Weird Science 4-23-12
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Editor, The Konformist
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FDA admits in court case that vaccines still contain mercury
Ethan A. Huff
Sunday, April 01, 2012
It is a common myth today that the vaccines administered to children no longer contain the toxic additive thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative linked to causing permanent neurological damage. But a recent federal case involving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revealed that, contrary to this widely-held belief, thimerosal is actually still present in many batch vaccines, including in the annual influenza vaccine that is now administered to children as young as six months old.
Filed by a citizen-backed coalition advocating vaccine safety, the lawsuit against the FDA alleged that the agency's continued endorsement and approval of thimerosal as a vaccine additive is a serious public health threat, especially since safer alternatives already exist and are widely used voluntarily by many vaccine manufacturers. But Judge Brett Kavanaugh, siding with antiquated pseudoscience, decided that thimerosal is not a health threat, and that those who wish to avoid it can simply choose thimerosal-free alternatives...
The fact that Judge Kavanaugh refused to hear the case is tragic in and of itself, as thimerosal, which is composed of 50 percent mercury, has been proven to cause serious health damage. But what may be even worse is the fact that many people falsely believe that thimerosal is not even included in vaccines anymore, which is leading them to blindly allow them to be administered to their children. And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA have continued to provide dubious and misleading information on the subject, which the mainstream media has been complicit in spreading over the years.
But the FDA explains, in no uncertain terms, directly on its website that thimerosal is still added to certain vaccines. For this reason alone, it is crucial that parents who choose to vaccinate their children ask for an ingredients list for each and every vaccine before allowing them to be administered to their children...
Encyclopedia Britannica to stop printing books
Here's news that is both big and unsurprising. The Britannica, which was the standard bearer for encyclopedias in the pre-Internet era (no offense to the World Book Encyclopedia) has announced it will stop printing them and focus solely on digital editions. For more information on the history of this highly influential series, please visit Wikipedia...
Captain Michio and the World of Tomorrow
By 2020, the word "computer" will have vanished from the English language, physicist Michio Kaku predicts. Every 18 months, computer power doubles, he notes, so in eight years, a microchip will cost only a penny. Instead of one chip inside a desktop, we'll have millions of chips in all our possessions: furniture, cars, appliances, clothes. Chips will become so ubiquitous that "we won't say the word 'computer,'" prophesies Mr. Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York. "We'll simply turn things on."
Mr. Kaku, who is 65, enjoys making predictions. In his latest book, "Physics of the Future," which Anchor released in paperback in February, he predicts driverless cars by 2020 and synthetic organs by 2030. If his forecasts sound strange, Mr. Kaku understands the skepticism. "If you could meet your grandkids as elderly citizens in the year 2100," he offers, "you would view them as being, basically, Greek gods." Nonetheless, he says, "that's where we're headed," and he worries that the U.S. will fall behind in this technological onrush.
To comprehend the world we're entering, consider another word that will disappear soon: "tumor." "We will have DNA chips inside our toilet, which will sample some of our blood and urine and tell us if we have cancer maybe 10 years before a tumor forms," Mr. Kaku says. When you need to see a doctor, you'll talk to a wall in your home, and "an animated, artificially intelligent doctor will appear." You'll scan your body with a hand-held MRI machine, the "Robodoc" will analyze the results, and you'll receive "a diagnosis that is 99 percent accurate."
In this "augmented reality," as Mr. Kaku calls it, the Internet will be in your contact lens. "You will blink, and you will go online," he says. "That's going to change everything." Students will look up the answers to tests while taking them. Actors will cheat from their scripts while performing onstage. Foreigners will translate their conversations with natives instantly. Job-seekers will identify "who to suck up to at any cocktail party" surreptitiously. And President Obama "will never have to have teleprompters in front of him," he jokes.
Although these gadgets seem light years away, Mr. Kaku insists that they're "coming very, very fast." The military already has a prototype of the contact lens called "Land Warrior." In 2010, he tried out the device while filming a special for the Science channel, on which he appears regularly. The Land Warrior is a helmet with an eyepiece that allows the wearer to see the entire battlefield. "You see friendly forces, enemy forces, artillery, aircraft, everything," Mr. Kaku says, "just by flicking it down right over your eye."
Billionaire Paul Allen Pours $500 Million Into Quest To Find The Essence Of Humanity In The Brain
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is donating $300 million of his $14 billion fortune in his eponymous Allen Institute for Brain Science to fund new projects to map and observe the human brain and, in Allen's words, "to one day understand the essence of what makes us human." That brings the total amount Allen has invested in the Institute to $500 million.
The announcement was made at a press conference today in Seattle and in a commentary in Nature, one of the world's best scientific journals, written by Christof Koch, the Institute's Chief Scientific Officer, and R. Clay Reid of Harvard Medical School. They lay out a way of doing brain research that involves optogenetics, a kind of deep stimulation of the brain using light, connectomics, the study of connections in the brain, and brain observatories, ways of monitoring what happens in the brain in real time. Right now, because the mouse is smaller and simpler, much of the early efforts focus on the mouse brain. One of Allen's new efforts is to map the visual connections between the brain and the mouse. There, mice have perhaps 2 million neurons involved in vision, compared to 5 billion such cells for humans.
"If you start out as a programmer, as I did in high school, the brain works in a completely different fashion than computers do," Allen said, calling the effort "fascinating" and "noting that he's been touched by neurodegenerative diseases" his mother has Alzheimer's. On the call he noted that while it's possible to teach a student a human brain to program a computer in a matter of years, a computer can't learn to function like a human brain even given a lifetime of opportunity. ""You can't create an artificial intelligence," Allen said, "unless you know how the real thing works."
The Art of Video Games
At the Smithsonian American Art Museum, March 16-Sept. 30, 2012
Confirmed cities on the exhibition tour include Boca Raton, Fla.; Seattle; Yonkers, N.Y.; Toledo, Ohio; Flint, Mich.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Miami, Fla.
Walmart of Weed in DC
A company dubbed the "Walmart of Weed" is putting down roots in America's capital city, sprouting further debate on marijuana medical or otherwise.
Just a few miles from the White House and federal buildings, a company that candidly caters to medical marijuana growers is opening up its first outlet on the East Coast. The opening of the weGrow store on Friday in Washington coincides with the first concrete step in implementing a city law allowing residents with certain medical conditions to purchase pot.
Like suppliers of picks and axes during the gold rush, weGrow sees itself providing the necessary tools to pioneers of a "green rush," which some project could reach nearly $9 billion within the next five years. Admittedly smaller than a big box store, weGrow is not unlike a typical retailer in mainstream America, with towering shelves of plant food and vitamins, ventilation and lighting systems. Along with garden products, it offers how-to classes, books and magazines on growing medical marijuana...
Political Activist Filmmaker Kevin Booth Retained by Cannabis Science to Film Specialty Documentary
DENVER, Mar 19, 2012
Cannabis Science, Inc. a pioneering U.S. biotech company developing pharmaceutical cannabis (marijuana) products, is thrilled to announce that the company has retained filmmaker Kevin Booth to collaborate on a documentary researching cannabis as a medicine and the truth behind the science of marijuana.
Many people know Kevin Booth's work with the late comedian, Bill Hicks. Kevin produced most of Bill's CDs and videos that led to the comedian's own HBO specials and multiple appearances on David Letterman. The story of Kevin's seventeen-year friendship and working partnership with Bill Hicks was recently explored in a feature length BBC documentary that just ended a year long run of festivals and theatrical screenings. After Bill's death from pancreatic cancer in 1994, Kevin's filmmaking took on a political turn and he produced documentaries with talk show host Alex Jones about the incident in Waco, Texas, the American two-party political system, and 9/11. In 2005, Kevin traveled to the UK in order to promote his book titled "Agent of Evolution" about his friendship with Bill Hicks - published by Harper Collins.
Several of Kevin's family members died as a result of alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical use. In 2003 Kevin began investigating the drug war in the United States and produced the documentary "American Drug War: The Last White Hope." In his investigations, he discovered the United States government considers marijuana more dangerous than crack cocaine or crystal meth. Kevin sought to separate fact from fiction by traveling across the United States, documenting the "fallout" from the War on Drugs and seeking possible solutions and alternatives that have worked elsewhere. Kevin has toured the country, showing his film and lecturing at universities in hope of sparking a meaningful debate. "American Drug War" won best feature documentary at several film festivals from coast to coast and aired continuously on the Showtime network between 2008-2010. During this same time the film was also broadcasted on major networks in Canada, Australia, Poland, Lebanon and South Africa. Kevin recently returned from filming in Juarez Mexico for the follow up to "American Drug War" and is aiming for the sequel's release later this year.
Kevin Booth's body of work also include "How Weed Won the West" (a light hearted and humorous look into the California Cannabis culture) "Bill Hicks - Sane Man", multiple music videos, feature length comedy concerts of Bill Hicks, Fear Factor's Joe Rogan and groundbreaking comic Doug Stanhope. Kevin's production of the Hick's CD "Rant in E Minor" was recently awarded the 11th best comedy album of all time by Spin magazine competing against Bill Cosby, Chris Rock, Lenny Bruce, Rodney Dangerfield, Eddie Murphy, Sam Kinison, Woody Allen, George Carlin and Richard Pryor just to mention a few. Kevin's audio productions "Rant in E Minor", "Arizona Bay" and "Marble Head Johnson" all contain music written and performed by Kevin Booth and Bill Hick who first started playing music together in a high school punk-rock band named STRESS.
Today Kevin runs Sacred Cow Productions dba SCP Enterprises and self distributes through his own sites including SacredCow.com, AmericanDrugWar.com and Amazon. Several of his titles can be found distributed through Warner Brothers and Gravitas VOD that has now broken Booth's work into the Latin market on both Netflix and ITUNES.
As previously announced, Cannabis Science has begun pre-production of its documentary, in which prohibition of marijuana, medicinal benefits of the plant, and international medical marijuana programs will be explored. Booth's interests and demonstrated experience will be a true asset to Cannabis Science's endeavors. The documentary will expose audience members to the subject of medical marijuana so that they may gain a better understanding of the research, science, and planning that goes into running Cannabis Science, one of the top marijuana research companies. The documentary will teach viewers about the medicinal benefits for a wide variety of conditions and show them that prohibition is unnecessary. This is clearly a topic for which Kevin Booth will provide great assistance, and Cannabis Science is excited to begin this project.
About Cannabis Science, Inc.
Cannabis Science, Inc. is at the forefront of pharmaceutical grade medical marijuana research and development. Our formulations will address the needs of patients choosing to use concentrated cannabis extracts to treat their ailments. Eventually, all Americans will have access to a safe and effective FDA approved medicine regardless of which state they live in. To maintain that marijuana is a dangerous, addictive drug with no medical value is scientifically absurd. Cannabis medicines, with no effective lethal dose, are far safer than aspirin, acetaminophen, and most other OTC drugs that kill thousands of Americans every year.
The Company works with world authorities on phytocannabinoid science targeting critical illnesses, and adheres to scientific methodologies to develop, produce and commercialize phytocannabinoid-based pharmaceutical products. In sum, we are dedicated to the creation of cannabis-based medicines, both with and without psychoactive properties, to treat disease and the symptoms of disease, as well as for general health maintenance.
Forward Looking Statements
This Press Release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Act of 1934. A statement containing works such as "anticipate," "seek," intend," "believe," "plan," "estimate," "expect," "project," "plan," or similar phrases may be deemed "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Some or all of the events or results anticipated by these forward-looking statements may not occur. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include the future U.S. and global economies, the impact of competition, and the Company's reliance on existing regulations regarding the use and development of cannabis-based drugs. Cannabis Science, Inc. does not undertake any duty nor does it intend to update the results of these forward-looking statements.
SOURCE: Cannabis Science Inc.
Dr. Robert J. Melamede, 1-888-889-0888
President & CEO
Robert Kane, 1-561-234-6929 Investor Relations Management rkane@... info@...
Search for Amelia Earhart Starts Again
As we near the 75th anniversary of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, a high-tech search for the lost pilot will begin.
There is evidence suggesting that Earhart may have survived as a castaway on an island.
The new search will use deep underwater vehicles to scout for possible remains of Earhart and her plane...
Did T. Rex Have Feathers?
The discovery of a giant meat-eating dinosaur sporting a downy coat has some scientists reimagining the look of Tyrannosaurus rex.
With a killer jaw and sharp claws, T. rex has long been depicted in movies and popular culture as having scaly skin. But the discovery of an earlier relative suggests the king of dinosaurs may have had a softer side.
The evidence comes from the unearthing of a new tyrannosaur species in northeastern China that lived 60 million years before T. rex. The fossil record preserved remains of fluffy down, making it the largest feathered dinosaur ever found.
If a T. rex relative had feathers, why not T. rex? Scientists said the evidence is trending in that direction.
"People need to start changing their image of T. rex," said Luis Chiappe, director of the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, who was not part of the discovery team.
Much smaller dinosaurs with primitive feathers have been excavated in recent years, but this is the first direct sign of a huge, shaggy dinosaur. Scientists have long debated whether gigantic dinosaurs lost their feathers the bigger they got or were just not as extensively covered.
The new tyrannosaur species, Yutyrannus huali, is described in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. Its name is a blend of Latin and Mandarin, which translates to "beautiful feathered tyrant."
We all crave it, but can you stand the silence?
They say silence is golden but there's a room in the U.S that's so quiet it becomes unbearable after a short time.
The longest that anyone has survived in the `anechoic chamber' at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis is just 45 minutes.
It's 99.99 per cent sound absorbent and holds the Guinness World Record for the world's quietest place, but stay there too long and you may start hallucinating.
The Anechoic Test Chamber at Orfield Laboratories was deemed the quietest place on Earth in 2004 - a record it still holds to this day
It achieves its ultra-quietness by virtue of 3.3-foot-thick fiberglass acoustic wedges, double walls of insulated steel and foot-thick concrete.
The company's founder and president, Steven Orfield, told MailOnline: `We challenge people to sit in the chamber in the dark - one reporter stayed in there for 45 minutes.
`When it's quiet, ears will adapt. The quieter the room, the more things you hear. You'll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly.
`In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound.'
And this is a very disorientating experience. Mr Orfield explained that it's so disconcerting that sitting down is a must.
He said: `How you orient yourself is through sounds you hear when you walk. In the anechnoic chamber, you don't have any cues. You take away the perceptual cues that allow you to balance and manoeuvre. If you're in there for half an hour, you have to be in a chair.'
The chamber is used by companies all over America including Nasa, which puts their astronauts to the test in there, floating in a water-filled container, to see `how long it takes before hallucinations take place and whether they could work through it'.
As Mr Orfield explains, space is like one giant anechoic chamber, so it's crucial that astronauts are able to stay focussed.
The chamber is also used by a multitude of manufacturers, which test how loud their products are...
All in a day's work: Design and print your own robot
MIT is leading an ambitious new project to reinvent how robots are designed and produced. Funded by a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the project will aim to develop a desktop technology that would make it possible for the average person to design, customize and print a specialized robot in a matter of hours.
"This research envisions a whole new way of thinking about the design and manufacturing of robots, and could have a profound impact on society," says MIT Professor Daniela Rus, leader of the project and a principal investigator at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). "We believe that it has the potential to transform manufacturing and to democratize access to robots."
"Our goal is to develop technology that enables anyone to manufacture their own customized robot. This is truly a game changer," says Professor Vijay Kumar, who is leading the team from the University of Pennsylvania. "It could allow for the rapid design and manufacture of customized goods, and change the way we teach science and technology in high schools."
The five-year project, called "An Expedition in Computing for Compiling Printable Programmable Machines," brings together a team of researchers from MIT, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, and is funded as part of the NSF's "Expeditions in Computing" program.
It currently takes years to produce, program and design a functioning robot, and is an extremely expensive process, involving hardware and software design, machine learning and vision, and advanced programming techniques. The new project would automate the process of producing functional 3-D devices and allow individuals to design and build functional robots from materials as easily accessible as a sheet of paper.
"Our vision is to develop an end-to-end process; specifically, a compiler for building physical machines that starts with a high level of specification of function, and delivers a programmable machine for that function using simple printing processes," Rus says.
Researchers hope to create a platform that would allow an individual to identify a household problem that needs assistance; then head to a local printing store to select a blueprint, from a library of robotic designs; and then customize an easy-to-use robotic device that could solve the problem. Within 24 hours, the robot would be printed, assembled, fully programmed and ready for action...