The Hands Have it: Food Safety Through Handwashing

Handwashing is simple. Science says otherwise. Despite endless statements to just wash hands to be safe — in the kitchen, in food service, at the petting zoo- little research has been done to quantify what actually works when it comes to hand washing… Dr. Donald Schaffner, a professor of food safety at Rutgers University, and colleagues, have attempted to add some science to the discussion… "Many people seem to have strongly held opinions about handwashing, says Schaffner, "but the research base for those opinions is lacking. Our research begins to dispels some popular beliefs about hand washing."… The researchers showed that even a minimal handwash (5 seconds, no soap) can remove about 90 per cent of bacteria on hands.

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Scientists Pore Over Warm West, Cold East Divide

From blooming flowers to twittering birds, the signs of spring are popping up and the miseries of winter are becoming a distant memory for many. But not for some climate scientists… The curiosity of a growing group of researchers has been piqued by the tenacious temperature divide that has separated East from West over the past two winters as a wild zigzag of the jet stream has brought repeated bouts of Arctic air and snow to the East and kept the drought-plagued West baking under a record-breaking dome of heat… That study, also detailed in Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that while the Pacific heat set the atmospheric pattern in motion, Arctic sea ice loss in a particular region made the warm/cold difference so extreme, said Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University… Francis, who wasn’t involved with either study, is one of the main proponents of an idea that by altering how much heat the ocean lets out, sea ice melt and Arctic warming can also change atmospheric circulation patterns, in particular by making the jet stream form larger peaks, or highs, and troughs, or lows. Hence the more intense difference between East and West the last two winters.

Read the entire article at www.climatecentral.org »

Jurassic Park in Real Life: The Race to Modify the DNA of Endangered Animals and Resurrect Extinct Ones

Jurassic Park has a lot to answer for. It made the idea seem so simple. Take the DNA from a microscopic drop of dinosaur blood, preserved for 65 million years in the gut of a mosquito trapped in fossilised amber. Carry out a bit of jiggery-pokery involving chaos theory and Jeff Goldblum. Insert the dino DNA into the yolk of a crocodile’s egg and leave to incubate. Soon you’ll have a thriving menagerie of once-extinct beasts roaming the jungles of someone’s private theme park… De-extinction, or the idea of bringing extinct species back from the dead, has come a long way over the quarter century since Jurassic Park was first published. It has now matured into a quasi-serious science and has even been the subject of its own TEDx conference. Of course, no-one is talking about bringing back dinosaurs- their DNA is lost for good- but some scientists are proposing to resurrect a range of other, more-recently extinct species such as the passenger pigeon and the gastric-brooding frog, both lost within living memory… "If it works, de-extinction will only target a few species and it’s very expensive. Will it divert conservation dollars from true conservation measures that already work, which are already short of funds?" asks David Ehrenfeld, professor of biology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. "At this moment brave conservationists are already risking their lives to protect dwindling groups of African forest elephants from heavily-armed poachers, and here we are talking about bringing back the woolly mammoth. Think about it."

Read the entire article at www.independent.co.uk »

Grape Polyphenols May Protect Against Metabolic Sx Via Gut

Grape polyphenols (GP) may act in the intestine to protect against metabolic syndrome, according to an experimental study published online April 6 in Diabetes… Dietary polyphenols protect against metabolic syndrome, despite limited absorption and digestion. With this in mind, Diana E. Roopchand, Ph.D., from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., and colleagues examined one possible mechanism of action involving gut microbiota. C57BL/6J mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) containing 1 percent Concord GP… "These data suggest that GP act in the intestine to modify gut microbial community structure, resulting in lower intestinal and systemic inflammation and improved metabolic outcomes," the authors write. "The gut microbiota may thus provide the missing link in the mechanism of action of poorly absorbed dietary polyphenols.

Read the entire article at www.doctorslounge.com »

Monster ‘Blob’ Blamed for Weather Shifts

A gargantuan blob of warm water that’s been parked off the West Coast for 18 months is part of a larger pattern that helps explain California’s drought, Washington’s snow-starved ski resorts and record blizzards in New England, according to new analyses by Seattle scientists… The researchers aren’t convinced global warming is to blame, which puts them at odds with other experts who suspect Arctic melting upset the "polar vortex" and contributed to the misery on the East Coast the past two winters… Rutgers University research professor Jennifer Francis is among those who argue that Arctic melting destabilizes the wind pattern called the polar vortex, which normally confines frigid air to the planet’s far north. The result is a weakened jet stream with kinks that can deliver extreme weather where it’s not expected… Francis said there’s no doubt ocean temperatures in the tropics play a role, but she thinks Hartmann is wrong to leave the Arctic out of the equation. There’s good evidence that rapid warming near the North Pole intensifies high-pressure ridges, setting the stage for odd and long-lasting weather patterns.

Read the entire article at www.union-bulletin.com »