Based on a comparison of suicide rates at sea level and at areas above 2,000 feet, living at a high altitude may make people 30% more likely to commit suicide. Neuroscientist Perry Renshaw believes that it's due to the impact of altitude on the brain.
Professor Martyn Poliakoff of Periodic Table Videos fame learns something about burning balloons full of hydrogen via high speed camera footage.
Why caterpillars molt. The lifecycle of the lepidopteran, from egg to caterpillar to winged butterfly or moth has long been a basic lesson plan of "hands on" biology in grade school classes. If one focuses on a single lifestage of this grand cycle, however, one sees that the caterpillar, after emerging from embryogenesis quite small, goes through several stages, or instars, becoming more grand at each shedding of the skin, until at last the massive beast pupates. So what triggers these transitions within the caterpillar? Recent research suggests a process triggered by suffocation by bulk. [more inside]
The race is on: India by 2020, China by 2025 - will the US get there at all?
Phytoplankton Population Drops 40 Percent Since 1950. Estimates are that the population of these little critters that form the base of the global food chain and that "also gobble up carbon dioxide to produce half the world's oxygen output" is declining by roughly one percent annually. One possible causal factor cited for the decline is global warming. The latest findings on that issue are out, too, and in case you were still wondering: Ten key indicators show global warming "undeniable". [more inside]
There must be something about cupcakes and the periodic table of the elements. Not sure who did it first, but now it is ubiquitous. Then of course there is The Periodic Table of Cupcakes, which is a whole other matter. [more inside]
Light Reflection: a brilliant fan of cryogenics venting from a relief valve on STS-122 Atlantis' ET (external tank) post-separation. Also see this handheld video of the ET, with money shots at 2:15 and 3:55. [more inside]
So apparently it's not the lack of oxygen which causes cells to die. Rather, getting oxygen back, which triggers the same cell death mechanism that guards against cancer, causes cell death.
The Big Ox. Power oxygen for real extreme athletes... available in a variety of flavors: Polar Rush, Tropical Breeze, Mountain Mint, and Citrus Blast. Is this The Next Big Thing? [more inside]
Dead Zones - Causes and Consequences Found by way of this article series where I read: "Ask scientists, government types, fishermen, almost anyone about the low-oxygen zone coming off the mouth of the Mississippi River and one question spills from their lips. "Have you talked to Nancy Rabalais?" ... marine ecologist Rabalais has led the search for answers to the 8,500-square-mile zone and the charge to find a solution. " ----- From the first linked page, you can view eight video clips -- each about 9.5 minutes long -- of a February 2005 slide lecture. She's awesome.
Columbia Univ. severs ties with Biosphere 2. I remember when Biosphere 2 opened and watched as the team of starry-eyed scientists entered the self-sustaining environment. It's even been the subject of a bad Hollywood movie. But now the structure may become nothing more than a giant scrap pile of steel and glass in the desert. The mission of the project was impressive, and despite glitches such as acidic water and "crazy ant" infestation, should an experiment be abandoned because it didn't go as expected? Or is it just man's folly to try and replicate intelligent design?
Strict environmental rules have reduced air pollution levels to below life-threatening levels, and produced this great headline too.
This Salon article on the state of web sites aimed at women asks some interesting questions. Women-centric sites set out in 1997 and 1998 to start a revolution, and instead we have relationship quizzes, diet plans, TV reviews, and horoscopes. What went wrong? Are women really interested in these things? Did the sites start out edgy and adapt to the audience? Would anyone expect online magazine/lifestyle properties to be much different than their offline counterparts? I also wonder what anyone that has ever seen and/or used iVilliage, Oxygen, and Women.com think of each site's content? Is it enlightening, or pure fluff?
I was astounded, but maybe I'm just naive. According to a Beyond 2000 article, low oxygen content in aircraft cabins, which contributes to the majority of air travel woes, is mostly due to penny-pinching. Great, skimping on air! What's next? ... umm ... ahhh ... Oh gee, I have nothing worse to compare it to!