What’s in That Big Mac? More Than You ThinkWhat’s in That Big Mac? More Than You Think.


Apparently, fast-food frequenters have no idea how many calories they’re ordering up at the counter.

Researchers conducted a large cross-sectional study of 1,877 adults and 330 school-age kids who regularly visited fast-food chains includingMcDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts. The investigators collected receipts from the participants in order to calculate how many calories the participants consumed from their meals. They also asked the volunteers to estimate the number of calories they had just ordered. At the time of the study, none of the restaurant chains included calorie information on their menus, as many now do.


Reporting in the BMJ, the researchers found that on average, adults consumed 836 calories with each order, adolescents ate 756 and kids downed 733 calories. Not only was that a relatively large amount to consume in a single meal, but the participants also consistently underestimated how dense their meals were by an average of more than 100 calories. Adults and kids underestimated their meals by 175 calories, and adolescents by 259 calories.

The more calories the meals contained, the more the participants underestimated their content. Interestingly, the greatest disparity in calorie estimations were among Subway diners. Adults and adolescents who ate at the sandwich chain underestimated their meals by 20% to 25% more than the participants who ate at McDonald’s, possibly because the Subway choices have an aura of being lighter and healthier than those at fast-food chains.

But starting in 2014, as part of the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), all restaurant chains that have over 20 restaurants in the U.S. must list the calorie content on their foods on menus. The initiative has received some push back from unlikely places, with some public-health experts saying the plan, rolled out in some cities and states, so far hasn’t resulted in a significant change in eating habits. Some studies of the strategy found that customers don’t notice the labels, or even if they do, they don’t influence what they buy.

A 2011 study of New York City consumers, for example, reported that only about a sixth of fast-food diners used calorie information in deciding what to buy and then bought less food on average after city officials introduced the menu labeling to the city in 2008.

In May, two Johns Hopkins obesity experts wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that without a solid understanding of what the calorie counts mean, simply posting the numbers next to menu items will fall short. They wrote:

In jurisdictions that mandated menu labeling in restaurants before the passage of the ACA, calorie information is usually presented in terms of absolute calories (e.g., a hamburger has 250 calories). If customers don’t understand what 250 calories means or how those calories fit into their overall daily dietary requirements, posting that information on a menu may not be very useful. That difficulty may apply particularly to minority populations and those with low socioeconomic status, who are at highest risk for obesity and tend to have lower-than-average levels of nutritional literacy and numeracy, which may make it difficult for them to translate the information into interpretable equivalents.

However, the 2011 study of New York City diners did reveal that among those who used the calorie information to make eating choices, they purchased on average 106 fewer calories than those who didn’t pay attention to the labels. A significant cut like that could lead to a weight loss of up to 10 lb. a year.

Even if the data don’t yet show that the counts consistently change eating habits, some public-health experts say they may have other benefits. The transparency, for example, is compelling some foodmakers to produce smaller portion sizes and provide lighter options out of concern that high-calorie counts will scare consumers away.

However, other experts say that an obsessive focus on numbers may also backfire. “If [the food industry] responds to that by decreasing portion sizes, that would be great, but if they respond by taking out healthy fats, which is one of the easiest ways to reduce calories, that’s not,” says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Some healthy foods may actually contain more calories than unhealthy options, and that can be confusing for consumers who are just focusing on the final tally. “For consumers, if you made a choice solely based on menu-calorie labels, you may choose soda over nuts calorie-wise, which is a terrible decision,” he says.

Another approach that may be more successful — and potentially more meaningful for consumers — is to swap calorie counts with more relevant information, like what it would take to burn off those calories. A small study last month showed that when people ordered off menus that listed the minutes of walking needed to burn off the calories in the food, they ordered and consumed fewer calories compared with those who ordered off a menu with no calorie labels. The same study also found no difference between calories ordered and consumed between those who ordered off a standard menu, and those who ordered off a menu that listed the calories for each option, which suggested that listing calories doesn’t result in meaningful changes to eating behavior. As the author of that study said to TIME:

It could take anywhere from one to two hours of moderate exercise such as brisk walking to burn the calories in some of the energy-dense foods. This may then help them make more appropriate food choices.

Helping people to put calories in context — just at the time that they’re ordering food — could be more important than simply throwing numbers at them, say researchers. Giving consumers a more tangible idea of what their food choices mean for their waistline — and their next workout — may help bring their internal calorie meters into sync with what foods actually contain.


Source: Time.com


More Kids Accidentally Ingesting Marijuana Following New Drug Policies.

1st US High Times Cannabis Cup

At least 18 states allow medical marijuana, and the likelihood that more kids will encounter it at home only increases with Colorado and Washington’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana.

Beginning nearly four years ago, the federal government decided not to investigate those involved in using and distributing medical marijuana who complied with state laws; the more lenient stand spurred a boom in dispensaries and requests for personal use in states where it was allowed.

But around that time, doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado noticed kids were coming into the emergency room after accidentally ingesting marijuana. Were the cases directly due to the fact that young children were finding more marijuana at home, or were the doctors simply more aware of the exposures because of the more relaxed policies?

To find out, they analyzed emergency room visits for kids under 12 seen for poisonings and ingestions of any kind between 2005 to 2011, using the fall of 2009 — when new enforcement guidelines were issued — as a dividing line.

From Jan. 2005 through Sept. 2009, there were no marijuana-related visits among 790 patients, according to the research, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics. Between Oct. 2009 to Dec. 2011, however, 14 of 588 children were seen for marijuana exposure — eight involving medical marijuana and seven from food containing the drug.

The researchers say that homemade brownies speckled with pot may not pose a significant threat to kids, but commercial products formulated for medical use — as well as loose-leaf marijuana grown for medicinal purposes — could be more concerning, since they contain concentrated amounts of THC, the chemical that induces a high.

“They’re sold as edible products and soft drinks that kids will eat or drink because they don’t know it’s any different,” says Dr. George Wang, the study’s lead author and a medical toxicology fellow at the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center. “If they’re going to eat a whole cookie with 300 mg of THC, they will get much more symptomatic and sick and have to be admitted to the hospital.”

Tracing the poisonings to marijuana, however, wasn’t always easy. In some cases, parents didn’t want to admit or didn’t know that their child had gotten into their marijuana stash; in several cases, the marijuana belonged to grandparents. Young children who are exposed to high levels of THC can hallucinate, be difficult to arouse and have trouble breathing — symptoms that can be hard to narrow down. At least one child had an unnecessary lumbar puncture and another underwent a CT scan while doctors tried to pinpoint the cause of the problems..

“We’re in this new age of allowing marijuana and we are seeing things we haven’t seen before,” says Wang, who is also a clinical instructor in the department of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “We need to educate families to keep it out of the reach of kids. Treat it like a drug because it is a drug.”

Parents aren’t the only ones who need to be more vigilant about the potential new risks of marijuana exposure, however. Researchers who wrote an editorial accompanying the study called for more training of pediatricians and emergency medicine physicians, who aren’t necessarily able to recognize toxic reactions to marijuana, particularly among young children, because they aren’t expecting high dose THC exposure in patients so young.

In Colorado, where voters recently legalized recreational marijuana use, Wang and a Poison Control colleague persuaded the legislature to include wording to require child-resistant packaging for edible marijuana products in a bill about marijuana regulation. If the bill passes, Wang believes Colorado would be the first state to require such measures, though a doctor from Boston Children’s Hospital recently testified to the Massachusetts legislature about the need for similar requirements. “It’s hard to argue with,” says Wang. “It’s common sense.”

More packaging could drive up costs, but Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, a Colorade-based medical marijuana purveyor, is on board with the proposal.

“As a parent and a businessperson, I wholeheartedly support the legislation,” says Christie Lunsford, who as Dixie’s marketing director is overseeing its plans for upgraded packaging. “We take this issue so seriously.”

In July, the state is expected to release its preliminary requirements for new packaging. But Dixie has already informed its packaging provider that it intends to place orders for child-proof containers so that no unsuspecting tots are tempted by its medicated chocolate truffles, which Dixie’s website describes as offering “sweet, creamy relief” or their crispy rice treats, in which the classic, nostalgic match of gooey marshmallow and crispy, puffed rice gets a euphoric lift.” With the range of tempting marijuana-laced foods likely to increase, such pre-emptive strategies for protecting young children from potentially dangerous exposures — just as they’re safeguarded from prescription and over-the-counter medications — seems to make sense.

Source: Time.com

Injectable Electronics Light Up A Brain.


Making electronic implants for the body is hard to do: tissue is delicate and stiff components can irritate it. Then there’s getting those implants into the relevant organ without invasive surgery.

To help solve these problems, John A. Rogers, a materials science professor at the University of Illinois, and Michael Bruchas, an anesthesiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, built an electronic LED device so tiny it can be injected into delicate tissue, such as in the brain, without harming it. The experiment appears in this week’s issue of the journal Science.

Rogers told Discovery News that brain tissue is not only fragile, it also tends to move around because brains are suspended in fluid, and that creates problems when one tries to put relatively stiff, rigid electronics or fiber optics in place.

To get around this the researchers put together an extremely small circuit board with light-emitting diodes on it. The whole device is only about 25 microns thick. For comparison, a human hair is about 100 microns and fiber-optic cable strands are about 125. The thinness is part of what makes it so flexible.

The substrate – the “board” that the electronics sit on, is made of polymer, while silk helps it bond with the tissue. Silk is compatible with tissue and is even used in dissolving stitches. Rogers has made use of silk’s properties before, when he made electronics that can dissolve inside the body.

They then injected the device into the brain of a mouse that was genetically engineered to have brain cells that responded to flashes of light from the LEDs. That way Rogers and his collaborators could tell which cells were being stimulated and confirm that the device worked. That kind of smallness would come in handy when studying individual neurons.

One of the big advantages to injecting a device like this into the brain, Rogers said, is that it doesn’t require a wire connected to a computer protruding from the skull. With mice and rats, such apparatus tends to restrict their movement and alter their behavior. This new kind of electronics allows scientists to monitor specific parts of the brain during basic research.

Being so small, the LEDs did not irritate the surrounding tissue as much as traditional electrodes. Electrodes are used inside the brain for a variety of disorders, such as Parkinson’s. But there’s often swelling of the brain tissue after they are taken out. Very tiny electronic components avoid those problems.

To be clear, the mouse still had a small wire coming out of its head, but that was to connect to a power source worn in a kind of small hat. In the future it might be possible to power the devices wirelessly. Rogers said the big challenge is making the antennas that would pick up the power from an external source small enough.

The LED technology isn’t likely to be used or human therapies, Rogers said. But the research isn’t just for literally lighting up brain cells – it demonstrates that electronics can be made small enough to go into organs that are usually pretty delicate. That goes beyond brains – hearts, lungs and kidneys could also be implanted with electronics this way.

Source: Discovery

Eat Insects, Save the World.


Story at-a-glance

  • A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO) highlights the many prospects insects offer for the future of food and feed security
  • Insects offer a rich source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber; they’re also plentiful and environmentally friendly to raise
  • At least 2 billion people worldwide already consume insects as a regular part of their diets
  • If agricultural practices such as permaculture, which work with nature instead of against it, are more widely embraced, the food sources you currently enjoy can be sustained and flourish

The practice of eating insects, known as entomophagy, may sound extreme, but it’s actually quite common throughout the world – and has been that way for millennia.

There are more than 1,900 documented edible insect species and some are even “farmed” the way cattle or chickens are in the US.

With growing concerns over the unsustainable practices that constitute modern “farming,” and the very real prospects that food shortages and environmental destruction could be an inevitable part of the future if more environmentally friendly farming alternatives aren’t soon embraced, eating insects may prove to be a very wise, and necessary, decision.

In fact, a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO) highlights the many prospects insects offer for the future of food and feed security.1

Eating Insects is Already Common in Many Parts of the World

Although still considered largely taboo in the Western world, many cultures prize insects as a culinary delicacy. The FAO report notes:

“From ants to beetle larvae – eaten by tribes in Africa and Australia as part of their subsistence diets – to the popular, crispy-fried locusts and beetles enjoyed in Thailand, it is estimated that insect-eating is practiced regularly by at least 2 billion people worldwide.”

The most commonly eaten insect groups include:

Beetles Caterpillars Bees
Wasps Ants Grasshoppers
Locusts Crickets Cicadas
Leaf and planthoppers Scale insects True bugs
Termites Dragonflies Flies


There are several quite compelling reasons that make a strong case for considering insects as part of a sustainable diet that could end world hunger. For starters, insects are extremely plentiful and are found in nearly all environments.

There are an estimated 6-10 million species of insects, which are thought to represent over 90 percent of the differing animal life forms on Earth, according to FAO. Environmentally, raising insects for food would emit considerably fewer greenhouse gasses than confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) raising livestock. Further:

  • Insect rearing does not require clearing land to expand production
  • Insects are very efficient at converting feed into protein (crickets, for instance, need 12 times less feed than cattle and half the feed as pigs and chickens to produce the same amount of protein)
  • Insect rearing can be low-tech and inexpensive, making it a plausible livelihood in even the poorest sections of the world
  • Insects have a low risk of transferring diseases to humans, unlike CAFO beef, pork and poultry

Further, perhaps one of the best reasons to consider eating insects is because they’re quite healthy, making them a nutritious alternative to common protein sources like chicken, beef, pork and fish. Insects are:

  • Rich in protein and fiber
  • Good sources of healthy fats (some species even have similar levels of omega-3 fats as fish)
  • High in nutrients such as calcium, iron, B vitamins, selenium and zinc

Dutch entomologist Marcel Dicke has stated that the reason many people are reluctant to eat insects is simply a matter of mindset. His solution? To think of insects as “shrimp of the land.”2

In the TED video above, Dicke explains that insects are not only eco-friendly and nutritious, but they compete with meat in flavor, too. If you can get past the initial aversion, eating insects may not be entirely different from eating shrimp or other more unique food sources, such as crabs, oysters and mussels. As written in the FAO report:3

“Common prejudice against eating insects is not justified from a nutritional point of view. Insects are not inferior to other protein sources such as fish, chicken and beef. Feelings of disgust in the West towards entomophagy contributes to the common misconception that entomophagy in the developing world is prompted by starvation and is merely a survival mechanism. This is far from the truth. Although it will require considerable convincing to reverse this mentality, it is not an impossible feat.

Arthropods like lobsters and shrimps, once considered poor-man’s food in the West, are now expensive delicacies there. It is hoped that arguments such as the high nutritional value of insects and their low environmental impact, low-risk nature (from a disease standpoint) and palatability may also contribute to a shift in perception.”

Interestingly, at the Nordic Food Lab, a non-profit organization, they’re focusing on the deliciousness factor of wild foods including edible insects. If people begin to accept insects as a delicious dietary addition, they will naturally begin to view them as edible. And this, they believe, is a key factor to getting insects into mainstream Western diets. FAO notes:4

“By exploring the vast range of flavors, the Nordic Food Lab aims to turn “inedibles” into edible ingredients. Seaweed is one such food source: just a few years ago it was considered in the West as either exotic or niche, but now, in certain places, it is celebrated as a new, versatile ingredient – since it was shown to be delicious. The head of the culinary research and development group says that deliciousness is the first and most important factor in developing new gastronomic building blocks.

Mayonnaise from bee larvae works not because of its novelty but rather because of its earthier and more satisfying taste – its unique deliciousness.”

You’re Probably Already Eating Insects …

Chances are more likely than not that you’ve already sampled your first (and then some) insect, albeit probably unintentionally. Insects are a part of nature, and the inevitably end up on a leaf of lettuce or in your box of cereal. This happens not only in the field but also later, as foods sit in storage facilities prior to processing. It’s for this reason that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows certain amounts of bugs in your food. For instance:

  • Canned tomato juice: two whole maggots per 100 grams
  • Raisins: FDA won’t take action unless 10 or more whole or equivalent Drosophila flies and 35 of its eggs are found per 8 ounces of raisins
  • Macaroni: Anything less than 225 insect fragments per 225 grams in six sub-samples is allowed

It’s certainly unsavory to think about insect parts in your food, but the truth is it probably isn’t going to hurt you. In fact, depending on the species it may actually add some nutrition …

The Future of the World’s Food Supply Depends on Sustainability

Feeding the world in the decades to come is going to depend on broadening our horizons not only of what we think of as food but also of what we accept as “farming.” Insects may very well play a role in this food future. As the FAO report’s foreword reads:

“It is widely accepted that by 2050 the world will host 9 billion people. To accommodate this number, current food production will need to almost double. Land is scarce and expanding the area devoted to farming is rarely a viable or sustainable option. Oceans are overfished and climate change and related water shortages could have profound implications for food production. To meet the food and nutrition challenges of today – there are nearly 1 billion chronically hungry people worldwide – and tomorrow, what we eat and how we produce it needs to be re-evaluated. Inefficiencies need to be rectified and food waste reduced. We need to find new ways of growing food.

Edible insects have always been a part of human diets, but in some societies there is a degree of distaste for their consumption. Although the majority of edible insects are gathered from forest habitats, innovation in mass-rearing systems has begun in many countries. Insects offer a significant opportunity to merge traditional knowledge and modern science in both developed and developing countries.”

The success of using insects as a food source will depend directly on the sustainability with which this new food source is raised. Raising insects on a mass scale may beget many of the same problems already saddling the food system, such as the threat of genetic engineering, unforeseen pollution, disruptions to local ecosystems and risks to native insect, animal and plant species.

Insects must be raised in a sustainable way if they are to become a successful part of the worldwide diet, and this is true of any food source. If agricultural practices such as permaculture, which work with nature instead of against it, are more widely embraced, the food sources you currently enjoy can be sustained and flourish.

For instance, if cattle are rotated across pastures instead of raised in CAFOs, the animals’ grazing will cut the blades of grass, spurring new growth, while their trampling helps work manure into the soil, fertilizing it naturally. This healthy soil then helps keep carbon dioxide underground and out of the atmosphere. See, it’s not the raising of cattle … or poultry or fish… that’s the problem; it’s the way in which they’re being raised that is unsustainable and currently trashing the planet and threatening the food supply.

Environmental devastation can even be healed and functional ecosystems rebuilt using the permaculture concept. So while considering insects as a sustainable food source is intriguing, it should not replace the ultimate goal, which is sustainable farming for every species.

Source: mercola.com





Manned Mars Missions Will Need Superfast New Propulsion Systems to Beat Radiation Threat.

To keep astronauts safe and healthy during future missions to Mars, superfast new propulsion technologies will likely be necessary, experts say.

Crewmembers flying to Mars and back using traditional chemical thrusters would be exposed to the high radiation levels of deep space for 12 to 17 months. That’s simply too long to keep astronauts’ radiation doses from fast-moving particles known as galactic cosmic rays within currently acceptable limits, researchers said.

At the same time, they added, improved shielding is needed to help protect deep-space explorers from charged particles blasted out by the sun. (Traditional shielding does little good against cosmic rays.) “We need to get there faster to reduce the impact of the galactic cosmic rays, but we need to have shielding, local shielding, on board to eliminate the effects of solar particle events,” Eddie Semones, spaceflight radiation health officer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, told reporters Thursday (May 30). “So it’s hand in hand.”

Acceptable radiation doses

NASA astronauts are not allowed to accumulate a career radiation dose that would increase their lifetime risk of developing fatal cancer by more than 3 percent. For perspective, a career dose of 1 Sievert (or 1,000 millisieverts) is associated with a 5 percent increased risk.

While scientists have long suspected that a manned Mars mission would brush dangerously close to upper dose limits, data gathered by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity rover during its eight-month cruise to the Red Planet last year have enabled them to put some hard numbers on the problem.

The interior of Curiosity’s spacecraft, which blasted off in November 2011, received about 1.8 millisieverts of galactic cosmic ray radiation per day, researchers announced today. (Solar particles contributed an additional small amount, raising the total dose by perhaps 3 percent.)

That’s bad news for a traditionally powered manned Mars mission.

“Given this data, and our models that confirm it, we currently would exceed our acceptable limits of 3 percent excess fatal cancer,” Semones said.

Radiation levels on the Martian surface are expected to be considerably lower than those in deep space. Preliminary results from Curiosity announced late last year suggest that astronauts walking around on the Red Planet would receive about 0.7 millisieverts per day — roughly the same dose experienced by crewmembers of the International Space Station.

Reducing the risk

Surrounding crewmembers with water would help lower their radiation dose during the trek to Mars, because hydrogen is the best known shield against cosmic rays, said Chris Moore, deputy director of advanced exploration systems at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

But Moore agreed with Semones that advanced propulsion systems are also needed. He specifically mentioned nuclear thermal rockets as a promising option, saying they could potentially cut the total travel time to 180 days.

Such a system is far from ready for action, however.

“It’s a long-range technology-development activity, and it will probably be many years before that is ready,” Moore said. “But it is part of our mission architecture for sending humans to Mars, is to use nuclear rockets.”

NASA is currently working toward getting astronauts to the vicinity of Mars by the mid-2030s, as directed by President Barack Obama. The space agency may still launch a manned mission around that time, even if superfast new propulsion systems aren’t yet ready to go, officials said.

“We’re looking at that standard, that 3 percent standard, and its applicability for exploration-type missions,” Semones said. “Those discussions are going forward now on how to handle that, and what steps we can take to protect the crew.”

Reducing the risk

Surrounding crewmembers with water would help lower their radiation dose during the trek to Mars, because hydrogen is the best known shield against cosmic rays, said Chris Moore, deputy director of advanced exploration systems at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

But Moore agreed with Semones that advanced propulsion systems are also needed. He specifically mentioned nuclear thermal rockets as a promising option, saying they could potentially cut the total travel time to 180 days.

Such a system is far from ready for action, however.

“It’s a long-range technology-development activity, and it will probably be many years before that is ready,” Moore said. “But it is part of our mission architecture for sending humans to Mars, is to use nuclear rockets.”

NASA is currently working toward getting astronauts to the vicinity of Mars by the mid-2030s, as directed by President Barack Obama. The space agency may still launch a manned mission around that time, even if superfast new propulsion systems aren’t yet ready to go, officials said.

“We’re looking at that standard, that 3 percent standard, and its applicability for exploration-type missions,” Semones said. “Those discussions are going forward now on how to handle that, and what steps we can take to protect the crew.”

Watch the video.URL: http://www.space.com/21365-will-radiation-kill-mars-astronauts-video.html


Source: Space.com

Mystery of Moon’s Lumpy Gravity Explained.


A pair of spacecraft that meticulously mapped the moon’s gravitational field has helped astronomers solve the long-standing mystery of why the moon is so gravitationally lumpy.

A team of scientists used data collected by NASA’s twin Grail probes— which ended their yearlong gravity-mapping mission in December 2012 by crashing into the moon — to glean new details about strange concentrations of mass that sit hidden beneath the lunar surface. These geologic structures, called mascons (short for mass concentrations), are so dense they alter the moon’s gravity field, causing perturbations that can tug a spacecraft lower in its orbit around the moon, or push it wildly off course.

Mascons were discovered in the 1960s, as NASA officials were planning for the Apollo moon missions, but the cause of these gravitational anomalies was unknown, said Jay Melosh, a geophysicist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and lead author of the new study, published online today (May 30) in the journal Science. [20 Most Marvelous Moon Missions]

“Mascons were nothing more than navigational hazards when they were first discovered,” Melosh told SPACE.com. “They were a real pain in the neck for Apollo planners — like reefs in an ocean, they were things to be avoided and planned around.”

By mapping the moon’s gravity field, the Grail probes uncovered the locations of lunar mascons, and offered unprecedented views of the moon’s interior structure. This enabled scientists to study two basins —  one on the lunar nearside and one on the far side of the moon — to develop sophisticated computer models for how mascons form.

Asteroid impacts

Billions of years ago, massive asteroids that collided with the moon left deep craters that reached into the mantle material that lies beneath the thin lunar crust. What had been unexplained until now was how these big impact sites could support extremely dense material, and how the gravity field in these basins could be in such disequilibrium, Melosh said.

“At first, the mascon problem seemed to have an easy solution,” said study co-author Jeff Andrews-Hanna, an assistant professor in the geophysics department at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. “The mascon basins on the near side of the moon were partially filled in with ancient flows of dense lava, which seemed able to account for the mass excess and positive gravity anomalies.

“However, it soon became apparent that for some basins, the observed lava flows were too thin to explain the mass excess,” Andrews-Hanna told SPACE.com. “Some basins were even found that exhibited mascons but lacked lava infill altogether.”

The researchers determined that ancient asteroid impacts excavated large craters on the moon, causing surrounding lunar materials and rocks from the moon’s mantle to melt and collapse inward. This melting caused the material to become denser and more concentrated, the researchers said.

“As the hot materials cool and the surface chills, it becomes strong, and it can support the load of the extra-dense material from the lunar mantle,” Melosh explained.

The strong lunar crust, which also slides down into the impact hole, eventually forms a curved but rigid barrier over the basin, holding the dense materials down.

Building new models

Melosh and his colleagues used data on the distribution of masses in the moon to create computer simulations of how the moon’s crust and mantle behaved billions of years ago. These models gave the researchers a glimpse of how the moon’s mascons formed in the aftermath of huge asteroid impacts.

The results of the new study offer more hints about the moon’s dynamic evolution, said Laurent Montesi, an associate professor in the department of geology at the University of Maryland in College Park and author of an editorial in the journal Science commenting on the findings.

“What’s really cool about this is, now we’re able to investigate exactly what conditions lead to the presence or absence of mascons,” Montesi said. “Now that we know something about the interior of the moon, we can tweak this model to study mascons and thermal conditions on other planets.”

Mascons are known to exist on Mars and Mercury, but not on Earth, simply because the asteroid impacts and subsequent craters were not big enough to churn up materials from the Earth’s mantle. Still, understanding mascon formation can provide astronomers with a firmer understanding of how large impacts can alter the geology of planets and moons.

“We now know the ancient moon must have been much hotter than it is now and the crust thinner than we thought,” Melosh said. “For the first time, we can figure out what size asteroids hit the moon by looking at the basins left behind and the gravity signatures of the areas. We now have tools to figure out more about the heavy asteroid bombardment and what the ancient Earth may have faced.”

Source: SPACE.com.


Gastric Cancer with Epstein-Barr Virus Is Less Deadly.

EBV tumor positivity was associated with lower tumor stage and longer survival.


In a small but significant percentage (9%) of gastric cancers, tumor cells contain Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). To assess whether EBV positivity is associated with cancer outcomes, investigators pooled data on 4599 patients with invasive gastric cancer from 13 case series.

Median follow-up was 3.0 years. The prevalence of EBV-positive cancer was 8.2%. In multivariate analysis, EBV positivity was associated with lower tumor stage (odds ratio, 0.79 per unit change in stage; 95% confidence interval, 0.69–0.91). In unadjusted regression analysis, higher tumor stage was associated with higher mortality, with hazard ratios of 3.1 for stage II, 8.1 for stage III, and 13.2 for stage IV when compared with stage I. Median survival was higher in patients with EBV-positive tumors than in patients with EBV-negative tumors (8.5 years vs. 5.3 years; P=0.0006). After adjusting for stage and other potential confounders, EBV positivity was associated with lower mortality (HR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.61–0.86). Heterogeneity among studies was low.

Comment: Findings from this large study support previous data showing a better prognosis for gastric cancers that contain Epstein-Barr virus. However, because these results are from a pooled analysis of case series rather than a meta-analysis of published studies, it is possible that inclusion of other case series could affect the results. In addition, results are limited by the lack of data on treatment. Nevertheless, by focusing on these studies, the investigators were able to evaluate a relatively homogeneous dataset, minimizing confounding between series. As the authors note, the mechanism for improved outcomes with EBV positivity requires additional study, as does the possibility that EBV-positive gastric cancer might represent a distinct disease entity.


Source:Journal Watch Gastroenterology

New Feathered Dino May Be World’s First Bird.



The skeleton of a Jurassic dinosaur from China could also be the oldest known bird, scientists report.

The fossil of Aurornis xui was found last year in a museum at the Fossil and Geology Park in Yizhou, China, long after a farmer first dug it up in the Liaoning Province. The feathery specimen represents the most ancient of the avialans, the group that includes birds and their relatives since their split from nonavian dinosaurs.

The research also reconfirms the birdlike fossil Archaeopteryx as an avialan, a classification that was challenged by some recent research. [Avian Ancestors: Dinosaurs That Learned to Fly]

Not everyone agrees that the new specimen is strictly a bird. “In my opinion, it’s a bird,” study author Pascal Godefroit, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, toldNature News. Even so, he added, “The differences between birds and [nonavian] dinosaurs are very thin.”

“Traditionally, we have defined birds as things like Archaeopteryxand closer to things like modern birds,” vertebrate paleontologist Luis Chiappe of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, who was not involved in the study, told LiveScience. “If you stick to the definition, this thing is not earliest known bird,” Chiappe said, but that’s missing the point, he said. What matters, is that it’s a very interesting animal that “still helps us understand better the origin of birds,” he said.

Aurornis xui was a feathered dinosaur that lived during the Middle Jurassic period about 150 million years ago, analysis shows. It was about 1.6 feet (0.5 meter) from beak tip to tail tip, and possessed small, sharp teeth and long forelimbs.

The creature probably couldn’t fly, Godefroit said, but may have used its wings to glide between trees. The fossil’s feathers aren’t well-preserved, but the hip bones and other features strongly suggest it was a relative of modern birds, he said.

The researchers assert that Aurornis displaces Archaeopteryx as the oldest avialan, placingArchaeopteryx further along in the avialan lineage. Since Archaeopteryx was a flying creature, its placement among avialans means dinosaurs would have only had to develop powered flight once during evolutionary history.

The new findings also classify another family of birdlike dinosaurs, known as Troodontidae, as a sister group to the avialans. This reshuffling of the bird-dinosaur family tree suggests birds and nonavian dinosaurs diverged in Asia during the Middle to Late Jurassic.

Source: Nature

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10 Celebrity Fad Diets

Other than the exercise, no one of these foods is going to be a miracle weight loss aid. But added to an overall healthy diet and active lifestyle, they can help burn just a few extra calories every day.

Source: yahoo news

Ex-Microsoft manager plans to create first U.S. marijuana brand.


A former Microsoft executive plans to create the first U.S. national marijuana brand, with cannabis he hopes to eventually import legally from Mexico, and said he was kicking off his business by acquiring medical pot dispensaries in three U.S. states.

Jamen Shively, a former Microsoft corporate strategy manager, said he envisions his Seattle-based enterprise becoming the leader in both recreational and medical cannabis – much like Starbucks is the dominant name in coffee, he said.

Shively, 45, whose six years at Microsoft ended in 2009, said he was soliciting investors for $10 million in start-up money.

The use, sale and possession of marijuana remains illegal in the United States under federal law. Two U.S. states have, however, legalized recreational marijuana use and are among 18 states that allow it for medical use.

“It’s a giant market in search of a brand,” Shively said of the marijuana industry. “We would be happy if we get 40 percent of it worldwide.”

A 2005 United Nations report estimated the global marijuana trade to be valued at $142 billion. http://www.unodc.org/pdf/WDR_2005/volume_1_web.pdf

Washington state and Colorado became the first two U.S. states to legalize recreational marijuana when voters approved legalization in November.

Shively laid out his plans, along with his vision for a future in which marijuana will be imported from Mexico, at a Thursday news conference in downtown Seattle.

Joining him was former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a longtime Shively acquaintance who has been an advocate of decriminalizing marijuana. Fox said he was there to show his support for Shively’s company but has no financial stake in it.

“What a difference it makes to have Jamen here sitting at my side instead of Chapo Guzman,” said Fox, referring to the fact he would rather see Shively selling marijuana legally than the Mexican drug kingpin selling it illegally. “This is the story that has begun to be written here.”

Shively told Reuters he hoped Fox would serve an advisory role in his enterprise, dubbed Diego Pellicer after Shively’s hemp-producing great grandfather.

The sale of cannabis or marijuana remains illegal in much of the world although countries mainly in Europe and the Americas have decriminalized the possession of small quantities of it. A larger number of countries have decriminalized or legalized cannabis for medical use.


Shively acknowledges that his business plans conflict with U.S. federal law and are complicated by regulations in both Washington state and Colorado. He said he is interested in buying dispensaries that comply with local and state rules and are less likely to attract the scrutiny of authorities.

“If they want to come talk to me, I’ll be delighted to meet with them,” he said of federal officials. “I’ll tell them everything that we’re doing and show them all our books.”

Washington state’s marijuana consultant, Mark Kleiman, said he was skeptical of Shively’s plans, and feared that the businessman is seeking to profit off others’ addiction.

“It’s very hard for me to understand why anybody seriously interested in being in the marijuana business, which after all is against the federal law, would so publicly announce his conspiracy to break that law,” said Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, referred questions to the Department of Justice headquarters. Department officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Washington state Representative Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle Democrat, sees promise in Shively’s initiative. Any industry emerging from the shadows will inevitably undergo consolidation – and thereby simplify the task of regulators, he said.

“The fact that an entrepreneur is publicly pushing the envelope around a branding and value-based pricing opportunity, I would say that’s in the water in Seattle,” said Carlyle, chairman of the House Finance Committee. “That’s in our DNA … We could have predicted that as much as the rain.”

Shively said he has already acquired the rights to the Northwest Patient Resource Center, a medical marijuana operation that includes two Seattle store fronts. He added that he was close to acquiring another dispensary in Colorado, as well as two more each in Washington state and California, with the owners given the option to retain a stake in their businesses.

“We’ve created the first risk-mitigated vehicles for investing directly in this business opportunity,” he said.

Shively said he ultimately plans to create separate medical and recreational-use marijuana brands. Shively said he also plans to launch a study of the effectiveness of concentrated cannabis oil in the treatment of cancer and other illnesses.

Source: Yahoo news


5 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism.


You’ve decided to eat better by focusing on foods that are good for you, so why not take it a step further and incorporate some metabolism-boosting ingredients into your meals? While we can’t dramatically change the body we were born with, there are a few things we can do (and eat) to make a difference.
Can Coffee Cause Weight Gain?

Nutritionist Kelly Aronica shares some advice for giving your metabolism a kick, while we provide some easy meal ideas.

20 ‘Healthy’ Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy

Turmeric : Full of antioxidants, this colorful spice is also a great way to speed up your metabolism. It’s often found in Indian dishes or curries.

Cayenne and Other Chile Peppers : The capsaicin in chiles is what makes food spicy; so it’s safe to say that if it makes you sweat, it’s increasing your metabolism. These foods also provide carotenoids and twice the amount of vitamin C found in citrus fruits. They can easily be incorporated into a variety of dishes like salads, soups, curries, and more.

Ginger : Is a great ingredient to use because it has gingerols, capsaicin, and piperine – compounds that boost metabolism (they also supposedly have an aphrodisiac effect). Try ginger tea or cooking with real ginger. The spicier you make it, the better.

Caffeine : In the form of coffee or green tea, caffeine is an effective way to boost your metabolism. “Researchers credit the boost in metabolism to tea’s catechins, but you probably need about 2 cups a day to have any effect,” says Kelly Aronica. “However, you will also the get the other possible benefits of green tea that include reduction of risk of cancer and heart disease.” Coffee, in turn, has been shown to increase productivity and concentration, but be warned that because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, excessive amounts (more than 3-4 cups of coffee per day) have been linked to nervousness and sleeplessness. One to two cups a day, however, has been shown to be safe.

Cinnamon : Raises metabolism and aids in digestion so try adding a healthy dose to your high-fiber oatmeal in the morning! Or, try using it in savory dishes like the ones below.

Wise words and helpful lifestyle advice:
Another way to boost metabolism is to eat regularly: Meal skipping leads to low blood sugar, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and rebound overeating. Most people need to eat every 3-4 hours. This provides a constant flow of energy to your brain and muscles. Also, don’t overeat if you want to stay alert. When the body is flooded with a large meal, the result is a sluggish body and brain. So to keep up energy throughout the day, eat more small meals that each includes some whole grain carbohydrate, fruit/vegetable, and a little protein.

10 Celebrity Fad Diets

Other than the exercise, no one of these foods is going to be a miracle weight loss aid. But added to an overall healthy diet and active lifestyle, they can help burn just a few extra calories every day.

Source: yahoo news