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     Volume 4 Issue 58 | August 12 , 2005 |

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Temperature change could hurt species
Researchers predict the Sinai Baton Blue butterfly found in an Egyptian area could persist for another 200 years in the absence human population pressures. The study predicts that in the absence of global warming, grazing, and plant collection -- activities linked to humans -- the world's smallest butterfly could live for at least 200 years. The Sinai Baton Blue population could withstand small increases in grazing intensity that would decrease their climate, but not increases in temperature, according to Martin Hoyle, of the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at the University of Exeter in England. As the level of global warming raises its impact, extinction rapidly accelerates. This implies there may be an annual average temperature, specific to each endangered species, above which extinction becomes much more likely. The Sinai Baton Blue is one of only two endemic animals in St. Katherine's Protectorate, one of Egypt's most recently designated protected areas.

Personal genetic profiles may be reality
Personal genetic profiles revealing a person's risk of disease, food intolerance and drug reactions could soon be a reality. George Church of the Harvard University Medical School in Boston said he read the entire genetic code, or genome, of the E.coli gut bacterium using off-the-shelf instruments -- an inexpensive microscope, a digital camera and fluorescent dyes, each of which binds to one of four DNA letters of the genetic code. Church said his ability to read DNA at a fraction of the normal cost indicates the cost of genetic technology could be reduced. These developments give the feeling that improvements are coming very quickly, said Church. A person's genetic code helps identify genetic risk factors for diseases such as cancer and allow drugs to be tailored to suit an individual's particular genetic make-up.

Laser as Defense Weapon
Researchers at Northwestern University's Centre for Quantum Devices in Illinois have demonstrated a laser that holds promise as a defense weapon. The specialised diode laser could be used in both civilian and military applications, according to the researchers. Once optimised, the tiny laser could quickly detect explosives and chemical warfare agents early and warn against possible threats. The Northwestern team, led by centre director Manijeh Razeghi, became the first to create a quantum cascade laser, or QCL, which can operate continuously at high power and at room temperature. Our achievement is critical to building an extremely sensitive chemical detection system, said Razeghi. One of the key elements in a successful system is the laser source. Both mid- and far-infrared diode lasers need to operate at room temperature, have high power -- greater than 100 milliwatts -- and be extremely small in order to keep the system portable. We have now demonstrated such a laser in the far-infrared wavelength range.

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