Week ending 02.04.06


People who mix alcohol with energy drinks like Red Bull can often feel less drunk than they really are, a study suggests. The Brazilian team compared the reactions of 26 men given either alcohol, Red Bull or a combination of both in three drinking sessions.

Although the men perceived themselves to be less impaired when taking the mix physical tests proved the opposite. The study is published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The team, led by psychology professor Maria Lucia Souza-Formigoni of the University of Sao Paulo, said those who mixed the caffeine drinks and alcohol reported an increased sensation of pleasure and a reduction in sleepiness.

Now that is a study for which I would have liked to sign up “Drink this alcohol then drink this Red bull, now tell me what happens”. I wonder, did the study include dancing girls and an xbox?

Emotion sensor

Scientists are developing an “emotion sensor” to show if someone is finding your conversation interesting or not. It is being developed to help people with autism, who tend to be less skilled at interacting with others.

New Scientist magazine reports researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed the headset. A camera on a pair of glasses is linked to a hand-held computer which “reads” the emotional reactions of a listener.

The device uses image recognition software and emotion-reading software to decode the images. If the wearer appears not to be engaging with their listener, the software makes the computer in their hand vibrate.

With the right adaptor, women and men the world over can soon gain pleasure from boring their partner.

DNA map

US scientists have coaxed strands of DNA, the molecule that holds the “code of life”, to take up a shape that resembles the Americas. The mini-map measures just a few hundred nanometres (billionths of a metre) across, smaller even than some bacteria – a scale of 1:200 trillion.

Paul Rothemund, from the California Institute of Technology, and colleagues report their cartography in Nature. They tell the journal their technique could find uses in the emerging field of nanotechnology, which aims to develop novel materials, devices and systems by manipulating individual atoms and molecules.

Each strand of the molecule will have a sequence of chemical components, or bases, which will only attach themselves to a complementary code of another DNA strand The researchers made long single strands of DNA that could be folded back and forth, tracing a mazelike path, to form a scaffold that filled up the outline of any desired shape.

To hold the scaffold in place, shorter DNA strands were then bound to the scaffold to “staple” it together. This produced a pixel-like effect, akin to a computer image. The shapes and patterns are each about 100 nanometres in diameter – or about a thousand times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. The pixels themselves are six nanometres in diameter.

Rothemund’s team has created half a dozen shapes, including a square, a triangle, a five-pointed star, and a smiley face. Scientists have for some time now been able to coax DNA to take up specific shapes and even produce machine-like behaviour; but this latest work is said to have made the whole manipulation process easier and speedier.

Think of the possibilities. Think of all the things that you could make out of your own DNA. The only problem is that they would be very tiny.

Beer Belly

The days when a man’s beer belly was shown off as a symbol of his manliness are over, if a study is to be believed. It suggests men are as body-obsessed as women – a third of respondents said they hated their stomachs and a quarter had issues with their entire bodies.

The phone poll of 500 men, for Norwich Union Healthcare’s “Mr Vain” study, found men felt pressurised to measure up physically to their sporting heroes. And one in four said their partners put pressure on them to keep in shape.

When was it ever desirable to have a beer belly? Did I miss that memo?

Test Dummy

One of the men given a dummy pill as part of the clinical trial that left six men seriously ill has said the study was like “Russian roulette”. Raste Khan said that the test ward in north-west London became a “living hell” as the men spasmed in agony.

Two remain critically ill but four have shown signs of improvement. A solicitor representing one man said it was not clear if successful animal tests had been previously held.

Surely being part of a test trial is that the drug is untested in humans. That is why the subject are paid a reasonable amount of money and sign a waiver form. They knew the risks, so about what are they complaining?

Hair cut

A family from the Mescalero Apache tribe is suing the producers of a Steven Spielberg TV series for cutting their daughter’s hair for the show. The family said the hair of Christina Ponce, aged eight, was cut without regard for their tribal customs.

“It’s part of our culture not to cut a girl’s hair until her Coming of Age ceremony,” her father Danny Ponce said. “The only ones allowed to do that are the parents.” His daughter had been acting in mini-series Into the West.

Mr Ponce added that “nobody asked for permission” before a stylist cut Christina’s hair. He said he had filed his claim in the US District Court in Albuquerque.And one of the quickest ways to gain publicity for the new show.


~ by jeditopcat on 8 November, 2008.

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