Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

Good News : Boy discovers microbe that eats plastic

In Environtmental, Go Green, Technology, Teplok Good News on July 25, 2009 at 5:14 pm
PhDs have been searching for a solution to the plastic waste problem, and this 16 year old finds the answer.

It’s not your average science fair when the 16-year-old winner manages to solve a global waste crisis. But such was the case at last month’s May’s Canadian Science Fair in Waterloo, Ontario, where Daniel Burd, a high school student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, presented his research on microorganisms that can rapidly biodegrade plastic.

NOTE: there are TWO high school students who discovered plastic-consuming microorganisms. The first was Daniel Burd (last year). The second was Tseng I-Ching (last month), a high school student in Taiwan.

Daniel had a thought it seems even the most esteemed PhDs hadn’t considered. Plastic, one of the most indestructible of manufactured materials, does in fact eventually decompose. It takes 1,000 years but decompose it does, which means there must be microorganisms out there to do the decomposing.

Could those microorganisms be bred to do the job faster?

That was Daniel’s question which he put to the test by a very simple and clever process of immersing ground plastic in a yeast solution that encourages microbial growth, and then isolating the most productive organisms.
The preliminary results were encouraging, so he kept at it, selecting out the most effective strains and interbreeding them. After several weeks of tweaking and optimizing temperatures Burd was achieved a 43 % degradation of plastic in six weeks, an almost inconceivable accomplishment.

With 500 billion plastic bags manufactured each year and a Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch that grows more expansive by the day, a low cost and nontoxic method for degrading plastic is the stuff of environmentalists’ dreams and, I would hazard a guess, a pretty good start-up company as well.

NOTE: to the comment below. Yes there are certainly methods for decomposing plastic, but most are chemical in nature not organic, requiring high temperatures and chemical additives to cause the plasticizers to vaporize, for instance this patent on PVC extraction. There have been several successful bacteria based solutions developed at the Dept. of Biotechnology in Tottori, Japan as well as the Dept. of Microbiology at the National University of Ireland, but both apply only to styrene compounds.

It goes without saying that these discoveries need to be tested to ensure, for instance, that the bi-products of organic decomposition are not carcinogenic (as in the case with mammalian metabolism of styrene and benzene). The processing of plastics by these methods would also have to be contained in highly controlled environments. So, no, we’re not talking about a magic panacea or a plastic-free paradise, but the innovative application of microorganisms to break down our most troublesome waste products is nevertheless a major scientific breakthrough.

ANOTHER NOTE: One of our readers pointed out a very interesting study in 2004 at the University of Wisconsin that isolated a fungus capable of biodegrading phenol-formaldehyde polymers previously thought to be non-biodegradable. Phenol polymers are produced at an annual rate of 2.2 million metric tons per year in the United States for many industrial and commercial applications including durable plastics.

Good News : Paint Your Roof White, it will reduce Global Warming

In Environtmental, Go Green, Life, Teplok Good News on July 25, 2009 at 4:42 pm

“How Can?” it’s the common question will come out from everyone that first time to know this. Yes it can. Here is the explanation.

Global warming is the increasing of earth temperature because of the blanket of CO2 on the atmosfer. It will trap the sun light and its heat inside the earth and heating the temperature. This can be bad for our earth, there are a lot of negative things happen to the earth. And one of them is the melting of the ice in the arctic.

The ice is functionally as the mirror that reflects back the sun light and make it out, so that our earth will have no change on temperature. It has function like that because of its color of white. White color has capability to reflect all the colors spectrum and the heat. The melting of the ice in arctic is decreasing this color capability so the temperature will be getting higher and higher.

If it’s the power of the white color that can reflect back the heat inside. We can make it ourselves and help the earth to do the same thing. The most useful way is to white our roof. This can be a great white roof movement because this can’t be done just by one house. We need many houses with white roofs so it has function as same as the ice.

Good News : Miracle $1 pill can save 100.000 lives

In Health, Life, Teplok Good News on July 25, 2009 at 4:31 pm

A NEW wonder “poly-pill” could prevent 80 per cent of heart attacks and strokes in the over-55s.

It’s claimed the miracle five-inone pill could halt over 100,000 premature deaths each year.

And one in three people could live an extra 20 years without a heart attack or stroke.

UK researchers say the pill would have a greater impact on the prevention of disease in the Western world than any other medical intervention.

They want it to be available for just $1 a day.

Government heart disease chief Professor Roger Boyle has given the drug his support and wants it prescribed on the NHS.

He said: “It would certainly have a big impact.

“We need to remember that one-third of deaths are due to cardiovascular disease.”

The pill contains folic acid to help reduce heart attacks, three types of medicine to reduce high blood pressure and a cholesterol-reducing statin.

Inventor Professor Nicholas Wald said: “I am delighted that we have reached this milestone.

“Now we want to get it out there so people can use it.”

It’s hoped the pill will be prescribed in the UK in two years.

Good News : Cure for cancer one step closer

In Health, Technology, Teplok Good News on July 20, 2009 at 4:57 pm

The cure for cancer is one step closer this week with the first collections of cancer tissue taking place at the new Wesley Research Institute Tissue Bank.

The Tissue Bank is the first of its kind in Queensland to provide a widely available and diversified collection of ethically consented and clinically annotated tissue, helping to unravel the cause, progression and potential treatment for cancer and other diseases.

Professor Julie Campbell AO, Director of The Wesley Research Institute, said the current absence of large, high quality cancer tissue and blood collections with clinical data is a major barrier to improving care of cancer patients.

“Queensland research has taken an enormous step forward this week. There is every possibility that findings made achievable by the Tissue Bank will lead to the next big breakthrough in the fight against cancer,” she said.

“By providing researchers who are part of an ethically and scientifically approved research project with tissue, matching blood samples and full clinical data, valuable funds will be saved, which can then be applied to further their research.

“There is compelling evidence that new methods for screening, diagnosis and evaluation of cancer can make a significant impact on cancer care in the immediate future,” Professor Campbell said.

Dr John Lumley, a surgeon from The Wesley Hospital, said that these specimens would be donated by consenting patients during the course of their normal treatment.

“I encourage patients and surgeons to support the important work of the Tissue Bank because everybody can play a part in the cure. Every cell contains a clue that can make a difference to tomorrow’s cancer patients,” he said.

Queensland is well placed as a source of cancer tissue due to its diverse population, large number of aged retirees, and high-rate of some cancers, particularly melanoma. The Wesley Hospital alone had almost 2000 cancer related surgeries in 2004.

The Queensland Government contributed $1.42 million towards the construction of the Tissue Bank through the Smart State Research Facility Fund.

The investment has built and equipped, as part of the Institute’s infrastructure, a dedicated laboratory with highprecision equipment for preparation and study of tissue samples.

This equipment includes an Aperio Scan Scope which takes high resolution images of tissue samples that can then be shared with researchers around the world, and two vapour phase nitrogen storage vessels (-196ºC) and two -80ºC freezers which have the capacity to house in excess of 164,000 tissue and blood samples.

The small sections of tissue collected from patients will be stored in cryogenic vials which will help preserve the tissue’s proteins and genetic material almost indefinitely.

The Wesley Research Institute is a leading medical research facility with a commitment to patient care, ethical conduct and quality research that aims to improve quality of life through better diagnosis and treatment.

Good News: Drinking Coffee And Working Out May Help To Cure Skin Cancer

In Food and Drink, Health, Teplok Good News on July 20, 2009 at 4:54 pm

A team of researchers at Rutgers University, New Jersey have found a new cure to fighting skin cancer by the unique combination of exercise and caffeine.

The study, which has been conducted successfully on mice, suggests that the combination of coffee and exercise can increase destruction of precancerous cells that had been damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet-B radiation.

Scientists are now hoping that the new study would be successful on human beings but added that people should continue to use sunscreen.

The results, which appeared in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that exposing the mice to ultraviolet-B light causes some skin cells to become precancerous.

In a process called apoptosis, the cells with damaged DNA are programmed to self-destruct. However, not all the cells can do so thus they can become cancerous.

Though the scientists are still not very clear as to why the combination of caffeine and exercise can reduce cancer cell but they believe that mice drinking caffeine were more active, leading them to do more exercise.

Both caffeine and exercise helped eliminate damaged skin cells and the combination worked better together than individually.

However, researchers also added that there is a need for this concept of systemic caffeine to be addressed further.

Good News : Ketchup Is Heart Cure

In Health, Teplok Good News on July 19, 2009 at 7:13 am

A DOLLOP of tomato ketchup a day can cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to new research.

Volunteers who had ketchup with their breakfast, lunch and tea or drank a few glasses of tomato juice saw cholesterol levels drop in just three weeks.

Researchers in Finland said levels fell by just under six per cent and low-density lipoprotein levels – “bad” cholesterol – by almost 13 per cent.

Source :www.goodnewsblog.com

Good News: Study finds we’re happy to share

In Life, Psychology, Teplok Good News on July 19, 2009 at 7:07 am

It’s worth noting that human science recently confirmed in a small way the profound teaching that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

The results of a study, reported Friday in the journal Science, indicate that people who give to others are happier than those who do not. The amount given — or even whether the gift involved money — was irrelevant. What matters is a sense of having made a difference to others.

The researchers tried three experiments. First, they asked a group to rate themselves on a happiness scale and then looked at how they spent their money, dividing it into “personal” and “prosocial” — which included buying gifts for others and giving to charity. The proportion of prosocial spending was small compared to personal spending. But the rewards were not.

“Personal spending was unrelated to happiness,” they found, according to the Associated Press report on the study. “But higher prosocial spending was associated with significantly greater happiness.”

Then they looked at a group of employees about to receive bonuses of varying amounts. In talking to them afterwards, the researchers found they could predict who would be happier with the extra money based on how they planned to spend it — on themselves or others — and not the amount they received.

The researchers then gave a group of students envelopes of money, varying in amount from $5 to $20, and told some to spend it on themselves and some to spend it on others. At the end of the day, the happiest were those who spent it on others, even if they had gotten only $5.

This helps to explain why people who win fortunes in the lottery later report being no more happy than before, and often less so, as they squander their millions on big houses, fancy cars and other luxury goods. It’s also why we see celebrities who “have it all” spiral into substance abuse, loneliness and depression when, we think, they should be happy.

The Sentinel publishes stories every week about the good works and acts of kindness people in our community perform for others. Whether it’s elementary school students donating their hair for sick children through the Locks of Love program, volunteers at Project SHARE or organizers for the multitude of fundraisers that occur for various causes year-round, they all have something in common, we find: high energy, usually punctuated with a smile.

It’s easy to think such people get involved because of their energy, but we are inclined to think the cause and effect are the other way around — the energy comes from the involvement.

You can see a similar sparkle at Christmas time, as hundreds put a few bills or coins in the Salvation Army kettles, in the fall when they sign United Way pledge cards, in the spring when they turn out for the Day of Caring and in the summer they lend a hand with Habitat for Humanity projects.

What we don’t see are the thousands of others who just take the time to check on an elderly neighbor, share a bountiful harvest from the garden with co-workers, stop to help a stranded motorist or say a silent prayer for those in need.

Another study cited in the AP report, published in 2006 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the section of the brain that produces the good feeling we experience when we receive a reward is the same part that lights up when we give to someone else.

In other words, we were made to give to others.

The important lesson from the new study is that not much is required. We don’t have to donate the billions of a Warren Buffet or Bill and Melinda Gates to know the rewards of helping others. We don’t have to devote every leisure minute to charity work.

It is enough that we give.

Good News: Alligator Blood May Cure Humans

In Health, Teplok Good News on July 19, 2009 at 6:56 am

Proteins in alligator blood could lead to new drugs that fight the super infections that plague humans, Louisiana researchers say. Mark Merchant of McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., noticed that alligators often get banged up in battles over territory or food, but they never seem to get infected, despite slimy living conditions in bacteria-filled swamps.

“These alligators tend to get into tussles and fights,” says Lancia Darville, a researcher at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and a study co-author. “They have torn limbs and scratches that are exposed to all of this bacteria in the water, yet they are never infected.”

In a study, presented last week at the American Chemical Society meeting in New Orleans, Merchant and other experts explained why.

When researchers exposed 23 species of bacteria to the serum from alligator blood, all of the bugs were destroyed. Humans typically candefeat only eight of the bacteria.

“That was a good indication that alligators must have some other additional proteins or some proteins that are overly expressed in their system that are either not present in ours or not overexpressed in ours,” Darville says.

The study was the first to explore the anti-microbial activity of alligator blood in detail, according to the American Chemical Society. Previous studies by Merchant found that alligators, unlike humans, who need to be exposed to a bug for their immune system to gear up to fight it, are born with what is called an innate immune system.

“They don’t need to be exposed to any microorganism such as bacteria, viruses, fungi for their bodies to respond against them,” Danville says.

The findings may lead scientists to new drugs that can fight some of the most stubborn infections in humans, such as the “superbugs” that resist antibiotics.

If scientists can identify and then mimic the alligator’s microscopic defenders, Darville says, they might be able to make stronger bug-fighting pills or creams that could be applied to burns to fight infections.

“Ultimately, we would like to determine what the chemical structure is,” Darville says. “Once we can do that, we could eventually develop these into different anti-bacterial and anti-fungal drugs.”

Source :www.goodnewsblog.com

Good News : Man Wins Lottery. Twice. On The Same Day.

In Teplok Good News on July 19, 2009 at 6:49 am

The chance of winning the lottery is often said to be a tad bit smaller than the chance of being hit by lightning.

Lightning is said never to strike twice at the same place.

So consider the odds of someone winning the lotter. Twice. On the same day. From the same lottery.

That’s what happened to James McAllister (62) from Acworth, USA, when he bought two scratch off tickets on Valentine’s day.

James brought his wife for a Valentine’s breakfast. Along Highway 92 he bought a Georgia Lottery Millionaire Jumbo Bucks scratch off ticket — and won $5,000.

Apparently not completely satisfied, or maybe feeling this was his lucky day, later on in the day he bought another ticket as he was shopping for a Valentine’s card for his wife.

Scratching that one off was worth $250,000

“It was because of Valentine’s Day.

If it hadn’t been for my wife, I probably wouldn’t have won either time.”
– James McAllister

The odds in the Georgia Lottery Millionaire Jumbo Bucks of winning $5,000 are one in 10,000. The odds of winning $250,000 are one in more than 1 million…. The odds of winning both and on the same day are staggering.

James will receive his money in one big payment, as is customary with the Georgia lottery, but the big prize will have taxes withheld.
Source : http://www.goodnewsblog.com

Good News : Companies agree on standard mobile phone charger

In Teplok Good News on July 19, 2009 at 6:20 am

A group of mobile phone manufactures have agreed to a set of criteria for a standard mobile charger. The first batch of handsets that aren’t tied to a particular charging device should hit the market in 2010.

Europe’s avid mobile phone-users will soon be able to empty their drawers of the familiar tangle of chargers after leading manufacturers agreed on an industry standard.

Major mobile manufacturers, including Apple, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson und Texas Instruments, signed a deal on Monday agreeing to a standard charger for all the cell phones they produce, the European Commission said.

A single, standard charger will cut costs to manufacturers and reduce the number of chargers thrown away when consumers buy new phones, EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said, adding that he wanted to see the common charger expanded to include other older phones, cameras and laptops in the years ahead.

“I am very pleased that industry has found an agreement, which will make life much simpler for consumers,” Verheugen said. The commissioner had threatened to pass legislation on the issue if the industry failed to come up with a voluntary deal.

Non-binding agreement

A now-massive 8000X cell phoneBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Older phones won’t be covered by the new agreement

Phone-makers decided to use the currently available micro-USB plug for the mobiles they produce in the future. The deal also means the creation of an EU norm for new mobile phones.

Manufacturers originally developed different chargers to match their batteries, since those that were not charged correctly run the risk of exploding.

The mobile industry said the number of chargers produced every year could be cut in half when the new agreement goes into effect. It is estimated that tons of trash pile into landfills every year as consumers throw away chargers when switching cell phones.

The EU represents the world’s biggest market for mobile phones, with between 350 and 400 million currently in operation and some 185 million new ones sold each year.

Monday’s agreement is, however, not legally binding.


Editor: Kate Bowen

Source: dw-world.de