Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Addicted to Glow

New evidence suggests that ultraviolet light has “feel-good” effects that may be similar to those of some addictive drugs according to researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

“We had previously shown that ultraviolet light has an effect on mood that tanners value,” said Mandeep Kaur, M.D., lead author. “Now, in this small study, we’ve shown that some tanners actually experience withdrawal symptoms when the ‘feel-good’ chemicals are blocked.”

The research was designed to test the hypothesis that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light may produce endorphins, brain chemicals that are linked to pain relief and euphoric feelings, and could play a role in tanning behavior. UV light occurs naturally in sunlight and is responsible for the tanning and burning effects of the sun. Artificial UV light is used in tanning beds and sunlamps.

Small Study Points to Addictive Effects of Frequent Tanning :: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Solar competitive in five years ?

by David Manners

Solar power will be competitive with mainstream electricity generation methods in five years, according to Cypress Semiconductor, which has a solar cell manufacturing subsidiary called SunPower.

“We’re four to five years away from the point at which solar is cost-effective with traditional electricity generation without any subsidy,” Norm Taffe, executive vice-president for the consumer and computation division at Cypress.

SunPower is one of the growth drivers in the Cypress stable of businesses. In its current fiscal year it expects sales of $210m compared to $78.7m in fiscal 2005.

“We use two tons of silicon a day,” said Taffe. “The solar market has grown at 31 per cent compound annual growth rate since 1995 in terms of MegaWatts.”

Cypress sold off 15 per cent of SunPower in an IPO last November raising $115m, assisted by a plug from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The solar power sector is soaring. The Nomura Solar Energy Index rose by 161 per cent in 2005 and by a further 56 per cent in January 2006. The market capitalisation of the sector now stands at over $20bn with European companies accounting for nearly half of that.

The current leaders in solar cell production are: Sharp, Kyocera, BP Solar, Mitsubishi Electric, Q-Cells, Shell Solar, Sanyo, Isofoton, SunTech Power, Deutsche Cell/SolarWorld Europe and RWE Schott. - Solar 'competitive in five years' says Cypress

Monday, March 13, 2006

Omniglot - a guide to written language

I cannot think of any reason why I need this website right now but I know that one day I will.
Omniglot is a guide to written languages:

"This site contains details of most alphabets and other writing systems currently in use, as well as quite a few ancient and invented ones. It also includes information about some of the languages written with those writing systems, multilingual texts, tips on learning languages, a book store, some useful phrases in many different languages, and a ever-growing collection of links to language-related resources."

Omniglot - a guide to written language (alphabets, hieroglyphs, Chinese characters, etc)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Changes in U.S. Population

The face of aging in the United States is changing dramatically -- and rapidly, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report, commissioned by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Today’s older Americans are very different from their predecessors, living longer, having lower rates of disability, achieving higher levels of education and less often living in poverty. And the baby boomers, the first of whom celebrated their 60th birthdays in 2006, promise to redefine further what it means to grow older in America.

Among the trends:
The United States population aged 65 and over is expected to double in size within the next 25 years. By 2030, almost 1 out of every 5 Americans -- some 72 million people -- will be 65 years or older. The age group 85 and older is now the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.

The financial circumstances of older people have improved dramatically, although there are wide variations in income and wealth.

As the United States as a whole grows more diverse, so does the population aged 65 and older. In 2003, older Americans were 83 percent non-Hispanic White, 8 percent Black, 6 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian. By 2030, an estimated 72 percent of older Americans will be non-Hispanic White, 11 percent Hispanic, 10 percent Black and 5 percent Asian.

Changes in the American family have significant implications for future aging. In 1960, only 1.6 percent of older men and 1.5 percent of women aged 65 and older were divorced. In 2003, among people in their early 60s, 12.2 percent of men and 15.9 percent of women were divorced.

The report, 65+ in the United States: 2005, was prepared for NIA, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The public can view and also download the report at

Dramatic Changes in U.S. Aging Highlighted in New Census, NIH Report

Happy Monkeys Have Microchips

That's RFID chips, not poker chips!

Improving the life of captive animals in zoos may be easy as microchipping them and automating individual care routines.

Scientists from The University of Queensland are developing an enrichment and husbandry system that can dispense food, toys and medicine depending on the needs of individually microchipped animals.

Lead researcher UQ Gatton PhD student Julia Hoy said the system consisted of the microchips linked with scanners and other automated equipment that zoo keepers could set to release items at random times.

Miss Hoy said this unpredictability would help enrich caged life.

“The automated system involves microchipping animals so when they come to a scanner it will recognise each animal and then release food, sounds, smells, medications, toys or open a door controlling access to various parts of the enclosure,” Miss Hoy said.

Research should continue to see how this can be used to take care of children and the elderly.
Just chip them and lock them up.

Microchips boost monkey business behind bars - UQ News Online - The University of Queensland