Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Monday, 10 December 2012

A new condom has been developed that prevents pregnancy and protects against STD's by dissolving inside of the body -

A new condom has been developed that prevents pregnancy and protects against STD's by dissolving inside of the body - 

University of Washington researchers have developed a dissolving condom. (DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)

A new, discreet condom has been developed that prevents pregnancy and protects against sexually transmitted diseases by dissolving inside of the body and releasing preventative drugs after use.

Researchers at the University of Washington developed the condom from tiny microfibers where strength, solubility and shape can all be adjusted for best personal use. Published in the Public Library of Science’s “PLoS One” journal, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave the researchers nearly $1 million to pursue the new “electrospinning” technology.

The “electrospinning” method uses an electric field to charge fluid through air to create the very fine, nanometer-sized fibers.

“Our dream is to create a product women can use to protect themselves from HIV infection and unintended pregnancy,” wrote corresponding author Kim Woodrow, a UW assistant professor of bioengineering. “We have the drugs to do that. It’s really about delivering them in a way that makes them more potent, and allows a woman to want to use it.”

“Electrospinning” has existed for decades, but it’s only recently been automated to make it practical for applications such as filtration and tissue engineering. This is the first study to use nanofibers for vaginal drug delivery, wrote the researchers.

The versatility of the fibers allows many more effective options of delivering medicines and supplements than current technology. Gels, tablets and pills aren’t able to incorporate components such as proteins and antibodies that can assist women in prolonged protection against STD’s and unwanted pregnancy.

At a meeting last year, Woodrow presented the concept, and co-authors Emily Krogstad and Cameron Ball, both first-year graduate students, agreed to pursue the project.

“This method allows controlled release of multiple compounds,” Ball wrote in a Washington press release. “We were able to tune the fibers to have different release properties.”

One of the fabrics dissolves within minutes, potentially offering users immediate and discrete protection. Another fabric dissolves gradually over a few days, providing an option for sustained delivery, similar to the birth-control pill, to provide contraception and protect against HIV.

The researchers agreed that this technology is more discrete, but that there is never a single answer to whether or not this form of contraception will be adopted by for use.

“At the time of sex, are people going to actually use it? That’s where having multiple options really comes into play,” Krogstad told the University of Washington in a press release. “Depending on cultural background and personal preferences, certain populations may differ in terms of what form of technology makes the most sense for them.”


Climatologist suggests Arctic Circle be a no-fly zone - says commercial jets could be major cause of arctic melting -

Climatologist suggests Arctic Circle be a no-fly zone - says commercial jets could be major cause of arctic melting - 

A climatologist in the United States says the Arctic Circle should be a no-fly zone for major commercial flights.

In a new report, Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil engineering at Stanford University in California, says black soot from commercial jets is attracting heat from the sun.

Airlines first started flying over the Arctic in 1998, when Russia agreed to allow other countries to fly planes in its airspace.

Now, more than 50,000 planes fly through the Arctic Circle every year. Jacobson says that could be a major cause of Arctic melting.

“One of the effects of the aircraft is they emit a lot of soot into the upper atmosphere and the sunlight is absorbed by that soot, and the air heats up, so you get this kind of elevated, heated air layer where the aircraft fly,” Jacobson said.

However, if large planes flew outside of the Arctic Circle, they would burn more fuel. However, Jacobson argues the warming effect would not be as great.

The professor says he doesn't expect airlines to start rerouting flights around the Arctic Circle anytime soon: he said airlines save more than $100 million a year in fuel costs by using the Arctic Circle as a shortcut.


Secretive X-37B space plane ready for next flight - An Atlas V rocket has the green light for a planned liftoff Tuesday -

Secretive X-37B space plane ready for next flight - An Atlas V rocket has the green light for a planned liftoff Tuesday - 

It's round three for the mysterious X-37B space plane.
An Atlas V rocket carrying the unmanned craft, which looks like a miniature space shuttle, has gotten clearance for a planned liftoff tomorrow at just after 10 a.m. PT from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
If the previous two trips into space are any indication, don't expect the X-37B to come home anytime soon -- or for the U.S. Air Force to say much about what the vessel is up to. Is it spying? Might it eventually carry weapons? Is there extra cash lying around at the Pentagon for joy rides? Maybe it's a psychological operations ploy to mess with government types in Beijing or Tehran or Pyongyang! The speculation has risen to meet the near silence.
The one detail of any substance that the Air Force and X-37B maker Boeing have shared is that the previous X-37B trips into space went on and on and on. The first, which ended in December 2010, lasted 224 days, and the second, which ended last June, endured for 469 days, or a year and four months.

Like the space shuttle, the 29-foot-long X-37B can return to Earth for reuse, and is designed to do so autonomously. The Air Force does acknowledge that this return capability allows it to "test new technologies" with less of a risk -- and at a more reasonable cost, as aerospace missions go -- than other programs might allow. And this would account for the spacecraft's other name: the Orbital Test Vehicle.
A blurb on the Web site of the United Launch Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture responsible for the Atlas V liftoff, puts it this way:
 The OTV, also known as the X-37B, supports space experimentation, risk reduction and concept of operations (CONOPS) development for long duration and reusable space vehicle technologies.
The Air Force had hoped to get the spacecraft back into orbit in October, but unrelated problems with the separate ULA launch of a GPS satellite (aboard a Delta rocket) pushed the schedule back. "All credible crossover implication from the Delta anomaly for the OTV-3 Atlas vehicle have been thoroughly addressed and mitigated, culminating in the flight clearance decision for the OTV-3 launch," ULA said in a press release Friday.

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10 Reasons Why It’s Not The End of the World As We Know It -

10 Reasons Why It’s Not The End of the World As We Know It - 

Despite the fact that there are innumerable genuine crises and real economic problems all over the world for which people should be making serious preparations, manufactured hysteria surrounding supposed Mayan prophecies about the end of the world on December 21 has dominated the headlines and stoked panic amongst significant numbers of people.

Here are ten reasons that suggest December 21st will not herald the end of the world as we know it.
1) Doomsday adherents cannot seem to agree on precisely what catastrophe will befall the earth on December 21st. Will it be the emergence of Planet X or a combination of crippling global superstorms and extreme weather events? Unlike Y2K, which at least was a single, quantifiable threat, the Mayan prophecy comes with no specific warning attached, leaving it open to wild and inaccurate speculation.
2) Astronomer and NASA scientist David Morrison put out a YouTube video containing, “Detailed rebuttals of five separate apocalyptic scenarios on its website, including a meteor strike, a solar flare and the so-called polar shift, whereby the Earth’s magnetic and rotational poles would reverse.” And if you don’t believe NASA, there are millions of amateur astronomers who are constantly stargazing and would notice any celestial threat to the earth many weeks or months in advance.
3) The establishment media and entertainment industry in the west has exploited the 2012 hysteria for their own commercial and tabloid-driven ends. Rest assured, you know it’s fraudulent when the system itself is pushing it. Real threats to people’s livelihoods like the declining value of the dollar, food shortages or threats to private retirement funds including 401K’s and IRA’s are all too real but not sexy enough to be turned into blockbuster Hollywood movies or prime time documentary specials. Real threats to our environment like genetically modified food, chemtrails or unstable nuclear reactors are sidelined in favor of obsessing over inane fantasies about armageddon.
4) The Mayans themselves were not too smart as a culture in comparison to others, so why should we pay much attention to what they said anyway? The Mayans were incapable of inventing the wheel and thought that life was a dream of the Gods, which is why they routinely made human sacrifices to stave off the fear that the Gods would awaken and the world would end. Why should we indulge in the same deluded fears of such a primitive culture?
5) If you do think we should be paying attention to the Mayans, then that also indicates armageddon is some way off yet. During a recent speech, the National Council of Elders Mayas, Xinca and Garifuna pointed out that the end of the Maya calendar has nothing to do with the end of the world, noting that it merely represents the end of one cycle leading to the beginning of a new one. “It’s the time when the largest grand cycle in the Mayan calendar—1,872,000 days or 5,125.37 years—overturns and a new cycle begins,” noted Anthony Aveni, a Maya expert and archaeoastronomer at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.
6) The Mayan prophecies contain absolutely zero evidence that anything catastrophic will actually happen on December 21st. “The very few ancient texts that refer to Dec. 21, 2012 treat it as a calendar milestone, but do not contain prophecies of doom,” says John Henderson, professor of anthropology at Cornell University.
7) The Mayan leaders once exploited manufactured hysteria about the end of the world to make their inferiors follow orders. Possessing advanced knowledge of when solar eclipses would occur, the elders would claim that a snake was about to eat the sun and that only by obeying commands would the elders permit the sun to return. Watching a subsequent solar eclipse, the peasants believed the scam, thinking the elders had divine powers to make the sun disappear – ensuring total obedience.
8) Most of the individuals whipping up the frenzy are doing so for personal profit. In China, “Scam artists had been convincing pensioners to hand over savings in a last act of charity,” reports the Telegraph. Others have been selling ‘end of the world’ survival kits (a delicious contradiction in terms) – cashing in on the hysteria.
9) Some people have used the supposed end of the world in 2012 as an excuse to make apologies for the very real tyranny that we see unfolding on a daily basis in a myriad of different ways. Armageddon hysteria has been hijacked as a useful psychological justification for laziness and procrastination when it comes to educating others or making personal preparations for genuine crises that the world could face in the coming years.
10) Many Christians have earmarked December 21, 2012 as either the date of armageddon or the second coming of Christ. However, this ignores the Bible itself which quite clearly states that the end of the world will not be foreseen by man. “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows,” states Mark 13:32.
Forecasting that the world will not end on December 21st is hardly a bold prediction. However, 2012 hysteria has been an interesting study in affirming the fact that the establishment media will only talk about such a “threat” at length when it really poses no threat at all – while ignoring or downplaying very serious issues that do pose a real danger to the future of the species.

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