and prompt scores of "no fishing" alerts.

But these assailants, actually harmful algae that mushroom into dense colonies known as red tides, may soon be deterred by a humble defender: clay.

Scientists are testing ways to use ordinary clay to smother the algae, which are single-celled creatures. Spread thinly over tainted ocean waters, the clay clumps as it falls through the water column, coating the cells and causing them to die on the seafloor.

The procedure has helped protect billion-dollar fishing industries in South Korea and Japan, and some scientists believe it can be used in the United States.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

Raising new questions about the environmental risks of some widely used farm chemicals, scientists are reporting today the first evidence linking agricultural runoff to grotesque hind-limb deformities in frogs.

Researchers said frogs appear to be made more vulnerable to a common parasite when exposed to the pesticides atrazine and malathion. The parasite, a burrowing trematode worm, tends to infect the hindquarters of developing tadpoles.

Atrazine is part of a family of chemicals that rank among the world's most widely used weed killers. Malathion is commonly applied to control mosquitoes and other insects, and pharmaceutical grades are approved for killing head lice. Both products are controversial but considered safe for commercial use in the United States.

Now, effects of these and other chemicals on the environment are coming under new scrutiny. Research is driven partly by keen public and scientific interest in the declining health of amphibian populations, often portrayed as a sentinel for environmental decline and a possible early warning of health problems affecting humans.


from The Boston Globe

andra Tiffany's back and sides hurt so much that she had to be rushed to the hospital for treatment of her kidney stones. Still, the 53-year-old Nevada state legislator had no reason to think she might die. Millions of Americans get treatment for these painful calcium deposits and live to tell the tale.

Yet, Tiffany spent a week at death's door, breathing through a ventilator and receiving a multitude of drugs just to maintain her blood pressure. She had become another victim of sepsis, one of the least understood and most dangerous health threats in US hospitals - the leading killer in noncoronary intensive-care units.

"Sepsis is Jack the Ripper. It's nameless and strikes quickly," said Juanne Herrold, 68, a retired legal assistant from Sarasota, Fla., who developed severe sepsis after her surgery to remove colon cancer.

Sepsis is often what doctors are referring to when they say patients died from "complications" of pneumonia, AIDS, cancer and other diseases. For reasons that are still unclear, the body's natural defenses dramatically overreact to infection in sepsis cases, triggering a cascade of bad events, such as inflamed blood-vessel linings, blood clots, tissue death or major organ failure. Death can follow in a matter of hours. Even if patients survive, they could lose limbs.


from The Associated Press

KENNER, La. (AP) -- Normand "Rock" Sheeren heard jet engines screaming and knew the plane was in trouble. As the Boeing 727 cartwheeled into the ground and burst into flames, he heard people screaming, too.

"I'll take that to my grave," says Sheeren, who lives in Kenner.

Twenty years later, the July 9, 1982, disaster that killed all 146 people on Pan Am Flight 759 and eight more on the ground remains the deadliest U.S. crash ever caused by wind shear, a sudden shift in wind.

And thanks to better knowledge, training and equipment developed partly in response to that crash, that record may stand.


from The Washington Post

A few hours after he died, the body of Ted Williams was removed from a Florida funeral home and transported to Arizona, where family members said his son had arranged for the 83-year-old baseball Hall of Famer to be drained of blood, filled with a freezing solution and floated inside a container filled with unimaginably cold liquid nitrogen.

Williams's death and an angry quarrel that has broken out among his children over the disposal of his body have sparked a macabre collision between the newest frontier of technology and an old-fashioned family feud, raising ethical, scientific and legal questions. Williams's will may resolve whether his body will be thawed and cremated or will remain frozen. The executor of his estate is expected to file the will today or Wednesday in Florida.

While Williams, who played 19 seasons for the Boston Red Sox and missed three full seasons and most of two others because of military service, may be the biggest celebrity to be cryo-preserved, the Web site of the company that family members say has his body -- Alcor Life Extension Foundation of Scottsdale -- indicates that 49 people have been similarly preserved in its frozen crypts. Nationwide, about twice that number have been cryo-preserved and a thousand living people have signed up for the process at various companies who are charging anywhere from $28,000 to $120,000, which is Alcor's top price.


compiled by The Boston Globe

Early Warning for Earthquakes

Earthquakes may signal their impending arrival by radio, according to scientists in Japan...

Ball-Bearing Chemistry

Chemical reactions often involve getting molecules to bang into each other, and the most common way of getting that to happen is to dissolve them and heat them up - hence the typical science-fiction images of bubbling flasks and bunsen burners...

Short Circuits and Alzheimer's

A new understanding of how Alzheimer's disease damages brain cells is based on thinking of cells as little batteries...

Reading the Minds of Monkeys

An electronic device that effectively reads the minds of monkeys may offer hope for people who would like to control artificial limbs with their minds...


Commentary from The Boston Globe

Critics often complain that science is a closed shop, blindly committed to defending established ''dogmas,'' and unwilling to entertain ideas that fall outside accepted paradigms. Scientists will circle the wagons around accepted theories like evolution by natural selection, say the critics, and dismiss out-of-hand unorthodox ideas like creationism or homeopathy.

Are the complaints valid? Several recent episodes show that science is more open to new ideas and to self-criticism than the critics suppose.

In March of this year, a group of scientists led by Rusi Taleyarkhan of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee sought to publish in the journal Science evidence that they had achieved nuclear fusion in a tabletop experiment. It is established wisdom in science that nuclear fusion - the energy-producing reaction that powers the sun and hydrogen bombs - can only be usefully harnessed by hugely expensive hot fusion reactors that mimic conditions that exist at the centers of stars or in explosions of atomic bombs.


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Vatican Sitting On Time Machine?


BOCA RATON, Fla. (Wireless Flash) -- First, the Vatican was accused of hiding the records of priests who've abused kids. Now, it's being accused of hiding a time machine.

The machine in question is called a "Chronovisor" and was built in the 1950s by a Benedictine monk named Father Pellegrino Ernetti.

No photos of the Chronovisor exist, but paranormal journalist John Chambers says Ernetti reportedly used the "way back machine" to film Christ's crucifixion for Vatican officials.

Ernetti died in 1994 without revealing the secret of the Chronovisor but Chambers says evidence is mounting that the Catholic Church is hiding a working model from the rest of the world, supposedly to keep it from getting into evil hands.

Sound crazy? Maybe, but there may be something to it. Chambers says a Jesuit priest named Father Francois Brune believes the Chronovisor must exist because -- in the priest's words -- "Ernetti wouldn't lie about such things."

Indian patents cow urine for medicinal use

Press Trust of India

New Delhi, July 3: A US patent has been granted to Indian scientists on the use of cow urine distillate as bio-enhancer, Minister Of Science And Technology Murli Manohar Joshi announced on Wednesday.

"A combination of Indian traditional wisdom and modern science has led to a unique US patent No 6,410,059 that was granted to Indian scientists on June 25, 2002," an excited Joshi said at a special function in New Delhi.

The patent has been granted for a pharmaceutical composition containing an antibiotic and cow urine distillate in an amount effective to enhance the anti-microbial effects of antibiotic and antifungal agents.

The invention relates to an absolutely novel use of cow urine as activity enhancer and availability facilitator for bioactive molecules including anti-infective and anti-cancer agents.

"The present invention has direct implication in drastically reducing the dosage of antibiotics, drugs and anti-cancer agent while increasing the efficiency of absorption of bio-active molecules, thereby reducing the cost of treatment and also the side-effects due to toxicity," Joshi said.

The use of cow urine is known for a long time in India. Go-mutra (cow's urine) has been described as a substance with innumerate therapeutic values in Sushrita Samhita and Ashtanga Sangraha. However, the biological activity of cow's urine was not tested scientifically, he said.


Articles of Note


New York Post


"A former friend of funnyman Bill Cosby says he evicted her from his home after 19 years because the tragic comic fell under the spell of a mysterious guru who practices bizarre religious rites."

'Miracle water' isn't, police say
Columbus Dispatch


"Evangelist Leroy Jenkins has been charged with illegally selling contaminated bottled water from his Delaware church, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture."

One Nation, Under Conservative Judges
By Richard S. Dunham
Business Week


"What in the name of Zeus was that California appeals court thinking when it struck down the Pledge of Allegiance for allegedly violating the separation of church and state? The ruling has since been suspended pending further judicial review, but the repercussions could be far more dramatic than the appellate justices ever imagined."

Center City church secures St. Pio relic
Philadelphia Inquirer


"A Center City church has obtained a tiny treasure: a shard of cloth spotted with the blood of Padre Pio, one of Roman Catholicism's most revered 20th-century figures, who was canonized as a saint June 16."

Rats blamed for mysterious cattle mutilations


"Recent mutilations of cattle and horses in the Argentine countryside were the work of rodents, scientists said on Monday, not ritualistic slayings by extraterrestrials or vampires as some farmers feared."

Conyers woman keeps Virgin's visits private
Atlanta Journal-Constitution


"During a prayer group meeting in her Conyers, Ga., home in 1991, Nancy Fowler sensed a supernatural spirit hovering in her living room."

Taken in
by Jonathan Ledgard
The Scotsman


""I am Aerial Tellurian (not my real name, the one given me by Outlander). I am 45, single, and I reside in the Panhandle of Florida. Since the age of ten, I have been visited by an alien called Outlander from Regulus - which is 67.0 light years away from our solar system.""

Do you believe?
Bucks County Courier Times


"Eyes closed, Karen Fairman tried to come to terms with her existence. She had gone to a spiritual workshop in search of an answer to the question that had taken over her heart - How could a person with a perfect life be as deeply unhappy as she was?"

5 collapse on visit to dinosaur fossil site
Bangkok Post


"Four female students and a lecturer from Rajabhat Institute had sudden seizures and fainted during a visit to a dinosaur fossil site yesterday _ and some people are blaming the supernatural."

World health chief hangs up on cellphones


"World Health Organisation chief Gro Harlem Brundtland warned parents on Monday against letting their children spend too much time on mobile telephones and said their electromagnetic waves give her a headache."

'Faithful' Fathers? Beliefs of nation's founders varied
By Elaine Jarvik
Deseret News


"On the eve of its 226th birthday, America is still trying to get a handle on the Founding Fathers' religious beliefs."

Transcendental Meditation: The solution to terrorism?
Jerusalem Post


"A small number of meditators can stop terrorism in the Middle East, a leading US scientist told a Tel Aviv news conference yesterday."

Monday, July 08, 2002

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.


Today's Headlines – July 8, 2002

from The Washington Post

Federal health officials say they are finalizing a plan that would vaccinate hundreds of thousands of emergency medical personnel against smallpox this fall and expand to include other health care and rescue workers most at risk if the deadly virus is unleashed in the United States.

"At the end of the day, the numbers could be significantly greater than 500,000," said Jerome Hauer, acting assistant secretary for emergency preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services. He said vaccinations could begin within eight weeks.

Eventually, as more vaccine becomes available and experts have a chance to study adverse reactions to the inoculation, administration officials expect to make it widely available on a voluntary basis.


from The Associated Press

BARCELONA, Spain -- A study of young gay and bisexual men in major U.S. cities found that more than three-quarters of those infected with HIV were unaware they had the AIDS virus.

The finding, presented Monday during the first day of scientific sessions at the 14th International AIDS Conference in Spain, is a worrying sign that the epidemic could be in danger of accelerating again in the United States.

The study indicated that ignorance of infection among HIV positive gay and bisexual men was three times as common as previous estimates, which were based on HIV tests results of people entering the military or jobs that require screening.

Those have indicated that one in four people were unaware they were infected, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the survey.


from Reuters

BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) - A preventive vaccine against HIV/AIDS could be available by 2005 if results from human safety and efficacy trials are as good as expected, a U.S. biotechnology company said Monday.

Early results from Phase III trials of a preventive AIDS vaccine will not be available until early next year but its California-based developer VaxGen Inc said it was optimistic it would work.

"I think we will get protection (from the virus) but I don't know what level we will get," Donald Francis, president and co-founder of the company, told an AIDS conference.

Francis admitted he did not have any early clues about the results but he said the vaccine uses a standard approach and it worked in chimpanzees, so he believes it will be effective in humans.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

If Congress provides the money, then the seismological equivalent of the moon landing is near: the first insertion of scientific instruments deep into an active earthquake zone, in the Central California village of Parkfield.

There, 2 1/2 miles inside the earth, the instruments might yield the first answers to these mysteries: What sets off earthquakes? Can they be predicted? Or is quake prediction -- a high hope since the 1960s -- a futile dream, at least along the San Andreas Fault?

But there's one catch: Geology has its own time schedule, independent of Congress'.

A moderate-size quake is a decade overdue at Parkfield, famous for its semicyclic temblors. And if financing continues to be delayed, then Parkfield's next major quake may arrive before the money -- and scientists fear they will have to wait another generation for the next one.

"This is the politics of science at the highest level," said Gregory van der Vink, a Princeton University geoscientist. He spends much of his time in Washington urging Congress to back a giant geoscience project, Earthscope, of which the San Andreas drill hole is the cheapest but perhaps most dramatic part.


from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Three distinct groups of early humans may have migrated from Africa and perhaps lived together in Eurasia about 1.7 million years ago, according to researchers who uncovered a primitive skull and other fossils in the Republic of Georgia.

In a study that appeared Friday in the journal Science, the researchers say that the new skull is smaller and more primitive than two others found at the same southern Georgia site two years ago. They also found a jawbone that may be from another type of early human.

The findings suggest that human-like species of various kinds may have traveled or lived together after leaving Africa as history's first migrants, the researchers say.


from The Washington Post

What is an anthropologist doing at the Pentagon? Measuring modern body sizes, no less?

Anthropologist Kathleen M. Robinette is director of the Air Force's Computerized Anthropometric and Design Laboratory, where she heads a project called CAESAR – Civilian American and European Surface Anthropometry Resource. Anthropometry, a branch of anthropology, deals with the measuring of the human body to determine differences between groups and individuals. CAESAR is an international study of sizes and shapes for adult Americans and Europeans to provide three-dimension measurements that can be used to design everything from military aircraft seats to uniforms to goggles.

The project, partially funded by private industry, also provides information to the private sector.


from The New York Times

CURTIS A. FORD'S invention may be worth pondering during the code-red air pollution days of summer.

Mr. Ford recently received United States patent 6,389,889 for a diagnostic device that he says will pinpoint the trouble with a car's cooling system — whether it's a faulty head gasket, a clogged water pump or a defective thermostat — and thus help cut down on smog. Even if a car seems to be running fine, Mr. Ford said, an engine that is running below the correct temperature emits excessive quantities of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. An engine running hotter than its ideal temperature emits excessive nitrogen oxide.

But are the big automakers likely to adopt a technology developed by an 80- year-old man tinkering in his basement in Flatbush, Brooklyn? Mr. Ford acknowledges that the road from invention to product will be an uphill journey. But he says he is no stranger to adversity.


from The New York Times

It seems a fairly obvious idea: when science experiments are successful, the results are published in a well-respected journal for all to see and the body of human knowledge expands. But the sad truth about science is that most experiments fail and the hypotheses that seduced researchers turn out not to be true or, at least, the studies provide no evidence that they are true. Are such studies any less important, any less successful? And what happens to them?

Generally, if the negative studies are large and the hypotheses well known, they will be published. That happened, for example, with studies of thousands of cellphone users finding no evidence that cellphone radiation predisposes to brain cancer. It also happened with a study published last month finding no evidence that men who had vasectomies are more likely to get prostate cancer.

But if the studies are small — just some professor's good idea proved wrong — the findings often are never published, leading future researchers to waste time and money going down the same blind alley. Or, if a study that fails to support a popularly held idea — that stress causes ulcers, for instance — goes unpublished, people may continue to believe in an association that has never actually been proven.


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Science Needs a Healthy Negative Outlook

July 7, 2002

IT seems a fairly obvious idea: when science experiments are successful, the results are published in a well-respected journal for all to see and the body of human knowledge expands. But the sad truth about science is that most experiments fail and the hypotheses that seduced researchers turn out not to be true or, at least, the studies provide no evidence that they are true. Are such studies any less important, any less successful? And what happens to them?

Generally, if the negative studies are large and the hypotheses well known, they will be published. That happened, for example, with studies of thousands of cellphone users finding no evidence that cellphone radiation predisposes to brain cancer. It also happened with a study published last month finding no evidence that men who had vasectomies are more likely to get prostate cancer.

But if the studies are small - just some professor's good idea proved wrong - the findings often are never published, leading future researchers to waste time and money going down the same blind alley. Or, if a study that fails to support a popularly held idea - that stress causes ulcers, for instance - goes unpublished, people may continue to believe in an association that has never actually been proven.

A few new journals have begun soliciting and publishing negative studies - ostensibly to prevent repetition and waste, and to acknowledge that even negative results add value to our collective knowledge bank. It's a tough sell. The tendency for science to overlook most of the vast backwash of failed experiments isn't accidental. Money, pride, politics and good old competition all play a role. And even when major negative studies are published, it may not have the effect of moving researchers on to other topics.

For Dr. Bjorn Olsen, a professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School, the solution to the problem of small negative studies is clear. He is setting up the Journal of the Negative Results in Biomedicine, which is expected to be online this summer.

"You have a hypothesis, based on what is commonly accepted in an area," Dr. Olsen said. "You do some experiments and it doesn't work out that way. Frequently, there is something wrong with what everyone assumes is true."

But, he said, scientific journals like positive results, rejecting papers whose data fail to support a hypothesis. "These kinds of negative results are often very hard to get into publications," Dr. Olsen said.

But according to Dr. Scott Kern, a professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the journals aren't entirely to blame. Some negative data are not published, he suggests, because those conducting the studies do not want to share them.

Dr. Kern should know. He started his own electronic journal of negative results, called NOGO, which stands for Negative Observations in Genetic Oncology, with high hopes that cancer researchers would publish there. He focused on gene mutations that might predispose to cancer, looking for studies showing that a mutation is not associated with a cancer rather than ones showing it is. All he asked was that scientists fill out a form and post it on NOGO's Web site, letting others know not to waste their time.

When Dr. Kern started the journal a few years ago, his colleagues commended him, and chuckled about it. "People would come up and pat me on the back and say they had a good laugh and that it was quite unique," Dr. Kern said. But few sent him their negative results.

"I don't know how I could make it easier for them," Dr. Kern said. "At times I would call people and kind of nudge them," he added, but to little avail. He thinks it is because scientists do not want to give their competitors an advantage.

"They now know something they're not going to do again and their competitor does not," Dr. Kern said. He said a postdoctoral student might have spent seven or eight months on a failed attempt. "As a consolation to the poor postdoc, you say, `One thing you do know is what genes not to look at.' That provides a warm feeling in their heart. But the moment they submit it for publication, that warm feeling goes away."

In an ideal world, said Dr. Leon Gordis, a professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins, all studies, positive or negative, would be judged by whether they were well done and whether they were interesting.

"I don't think there should be a journal of not finding associations," Dr. Gordis said. "If you have a good study, it should be entered into a prestigious medical journal."

That, of course, is what happens with studies like the ones on cellphones, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, or the prostate cancer study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

But then, Dr. Gordis and others added, another complication enters in. "On certain controversial or emotionally charged issues, when do we decide that no further studies are needed?" Dr. Gordis asked.

WITH cellphones, some scientists are continuing to look for evidence of danger. Now, Finnish scientists have announced that they will be reporting on laboratory experiments that suggest that cellphone radiation alters the blood-brain barrier, allowing chemicals into the brain that should be kept out. There is, of course, no evidence that any such thing is happening in humans. But the very effort shows that the cellphone issue remains alive.

Another way to keep an issue alive is to look for subgroups of people in large negative studies whose experience seems to support a given hypothesis. You can always find such subgroups if you slice the data, said Dr. Barnett Kramer, editor of The Journal of the National Cancer Institute. They will appear simply by chance, he said, adding that since the total effect is null, for every subgroup with a positive effect, there is another with a negative effect. That does not mean that the effect in any subgroup is real - to find out you need to do another study just with them. Should you? Or should a study that enrolled mostly men be repeated with women? Should one involving whites be done again to see if the results are the same with blacks?

"There's no shortage of issues that can be raised," Dr. Gordis said. Often, he added, there is money to be found to re-do the studies with a different emphasis.

So what should a scientist do?

"I'm not aware of anyone refusing money," Dr. Gordis said. "That's the acid test."


Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

Sunday, July 07, 2002

Here's one for the X-Files.


In Cambodia some of the doctors have an odd quack therapy called cao gio, or coin rubbing. They rub heated oils on the back, and then firmly run the edge of a coin over the skin, causing marks like the above. It's supposed to release the "wind", or "energies" that are causing a person's illness.

In this case, though, the patient became ill. At first he just had vomiting and diarrhea, which he apparently put up with for a week. Then he started to become confused, at which point he wound up in a real hospital. For a few days he was confused and "treated with supportive therapy" -- I suppose they had a nurse hold his hand and say pleasant things since they didn't know what else to do with him. On the third day he came out of it, his skin healing.

It turns out he had camphor intoxication. The camphor in the oil on his back was slowly absorbed into his body, with the aid of the open wounds. Slowly he became sicker and sicker.

And this, friends, is why truth must be the only bias in science.

Top Spiritual Medium Dies


Tue Jul 2, 8:36 AM ET

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) - Chico Xavier, the most popular spiritual medium in Brazil and the author of 500 books with messages from the deceased, died late on Sunday of heart failure at the age of 92, hospital sources said on Monday.

Xavier was an icon for followers of spiritualism, the belief that spirits of the dead communicate with the living and usually through a medium. The latest census shows that 2.3 million of Brazil's 170 million people call themselves "spiritualists," who also believe in the eternal life of the soul.

Xavier, who lived in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, communicated between the dead and living through writing and received pilgrims from all over the country.

His first book in 1932 published poems he received "spontaneously" from dead poets. His books sold over 20 million copies.

Even Brazil's politicians were drawn to Chico Xavier. Fernando Collor de Mello visited the medium in 1989, the year he was elected president.

Xavier had been in poor health and was partially blind in the last years, but still attended to his followers on weekends.

Minas Gerais and the city of Uberaba, where the medium lived, have declared three days of mourning. By Monday morning, the line of followers wanting to pay their respects was more than a half-mile (1 km) long.

Xavier will be buried in Uberaba on Tuesday. He is survived by an adopted son.

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.

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Today's Headlines – July 5, 2002

from The Washington Post

A new model projecting the future of the AIDS pandemic predicts that about two-thirds of the infections expected to occur in the next eight years could be averted if countries rapidly instituted disease-prevention strategies that have been proven to work.

A concerted, global campaign could prevent about 29 million infections, but it would require a quadrupling of current spending on AIDS prevention, according to the study. The necessary interventions are labor-intensive but not particularly high-tech, and include such things as advertising campaigns, school and workplace education, condom distribution and needle exchanges for drug users.

Almost every country could benefit from wider prevention efforts, epidemiologists and mathematicians involved in the project found. But the biggest winners would almost certainly be India and China. Up to 10 million infections might be averted in those places, where the AIDS epidemic is young and its course still relatively undetermined.


from The Washington Post

Most insect repellents containing herbal oils are far less effective than those containing DEET, a synthetic chemical marketed since the 1950s, according to the first study to scientifically compare a wide range of products.

Although the botanical repellents have attracted chemical-wary consumers, the findings suggest that DEET-containing repellents would be the best choice for anyone seeking reliable protection from mosquito-borne or tick- borne infections such as West Nile virus or Lyme disease, said researcher Mark S. Fradin, co-author of the study in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"If I was traveling to Africa and had to worry about getting malaria or . . . yellow fever, I would want a DEET-based product on my skin," said Fradin, a dermatologist at the University of North Carolina.


from Bloomberg News

AMSTERDAM, July 4 (Bloomberg News) — Reed Elsevier, the Dutch half of the largest publisher of scientific journals, is being taken to court by a shareholder interest group contesting how the company accounted for takeover costs last year.

The interest group, the Foundation for Corporate Information Research, known by its Dutch initials SOBI, said today that it wanted an Amsterdam court to review the way Reed Elsevier accounted for good will related to the $5.7 billion purchase of Harcourt General in July 2001.

A Reed Elsevier spokeswoman, Susanna Smart, did not return several calls seeking comment.

"I'm not worried about this — with good will it's very arbitrary when to take the costs," said Engbert Ebeling, an analyst at Amsterdam's Effectenkantoor, an investment firm. "With Elsevier, I'm looking at earnings before good will anyway."


from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Most fishermen like to catch and keep the big ones and throw the little guys back, but a new study suggests that it's better for the fish species to do exactly the opposite.

In a study in the journal Science, researchers at the Stony Brook University in New York conducted a four-generation laboratory study of fish and found that when the bigger fish are allowed to live, eventually the species may double in size and number.

The study, led by David O. Conover, a professor at the Marine Sciences Research Center at Stony Brook, experimented with a species called the Atlantic silverside, a small fish that lives, reproduces and dies within a single year. The silverside is commonly used as bait by sports fishermen in the Northeast.



ALBANY, Ga. (AP) -- For years, experts predicted fire ants couldn't tolerate frosty winters in the north Georgia mountains. But the aggressive, fast-breeding South American pests have defied predictions, spelling trouble for crops, wildlife and people.

Fire ants have spread to all of Georgia's 159 counties and a new type discovered in the Rome area seems especially adept at hunkering deep in the ground to escape the cold, said Wayne Gardner, a University of Georgia entomologist.

With no natural enemies outside South America, fire ants have spread across about 275 million acres in the past 80 years, mostly in southeastern United States. Isolated colonies have also been found in Delaware, New Mexico and California. They've also turned up in Australia.


from The Boston Globe

NEWTON - It seems a jarring sight on a campus known for its Gothic Revival architecture and devotion to Catholic tradition: one of the world's most powerful magnets, built into a basement floor and tended by a team of research physicists.

Over the last decade, Boston College has quietly transformed itself into an unexpected scientific powerhouse. Its chemistry and physics departments have risen to national prominence, doing increasingly influential work and publishing a growing number of papers in top research journals. From 1995 to 2002, outside funding for scientific research at BC, a key measure of success in academic science, has doubled, from $7.7 million to about $15.9 million, according to the university.

These numbers are still nowhere near those of the Goliaths across the river, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But scientists in Boston and around the country say they have been amazed at how quickly an underdog like BC has established itself in a crowded field.


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Thursday, July 04, 2002

Achemy Works


Welcome to Alchemy Works! Here you can find seeds, herbs, and plant resins that have traditionally been used in Earth-based spirituality and magick. Lots of information tells you which plants are linked to which planets and how a particular herb has been used in a spiritual context. Plenty of informational links, too. Stick around and enjoy, and if there is anything you want that you don't see on my site, let me know.

Click on Saturn to see my planetary correspondence chart. Find out how plants relate to the planets, the zodiac, and elemental forces. With the help of this info, you can learn how to recognize for yourself the influences on plants you encounter.

Banning unconstitutional, not pledge


By Dennis Geppert
LIFE Photo Editor
July 03, 2002

I always thought everyone had the right to believe in what they want to as long as it does not harm me or anyone else.

"To each his own," I say. This is true for religion, sexual orientation or even a fetish for raw fish — well, you get the idea.

But recently I have been shocked that people used the rights bestowed upon them by the Constitution as a tool to take that right away from others with different beliefs. I am talking about the recent decision of the U.S. District Court of Appeals to find the "Pledge of Allegiance" unconstitutional, in effect banning it in schools in nine states.

No more religion in school, thank God


By Heather Bell
LIFE Copy Editor
July 03, 2002

God save the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

They did it; they did what they knew what was right. They threw caution to the wind and stood up for truth and freedom, for the rights of the minority.

It's a shame public officials don't have the cajones to do the same.

The court's decision that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional came at a bad time. It is an election year, meaning that public officials who agree with the ruling will be voted out, and those who disagree (or pretend to) will keep their seats. As a result, the Michigan State Senate unanimously approved a pro-pledge resolution in disagreement with the court's ruling, though there has to be at least one senator who agreed with the ruling.

Fossil ID'd As 1st Walking Creature


July 3, 2002
Filed at 8:23 p.m. ET

A fossil found in 1971 has been newly identified as the earliest known animal built to walk on land, a salamanderlike creature that marked a previously unknown stage in the evolution of fish into the ancestors of all vertebrates alive today.

The toothy animal, Pederpes finneyae, lived between 348 million and 344 million years ago in what is now Scotland. It was perhaps a yard long, and probably split its time between the water and land where it walked on four feet, said Jenny Clack, of the Cambridge University Museum of Zoology.

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

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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Today's Headlines – July 3, 2002

from The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON - As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention retools to meet the threat of bioterrorism, a senior manager who helped shape the nation's response to last year's anthrax scare has been tapped by President Bush to lead the agency, an administration official said yesterday.

The appointment of Dr. Julie L. Gerberding is to be announced today by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. Gerberding will become the first woman to lead the Atlanta-based federal agency, which is responsible for protecting Americans against infectious diseases and other health hazards.

Public health officials and academics applauded the expected nomination, saying that Gerberding, 46, combines talent as an infectious-disease physician specializing in AIDS research with leadership and communication skills that she demonstrated during the anthrax attacks.

"We think this is an outstanding decision," said Thomas V. Inglesby of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies. "She was fantastic under fire in the fall."


from The San Francisco Chronicle

The United Nations warned Tuesday that the global AIDS pandemic is only getting started.

At least 68 million people will die by 2020 unless there are "drastically expanded" efforts to prevent and treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, U.N. experts said.

Their portrait of human misery on a gigantic scale was released in anticipation of the 14th International AIDS Conference, set to open Sunday in Barcelona, Spain.

Highlighting the gap in HIV treatment between rich nations and poor, the report found that only 4 percent of those needing AIDS drugs in developing nations have access to them -- despite successes in bringing down the cost of these medicines to about $1 a day.


from The Washington Post

In women with heart disease, taking hormones after menopause does not protect against heart attacks or strokes and increases the risk of dangerous blood clots and gall bladder disease, according to a major seven- year study released yesterday.

"In these women . . . the net effect is harm," said Deborah Grady of the University of California at San Francisco, principal author of a report on the Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study (HERS) published in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The latest findings confirm the study's initial conclusion, published in 1998, that taking the hormones estrogen and progestin after menopause does not reduce heart attacks among women who already have heart disease. Although the treatment could still be found to help prevent heart disease in younger, healthy women, experts said that for now, no woman should take hormones in the hope of lowering her risk of a heart attack.


from The Washington Post

CAPE CANAVERAL - NASA launched a small spacecraft today that will fly within 60 miles or so of a pair of comets in 2003 and 2006, part of an unprecedented effort to understand the role such "dirty snowballs" played in the solar system's evolution.

In so doing, researchers hope to map out the chemical composition and structure of comets in never before recorded detail and to determine to what degree comets might have seeded Earth with the water and organic compounds necessary to support life.

"Cometary nuclei are actually remnants from the creation of the outer solar system planets," said Colleen Hartman, director of NASA's solar system exploration division. "They also may be the source of much of the water we find in the Earth's oceans. In fact, there's some speculation that human beings are made of comet dust."

The Comet Nucleus Tour - CONTOUR - spacecraft was built by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. It is the second of three NASA missions devoted to the study of comets.


from The Washington Post

LOS ANGELES -- From east to west, the countryside is as brown as toast. The rich loam of the Great Plains is crazed with cracks. In South Texas, they're saying it's as hot as a skillet on a stove in hell.

Stressed-out scrub jays in the Arizona pinyon forests have abandoned their young. Razorback suckers are stalled at the shuttered fish ladders along the Gunnison River in Colorado, dying for snow that never fell.

The California Poppy Reserve closed early for lack of blooms. The Kansas corn is pitiful. The Montana cows were sold. New Mexico river rafters have no river left to raft, and at the marinas around Lake Mead, they've had to move the docks a quarter-mile to reach the water's ever-retreating edge.

While the wildfires roaring across a dozen western states have received most of the attention, the conflagrations are only a symptom of a more insidious and lingering natural phenomenon: The nation is in deep drought.


from The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Thousands of human remains found at the World Trade Center may finally be identified under a groundbreaking procedure being tested by a Texas genetics company, city officials said Tuesday.

If tests show the procedure works, some of the remains will be analyzed in about two weeks, said Dr. Robert Shaler, the city's chief of forensic biology.

He warned that scientists are still testing whether the procedure will yield reliable results and said some remains will probably never be identified.


from The Boston Globe

The teachers had expected to catch an array of marine life in their nets. They got jellyfish, nothing but jellyfish; jellyfish so plentiful that the gelatinous organisms came up dangling through the net like slimy icicles. And with each haul came more.

"Eventually it seemed that our deck was coated with vaseline," said Captain Eric Pfirrmann, who works for Save The Bay, an advocate for Narraganset Bay in Rhode Island. He drives a research vessel that had taken some high school teachers on a marine field trip. "I've seen blooms like this before," Pfirrmann said, "but never so early in the summer."

The culprit is a nonstinging invertebrate about the size and shape of a tulip blossom and commonly known as the combjelly. These blobs of summer, combined with sea squirts, an entirely different organism taking over Long Island Sound, are thriving in large part because water temperatures have risen about 3 degrees in the past two decades, according to scientists. This environmental shift favors them - and not others.


Television Review from The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- When Clifford Holland died of exhaustion during building of the tunnel linking lower Manhattan and New Jersey, a newspaper in 1924 extolled him as the "martyr engineer."

Ask people today where the Holland Tunnel got its name and odds are they're more likely to credit the city's Dutch roots than the dedicated scientist.

That's the estimation, at least, of Kenneth Mandel and Daniel B. Polin, filmmakers who give Holland and other should-be famous engineers their due in "Great Projects: The Building of America."

The four-part PBS documentary pays tribute to their enduring and often graceful work: the roadway, water and utility systems that make up the vast American infrastructure.


Commentary from The Boston Globe

In 1770, an English country doctor named Edward Jenner noticed that milkmaids who had previously contracted cowpox, a relatively mild disease of cattle, were immune to the more virulent human affliction, smallpox. His observation led to the development of a cowpox vaccine for the prevention of smallpox.

Vaccines for other diseases followed. Polio, measles, and yellow fever no longer trouble our children. The same principles of scientific medicine that guided Jenner led to the effective elimination of many other diseases. In this country, malaria, plague, typhoid, scarlet fever, and mortal flu are mostly things of the past.

Toothache and infant mortality have been dramatically reduced. Antibiotics have mostly eliminated death by bacterial infection. Cancer and heart diseases claim fewer victims.

A hundred years ago, an early death from disease was the default condition; long life a stroke of luck. Today, in the developed world, we consider good health a civil right. How did we get from there to here - from a world racked by suffering and death to newsstands packed with magazines celebrating robust good health? The answer is simple: by the scientific study of cause and effect.


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The Bible and the Apocalypse

Sunday, Jun. 23, 2002
The biggest book of the summer is about the end of the world. It's also a sign of our troubled times

What do you watch for, when you are watching the news? Signs that interest rates might be climbing, maybe it's time to refinance. Signs of global warming, maybe forget that new SUV. Signs of new terrorist activity, maybe think twice about that flight to Chicago.

Or signs that the world may be coming to an end, and the last battle between good and evil is about to unfold?

For evangelical Christians with an interest in prophecy, the headlines always come with asterisks pointing to scriptural footnotes. That is how Todd Strandberg reads his paper. By day, he is fixing planes at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Neb. But in his off-hours, he's the webmaster at raptureready.com and the inventor of the Rapture Index, which he calls a "Dow Jones Industrial Average of End Time activity." Instead of stocks, it tracks prophecies: earthquakes, floods, plagues, crime, false prophets and economic measurements like unemployment that add to instability and civil unrest, thereby easing the way for the Antichrist. In other words, how close are we to the end of the world? The index hit an all-time high of 182 on Sept. 24, as the bandwidth nearly melted under the weight of 8 million visitors: any reading over 145, Strandberg says, means "Fasten your seat belt."

A Comprehensive Bibliography of OBE


About 2,000 references to the out-of-body experience, arranged by author

Copyright © 2001 by Robert Bushman, compiler

Single copies of this file, with copyright notice, in any form, are permitted for non-commercial use.

Content Matter of the OBE Bibliographies

This bibliography includes titles of books; booklets; articles from newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals; self-published works; audio and video tapes; and files from the Internet that deal with OBE. It includes any material dealing with the phenomenon, from subjective to objective, skeptical to speculative, and scientific to popular. Included are personal experiences, collections of case histories, subjective descriptions (phenomenologies), induction techniques, anthropological descriptions, psychological descriptions, population surveys, historical surveys, cross-cultural surveys, theoretical explorations, research methodologies, research reports, biography, popularizations, counter hypotheses, and fiction. Most of the titles deal exclusively with OBE phenomena while many others are more general in scope and touch lightly upon OBE.

Study: Cell phones-cell damage link

http://techupdate.zdnet.com/techupdate/stories/main/0,14179,2871557,00.html Reuters
June 20, 2002
HELSINKI--A study by scientists in Finland has found that mobile phone radiation can cause changes in human cells that might affect the brain, the leader of the research team said on Wednesday.

But Darius Leszczynski, who headed the two-year study and will present findings next week at a conference in Quebec, said more research was needed to determine the seriousness of the changes and their impact on the brain or the body.

The study at Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) found that exposure to radiation from mobile phones can cause increased activity in hundreds of proteins in human cells grown in a laboratory, he said.

"We know that there is some biological response. We can detect it with our very sensitive approaches, but we do not know whether it can have any physiological effects on the human brain or human body," Leszczynski said.

Woman 'marries' idol of Lord Krishna

By Sanjay Sharma in Bhopal

Premlata, a 23-year-old woman of Jalaun district of Uttar Pradesh "married" an idol of Lord Krishna.

Premlata, who wanted to follow the footsteps of Mirabai who is said to have devoted her life to Lord Krishna, had been insisting on marrying Lord Krishna for the past two months.

But the district administration had asked the police to foil any such attempt, fearing it would create a controversy.

But she and her parents, Shaligram Shastri and Laxmi Tripathi, crossed over to Uttar Pradesh. They stayed at a dharam-sala till the Madhya Pradesh police believed she had given up the marriage idea.

Premlata finally had her way when she "married" an idol of Lord Krishna in the Sati Anusuiya Ashram in Chitrakoot district of Madhya Pradesh last week.

Premlata and her parents convinced a local priest who solemnised the unique marriage according to Hindu rituals.

In modern times, it may seem strange that a woman should regard a god as her husband. But it is not a new thing in the Bhakti cult.

The intense relation between a human and a god is called 'Madhurya Bhava', is considered the highest form of devotion.

The devotee is the wife who serves her "husband" in several roles. And the case of Mirabai who devoted her entire life to Lord Krishna has been a living example of such a devotion.


Scientists estimate 30 billion Earths


Monday, 1 July, 2002, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Astronomers say there could be billions of Earths in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Their assessment comes after the discovery of the 100th exoplanet - a planet that circles a star other than our own.

The latest find is a gas giant, just like all the other exoplanets so far detected, and orbits a Sun-like star 293 light-years away.

Scientists say they are now in a position to try to estimate how many planets may exist in the galaxy and speculate on just how many could be like the Earth. The answer in both cases is billions.

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