Archive by date | July 2009

Anthrax investigation probe underway

Anthrax investigation probe underway

The US National Academies has launched its long-awaited review of the scientific evidence used to track down the alleged creator of the deadly anthrax attacks of 2001. A 15-member expert panel met in Washington DC on 30-31 July to determine whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) relied on appropriate scientific techniques when it implicated government biodefence researcher Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide last July as prosecutors prepared to indict him as the person responsible for mailing the Bacillus anthracis spores that killed five people and sickened 17 others.

Ones that got away

“Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie,’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”

An excerpt from a Creationist textbook for the International Certificate of Christian Education, which the UK has just granted equivalence to the national standard ‘A-Level’ (TES).

“We are in the midst of a recession and it is vital that people keep their spirits high. This study will help identify the most effective way of putting a smile on someone’s face.”

Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, launches an experiment to cheer up the world (Times).

“Have you ever meant to stop by the grocery store on the way home after a bad day at work, and instead just forgot and went straight home? You do the automatic thing instead of doing what you had planned.”

Rui Costa, of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, comments on his research showing rats revert to habit rather than thinking when they’re stressed (ABC).

US alternative medicine spend reaches $33.9 billion

US alternative medicine spend reaches $33.9 billion

Amid concerns about the rising cost of healthcare, a new study suggests the American public wasted $33.9 billion of their health-dollars in 2007.

Research by the US National Center for Health Statistics shows this was the cost of out-of-pocket spending on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in that year. Nearly 40% of adults in the 29,266 households surveyed used some form of CAM (report pdf).

Ones that got away

“I am driving back from High Wycombe with the cheese now. I may try a bit to see if it has matured at high altitude and then it will probably go into a glass case at our production offices.”

Dom Lane, of Shepton Mallet’s West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers, tells the BBC about the fate of a cheddar that his group attempted to launch into space.

“The scheme appears a victim of ‘numbyism’ – not under my backyard.”

The Guardian coins a new term for those who object to carbon capture and storage in their neighbourhoods.

“The sky is not falling.”

Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer downplays the possible emergence of swine flu at the US Senate (Washington Post).