A Chocolate cure for persistent cough

Scientists have found a ‘chocolate cure’ for having a persistent cough. They have isolated a naturally-occuring substance in cocoa that they say stops the “root cause” of the irritating condition.

Some 7.5 million people in Britain suffer from a persistent cough every year according to a recent review, defined as one that lasts more than two weeks after the underlying cause disappears.

At the moment most medications to control the symptoms are opiate-based ones like cough syrups containing codeine, a narcotic.

But in October the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said under-18s should not take such medication, because the drawbacks outweighed the benefits.

Now a British-based drugs company called SEEK is helping develop a medication based on a drug called theobromine, that it says “has been shown to inhibit the inappropriate firing of the vagus nerve, which is a key feature of persistent cough”.

It is found in “significant quantities in cocoa-based products“, said the firm…

The drug is already sold in South Korea, and SEEK hopes it will be on sale in British pharmacies within two years.
Prof Alyn Morice said that while it was “theoretically possible” to get enough theobromine in a bar of dark chocolate to alleviate a cough, studies had yet to be done to reveal the exact dose required.

You know what my answer to that last question will be: Don’t know if one dark chocolate bar is sufficient to stop your cough? Have another!

Cryosat satellite ice mission returns first scientific data

The Cryosat-2 spacecraft has produced its first major science result. Radar data from the European satellite has been used to make a map of ocean circulation across the Arctic basin.

Cryosat’s primary mission is to measure sea-ice thickness, which has been in sharp decline in recent decades. But its ability also to map the shape of the sea surface will tell scientists if Arctic currents are changing as a result of winds being allowed to blow more easily on ice-free waters.

“Nobody really knows how the Arctic is going to behave as the ice retreats, but we do anticipate that significant changes will occur,” said Dr Seymour Laxon, a Cryosat science team member from University College London, UK.

This is just the first data, and it shows we now have the tool to monitor what is happening,” he told BBC News…

The European Space Agency (Esa) satellite was launched in April. It carries one of the highest resolution synthetic aperture radars ever put in orbit.

The instrument sends down pulses of microwave energy which bounce off both the top of the Arctic sea-ice and the water in the cracks, or leads, which separate the floes.

By measuring the difference in height between these two surfaces, scientists will be able, using a relatively simple calculation, to work out the overall volume of the marine ice cover in the far north…

And the opening months of observations have enabled the Cryosat team to build a unique map from just the radar echoes bouncing off leads.

RTFA for the details. Great work – the beginnings of completely new data to aid scientists studying climate and more.

Flat-earthers stuck into pundits who flagellate themselves over less-than-geologic time may now return to Faux Newz.

Life with New Age nutballs in New Mexico

Wireless opponent Arthur Firstenberg wants a new round of public hearings on last month’s upgrades of AT&T’s cellular-phone system in Santa Fe.

Firstenberg, who says he is hypersensitive to electromagnetic signals from wireless devices, drew headlines last year by suing his neighbor over her use of an iPhone and a Wi-Fi system. A judge has thrown out the iPhone claim, but the Wi-Fi claim is set for trial on March 21. Do you believe it?

Now, Firstenberg is asking for a judge to require AT&T to apply for a special exception from the city to increase the intensity of its signals. Otherwise, he contends, AT&T should be forced to shut off its new system in 30 days…

AT&T’s implementation of 3G service “vastly increased the bandwidth of their radio emissions,” constituting “a change in the intensity of use,” according to Firstenberg’s pro-se petition for a writ of mandamus…

Attached to Firstenberg’s petition are letters from more than a dozen people asking the Board of Adjustment to reject the changes because they are concerned that their health, or that of others, is being damaged by the proliferation of electromagnetic signals.

Angela Werneke of Santa Fe wrote that she has immune deficiency, chronic fatigue and chronic migraines. Although she has not been diagnosed with electromagnetic sensitivity, she wrote, she is “deeply concerned, not only for my own personal health and well being, but also for all those who are being marginalized from our community by the pervasive and rapidly increasing levels of electromagnetic radiation.”

Felicia Noelle Trujillo, a Feldenkrais practitioner in Santa Fe, wrote that she has patients who are undeniably sensitive to electromagnetic radiation and will suffer from “this brutal and instant rise in the levels of EMR in their environment, when they are already in a weakened state.”

The essentially “weakened state” lies between the ears of these Dodo-birds. Certainly, they have a right to initiate lawsuits. Just as certainly the courts have a responsibility to throw them out as soon as the petitions waltz in through the door in all their frivolous glory.

No, I don’t see any more need to speak politely about this foolishness than I must when considering the threat to Homeland Insecurity from that alleged terrorist, Rumplestiltskin.

Our government is monitoring Main Street America

A detailed, in-depth report from the Washington POST on the state of surveillance – your government keeping an eye on you:

Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.

The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation’s history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The government’s goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, which is in charge of terrorism investigations in the United States…

The Cold War is over. Excepting the federal bureaucracy has decreed the security interests of the nation are best served by keeping an eye on you. A bigger, stronger, better-funded apparatus for spying on American citizens than anything ever deemed useful in the bad old days.

Today’s story, along with related material on The Post’s Web site, examines how Top Secret America plays out at the local level. It describes a web of 4,058 federal, state and local organizations, each with its own counterterrorism responsibilities and jurisdictions. At least 935 of these organizations have been created since the 2001 attacks or became involved in counterterrorism for the first time after 9/11…

* Technologies and techniques honed for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in America.

* The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously. It is accessible to an increasing number of local law enforcement and military criminal investigators, increasing concerns that it could somehow end up in the public domain.

* Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies.

* The Department of Homeland Security sends its state and local partners intelligence reports with little meaningful guidance, and state reports have sometimes inappropriately reported on lawful meetings.

RTFA. You may as well know who’s behind the wheel of that black Crown Vic parked down at the foot of your driveway.

Oh, and please – my dear Liberal friends, understand that Barack Obama’s dedication to conformity, spying on citizens, jive rationales for budget-busting copper connivance is in no way different from George W. Bush. The bigot-based followers who transferred their xenophobia from Russians to Arabs aren’t a niche phenomenon.

Craven acquiescence to Big Brother wasn’t limited to conservatives in the day of Uncle Joe McCarthy. Dishwater liberals are just as likely to vote in Congress for “enhanced” security measures as anyone else.

Same as it ever was.

Are mobile phone masts linked to sharp rise in births?

Mobile phone tower disguised as a giant penis

Do mobile phone towers make people more likely to procreate? Could it be possible that mobile phone radiation somehow aids fertilisation, or maybe there’s just something romantic about a mobile phone transmitter mast protruding from the landscape?

These questions are our natural response to learning that variation in the number of mobile phone masts across the country exactly matches variation in the number of live births. For every extra mobile phone mast in an area, there are 17.6 more babies born above the national average.

This was discovered by taking the publicly available data on the number of mobile phone masts in each county across the United Kingdom and then matching it against the live birth data for the same counties. When a regression line is calculated it has a “correlation coefficient” (a measure of how good the match is) of 98.1 out of 100. To be “statistically significant” a pattern in a dataset needs to be less than 5% likely to be found in random data (known as a “p-value”), and the masts-births correlation only has a 0.00003% probability of occurring by chance.

The match between mobile phone towers and birth rates is an extremely strong correlation and it is highly statistically significant. There is no doubting the mathematical finding that more mobile phone masts mean that there will also be more births. This is about as rigorous as statistics can get.

Mobile phone masts, however, have absolutely no bearing on the number of births. There is no causal link between the masts and the births despite the strong correlation. Both the number of mobile phone transmitters and the number of live births are linked to a third, independent factor: the local population size. As the population of an area goes up, so do both the number of mobile phone users and the number people giving birth…

But would the media turn a correlation-only finding into a causation-based health scare? To find out, I have released my mobile masts and births results as a press release. We’ll see if anyone jumps to the conclusion that mobile phone radiation really can give conception a helping hand.

I love it. My kind of computational analysis – taking the time to examine factors beyond the few chosen as possible cause-and-effect determinants.

The obverse, btw, of what is done by most pantywaist skeptics who think their singular reconstruction of pop science refutes years of discussion in peer review of datasets, reports and analyses of everything from climate change to gender identification.

I don’t recall posting any of Matt Parker‘s ruminations in the past – but, he’s my kind of smartass.

Kroger announces pet food recall

The Kroger Co. is recalling select pet food packages from stores in 19 states fearing some of these products may contain aflatoxin, a toxic chemical byproduct that could be harmful to animals.

The recall involves certain bags of Pet Pride Cat Food, Pet Pride Kitten Food, Old Yeller Chunk Dog Food, Kroger Value Cat Food and Kroger Value Chunk Food, the company said Saturday.

The Kroger Co. urged customers to immediately consult with their veterinarian if their animals show any signs of sluggishness or lethargy combined with a reluctance to eat. A yellowish tint to the eyes or gums, severe blood or diarrhea are also warning signs, the company said.

Most of recalled products have an expiration date of October 23 and 24, 2011.

States with Kroger-operated stores included in the recall are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

If your grandpa is trying to live off social security, better tell him, too.