Sun Worshippers: Doppio Espresso Halts Skin Cancer

University of Washington professor Paul Ngheim has found that moderate consumption of caffeine reduced the impact of ultraviolet rays on exposed skin.

In the lab, caffeine seems to cause UV damaged cells to literally hit a figurative self-destruct button, like the climax of a typical mad scientist film, while letting normal, undamaged cells move along and go about their business unharmed.

There is even the possibility of adding caffeine to sunblock, so one could purchase a grande, SPF 50 lotion. More...

"ATR is essential to damaged cells that are growing rapidly, Nghiem said, and caffeine specifically targets damaged cells that can become cancerous. Caffeine more than doubles the number of damaged cells that will die normally after a given dose of UV," he remarked.

"This is a biological mechanism that explains what we have been seeing for many years from the oral intake of caffeine," he added.

The findings were published online Feb. 26 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

But, Nghiem added, people shouldn't increase the amount of coffee or tea they drink to prevent skin cancer. "You are talking a lot of cups for a lot of years for a relatively small effect," he said. "But if you like it, it's another reason to drink it."

Nghiem has also been experimenting with applying caffeine directly to the skin. "It suppresses skin cancer development by as much as 72 percent in mice, and human studies are moving ahead slowly," he said.

It's possible that topical caffeine preparations might one day be used to help prevent skin cancer, Nghiem said. "Caffeine is both a sunscreen and it deletes damaged cells," he said. "It may well make sense to put it into a sunscreen preparation."

Dr. Robin Ashinoff, a dermatologist and clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University's Langone Medical Center, cautioned that these findings need to be verified before they can have any clinical application.

"This study tells me that caffeine may be a useful ingredient topically to remove ultraviolet-genetically damaged cells from reproducing," Ashinoff said. "This may help prevent the development of skin cancer."

This new treatment could be enjoyed even by members of the new Star Trek movie, where the good news is that they've gone back to the 1960's "jammie" style of uniform (now in production)

Paramount photo

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Soy Goo - Next Aid in Cognitive Fitness Fight

Natto is an odorous, squishy byproduct of soy - formally an enzyme called nattokinase. According to Wired Science, this may be the latest preventative nutritional item that can help maintain cognitive fitness by interfering in the buildup of protein tangles.

Thus, it joins other suggestions including anti-oxidant berries, omega-3 fatty acids from fish and flax, teas, and cruciferous vegetables, plus exercise. Researchers at National Taiwan University led the scientific investigation.

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New Research Shows Hibernation May Prevent Extinction

Why do animals hibernate? It might be an adaptation.

Mammals that regularly hunker down, hibernate, or otherwise hide from the world are better at weathering environmental change than are less hermitic species, according to a new study. The finding offers a window into which animals might thrive as the climate changes and habitats vanish.

"Just imagine yourself in a war zone," said lead researcher Lee Hsiang Liow, a paleobiologist at the University of Oslo. "Having some food storage and a place to avoid harsh environmental conditions would help you survive that period while there was bombing outside in your habitat."

Read more at Discovery.

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Chimps are Wild

The blog gene expression tackles the issue of whether these simians are appropriate as pets.

From a genetic perspective, only a few allele differences can make a vast behavioral gap or lead to volatility. Chimpanzees also are anywhere from 2 to 5X as strong as humans for certain activities, including vastly superior arm and forearm strength...evidenced by the strange birthday cake incident of two years ago and last week's disaster, both in the U.S.

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Gamma Ray Blast Tantalizes

So much for the Afterglow. NASA image shows
orange and yellow globules of light, merging images from
Swift's UltraViolet/Optical and X-ray telescopes.

Billions and billions of light years away....in fact 12.2 billion, according to calculations prepared by Joachen Greiner's team at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, which used the GROND (Gamma-Ray burst Optical/Near-Infrared Detector) on a mountain top in Chile.

It is the largest gamma-ray explosion ever recorded, an estimated 3,000 times to 5 billion times the intensity of visible light. Detected in September in the constellation Carina, Latin for ship's keel, which is immediately contiguous with the constellations Puppis (the poop deck) and Vela (the sails) in the Southern Hemisphere. Claudius Ptolemy listed these three components together as Argo Navis, in his first century sky catalog. A report is appearing from SLAC through Eureka Alert, based on work done by NASA's Fermi telescope, GROND, and SLAC.

"If you think about it in terms of energy, X-rays are more energetic because they penetrate matter. These things don't stop for anything -- they just bore through and that's why we can see them from enormous distances," astronomer Frank Reddy of NASA said.

"Already, this was an exciting burst," says Julie McEnery, a Fermi deputy project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "But with the GROND team's distance, it went from exciting to extraordinary."

"Burst emissions at these energies are still poorly understood, and Fermi is giving us the tools to figure them out," added Large Area Telescope Principal Investigator Peter Michelson, a Stanford University physics professor affiliated with the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

In an interesting coincidence, the star Eta Carinae, only 7,500 light years away in our own galaxy, has been flagged as the most potent nearby gamma-ray threat for Earth, and was the source of a false-supernova scare in 1843. At 100 solar masses, it is regarded as a young, unpredictable, and risky star, prone to starbursts.

Image courtesy of Chandra X-Ray Observatory and Hubble ST

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Mammoth Found on Wilshire Boulevard, Crazy Town, Project 23

The Salt Creek Oil Fields, 7 miles West of Los Angeles, 1910, near present-day Wilshire Blvd. (image: U.C. Berkeley wesite)

Going down Wilshire Boulevard toward downtown LA you might pass the offices of various record labels, the La Brea Bakery, and the infamous tar pits, where nearly a century ago, a vast trove of fossilized bones encased in asphalt were found.

It's an unusual location because a water seep or spring intersects with a geological incline that underlies a layer of crude oil, which forms a viscous trap of asphalt beneath the surface of the water. As animals came to drink, some were stuck, becoming prey for scavengers in a process that has been going on for 38,000 years.

Scientists will announce tomorrow the discovery of Zed, an almost complete mammoth skeleton found in an ancient riverbed under an old parking lot. Over tens of thousands of years, the oil seeps have changed their location by a few hundred feet. Working quickly to extract the fossils before construction begins on a new parking facility for a neighboring art museum, a total of 23 large boxes were filled with palaeontological material, the source of the name "project 23." When the announcement is made on Wednesday, February 18, it is estimated that the inventory of the associated museum will double, in what is termed a "palaeontolgical Christmas" by researcher Andie Thomer.

One third party scientist hailed the find: "Usually these things are either lost in the mixing or not recovered in the processing of the oily sand and soil they occur in," said paleontologist Jere H. Lipps of the University of California, Berkeley in an email to AP writers.

The tar pits themselves are a rare occurrence on the North American continent. They are also known in Iraq, Iran, and the Caspian sea area, but not necessarily with the palaeontological richness.

As a result of lightning storms, these oil springs would sometimes catch fire and may have served as inspiration for the fire altar in the Zoroastrian religion. Herodotus refers to the following example:

The Fire-fountain of Hit

At the town of Hit or Hid, near Baghdad in Iraq, there were famous and ancient naphtha springs: the ground was yellow limestone covered with a layer of crystalized gypsum, from which issued springs with salt or bitterly sulphurous water; various gases escaped in large bubbles from these springs, and bitumen flowing on the surface of the upwelling resembled dirty scum. Deposits of salt rimmed the springs. The bitumen issued from these springs with a peculiar sound, was scooped up with palm leaves, stored in large pieces, then diluted with lime and exported by boat. Harvesting bitumen was a local business. There were many pitch or bitumen springs in the vicinity, and naphtha springs as well.

Silver coin of Shapur II, Sassanid Shah n-shah, 240 C.E. with fire-altar)

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Innovative Formation Outlawed

Since we support innovation in all its forms - fighting Alzheimer's, freeing up music and film, getting out of the way so we can learn more about the universe and earth - where we live, being green, and so forth; it's disappointing to note that an exciting new twist in football, perhaps the most interesting thing since Bill Walsh's famed west coast offense, the run-and-shoot, or Al Davis' vertical passing game secret weapon back in run-it-up-the-middle 1960's, has now been declared illegal.

We certainly hope there is some kind of appeal process.

Pioneered by two crazy Californians, (coaches at Piedmont High School in Northern California, in the East Bay) the A-11 offense throws a wrinkle at defenses by making every player eligible to receive a pass, rather than just backs and receivers. It leveled the playing field, so to speak, by giving the Davids a chance against perennial Goliaths.

You can read more about the decision here. No, we don't cover sports very much here but this case of innovative creativity deserves some focus.

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Real Neanderthal Could be Created for $30 Million

Genetics expert Dr. George Church, a prominent scientist, estimates that for a $30 million investment, a living Neanderthal could be brought to life in an updated version of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park.

Only this time, it's science - not science fiction.

Who will fund the project? Here are some ideas.

Studios: An investment of $30 million could easily be recouped by a domestic feature film, international distribution fees, DVDs, VOD, and of course, merchandising. Theme park attractions also pop into the imagination like sugar plums. Of course, "America's Favorite Neanderthal" a reality TV show, could follow,

Yahoo!: A weird way to breathe vibrancy into the brand while shattering the matrix. "Don't be a Caveman, Use the New and Improved Yahoo!" Of course, Yahoo could option the rights off to the studio and be sponsor/executive producer.

Microsoft: The Caveman could make an appearance in each new Microsoft store to attract the curious.

The Neanderthal X Project. Teams of smart, underfed doctoral students compete to flesh out the best plan to resuscitate said Caveman.

These are just a few ideas.

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Brain Atrophy Correlated with Early Alzheimer's, Test Scores

A new study examines atrophy in the brain, signs of early Alzheimer's, and test scores from the mini mental status exam, a 1970's questionnaire administered verbally by health practitioners to assess rough changes in mental fitness. Atrophy was detected via the work of Linda K. McEvoy, Ph.D., of the University of California San Diego, and colleagues with the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), analyzing magnetic resonance images from 139 healthy controls, 84 patients with mild Alzheimer's disease and 175 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), using volumetric segmentation and cortical surface reconstruction methods, then measured with the test scores.

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Sensate Tattoos, HDTV Contact Lenses in Your Future

Just when you thought you could get no escape from digital media - all over your home, on the phone, in your office - everywhere - innovations are coming which will increase proximity by an order of magnitude.

Tattoos that provide sensation matching an actor's emotions may be on the way, along with contact lens-like video inserts that provide a HD experience with no visible hardware.

Eventually, the signal will simply tap into the optic nerve - playing TV directly in your brain and giving advertisers unfettered access to trumpet their message. On the other hand, such technologies also can be used for immersive education.

BrainSense, here we come.

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Glass Cube: Geometric Treehouse

If you don't build a strawbale house, there's always the option of an eco-treehouse. This could be something as simple as a perch in an oak tree like the Berkeley tree sitters who may have used their favored position to disrupt quarterback play. Those attending lofty heights often become philosophical or spiritual. Think Symeon Stylites or other anchorites.

A little more elaborate is this clear glass box, a showpiece of cubism, but also "green."

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Losing 500K per hour

That's right. We lose 500,000 skin cells per hour. They die, flake, and sluff off at an astounding pace. The skin makes up 16.6% of our weight. Scientists think the combination of skin and its special features plus running - were the two key adaptations that led to humanity's prominence, and are inter-related.

(note: human discussion starts at around 7:00 of this clip and goes on to part V)

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Developing Better Social Media Habits

An article from goodplum, via Pete Cashmore.

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'Immortal' Jellyfish May Unlock Anti-Aging Secret

Gradually spreading throughout the world's oceans, Turritopsis, a tiny 5 mm creature has developed a unique response to physical stress. When conditions become bleak enough, either through injury, starvation, or environmental alteration and end of life is faced, a unique transformational process ensues. It is not known why most specimens, in the absence of extraordinary stress, simply die like other species.

Essentially, in those cases where excessive stress is accumulated by the organism, a process is triggered where its cells are empowered to convert themselves from one organizing form to another. Muscle cells may become nerve cells or even sperm or egg cells. The jellyfish turns itself into a bloblike cyst, which then develops into a polyp colony, essentially the first stage in jellyfish life.

Through asexual reproduction, the resulting polyp colony can spawn hundreds of genetically identical jellyfish, near perfect copies of the original adult.

This unique approach to hardship may be helping Turritopsis swarms spread throughout the world's oceans, according to Pia Miglietta, a researcher at Penn State.

The unique cellular conversion process of Turritopsis may offer potential to anti-aging researchers searching for chemical compounds and transmitters that can transform the aging process by neutralizing free radicals, possibly sweeping away lacunae and bugs in repetitively replicated DNA code (bad code leads to flawed cells as we age) and instigating cellular genesis. It seems to be an organism that can turn back the clock, literally morphing from an adult into a newborn state.

Article at Nationalgeographic.com

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Once Again, Study Shows Cognitive Benefit of Coffee Consumption

Here's another article on the impact of coffee consumption on the brain, showing the benefits.

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