Posted tagged ‘science’

Invisible toxins in your home

December 6, 2010

Exposure to indoor pollution is associated with allergies, severe asthma, hospitalizations for cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and even heart attacks.

Having a clean home doesn’t keep the toxins and pollutants away.  According to the EPA, pollution in the home is often 2 to 5 times higher than it is outdoors.  “The air in your house contains pollen, mold, and ozone that leach in from the outdoors, as well as pet dander and pollutants from household cleaning products,” says Ted Myatt, ScD, a senior scientist at the consulting firm Environmental Health and Engineering, Inc.

Come winter, weatherproofing combined with heated, dry air can boost indoor pollution levels even higher by sealing in airborne toxins and lowering levels of humidity. The combination of the two can pose an even greater risk. “Exposure to indoor pollution is associated with allergies, severe asthma, hospitalizations for cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and even heart attacks,” Dr. Myatt says.

Considering we spend about 60% of our lives in our homes, it’s time to clear the air. Check-out this article to find out what you can do help reduce the toxins and pollutants in the home.


Cure for the common cold…may not be too far away

November 4, 2010
virus and antibody

Virus (purple) circulating in the bloodstream recognized by antibodies (yellow) of the immune system

In a dramatic breakthrough that could affect millions of lives, researchers at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge have been able to show for the first time that the body’s immune defenses can destroy the common cold virus after it has actually invaded the inner sanctum of a human cell, a feat that was believed until now to be impossible.

In the past, it was thought that the antibodies of the immune system worked entirely outside the cells, in the blood and other extra-cellular fluids of the body. Now scientists realize that there is another layer of defense inside the cells where it might be possible to enhance the natural anti-virus machinery of the body.

How the virus is tackled

  1. Virus (purple) circulating in the bloodstream recognized by antibodies (yellow) of the immune system
  2. Virus attaches to outer cell membrane with antibodies still attached
  3. Virus invades the cell membrane and emerges inside the cell
  4. Remains of cell membrane disappear and the virus is free to hijack the cell
  5. TRIM21 protein (blue) recognizes attached antibodies as foreign material
  6. Powerful virus-destroying machines (cylinders) attracted to virus by TRIM21
  7. Virus rapidly broken down and disabled within hours

Our Nation’s Future Depends on Next-Gen Innovation

October 19, 2010

Obama Science Fair picturePresident Obama viewed 11 science projects on display at the White House.  These science projects ranged from cancer therapies to solar-power cars, water purification systems and robotic wheelchairs.  President Obama has been emphasizing math and science education and feels that the U.S. is being outpaced by other countries and he wants American students to move from the middle to the top in science and math over the decade.

The Science and Math of Baseball

October 1, 2010

For some fans, baseball is more than hot-dogs, homeruns and the cheer of the crowd.  Baseball also involves science and math. Math is used from batting averages, statistic models to determine the winner of the Cy Young award, ERAs to Pythagorean expectation that estimates a team’s expected winning percentage based on runs scored and runs allowed.

Scientists use the laws of physics, for example, to explain why a head-first slide is faster than going for the bag feet-first, how some batters take a few pitches to calibrate the ball’s track.

Insect brains…a new antibiotic?

September 15, 2010

American cockroachStudies have shown that the central nervous systems of American cockroaches produce natural antibiotics that can kill off bacteria often deadly to humans, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and toxic strains of Escherichia coli.  The findings suggest that the insect world—which makes up 80 percent of all animals on Earth—may be teeming with new antibiotics.

The Science of Football

September 10, 2010
The Science of Football

In this segment, NBC's Lester Holt looks at the role vectors play every time an NFL quarterback throws a pass.

Just in time for the start of the football season, scientists and sports stars are taking to the field with a 10-part video series that explains the physics and biology behind football.  Several sports stars play starring roles in the videos, including Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, Dolphins place kicker Dan Carpenter and former Saints running back Deuce McAllister. “When we can energize our students to learn through physical fitness and sports, it’s win-win for everyone,” McAllister said.

The scientists explaining the principles behind the game include physicists and engineers, a mathematician and a nutritionist. A high-speed Phantom camera captures the athletes’ movements at up to 2,000 frames per second to show Newton’s Laws of Motion at work. Each video has some lesson plans to via Lessonopoly.  Are you ready for some football physics….

Fuel from thin air?

August 10, 2010

soybeansAn enzyme found in the roots of soybeans could be the key to cars that run on air.  An enzyme that normally produces ammonia from nitrogen gas, can also convert carbon monoxide (CO), into propane.  While studying the enzyme Vanadium nitrogenase, researchers realized that the enzyme has some unusual behavior.   Scientists removed the nitrogen and oxygen the enzyme is used to and filled the remaining space with CO.  Once the nitrogen and oxygen were removed, scientists realized that  the  enzyme began to to turn the CO into short chains of carbon two and three atoms long, more commonly referred to as propane.  While this technique is not perfected, scientists are hoping that this technique could lead to cars partially powered on their own fumes. Even further into the future, vehicles could even draw fuel from the air itself.