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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Monkeys can now see the world in full colour

Gene therapy using an Adenovirus vector. A new...Image via Wikipedia

PARIS - Two monkeys were cured of colour blindness, thanks to gene therapy that one day may open the way to treating eye disorders in humans, scientists said yesterday.

The ground-breaking technique used a cold virus as a "Trojan horse" to infect cone-shaped cells in the retina, stealthily delivering a gene that provides a pigment which is sensitive to red.

About 20 weeks after the treatment, the two primates began to acquire full colour vision, according to the paper, published by the British journal, Nature.

It thus gives the lie to the belief that congenital vision defects become "hard-wired" through neural connections soon after birth, and cannot be corrected.

Colour vision in the two adult squirrel monkeys has remained stable more than two years after treatment, the paper says.

Red-green colour blindness affects between 5 and 8 per cent of men, and around 1 per cent of women. AFP

From TODAY, World – Thursday, 17-Sep-2009

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Recycled car vrooms to 1st race

LONDON - A racing car built from recycled drinks bottles, old aircraft panels and carrot tops will line up for its first competitive race next month.

The Formula Three car, which runs on fuel derived from chocolate waste and wine dregs, was built by engineers at Warwick University as part of a project to push green technology to its limits.

The £500,000 ($1.2 million) car has a top speed of 170mph and can accelerate faster than a conventional Formula Three car, reaching 60mph from a standing start in around 2.5 seconds.

The car's chassis was salvaged from a scrapped vehicle, as was the two litre BMW diesel engine.

More than half of the body panels are from materials destined for landfill, such as old carbon fibre aircraft panels.

The car's steering wheel was produced by a Scottish company that turns fibres from carrot waste into fishing rods and other products. THE GUARDIAN

From TODAY, World – Wednesday, 09-Sep-2009

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monkeys hold key to diseases

The structure of part of a DNA double helixImage via Wikipedia


Twin baby monkeys, Mito (left) and Tracker, aged six days. AFP

Four baby monkeys created in a laboratory in the United States could hold the key to the eradication of a class of incurable genetic diseases, scientists revealed on Wednesday.

In an experiment that brings the creation of babies with three biological parents a step closer, Spindler, Spindly and twins Mito and Tracker were born through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) using a technique that should make it possible to prevent women who carry genetic disorders of the mitochondria from passing them on to their children.

Defects in mitochondria - tiny structures known as the power houses or batteries of a cell because they convert food into energy for the cell - affect about one in 5,000 births and can cause about 50 known diseases, such as fatal liver failure, stroke-like episodes, blindness, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and deafness.

Mitochondrial DNA also plays a role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's.

The team of scientists from the Oregon National Primate Research Centre swapped the mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) from the macaque monkey mother's egg for the mDNA of a donor egg.

The reconstructed eggs were then fertilised with the father's sperm and the healthy offspring were born.

Tests showed that no mDNA from the mother's egg had been transferred to the donor egg.

This the first time that primates have been genetically modified in this way.

The fact that healthy offspring have been produced paves the way for the use of the techniques in humans.

But the research, published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, will reignite the ethical debate over genetic engineering and so-called "designer babies".

Babies born using the new technique would inherit most of their genetic material from their mother and father, but a tiny amount - mitochondrial DNA accounts for less than 1 per cent of all the DNA in a human body - would come from the donor of the mDNA. This genetic material would then be passed on to future generations.

Mitochondria, which are strewn throughout the cell body, contain their own DNA separate from that in the nucleus of cells.

Like nuclear DNA, mDNA harbours genes that can mutate and cause disease.

However, mDNA can only be passed on to offspring via mothers' eggs. It is not transmitted by sperm.

Dr Marita Pohlschmidt, director of research at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, said: "We welcome these new advances and believe affected families should be offered the choice of having a healthy child." THE GUARDIAN


From TODAY, World – Friday, 28-Aug-2009

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Dream a little dream

The FantasticksImage via Wikipedia

This is a late posting, but I will post just the same, as I am sort of following this girl's (fast becoming a lady now) steps in the industry


Performing on Broadway and singing with Adam Lambert are just two of Julia Abueva's dreams

Teen singing sensation Julia Abueva.

SHE HAS been featured on Oprah, performed for heads of state, and starred in musicals Sleepless Town and The Fantasticks. She gave her first stage performance when she was seven and, six years later, performed her first full-length solo concert. Not bad for a 13-year-old (she'll be 14 in November).

And Julia Abueva, who will perform a solo recital at Popstars City this Friday, said she isn't planning to stop any time soon.

"I really want to pursue singing for the rest of my life," said the girl who cites the Pussycat Dolls, Beyonce and Adam Lambert as musical heroes. "I have two really big dreams: To be on Broadway, or make it as a recording artiste."

Plans for another solo concert are already underfoot, and she's going to perform a second run of The Fantasticks in November.

Her recital show will feature "mostly songs from musical theatre". "Broadway is my strength," said the eighth-grader at the Singapore American School. "I've loved it ever since I was small."

What do you think you've gained in your musical journey so far?

I gained lots of discipline. I've learned to juggle singing and school. I'm not going to lie, it's very difficult! And there are days when I'm like, 'I can't do this anymore'. But since I love performing and singing so much, if I want to continue doing it, I have to prove that I can do it.

You appeared on Oprah last year and you'll be on a show on Channel NewsAsia this year. What do you think about that?

It was funny because CNA went to my school during the open house and I was walking around with my friends and the TV crew was following me. My friends asked, 'You have your own TV show?' It was a lot of fun!

Who would you like to perform with?

I can't perform with him, but I would like to meet Simon Cowell. I think he's a really cool dude, even though a few people might not like him. But, oh, Adam Lambert - I would like to do a duet with him.

What keeps you motivated?

I think I'm very blessed. My parents didn't know anything about the industry, but the offers kept coming. And I thank the Lord everyday for the blessings. I'll take whatever opportunities come. But stay grounded, that's what my parents keep telling me. And my friends would say that if I ever put on a diva attitude they would be the first to shoot me!

Catch Julia Abueva in An Evening With A New Star at Popstars City, on Friday at 8pm.


From TODAY, Plus – Thursday, 27-Aug-2009

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Humans and monkeys

A young female of White-fronted Capuchi Monkey...Image via Wikipedia

If you are thinking that this supports the evolution theory, think again.

Well, you believe what you believe, even if it is only a theory.

And not to digress from the real news being presented, read it here:

Study: Monkeys share human preference for imitation

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Teacher who amended PSLE scripts sentenced to 8 weeks' jail

I am tempted to change the title of this news, but as I am both perplexed and amused (amused meaning entertained without any thinking), I decided to keep it the same, full text.

I mean, as there are so many students who would do anything to pass their exams, I couldn't think of a teacher to do some 'manipulation' on the test scripts – for what, or whatever, that is something else. And in Singapore? Come on.

Not to spoil the news, find out more, and read it here.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Malaysia teacher makes student smoke to punish him

The cigarette is the most common method of smo...Image via Wikipedia

This is a harsh punishment indeed, and for one, I don't smoke.

What benefit is there from smoking? At least I do something for a cause, or for its benefit.

Is there any cause to smoke, or is there any benefit to it?

But I do agree, the punishment is unwarranted.

Read the news story here.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A soaring tale about a grumpy old man

A new movie for the kids, both young and young at heart, educational, entertaining!


By Mayo Martin, TODAY

Posted: 05 August 2009 1014 hrs

A scene from Pixar's Up

Up is one heck of a breathtaking adventure. It's bloody hilarious. It's tenderly moving and thoroughly entertaining. That's amazing, considering it's an animated movie about a grumpy geriatric who hardly says anything and, for the most part, hobbles around.

In a tale that story- and treatment-wise sits closer to Hayao Miyazaki's wonderous Japanese films like Howl's Moving Castle than to any recent Hollywood cartoon flick, old recluse Carl Fredricksen (voiced by the great Ed Asner) and his accidental sidekick - the pudgy, over-eager Asian boy scout Russell - set out to the wilderness of South America in a flying house.

Up is filled with funny scenarios (it's not "ha-ha" funny, but ponder over the image of an old man dragging along a house when you step out of the cinema) and even funnier characters (a female bird named Kevin, a "talking dog" named Dug, and a vicious Doberman who speaks in a voice that's, well, very un-Doberman-like).

There was apprehension about how a cartoon about such a normal, albeit odd, couple would fare with audiences accustomed to more "out there" characters. And, yes, it's true that Up isn't particularly straight-forward children's fare.

But if its predecessor - Pixar's left-of-centre minimalist gem about a rusty robot named Wall*E - proves anything, it's that in the end, a good old-fashioned story will always prove to be a good story.

And in those terms, Up is, you know, right up there with the best of them.

- TODAY/yb


From; see the source article here.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Baby with two heads born in Philippines

Conjoined twin sisters from the Nuremberg Chro...Image via Wikipedia

I wanted to just take the headline, and put in the link to the news article, but I feel that this is something very extraordinary, and controversial (isn't it?). I'm putting in the full text, and the link as well.


Posted: 29 July 2009 1612 hrs

A nurse checks the vital signs of conjoined twins in Manila

MANILA : Doctors at a Philippine hospital were Wednesday trying to save a baby girl born with two heads, officials said.

The baby was born late Tuesday and is now under observation at the neo-natal intensive care unit of the Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila.

A hospital spokeswoman said the baby was stable at the moment, but said she may die if tests proved both heads shared only one set of vital organs.

"The rate of survival will depend on the shared organ. If they only have one heart, they will not survive," the unidentified spokeswoman told local radio.

Reports said the father Salvador Arganda was a tricycle driver. He and his wife, Chateria, already have five other children and there was no known history of twins in the family.

Officials at the hospital said the extra head appeared to be a twin of the girl who failed to fully separate during the development stage in early pregnancy.

"This is the first case of its kind here in the hospital," one Fabella doctor said, but said other hospitals in Manila have in the past recorded similar cases.

- AFP/vm

From; see the source article here.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Other Amateurs Who Made Their Mark

Mr Anthony Wesley is the latest in a long line of amateur astronomers who have shown the professionals a thing or two. In 1925, Mr Clyde Tombaugh made very detailed drawings of Jupiter and Mars and sent them to the Lowell Observatory. He was offered a job as a junior astronomer and discovered Pluto 10 months later.

In the mid-1970s, American Stephen James O'Meara saw what looked like spokes on the rings of Saturn. He was unable to get his drawings published, as most astronomers believed them to be optical illusions. In 1979, Voyager 1's photographs proved him right.

Mr David Levy has discovered 22 comets. In March 1993, with his friends Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker, they discovered the Levy-Shoemaker 9 comet orbiting Jupiter. On July 23, 1995, Mr Thomas Bopp, a warehouse worker, was observing the Arizona night sky as was a professional astronomer, Mr Alan Hale, when he spotted a faint, fuzzy object. The comet was subsequently named Hale-Bopp. The Guardian

From TODAY, World – Thursday, 23-Jul-2009

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Galactic smash-up

Google Jupiter?Image by earthhopper via Flickr

Australian amateur tells of 'one in a million' Jupiter spot

SYDNEY - An Australian amateur stargazer who spotted a "one in a million" impact on Jupiter told of his astonishment yesterday as he chanced upon the Earth-sized dent in its gassy atmosphere.

Mr Anthony Wesley, 44, who has had a life-long passion for the stars, was photographing the planet near midnight on Sunday when he noticed a black mark that had not been there two nights earlier.

The computer programmer, who watches the sky with his 37cm telescope in the backyard of his farm outside Canberra said he first thought it was a shadow cast by one of the planet's 63 moons.

A photo of Jupiter as taken from Canberra on Monday by amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley.

For the next two hours, Mr Wesley frantically photographed the mark, then started emailing astronomers, "to get the professional astronomers in and let them take over".

After Nasa experts spent six hours examining the spot with an infra-red telescope in Hawaii, the verdict came in - Jupiter had been hit, possibly a stray comet or a block of ice which left an Earth-sized dent in its gaseous atmosphere.

Mr Franck Marchis, an astronomer at the Seti Institute said humans should be thankful for Jupiter.

"We should thank our giant planet for suffering for us," he said.

"Its strong gravitational field is acting like a shield protecting us from comets coming from the outer part of the solar system." Agencies

From TODAY, World – Thursday, 23-Jul-2009

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Solar eclipse shrouds Asia in cloak of darkness

TOKYO - JULY 22:  In this handout image provid...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Is this your first time to witness a solar eclipse? If it were many years back then, technology wasn't available to capture so many awesome pictures.

One news story is here. Hope you learn something about the solar system we live in.


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Barnes & Noble launches world's largest eBook shop

Image representing Barnes & Noble as depicted ...Image via CrunchBase

If you are into buying books, and even utilizing the internet in that hobby, you may like this.

I do buy through the internet, and so far, I have not been scammed, or at least, for those 'clean sells' that I know of, they are guaranteed to be safe.

Barnes & Noble is making a move in that direction, read the news story here.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

If you would be stranded in an airport…

Air Traffic Control Towers (ATCTs) at Schiphol...Image via Wikipedia

The best airport to sleep in, and the worst one, is…

Well, it was based on some survey, so it'd better be true and valid. Read that news story here.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

The end is nigh for written exams

Students taking a test at the University of Vi...Image via Wikipedia

How would you like written exams?

Or, how would you like if written exams are done away with?

Read this news… happening in Britain:


LONDON - Exams have been a rite of passage for millions, but within a decade they could be history, according to Britain's chief executive of Cambridge Assessment, Mr Simon Lebus.

He said traditional examinations are likely to disappear within 10 to 15 years, to be replaced by computerised testing.

Instead of three-hour written exams, there will be continual e-assessment throughout pupils' courses. Exam boards are currently investing millions of pounds in developing the technology - and, Mr Lebus claimed, it is not "science fiction".

The computerised world would allow pupils to take tests when they are ready. It could also involve "adaptive" testing: Generating harder questions when a pupil gets an answer right or easier ones when they are wrong. Such tests are thought to be more accurate at diagnosing a pupil's level of skill.

But academics warn against the shift. Professor of education Alan Smithers at Buckingham University said: "Making judgments about performance isn't easy. The best way of doing it is dispassionate assessment of students tackling the same tasks under the same conditions." The Guardian

From TODAY, World – Tuesday, 14-Jul-2009


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Monday, July 6, 2009

Australian dinosaurs found

Modified version of via Wikipedia

Are you interested in dinosaurs? They've found some in the Australia, I think the third kind now. She is named Matilda. See the news here from National Geographics.

In a similar development, Yahoo! News have a coverage here as well.


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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Myanmar fossil may shed light on evolution

Three small ammonite fossils, each approximate...Image via Wikipedia

07/02/2009 | 08:53 AM

BANGKOK, Thailand – Fossils recently discovered in Myanmar could prove that the common ancestors of humans, monkeys and apes evolved from primates in Asia, rather than Africa, researchers contend in a study released Wednesday.

However, other scientists said that the finding, while significant, won't end the debate over the origin of anthropoids — the primate grouping that includes ancient species as well as modern humans.

The pieces of 38 million-year-old jawbones and teeth found near Bagan in central Myanmar in 2005 show typical characteristics of primates, said Dr. Chris Beard, a paleontologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and a member of the team that found the fossils.

"When we found it, we knew we had a new type of primate and basically what kind of primate it was," Beard said in a telephone interview from Pittsburgh. "It turns out that jaws and teeth are very diagnostic. ... They are almost like fingerprints for fossils like this."

The findings were published in the Proceedings of The Royal Society B, a London-based peer-reviewed journal.

Beard and his team from France, Thailand and Myanmar concluded that the fossils — which they dubbed Ganlea megacanina — came from 10 to 15 individuals of a new species that belonged to an extinct family of Asian anthropoid primates known as Amphipithecidae.

Wear and tear found on the canine teeth suggest the tree-dwelling, monkey-like creatures with long tails used their teeth to crack open tropical fruit to get to the pulp and seeds — behavior similar to modern South American saki monkeys that inhabit the Amazon basin, Beard said.

"Not only does Ganlea look like an anthropoid, but it was acting like an anthropoid 38 million years ago by having this feeding ecology that was quite specialized," Beard said.

His team determined that the fossil was 38 million years old, making it several million years older than any anthropoid found in Africa and the second-oldest discovered in Asia.

In 1994, Beard and his Chinese colleagues found fossilized foot bones of the anthropoid Eosimias — one of the worlds smallest primates — which lived between 40 million and 45 million years ago and roamed ancient rain forest on the eastern coast of China.

Beard said the age of both fossils was the evidence he needed to challenge contentions that anthropoid primates had evolved in Africa, where Lucy, a 3.2 million-year-old fossil, was discovered in 1974.

"This new fossil Ganlea definitely helps us argue — and we think the argument is pretty close to settled now — that when you go back this far in time, the common ancestor of monkeys, apes and humans was definitely in Asia, not in Africa," Beard said.

In May, researchers unveiled a nearly intact skeleton of a 47 million-year-old primate — found in Germany and dubbed "Ida" — that they said provides a glimpse into how our distant ancestors may have looked.

"We wouldn't claim Ganlea is missing link, but we know Ganlea is much more closely related to our ancestors than Ida ever was — even though, unfortunately, we don't have complete skeleton like they did for Ida," he said.

Jorn Hurum, who brought Ida to the University of Oslo Natural History Museum, said that it was too early to draw conclusions from the Myanmar fossils because only jawbones and teeth were found.

"These fragments are still too few and far between," Hurum said. "This is the kind of scientific debate that will continue until more complete skeletons like Ida has been found, and this may take several hundred years."

Stony Brook University Prof. John G. Fleagle, a paleontologist, said the discovery of Ganlea is important because it shows how several different primates found in Myanmar are related and provides interesting suggestions about a unique dietary specialization.

But he said the Myanmar fossils do little to prove whether anthropoids evolved in Asia or Africa — or even whether Ganlea was an anthropoid or an early relative of lemurs.

"This doesn't add anything new about whether anthropoids came from Africa or Asia or the broader evolutionary relationships of these particular primates ," Fleagle said.

"The definitive features that would resolve it in people's mind would be in the skull," he said. "Without a skull to demonstrate the distinctive anthropoid features of the eye and ear regions, scientists will still continue to debate whether the dental similarities just indicate similar diets or are the result of a common heritage."

Beard isn't letting the criticism slow him down. He and his team expect to return in November to Myanmar to continue searching for more fossils and exploring how anthropoids evolved in Asia and then migrated to Africa.

"The question is when and how did this big evolutionary shift occur from Asia to Africa," Beard said. "That is something we are trying to establish. We have a team working in Myanmar which has ideas of places to go in Africa to try and pick up thread there." - AP

From; see the source article here.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Day two of torch relay ceremony takes AYG flame to 45 schools

By Lynda Hong, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 29 June 2009 1206 hrs

AYGStart3 SINGAPORE: The Asian Youth Games (AYG) torch relay continues in Singapore on Monday.

The first light for the day was ignited by Singapore Education Minister Ng Eng Hen during the torch-lighting ceremony at the Games Village just before seven in the morning.

Day two of the torch relay ceremony will see the flame being brought to 45 schools across Singapore. And one of them is West Spring Secondary School, representing Friendship, one of the Olympic values.

And together with Respect and Excellence, the three routes named after the Olympic values are relayed by 135 torch bearers to the schools.

For some, the responsibility of bearing the 1-kilogramme torch will be an unforgettable - and unnerving - experience.

A student torch bearer from West Spring Secondary School, Bibiana Loh, said: "I'm not very comfortable with fire. I can light candles and stuff but not one huge torch like that."

And even with H1N1 flu looming over the new school term, students and staff kept the festive mood going.

Principal of West Spring Secondary School, Seet Tiat Hee, said: "Today being the first day of school, we are trying to balance between all the precautionary measures (for H1N1 flu) and celebrating the AYG."

By evening, the flame will light up the Asian Youth Games' opening ceremony at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

- CNA/yt

From; see the source article here.

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