My ADFA Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia Inc business cards have arrived in the mail. I am now officially ADFA’s Social Media Voice and I’m very proud and honoured to be asked to take on this very important role and one that I am very passionate in getting the word out that there is no safe asbestos, asbestos kills. Helping via Social Media to create awareness, support and advocacy is a very powerful tool in today’s modern technology.Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia (ADFA) is a not-for profit organisation working to provide support to people living with asbestos related diseases, family members, carers and friends. ADFA is a community based group founded by Trade Unions, victims, families of victims, and concerned citizens to meet the needs …Read more
Day 8 of chemotherapy should see me starting to feel better. Yesterday was the day of feeling like death warmed up! Back ache, bile and metalic taste, nausea, anxiousness, fatigue and unable to sleep longer than a couple of hours at a time. Today after taking medication to fend off most of the above symptoms I am hoping to come good and enjoy the sunshine that has appeared outside! Expected temperature will be 16 degrees celcius and sunny – a perfect Winter day!Monday brought a wonderful surprise for me – my daughter Jo invited me to a high tea at the beautiful Windsor Hotel, Melbourne. I caught the bus that has replaced all trains for 2 weeks while school holidays are on and so that VLine can work on the rail …Read more
Underlying fatigue sets in after basis exertion, however it does not stop me from getting on with my life while undergoing chemotherapy! I simply stop and have a rest then keep going …. . I have to be careful with my shallow breathing and do stop and rest if need be. Slowly returning to normality. Weds will be day 14 since chemo.When in Washington, April 2014 I was presented with the 2014 Alan Reinstein Award (ADAO Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation) at the annual global asbestos awareness conference for my commitment to education, advocacy and support to countless patients and families around the world. Unfortunately my beautiful crystal teardrop award was broken on the tip in transit. Linda Reinstein, ADAO kindly organised a replacement award to be sent to my home in …Read more
The Atlantic razor clam uses very little energy to burrow into undersea soil at high speed. Now a detailed insight into how the animal digs has led to the development of a robotic clam that can perform the same trick.The device, known as “RoboClam,” could be used to dig itself into the ground to bury anchors or destroy underwater mines, according to its developer, Amos Winter, the Robert N. Noyce Career Development Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT.Despite its rigid shell, the Atlantic razor clam (Ensis directus) can move through soil at a speed of 1 centimeter per second. What’s more, the animal is able to dig up to 0.5 kilometers using only the amount of energy contained in a AA battery. “The clam’s trick is to move its shells in such a way as to liquefy the soil around its body, reducing the drag acting upon it,” Winter says. “This means it requires much less force to pull its shell into the soil than it would when moving through static soil.”To develop a robot that can perform the same trick, Winter and his co-developer, Anette Hosoi, professor of mechanical engineering and applied mathematics at MIT, needed to understand how the clam’s movement causes the soil to liquefy, or turn into quicksand, around its shell. Now, in a paper to be published in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, the researchers reveal for the first time the mechanics behind this process, and describe how their robot is able to mimic this action.Mechanics of quicksandWhen the razor clam begins to dig, it first retracts its shell, releasing the stress between its body and the soil around it. This causes the soil to begin collapsing, creating a localized landslide around the animal. As the clam continues to contract, reducing its own volume, it sucks water into this region of failing soil. The water and sand particles mix, creating a fluidized substrate — quicksand.But the timing is crucial. …Read more
~This post on spring styles for kids was written in partnership with Carter’s & The Motherhood. Opinions and collages are my own.SERIOUSLY hating this winter. I’m not a cold-weather person anyway, but I haven’t seen the grass (even if it is dead) since… November? And it’s been unbearably cold, too, so it’s not like we get to take the kids out to play in the snow much. Who else is ready for some SUNSHINE?! Some RAIN instead of snow! FLIP FLOPS instead of boots! SUNGLASSES instead of hats & gloves! Me, please!!!Last weekend I pulled out my warm-weather clothes and my sandals. When the warm weather finally hits, I will be ready! So I’ve been shopping for my kids, too. Ya know, it …Read more
European populations are growing older on average, a trend that could pose serious challenges to health care, budgets, and economic growth. As a greater proportion of a country’s population grows into old age, average cognition levels and national productivity tend to decline, and the incidence of dementia increases.”Finding ways to improve the cognition of seniors is of central importance to the economic well-being of aging countries,” says IIASA researcher Vegard Skirbekk, who worked on the study with researchers Nicole Schneeweis and Rudolf Winter Ebmer at Linz UniversityThe study examined variation in years of schooling arising from compulsory educational reforms implemented in six European countries during the 1950s and 1960s, measuring mental functioning in seniors with various levels of schooling. It shows that the burden of demographic change is likely to depend more on how healthy and mentally fit people are at different ages than on the exact age structure of people in a population. The study also shows that education tends to significantly boost brain function, and that this effect persists as a person ages.The study shows that people who attended school for longer periods because of new regulations performed better in terms of cognitive functioning than those who did not. Using data from individuals aged around 60 from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe, the researchers found a positive impact of schooling on memory scores. The fact that young people or their parents did not choose whether to go longer to school strongly suggests that schooling is the cause rather than personal characteristics that would affect this choice and could also explain the differences in cognitive function.”Examining the variation in compulsory schooling was key.” It allowed us to find out that education was the cause of better cognitive function, and not a simple correlation,”,” says Winter-Ebmer.Furthermore, the study finds evidence for a protective effect of schooling for the brain: more education slows cognitive decline. The researchers say that education can be an important measure for maintaining cognitive functioning and protecting against cognitive decline, thereby alleviating the challenges that population aging would otherwise present.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.Read more
Eight crashes that sent more than a dozen competitors to the hospital marred bobsled practice runs leading up to the 1932 winter Olympic games in Lake Placid, N.Y., but as dramatic as those incidents were, they also provide insight into more ordinary factors that continue to influence the Olympics, according to a Penn State researcher.”The crashes occurred on the Mt. Van Hoevenberg slide, which was specially built for the games at Lake Placid,” said Peter Hopsicker, associate professor of kinesiology. “How that facility came to be established provides an historic precedent that has shaped the Olympics since then, including Sochi games.”The winter Olympics were first organized in 1924, and the Lake Placid games were the first to be held in the United States. The upstate New York location was chosen largely in response to the efforts of Godfrey Dewey, who held investments in Lake Placid as a recreational area and hoped to use the Olympics as a springboard for the region’s development as an international winter sports resort.”The bob-run was the centerpiece — you can’t have a winter Olympics without it, it’s expensive but essential,” said Hopsicker, who describes the bob-run’s planning and construction in the spring issue of the Journal of Sport History. “Dewey lobbied heavily to have it located proximate to the tourist villages of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, yet the state’s environmental policies protected the public Adirondack wilderness.”Dewey ran headlong into a conservation group, the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, which took legal steps to block his efforts to develop the bob-run on public land, triggering the first battle between developers of an Olympics host city and environmental stewards.The issue became wrapped in politics when New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt balked at spending public funds to build the bob-run no matter where it was located. Dewey lost the battle with the environmentalists and built a world-class bob-run on a privately owned site christened Mt. Van Hoevenberg, but he did persuade Roosevelt to allocate state funds for the games.The completed slide provided unique challenges for the athletes. “It had pronounced drops in the curves,” Hopsicker said, “something new to the sport.”While Dewey provided bobsleds for all international teams, the Germans brought their own sleds built for a more European snow-covered surface. The Germans’ unwillingness to use Dewey’s sleds that were built with the qualities of the Lake Placid slide in mind contributed significantly to the subsequent German crashes during practice runs. …Read more
Before I go to bed at night I have to have a plan of attack for the next day. I have NEVER been a morning person and having children was quite the awakening We’re up between 6-7am and they don’t know what a weekend is. And I don’t know how they do it, but they are UP and RUNNING as soon as their feet hit the floor. “Mom, I’m hungry! Let’s play a game! Mom, you forgot my drink! I need a napkin! I have to go potty!” Or from the 1-year-old: “Poooooop!” Yea. Mornings are rough. I definitely need a way to recharge for the day ahead. Along with Team Kellogg’s, here’s my Tip #28 for a Great Start: Recharge for the Day …Read more
The research, sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA) and published in The Cryosphere, also reveals that climate change has dramatically affected the thickness of lake ice at the coldest point in the season: In 2011, Arctic lake ice was up to 38 centimetres thinner than it was in 1950.”We’ve found that the thickness of the ice has decreased tremendously in response to climate warming in the region,” said lead author Cristina Surdu, a PhD student of Professor Claude Duguay in Waterloo’s Department of Geography and Environmental Management. “When we saw the actual numbers we were shocked at how dramatic the change has been. It’s basically more than a foot of ice by the end of winter.”The study of more than 400 lakes of the North Slope of Alaska, is the first time researchers have been able to document the magnitude of lake-ice changes in the region over such a long period of time.”Prior to starting our analysis, we were expecting to find a decline in ice thickness and grounded ice based on our examination of temperature and precipitation records of the past five decades from the Barrow meteorological station,” said Surdu “At the end of the analysis, when looking at trend analysis results, we were stunned to observe such a dramatic ice decline during a period of only 20 years.”The research team used satellite radar imagery from ESA to determine that 62 per cent of the lakes in the region froze to the bottom in 1992. By 2011, only 26 per cent of lakes froze down to the bed, or bottom of the lake. Overall, there was a 22 per cent reduction in what the researchers call “grounded ice” from 1992 to 2011.Researchers were able to tell the difference between a fully frozen lake and one that had not completely frozen to the bottom, because satellite radar signals behave very differently, depending on presence or absence of water underneath the ice.Radar signals are absorbed into the sediment under the lake when it is frozen to the bottom. However, when there is water under the ice with bubbles, the beam bounces back strongly towards the radar system. Therefore, lakes that are completely frozen show up on satellite images as very dark while those that are not frozen to the lake bed are bright.Researchers used the Canadian Lake Ice Model (CLIMo) to determine ice cover and lake ice thickness for those years before 1991, when satellite images are not available.The model simulations show that lakes in the region froze almost six days later and broke up about 18 days earlier in the winter of 2011 compared to the winter of 1950. Shorter ice-cover seasons may lead to shifts in lake algal productivity as well as thawing of permafrost under lake beds.”The changes in ice and the shortened winter affect Northern communities that depend on ice roads to transport goods,” said Surdu. “The dramatic changes in lake ice may also contribute to further warming of the entire region because open water on lakes contribute to warmer air temperatures, albeit to a lesser extent than open sea water.”The ice regimes of shallow lakes were documented using radar images from ESA’s ERS-1 and -2 satellites. More information on the ESA is available online.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Waterloo. …Read more
Record-setting winter weather in the U.S. has led to lots of road condition advisories, but could there also be a slip and fall alert?By analyzing various conditions — like snow, wind speed, temperature — into a ‘Slipperiness Score,’ a University of Michigan Health System study helps identify what days are the most risky for slip and fall injuries.The study, published in February’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal, focuses on Medicare patients, all over age 65, but authors note, the risk of falling exists for anyone during harsh winter weather.”Although the concept that slippery footing increases your risk of falling isn’t new, what we’ve been able to show is that these dangerous conditions result in more fractures in this already vulnerable population of adults,” says lead study author Aviram Giladi, M.D., a resident in the U-M Department of Surgery’s Division of Plastic Surgery.The study findings include:Based on a scale, ranging from 0 to 7, on a day with a score above 4 the risk of sustaining a wrist fracture increased by 21 percent. On the most slippery days, that additional risk went up to nearly 40 percent. In the winter, over 1,000 additional wrist fractures occurred among adults age 65 and older compared to other seasons. Nearly 90,000 Medicare enrollees sustain wrist fractures each year, frequently from falls while standing and usually outdoors. The fractures can be quite limiting, and lead to a loss of independence for older patients. Medicare spends more than $240 million a year treating the injuries.”Understanding the risk of these injuries can help inform prevention and preparation efforts, especially on days where the weather is bound to result in more slippery conditions,” says senior study author Kevin C. Chung, M.D., professor of plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery and the Charles B. G. de Nancrede Professor of Surgery. …Read more
Oct. 21, 2013 — Leipzig. Straw from agriculture could play an important role in the future energy mix for Germany. Up until now it has been underutilised as a biomass residue and waste material. These were the conclusions of a study conducted by the TLL (Thueringian regional institute for agriculture), the DBFZ (German biomass research center) and the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ). According to them, from a total of 30 million tons of cereal straw produced annually in Germany, between 8 and 13 million tons of it could be used sustainably for energy or fuel production. This potential could for example provide 1.7 to 2.8 million average households with electricity and at the same time 2.8 to 4.5 million households with heating.These results highlight the potential contribution of straw to renewable sources of energy, scientists state in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Applied Energy.For their respective study, scientists analysed the development of residual substances resulting from German agriculture. Accounting for 58 per cent, straw can be regarded as the most important resource, and yet so far it has hardly been used for energy production. From 1950 to 2000 there was a noticeable rise in the cultivation of winter wheat, rye and winter barley in Germany which then remained relatively constant. To remove any bias from weather fluctuations, the average values were taken from 1999, 2003 and 2007. …Read more
Aug. 27, 2013 — New research suggests that getting depressed when it’s cold and dreary outside may not be as common as is often believed.In a study recently published online in the Journal of Affective Disorders, researchers found that neither time of year nor weather conditions influenced depressive symptoms. However, lead author David Kerr of Oregon State University said this study does not negate the existence of clinically diagnosed seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, but instead shows that people may be overestimating the impact that seasons have on depression in the general population.”It is clear from prior research that SAD exists,” Kerr said. “But our research suggests that what we often think of as the winter blues does not affect people nearly as much as we may think.”Kerr, who is an assistant professor in the School of Psychological Science at OSU, said the majority of studies of seasonal depression ask people to look back on their feelings over time.”People are really good at remembering certain events and information,” he said. “But, unfortunately, we probably can’t accurately recall the timing of day-to-day emotions and symptoms across decades of our lives. These research methods are a problem.”So Kerr and his colleagues tried a different approach. They analyzed data from a sample of 556 community participants in Iowa and 206 people in western Oregon. Participants completed self-report measures of depressive symptoms multiple times over a period of years. These data were then compared with local weather conditions, including sunlight intensity, during the time participants filled out the reports.In one study, some 92 percent of Americans reported seasonal changes in mood and behavior, and 27% reported such changes were a problem. Yet the study suggests that people may be overestimating the impact of wintery skies.”We found a very small effect during the winter months, but it was much more modest than would be expected if seasonal depression were as common as many people think it is,” said Columbia University researcher Jeff Shaman, a study co-author and a former OSU faculty member. …Read more
July 24, 2013 — The prolonged heat wave that has bathed the UK in sunshine over the past month has given the country an unexpected taste of summer that has seemed to be missing in recent years.However, a new study published today, 24 July, in IOP Publishing’s Environmental Research Letters, has provided warnings that will chime with those accustomed to more typical British weather.According to the study, winter flooding in the UK is set to get more severe and more frequent under the influence of climate change as a result of a change in the characteristics of atmospheric rivers (ARs).ARs are narrow regions of intense moisture flows in the lower troposphere of the atmosphere that deliver sustained and heavy rainfall to mid-latitude regions such as the UK.They are responsible for many of the largest winter floods in the mid-latitudes and can carry extremely large amounts of water: the AR responsible for flooding in the northwest of the UK in 2009 transported 4500 times more water than the average flow in the River Thames in London.The researchers, from the University of Reading and University of Iowa, found that large parts of the projected changes in AR frequency and intensity would be down to thermodynamic changes in the atmosphere, rather than the natural variability of the climate, suggesting that it is a response to anthropogenic climate change.To reach these conclusions, the researchers used simulations from five state-of-the-art climate models to investigate how the characteristics of ARs may change under future climate change scenarios.Firstly, they used the climate models to see how accurately they could simulate the ARs that occurred between 1980 and 2005. The five models did this successfully and were deemed capable of projecting how future ARs will develop under different scenarios.The models were then used to simulate future conditions under two scenarios — RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 — that represent different, yet equally plausible, scenarios for future increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. They projected changes that would occur between 2074 and 2099.Each of the five models simulated an increase in AR frequency. For the RCP8.5 projections, which represents stronger increases in greenhouse gas concentrations than RCP4.5, there was a striking level of consistency in the magnitude of change in AR frequency — all models showed an approximate doubling of the number of future ARs compared to the simulations for 1980 — 2005.The models also projected an increase in intensity of the ARs, meaning an AR impacting the UK in the future is projected to deliver more moisture, potentially causing larger precipitation totals.Lead author of the research, Dr David Lavers, said: “ARs could become stronger in terms of their moisture transport. In a warming world, atmospheric water vapour content is expected to rise due to an increase in saturation water vapour pressure with air temperature. This is likely to result in increased water vapour transport.”The link between ARs and flooding is already well established, so an increase in AR frequency is likely to lead an increased number of heavy winter rainfall events and floods. More intense ARs are likely to lead to higher rainfall totals, and thus larger flood events.”Read more
July 9, 2013 — The Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, has posed an enduring mystery. Why is it so hot? The Sun’s visible surface is only 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, but as you move outward the temperature shoots up to millions of degrees. It’s like a campfire that feels hotter the farther away you stand.To understand how the corona is heated, some astronomers study coronal loops. These structures are shaped like an upside-down U and show where magnetic field lines are funneling solar gases or plasma.Our best photos of the Sun suggest that these loops are a constant width, like strands of rope. However, new work shows that this is an optical illusion; the loops are actually tapered, wider at the top and narrower at the ends. This finding has important implications for coronal heating.”You need less energy to heat the corona if the loops have a tapered geometry, which is exactly what we found,” says lead author Henry Winter of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).Winter presented his findings today in a press conference at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society Solar Physics Division in Bozeman, Mont.Winter and his colleagues constructed a computer model of a tapered loop using basic physics. Then they processed their model to show how it would look when photographed by instruments like the High-resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) or the Solar Dynamics Observatory’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA).They found that even the best available images wouldn’t have the resolution to show the loop’s true structure. As a result, a tapered loop would appear tubular even though it wasn’t.”In science we always compare theory to reality. But if your view of reality is incorrect, your theory will be wrong too. …Read more
July 2, 2013 — More people die from heart-disease during the winter months, and according to a new study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, the increase in mortality is possibly due to the accelerated growth of atherosclerotic plaque in the blood vessels caused by the activation of brown fat by the cold.It has long been known that the number of deaths from cardiovascular diseases increases during the winter. It has been speculated that this might be the result of over-exertion while shovelling snow and a general decrease in physical activity, although the underlying mechanisms have been unclear. The present study, which has been conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet, and Linköping University in Sweden, and three universities in China, demonstrates a new principle by which the cold increases the risk of atherosclerosis.The researchers conducted their study on a strain of mice genetically modified with a propensity for atherosclerosis. Mice, like humans, have both white and brown body fat. Normal rolls of fat consist mainly of white fat, which is a repository of surplus calories; brown adipose tissue, on the other hand, can convert fat into heat. This heat-generation process is activated by cold temperatures and has been considered beneficial to the health since it can reduce the amount of unnecessary white adipose tissue in the body.”At first, we thought that the cold activation of brown fat would only make the mice thinner and healthier,” says Yihao Cao at the Department of Microbiology, Tumour and Cell Biology at Karolinska Institutet, and the Department of Medicine and Health at Linköping University. “Instead, we found that they ended up having more fat stored in the blood vessels. This came as a surprise and was the opposite of what we thought would happen.”It turned out that exposure to low temperatures accelerated the formation of atherosclerotic plaque in the mice, which can cause myocardial infarction and brain haemorrhaging. Moreover, the cold made the plaque less stable, and if such plaque ruptures, stored fat can leak into the blood, blocking vessels in the heart and brain. The cold-activated breakdown of fatty acids in the mice’s brown fat led to the accumulation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood and an increase in fat storage in the plaque.”If this is also true for humans, it might be wise to recommend that people who suffer from cardiovascular disease should avoid exposure to the cold and to put on warm clothes when they are outside during the winter,” says Professor Yihai Cao.The researchers hope to be able to extend their work on mice to studies on humans.”It would be an extremely important discovery if we found this to be the case in humans too,” says Professor Yihai Cao. …Read more
May 7, 2013 — For plants and animals forced to tough out harsh winter weather, the coverlet of snow that blankets the north country is a refuge, a stable beneath-the-snow habitat that gives essential respite from biting winds and subzero temperatures.
But in a warming world, winter and spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is in decline, putting at risk many plants and animals that depend on the space beneath the snow to survive the blustery chill of winter.
In a report published May 2 in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison describes the gradual decay of the Northern Hemisphere’s “subnivium,” the term scientists use to describe the seasonal microenvironment beneath the snow, a habitat where life from microbes to bears take full advantage of warmer temperatures, near constant humidity and the absence of wind.
“Underneath that homogenous blanket of snow is an incredibly stable refuge where the vast majority of organisms persist through the winter,” explains Jonathan Pauli, a UW-Madison professor of forest and wildlife ecology and a co-author of the new report. “The snow holds in heat radiating from the ground, plants photosynthesize, and it’s a haven for insects, reptiles, amphibians and many other organisms.”
Since 1970, snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere — the part of the world that contains the largest land masses affected by snow — has diminished by as much as 3.2 million square kilometers during the critical spring months of March and April. Maximum snow cover has shifted from February to January and spring melt has accelerated by almost two weeks, according to Pauli and his colleagues, Benjamin Zuckerberg and Warren Porter, also of UW-Madison, and John P. Whiteman of the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
“The winter ecology of Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest is changing,” says Zuckerberg, a UW-Madison professor of forest and wildlife ecology. “There is concern these winter ecosystems could change dramatically over the next several years.”
As is true for ecosystem changes anywhere, a decaying subnivium would have far-reaching consequences. Reptiles and amphibians, which can survive being frozen solid, are put at risk when temperatures fluctuate, bringing them prematurely out of their winter torpor only to be lashed by late spring storms or big drops in temperature. Insects also undergo phases of freeze tolerance and the migrating birds that depend on invertebrates as a food staple may find the cupboard bare when the protective snow cover goes missing.
“There are thresholds beyond which some organisms just won’t be able to make a living,” says Pauli. “The subnivium provides a stable environment, but it is also extremely delicate. Once that snow melts, things can change radically.”
For example, plants exposed directly to cold temperatures and more frequent freeze-thaw cycles can suffer tissue damage both below and above ground, resulting in higher plant mortality, delayed flowering and reduced biomass. Voles and shrews, two animals that thrive in networks of tunnels in the subnivium, would experience not only a loss of their snowy refuge, but also greater metabolic demands to cope with more frequent and severe exposure to the elements.
The greatest effects on the subnivium, according to Zuckerberg, will occur on the margins of the Earth’s terrestrial cryosphere, the parts of the world that get cold enough to support snow and ice, whether seasonally or year-round. “The effects will be especially profound along the trailing edge of the cryosphere in regions that experience significant, but seasonal snow cover,” the Wisconsin scientists assert in their report. “Decay of the subnivium will affect species differently, but be especially consequential for those that lack the plasticity to cope with the loss of the subnivium or that possess insufficient dispersal power to track the retreating range boundary of the subnivium.”
As an ecological niche, the subnivium has been little studied. However, as snow cover retreats in a warming world, land managers, the Wisconsin researchers argue, need to begin to pay attention to the changes and the resulting loss of habitat for a big range of plants and animals.
“Snow cover is becoming shorter, thinner and less predictable,” says Pauli. “We’re seeing a trend. The subnivium is in retreat.”Read more