Luring mosquitoes to their death with the odor of smelly feet


Mosquito landing boxes in Tanzania

Researchers in Tanzania have chemically reproduced the stench of smelly feet in an innovative new approach to combat the spread of malaria in the country.

The scientific team at Tanzania’s Ifakara Health Institute has developed a potent serum — similar to that of human foot odor — to lure and kill mosquitoes, which can carry malaria and other diseases.

Four times more powerful in attracting mosquitoes than natural human odor, the synthetic smell is now being used in a pioneering research program aimed at killing mosquitoes outdoors using a “mosquito landing box…”

Mosquitoes are lured inside the boxes by the synthetic odor, which is dispersed by a solar-powered fan. Once inside, the insects are either trapped or poisoned and left to die.

“Substances we omit when we sweat, such as lactic acid, act as a signal to mosquitoes … The aim here was to produce a mixture that would mimic a human being.” The result, said Fredros Okumu, was a chemical blend that “smelt just like dirty socks…”

“This is a great example of an African innovator, with an African innovation, tackling an African problem,” said Dr Peter Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada.

“Malaria kills about 800,000 people a year, mostly children, in Africa. At the moment existing technologies, such as bed nets and sprays, tend to repel mosquitoes inside the home.

“This technology attracts mosquitoes outside the home to kill them, and could be complimentary to what is there now,” Singer continued…

For Okumu, this is a personal as well as a scientific venture. Born in western Kenya, malaria has been apart of Okumu’s life for as long as he can remember.

“All the places I have lived have been malaria zones. When I was growing up I had malaria at least twice every year,” he said.

Most American and Europeans have little knowledge of this terrible disease. So many people die, so many children especially, it really is one of the grim reapers of African history.

EPA cabal of cowards regulators delay smog rule again


Century City and downtown Los Angeles
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said…it would again delay issuing a final limit on smog pollution opposed by manufacturers and many Republican lawmakers until the Obama administration has finished reviewing it.

In December, the agency said it would issue the rule by the end of July…

“Following completion of this final step, EPA will finalize its reconsideration, but will not issue the final rule on July 29th, the date the agency had intended,” the EPA said in a release…It was the fourth time the agency delayed the smog standards, originally slated to be finalized last August…

The proposal was stronger than 2008 standards set by the Bush administration. Environmentalists blasted those for being less than what government scientists recommended.

Under the rule, factories and oil, natural gas and power generators would be forced to cut emissions of nitrogen oxides and other chemicals called volatile organic compounds. Smog forms when those chemicals react with sunlight.

The rule has been opposed by industry groups. The American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable complain that it would damage the economic recovery and that many areas would not be able to meet the new limits…

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said the ozone rules would save as much as $100 billion in health costs, and help prevent as much as 12,000 premature deaths from heart and lung complications…

Every additional day of delay means more Americans will suffer…that is, ordinary Americans. Not those who will return to their home districts after another do-nothing session of Congress. Those politicians who should be prompting the EPA to get off their rusty dusty butts and aid the lives of American people aren’t risking their health by doing anything more than passing quickly through pollution zones.

The same holds true in spades for that herd of dinosaurs who smoke their cigars in private clubs funded by the American Petroleum Institute, the greenback claque chauffeured forth-and-back to meetings of the US Chamber of Commerce. Perish the thought anything other than filtered, conditioned air reaches their pampered respiratory systems.

Republican hatred of organized workers – shuts down the FAA


Think these people are freer without a Federal Aviation Administration?

Thousands of employees have been furloughed and dozens of major projects put on hold after Congress failed to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Air traffic controllers will remain on the job, but the furloughs have hit many engineers, scientists, computer specialists, community planners and others. Nearly 4,000 employees in 35 states, Washington and Puerto Rico have been told to stop work, according to the FAA.

Efforts to continue funding hit a stumbling block over House Republican efforts to make it harder for airline and rail workers to unionize and over a move to cut subsidies for air service to rural airports.

Congress adjourned Friday without passing legislation, causing funding to end at midnight that night…

The FAA said contractors have been told to stop work on dozens of projects across the country, including a $43 million project in Las Vegas and a $31 million project in Oakland, California, to build air traffic control towers.

Without new legislation, the government will also not be able to collect about $200 million a week in airline taxes that normally go to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. A $2.5 billion program providing grants for airport construction projects was similarly forced to shut down.

Ideological elitists are going to have to climb down from their ivory towers sooner or later and understand that people outside of Congress need work, need jobs, need dignity and the right to organize and govern their own lives. Making collective political activity illegal does nothing for liberty. Even if it may optimize profits for corporations, enforcing limits on the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Americans will only fill a reservoir of discontent and ill will – that will eventually spill over onto the political landscape.

American voters are too easy at forgetting who screwed them from election to election. But, it’s easier to remind people nowadays. Cripes, all you need to do is crank up a press conference filled with Republican promises of jobs and match it side-by-side with the ZERO quantity of jobs/infrastructure legislation they have offered up since the last election.

Scientists discover sugar doesn’t melt – it decomposes!

Flying in the face of years of scientific belief, University of Illinois researchers have demonstrated that sugar doesn’t melt, it decomposes.

“This discovery is important to food scientists and candy lovers because it will give them yummier caramel flavors and more tantalizing textures. It even gives the pharmaceutical industry a way to improve excipients, the proverbial spoonful of sugar that helps your medicine go down,” said Shelly J. Schmidt, a University of Illinois professor of food chemistry.

In a presentation to the Institute of Food Technologists about the importance of the new discovery, Schmidt told the food scientists they could use the new findings to manipulate sugars and improve their products’ flavor and consistency.

“Certain flavor compounds give you a nice caramel flavor, whereas others give you a burnt or bitter taste. Food scientists will now be able to make more of the desirable flavors because they won’t have to heat to a ‘melting’ temperature but can instead hold sugar over a low temperature for a longer period of time,” she said…

Schmidt and graduate student Joo Won Lee didn’t intend to turn an established rule of food science on its head. But they began to suspect that something was amiss when they couldn’t get a constant melting point for sucrose in the work that they were doing.

“In the literature, the melting point for sucrose varies widely, but scientists have always blamed these differences on impurities and instrumentation differences. However, there are certain things you’d expect to see if those factors were causing the variations, and we weren’t seeing them,” Schmidt said.

The scientists determined that the melting point of sugar was heating-rate dependent…

Schmidt said a true or thermodynamic melting material, which melts at a consistent, repeatable temperature, retains its chemical identity when transitioning from the solid to the liquid state. She and Lee used high-performance liquid chromatography to see if sucrose was sucrose both before and after “melting.” It wasn’t

To distinguish “melting” caused by decomposition from thermodynamic melting, the researchers have coined a new name–“apparent melting.” Schmidt and her colleagues have shown that glucose and fructose are also apparent melting materials.

Puts me in mind of research we could do about American politicians and “apparent honesty”, eh?

Though I admit this might encourage some pastry experiments, this autumn.

Over 150,000 gather in Oslo for ‘Rose March’


Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The rally, particularly huge in a nation of fewer than five million people, took place hours after Anders Behring Breivik appeared in a closed court charged with the murders.

The rose is the symbol of the Norwegian Labour party, whose youth camp members were cut down in Breivik’s gun rampage on Utoya island on Friday.

Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg told the crowd: ‘We will not let fear break us. The warmth of response from people in Norway and from the whole world makes me sure of this one thing – evil can kill a single person but never defeat a whole people…’

Earlier, a scheduled minute’s silence stretched on for five minutes in Oslo, while similar tributes were held not only across the country but in neighbouring Sweden and Denmark. Flags flew at half-mast across the capital, where a sea of bouquets is growing around the cathedral.

Mechanic Sven-Erik Fredheim, 36, said: ‘This is a tragic event to see all these young people dying due to one man’s craziness.

‘It is important to have this minute of silence so that all the victims and the parents of the families know that people are thinking about them.’

The turnout was so great the scheduled “march” had to be canceled. The whole of downtown Oslo was already filled with mourners leaving no room for a march route.

Bureaucrats unable to print tax reminder letters – no paper!

HM Revenue and Customs was due to send out millions of reminder letters to those who owed monies to be paid by July 31. But several hundred thousand people have still not received the reminders after HMRC officials failed to order enough paper on which to print the letters.

Officials apologised for the error and insisted that no one would be left out of pocket as those who did not receive reminders would be given an extra 30 days to pay without incurring interest charges…

An HMRC spokesman said: “Due to exceptionally high demand this year we are experiencing delays in sending paper self assessment tax statements to customers.

“This in no way prevents the accurate payment of tax and no one will be out of pocket as a result…”

We very much regret any inconvenience and will send paper statements to everyone who should have one as soon as possible.”

I admit it. I love how polite Brits can be when they know the cock-up is their own fault.

Reminds me of the time an immigration piglet at Gatwick snorted Woolite I had in my backpack. He was convinced he was going to catch me smuggling drugs.

Gave me the most polite apology – after bubbles stopped popping out of his nose.