Richard Harris http://wgcu.org en Ebola Drug Could Be Ready For Human Testing Next Year http://wgcu.org/post/ebola-drug-could-be-ready-human-testing-next-year The <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/04/08/300509073/the-ebola-outbreak-three-weeks-in-dire-but-not-hopeless">Ebola outbreak</a> in West Africa is terrifying because there's no drug to treat this often fatal disease. But the disease is so rare, there's no incentive for big pharmaceutical companies to develop a treatment.<p>Even so, some small companies, given government incentives, are stepping into that breach. The result: More than half a dozen ideas are being pursued actively.<p>And these are boon days for drugs that can treat viruses. Fri, 11 Apr 2014 20:30:00 +0000 Richard Harris 9232 at http://wgcu.org Ebola Drug Could Be Ready For Human Testing Next Year How Mouse Studies Lead Medical Research Down Dead Ends http://wgcu.org/post/how-mouse-studies-lead-medical-research-down-dead-ends Most experimental drugs fail before they make it through all the tests required to figure out if they actually work and if they're safe. But some drugs get fairly far down that road, at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, based on poorly conducted studies at the outset.<p>Medical researchers reviewing this sorry state of affairs say the drug-development process needs serious improvement.<p>Consider drugs that are being developed to treat <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/amyotrophiclateralsclerosis.html">ALS</a>, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Tue, 08 Apr 2014 07:44:00 +0000 Richard Harris 9077 at http://wgcu.org How Mouse Studies Lead Medical Research Down Dead Ends Simple Blood Test To Spot Early Lung Cancer Getting Closer http://wgcu.org/post/simple-blood-test-spot-early-lung-cancer-getting-closer One of these days, there could well be a simple blood test that can help diagnose and track cancers. We aren't there yet, but a burst of research in this area shows we are getting a lot closer.<p>In the latest of these studies, scientists have used blood samples to identify people with lung cancer.<p>At the Stanford School of Medicine, <a href="http://stemcell.stanford.edu/about/Laboratories/diehn/index.html">Dr. Maximilian Diehn</a> spends some of his time as a radiation oncologist treating patients with cancer, and some of his time delving into the world of DNA. Sun, 06 Apr 2014 17:22:00 +0000 Richard Harris 9037 at http://wgcu.org Simple Blood Test To Spot Early Lung Cancer Getting Closer Custom Chromo: First Yeast Chromosome Built From Scratch http://wgcu.org/post/custom-chromo-first-yeast-chromosome-built-scratch Using the labor of dozens of undergraduate students, scientists have built a customized yeast chromosome from scratch.<p>It's a milestone in the rapidly growing field of synthetic biology, where organisms can be tailored for industrial use. In this case, the near-term goal is to understand the genetics of yeast, and eventually the genetics of us.<p>This was quite an undertaking. Yeast have about 6,000 genes packed in 16 tidy bundles called chromosomes. Thu, 27 Mar 2014 20:14:00 +0000 Richard Harris 8722 at http://wgcu.org Custom Chromo: First Yeast Chromosome Built From Scratch Fewer People Are Getting Infections In Hospitals, But Many Still Die http://wgcu.org/post/fewer-people-are-getting-infections-hospitals-many-still-die Hospital-acquired infections continue to be a big problem in health care, with 4 percent of patients getting a new infection while hospitalized, a study finds. And 11 percent of those infections turn deadly.<p>It's the first time that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has attempted to catalog all hospital infections, not just the infections with germs on their watch list. Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:27:00 +0000 Richard Harris 8673 at http://wgcu.org Fewer People Are Getting Infections In Hospitals, But Many Still Die Never Mind Eyesight, Your Nose Knows Much More http://wgcu.org/post/never-mind-eyesight-your-nose-knows-much-more The human eye can distinguish more than 2 million distinct colors. But scientists studying smell now say they have their vision colleagues beat: The human nose, they say, can distinguish more than a trillion different smells.<p>Yes, trillion with a T.<p>That new figure displaces a much more modest estimate. Thu, 20 Mar 2014 20:36:00 +0000 Richard Harris 8471 at http://wgcu.org Never Mind Eyesight, Your Nose Knows Much More Google's Flu Tracker Suffers From Sniffles http://wgcu.org/post/googles-flu-tracker-suffers-sniffles If you want to know what's up with the flu at the moment, you have a few choices: You can get the latest information at <a href="https://www.google.org/flutrends/us/#US">Google Flu Trends</a>. Thu, 13 Mar 2014 20:23:00 +0000 Richard Harris 8235 at http://wgcu.org Google's Flu Tracker Suffers From Sniffles Scientists Fear Ecological Disaster In Nicaragua's Planned Canal http://wgcu.org/post/scientists-fear-ecological-disaster-nicaraguas-planned-canal Scientists are raising the alarm about the possible environmental consequences of a huge shipping canal that could cut across Nicaragua, from the Pacific to the Atlantic.<p>The government of this Central American nation has signed a deal with a Chinese company that is planning to build a maritime shortcut that would compete with the Panama Canal. Construction could begin next year — yet there's no official route for the canal and no assessment of its potential impacts on the environment.<p>So far, the plan hasn't triggered much concern among international conservation groups. Thu, 20 Feb 2014 21:05:00 +0000 Richard Harris 7564 at http://wgcu.org Scientists Fear Ecological Disaster In Nicaragua's Planned Canal Ancient DNA Ties Native Americans From Two Continents To Clovis http://wgcu.org/post/ancient-dna-ties-native-americans-two-continents-clovis The mysterious Clovis culture, which appeared in North America about 13,000 years ago, appears to be the forerunner of Native Americans throughout the Americas, according to <a href="http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v506/n7487/full/nature13025.html">a study</a> in <em>Nature</em>. Thu, 13 Feb 2014 08:03:00 +0000 Richard Harris 7316 at http://wgcu.org Ancient DNA Ties Native Americans From Two Continents To Clovis Risky Tech Fixes For Climate Becoming Likelier, Critic Warns http://wgcu.org/post/risky-tech-fixes-climate-becoming-likelier-critic-warns Some strategists still see a small window of opportunity to address climate change before the effects become damaging and costly. Wed, 12 Feb 2014 21:14:00 +0000 Richard Harris 7308 at http://wgcu.org Risky Tech Fixes For Climate Becoming Likelier, Critic Warns Neanderthal Genes Live On In Our Hair And Skin http://wgcu.org/post/neanderthal-genes-live-our-hair-and-skin Neanderthals died out long ago, but their genes live on in us. Scientists studying human chromosomes say they've discovered a surprising amount of Neanderthal DNA in our genes. And these aren't just random fragments; they help shape what we look like today, including our hair and skin.<p>These genes crept into our DNA tens of thousands of years ago, during occasional sexual encounters between Neanderthals and human ancestors who lived in Europe at the time. Wed, 29 Jan 2014 20:56:00 +0000 Richard Harris 6835 at http://wgcu.org Ancient And Vulnerable: 25 Percent Of Sharks And Rays Risk Extinction http://wgcu.org/post/ancient-and-vulnerable-25-percent-sharks-and-rays-risk-extinction There are more than a thousand species of sharks and rays in the world, and nearly a quarter of them are threatened with extinction, according to a new study. Wed, 22 Jan 2014 08:44:00 +0000 Richard Harris 6556 at http://wgcu.org Ancient And Vulnerable: 25 Percent Of Sharks And Rays Risk Extinction An Old Tree Doesn't Get Taller, But Bulks Up Like A Bodybuilder http://wgcu.org/post/old-trees-grow-faster-every-year Like other animals and many living things, we humans grow when we're young and then stop growing once we mature. But trees, it turns out, are an exception to this general rule. In fact, scientists have discovered that trees grow faster the older they get.<p>Once trees reach a certain height, they do stop getting taller. So many foresters figured that tree growth — and girth — also slowed with age.<p>"What we found was the exact opposite," says <a href="http://www.werc.usgs.gov/person.aspx?personid=138">Nate Stephenson</a>, a forest ecologist with the U.S. Thu, 16 Jan 2014 08:27:00 +0000 Richard Harris 6396 at http://wgcu.org An Old Tree Doesn't Get Taller, But Bulks Up Like A Bodybuilder Whales, Dolphins Are Collateral Damage In Our Taste For Seafood http://wgcu.org/post/thousands-whales-dolphins-killed-satisfy-our-seafood-appetite Hundreds of thousands of marine mammals are injured or killed every year by fishermen around the world. And because most seafood in the U.S. is imported, that means our fish isn't as dolphin-friendly as you might expect.<p>Under pressure from conservation groups, federal regulators are preparing to tighten import standards to better protect marine mammals.<p>There was a time, more than 40 years ago, when U.S. fishermen killed millions of dolphins while fishing for tuna. Wed, 08 Jan 2014 16:05:00 +0000 Richard Harris 6150 at http://wgcu.org Whales, Dolphins Are Collateral Damage In Our Taste For Seafood West Coast's Early Warning System For Quakes Still Spotty http://wgcu.org/post/west-coasts-early-warning-system-quakes-still-spotty Earthquake scientists on the West Coast would like to build a system that would give people a bit of warning before they get jolted with strong shaking from a distant quake.<p>Seismic waves take time to travel from the epicenter, which means such a warning system could issue alerts ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. Thu, 26 Dec 2013 23:01:00 +0000 Richard Harris 5819 at http://wgcu.org West Coast's Early Warning System For Quakes Still Spotty Could Big Batteries Be Big Business In California? http://wgcu.org/post/could-big-batteries-be-big-business-california The California Public Utilities Commission has called on utilities and private companies to install about $5 billion worth of batteries and other forms of energy storage to help the state power grid cope with the erratic power supplied by wind and solar energy.<p>The need to store energy has become urgent because the state is planning to get a third of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade. Mon, 23 Dec 2013 08:24:00 +0000 Richard Harris 5729 at http://wgcu.org Could Big Batteries Be Big Business In California? Environmentalists Split Over Need For Nuclear Power http://wgcu.org/post/environmentalists-split-over-need-nuclear-power California is regarded as the leading state when it comes to addressing climate change. But in 2012, according to analysts at <a href="http://rhg.com/">Rhodium Group</a>, California's carbon emissions actually increased more than 10 percent, bucking the national trend of decreases. Tue, 17 Dec 2013 08:04:00 +0000 Richard Harris 5544 at http://wgcu.org Environmentalists Split Over Need For Nuclear Power Big Batteries Needed To Make Fickle Wind And Solar Power Work http://wgcu.org/post/big-batteries-needed-make-fickle-wind-and-solar-power-work Giant batteries are coming to a power grid near you. In fact, they're already starting to appear on the grid in California.<p>That's because California is planning to rely increasingly on power supplies that aren't necessarily available every minute of every day. The state plans to get one-third of its electricity from wind and solar energy by 2020.<p>Utilities in the state are trying to figure out how they can cope with that uncertain power supply. Batteries aren't a panacea, but they could help.<p>Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Wed, 11 Dec 2013 22:17:00 +0000 Richard Harris 5374 at http://wgcu.org Big Batteries Needed To Make Fickle Wind And Solar Power Work Tech Leaders, Economists Split Over Clean Energy's Prospects http://wgcu.org/post/tech-leaders-economists-split-over-clean-energys-prospects There is a broad scientific consensus that to keep global warming in check, we need to phase out 80 percent of all oil, coal and natural gas by midcentury. President Obama has set a nonbinding target to do precisely that.<p>There are technologists who say this national goal is well within reach, but there are also economists who are quite pessimistic about those prospects. Sat, 30 Nov 2013 10:37:00 +0000 Richard Harris 5007 at http://wgcu.org Tech Leaders, Economists Split Over Clean Energy's Prospects What's In It For U.S. To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions? http://wgcu.org/post/whats-it-us-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions The United Nations <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=246409449">negotiations in Warsaw</a> over a climate treaty are moving at glacial speed — and that's in part because there's a fundamental problem.<p>In the coming decades, carbon dioxide emissions from China, India and other rapidly developing countries are expected to grow quickly. Tue, 26 Nov 2013 07:51:00 +0000 Richard Harris 4880 at http://wgcu.org What's In It For U.S. To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions?