Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Spliced feed for The Science Network

Spliced feed for The Science Network

OLEDs allow for new Touch-the-light interfaces [SciScoop Science Blog]


OLEDs are a 'cold' flat light source - they emit no heat - and thus are safe to touch. This means that it's possible to use them as a touch-light-controller.

Magnetic (or Spintronics) Battery [SciScoop Science Blog]


A Spintronic battery could produce spin imbalances at its two electrodes, and the chip could use that imbalance, instead of an ordinary electric current.

Human Evolution is Over [SciScoop Science Blog]


Human evolution has virtually come to a halt, according to Professor Steve Jones of UCL (University College London). Speaking today at a UCL Lunch Hour Lecture in London, Professor Jones argues that human evolution has reached the end of the line and we have arrived at utopia - or as close to it as we are likely to get.

Mobile phones makers are slow to adapt to OLEDs, but 60% of new MP3 players have them [SciScoop Science Blog]


DisplaySearch says that SamsungSDI's AMOLED second quarter shipments are down 22% from previous quarter (the forecase was an increase of 12%) due to low demand from phone makers, including Nokia. The slowdown is expected to continue in the next quarter. Total AMOLED revenue was 54M$, down 27% quarter to quater. PMOLED shipments are up 17% from previous quarter (20M$), after 3 quarters of slowing down. PMOLEDs are now 60% of the MP3 players market.

Ideal Idea Idealism [SciScoop Science Blog]


Over on the Blah Blah Tech blog, Wayne Smallman has an interesting post on the true cost of innovation. "There seems to be this idea that good ideas are not worth the effort of exploring their potential. There is also this misguided belief by venture capitalists and private funding organizations that their money is worth more than the ideas they are backing. Wrong. And it is a misconception that needs destroying..."

Space Elevator Likely to Remain Science Fiction [SciScoop Science Blog]


A space elevator is a proposed structure designed to transport material from a celestial body's surface into space. Many variants have been proposed and all involve traveling along a fixed tether instead of using rocket-powered space launch. The concept most often refers to a structure that reaches from the surface of the Earth to geostationary orbit (GSO) and a counter-mass beyond. Japanese researchers recently laid out a proposal as to how this might be achieved. However, SciScoop contributor Eugene Keech believes no one will ever press the right buttons for a space elevator and it will always remain blue sky research

Art for Science's Sake [SciScoop Science Blog]


Tiny green diatoms create the illusion of a fernlike forest as they attach to their marine-invertebrate hosts. Mario De Stefano of the Second University of Naples, Italy, captured this miniscule "jungle" from the Mediterranean Sea with a scanning electron microscope. The image earned first place in the photography category of the 2008 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.

Flipping Magnetic Japanese Researchers [SciScoop Science Blog]


Japanese researchers have proved it is possible to manipulate magnetic domains in a semiconductor without using magnets. This could lead to more power-efficient and better MRAM.

Fruit : Edible, Inedible, Incredible [SciScoop Science Blog]


Seeds are the most sophisticated and precious organs produced by plants because they carry the next generation. But, it is the fruit that bears the seed that provides the focus of this astounding book. Think of fruit and the word will most likely conjure up memories of crunchy apples, strawberries and cream, peeling bananas, and succulent melons.

Melamine in the Global Food Supply [Sciencebase Science Blog]

Posted: 13 Oct 2008 11:00 AM CDT

China: a woman shops...While melamine in the mainstream media seems to have quietened down in the last few days, there are still a few of us in the blogosphere attempting to unravel the tangle.

I first reported in my melamine in milk article (September 17) how the news broke that babies in China were somehow being poisoned by a contaminant in their formula milk powder. The contaminant was identified as melamine, an organic compound high in nitrogen and specifically amine groups that can dupe protein test equipment into thinking a product is rich in protein when it is not. Of course, the addition of non-nutritional organic compounds may fool the machine, but it does not fool the body of anyone eating the substance in their food and they will either be poisoned if the compound is itself toxic or suffer malnutrition. Infants, one might expect, would be particularly susceptible as they usually rely on a single food stuff - formula milk - for all their dietary requirements if they are not being breast-fed.

Nephrologist Robert Weiss, whom I interviewed for a follow-up item on the melamine toxicity article, told me that it is common to test for proteins using a simple test that detects amino groups (proteins are composed of amino acids). “Many non-protein compounds contain amino groups also (melamine is just one of those compounds). Some tests for proteins also are positive with ammonia, nitrates, and urea,” she says. “Unfortunately, none of these compounds can be used nutritionally speaking by animals or humans which ingest these compounds to build proteins. Therefore, these compounds have no nutritional value, are actually toxic and have no business being added to feed.”

One might suspect that manufacturers of these compounds as well as manufacturers of feed have learned how to outwit the somewhat simplistic tests for proteins that regulators use. “In learning how to outwit the tests in the interest of making a buck they have endangered the global food supply,” adds Weiss. It would be very interesting to know which companies are engaged in these practices or which are buying feed ingredients from companies engaged in such activities and so giving rise to the likes of the melamine contaminated food list. Perhaps this is simply an insidious symptom of the impending global recession, which is, as all recessions seem to be, founded on greed.

Weiss, who has ten years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and is well aware of the chain of documentation required for drug production is “really amazed that we have less knowledge and control over ingredients and processing events in many of our foods.” Either way, the issue must be investigated and brought aggressively to the attention of legislators as well as consumers.

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Melamine in the Global Food Supply

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