Monday, July 18, 2011

Food Investigations

Most of us probably don't buy these kinds of products with fake blueberries, but someone does and this is for them.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Petermann Ice Island

In August 2010 a huge chunk of ice detached itself from the Petermann Glacier on Greenland. It has been drifting southward since then and is now located off the coast of Labrador. This is no ordinary chunk of ice. It is about the size of Manhattan, 3 miles long and 2.8 miles wide, and has its own mountains, waterfalls and seal colony. The size of the island is continuously decreasing through both melting and calving. It has itself become a source of icebergs. Updates of the Petermann Ice Island progress may be found at Environment Canada.

The island is expected to reach the Strait of Belle Isle between August and October 2011. Since the island is so large, it is expected to float further south than icebergs usually move and as it reaches warmer waters, it will break up into more and more icebergs, resulting in increased danger for off-shore petroleum rigs and shipping lanes.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Going from Zero to Superhero

Solutions for Maximizing your Performance at Work.....

                             ...while at the same time, saving yourself from a life of boredom:

Going from Zero to Superhero TECHWHIRL by Jacquie Heys

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bornean Rainbow Toad

This colourful beauty has just recently been spotted in a remote area of Borneo for the first time in nearly 90 years. These toads are arboreal, dwelling at high altitude and their colourful skin permits camouflage against mossy trees. Scientists are hoping to become better acquainted with these tiny 2-inch creatures in the years to come. More information can be found here. More information about lost amphibians may be found here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our Amazing Night Sky

Alex Cherney, an Australian amateur astronomer has taken a series of wonderful photographs of the night sky from a vantage point in a remote location in southern Australia. To capture scenes of the Milky Way and the abundance of stars he shot thousands of photographs on 6 separate nights over an 18 month period, under a new or crescent moon. See other photos and read more here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Don't you love the way the New Yorkers surge back and forth across the street to get the precise viewing of Manhattanhenge? Do you think any of the people in vehicles passing by wondered what the heck was going on?

Manhattanhenge is a phenomenon where the setting or rising sun is aligned with the even-numbered east/west streets of Manhattan. Part of its name is derived from Stonehenge, the ancient monument where the sun crosses a central axis at the summer and winter solstice.

Manhattanhenge occurs a short time before the solstice and again a short time afterwards. In 2011 the first sighting was on May 31 and the second will be this evening, July 12, though sightings are also possible the day on either side. In the winter the phenomenon occurs at sunrise around Dec. 5 and Jan. 8, but more favourable weather conditions make summer a better season for viewing.

According to the Hayden Planetarium, it is best to place yourself as far east as possible in Manhattan. Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th and several streets adjacent to them. The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building make 34th and 42nd streets especially striking vistas. The view is westward over New Jersey.

The "henge" phenomenon also occurs in other cities having an approximate east/west grid of streets, so this year there was Chicagohenge on April 13, Montrealhenge on June 12 and the next Torontohenge is expected Oct. 24/25. The best streets for Toronto viewing are King St. and Queen St.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cuppa Green Tea Anyone?

A new study has found that antioxidants called catechins, found in high concentrations in green tea, inhibit the absorption of cholesterol from the intestinal tract and interfere with cholesterol synthesis in the liver. Green tea catechins also reduce inflammation  of blood vessels and inhibit formation of blood clots. In addition, earlier claims tout the benefits of green tea in preventing cancer, easing arthritis pain and reducing occurence of dental cavities.
Green tea brewed from leaves is more beneficial than tea brewed from bags. Use about 1 tsp. green tea per cup of hot, not boiling water. After bringing the water to a boil, let it sit for a minute before pouring, to avoid scorching the leaves.

Wondering about caffeine?

Per 8 oz. cup, coffee has 100 to 175 mg. caffeine, black tea has 45 mg. and green tea has 30 mg. Healthy adults should limit daily caffeine to 400 mg. and women of child-bearing age should keep it to no more than 300mg.

For more information, see nutritionist Leslie Beck's website at

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Heart Disease #1 Killer

July 04, 2011 - 08:56

Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Heart disease can sneak up on women in ways that standard cardiac tests can miss. It's part of a puzzling gender gap: Women tend to have different heart attack symptoms than men. They're more likely to die in the year after a first heart attack.

In fact, more than 40 per cent of women still don't realize that heart disease is the No. 1 female killer in the U.S. One in 30 women's deaths in 2007 was from breast cancer, compared to about 1 in 3 from cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association.

A new report says there's been too little progress in tackling the sex differences in heart disease. It outlines the top questions scientists must answer to find the best ways to treat women's hearts — and protect them in the first place.

"A woman's heart is her major health threat, and everyone who takes care of a woman has to realize that," says Emory University cardiologist Dr. Nanette Wenger, who co-authored the report. Make no mistake: Heart disease is the leading killer of men, too, in the United States. The illness is more prevalent in men, and tends to hit them about a decade earlier than is usual for women.

But while overall deaths have been dropping in recent years, that improvement has been slower for women who face some unique issues, says the report from the non-profit Society for Women's Health Research and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

Sure, being sedentary and eating a lot of junk food is bad for a woman's heart just like a man's. High cholesterol will clog arteries. High blood pressure can cause a stroke. But here's one problem: Even if a test of major heart arteries finds no blockages, at-risk women still can have a serious problem — something called coronary microvascular disease that's less common in men. Small blood vessels that feed the heart become damaged so that they spasm or squeeze shut, Wenger explains. Specialists who suspect microvascular disease prescribe medications designed to make blood vessels relax and blood flow a bit better, while also intensively treating the woman's other cardiac risk factors. But Wenger says it's not clear what the best treatments are.

The report says part of the lack of understanding about such gender issues is because heart-related studies still don't focus enough on women, especially minority women. Only a third of cardiovascular treatment studies include information on how each gender responds even though federal policy says they should. The report urged direct comparisons of which treatments work best in women, and improved diagnostic tests.

Another issue: Even young women sometimes have a heart attack, and there are troubling hints that their risks are rising. There's been a small uptick in deaths among women younger than 45. Plus, high blood pressure, diabetes or related complications during pregnancy — a growing worry as more women start their pregnancies already overweight — aren't just a temporary problem but increase those mothers' risk of heart disease once they reach middle age. The report says too few doctors are aware they should consider that.

Then there are the questions of how best to tell which women are at high risk. Nearly two-thirds of women who die suddenly of heart disease report no previous symptoms, for example, compared with half of men. As for heart attacks, chest pain is the most common symptom but women are more likely than men to experience other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea and pain in the back or jaw.

Legislation pending in Congress would require better study of gender differences, and would expand a government program that currently screens poor women in 20 states for high cholesterol and other heart risks, offering smoking cessation and nutrition education to help lower those risks. Wenger's groups, which receive some funding from drug companies, and the heart association support the bill.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.