Key: Economy, Amusement,  Exhortation, Science, Health.

10/23/07: The exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, Dalai Lama, has been formally installed as a professor at Emory University in Atlanta.

9/18/07: Villagers in southern Peru were struck by a mysterious illness after a meteorite made a fiery crash to Earth in their area. Residents complained of headaches and vomiting brought on by a “strange odor,” and seven policemen who went to check on the reports also became ill and had to be given oxygen before being hospitalized. Rescue teams and experts were dispatched to the scene, where the meteorite left a 100-foot-wide (30-meter-wide) and 20-foot-deep (six-meter-deep) crater. Boiling water started coming out of the crater and particles of rock and cinders were found nearby.

8/28/07: A Viennese pathologist claims Beethoven’s physician inadvertently overdosed him with lead in a case of a cure that went wrong. Hair analysis shows that in the final months of the composer’s life, lead concentrations in his body spiked every time he was treated by his doctor, Andreas Wawruch, for fluid inside the abdomen. Those lethal doses permeated Beethoven’s ailing liver, ultimately killing him.

8/24/07: Astronomers have stumbled upon a tremendous hole in the universe. The cosmic blank spot has no stray stars, no galaxies, no sucking black holes, not even mysterious dark matter. It is 1 billion light years across of nothing. That’s an expanse of nearly 6 billion trillion miles of emptiness.

7/18/07: About 450,000 years ago, a “megaflood” breached a giant natural dam near the Dover strait and began the formation of the English Channel. Following this first disastrous flood, a second deluge finished the job by creating the great rift between Britain and France, geologists speculate.

7/6/07: Scientists on Tuesday blamed global warming for the disappearance of a glacial lake in remote southern Chile that faded away in just two months, leaving just a crater behind. The disappearance of the lake in Bernardo O’Higgins National Park was discovered in late May by park rangers, who were stunned to find a 130-foot deep crater where a large lake had been.

7/4/07: Happy July 4th! Buy fireworks and indulge in your pyromaniacal tendencies, my fellow readers!

7/1/07: Brain scans show that putting negative emotions into words calms the brain’s emotion center. That could explain meditation’s purported emotional benefits, because people who meditate often label their negative emotions in an effort to “let them go.” UCLA psychologist Matthew Lieberman and his colleagues hooked 30 people up to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machines, which scan the brain to reveal which parts are active and inactive at any given moment. When the participants chose labels for the negative emotions, activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex region — an area associated with thinking in words about emotional experiences — became more active, whereas activity in the amygdala, a brain region involved in emotional processing, was calmed. By contrast, when the subjects picked appropriate names for the faces, the brain scans revealed none of these changes — indicating that only emotional labeling makes a difference.

6/30/07: Spanish researchers on Friday said they had unearthed a human tooth more than one million years old, which they estimated to be the oldest human fossil remain ever discovered in western Europe. Jose Maria Bermudez de Castro said the molar, discovered on Wednesday in the Atapuerca Sierra in the northern province of Burgos, could be as much as 1.2 million years old.

6/24/07: New Zealand authorities have blocked a couple’s bid to officially name their new son “4real,” saying numerals are not allowed.

6/22/07: For the first time, manufacturers of vitamins, herbal pills and other dietary supplements will have to test all of their products’ ingredients. The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it is phasing in a new rule that is designed to address concerns that existing regulations allowed supplements onto the market that were contaminated or didn’t contain ingredients claimed on the label.

6/20/07: The European Space Agency (ESA) on Tuesday called for applications for one of the most demanding human experiments in space history: a simulated trip to Mars in which six “astronauts” will spend 17 months in an isolation tank on Earth. Their spaceship will comprise a series of interlocked modules in an research institute in Moscow, and once the doors are closed tight, the volunteers will be cut off from all contact with the outside world except by a delayed radio link.

6/17/07: Happy Father’s Day!

6/13/07: China has uncovered the skeletal remains of a gigantic, surprisingly bird-like dinosaur, which has been classed as a new species. Eight meters (26 ft) long and standing at twice the height of a man at the shoulder, the fossil of the feathered but flightless Gigantoraptor erlianensis was found in the Erlian basin in Inner Mongolia. The dinosaur weighed about 1.4 tonnes and lived some 85 million years ago.

6/12/07: Spurred by the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history, the Democratic-led House of Representatives is expected to approve a bill to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

6/10/07: The brain cranks out memories near its center, in a looped wishbone of tissue called the hippocampus. But a new study suggests only a small chunk of it, called the dentate gyrus, is responsible for “episodic” memories — information that allows us to tell similar places and situations apart. The finding helps explain where déjà vu originates in the brain, and why it happens more frequently with increasing age and with brain-disease patients. Like a computer logging its programs’ activities, the dentate gyrus notes a situation’s pattern — it’s visual, audio, smell, time and other cues for the body’s future reference. So what happens when its abilities are jammed? Déjà vu is a memory problem, occurring when our brains struggle to tell the difference between two extremely similar situations.

6/7/07: In a dramatic case of microbial sleuthing, US scientists said they have discovered a new, potentially deadly strain of bacteria previously unknown to medicine. Named Bartonella rochalimae, the new species is a close relative of a microbe that sickened thousands of soldiers during the First World War with what became known as trench fever, spread through body lice. It is also related to a bacteria identified 10 years ago during the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco as the cause of cat scratch disease, which infects 25,000 people a year in the United States.

6/5/07: British scientists plan to use stem cells to cure a common form of blindness, with the first patients receiving test treatment in five years. The pioneering project, launched on Tuesday, aims to repair damaged retinas with cells derived from human embryonic stem cells. Its backers say it involves simple surgery that could one day become as routine as cataract operations.

6/4/07: The FDA warns consumers to avoid using toothpaste made in China because it may contain a poisonous chemical — diethylene glycol — used in antifreeze. Over 40 deaths have already been reported. 

5/24/07: Business leaders gave their support on Thursday to a campaign by fast food giant McDonald’s to redefine the term “McJob” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Currently it describes McJob as “an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector.”

5/20/07: Billions of cicadas, known for mating calls that produce a din that can overpower lawn mowers, expected to emerge in parts of the Midwest after spending 17 years underground.

5/17/07: A millionaire couple were arrested on federal charges that they kept two Indonesian women as slaves in their swank Long Island home for more than five years, beating and abusing them and paying them almost nothing.

5/15/07: Warm temperatures melted an area of western Antarctica that adds up to the size of California.

5/10/07: Scientists discover hottest planet yet, named HD 149026b, with a scorching temperature of 3,700 degrees Fahrenheit (2,040 degrees Celsius), three times hotter than Mercury.

5/7/07: Gas 25 cents per gallon in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela vs. $3.50 per gallon gas prices in US.

5/3/07: Drinking coffee can help ward off Type II Diabetes and help prevent colon, rectal, and liver cancers; however, it can also increase the risk of leukemia and stomach cancer.

4/30/07: Blind pilot completes record-breaking flight to raise money for charity.

4/26/07: Denmark ranked happiest country in the world.

4/16/07: Deepest condolensces to the families and victims of Virginia Tech.


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