Patients with Drug-Resistant Malaria Cured by Simple Plant Therapy

❝ When the standard malaria medications failed to help 18 critically ill patients, the attending physician in a Congo clinic acted under the “compassionate use” doctrine and prescribed a not-yet-approved malaria therapy made only from the dried leaves of the Artemisia annua plant. In just five days, all 18 people fully recovered. This small but stunningly successful trial offers hope to address the growing problem of drug-resistant malaria…

❝ “To our knowledge, this is the first report of dried-leaf Artemisia annua controlling ACT-resistant malaria in humans,” the authors of the Phytomedicine paper note, adding that more comprehensive clinical trials on patients with drug-resistant malaria are warranted. “Successful treatment of all 18 ACT-resistant cases suggests that DLA should be rapidly incorporated into the antimalarial regimen for Africa,” they added, “and possibly wherever else ACT resistance has emerged.”…

❝ Another advantage of DLA over conventional malaria treatments is its low cost and the relative simplicity of its manufacture, Dr, Pamela Weathers said. While the processes for manufacturing ACT is costlier and requires a higher degree of expertise, producing DLA tablets can be accomplished with simpler equipment and a modest amount of training. Growing Artemisia annua and producing and testing the tablets, Weathers noted, are ideal local business that can provide jobs in impoverished areas and greatly expand access to antimalarial therapy.

That last paragraph defines an important bit of research too often left out by the Medical Industrial complex.

Thanks, Honeyman

Tampons glowing in blacklight detect leaking sanitary sewers


Professor Lerner checking a stream in Sheffield with more typical, more expensive methods

“You do get people looking at you strangely, but the tampon is not that obvious.”

That’s Professor David Lerner, explaining what it was like to conduct a research project where feminine hygiene products were inserted into streams and sewers around Yorkshire, UK. Why? It turns out tampons are an accurate and cheap way to sample water quality.

Towns and cities usually have two separate sewer systems. A sanitary sewer collects everything you flush or rinse down the drain, and transports it to a sewage facility for treatment. Storm sewers or overflow sewers collect up rain and runoff from roofs, paved roads, and parking lots. They empty that water into natural waterways like streams or rivers.

Storm sewers are not designed to handle untreated waste waters so it’s important to keep what goes into them clean. “Grey water” contamination is a common problem — water from dishwashers, showers, and laundry that ends up in the storm sewer via incompetent plumbing or deliberate dumping…

OBs – optical brighteners – are a regular additive to detergents that brighten whites and help hide yellow stains. They do this with a clever bit of visual trickery — an alternative name for optical whiteners is fluorescent whiteners. These compounds absorb invisible ultraviolet light and re-emit it as visible blue-white light, making your whites whiter. If you happen to have yellow stains on your shirt collar, the blue covers up the yellow via complementary color masking.

Optical brighteners do not occur naturally in rivers and streams, so they are a handy marker for contamination from human grey water sources. Brightening compounds glow brightly under UV light, so they’re a clear indicator of pollution.

Fibre optic cables can be inserted into sewer systems to monitor contamination, but the cost is quite high–up to $13 per meter of sewer tested. Spectrophotometers can be used to detect contaminants, but they aren’t cheap, and require training and calibration to use reliably. Testing an entire network of drains and sewers in a large urban area would be incredibly expensive in both time and equipment.

What Lerner and his research collaborator wanted was a simple, low-cost method for monitoring water contamination. Something that members of the public could do to to check their neighborhood streams. So the two Yorkshire engineers modified a US Environmental Protection Agency monitoring technique using cotton pads to be even simpler, smaller, and more portable: they used tampons as environmental samplers

Preliminary lab tests by the researchers confirmed that tampons quickly picked up optical brighteners at very low concentrations. Once they had their proof of concept, the scientists moved out into the field.

Tampons were placed in 16 surface water sewers, using the handy attached string to secure them to bamboo poles. After 3 days the tampons were retrieved and tested under UV light. And indeed, they did successfully detect grey water contamination, and determination of a positive and negative result was pretty clear. The total cost of each sampling? An estimated 30 cents including the cost of the black light…

This is what the military calls a field expedient. Like an improvised explosive device – the ever-popular IED so profligate in bits of the Middle East – any kind of field expedient can completely replace a more expensive traditional flavor of device.

After a couple of Yorkshire engineers complete larger, broadly inclusive testing, it sounds like another field expedient will enter the arsenal of water quality testing.

Infiniski offers built-to-suit shipping container houses

“It’s not because of Climate Change. It’s because I’ve never been able to leave food on my plate.” This is the motto of sustainable housing design firm Infiniski, whose dwellings are up to 80-percent comprised of reused, recycled and non-polluting materials. Among them are, you guessed it, shipping containers, but also railway tracks, forklift paletts and even old bottles. Though each house is tailored to the needs of the client, the one thing they have in common – in spite of the eye-catching design – is surprising affordability.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Infiniski is that, unlike other shipping container houses, its developed an adaptable process rather than a one-off design…”Depending on the project, Infiniski will use prefabricated steel modules, re-used maritime containers and/or wooden prefab modules,” which can be deployed to construct anything from family homes and residential blocks to hotels or offices.

The project pictured above is the Manifesto House built in 2009 over a period of 90 days in Curacaví, Chile. The 1700-sq ft house is built primarily from three reused shipping containers. The container at ground floor has been split and separated, with the containers on the upper level bridging the gap. By enclosing the resultant gap with thermally-efficient glass panels, the floor area is achieved despite using containers with a collective footprint of 970 sq ft…

…The house’s thermal performance is improved with the use of adjustable wooden solar shading made of wood from sustainable forest sources on one side, and making novel use of forklift pallets on the other. The idea here is that the pallets will open in winter allowing direct solar radiation on the container’s metal surfaces, providing a natural source of heating within. In summer they close to insulate the house from the unwanted source of heat.

This works well at Santa Fe’s latitude. There’s a shading structure using movable planks at Ghost Ranch.

Infiniski tells us the total cost of the project…was $105,000. It further claims that due to the “alternative energy systems” (presumably the natural heating and lighting systems) employed at the house, it’s 70-percent autonomous.

Built over six months in 2010, the Infiniski-designed Casa El Tiemblo in Avila, Spain, is a larger house 2050 sq ft in area. The house makes use of four shipping containers arranged in an L-formation with future extensions in mind. This house is also naturally heated, but complemented with a biomass boiler. In summer, the house exploits deciduous climbing plants shade rather than wooden shades. Its total cost was $186,000.

I get a small chuckle over “biomass”. The sawmill that supplies our home with slab waste just finished building a big addition to chip all waste into “biomass” to supply a couple of power generation plants in the eastern part of the state. I hope they continue to keep a few “spools” of slabs around for folks like us who also heat their homes with “biomass”.

Regular readers know I’m a big fan of reusing shipping containers. Even though the trade balance between the US and China has diminished significantly I doubt if our politicians will ever have the smarts to do a thorough job of rebuilding the export segment of our economy. So, shipping containers will continue to accumulate on our shores.

British pole dancers lobby for recognition as Olympic sport


Natasha Wang just won the US Championship

Set up by Vertical Dance’s KT Coates, the ‘Get Pole Dance Accepted into the Olympics’ petition also has the backing of Labfitness, a fellow fitness firm…

‘After a great deal of feedback from the Pole Dance community, many of us have decided that its about time pole fitness is recognised as a competitive sport – and what better way for recognition than to be part of the 2012 Olympics held in London!’ reads the petition.

Like the horizontal bar, the vertical bar should have a place in international competitive sport,’ it continues.

Comparing pole dancing to the likes of gymnastics and figure-skating, the group point out that it’s ‘acrobatic, gymnastic, technical and takes a great deal of physical skill and strength to master, earning it a place in the greatest sporting event in the world’…

‘This is an international sport that both men, women and those that are on a low income can take part in, unlike sports such as horse riding, sailing and snow based sports.’

At the time I signed the petition, there was a total of 5,756 signatures. To add your signature to the list simply click here.

Murdoch’s iPad newspaper, THE DAILY, debuts today

News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch introduced a news publication tailored specifically for Apple Inc.’s iPad, a bid to expand his media empire with a new business model for delivering content digitally.

Called the Daily, the publication will cost 99 cents a week or $39.99 a year, the companies said at a news conference in New York today. Apple unveiled a subscription payment system for the Daily and said it will soon be available for other publishers.

Murdoch, News Corp.’s chairman and chief executive officer, is betting the popularity of Apple’s iPad will draw subscribers and advertisers to the digital publication run by Jesse Angelo, the former managing editor of the News Corp.-owned New York Post. The Daily will feature general news, sports, arts and opinion sections, along with high-definition video and 360-degree photos.

The iPad demands that we completely reimagine our craft,” Murdoch said at the event. “I’m convinced that in the tablet era there’s room for a fresh and robust new voice…”

Murdoch developed the Daily after Apple demonstrated there’s a market for tablets, which blend the functionality of a touch-screen smartphone with a notebook computer. He said News Corp. has spent $30 million to get the publication off the ground and that it will cost about $500,000 a week to operate.

The editorial position of the publication will be “in the hands of the editor,” Murdoch said.

Angelo said the target demographic is everybody. “In terms of our editorial page, at the highest level, we are patriotic,” he said. “As for specific issues, read the editorial page every day…”

Cue said a subscription system for other publishers will be announced “very soon.” With the Daily, users can pay the 99 cents a week or $39.99 a year through an iTunes account.

You can try the online paper for these first couple of weeks for free – via a subsidy from Verizon. An advertising troll awaits. In any case, the app is free.

I’ll be trying it if for no other reason than a chance to examine the tech smarts, how well the subscription model works for me. The politics will be – I imagine – stultifying at best. But, that’s me. I do agree with Steve Jobs’ analysis of such projects vs. traditional newspaper pundits. That is, they all think their product is worth more than the paper they used to print it on – and it ain’t. An inexpensive subscription model results in expanding profits. If he’s right – Rupert is out to prove it.

New adhesive: eco-benign, inexpensive


Kaichang Li

An incidental discovery in a wood products lab at Oregon State University has produced a new pressure-sensitive adhesive that may revolutionize the tape industry – an environmentally benign product that works very well and costs much less than existing adhesives based on petrochemicals…

The discovery was made essentially by accident while OSU scientists were looking for something that could be used in a wood-based composite product – an application that would require the adhesive to be solid at room temperature and melt at elevated temperatures.

For that, the new product was a failure…

“Then I noticed that at one stage of our process this compound was a very sticky resin,” Li said. “I told my postdoctoral research associate, Anlong Li, to stop right there. We put some on a piece of paper, pressed it together and it stuck very well, a strong adhesive.”

Shifting gears, the two researchers then worked to develop a pressure-sensitive adhesive, the type used on many forms of tape, labels, and notepads.

It’s really pretty amazing,” Li said. “This adhesive is incredibly simple to make, doesn’t use any organic solvents or toxic chemicals, and is based on vegetable oils that would be completely renewable, not petrochemicals. It should be about half the cost of existing technologies and appears to work just as well…”

The new approach used at OSU is based on a different type of polymerization process and produces pressure-sensitive adhesives that could be adapted for a wide range of uses, perform well, cost much less, and would be made from renewable crops such as soy beans, corn or canola oil, instead of petroleum-based polymers.

The technology should be fairly easy to scale-up and commercialize, Li said.

“We believe this innovation has the potential to replace current pressure-sensitive adhesives with a more environmentally friendly formulation at a competitive price.”

The best scientists, the best science requires open, flexible minds – ready to respond to the unexpected with unintended discoveries.

Kaichang Li already has this sort of reputation. We should be glad he’s teaching future scientists to think and act to his standard.

Former F1 engineer unveils new city car


Yup – same guy designed both cars!

His most famous car has a top speed of 240 miles per hour.

With a top speed of 80 mph, Gordon Murray’s latest design isn’t likely to trouble too many speed cameras, but it shouldn’t worry environmentalists either.

The former Formula One engineer who created the iconic McLaren F1 supercar has officially unveiled the T.25 — his idea for a new class of city car.

Murray and his team based in Shalford, south east England, have been working on the design for the past three years and, until now, have kept the exact details of the car firmly under wraps. The car made its first public appearance on Monday at the UK’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment in Oxford.

At less than eight feet long and a little over four feet wide, the T.25 is smaller than Daimler AG’s popular Smart car, and a petrol engine model will retail for around $9,000.

The price tag isn’t exactly Formula One, but the technology and thinking employed to create the T.25 certainly is.

RTFA. Entertain the concept of a car with citywide capacity and Lilliputian price from a world class designer.