Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Monday, 10 September 2012

Using iPads before bed 'can lead to a poor night's sleep'... -

Using iPads before bed 'can lead to a poor night's sleep'... - 

More and more people are taking their tablets to bed with them to surf the web, check Facebook or email before switching off the light.
But researchers are warning that the blueish light their screens emit can stop users getting a good night’s sleep.
That is because this type of light mimics daylight, convincing the brain that it is still daytime.
Blue light suppresses production of a brain chemical called melatonin, which helps us fall sleep. This is because our brains have evolved to be wakeful during daylight hours.
By contrast, light which is more orange or red in tone does not suppress melatonin production, perhaps because our brains recognise it as a cue that the day is ending.

Neurologists have known for years that staring at screens late in the evening can disrupt sleep - be they television screens, computer screens or mobile phone screens.
However, because mobiles and tablets are by nature portable - not to say addictive - more people are taking them into the bedroom.

Users also tend to hold them much closer to their eyes than a computer or television screen.
Researchers at the Lighting Research Centre, at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, are warning that looking at tablet displays for more than two hours “leads to a suppression of our natural melatonin levels as the devices emit optical radiation at short wavelengths” - in other words, they emit bluer light.
They say: “Although turning off devices at night is the ultimate solution, it is recommended that if these devices are used at night displays are dimmed as much as possible and that the time spent on them before bed should be limited.”
They drew their concludions after measuring melatonin levels in 13 volunteers, after they had spent time viewing iPads at full brightness at a distance of 10 inches, for two hours.
Melatonin levels were significantly lower after they had done this, than they were after the volunteers had viewed their iPads for the same time, but while wearing orange glass goggles, which cut out the blue light.
They wrote in the journal Applied Ergonomics that tablet makers could "tune the spectral power distribution of self-luminous devices" so that they disrupted the sleep patterns of users less.

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Smoking pot linked to testicular cancer risk -

Smoking pot linked to testicular cancer risk - 

Smoking marijuana may increase young men's risk of testicular cancer, a new study suggests.
In the study, marijuana users were about twice as likely to be diagnosed with testicular cancer compared to those who had never used marijuana. The link was particularly strong for the types of testicular cancer that tend to have a worse prognosis, the researchers said.
The study only found an association, and does not show marijuana use causes testicular cancer. However, the work is the third study to find such a link, and the results warrant investigation into whether compounds in marijuana smoke may be carcinogenic to the testes, the researchers said.
Testicular cancer is most common in young or middle-age men, and often beings in the cells that make sperm, or germ cells, according to the National Institutes of Health. Rates of testicular germ cell tumors have been increasing in recent decades, as has marijuana use, said the researchers from the University of Southern California.
They analyzed information from 163 men ages 18 to 35 who were diagnosed with testicular cancer between 1986 and 1991, and compared them with 292 healthy men matched for age and race. Participants were interviewed about their previous and current drug use.
Those who had ever used marijuana were 2.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with types of testicular cancer called non-seminoma and mixed germ cell tumors. These types of testicular cancer come with a somewhat worse prognosis than the so-called seminoma tumors.
More frequent use of marijuana did not increase cancer risk. In fact, those who used marijuana less than once a week were at increased risk of developing testicular cancer, but those who used it more frequently were not.
It's not clear how marijuana may increase testicular cancer risk. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, binds to cannabinoid receptors in the body, which are present in the brain as well as the gonads. THC may impair testicular health by disrupting the signals of the compounds that normally bind to cannbinoid receptors, the researchers said.
It's possible that men who did not have testicular cancer were not as motivated to report drug use as those with cancer, which could affect the results, but the researchers said evidence has shown that such reporting bias cannot completely explain the link.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/09/10/smoking-pot-linked-to-testicular-cancer-risk/?test=latestnews

Yangtze River Turns Red and Turns Up a Mystery -

Yangtze River Turns Red and Turns Up a Mystery - 

A stretch of China’s Yangtze River has mysteriously turned red around the city of Chongquin. Officials are investigating the river’s transformation, as nobody is quite sure what caused it. The river began turning the color of a nice marinara sauce on Thursday.
The Yangtze River is the longest in Asia and the third-longest in the world. The affected area of the river — reportedly turned “the color of tomato juice” is generally in the vicinity of the industrial city of Chongquin, although red sections of the river have been reported elsewhere, as well.
While some citizens are concerned about the river turning red, others are interested by the transformation. The Daily Mail has several photographs of Chongquin inhabitants fishing in the water and filling bottles with the red river water to show off later.


Is Twitter Skewed Toward President Obama? -

Is Twitter Skewed Toward President Obama? - 

Is Twitter channeling users toward President Barack Obama?

Here's a snapshot from recent visits to the Twitter accounts of Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The president's page, @BarackObama, had amassed 19.2 million followers versus slightly more than 1 million for @MittRomney. The difference: 18.2 million.

While Obama has been in the Oval Office for almost four years, it wasn’t surprising to see so many followers displayed on his bio.

What was surprising, though, was how few followers Mitt Romney was gaining compared to Obama. For those unfamiliar with Twitter, a social networking site launched in 2006, users have the option to follow the accounts and short messages posted by those they care about. Think of it as the Internet’s text messaging service.

2012Twit.com, which tracks the social presence of those involved in the election, found that in the previous 24 hours, Obama gained more than 41,000 followers or more than four times as many as Romney's 9,000. (Read More:  Smartphone Owners Like Obama: Survey)

On average, @BarackObama has been adding about 9,600 Twitter followers per day since its inception in March 2007 and is the sixth most-followed account on Twitter. @MittRomney has been getting an average of 876 every 24 hours since starting in June 2009 and ranks as 1,329th. These numbers would equate to the president gaining more than 10 times as many followers each day.

Why is @MittRomney gaining Twitter followers at a slower pace? According to Twitter, the reason stems from its algorithms.

But three weeks ago, I decided to check. I created a new email account and then signed onto Twitter.com as a new user, an act done by thousands of people around the world each day.

After creating an account, clicking through a tutorial and confirming that I did not want Twitter to view my recent history so it can better recommend suggested follows, I was given a list of accounts to follow. Twitter does this to allow its new users to immediately experience the platforms’ usefulness by filling up their page with tweets. Obama placed eighth. First lady Michelle Obama was fourth. Others in the top 10 included singers Katy Perry and Missy Elliott, comedians Kevin Hart and Louis C.K. and a couple of news-related accounts, but no sign of Romney.

Twitter displayed 73 recommended accounts for my new user profile, including athletes, musicians and comedians. It was clear that Twitter had updated its standard recommended “follow list” because U.S. Olympics gold medal swimmer Ryan Lochte made the new one, at 40th.

I figured that refreshing the list would display a new batch of suggestions. I was wrong. It was the same 73 accounts, albeit in a different order. I logged in and out three more times, only to find similar results. (It’s worth noting that in the months before conducting this experiment, I hadn’t seen @MittRomney in the standard recommended section of a new Twitter user.)

In May, Twitter’s director of growth and international addressed this issue. “When new users come to Twitter, we show them all almost the same suggestions for what or who to follow,” Othman Laraki wrote in a blog post. “That isn’t ideal. Since you have individual interests, you should get individual suggestions. After all, even though millions of people love Justin Bieber, FC Barcelona or Kim Kardashian, not everyone using Twitter may want to follow them.” That’s when Twitter began offering tailored suggestions.

But what about those who opt out of Twitter’s tailored suggestions? It appears Twitter is showing them almost the same 73 suggestions.

When reaching out to the Romney campaign on whether there have been discussions between Twitter and Romney’s camp on better handle placement, a spokeswoman suggested I speak to Twitter and offered no additional comment. (Read More:  Sweeney: Are Democrats Losing the Social Media War?)

Elaine Filadelfo, a Twitter spokeswoman, told CNBC.com by email that the “list — for folks who don’t get personalized suggestions — is algorithmically determined. That is, it’s determined by the engagement around the account.” Twitter pointed out that “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan both appear on our Government Suggested User List.” This list, though, is seen alongside 31 other categories a few pages later in the signup process, where users are less likely to see specific accounts.

In terms of engagement, in the 24 hours ending Wednesday morning, Obama received about 25,000 retweets (when Twitter users broadcast statements they have received) and 36,000 mentions, compared with Romney’s 2,000 retweets and 16,000 mentions, according to 2012twit. (Read More: Twitter's Legal Battle: Who Owns Your Tweets?)

I then created a new email address and another Twitter account to opt-in on a tailored Twitter experience (which tracks sites with Twitter-widgets visited within the previous 10 days). The recommended follows were Barack Obama (in the fourth slot), the White House (35th) and Michelle Obama (73rd). Many of the accounts were the same as the ones I found when opting out of the feature, which meant it, too, didn’t include Romney’s profile.


Teen cleaning gun accidentally shoots off penis and testicle... -

Teen cleaning gun accidentally shoots off penis and testicle... - 

A teenager is recovering after
police say he shot himself in the penis and testicle while cleaning a gun he just bought.

It happened Thursday morning at a home on the 200 block of Verada Street in Port St. Lucie.

Police say 18-year-old Michael Smeriglio first lied to police saying someone shot him while he was walking down the street. After being questioned by police he admitted to accidentally doing it himself.

Doctors say the bullet went through his penis, his left testicle and then lodged itself in his thigh.

Smeriglio told police he bought the gun last month at a party.

While police were investigating at the home where it happened, they discovered marijuana in the house. That led to
the arrest of the homeowner Joseph Lamar James, 22, on drug charges. 

Read more -