Oncology results and a day in the city of Melbourne

Last Friday I had my blood tests and saw my oncologist Dr Allan Zimet on Tuesday 25 March 2014 for results and the okay to fly to Washington for the annual ADAO Asbestos Conference.Allan gave me the green light to fly with a letter to show Qantas airlines just in case they were to question my flying given that I have advanced mesothelioma.My bloods were fine and I am to have a scan upon my return from America, then see Allan end of April for results.I remember last year when I flew to the ADAO Asbestos Conference in Washington with Bernie Banton Foundation as I had to have a scan prior to going. It was very much touch and go as to whether I would be …

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Reducing HIV transmission among drug injectors lowers AIDS mortality in heterosexuals

Although community network studies show that sexual relationships occur between members of “risk groups” — men who have sex with other men (MSM), people who inject drugs (PWID), non-injection drug users (NIDU) — and heterosexuals, researchers at New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) note that little research has been done to help explain how HIV epidemics and programs in one population affect others and how to reduce the risks of transmission.A recent study conducted by researchers from CDUHR, led by Samuel R. Friedman, Director of both CDUHR’s Interdisciplinary Theoretical Synthesis Core, and the Institute for Infectious Disease Research at NDRI, sheds light on the pathways connecting HIV epidemics in different populations.It shows that programs for people who use drugs — like syringe exchange, HIV counseling and testing, and drug abuse treatment — are associated with subsequent lower rates of AIDS incidence and death among heterosexuals.”Since existing theory and research have relatively little to say about the cross-population processes being studied, we used exploratory analytic technique to study these relationships,” explains Dr. Friedman.The objective of the study, “Do metropolitan HIV epidemic histories and programs for people who inject drugs and men who have sex with men predict AIDS incidence and mortality among heterosexuals?” was to better understand how epidemics among MSMs and PWIDs correlate with later epidemics and mortality within heterosexuals; how prevention programs targeting specific groups affect future epidemics among other populations; and whether the size of MSM and PWID populations are associated with the later epidemics and mortalities among heterosexuals. The study was published in the Annals of Epidemiology.The study looked at data from 96 large US metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) from 1992 — 2008. “We have only limited ability to study the mechanisms by which our independent variables come to be associated with outcomes,” explains Dr. Friedman. “Research into whether interventions in one key population affect HIV epidemics in other key populations is of high policy relevance and should be a priority.”Although the study highlights the necessity of future studies, it found that HIV counseling and testing in PWIDs was associated with lower AIDS incidence in heterosexuals, while counseling and testing in MSMs were not; and that availability of syringe exchange programs and drug abuse treatment programs were associated with lower AIDS death rates among heterosexuals.The study also highlights a link between racial/ethnic residential segregation and rates of AIDS incidence and mortality among heterosexuals and points to evidence pairing social causations like income inequality with mortality.”Our findings are descriptive of the relationships of the measured variables in these large metropolitan areas,” said Dr. Friedman. “They do not, however, imply that these findings can necessarily be extended to smaller MSAs, non-metropolitan localities, other time periods or other countries, for that further research is clearly needed.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by New York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Bats inspire ‘micro air vehicle’ designs: Small flying vehicles, complete with flapping wings, may now be designed

By exploring how creatures in nature are able to fly by flapping their wings, Virginia Tech researchers hope to apply that knowledge toward designing small flying vehicles known as “micro air vehicles” with flapping wings.More than 1,000 species of bats have hand membrane wings, meaning that their fingers are essentially “webbed” and connected by a flexible membrane. But understanding how bats use their wings to manipulate the air around them is extremely challenging — primarily because both experimental measurements on live creatures and the related computer analysis are quite complex.In Virginia Tech’s study of fruit bat wings, the researchers used experimental measurements of the movements of the bats’ wings in real flight, and then used analysis software to see the direct relationship between wing motion and airflow around the bat wing. They report their findings in the journal Physics of Fluids.”Bats have different wing shapes and sizes, depending on their evolutionary function. Typically, bats are very agile and can change their flight path very quickly — showing high maneuverability for midflight prey capture, so it’s of interest to know how they do this,” explained Danesh Tafti, the William S. Cross professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and director of the High Performance Computational Fluid Thermal Science and Engineering Lab at Virginia Tech.To give you an idea of the size of a fruit bat, it weighs roughly 30 grams and a single fully extended wing is about 17 x 9 cm in length, according to Tafti.Among the biggest surprises in store for the researchers was how bat wings manipulated the wing motion with correct timing to maximize the forces generated by the wing. “It distorts its wing shape and size continuously during flapping,” Tafti noted.For example, it increases the area of the wing by about 30 percent to maximize favorable forces during the downward movement of the wing, and it decreases the area by a similar amount on the way up to minimize unfavorable forces. The force coefficients generated by the wing are “about two to three times greater than a static airfoil wing used for large airplanes,” said Kamal Viswanath, a co-author who was a graduate research assistant working with Tafti when the work was performed and is now a research engineer at the U.S. Naval Research Lab’s Laboratories for Computational Physics and Fluid Dynamics.This study was just an initial step in the researchers’ work. “Next, we’d like to explore deconstructing the seemingly complex motion of the bat wing into simpler motions, which is necessary to make a bat-inspired flying robot,” said Viswanath. The researchers also want to keep the wing motion as simple as possible, but with the same force production as that of a real bat.”We’d also like to explore other bat wing motions, such as a bat in level flight or a bat trying to maneuver quickly to answer questions, including: What are the differences in wing motion and how do they translate to air movement and forces that the bat generates? …

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Two stressed people equals less stress: Sharing nervous feelings helps reduce stress

Does giving a speech in public stress you out? Or writing a big presentation for your boss? What about skydiving?One way to cope, according to a new study from Sarah Townsend, assistant professor of management and organization at the USC Marshall School of Business, is to share your feelings with someone who is having a similar emotional reaction to the same scenario.Townsend said that one of her study’s main discoveries is the benefit gained by spending time and conversing with someone whose emotional response is in line with yours. Such an alignment may be helpful in the workplace.”For instance, when you’re putting together an important presentation or working on a high-stakes project, these are situations that can be threatening and you may experience heightened stress,” said Townsend. “But talking with a colleague who shares your emotional state can help decrease this stress.”For “Are You Feeling What I’m Feeling? Emotional Similarity Buffers Stress,” in Social Psychological and Personality Science, Townsend and co-authors Heejung S. Kim of UC Santa Barbara and Batja Mesquita of University of Leuven, Belgium, had 52 female undergraduate students participate in a study on public speaking.Participants were paired up and asked to give a speech while being video-recorded. However, prior to this, the pairs of participants were encouraged to discuss with each other how they were feeling about making their speeches. Each participant’s levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol were measured before, during and after their speeches.The results “show that sharing a threatening situation with a person who is in a similar emotional state, in terms of her overall emotional profile, buffers individuals from experiencing the heightened levels of stress that typically accompany threat,” according to the study. In other words, when you’re facing a threatening situation, interacting with someone who is feeling similarly to you decreases the stress you feel, said Townsend.”Imagine you are one of two people working on an important project: if you have a lot riding on this project, it is a potentially stressful situation,” Townsend said. …

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American, Nepalese children disagree on social obligations with age

June 3, 2013 — Preschoolers universally recognize that one’s choices are not always free — that our decisions may be constrained by social obligations to be nice to others or follow rules set by parents or elders, even when wanting to do otherwise.As they age, however, American kids are more prone to acknowledge one’s freedom to act against such obligations compared to Nepalese children, who are less willing to say that people can and will violate social codes, finds a cross-cultural study by Cornell University development psychologists published in the current issue of the journal Cognitive Science. The findings, researchers said, suggest that culture is a significant influence on children’s concepts of choice regarding social norms.”We know that adult views on whether social obligations constrain personal desires differ by culture, so this study helps us to determine when those variations emerge,” said first author Nadia Chernyak, a graduate student in the field of human development. “We can understand which ideas are universal and how culture influences individual ways of thinking.”Led by Chernyak and Tamar Kushnir, professor in the College of Human Ecology, the research team interviewed children in the two nations to understand their beliefs on free choice and the physical, mental and social factors that limit choice.Co-author Katie Sullivan, a human development major with a minor in global health, aided the project while studying abroad in 2009 through the Cornell Nepal Study Program — a joint venture with Nepal’s Tribhuvan University. Sullivan took courses, learned the language and immersed herself in the culture before working with Chernyak and Kushnir to adapt their survey into a culturally appropriate version for Nepalese children. Partnering with Rabindra Parajuli, a Nepali research assistant, she worked with village and school leaders to arrange and conduct interviews with children.Researchers read a series of nine vignettes to 45 Nepalese and 31 American children — hailing from urban and rural areas and ranging in age from 4 to 11 — about characters who wanted to defy various physical, mental and social constraints, asking kids whether the characters are free to follow their wishes and to predict if they will do so.Nearly all children, across ages and cultures, said the characters could freely choose when no constraints were evident — opting for juice or milk at a meal or whether to draw with a pen or pencil, for example. Kids also universally agreed that one is not free to choose to go beyond one’s physical and mental abilities — opting to float in the air, or to surpass the limits of one’s knowledge and skill.Developmental and cultural differences emerged, however, in children’s evaluation of choice in the face of social constraints. Younger children in both cultures said that various social and moral obligations limit both choice and action — that one cannot be mean to others, act selfishly or break rules and social conventions, for instance. But by age 10, American kids tended to view these obligations as choices — free to be followed or disregarded based on personal desires. Nepalese children continued to believe that such constraints override individual preference.”As children become more exposed to their own culture and adult behaviors, they are more likely to adopt their culture’s ways of thinking,” Chernyak said. Chernyak said also that future research could try to define what contributes to these differing views.

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Sleep deprived men over perceive women’s sexual interest and intent

May 31, 2013 — A new study suggests that one night of sleep deprivation leads to an increase in men’s perceptions of both women’s interest in and intent to have sex.Results show that when they were well-rested, both men and women rated the sexual intent of women as significantly lower than that of men. However, following one night of sleep deprivation, men’s rating of women’s sexual intent and interest increased significantly, to the extent that women were no longer seen as having lower sexual intent than men. Sleep deprivation had no significant effect on variables related to commitment.According to the authors, sleep deprivation is known to cause frontal lobe impairment, which has a negative effect on decision-making variables such as risk-taking sensitivity, moral reasoning and inhibition. However, this is the first study to investigate the impact of sleep deprivation on romantic and sexual decision-making.”Our findings here are similar to those from studies using alcohol, which similarly inhibits the frontal lobe,” said co-principal investigator Jennifer Peszka, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., who led the study along with her colleague Jennifer Penner, PhD. “Sleep deprivation could have unexpected effects on perceptual experiences related to mating and dating that could lead people to engage in sexual decisions that they might otherwise not when they are well-rested. Poor decision-making in these areas can lead to problems such as sexual harassment, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and relationship conflicts which are all factors that have serious medical, educational and economic implications for both the individual and for society.”The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal SLEEP, and Peszka will present the findings Tuesday, June 4, in Baltimore, Md., at SLEEP 2013, the 27th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.The study group comprised 60 college students who completed the Cross Sex Perception and Sex and Commitment Contrast instruments, developed by Martie Haselton and David Buss, before and after one night of sleep deprivation. Participants rated level of agreement with a series of statements on 7-point Likert scales regarding sexual interest, sexual intent, commitment interest and commitment aversion for a variety of targets — themselves, and men and women in general. For example, one question asked, “When a woman goes out to a bar, how likely is it that she is interested in finding someone to have sex with that night?”To conduct the study, Peszka and Penner collaborated with David Mastin, PhD, from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. They also were assisted by several undergraduate research students from Hendrix College: Jennifer Lenow, Cassandra Heimann, Anna Lennartson, Rebecca Cox and Katie Defrance.

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