Archive for November, 2011


Terminator-style lenses a step closer

Thursday, 24 November 2011 Alyssa Danigelis Discovery News


computerised lens

The lens is currently made from a hard plastic that doesn’t allow airflow to the eye, limiting usage to only a few minutes (Source: University of Washington)

Terminator lenses The latest steps in the development of a computerised contact lens that could be used for navigation, health monitoring or even to sneak access to information, has been unveiled by US researchers.

A paper describing the lens appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering.

“Some day maybe we’ll have full-fledged streaming in your contact lenses,” says co-author Associate Professor Babak Amir Parviz, from electrical engineering at the University of Washington (UW).

Parviz along with an international team of engineers has constructed a contact lens embedded with a tiny LED that can light up when a wireless signal is sent to it.

He collaborated on the device with UW ophthalmologist Tueng Shen and researchers from Aalto University in Finland led by optoelectronics professor Dr Markku Sopanen.

Parviz’s group specialises in incorporating miniaturised devices into unconventional materials and has been working on functional contact lenses for a while, he says.

“If we can make very small devices of various sorts, if we have the ability to put them into different materials, what can I do with this contact lens that I stare at every morning?”

The engineers took an extremely small custom-designed LED made with sapphire and embedded it in the centre of a plastic contact lens.

They also embedded a circular antenna around the inside lip of the lens. A miniature integrated circuit connects the antenna and the blue LED. Using remote radio frequency transmission, the group was able to control a single pixel.

With this setup, a human eye still wouldn’t be able to distinguish that pixel due to the minimum focal distance required to see anything


Santorum Signs Pledge Defending Christian Influence Over Society

 ‎Today, ‎29 ‎November ‎2011, ‏‎12 hours ago | Zack Ford

Right Wing Watch notes that Rick Santorum is so far the only presidential candidate to sign Open Doors Ministry’s “Pledge for Religious Freedom.” The pledge claims that “religious freedom includes the right to employ religious arguments…when contending for or against laws and policies, such as laws designed to protect the unborn and traditional marriage.”

Likely referencing Catholic Charities’ adoption services, it also demands “the right of individuals and of religious communities not to be forced to participate in, or to forfeit their employment because of refusal to participate in, activities that deeply offend their religious conscience.” It’s no surprise Santorum signed the pledge without hesitation, given he has frequently called for laws to be bound by religious morals, even if people suffer in the Christian tradition.

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DNA discovery may boost stem cell safety

Monday, 28 November 2011 Sarah Kellett ABC


Petri dishes

Stem cells need to be grown in the best possible way to stop gene mutations(Source: iStockphoto)

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Regenerative medicine A region of DNA that can boost the growth of stem cells has been found in the largest ever study of human embryonic stem cells.

The discovery could lead to safer cell therapies, says  study co-author Dr Andrew Laslett from CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering.

The research by the International Stem Cell Initiative involved 38 laboratories across the globe studying 125 ethnically diverse cell lines in parallel experiments.

Study findings, reported in today’s issue of Nature Biotechnology , uncover changes that arise from how cells are grown.

Embryonic stem cells are powerful for their ability to become any other cell in the body.

Stem cell therapy, which is entering early-stage human trials, turns stem cells into other cell types, like healthy nerve cells, to treat spinal cord injury, blindness and other ailments.

The cells need to be grown in nutritious culture to produce enough cells for therapy. Many stem cells die when they are first moved to a new culture, leading to natural selection and adaptation.

Cells with a growth advantage expand faster and dominate. However, this can come at the price of genetic mutation, so growing fast is not always desirable.

“It’s the small fraction of cells that become abnormal that can be dangerous in a clinical situation,” says Laslett. “If they find growth situations that suit them, they could grow into cancers.”

One in five cell-lines mutated a particular region of chromosome 20. Gaining extra copies of the region seemed to give them a growth advantage.

From the three genes in the region, it’s likely the advantage is from BCL2L1. It’s known to stop controlled cell death, or apoptosis. The same mutation is also found in some cancer cells.

By targeting this region of chromosome 20, Laslett says we can “develop better tests to tell more quickly if the cells are going bad in culture.”

Scientists could use these tests to improve current techniques used to grow stem cells.

“Embryonic stem cells walk a tightrope with maintaining their normal genetic nature,” he says. “We need to culture them in the best possible way so they keep those genes normal.”

International collaboration

Associate Professor Paul Thomas at the University of Adelaide, who was not involved in the study, says the research is impressive in its scale.

“This kind of paper wouldn’t be possible without international collaboration.”

“One of the interesting findings is that most of the embryonic stem cells are normal, even though they have been cultured for a long period. About two thirds were unchanged,” he says.


 ‎Today, ‎29 ‎November ‎2011, ‏‎11 hours ago | Zack Ford
Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky

A group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders have secretly passed around a “Torah Declaration” on “The Torah Stance on Homosexuality.” It rebukes homosexuality as being “not an acceptable lifestyle or a genuine identity” and assumes that gays are by definition “unable to find happiness in a loving relationship.” To abide by the Torah, the Declaration stridently demands ex-gay therapy, including of teenagers, to repair “childhood emotional wounds”:

We emphatically reject the notion that a homosexually inclined person cannot overcome his or her inclination and desire. Behaviors are changeable. The Torah does not forbid something which is impossible to avoid. Abandoning people to lifelong loneliness and despair by denying all hope of overcoming and healing their same-sex attraction is heartlessly cruel. […]

The therapy consists of reinforcing the natural gender-identity of the individual by helping him or her understand and repair the emotional wounds that led to its disorientation and weakening, thus enabling the resumption and completion of the individual’s emotional development…There is no other practical, Torah-sanctioned solution for this issue. […]

It requires tremendous bravery and fortitude for a person to confront and deal with same-sex attraction. For example a sixteen-year-old who is struggling with this issue may be confused and afraid and not know whom to speak to or what steps to take. We must create an atmosphere where this teenager (or anyone) can speak freely to a parent, rabbi, or mentor and be treated with love and compassion. Authority figures can then guide same-sex strugglers towards a path of healing and overcoming their inclinations.

This declaration is incredibly more dismissive of the lives of gays and lesbians than the more affirming Statement of Principles many Modern Orthodox rabbis signed in July 2010. These theology-based therapies, along with the notion that gays are incapable of love and doomed to loneliness, present an incredible potential for harm to young people. Jayson Littman, who published the declaration publicly for the first time today, shared a quote from ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Chaim Rapoport: “I am not obligated to believe in a failed therapy because it fits my theology better.” Point in fact, these rabbis are using their theology to deny decades worth of scientific knowledge, oblivious to the incredible threat they pose to young people’s mental health in doing so.

Via:- Ultra-Orthodox ‘Torah Declaration’ Calls For Ex-Gay Therapy For All Who ‘Struggle’ With Homosexuality


Evil Eye Removal $50, Credit Cards Accepted

Evil_eyeJust in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, haredim can now get a deal on evil eye removal.

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Evil Eye Removal Monsey Area 50 Dollars Credit Cards Accepted 11-28-11 watermarked
[Hat Tip: 613 Enforcer.]

The precipitous decline of a once-great newspaper.
Today at the Wall Street Journal we find an appalling article titled Climategate 2.0, by one of Britain’s most deranged and dishonest climate change deniers, James Delingpole — who often appears on the crazed radio show of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Every sentence in this first paragraph is an outright lie:

Last week, 5,000 files of private email correspondence among several of the world’s top climate scientists were anonymously leaked onto the Internet….

No, these private emails were stolen, by someone with an obvious agenda to sabotage the UN climate summit.

Like the first “climategate” leak of 2009, the latest release shows top scientists in the field fudging data…

Absolutely false. Neither batch of emails shows scientists “fudging” anything. Seven independent investigations confirmed that the first release showed no scientific wrongdoing whatsoever, and the scientists were utterly vindicated. The second release is just a warmed over rehash, with even less substance than the first; if the deniers behind this illegal theft had any real bombshells, they would have released them already.

…conspiring to bully and silence opponents…

Again, absolutely false. The scientists do discuss the bullying and lying tactics of climate change deniers, and how to respond to them, however — the same sort of bullying and lying you see in this article by Delingpole.

… and displaying far less certainty about the reliability of anthropogenic global warming theory in private than they ever admit in public.

And this is also absolutely false. The emails show discussion about various aspects of the scientific data, and as always in science, disagreements about the meaning of some findings. There’s no evidence whatsoever in these emails of doubt about the “reliability of anthropogenic global warming theory.” None.

The rest of Delingpole’s article continues in this vein, shamelessly lying about the meaning of these stolen emails. The Wall Street Journal should be humiliated to have fallen so low that they would publish such a dishonest article about such an important subject. Disgusting.

UPDATE at 11/28/11 9:27:06 am

Here’s the man tapped by the Wall Street Journal to write about climate change, demonstrating his deliberate ignorance on the subject — and admitting openly that he never even reads any scientific sources. Instead he relies on other people’s “interpretations.”

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