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     Volume 4 Issue 62 | September 9, 2005 |

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Sponge used to study organ rejection
A University of Barcelona researcher found the red beard sea sponge, which grows near Florida, could help determine why organ are rejected in humans. The red beard sponge has a cell-to-cell recognition system that, on a basic level, is similar to that of humans but much simpler. It's also a good organism for laboratory research, since its cells and cell adhesion molecules can be isolated with simple, fast and non-disruptive methods and studied, according to Fernandez-Busquets. In experiments this summer at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., Fernandez-Busquets studied the cells and molecules believed to be involved in the process of tissue rejection. By grafting together pieces of different individual sponges that will reject each other -- a process that approximates what sometimes happens in human transplants -- the scientists have observed that cells known as gray cells migrate to and amass at the graft site, a clear suggestion that they are involved in non-self tissue recognition and rejection. Researchers believe gray cells may be a primitive form of the human immune system's human killer cells.

A Disaster Map 'Wiki' Is Born
Of all of the websites tracking the Katrina disaster, surely one of the most remarkable is Scipionus.com. Visitors swoop down over a map of the Gulf Coast that's awash in hundreds of red teardrops, each denoting information about specific geographical points in the area. That's pretty amazing in itself, but there's more: All of the information on the map has been provided by ordinary citizens, most of whom presumably have come to the site in search of information on the flood themselves. Since Scipionus.com launched, it has become a giant visual "wiki" page, attracting tens of thousands of visitors who are collaborating in creating a public document of astonishing detail. "Corner of 1077 and Brewster. Had contact with parents. Lots of trees down, but no water damage. No electricity and no phone at the moment 8/31 2:00pm," reads one of hundreds of entries. The site is the brainchild of Jonathan Mendez, a 24-year-old computer programmer living in Austin, Texas. Mendez says he grew frustrated combing message boards trying to find out if his family home -- the one his parents and brother had just fled from -- had been destroyed.

Florida Tech team invents restaurant pager
A Florida Tech student design team won an advanced E-team grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance for a restaurant pager. The Florida Tech team was awarded an $11,500 NCIIA grant for developing an interactive restaurant paging system that allows patrons to play games, view a menu and check estimated wait time while waiting for a table. The NCIIA is an initiative of The Lemelson Foundation, a private philanthropy established by one of the country's most prolific inventors, the late Jerome Lemelson, and his family. The foundation supports the belief that invention and innovation are critical to U.S. higher education. Lemelson held more than 500 patents and developed such devices as bar code readers, cordless phones, cassette players, camcorders and even crying dolls. He obtained an average of one patent monthly for more than 40 years.

Burning Peat Bogs Add to Global Warning
Peat bogs set on fire to clean rainforests in Indonesia are releasing up to a seventh of the world's total fossil fuel emissions in a single year. Susan Page, of Leicester University in England, said an area the size of Belgium has been cleared and burned in the past eight years. Tropical peatlands are one of the largest stores of carbon on Earth and burning them is contributing massively to global warming, Page told a Royal Geographical Society's annual international conference in London. Once lit, the peat bogs are hard to extinguish. This situation will only worsen. Although human-activated burning rates have slowed in the last three years, the cleared areas are easily ignited during droughts, said Page. These occur naturally every three to seven years and will continue to make the problem worse for years to come.

Sonic 'Lasers' Head to Flood Zone
Air-raid sirens, Frank Sinatra songs and Muhammad Ali trash talk blared over the Southern California desert in a demonstration of new acoustic technology for crowd control and disaster communications. In mid-90's morning heat at Edwards Air Force Base, HPV Technologies and American Technology demonstrated prototypes of non-lethal sonic devices for a group of military and law enforcement guests. Representatives of both companies say that within days, they will ship some units of their respective products to areas hit by Hurricane Katrina, so authorities can use the tools for crowd control, aid distribution and rescue operations. Costa Mesa, California-based HPV showed off three sizes of its Magnetic Acoustic Device, or MAD, a black square panel composed of multiple speakers. The units on display ranged from about 4 to 10 feet across. The device uses magnets to convert electrical pulses into sound waves, and is capable of aiming sound precisely for thousands of feet -- like the sonic equivalent of a laser, or spotlight. American Technology is donating four devices -- three MRADs (medium-range acoustic devices) and one LRAD (long-range acoustic device). The four devices will be shipped out to a Marine military police unit that is deploying to the Gulf States area for disaster-relief efforts. "You don't appreciate how powerful this stuff is until you stand a mile away and can't see the transmitter -- but can hear every word in a Queen song," said Cmdr. Sid Heal, who heads the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department technology exploration program. "At a quarter mile, it sounds as clear as a car radio; at a half a mile, you have to raise your voice to talk to the guy next to you; at three quarters of a mile, laborers raking up leaves were putting in music requests."

Source: Wired and Webindia123

Compiled by IMRAN H. KHAN


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