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Tuesday, July 31, 2007When Moon Farts
Changes in the brightness and color over small areas of the moon's surface, known as Transient Lunar Phenomena have been observed telescopically for hundreds of years.
The optical flashes have been seen by skywatchers but rarely photographed.
"People over the years have attributed TLPs to all sorts of effects: turbulence in Earth's atmosphere, visual physiological effects, atmospheric smearing of light like a prism, and even psychological effects like hysteria or planted suggestion," said Columbia University researcher Arlin Crotts.
Using data from decades-old observations, Crotts and colleagues have now found a strong correlation between TLP sightings and regions where lunar orbiting spacecraft have detected gas leaking out from beneath the lunar surface.
"The areas selected consistently by TLP are the craters Aristarchus (in about 50 percent of sampled reports), Plato (about 15 percent) with Kepler, Copernicus, Tycho and Grimaldi all at the few percent level apiece," Crotts said.
This data ties in with observations made by the Apollo 15 and Lunar Prospector spacecraft which detected the gas radon-222 twice at Aristarchus and also once at Kepler and Grimaldi.
Moonquakes to blame?
Now Crotts and collaborators hope to achieve a larger sample of TLP sightings by using a robotic camera to keep watch on the moon in an effort to photograph any TLP events that may occur.
The camera, located at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in northern Chile, will remove the gruesome task of continuously observing from the astronomer and provide observations free from the bias and inaccuracy that human eyes can introduce.
"It [the camera] will be more sensitive than the human eye/telescope combination, and more objective and persistent," Crotts said. "Hopefully it will give a better map of the TLP geographical distribution, as well as their timing and internal structure."
It is likely that the ghostly and fleeting TLP could be a manifestation of inert gases such as radon and argon being released from within the moon due to radioactive decay of uranium-238 and potassium K-40.
Moonquakes would seem a likely candidate for triggering the release of these gases but no correlation between TLP and moonquakes was found by Crotts.
Feeling stressed? Taking on lots of new commitments? If you answered yes to those two questions, you may need to take a close look at your love life, according to a team of German researchers.
Appearing neither stressed nor over-worked, these people seem to support Beer's theory.
That sex reduces stress -- or that no sex increases stress -- is hardly a new observation. A team of German researchers, though, is arguing that sexual frustration is a complex phenomenon not to be underestimated. It can precipitate a downward spiral, pulling couples helplessly and unbeknownst into a swirling vortex of all work and no nookie.
Ragnar Beer of the University of Göttingen surveyed almost 32,000 men and women for his Theratalk Project, which has found that the less sex you have, the more work you seek. Indeed, the sexually deprived have to find outlets for their frustrations: they often take on more commitments and work.
Beer's team found that 36 percent of men and 35 percent of women who have sex only once a week take on extra work to compensate for their wanting sex life. It's even worse for the hapless couples who have altogether lost their eye for one another. Forty-five percent of men and 46 percent of women who no longer have sex with their partner seek out other activities to salve their wanting libidos.
And, to make matters worse for sexless workaholics, the extra work cuts into their would-be sex time. "Sexual frustration prevents you from being able to reduce your stress," Beer observes. In other words, no sex leads to even less sex.
"One commonly takes on obligations out of sexual frustration that aren't easy to let go of, like leadership positions in a club, for instance. That takes away from the time spent on the relationship, which again negatively contributes to sexual satisfaction. Unobserved, the frustration often becomes deeply ingrained," Beer observes.
On the other hand, people who have sex at least twice a week don't want to work. Only 5 percent of this horny segment seeks out other activities to live out their stress. Beer is seemingly unconcerned by the prospect that workaholics might fall into a downward spiral of all sex and no work. Indeed, the danger is clear. Beer warns, "It's important for couples to keep a close watch on their sexual satisfaction rather than wait until it's too late."
Legendary film-maker Ingmar Bergman, one of the key figures in modern cinema, has died at the age of 89.
His 60-year career spanned intense classics like Cries & Whispers, The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries.
He was personally nominated for nine Oscars between 1960 and 1984, while three of his productions won Oscars for best foreign film.
Bergman died at his home in Sweden. No details about the cause of death have been released.
According to the TT news agency, Bergman died peacefully on Faro Island - or Sheep Island - in the Baltic Sea. The director had settled there after using it as a location for several films.
Bergman won his first Oscar for best foreign film in 1961
In pictures: Bergman's life and career
Astrid Soderbergh Widding, president of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation, said: "It's an unbelievable loss for Sweden, but even more so internationally."
And British film director Ken Russell told the BBC: "He was probably the greatest film maker," describing him as a "very gloomy Swede".
"He could hardly bear to watch his own movies, apparently they made him so miserable," he said. "To have done 50 films with such a variety of misery is quite an achievement."
Bergman had five marriages and eight children, and his work often explored the tensions between married couples.
He once said: "My pictures are always part of my thinking, and my emotions, tensions, dreams, desires. Sometimes they appear from the past, sometimes they grow up from my present life."
In a 70th birthday tribute in 1988, Woody Allen said Bergman was "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera".
But Bergman confessed in 2004 that he could not bear to watch his own films because they made him depressed.
"I become so jittery and ready to cry... and miserable," he said. "I think it's awful," he said in a rare interview on Swedish TV.
Nick James, editor of cinema magazine Sight & Sound, paid tribute to Bergman as "one of the great masters and one of the great humanists of cinema".
"There are very few people of that kind of stature today," he said. "He proved that cinema could be an artform."
And UK Culture Secretary James Purnell described Bergman as "undoubtedly one of the most important and influential film-makers of all time".
Bergman worked closely with cinematographer Sven Nykvist
"His contribution to world cinema across a 60-year career is unsurpassed," he said. "With his lifetime's work he has changed the face of film, but also proved that complex and challenging art can engage a wide audience."
Danish director Bille August said Bergman's death was "a real shock to me because he was the last big director left".
August, who described Bergman as an "incredible, unusually bright person", won the Palme D'Or at Cannes in 1988 and '92.
Bergman wrote the script for one of the winning films, The Best Intentions, basing it on his memories of his parents.
"The three big directors for me were Kurosawa, Fellini and Bergman," August said. "The two others had already passed and now Ingmar has also left us. He leaves a big vacuum behind."
'He gave hope'
These views were shared by Istvan Szabo, the Oscar-winning Hungarian director who worked with Bergman at the European Film Academy.
He told news agency MTI: "The Bergman films are to viewers like the novels of a great novelist, the poems of a great poet or the works of a great drama writer. "
Oscar-winning Polish director Andrzej Wajda described Bergman as creating "great art" and said that for film directors, "he gave hope, a belief, that if we wanted to say something about ourselves, the world would notice that".
The date of the funeral has not yet been set, but will be attended by a close group of friends and family, it was reported.
What if I told you there was a pill that slows aging and allows you to live a healthy life to age 100?
Such a pill may exist right now. It's being tested in people in very early-stage human clinical trials. Today, the company making the pill, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, announced its findings from preclinical testing in cells and animals, and also from tests conducted on 85 male volunteers this summer.
The verdict: so far, the pill works, although it will be years before we know how well it works, or if it can actually extend the life span of people in the same way that it has bumped up the life span of mice.
Speaking today at the Annual Metabolic Diseases Drug Discovery and Development World Summit in San Diego, Sirtris's senior director of biology, Jill Milne, announced that the drug, SRT501, reduces glucose and improves insulin sensitivity in animal and in vitro studies of the drug's effect on type 2 diabetes. In people, the drug was tested for dose, safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics--that is, how well the drug was absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and removed from the body.
Phase 1b trials are already under way to test safety and pharmacokinetics on patients with type 2 diabetes. Later-phase trials will test to see if the drug actually works in diabetics.
SRT501 is a proprietary chemical developed by Sirtris that's based on the naturally occurring resveratrol that company cofounder David Sinclair of Harvard University has been studying for its effects in extending life span in a number of organisms, including yeast, flies, and mice. Last year, Sinclair created a sensation when he published a paper in Nature detailing how mice on a high-fat diet that were fed large doses of resveratrol were as healthy as mice on a regular diet. Resveratrol also sharply extended life span, produced positive changes in insulin sensitivity and other diabetes-preventing mechanisms, and increased energy production in cells. The mice were given very high doses of resveratrol--22 milligrams per kilogram of weight. In comparison, a liter of red wine delivers 1.5 to 3 milligrams. To match the results in the mice, a 150-pound human would need to drink 750 to 1,500 bottles of wine a day.
Sinclair says that SRT501 is a thousand times more potent than naturally occurring resveratrol, which gives it the same punch as the resveratrol in all those bottles of wine.
Sinclair believes that resveratrol activates a gene called SIRT-1, which is associated with the regulation of life span in several animals. This contention is disputed by some critics: they argue that the mechanism by which resveratrol works is still poorly understood.
Because humans are so long-lived, SRT501 can't be easily tested for longevity in humans--nor does the Food and Drug Administration recognize "increased life span" as an allowable indication for an approved drug. This is why Sirtris is testing SRT501 for diseases related to aging, such as type 2 diabetes. However, should the drug be approved for diabetes, it will undoubtedly be used to extend life span by many people without diabetes.
The drug still has years of testing to go and faces many hurdles. It may not work. But if it does, the consequences will be profound. For instance, it will mean that more people will be alive on the earth. Age 90 will be the new 70, and 70 the new 50, with profound impacts on everything from social security to retirement age. It may also mean fewer people with diabetes, Alzheimer's, and some cancers.
Can one pill do and cause all that? Critics have long said no--that such a compound will not work in humans. But they also said it wouldn't work in mice--until it did work. (At least in fat mice.)
So let's sip some pinot noir and wait for more results from Sirtris. After all, we're not getting any younger.
When it comes to sex, some women want it off the mattress. Yes, they love 500-thread count sheets and down comforters, but that's just for sleeping. If you really want to heat up your sex life, surprise her in a more spontaneous setting.
We snuck into the Women's Health forums to see what the ladies were talking about, and came across this thread about the "craziest place you ever had sex." Take a hint from these adventurous babes, and fulfill her fantasies with one of our sexy rendezvous. Or add your own sexcapade to our list in the Men's Health forums.
10. A Shore Thing
"Everyone's done it on the beach. We took it a few steps higher, to the lifeguard chair. It was a lookout over the entire beach, so we could tell if anyone was coming."
9. Book Worm
"On the 7th floor in the university library during finals week. Great stress reliever!"
8. Porch View
"On my patio that faced the freeway, and at the time we lived in an apartment complex. It was very exciting!"
7. Is that on the Menu?
"On the sink counter in a very fancy hotel restaurant's men's room. Still makes me hot to think about it."
6. Field of Dreams
"We always wanted to have sex in an open field. We drove out to the middle of nowhere, found a spot, got a blanket and proceeded to have some great sex! A private airplane kept flying over us, over and over. I guess we didn't have that much privacy after all."
5. Dive In
"Once on a diving board at my apartment complex swimming pool at 3 a.m. The pool was lit up below us, and the air was filled with the scent of flowering trees...quite intoxicating!"
4. Bolder Boulder
"The time we were on a huge sun-warmed boulder along a mountain stream through the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. Nothing like the great outdoors!"
"The castle in Prague. My boyfriend and I took the self-guided tour. We went down a staircase and ended up in a very large, empty, dark, stone room. A little spooky, but I would definitely do it again."
2. Rock the Boat
"I was taking the ferry from CT to NY and we had sex in the bathroom stall. I was leaning over, and he came in from behind. Another time, we met on our lunch break in a busy parking garage for some back seat fun!"
1. The Grander Canyon
"My husband and I had gone to visit his parents before we got married and since we were staying with them we craved alone time. We took the part of the day to explore the Canyon on our own and ended up in a very exciting outdoor adventure."