10 Facts You May Not Know About ‘Titanic’ .

With the freak snowfall we had yesterday in my area, it was a shocking and ironic reminder that today is the 103rd anniversary of the the sinking of the S.S. Titanic. Trying to keep myself warm today, I thought that I would set my sights on a lighter topic and “celebrate” with some fun facts that you may not have known from the making of the blockbuster hit Titanic.

Gloria Stuart was the only member of the crew who was alive when the Titanic sank

At 87-years-old she is also the oldest person to have been nominated for an Oscar. She lost to Kim Basinger, who won for her work in L.A. Confidential.

Reba McEntire was offered the role of Molly Brown but turned it down due to scheduling conflicts

She definitely would have brought a little spice to the role!

Kate Winslet was the only crew member who refused to wear a wet suit in this scene

Thanks to this, she caught pneumonia…

James Cameron actually drew all of Jack’s sketches in the film

That is actually James’ hand, not Leonardo’s.

After finding out that she had to be naked in front of Leonardo, Kate flashed him when they first met

Well, that is certainly one way to break the ice.

After writing the script, James found out there was a real “J. Dawson” who died on board the S.S. Titanic

I guess he “let go.”

When Jack says “Lie on the bed, uh, I mean couch” that was actually a mistake

It was actually just meant to be “Lie on the couch” but Leo messed up. James liked it so much that he kept it in the film.

James actually didn’t want any songs in the film

It probably would have saved a lot of karaoke attendees some headaches and would have been one less song stuck in our heads… but would our hearts have gone on?

Now try to get it out… Oops.

The studio wanted Matthew McConaughey to play Jack and Gwyneth Paltrow was up for the role of Rose

I think we can all agree that it would have been a VERY different movie if those casting choices had gone through.

It’s the first movie that James wrote and directed that didn’t include or mention nuclear weapons

Though, let’s face it, there was mass destruction…

I hope I didn’t spoil it for you, but yes, the boat does sink at the end.

This movie is an enjoyable one, whether you watch for the artistry, for the romance, or you just want to see a boat sink and make yourself never want to take a cruise… ever, it’s never a boring ride when you sit down to watch TItanic.

Childhood Trauma Linked to High Blood Pressure Later in Life .

Traumatic events during childhood, as well as growing up with abuse, neglect or a dysfunctional family, may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure later in life, a small study suggests
 Traumatic events during childhood – as well as growing up with abuse, neglect or a dysfunctional family – may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure later in life, a small study suggests.
Researchers followed about 400 people over more than two decades and found that, after adjusting for socioeconomic factors and medical history, those who experienced several extremely stressful events during childhood had a much steeper rise in blood pressure at age 30.

The link doesn’t prove that childhood trauma causes adult high blood pressure, but it does raise the possibility that mental health care or stress reduction might play a role in prevention.

“Most previous studies looked at the effect of childhood trauma on adult’s health in middle age or older; our finding is significant because for the first time we found that the influence of the adverse childhood experiences on blood pressure could be observed in younger adulthood, around 30 years old,” lead study author Shaoyong Su, a researcher at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, said by email.

Su and colleagues recruited children aged 5 to 16 years in 1989 who had no signs of high blood pressure or chronic disease at the time and followed them regularly until 2012. The group included 181 white and 213 black children, and 78 of the participants were siblings.

Most of the participants had at least eight blood pressure evaluations during the course of the study, with 13 checkups on average.

After age 18, participants completed questionnaires about their childhood to see if they experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction such as exposure to mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, criminal activity or marital discord.

The researchers estimated that by age 38, participants who experienced at least four traumatic events during childhood had average systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels 9.3 mmHg and 7.6 mmHg higher, respectively, than people who didn’t have any trauma growing up.

Exposure to trauma had a similar impact on blood pressure for men and women, as well as for black and white participants.

The study is small, and more research is needed in a larger population to more firmly establish a link between trauma and blood pressure, Su said.

Because the study is observational, it can’t prove that trauma causes high blood pressure, Dr. Debbie Lawlor of the University of Bristol in the UK and colleagues note in an editorial accompanying the study online April 9 in Circulation.

Understanding the health consequences of adversity can contribute to prevention efforts and inform interventions designed to avoid harmful health outcomes from childhood trauma, Lawlor and colleagues write.

The findings are consistent with other research linking childhood trauma to the development of diseases in adulthood, Dr. Dan Stein, chair of psychiatry at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, said by email.

“I’d suggest that many of the traumas measured in this and previous studies are preventable,” said Stein, who wasn’t involved in the study. “But where it has occurred, clinicians should be on the alert for potential physical and mental consequences.”

Lyme Disease: The CDC’s Greatest Coverup.

lyme disease
If you’ve had Lyme disease then you probably don’t know that most Lyme disease tests are very inaccurate. The CDC has been trying to cover this up for a long time now.

Lyme disease affects the immune system by slowing it down. Doctors are turning against their patients because they are afraid of losing their practices. The CDC and insurance companies will do anything to keep Lyme disease from being diagnosed, treated, or widely recognized. Lyme is considered to “only” be transmitted by ticks infected with the bacteria.

The CDC says they are under-reported and they believe there are 300,000 to half a million cases every year. This would make Lyme disease about twice as common as breast cancer and 6 times more common than HIV/AIDS. Lyme becomes chronic when it hasn’t been caught in the early stages. The CDC and the ISDA denies that chronic Lyme even exists and will continue to do because of insurance companies that hate spending money and time treating patients.

The bacteria that causes Lyme is called Borrelia burgdorferi, which has a cork-screw shaped which is known as a spirochete. This Lyme spirochete is a cousin to the Treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis. A new study suggests that Lyme disease could be sexually transmitted. Presented at the annual Western Regional Meeting, “The study — presented at the annual Western Regional Meeting of the American Federation for Medical Research — a collaborative effort by an international team of scientists — tested semen samples and vaginal secretions of three groups of patients to investigate whether passing Lyme disease to a partner through unprotected sex is a possibility. The study observed control subjects without evidence of Lyme disease, random subjects who tested positive for Lyme disease, and married heterosexual couples engaging in unprotected sex who tested positive for the disease. The presence of B. burgdorferi and identical strains of the bacterium were of particular interest to the researchers in unprotected sex in spouses.”

Aging of the Brain Gray and White Matter .

Regional and Global Shrinkage

Age-related declines have been observed in gross anatomical, cellular, molecular, and functional properties of the brain (see Kemper, 1994, Raz, 2000 and Raz and Kennedy, 2009; Rodrigue & Kennedy, 2011 for reviews). The changes are not uniform across the brain regions and patterns of brain aging vary among individuals. Further, individual and region-specific trajectories of brain aging are shaped and modified by many environmental and genetic factors. Despite rapid progress during past decades, significant lacunae remain in our knowledge of various aspects of brain aging. Until the end of the last quarter of the previous century, postmortem (PM) studies constituted the main source of information about the brain in general and its aging in particular.

While allowing a direct assessment of brain tissue and its components, PM investigations by their very nature cannot shed light on the dynamic process of adult brain development and are unsuitable for evaluating the relationships between brain structure and function. Introduction of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provided a new impetus to the field by allowing repeated assessments of brain structure in vivo.

neuro slice

Until recently, information about brain aging came exclusively from cross-sectional studies, which by and large agreed that healthy adults of different ages have smaller tertiary association cortices (especially the prefrontal regions), neostriatum, hippocampus, and cerebellum than their younger counterparts and that primary sensory cortices and the pons retain relative stability until the very end of life (for detailed reviews, see Raz, 2000, Raz and Kennedy, 2009 and Raz and Rodrigue, 2006). This picture is only partially matched by the pattern of brain aging observed in the longitudinal studies that have been accumulating steadily throughout the past decade.

In contrast to a relative abundance of longitudinal studies that document whole brain shrinkage (Hedman et al., 2012), detailed investigations of regional structural change are still scarce (Fjell et al., 2009, Fjell et al., 2010, Pfefferbaum et al., 1998, Raz et al., 2010, Raz et al., 2005, Raz et al., 2013, Resnick et al., 2003 and Scahill et al., 2003), and among them, those with the density of measurements exceeding two occasions are extremely rare. Thus, whereas there is little doubt that the brain shrinks with age, temporal dynamics of gray and white matter change and individual differences therein remain poorly understood.

brain mapping

Because of the differences in time windows in which change is observed in extant longitudinal studies, the shape of brain aging trajectories is not well established. Some findings indicate age-related acceleration of volume loss in selected regions, such as the hippocampus, and subcortical white matter (e.g., Fjell et al., 2010; Pfefferbaum et al., 2013; Raz et al., 2005 and Raz et al., 2010), but it will take more than a handful of studies with multiple waves of measurement to establish the true shape of age trajectories with a reasonable degree of certainty.

Figure 1 shows examples of manually segmented regions of interests that are characterized by differential sensitivity to aging as well as graphic representation of 5-year change observed in normal adults, with change in each region modeled with latent change score models, which estimate mean change and individual differences in change over time (Raz et al., 2005).

Figure 1

Differential brain shrinkage over 5 years. Representative MRI images with manually segmented regions of interest (ROIs): 1 – lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), 2 – prefrontal white matter (PFw), 3 – orbital frontal cortex (OFC), 4 – insula (In), 5 – hippocampus (HC), 6 – entorhinal cortex (EC), 7 – primary visual cortex (VC), 8 – cerebellum (Cb). Bar graph represents effect size (mean differences between baseline and follow-up divided by a pooled standard deviation and adjusted for correlation between the two measures); error bars indicate standard error of the mean. Spaghetti plots represent 5-year change plotted against age at measurement occasion. Some ROIs (LPFC, Cb, and HC) show both age-related differences and change (shrinkage), some show neither (VC), some exhibit change only at the old age (EC), and some show no age differences but a significant 5-year change (inferior parietal lobule (IPL)). Adapted from Raz, N., Lindenberger, U., Rodrigue, K. M., et al. (2005). Regional brain changes in aging healthy adults: General trends, individual differences, and modifiers. Cerebral Cortex, 15, 1676–1689, with permission.

Read the full article on Normal Aging of the Brain by K.M. Kennedy and N. Raz here.

Brain Mapping: An Encyclopedic Reference offers foundational knowledge for students and researchers across neuroscience. With over 300 articles and a media rich environment, this resource provides exhaustive coverage of the methods and systems involved in brain mapping. Brain Mapping fully links the data to disease (presenting side by side maps of healthy and diseased brains for direct comparisons), and offers data sets and fully annotated color images. Each entry is built on a layered approach of the content – basic information for those new to the area and more detailed material for experienced readers. Edited and authored by the leading experts in the field, this work offers the most reputable, easily searchable content with cross referencing across articles, a one-stop reference for students, researchers and teaching faculty.

Ebola Virus Found In Survivor’s Semen 6 Months After Negative Blood Test

ebola virus
The World Health Organization is advising that Ebola survivors use a condom or abstain from sex until further notice, after the virus was found in a man’s semen six months after a negative blood test.

Traces of the Ebola virus have been found in the semen of an Ebola survivor six months after being declared virus-free. Doctors are now working to uncover whether or not this is an isolated occurrence, but for the time being health officials are advising all Ebola survivors to either abstain from sex or use condoms until more information is available.   ­

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP in an email that the man, whose identity has not been disclosed, was declared Ebola-free in September via a negative blood test, but his semen sample tested positive for Ebola 175 days later.

Health officials had been aware that the virus could survive in semen after recovery, but not to this extent. Based on these new findings, the World Health Organization has advised that any Ebola survivors should treat the virus as an STD and take necessary precautions during sexual intercourse until further notice. This contradicts the WHO’s previous advisement that condoms be used up to three months following a negative test result.

As reported by the International Business Times, WHO officials are currently discussing whether regular check-ups of Ebola survivors at three-month intervals may be necessary.

“We need to understand better if this particular case is an anomaly or if there really are groups of people who might (carry) parts of the Ebola virus longer,” Jasarevic added.

Ebola was first recognized as a virus in 1976 during an outbreak in what is now the Republic of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unfortunately, since this time little is still known about the virus, including exactly how long it can remain in a host once recovery is achieved.

As of now, there is no evidence of Ebola existing in vaginal secretions, but Liberian Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah still advises that citizens take precaution with all forms of sexual contact, IBT reported. This current outbreak, which started in late 2013, is the most deadly to ever have been recorded. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10,600 people have died and the outbreak is still yet to be officially declared over. A majority of the factors that make the outbreak so difficult to end include its venues of transmission and long-lasting survival. The virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of infected persons but can still survive well past the host’s recovery or death.

Bruce Aylward, who heads WHO’s Ebola response, told reporters that the WHO continues to investigate.

“We should have answers to allow us to give more definitive advice to survivors very, very quickly,” Aylward explained, as reported by AFP.

Brushing teeth regularly can save you from future heart attacks .

Want to avoid future risk of heart attack? Keep brushing your teeth regularly, says a new study. Researchers have found that people suffering oral infections also often have cardiovascular problems, and have discovered a particularly strong link between periodontitis and strokes, especially among men and younger people.
Brushing at night is very important as it removes food grains stuck in between the teeth. — AFP
A high dose of the commonly prescribed medication, atorvastatin, which boosts blood levels of anti-inflammatory fats called lipoxins and resolvins prevents both gum and heart disease in humans, and even reverses it.
The researchers described the discovery as “exciting and promising” because lipoxins and resolvins also have the advantage of naturally controlling inflammation without suppressing the immune system. Dr Thomas Van Dyke, of the Forsyth Institute in the United States, said unraveling the role of the oral microbiome and inflammation in cardiovascular disease would likely lead to new preventive and treatment approaches.
Significant epidemiological evidence supports an association between oral infections, particularly periodontitis, and stroke, especially among men and younger individuals. Inflammation plays a major role both in gum and cardiovascular disease. However, over-the-counter non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can produce significant cardiovascular side effects, which means it is crucial alternative therapies are found.
Dr Van Dyke recommends people take better care of their teeth to potentially lower their risk of cardiovascular disease and other health problems. The findings are published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism.

White goods dominate e-waste items


Discarded phones and computers
Only 7% of the global e-waste mountain is made up of phones, computers and printers

Old kitchen, bathroom and laundry equipment made up 60% of the 41.8 million tonnes of electronic waste thrown away in 2014, suggests a report.

Written by researchers from UN University it details how much e-waste different regions discard.

Old microwaves, washing machines, dishwashers and other household items made up the bulk of the waste.

Only 16% of the items discarded found their way into proper recycling and re-use schemes.

Urban mine

The report found the US was the nation which disposed of most electronic waste with 7,072 kilotonnes generated in 2014. China was second (6,032 kilotonnes) and Japan third (2,200 kilotonnes).

European nations topped the rankings of regions measured by how much waste each citizen generated.

In Norway, each inhabitant did away with about 28.4kg of electronic waste, found the report. Across Africa levels of e-waste generated per inhabitant were lower at 1.7kg per person.

The report said rising levels of discarded electronic equipment were being driven by the growing popularity of domestic electronics and because many modern devices did not last as long as older versions of the same products.

Far more should be done to capture e-waste and “mine” the valuable resources used to make such equipment, said UN under-secretary-general David Malone, rector of the UN University.

“Worldwide, e-waste constitutes a valuable ‘urban mine’ – a large potential reservoir of recyclable materials,” he said.

Buried within the 41.8 million tonnes of waste was more than 16,000 kilotonnes of iron, 1,900 kilotonnes of copper and 300 tonnes of gold as well as other precious metals such as palladium.

The combined value of all these valuable resources was about $52bn (£35bn) estimated the report.

In addition, said Mr Malone, the massive amount of waste represented a potential toxic stockpile as many of the devices used materials, such as lead, that were hazardous which needed to be disposed of carefully.

Best Space Books and Sci-Fi: A Space.com Reading List

Space.com’s editors present a reading list for space and sci-fi lovers, as well as children who are interested in astronomy and spaceflight.

There are plenty of great books out there about space — so many, in fact, that it can feel a little overwhelming to figure out where to start. So the editors and writers at Space.com have put together a list of their favorite books about the universe. These are the books that we love — the ones that informed us, entertained us and inspired us. We hope they’ll do the same for you.
We’ve divided the books into five categories. At the top is our Book of the Month, which we will update regularly. The other four categories are:
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Spaceflight and Space History
Children’s Astronomy and Spaceflight
Science Fiction
We hope there’s something on the list for every reader of every age. We’re also eager to hear about your favorite space books, so please leave your suggestions in the comments, and let us know why you love them. You can see our ongoing Space Books coverage here.

Book of the Month:
“The Orbital Perspective” (Berrett-Koehler, 2015)
By Ron Garan, NASA astronaut
“The Orbital Perspective””The Orbital Perspective” by Ron Garan.
Credit: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Every single astronaut I have ever had the fortune of interviewing has said that the view from space is like none other — a vision of our place in the cosmos that is as awe-inspiring as it is humbling. The same is true for NASA astronaut Ron Garan, with one exception: Garan saw it as a call to action for himself and all the people of Earth. That call to action forms the heart of “The Orbital Perspective,” Garan’s first book that details his spaceflights on a NASA shuttle and the International Space Station, and also shares the phenomenal accomplishments of people on Earth that improved living conditions around them. You don’t have to go to space to get an orbital perspective, Garan says. “The key is WE,” he adds. Only by working together and embracing new ideas can humanity truly solve the challenging problems it faces in the 21st century. ~Tariq Malik
Read an Excerpt from “The Orbital Perspective”

Astronomy and Astrophysics
“Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy” (W. W. Norton, 1994)
By Kip Thorne
‘Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy'”Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy” by Kip Thorne.
Credit: W.W. Norton & Company
Theoretical astrophysicist Kip Thorne has spent his career exploring topics that once seemed relegated to science fiction, such as whether time travel is possible, and how humans could potentially travel from galaxy to galaxy via wormholes. In “Black Holes and Time Warps,” Thorne provides an introduction to these and other mind-bending topics, at a level appropriate for nonscientists. The book is not a light read — it goes deeper into the science than many pop physics books — but Thorne is the perfect person to take readers on this journey: He’s a patient and entertaining teacher, and he never loses the thread of the story. On top of the science lessons, Thorne introduces a cast of characters who pushed these fields forward, and chronicles the fight by American and Russian physicists to continue scientific collaboration during the Cold War. (Twenty years after its publication, Thorne talked with Space.com about the new science he would add to the book.) ~Calla Cofield

“Cosmos” (Random House, 1980)
By Carl Sagan
‘Cosmos'”Cosmos” by Carl Sagan.
Credit: Random House
“Cosmos,” by famed astronomer and science communicator Carl Sagan, is a deep dive into the history of science, philosophy and the universe. The book acts as a partner with Sagan’s beloved 1980s TV show, “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.” This book is a beautiful glimpse inside one of the greatest scientific minds in history. While some of it may seem dated, the book still stands up as one of the best popular science books ever written, and the language is just beautiful. ~Miriam Kramer

“The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” (Ballantine Books/Random House, 1995)
By Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan
‘The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark'”The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan.
Credit: Ballantine Books
Sagan was one of the 20th century’s greatest ambassadors and popularizers of science, and he doesn’t disappoint in “The Demon-Haunted World.” The book explains to laypeople just what science is, and how researchers use the process of scientific inquiry to understand the universe around us. There’s a lot of debunking in “The Demon-Haunted World” — of alien encounters, channeling and other paranormal experiences — and Sagan even provides readers a “baloney detection kit” to help them navigate a confusing and chaotic world. Like other Sagan works, this one is a fun and engaging read, but a great deal of ambition lurks beneath the fluid prose, as this quote from the book reveals: “If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we’re just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.” ~Mike Wall
BUY “The Demon Haunted World” by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan for $17.00 >>>
“Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension” (Oxford University Press, 1994)
By Michio Kaku
‘Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension'”Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension” by Michio Kaku.
Credit: Anchor
Our brains evolved to comprehend the world around us on a local and accessible scale. We’re really not equipped to understand the universe as a 10-dimensional entity — and yet “Hyperspace” explains this revolutionary idea in such a lucid and engaging way that it makes a good deal of sense. By the time you’re done reading this book, you’ll have a pretty solid grasp of why Kaku and other scientists think the basic forces in our universe — electromagnetism, gravity and the strong and weak nuclear forces — may actually just be vibrations in higher-dimensional space. And it’s an extremely fun read, too, with excursions into such sexy topics as parallel universes, time travel and wormholes. For example, did you know that you might be able to create a wormhole in your own kitchen using just an ice cube and a pressure cooker? All you have to do is figure out a way to heat the ice cube up to a temperature of 1,032 degrees Celsius (about 1,890 degrees Fahrenheit). ~Mike Wall

Spaceflight and Space History
“Comm Check … : The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia” (Free Press, 2008)
By Michael Cabbage and William Harwood
‘Comm Check … : The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia’ “Comm Check … : The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia” by Michael Cabbage and William Harwood.
Credit: Free Press
Space exploration is an epic human endeavor, but it is also fraught with peril and unforgiving of mistakes. That lesson was painfully clear on Feb. 1, 2003, when NASA’s space shuttle Columbia broke apart during re-entry, killing its seven-astronaut crew on what was supposed to be landing day for the marathon 16-day science mission of STS-107. In “Comm Check,” veteran spaceflight reporters Michael Cabbage and William Harwood recount the Columbia space shuttle disaster with expert care, detailing exactly how and why the accident occurred. The book offers an inside look at the in-depth investigation into the fatal shuttle accident, and ends with a riveting final chapter that you’ll have to read yourself. “Comm Check” is a must-read for any space history fan to truly understand the daunting complexity and risk of human spaceflight, and the bravery of those astronauts who answer the call. ~Tariq Malik
BUY “Comm Check …”.
“A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts” (Viking Penguin, 1994)
By Andrew Chaikin
‘A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts'”A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts” by Andrew Chaikin.
Credit: Penguin Books
If you’re looking for a definitive history of the Apollo missions that brought humans to the moon for the first time, look no further than Andrew Chaikin’s “A Man on the Moon” (Viking Penguin, 1994). The book is based on interviews with 23 of the 24 astronauts who flew to the moon during the Apollo program. Chaikin’s book is fun and well researched, and packed full of tidbits of information that make you feel like you know the astronauts and NASA officials he’s writing about. The book was also the inspiration for HBO’s miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon.” ~Miriam Kramer

“The Right Stuff” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1979)
By Tom Wolfe
‘The Right Stuff'”The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe.
Credit: Macmillan
Tom Wolfe’s iconic profile of the first group of Americans to go to space is nonfiction, but it sometimes reads as though it were written by the characters rather than the author. Wolfe dives deep into the mind-set of the people involved in the early days of American space exploration, including the astronauts, their wives, the press core and the American public. To accomplish this, Wolfe takes some creative liberties with his storytelling, but the final result highlights the emotions and motivations that drove this incredible enterprise. At the end of this page-turner, readers will understand what it means to say that someone has “the right stuff.” ~Calla Cofield

“The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must” (Touchstone, 1996)
By Robert Zubrin
‘The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must’ “The Case for Mars” by Robert Zubrin.
Credit: Simon & Schuster
“The Case for Mars” is a landmark work, helping to cast Red Planet settlement as an achievable goal rather than a sci-fi dream. The book advocates traveling light and living off the Martian land as much as possible. For example, rockets launching from Mars and rovers exploring the surface would both be fueled by methane/oxygen propellant manufactured using carbon dioxide pulled from the Red Planet’s air. Settlers would get their water — as well as the materials needed to make iron, steel and glass — from the Martian soil. “The Case for Mars” also lays out how to terraform Mars, making it a warmer and wetter place more hospitable to human life. Though the book is nearly 20 years old, it remains an engaging and informative read today, because putting boots on Mars remains the top goal of the international human spaceflight community. ~Mike Wall

“Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void” (W. W. Norton & Company, 2010)
By Mary Roach
‘Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void'”Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void” by Mary Roach.
Credit: W. W. Norton & Company
“Packing for Mars” addresses, in satisfyingly rich and refreshingly unabashed detail, the questions that everybody has about human spaceflight. For example: How do astronauts go to the bathroom in zero or reduced gravity? How do they keep clean? What would it be like to have sex in space? Has anyone ever had sex in space? But the book is far from just a catalog of the scurrilous and scatalogical; it delves seriously into the physiological and psychological effects of spaceflight and how astronauts, doctors and engineers prepare to meet such challenges. In short, “Packing for Mars” is an incredibly fun read that will give you a better understanding of the rigors of human spaceflight — and provide a wealth of choice details that you can dole out at parties to impress and disgust your friends. ~Mike Wall

Children’s Astronomy and Spaceflight
“Look Inside Space” (Usborne, 2012)
By Rob Lloyd Jones, Illustrated by Benedetta Giaufret and Enrica Rusiná
Age range: 3 and up
‘Look Inside Space'”Look Inside Space” by Rob Lloyd Jones.
Credit: Usborne
For parents of young kids (I am one such parent), Usborne’s prizewinning “Look Inside Space” is a must-have to share the history and wild technology of space exploration with starry-eyed tots. The book uses cute illustrations and more than 70 artfully arranged flaps to explore the history of human spaceflight and the basics of stars, planets and other astronomical objects. “Look Inside Space” has a rugged cover (to withstand toddler tantrums), but care must be taken with some its more delicate nested flaps. It is enjoyable to all space fans, but is especially good for pre-school and Kindergarten-age kids just starting out to explore space on their own. ~ Tariq Malik

“Max Goes to the Space Station” (Big Kid Science, 2013)
By Jeffrey Bennett, Illustrations by Michael Carroll
Age range: All ages
‘Max Goes to the Space Station'”Max Goes to the Space Station” by Jeffrey Bennett.
Credit: Big Kid Science
How many children’s books can you honestly say have been to space? Jeffrey Bennett’s tale (Get it? It’s about a dog) about a dog called Max and his adventures to the International Space Station is not only an accurate look at what life in space is like — it actually joined the station’s library in 2014 as part of the Story Time from Space project. With illustrations by famed space artist Michael Carroll, “Max Goes to the Space Station” takes the titular pooch on a voyage to the station by way of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and Kennedy Space Center, with readers learning all sorts of fun facts about spaceships, the space station and life in weightlessness on the way. Max even helps the station crew through an emergency. The book is great for kids of all ages, and includes “Big Kid Boxes” on the science of space for older kids age 8 and up. Bennett has also written “Max Goes to the Moon” (another space traveler) and tales that send Max to Mars and Jupiter. ~Tariq Malik

“Pluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery” (Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum/Abrams, 2013)
By Margaret A. Weitekamp, with David DeVorkin, Illustrated by Diane Kidd
Age range: 6 and up
‘Pluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery'”Pluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery” by Margaret A. Weitekamp.
Credit: Abrams Books for Young Readers
If you’re like me, there’s a special place in your heart for Pluto, be it a planet or a dwarf planet. In “Pluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery,” authors Margaret A. Weitekamp and David DeVorkin take young readers on a guided tour of astronomer Clyde Tombaugh’s historic sighting of Pluto in 1930 to the planet’s reclassification to a dwarf planet in 2006, with Kidd’s entertaining illustrations leading the way. How did Pluto get its name? It’s in there. What exactly is a planet? This book has it covered. Even NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which visits Pluto in 2015, makes a cameo. For the older set, a kicker photo spread on the people and telescopes, as well as a Pluto glossary, make this book an essential for budding astronomers but may be best for kids age 8 and up. ~Tariq Malik

“A User’s Guide to the Universe: Surviving the Perils of Black Holes, Time Paradoxes, and Quantum Uncertainty” (Wiley, 2010)
By Dave Goldberg
Age Range: 10 and up
‘A User’s Guide to the Universe: Surviving the Perils of Black Holes, Time Paradoxes, and Quantum Uncertainty'”A User’s Guide to the Universe” by Dave Goldberg.
Credit: Wiley
“A User’s Guide to the Universe” may be one of the most entertaining science books I’ve ever read. Overflowing with jokes, cartoons and a general sense of silliness, the book is a 5th- or 6th-grade-appropriate introduction to fascinating topics like time travel, life on other planets and the Big Bang. Hitting that oh-so-hard-to-reach sweet spot between entertaining and educational, the book offers up a surprising amount of science and never condescends to its audience. It’s the perfect book for kids who are curious about big questions, but I’m betting it will also serve as a great resource for adults who want a fun and easy introduction to the science of the universe. ~Calla Cofield

“The Martian Chronicles” (Doubleday, 1951)
By Ray Bradbury
Age range: High school and up
‘The Martian Chronicles'”The Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury.
Credit: Simon & Schuster
In case you haven’t heard of him, Ray Bradbury is an icon of science fiction writing. In “The Martian Chronicles,” Bradbury explores the gradual human settlement of the Red Planet, through a series of lightly connected stories. Bradbury paints the Martian landscape and its inhabitants with master strokes, but equally strong is his portrayal of the psychological dangers that await the human settlers who arrive there. This, as well as the space-themed stories in Bradbury’s other classic collection “The Illustrated Man,” struck a chord with me when I was young and dreamed about traveling to the stars. Reading his work today, it is amazing to see that although Bradbury writes from a time when human space travel hadn’t yet begun (the book was first published in 1950), the issues and questions his stories raise are still relevant as humanity takes its first steps into that great frontier. ~Calla Cofield

“Ender’s Game” (Tor Books, 1985)
By Orson Scott Card
Age range: High school and up
‘Ender’s Game'”Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card.
Credit: Tor Science Fiction
This classic science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card should be ever-present on any space fan’s bookshelf. Card’s novel follows the life of Ender Wiggin as he learns to fight the Formics, a horrifying alien race that almost killed off all humans when they attacked years and years ago. Wiggin learns the art of space war aboard a military space station built to help train young people to fight the cosmic invaders. Basically, this book is a coming-of-age tale that makes you want to fly to space and also forces you to think about some serious social issues presented in its pages. (The book is the first in a quintet, and inspired a much larger body of work that takes place in the same universe.) ~Miriam Kramer

“The Martian” (Random House, 2014)
By Andy Weir
‘The Martian'”The Martian” by Andy Weir.
Credit: Crown
“The Martian,” by Andy Weir, is a truly great science fiction book that’s heavy on the science. Weir tells the story of Mark Watney, a fictional NASA astronaut stranded on Mars, and his difficult mission to save himself from potential doom in the harsh Red Planet environment. Watney seems to have everything against him, yet Weir deftly explains not only what Watney’s survival needs are but also how he goes about trying to make them work. “The Martian” also will be made into a movie, which is set for release in November 2015. The film stars Matt Damon as Watney and is directed by space movie veteran Ridley Scott. ~Miriam Kramer
Read an excerpt from “The Martian” by Andy Weir

“Dune” (Chilton Books, 1965)
By Frank Herbert
‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert”Dune” by Frank Herbert.
Credit: Ace
In “Dune,” Frank Herbert imagines a vast, intricate future universe ruled by an emperor who sets the Atreides and Harkonnen families warring over the desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune. The arid world holds the only source of the spice mélange, necessary for space travel. Spread across star systems, “Dune” teems with wild characters: human computers (Mentats), tribal fighters (Fremen), mind-controlling “witches” (Bene Gesserit Sisterhood) and humans ranging from the corrupt Baron Harkonnen to Paul “Muad’Dib” Atreides, whose journey from a sheltered childhood anchors the story. Early on, the Baron says, “Observe the plans within plans within plans,” summing up the adversaries’ wary analyses of each faction’s complex motivations. This cerebral second-guessing balances with epic action throughout the book, centering on the perhaps best-known feature of the Duniverse: the monstrous spice-producing sandworms. The best-selling novel raised science fiction literature to greater sophistication by including themes of technology, science, politics, religion and ecology, although the burgeoning Dune franchise remains less popular than Star Wars (which borrowed heavily from “Dune”). ~Tom Chao

“Hyperion” (Doubleday, 1989)
By Dan Simmons
‘Hyperion’ by Dan Simmons”Hyperion” by Dan Simmons.
Credit: Spectra
Part space epic, part “Canterbury Tales,” “Hyperion” tells the story of seven pilgrims who travel across the universe to meet their fate, and the unspeakably evil Shrike, who guards the Time Tombs on the planet Hyperion. On the way, each pilgrim tells his or her own tale, and each world is so exquisitely created that it’s hard to believe it all came from the mind of one author. The tale of the scholar whose daughter ages backward after her visit to the Tombs, and his quest to save her as she returns to childhood, is my favorite — it’s heartbreaking and terrifying at the same time. ~Jennifer Lawinski

“Gateway” (St. Martin’s Press, 1977)
By Frederik Pohl
‘Gateway’ by Frederik Pohl”Gateway” by Frederik Pohl.
Credit: Del Rey
“Gateway” is the first science fiction book I ever read, because my father, a longtime sci-fi junkie, had loved it. It’s an intense read that explores why we make the choices we do, and how we deal with the consequences of those choices in the black vacuum of space. In “Gateway,” those with the money to leave the dying Earth can hitch a ride on a starship that will either make them wealthy beyond their wildest dreams or lead them to a grim and possibly violent death. Or, like our hero, you could wind up in the grip of a massive black hole and have to make difficult decisions that lead you to the couch of an electronic shrink. ~Jennifer Lawinski

Blood Tests That Don’t Hurt?

Blood tests
A new device the size of a ping-pong ball promises to reduce pain and overall healthcare costs. Reuters

Blood tests are painful and inconvenient — but Tasso Inc., a company run by former students of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is closer to developing a painless alternative.

According to a press release from UW-Madison, Tasso is in the process of perfecting a prototype device the size of a ping-pong ball that extracts small blood samples when held against the skin for two minutes. A “slight vacuum” in the device is what helps blood flow into an attached tube, which can then be mailed or handed to a lab. Ben Casavant, vice president and co-founder of Tasso, explained “the technology relies on the forces that govern the flow of tiny fluid stream.”

“At these scales, surface tension dominates over gravity, and that keeps the blood in the channel no matter how you hold the device,” he said.

Casavant was studying microfluidics — the study of cell biology — at UW-Madison when he and his two co-founders, Erwin Berthier and Ben Moga, realized they wanted to start acompany, not necessarily what kind of company. He and his fellow classmates just knew they wanted to apply what they were learning in the classroom in some way so that they could help others. Enter: pain-free blood tests.

Blood testsTasso Inc.’s prototype, painless blood test. David Tenenbaum, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Apparently, those who have used the device so far have said it’s almost entirely painless. Even better, the Defenses Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) granted the company an additional $3 million to advance their device, so it may soon be something everyone can experience. This grant will primarily “fund work with companies that make blood preservatives” in an effort to ensure the extracted samples remain fit for analysis.

Reduced pain is a major selling point for those currently afraid to get a blood test or too busy to drive to get tested in the first place. But, from a health practitioner’s perspective, Casavant said the device could simplify manufacturing and cut costs.

The DARPA grant is a big deal, too, because Casavant said initially, investors were skeptical of their device. Now that they’re receiving major grants from reputable companies, Tasso is starting to be taken seriously. Next, the company hopes to find “the killer application,” which is to say who is going to buy the device and for how much?

UW-Madison reported if all goes well, Tasso will submit an application for the device to the Food and Drug Administration later this year.

Malignant Pleural Effusions

Malignant pleural effusion, a major complication of certain types of cancer, is fluid around the lungs that can be difficult to permanently remove.

Image not available.

Cancer is a major cause of pleural effusions. Pleural effusions related to cancer are called malignant pleural effusions (MPEs). Most MPEs are caused by lung or breast cancer and are diagnosed by analyzing a fluid sample withdrawn from the effusion by thoracentesis and finding cancer cells. Sometimes more than 1 sample is required to find the cancer cells.

Serial Thoracenteses

Repeating a thoracentesis each time a pleural effusion occurs is a good option if needed only every few weeks, but it is a poor choice if the procedure is needed every few days. Each time a thoracentesis is performed, there is a small risk of infection, bleeding, or a collapsed lung (pneumothorax). A pneumothorax can be dangerous and may require hospitalization for treatment.

Pleural Catheter

Another option is to insert a pleural catheter, a thin, flexible, removable tube that is passed through the chest wall and into the pleural space and left there to drain the fluid over time. The patient or a family member can attach a vacuum-pressurized bottle or bag to the catheter to drain fluid as needed. When not in use, the pleural catheter is tucked against the skin and covered by a bandage.


Pleurodesis, a minor surgical procedure, can provide a permanent solution for recurrent MPEs. This involves introducing an inflammatory chemical into the pleural space prompting an inflammatory response that creates scarring between the lung and chest wall. The scarring eliminates the space between the lung and chest wall, so fluid can no longer collect there. Instead, the fluid distributes and is reabsorbed by the body more easily. Pleurodesis is unsuccessful in approximately 30% of patients. When it works though, patients require no further interventions for recurrent MPE.

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