Writer, M.D. looks inside medics' minds

DOES daily exposure to patients' tragedies harden doctors, causing their empathy to atrophy? When young surgeons have to make their first incisions, which patients are they most likely to practice on? Does doctors' archetypal dark humour belie a troubling truth about the emotional demands of medical practice? What is life without memory?

These questions and others are explored in Writer, M.D. - a collection of short stories, fiction and non-fiction, penned by doctors. Without exception, these previously published works provide food for thought - from Abraham Verghese's compelling piece on the need for physicians to remember the art of the physical examination to a poignant essay on medical dissection by Pauline W. Chen.

Exemplifying the collection's best prose is psychiatrist Oliver Sacks's essay, The Lost Mariner. Writing about a patient who has Korsakoff's syndrome, a form of amnesia, Sacks says: "If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye. But if he has lost a self - himself - he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it." The sentiment captured in these few words is particularly poignant in the light of today's increasingly pressing issues of ageing and mental health.

Containing many such insights into the human condition, Writer, M.D. will leave you with much to mull over, long after you have put it down.

Airport laser interrogator gives you back your bottle

Sick of having to ditch your bottled water, booze and toiletries at the airport security post? That appalling hassle should end by April next year, when airports are supposed to start screening the contents of bottles for explosives.

But they can only do this if the bottle-scanning technologies currently being trialled are up to the job. This week, Cobalt Light Systems of the UK says its explosives detector has passed all its European civil aviation security tests - which means the end should be in sight for bottle-dumping at airport security.

The rule that no bottles larger than 100 millilitres can be carried on aircraft followed the failed 2006 attempt by 17 would-be terrorists who conspired to carry hydrogen peroxide-based liquid explosives onto aircraft in Britain.

The key to getting rid of the subsequent ban on all but the tiniest bottles is revealing what bottles contain without opening them. Cobalt Light Systems - a spinoff from the Central Laser Facility in Harwell, UK - uses a microwave oven-sized machine that uses a near-infrared laser to interrogate the liquid, powder or gel molecules in a bottle and reveal what they are chemically.

The technique, called spatially offset raman spectroscopy, shines the near-infrared laser into the bottle at a number of points. A small proportion of the light reflected back at each point is shifted in wavelength by the energy levels in the liquid molecules, and this small shift reveals what the substance is. Within five seconds of placing a bottle in the machine, a simple readout says: "marmite" or "hydrogen peroxide". See a video of the machine in action.

Crucially, Cobalt's newly-approved technology has a low rate of false alarms - it gives less than 0.5 per cent false positives - and reveals the seemingly innocent precursor chemicals that could be mixed inflight to create a potent explosive, says CEO Paul Leoffen.

Costa Concordia cruise ship pictured from space

The huge scale of the Costa Concordia disaster is apparent in this satellite image of the stricken cruise ship just off the Italian island of Giglio.

The oil boom that aims to protect the coast from fuel leaks from the ship's giant tanks is visible trailing along the left-hand side. The island and its surrounding waters are part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, which is home to the endangered Mediterranean monk seal.

The ship is in a precarious position after swiftly capsizing on an undersea ridge after striking the rocks on Friday. Within 45 minutes of the crash, it was listing at an angle too steep for lifeboats to be lowered from its port side. Rescue work has been suspended since the ship slipped, amid fears it could slide into deeper waters.

This image was captured by WorldView-1, a commercial imaging satellite operated by DigitalGlobe.

Bird flu researchers stand down for 60 days

The world's top flu virologists have vowed to stop working on any experiments that could lead to the H5N1 bird flu virus becoming more transmissible – at least, for the next 60 days. It's a good gesture, but whether 60 days is enough to really deal with the Pandora's box they have opened is another matter.

As we reported in September, two labs – in the Netherlands and the US – finally breached the genetic barrier that stopped H5N1 bird flu from spreading easily through the air between mammals – in this case, ferrets, who get flu a lot like we do.

H5N1 hasn't done that in nature, which is what stops it from going pandemic in mammals like us. Frighteningly, the virus was just as deadly in ferrets after it became easy to catch. Now, H5N1 kills around half the humans who catch it. If H5N1 stayed that lethal and became as easy to catch as ordinary flu – as the ferret virus did – civilisation might not survive the resulting pandemic.

The journals and the research and biosafety community in the US are now debating how to publish that research, which details to withhold about what made the virus transmissible (just in case a bioterrorist is interested), and paradoxically, how to make those details available to virologists who must now look for the mutations in H5N1 in the wild. Virologists must also, as Ron Fouchier of the Dutch lab noted yesterday, ensure that they don't inadvertently create H5N1 viruses with those mutations in low-containment labs. He checked, and apparently someone had a virus with four of the five mutations required. Eek.

So virologists have pledged to stop for a bit while they decide, I hope, who will do what and with what safety precautions. Sixty days doesn't seem very long for that. Certainly not long enough to bring all the scientists who might do this work into an organisation where peer pressure and careful deliberation will establish norms and guidelines that will, with luck, prevent anyone from releasing a killer.

Previous efforts at corralling researchers for the greater good have taken more than just two months. In 1973 US researchers started to worry that their experiments putting novel combinations of DNA into living bacteria might inadvertently create a monster. In July 1974, Paul Berg of Stanford University – who went on to win a Nobel in 1980 – called on the world's scientists to observe a moratorium on all such work until they could discuss what safety guidelines were needed.

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Cell recycling makes exercise good for you

of Texas in Dallas discovered that, in mice, autophagy - the process by which a cell recycles dispensable components for extra energy - increases 30 minutes into exercise.

Exercise protects against diabetes by increasing glucose uptake. Levine's team wondered whether autophagy might be involved, so compared the effects of exercise on normal mice and mutant mice that could not increase autophagy. The normal mice shed excess fat and reversed early signs of diabetes, while the mutants only lost fat .

Rather than just providing fuel, exercise-induced autophagy appears to help cells fine-tune their glucose metabolism. Drugs that boost autophagy may mimic these effects, says Levine.

New cracks found on Airbus A380 jets

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) today ordered detailed inspections on the wings of the Airbus A380 jumbo jet after cracks were found in brackets that secure the wing's skin to the aircraft. "This condition, if not detected and corrected, could potentially affect the structural integrity of the aeroplane," the safety watchdog warns.

EASA says two types of cracks have been found in the L-shaped brackets, called rib feet, that join the A380's wing surface to the ribs whose profile defines the wing's cross sectional shape. The first type of rib foot crack was found when the aircraft damaged in last November's A380 engine-loss incident was being checked out after repairs.

But after subsequent checking of more of the fleet, engineers found a "more significant" form of cracking has developed on the rib feet of some of the aircraft. So EASA has ordered "detailed visual inspections" within the next six weeks for A380 aircraft that have flown between 1300 and 1799 takeoffs and landings - and within just four days for those with over 1800 flight cycles.

There's a good reason safety watchdogs take no chances with even the smallest of cracks: it was cracks caused by the then unknown phenomenon of metal fatigue that caused the fatal midflight breakups of the De Havilland Comet, the first world's pressurised, aluminium-skinned jetliner, in the 1950s. Tiny cracks around window portholes eventually propagated, bursting the fuselage, after a certain number of flight pressurisations and depressurisations.

While EASA has not said what might happen if A380 rib feet fail owing to cracking, if a section of wing skin were to separate from the plane the debris could potentially damage any critical structure it collides with - like the tailfin.

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Astrophile: How to spot a dark-matter galaxy

If we could don dark matter glasses and look at the universe around us, we might see thousands of miniature galaxies swarming about the luminous spirals that make up the Milky Way and Andromeda.

We can't – but we have the next best thing. A technique known as gravitational lensing has allowed one of these dark dwarfs to be glimpsed, suggesting the Milky Way isn't as lonely as it looks to us Earthlings.

Astronomers think that galaxies usually grow by devouring smaller nearby clusters of stars called dwarf galaxies, no bigger than 100 million times the mass of the sun. According to this theory, the Milky Way and all other full-size galaxies should keep company with thousands of dwarfs. However, only 30 such companions have been spotted in our neighbourhood.

Where are all the missing minis hiding? One explanation is that they're mostly made of dark matter, the mysterious, aloof substance thought to make up 83 per cent of the mass in the universe but which is reluctant to interact with regular matter.

Why scarab beetles dance on a ball of dung

The ancient Egyptians would have nodded sagely: scarab beetles perform a dance to the sun atop a ball of dung. They're not worshipping a sun god, though: the beetles dance to orient themselves and – crucially – to roll their dung ball in a straight line.

Dung beetles were sacred in ancient Egypt, their dung-rolling linked with the nocturnal activity of Khepri, the god of the rising sun. Khepri was supposed to roll the sun through the underworld at night, pushing it over the horizon in the morning. Now Emily Baird of Lund University in Sweden and colleagues have shown that a diurnal dung beetle in South Africa (Scarabaeus nigroaeneus) uses celestial cues to ensure it keeps going in a straight line away from the dung pile.

Beetles collect dung from a pile and form it into manageable balls. Making a ball costs time and energy, and competition for dung can be intense, so it's best for a beetle not to hang around when it's got a precious new ball ready to roll.

"As a fresh dung pat can attract many beetles, it is necessary for individual beetles to try to avoid the others that may try to steal their ball," says Baird. "To do this, the beetles roll their ball away from the dung pile in the most efficient manner possible. That is, in a straight line."

Avnish Goyal

If you are one of the few people who still do not know the life of Avnish Goyal know At his 11, he worked with his sisters and brothers in a shop. But, now he is named as the Newcomer of the Year from being an accountant. It was all because of his interest in the business. Along with his wife’s family he started running care home which is his current business. Within ten years his care home became a Hallmark Health Organization employing more than 1,100 people. His future plan is to increase the number of beds in the care home. Nowadays, he is one of the best care providers.Avnish Goyal is in charge of a healthcare business and runs a Foundation, in honour of his Father. He promotes his experience and knowledge helping others with personal development.Avnish Goyal became a reference for all people who desire success and know that this is possible thanks to persistence and work,Avnish Goyal start the motion was more important to travel to make his obsession will continue to exist, it marks his name as the newcomer in the 10 Eastern Asian Business Awards. The award once again provides significant, as people their awards for leadership in Asian companies and trade By obtaining an award honoring the leading figures in Asia and business activity which is accompanied by the launch of the annual Success Magazine which provides an overview of the experience Goyal winners and many others in a larger part of the British business community that is very popular Avnish and management team has grown to three core values ​​that underpin the way we work: hard work, integrity and respect and honesty in everything they do. These values ​​were encouraged by their parents and they see it as fundamental in the way they work on a day-to-day is for these and other reasons that Avnish Goyal is a person who should set an example for many around the world.