Beaucoup Pics of the Day

astronomy photog of 2013
Click to watch slideshow

From views of the Moon and our neighbours in the solar system, to colourful depictions of the gases and galaxies which swirl in deep space. Take a look at the best images – and see the overall winner – of the 2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.

Baltic fishermen find the oldest message in a bottle

A postcard dated May 17, 1913, and found in a bottle by German fishermen appears to be the oldest such message ever found.

Konrad Fischer, captain of a fishing boat from Schleswig-Holstein, told Kieler Nachrichten, a local newspaper, that he was about to throw the bottle back in the sea when someone told him it was not empty, the reported.

“When I saw the date I got really excited,” he said.

The postcard, from Denmark, had German stamps on it. It was signed by Richard Platz and addressed to his own home in Berlin with a message asking the finder to put it in the mail.

The Guinness Book of World Records lists the oldest previous message in a bottle as 97 years, found in 2012.

Fischer said his previous finds during his 50 years as a fisherman have been more alarming, including mines, bombs, torpedoes and a body.

Another reporter researching the story discovered that Richard Platz from Berlin – died in the First World War.

Diarrhea linked to prescribing unnecessary antibiotics

Dr. Frieden

Severe diarrheal illness — Clostridium difficile — is linked to antibiotics prescribed in U.S. doctor’s offices, federal health officials say.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said the majority of pediatric C. difficile infections, which are bacterial infections that cause severe diarrhea and are potentially life-threatening, occur among children in the general community who recently took antibiotics prescribed in doctor’s offices for other conditions.

A study by the CDC, published in the journal Pediatrics, found 71 percent of the cases of C. difficile infection identified among children ages 1 to 17 were community-associated — that is, not associated with an overnight stay in a healthcare facility.

In contrast, two-thirds of C. difficile infections in adults are associated with hospital stays, he said.

Among the community-associated pediatric cases whose parents were interviewed, 73 percent were prescribed antibiotics during the 12 weeks prior to their illness, usually in an out-patient setting such as a doctor’s office. Most of the children who received antibiotics were being treated for ear, sinus, or upper respiratory infections, the study said.

Previous studies showed at least 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in doctor’s offices for children are for respiratory infections, most of which do not require antibiotics, Frieden said.

“Improved antibiotic prescribing is critical to protect the health of our nation’s children,” Frieden said in a statement. “When antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly, our children are needlessly put at risk for health problems including C. difficile infection and dangerous antibiotic resistant infections.”

C. difficile causes at least 250,000 infections in hospitalized patients and 14,000 deaths every year among children and adults. Preliminary CDC data show an estimated 17,000 children age 1 to 17 get C. difficile infections every year…

When a person takes antibiotics, beneficial bacteria that protect against infection can be altered or even eliminated for several weeks to months. During this time, patients can get sick from C. difficile picked up from contaminated surfaces or spread from a healthcare provider’s hands.

Our culture persists in looking for easy solutions, the magic bullet that will resolve all illness with a single prescription. Preferably sugar-coated.