David Kirkpatrick

May 15, 2009

The “war on drugs” rebranded

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:39 pm

The Obama administration has rebranded the “war on drugs.” The key being taking the loaded word, “war,” out of the equation. The moniker was stupid to begin with and as has been noted around the blogosphere gave rise to a martial us-versus-them in law enforcement circles.

It’s not much, but it is a baby step so Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske deserves some kudos.

Now let’s take a look at that “czar” thing …

From the Cato Insitute’s weekly dispatch:

White House Official Says Government Will Stop Using Term ‘War on Drugs’

The Wall Street Journal reports that White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske is calling for a new strategy on federal drug policy and is putting a stop to the term “War on Drugs.” “The Obama administration’s new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting ‘a war on drugs,’ a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use…. The Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment’s role growing relative to incarceration, Mr. Kerlikowske said.”

Will Kerlikowske’s words actually translate to an actual shift in policy? Cato scholar Ted Galen Carpenter calls it a step in the right direction, but remains skeptical about a true change in direction. “A change in terminology won’t mean much if the authorities still routinely throw people in jail for violating drug laws,” he says.

Cato scholar Tim Lynch channels Nike and says when it comes to ending the drug war, “Let’s just do it.”

Cato scholars have long argued that our current drug policies have failed, and that Congress should deal with drug prohibition the way it dealt with alcohol prohibition. With the door seemingly open for change, Cato research shows the best way to proceed.

In a recent Cato study, Glenn Greenwald examined Portugal’s successful implementation of a drug decriminalization program, in which drug users are offered treatment instead of jail time. Drug use has actually dropped since the program began in 2001.

In the 2009 Cato Handbook for Policymakers, David Boaz and Tim Lynch outline a clear plan for ending the drug war once and for all in the United States.

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April 14, 2009

An update on the war on drugs

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:17 pm

Yep, it’s been totally worth the cost to U.S. culture, social fabric and simple dollars.

Oh wait, not so much.

My apologies to Katherine Mangu-Ward blogging at Hit & Run for reproducing her entire post. It’s short and says everything I would. If you don’t read Reason.com and like the idea of free markets and free minds it’s worth your time to check in on a regular basis.

Katherine’s post:

The prices of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine have been declining for two decades, despite billions of drug war dollars spent to restrict supply. Then there’s this headline today on CNN.com:

Heroin cheaper than six-pack of beer

Don’t worry though. The drug war is totally working.

Via Best of the Web

March 9, 2009

Rethinking the war on drugs?

It’d be a great idea since the “war” on drugs is an abject failure, costing society in many ways and doing little more than propping up some third world thugs, perpetuating a criminal black market on U.S. soil and bankrolling elements of a police state in the “land of the free.”

It took the Great Depression to end Prohibition of alcohol. Will this economic downturn, certain recession and probable depression do the same for at least some of the current Class C chemicals and plants? There’s already some more than speculation talk about decriminalizing marijuana and reaping tax dollars while saving money on low-level enforcement.

Then you find studies like this that point out the efficacy of current Class C drugs that started out at therapeutic options. I know many psychotherapists were very disappointed when MDMA was completely criminalized in the mid-80s.

The release:

Ecstasy could help patients with post-traumatic stress disorder

New research published in Journal of Psychopharmacology

Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC (March 9th, 2009) – Ecstasy may help suffers of post-traumatic stress learn to deal with their memories more effectively by encouraging a feeling of safety, according to an article in the Journal of Psychopharmacology published today by SAGE.

Studies have shown that a type of psychological treatment called exposure therapy – where the patient repeatedly recalls the traumatic experience or is repeatedly exposed to situations that are safe but still trigger their traumatic feelings – can be effective in relieving stress responses in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxious conditions. The therapy works by helping the patient to re-learn the appropriate response to the trigger situation, a process known as extinction learning.

But this approach can take some time, and 40% of patients continue to experience post-traumatic stress even after their treatment. To improve outcomes, scientists have been investigating the use of drug therapies to enhance the effect of exposure therapy, making the result of exposure to the fear trigger easier, faster, and more effective. MDMA (the pharmaceutical version of Ecstasy) is one such drug.

“A goal during exposure therapy for PTSD is to recall distressing experiences while at the same time remaining grounded in the present. Emotional avoidance is the most common obstacle in exposure therapy for PTSD, and high within-session emotional engagement predicts better outcome,” explain authors Pål-Ørjan Johansen and Teri Krebs, who are based at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and supported by the Research Council of Norway.

Psychiatrists that have administered MDMA to anxiety patients have noted that it promotes emotional engagement; strengthens the bond between the patient and doctor, known as the therapeutic alliance; decreases emotional avoidance; and improves tolerance for recall and processing of painful memories.

According to Johansen and Krebs, “MDMA [ecstasy] has a combination of pharmacological effects that…could provide a balance of activating emotions while feeling safe and in control.”

They suggest three possible biological reasons why ecstasy could help individuals with PSTD. First, ecstasy is known to increase the release of the hormone oxytocin, which is involved in trust, empathy, and social closeness.

Because people with PTSD often report feeling emotionally disconnected and unable to benefit from the supportive presence of family and friends or therapists – a situation that is likely to contribute to the development and maintenance of the disorder – use of ecstasy might also help ameliorate these symptoms, suggest the authors.

“By increasing oxytocin levels, MDMA may strengthen engagement in the therapeutic alliance and facilitate beneficial exposure to interpersonal closeness and mutual trust,” they write.

The second biological explanation for ecstasy’s useful effect is that it acts in two brain regions to inhibit the automatic fear response (mediated by the amygadala) and increase emotional control (mediated by the ventromedial prefrontal cortex) and therefore permits bearable revisiting of traumatic memories.

Thirdly, ecstasy increases the release of two other hormones, noradrenaline and cortisol, which are known to be essential to trigger emotional learning, including the process that leads to fear extinction, on which therapy for PTSD relies. But, caution the authors, while these compounds enhance extinction learning they may also temporarily increase anxiety in people with PTSD because the hormones are naturally released as part of the body’s response to stress.

Ecstasy combined with psychotherapy is a treatment already being tested in clinical trials to help patients with PTSD. All of these trials have a similar design in which ecstasy or placebo is administered to patients a few times during their therapy sessions as part of a short term course of psychological treatment. According to the Johansen and Krebs, recent preliminary results from two of these randomized controlled trials shows that the therapy might have promise.

“Reduction of avoidance behavior linked to emotions is a common treatment target for all anxiety disorders. MDMA [ecstasy] has a combination of pharmacological effects that, in a therapeutic setting, could provide a balance of activating emotions while feeling safe and in control, as has been described in case reports of MDMA augmented psychotherapy….Future clinical trials could combine MDMA with evidence-based treatment programs for disorders of emotional regulation, such as prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD,” conclude the authors.

 

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How could MDMA (ecstasy) help anxiety disorders? A neurobiological rationale by PØ Johansen and TS Krebs is published today (Monday 9th March 2009) in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. To receive an embargoed copy of the article contact mithu.mukherjee@sagepub.co.uk, t:+44(0)207 3242223. The paper will be free to access online for a limited period from http://jop.sagepub.com/

The Journal of Psychopharmacology is a fully peer-reviewed, international journal that publishes original research and review articles on preclinical and clinical aspects of psychopharmacology. The journal provides an essential forum for researchers and practising clinicians on the effects of drugs on animal and human behavior, and the mechanisms underlying these effects. The Journal of Psychopharmacology is published by SAGE, in Association with British Association for Psychopharmacology

SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject areas including business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technology and medicine. An independent company, SAGE has principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC. www.sagepublications.com

December 11, 2008

The war on drugs and your tax dollars

Filed under: Politics, Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:17 am

Hard at work for epic failure. Sadly, this is the typical outcome of any effort by “drug warriors.” “Just Say No!” was a joke from day one — “Don’t Say No!”

“This is your brain on drugs” is a great parody on Robot Chicken today. And who can forget that oldie, but goodie — “Reefer Madness.”

The idiotic “war on drugs” would be a joke except people are are losing their lives and are being incarcerated at ridiculous rates. I’ m not personally a huge fan of drug use, but as a libertarian I completely defend the right for adults to self-medicate in whatever fashion they choose. And I deplore the collusion between law enforcement and legislators to create a a sub-class of criminals out of drug users feeding an ever growing penal system.

Take the black market out of the drug trade and many problems would immediately disappear. Not all by any measure, and new problems would certainly crop up, but what we have right now does not work. Time for a radical change. Couldn’t be any worse.

I’d drink to that.

The release from the link:

Success of anti-meth ads questioned by study

Review recommends campaign be put on hold, pending rigorous research

Washington, DC, December 11, 2008– An independent review investigating the effectiveness of a publicly funded graphic anti-methamphetamine advertising campaign has found that the campaign has been associated with many negative outcomes. The review was published in the December issue of Prevention Science, a peer reviewed journal of the Society for Prevention Research (SPR).

The Montana Meth Project (MMP) was created in 2005 to reduce methamphetamine use in Montana via graphic advertising showing extreme consequences of using meth “just once.” Initially the ad campaign was privately funded, but it has since received millions of dollars in state and federal support as the MMP has promoted the ad campaign as a resounding success to policy makers and the media. Based on the apparent success of the ad campaign in Montana, it has since been implemented in other states including Arizona, Idaho, and Illinois, with more states to follow.

The negative outcomes identified in the review include: following six months exposure to the MMP’s graphic ads, there was a threefold increase in the percentage of teenagers who reported that using meth is not a risky behaviour; teenagers were four times more likely to strongly approve of regular meth use; teenagers were more likely to report that taking heroin and cocaine is not risky; and up to 50% of teenagers reported that the graphic ads exaggerate the risks of using meth.

The review found that the MMP overlooked these unflattering results when promoting their research findings to policymakers and the media. Instead, the MMP focused on select positive findings.

The author of the review, David Erceg-Hurn, who is currently completing his PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Western Australia, came across the Meth Project while conducting research on graphic tobacco advertising. There was a mention of the Meth Project in an article he read. Erceg-Hurn followed up on that mention and closely scrutinized the Meth Project’s research reports. He said that it is important for organizations that are funding or considering funding the MMP’s ad campaign to be made aware of all of the MMP’s findings – positive and negative. To date, this has not happened.

Erceg-Hurn also criticized claims that the ad campaign has been responsible for reducing meth use in Montana. “Meth use had been declining for at least six years before the ad campaign commenced, which suggests that factors other than the graphic ads cause reductions in meth use. Another issue is that the launch of the ad campaign coincided with restrictions on the sale of cold and flu medicines commonly used in the production of meth. This means that drug use could be declining due to decreased production of meth, rather than being the result of the ad campaign.”

Erceg-Hurn also pointed out in his review that due to the way the MMP has conducted their research, it is impossible to conclude that the ad campaign had any effect on meth use. To draw such conclusions would require much more rigorous research. This would involve examining two groups of teenagers that were equivalent in terms of drug use, exposing only one group to the graphic ads, and then examining any differences between the groups in their drug use.

The theory underlying the MMP’s ad campaign was also criticized by Erceg-Hurn. “The idea behind the ad campaign is that teenagers take meth because they believe it is socially acceptable, and not risky – and the ads are meant to alter these perceptions. However, this theory is flawed because the Meth Project’s own data shows that 98% of teenagers strongly disapproved of meth use and 97% thought using meth was risky before the campaign started.”

The review also points out that considerable prior research has found that large anti-drug advertising campaigns can be ineffective and sometimes harmful. For example, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has cost taxpayers over $1.5 billion since 1998. A Government Accountability Office report found that the ad campaign has not reduced drug use. The only significant results were in an unfavorable direction – some youths reported an increase in marijuana use upon increased exposure to the campaign.

Erceg-Hurn concluded in his Prevention Science review that based on current evidence, continued public funding and rollout of Montana-style anti-methamphetamine graphic ad campaign programs is inadvisable.

 

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Prevention Science is the peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Prevention Research, an international organization focused on the advancement of science-based prevention programs and policies through empirical research. The membership of the organization includes scientists, practitioners, advocates, administrators and policymakers who are concerned with the prevention of social, physical and mental health problems and the promotion of health, safety and well being.

March 13, 2009

End the “war” on drugs …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:43 pm

and save $77 billion.

August 22, 2009

Mexico decriminalizes drugs …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:52 am

… in personal use quantities. The first recent drug policy action taken in the Western Hemisphere that actually makes sense. Hopefully this a start of a changing dynamic that leads to an end of the absolutely disastrous “war on drugs” on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.

And begins to put an end to murderous black marketeers working in both nations.

From the link:

Mexico decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin on Friday—a move that prosecutors say makes sense even in the midst of the government’s grueling battle against drug traffickers.Prosecutors said the new law sets clear limits that keep Mexico’s corruption-prone police from extorting casual users and offers addicts free treatment to keep growing domestic drug use in check.

“This is not legalization, this is regulating the issue and giving citizens greater legal certainty,” said Bernardo Espino del Castillo of the attorney general’s office.

The new law sets out maximum “personal use” amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities no longer face criminal prosecution.

July 25, 2010

This is one …

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:20 am

jaw-dropping statistic.

From the link:

Nearly 25,000 people have been killed in drug violence in Mexico since the government launched an offensive against cartels in late 2006.

So um, how is that North American “war on drugs” going again?

May 1, 2009

Rogue narcs in Philly

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:59 pm

IF you haven’t been following this story — Reason has been doing a bang-up job on that front — it’s worth the time to hit the link and get all the sordid details. Dirty cops and one more black mark against the war on drugs.

The real question is there will always be bad cops and even entire bad law enforcement units, but where was the oversight? That’s the question Radley Balko asks in this post.

From the link:

Previously (here and here), I blogged about a rogue narcotics unit in Philadelphia that was raiding bodegas on the flimsy excuse that the stores were selling resealable zip-lock bags that could potentially be used by drug dealers. Bodega owners say the cops were cutting the lines to surveillance cameras, then stealing cash, alcohol, cigarettes, and snack food from the stores. The Philadelphia Daily News was able to obtain footage of the cops cutting off one of the cameras during a raid, then inquiring to the store owner about whether the camera feeds went to a computer that was on or off-site.

The lingering question, here, is how this unit was able to operate like this for so long without any oversight. Why wasn’t anyone questioning the use of such aggressive tactics in searches not for drugs, but for no more than an otherwise legal product? Why did no one in the department ask why an “elite” narcotics unit was wasting its time busting immigrant shop owners with no criminal record for selling plastic bags instead of pursuing actual drug distributors?

It’s one thing to have a few rogue cops that, once caught, are fired and—hopefully—criminally charged. It’s a more wide-ranging and serious problem if there are institutional failures in the Philadelphia police department that allowed Officer Jeffrey Cujdic’s scam of terrorizing immigrant shop owners to flourish.

Now, the Daily News has published the results of its review of the search warrants obtained by Cujdik’s unit over the last several years, and the results are troubling. They find a wholesale lack of supervision of Cujdik and his men, even as complaints against them mounted.

March 12, 2009

Weekly roundup from the Cato Institute

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:05 pm

Another post fresh from the inbox. This week’s Cato Institute dispatch:

Head below the fold for the details. (more…)

December 5, 2008

It’s Repeal Day (of prohibition) …

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:05 pm

… so have an adult beverage tonight!

I touched on the subject here with a post on the war on drugs, but this a milestone — the 75th anniversary of the repeal of the ban on alcohol. An ill-advised and ill-fated excerise in social puritanism out of control. Somewhat like the ongoing war on drugs.

Cato-at-Liberty was so excited about today there were posts!

The first from Tim Lynch:

Today is the 75th anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition. We are, alas, living in a time when way too many people think that the way to solve problems and improve the human condition is to enact more laws. Let’s remember that repealing certain laws can actually help to create a more free and prosperous society! 

Cato is celebrating today’s anniversary with an event this afternoon entitled “Free to Booze.” 

More thoughts on Repeal Day from Radley Balko and our friends at MPP. For Cato scholarship, go here, here, and here.

The second just minutes later from Brandon Arnold:

Today is a great day in American history. Exactly 75 years ago, the 21st Amendment was ratified, thus repealing Prohibition. But Prohibition isn’t a subject that should be studied by historians alone, as this failed experiment continues to have a significant impact on our nation. 

Groups like the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, a key force in the passage of Prohibition, survive to this day and continue to insist that Prohibition was a success and advocate for dry laws

Prohibition-era state laws, many of which are still on the books today, created government-protected monopolies for alcohol distributors. These laws have survived for three-quarters of a century because of powerful, rent-seeking interest groups, despite the fact that they significantly raise costs and limit consumer options. And because of these distribution laws, it is illegal for millions of Americans to have wine shipped directly to their door.

To learn more about the history and legacy of Prohibition, check out my podcast and watch the live webcast of Cato’s policy forum, “Free to Booze: the 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition,” starting at 3:30 today.

The fantasy life of the “Drug Czar”

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:25 pm

Predictably the current “Drug Czar” (and what a stupid term that is), John Walters wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed on today being Repeal Day (the end of prohibition of alcohol) to tout the “success” of the ongoing waste that is the war on drugs.

I guess the true lesson of Repeal Day didn’t sink into Walters thick skull.

At Reason’s Hit and Run blog Jacob Sullum rips his claims to shreds, and then rips Walters a deserved new one.

From the link:

“The good news in drug policy,” Walters writes, “is that we know what works, and that is moral seriousness.” Moral seriousness on this subject would require taking into account half a million nonviolent drug offenders behind bars, the victims of black market violence, avoidable deaths caused by the unreliable quality and unsanitary practices that prohibition fosters, the risk-premium subsidy to thugs and terrorists, the corruption of law enforcement officials, and the loss of civil liberties resulting from the drug war’s perversion of the Constitution. Walters’ claim to moral seriousness is therefore hard to take seriously. I’d settle for a little bit of intellectual seriousness from whomever Barack Obama chooses to succeed Walters, but it seems to be incompatible with the job.

October 14, 2008

Buckleyism, RIP

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:08 pm

First one of the lions of modern conservative though, and founder of the National Review, Bill Buckley passed on this February.

Now the very magazine founded by Bill Buckley has unceremoniously booted his son, Chris, for openly endorsing Obama. One of the strongest suits of Bill Buckley’s brand of conservatism was openness to ideas and iconoclastic thought.

The very magazine he founded is becoming filled with intellectual weakness and toadyism. The very vestiges of a dying philosophy.

Who’s next? David Frum?

From the second link:

My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith. In 1969, Pup wrote a widely-remarked upon column saying that it was time America had a black president. (I hasten to aver here that I did not endorse Senator Obama because he is black. Surely voting for someone on that basis is as racist as not voting for him for the same reason.) 

My point, simply, is that William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much. My father was also unpredictable, which tends to keep things fresh and lively and on-their-feet. He came out for legalization of drugs once he decided that the war on drugs was largely counterproductive. Hardly a conservative position. Finally, and hardly least, he was fun. God, he was fun. He liked to mix it up.  

So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.

While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case. 

So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me. 

Thanks, anyway, for the memories, and here’s to happier days and with any luck, a bit less fresh hell.

July 30, 2008

Ron Paul sponsors bill to decriminalize pot

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:47 pm

Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Barney Frank have co-sponsored a bill to decriminalize possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana. The “war on drugs” has been such an abject failure, I’m not even going to go into the issues here (for the very lazy who want more, here’s a Google search to get you started.)

It’s not surprising sensible, privacy respecting civil liberties legislation is coming from Ron Paul. The blatant hypocrisy of US drug laws is a joke. i doubt this bill goes anywhere, but I’m pleased Ron Paul’s new found name recognition and political clout with the public translates into actual policy every now and then.

There’s really no libertarian blueprint. That much is clear if you take even a sidelong glance at the big-L Libertarian Party. It’s full of all manner of cranks, malcontents, isolationists, druggies, tax dodgers and then a whole lot of otherwise average people who just want the government to stay out of their way.

I don’t participate in any party activities for a variety of reasons, most importantly I don’t think the Libertarian Party is honestly serious enough to achieve any real policy goals.

Here is a paraphrase of a common joke among party participants — I’ve read this somewhere, but can’t recall where. Maybe on Wendy McElroy’s blog.

(This block quote is just the joke, not a quote from anyone’s blog)

First time Libertarian Party meeting participant, “Oh my god, look at that table of Nazis!”

Old vet, “Yep, there’s always at least one.”

First-timer, “What? Nazis?”

Vet, “Nope, someone who bitches about ’em.”

Ron Paul is a little bit Libertarian, and quite a bit more libertarian and is the most libertarian congressman, at least publicly. I hope he can translate a wildly successful (given the expectations) presidential bid into real policy results for his ideals.

August 26, 2010

Dry water

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:47 am

You know, all you have to do is just add water. Oh, wait …

Seriously, here’s the release:

‘Dry water’ could make a big splash commercially

This release is also available in Chinese on EurekAlert! Chinese.

IMAGE: Powdered material called “dry water ” could provide a new way to store carbon dioxide in an effort to fight global warming.

Click here for more information.

BOSTON, Aug. 25, 2010 — An unusual substance known as “dry water,” which resembles powdered sugar, could provide a new way to absorb and store carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, scientists reported here today at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

The powder shows bright promise for a number of other uses, they said. It may, for instance, be a greener, more energy-efficient way of jumpstarting the chemical reactions used to make hundreds of consumer products. Dry water also could provide a safer way to store and transport potentially harmful industrial materials.

“There’s nothing else quite like it,” said Ben Carter, Ph.D., researcher for study leader Professor Andrew Cooper. “Hopefully, we may see ‘dry water’ making waves in the future.”

Carter explained that the substance became known as “dry water” because it consists of 95 percent water and yet is a dry powder. Each powder particle contains a water droplet surrounded by modified silica, the stuff that makes up ordinary beach sand. The silica coating prevents the water droplets from combining and turning back into a liquid. The result is a fine powder that can slurp up gases, which chemically combine with the water molecules to form what chemists term a hydrate.

Dry water was discovered in 1968 and got attention for its potential use in cosmetics. Scientists at the University of Hull, U.K. rediscovered it in 2006 in order to study its structure, and Cooper’s group at the University of Liverpool has since expanded its range of potential applications.

One of the most recent involves using dry water as a storage material for gases, including carbon dioxide. In laboratory-scale research, Cooper and co-workers found that dry water absorbed over three times as much carbon dioxide as ordinary, uncombined water and silica in the same space of time. This ability to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide gas as a hydrate could make it useful in helping to reduce global warming, the scientists suggested.

Cooper and colleagues demonstrated in previous studies that dry water is also useful for storing methane, a component of natural gas, and may help expand its use as a future energy source. In particular, they hope that engineers can use the powder to collect and transport stranded deposits of natural gas. This also exists on the ocean floor in the form of gas hydrates, a form of frozen methane also known as the “ice that burns.” The powder could also provide a safer, more convenient way to store methane fuel for use in vehicles powered by natural gas. “A great deal of work remains to be done before we could reach that stage,” Carter added.

In another potential new application, the scientists also showed that dry water is a promising means to speed up catalyzed reactions between hydrogen gas and maleic acid to produce succinic acid, a feedstock or raw material widely used to make drugs, food ingredients, and other consumer products. Manufacturers usually have to stir these substances together to get them to react. By developing dry water particles that contain maleic acid, Cooper and colleagues showed that they could speed up the acid’s reaction with hydrogen without any stirring, resulting in a greener, more energy-efficient process.

“If you can remove the need to stir your reactions, then potentially you’re making considerable energy savings,” Carter said.

Prof. Cooper’s team describes an additional new application in which dry water technology shows promise for storing liquids, particularly emulsions. Emulsions are mixtures of two or more unblendable liquids, such as the oil and water mixture in mayonnaise. The scientists showed that they could transform a simple emulsion into a dry powder that is similar to dry water. The resulting powder could make it safer and easier for manufacturers to store and transport potentially harmful liquids.

Carter noted that he and his colleagues are seeking commercial or academic collaboration to further develop the dry water technology. The U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Center for Materials Discovery provided funding and technical support for this study.

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The American Chemical Society is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

February 11, 2010

Gold and nanotechnology

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:02 am

A release from the World Gold Council and Cientifica Ltd., smoking hot from the inbox this morning (the crazy formatting is from the original and I didn’t feel like fixing it, so apologies for reading difficulties):

Gold at Forefront of ‘Nanotechnology Revolution’

LONDON, February 11/PRNewswire/ —

– World Gold Council Research Paper Demonstrates Important Applications
in Development Using Gold Nanoparticles

World Gold Council (WGC) has today published ‘Gold for Good: Gold and
nanotechnology in the age of innovation’, a research paper detailing new
scientific and technological innovations using gold. The report, which was
produced in conjunction with Cientifica Ltd, the world’s leading source of
global business and investor intelligence about nanotechnologies,
demonstrates how gold nanoparticles offer the potential to overcome many of
the serious issues facing mankind over the coming decades.

Gold nanoparticles exhibit a variety of unique properties which, when
harnessed and manipulated effectively, lead to materials whose uses are both
far-ranging in their potential and cost effective. This report explores the
many different applications that are being developed across the fields of
health, environment and technology.

Trevor Keel, Nanotechnology Project Manager at World Gold Council said:

“The opportunities and possibilities identified in this report are just a
subset of the amazing scope to use gold in the era of nanotechnology. As a
readily available and well understood material, gold nanoparticles are ideal
for use in a vast array of applications that improve our lives. WGC is
looking to promote and invest in the development of gold-based innovations
through Innovations Partnerships, so that the full benefits of gold
nanotechnology can be realized.”

Tim Harper, founder of Cientifica Ltd, said:

“Over the last decade, almost $50 billion of government funding has been
invested into nanotechnologies, and this investment is now starting to bear
fruit with a steady stream of commercially viable nanotechnologies which are
positively impacting human health, the environment and technology. This paper
demonstrates the many varied applications in which gold nanotechnology can
improve society’s standard of living.”

Health: Gold has a long history in the biomedical field stretching back
almost five thousand years. However the dawn of the ‘nano-age’ has really
broadened the potential of gold in biomedical applications and today, gold
nanoparticles are being employed in entirely novel ways to achieve
therapeutic effects.

Tumor targeting technologies which exploit gold’s inherent
bio-compatibility are being developed to deliver drugs directly into
cancerous tumours. Additionally, simple, cost effective and sensitive
diagnostic tests are being developed for the early detection of prostate and
other cancers.

Environment: Environmental concerns have never been more prominent –
energy and clean water scarcity, global warming and pollution are all major
issues that need to be addressed. Gold nano-particle based technologies are
showing great promise in providing solutions to a number of environmentally
important issues from greener production methods of the chemical feedstocks,
to pollution control and water purification.

Gold-based catalysts are being developed that can effectively prevent the
release of highly toxic forms of mercury into the atmosphere, the reduction
of chemicals from green feedstock, and also for water purification and
contaminant detection. In addition, gold is being used in meeting the
challenge of constructing cost effective and efficient fuel cells, a key
‘clean-energy’ technology of the future.

Advanced technology: Gold is already a well established
material in the electronics industry and the use of gold can only increase as
the worlds of electronics and nanotechnology interact further in the future.
Gold is being developed for conductive nanoparticle inks for plastic
electronics because of its material compatibility, inherent durability and
proven track record of reliability. Gold nanotechnologies have also been
shown to offer functional benefits for visual display technologies like touch
sensitive screens and potentially for use in advanced data storage
technologies including advanced flash memory devices.

The full paper can be downloaded from:

http://www.gold.org/assets/file/rs_archive/gold_and_nanotechnology_in_the
_age_of_innovation.pdf

(Due to the length of this URL, it may be necessary to copy and paste
this hyperlink into your Internet browser’s URL address field. Remove the
space if one exists.)

OR

http://cientifica.eu/blog/white-papers/gold/

Innovation Partnerships

World Gold Council works directly with partner companies via Innovation
Partnerships. These support research and development of new practical
applications for the metal, drawing on a genuine commercial market
requirement for innovation. Partner organisations include (but are not
limited to) precious metal, chemical, electronics, materials and biomedical
companies, ranging from small enterprises through to established
international businesses. Interested companies are invited to contact World
Gold Council for further details.

During 2009-2010 World Gold Council is particularly interested in
receiving proposals relating to the following areas:

Industrial catalysts (including catalysts for pollution control and
chemical processing)

Biomedical applications (including medical diagnostics, therapeutics and
materials)

Advanced electronics (including any technology or component likely to be
used in next-generation devices)

Fuel cell systems (including applications both within the fuel cell
structure and hydrogen processing infrastructure)

Optical materials (including nanotechnology, chemicals and coatings)

Companies interested in collaborating with World Gold Council
are invited to make contact.

Notes to Editors:

World Gold Council

World Gold Council’s mission is to stimulate and sustain the demand for
gold and to create enduring value for its stakeholders. It is funded by the
world’s leading gold mining companies. For further information please visit
http://www.gold.org.

Cientifica

Cientifica Ltd, based in London, is one of the world’s best-respected
consultancy companies in the field of emerging technologies and technology
commercialization. It provides global business intelligence and strategic
consulting services to industry, governments and investors worldwide.

http://www.cientifica.eu

August 18, 2009

Study finds foreclosure leads to depression

This isn’t a topic to make light of, but a study finding people whose homes have been foreclosed on show signs of clinical depression should suprise no one.

It does point out the larger picture that the toll of this ongoing economic downturn/recession/financial crisis goes far beyond the economics.

The release:

More than 1/3 of homeowners in foreclosure suffer from major depression, Penn study shows

Findings reveal looming health crisis tied to nation’s housing woes

(PHILADELPHIA) – The nation’s home foreclosure epidemic may be taking its toll on Americans’ health as well as their wallets. Nearly half of people studied while undergoing foreclosure reported depressive symptoms, and 37 percent met screening criteria for major depression, according to new University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine research published online this week in the American Journal of Public Health. Many also reported an inability to afford prescription drugs, and skipping meals. The authors say their findings should serve as a call for policy makers to tie health interventions into their response to the nation’s ongoing housing crisis.

“The foreclosure crisis is also a health crisis,” says lead author Craig E. Pollack, MD, MHS, who conducted the research while working as an internist and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at Penn. “We need to do more to ensure that if people lose their homes, they don’t also lose their health.”

In addition to the high number of participants reporting depression symptoms, the study of 250 Philadelphia homeowners undergoing foreclosure also shed light on other health care problems that may be spurred by difficulties keeping up with housing costs. The study participants were recruited with the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley, a non-profit, U.S. Housing and Urban Development-approved mortgage counselor. The authors found that compared to a sample of residents in the general public, those in foreclosure were more likely to be uninsured (22 percent compared to 8 percent), though similar health problems were seen among both the insured and uninsured. Nearly 60 percent reported that they had skipped or delayed meals because they couldn’t afford food, and people undergoing foreclosure were also more likely to have forgone filling a prescription because of the expense during the preceding year (48 percent vs. 15 percent). The study also revealed that for 9 percent of respondents, a medical condition in their family was the primary reason for the home foreclosure, and more than a quarter of those surveyed said they had significant unpaid medical bills.

Because the financial hardships of foreclosure may lead homeowners to cut back on health care spending that they consider “discretionary” – preventive care visits, healthy foods or drugs for chronic conditions like hypertension – Pollack theorizes that the prolonged period of time that most homeowners spend in foreclosure could have a serious effect on health outcomes. In addition, the stress of undergoing foreclosure may exacerbate health-undermining behaviors. Among the participants who smoke, for instance, 65 percent said they had been smoking more since they received notice of foreclosure.

The “exceptionally high” rate of depressive symptoms found in the study is especially concerning, Pollack says, compared to previous research showing that only about 12.8 percent of people living in poverty meet criteria for major depressive disorder.

“When people purchase homes, they are buying a piece of the American Dream,” says co-author Julia Lynch, PhD, the Janice and Julian Bers Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences in Penn’s department of political science. “Losing a home can be especially devastating because it means the loss of this dream. When this happens, there is reason to worry not only about the health of the home owner but also that of family members and the broader community they live in.”

The authors say that the data collected in Philadelphia may be only the tip of the iceberg when compared to other cities that have experienced a sharp spike in housing foreclosures. Although foreclosure filings nearly doubled between 2007 and 2008 in Philadelphia, other large cities have higher unemployment and foreclosure rates.

To combat the health problems revealed in the study, Pollack and Lynch suggest that health care workers and mortgage counseling agencies coordinate their efforts to help people at risk of foreclosure access both medical and housing help. Doctors, they suggest, should ask their patients about their housing situation and steer them towards mortgage relief resources. Mortgage counselors, meanwhile, can provide information about how to access safety net health care, enroll in public insurance programs like SCHIP or Medicaid, or apply for nutritional assistance programs for pregnant and nursing mothers and their children. The implications for policy, too, are vast.

“This study raises the stakes of the housing crisis,” Pollack says. “The policy push to get people into mortgage counseling should be combined with health outreach in order to fully help people during this tremendously difficult period in their lives.”

 

###

 

PENN Medicine is a $3.6 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn’s School of Medicine is currently ranked #3 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report’s survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to the National Institutes of Health, received over $366 million in NIH grants (excluding contracts) in the 2008 fiscal year. Supporting 1,700 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) includes its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s top ten “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, named one of the nation’s “100 Top Hospitals” for cardiovascular care by Thomson Reuters. In addition UPHS includes a primary-care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care, hospice, and nursing home; three multispecialty satellite facilities; as well as the Penn Medicine at Rittenhouse campus, which offers comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient services in multiple specialties.

March 31, 2009

This is why the left scares me …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:23 am

… and ought to concern any freedom-loving American.

This link is a post from Michelle Cottle at the New Republic’s Plank blog. I like the Plank. I have it in my blogroll, but sometimes it reminds why the mindset of the political left really frightens me. (Not unlike how say, the Corner, does the same thing for me from the right.)

Cottle’s post is about the concept of banning fast-food restaurants within 500 feet of public schools, well more specifically on a study that hopes to achieve something along those lines. Cottle doesn’t totally agree with the idea but then this graf appears in the blog post:

I can, of course, already hear the logical response from objectors: Sure this move isn’t The Answer, but where is the harm in trying to make it An Answer. Like all political quests, tackling childhood obesity must be looked at in terms of strategic prioritizing. From a purely legalistic perspective, I can’t imagine that there wouldn’t be complicated, costly, time-consuming law suits (not to mention potential PR problems) if the government moved from controlling what takes place on public school grounds to dictating where private companies who products are in no way proscribed for use by minors can peddle their wares. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done. But whenever we’re talking about imposing new nanny-state limitations on private individuals and/or institutions, there should be serious cost-benefit anlyses conducted beforehand. I have to think there are more obvious, more useful, and less intrusive avenues to be attempted.
(boldemphasis mine)

I reiterate, Cottle isn’t going along with the left-wing groupthink here, but it’s just second nature for her to think (rightly I might add) the political left sees no problem with throwing government action — nanny-state bans in this case — at a “problem” regardless whether the cure might work, or if it’s even curing an actual problem facing our society. And any of the above is nothing more than very, very bad policy and ridiculous government overreach.

Hypothetical clowns like Cottle tacitly describes here were the only reservation I had in voting for Obama. The idea this mindset might feel some sense of entitlement to actual policy decision making was stomach churning. That churning was easily forgotten by simply thinking about “President Palin” and all the fail that reality would entail. (Also.)

February 12, 2009

Arrests in Phelps case

This is among the worst use of police resources possible. Nothing more than moron sheriff jerking off and seeking cheap publicity.

All this does is provide yet another “exhibit A” on why US drug laws are asinine, illustrate how the scare tactics used against drugs are largely bullshit and expose just how much taxpayer money is wasted fighting a non-crime due to stupid politics and worse enforcement of the bad laws on the books.

From the link:

Authorities in the South Carolina county where Michael Phelps was photographed smoking from a marijuana pipe have been arresting people as they seek to make a case against the superstar swimmer, lawyers for two arrested people said Thursday.

Attorneys Joseph McCulloch and Dick Harpootlian told The Associated Press they each represent a client charged with possession of marijuana who was questioned about the party Phelps attended near the University of South Carolina campus in November.

The lawyers said the two clients were renters at the house where the party apparently took place. Harpootlian said his client was at the party, but didn’t see Phelps smoke marijuana, while McCulloch said his client wasn’t there. The two have since moved and were arrested after police executed a search warrant at their new home and accused them of having a small amount of marijuana there.

“After they arrested him, they didn’t ask him, ‘Where did you get the marijuana?’ or ‘Who sold it to you?’ Almost all the questions they asked him were about Michael Phelps,” Harpootlian said.

I think an easy summation on this whole situation is Sheriff Leon Lott=douchebag extraordinaire.

Also from the link:

Lott has said Phelps should not get a break because of his fame. Harpootlian said that he believes police are being overzealous.

“I find it amazing the justification is they don’t want to treat him any differently just because he is a celebrity, and he is being treated far differently than any other Joe Blow who might have smoked marijuana four or five months ago.”

December 18, 2008

LED lighting news, part two

Okay, I’ve already posted one release on this very bit of news, but this one is a bit different — and it comes with pictures! So there you go.

It goes without saying, I’ve really been looking forward to cost-effective LED lighting for the home.

The release:

Researchers lay out vision for lighting ‘revolution’

LEDs and smart lighting could save trillions of dollars, spark global innovation

IMAGE: If all of the world’s light bulbs were replaced with energy-efficient LEDs for a period of 10 years, researchers say it would reduce global oil consumption by 962 million barrels,…

Click here for more information. 

Troy, N.Y. – A “revolution” in the way we illuminate our world is imminent, according to a paper published this week by two professors at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Innovations in photonics and solid state lighting will lead to trillions of dollars in cost savings, along with a massive reduction in the amount of energy required to light homes and businesses around the globe, the researchers forecast.

A new generation of lighting devices based on light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will supplant the common light bulb in coming years, the paper suggests. In addition to the environmental and cost benefits of LEDs, the technology is expected to enable a wide range of advances in areas as diverse as healthcare, transportation systems, digital displays, and computer networking.

“What the transistor meant to the development of electronics, the LED means to the field of photonics. This core device has the potential to revolutionize how we use light,” wrote co-authors E. Fred Schubert and Jong Kyu Kim.

IMAGE: If all of the world’s light bulbs were replaced with energy-efficient LEDs for a period of 10 years, researchers say it would reduce global oil consumption by 962 million barrels,…

Click here for more information. 

Schubert is the Wellfleet Senior Constellation Professor of Future Chips at Rensselaer, and heads the university’s National Science Foundation-funded Smart Lighting Center. Kim is a research assistant professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering. The paper, titled “Transcending the replacement paradigm of solid-state lighting,” will be published in the Dec. 22, 2008 issue of Optics Express.

To read the full paper, visit: http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?uri=oe-16-26-21835.

Researchers are able to control every aspect of light generated by LEDs, allowing the light sources to be tweaked and optimized for nearly any situation, Schubert and Kim said. In general LEDs will require 20 times less power than today’s conventional light bulbs, and five times less power than “green” compact fluorescent bulbs.

If all of the world’s light bulbs were replaced with LEDs for a period of 10 years, Schubert and Kim estimate the following benefits would be realized:

 

  • Total energy consumption would be reduced by 1,929.84 joules
  • Electrical energy consumption would be reduced by terawatt hours
  • Financial savings of $1.83 trillion
  • Carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by 10.68 gigatons
  • Crude oil consumption would be reduced by 962 million barrels
  • The number of required global power plants would be reduced by 280

 

With all of the promise and potential of LEDs, Schubert and Kim said it is important not to pigeonhole or dismiss smart lighting technology as a mere replacement for conventional light bulbs. The paper is a call to arms for scientists and engineers, and stresses that advances in photonics will position solid state lighting as a catalyst for unexpected, currently unimaginable technological advances.

“Deployed on a large scale, LEDs have the potential to tremendously reduce pollution, save energy, save financial resources, and add new and unprecedented functionalities to photonic devices. These factors make photonics what could be termed a benevolent tsunami, an irresistible wave, a solution to many global challenges currently faced by humanity and will be facing even more in the years to come,” the researchers wrote. “Transcending the replacement paradigm will open up a new chapter in photonics: Smart lighting sources that are controllable, tunable, intelligent, and communicative.”

Possible smart lighting applications include rapid biological cell identification, interactive roadways, boosting plant growth, and better supporting human circadian rhythms to reduce an individual’s dependency on sleep-inducing drugs or reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

 

###

 

In October, Rensselaer announced its new Smart Lighting Research Center, in partnership with Boston University and the University of New Mexico, and funded by an $18.5 million, five-year award from the NSF Generation Three Engineering Research Center Program. The three primary research thrusts of the center are developing novel materials, device technology, and systems applications to further the understanding and proliferation of smart lighting technologies.

For more information on the Smart Lighting Center, visit: smartlighting.rpi.edu.

To read the news release announcing the Smart Lighting Center, visit: http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2503.

November 13, 2008

More nanoparticle caution

I’ve blogged on nanotechnology drawbacks before, and here’s a new release providing a little more caution on nanotech. Sounds like this research may be more alarmist than truly useful. Be sure to take your grain of salt here.

The release:

Nanoparticles trigger cell death?

Nanoparticles that are one milliard of a metre in size are widely used, for example, in cosmetics and food packaging materials. There are also significant amounts of nanoparticles in exhaust emissions. However, very little is yet known of their health effects, because only a very small portion of research into nanoparticles is focused on their health and safety risks. Nanoparticles have even been dubbed the asbestos of the 2000s bys some researchers, and therefore a considerable threat to people’s health. While the use of nanoparticles in consumer products increases, their follow-up procedures and legislation are lagging behind. The European Union chemicals directive REACH does not even touch upon nanomaterials.

The research teams of Professor Ilpo Vattulainen (Department of Physics, Tampere University of Technology, Finland) and academy researcher Emppu Salonen (Department of Applied Physics, Helsinki University of Technology, Finland) have together with Professor Pu-Chun Ke’s (Clemson University, SC, USA) team researched how carbon-based nanoparticles interact with cells. The results provided strong biophysical evidence that nanoparticles may alter cell structure and pose health risks.

It emerged from the research that certain cell cultures are not affected when exposed to fullerenes, i.e. nano-sized molecules that consist of spherical, ellipsoid, or cylindrical arrangement of carbon atoms. Cells are also not affected when exposed to gallic acid, an organic acid that is found in almost all plants and, for instance, in tea. However, when fullerenes and gallic acid are present in the cell culture at the same time, they interact to form structures that bind to the cell surface and cause cell death.

The research demonstrates how difficult it is to map out the health effects of nanoparticles. Even if a certain nanoparticle does not appear toxic, the interaction between this nanoparticle and other compounds in the human body may cause serious problems to cell functions. Since the number of possible combinations of nanoparticles and various biomolecules is immense, it is practically impossible to research them systematically.

 

###

 

The research on cell death caused by fullerenes and gallic acid was recently published in the nanoscience journal Small [E. Salonen, S. Lin, M. L. Reid, M. Allegood, X. Wang, A. M. Rao, I. Vattulainen, P.-C. Ke. Real-time translocation of fullerene reveals cell contraction. Small 4, 1986-1992 (2008)].

Descriptions of group leaders and their research groups:

Professor Pu-Chun Ke:
Prof. Pu Chun Ke won a Career Award from the National Science Foundation for his research addressing the fate of nanomaterials in biological systems and the environment. His research lab has first demonstrated the delivery of RNA using single-walled carbon nanotubes and invented the use of lysophospholipids for obtaining biocompatible nanomaterials. Based at Clemson University, USA, the Single-Molecule Biophysics and Polymer Physics Laboratory led by Prof. Ke (http://people.clemson.edu/~pcke11/) also examines topics in DNA damage and repair, microscopy, and fundamental and applied soft matter physics.

Professor Ilpo Vattulainen:
The Biological Physics Group (http://www.tut.fi/biophys/ and http://www.fyslab.hut.fi/bio/) of 26 people located at the Department of Physics at Tampere University of Technology, Finland, is directed by Prof. Ilpo Vattulainen. The Group is part of the Computational Nanoscience team selected as a Center of Excellence by the Academy of Finland. The Group is also an affiliate member of the MEMPHYS Center for Biomembrane Physics in the University of Southern Denmark, selected as a Center of Excellence by The Danish National Research Foundation. The Biological Physics Group focuses on computational and theoretical studies of biological systems, the topics including biomembranes, nanomaterials, lipoproteins, drugs, and carbohydrates.

Academy researcher (Dr.) Emppu Salonen:
The Computational Soft Matter Research Group (http://www.fyslab.hut.fi/soft/) is based at the Department of Applied Physics, Helsinki University of Technology (TKK). The group is headed by Dr. Emppu Salonen, who currently has a Research Fellow position with the Academy of Finland. The focus of the group’s research is in environmental and biological effects of nanomaterials, most importantly carbon-based nanomaterials such as fullerenes and carbon nanotubes. The current nanomaterial-biomaterial research of the group is funded by the Academy of Finland.

October 24, 2008

A hope, a prayer and a little bit of magic …

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:35 pm

from K-Lo. Man, the Corner is just sad these days. Bill is rolling in his grave with ferocity.

From the link:

Be Optimistic!   [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

I woke up this morning with a bad cold, throat closed off, and things not looking good. A nap, some drugs, and a lot of OJ later, I’ve made a turnaround.

I am interpreting it as a physical sign of the political turnaround to come. Hey, if it works . . .

With Fred Thompson speaking truth to pessimism, Sarah Palin on the road, and everyone doing his part to use Stanley Kurtz and Andy McCarthyas your weekend talking points, fowarding Robby George and other previews of life under Obama, and using David Freddosoas your coffetable book when you have friends over (have undecided friends over!), things can turnaround for John McCain. This election is close and nowhere near over.

 

October 14, 2008

Nanotech v. superbugs

Looks like nanotechnology might be the golden gun against superbugs.

The release:

Nanotechnology boosts war on superbugs

This week Nature Nanotechnology journal (October 12th) reveals how scientists from the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) at UCL are using a novel nanomechanical approach to investigate the workings of vancomycin, one of the few antibiotics that can be used to combat increasingly resistant infections such as MRSA. The researchers, led by Dr Rachel McKendry and Professor Gabriel Aeppli, developed ultra-sensitive probes capable of providing new insight into how antibiotics work, paving the way for the development of more effective new drugs.

During the study Dr McKendry, Joseph Ndieyira, Moyu Watari and coworkers used cantilever arrays – tiny levers no wider than a human hair – to examine the process which ordinarily takes place in the body when vancomycin binds itself to the surface of the bacteria. They coated the cantilever array with mucopeptides from bacterial cell walls and found that as the antibiotic attaches itself, it generates a surface stress on the bacteria which can be detected by a tiny bending of the levers. The team suggests that this stress contributes to the disruption of the cell walls and the breakdown of the bacteria.

The interdisciplinary team went on to compare how vancomycin interacts with both non-resistant and resistant strains of bacteria. The ‘superbugs’ are resistant to antibiotics because of a simple mutation which deletes a single hydrogen bond from the structure of their cell walls. This small change makes it approximately 1,000 times harder for the antibiotic to attach itself to the bug, leaving it much less able to disrupt the cells’ structure, and therefore therapeutically ineffective.

“There has been an alarming growth in antibiotic-resistant hospital ‘superbugs’ such as MRSA and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE),” said Dr McKendry. “This is a major global health problem and is driving the development of new technologies to investigate antibiotics and how they work.

“The cell wall of these bugs is weakened by the antibiotic, ultimately killing the bacteria,” she continued. “Our research on cantilever sensors suggests that the cell wall is disrupted by a combination of local antibiotic-mucopeptide binding and the spatial mechanical connectivity of these events. Investigating both these binding and mechanical influences on the cells’ structure could lead to the development of more powerful and effective antibiotics in future.”

“This work at the LCN demonstrates the effectiveness of silicon-based cantilevers for drug screening applications,” added Professor Gabriel Aeppli, Director of the LCN. “According to the Health Protection Agency, during 2007 there were around 7,000 cases of MRSA and more than a thousand cases of VRE in England alone. In recent decades the introduction of new antibiotics has slowed to a trickle but without effective new drugs the number of these fatal infections will increase.”

 

###

 

The research was funded by the EPSRC (Speculative Engineering Programme), the IRC in Nanotechnology (Cambridge, UCL and Bristol), the Royal Society and the BBSRC.

 

###
(Go below the fold for the remainder of this release)

 

 

(more…)

September 29, 2008

Want to buy some nanotech intellectual property?

Filed under: Business, et.al., Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:57 pm

Looks like this startup went tits up.

The release:

Spherics, Inc. Assignee Announces Strong Interest in October 10, 2008 Sealed Bid Auction in Spherics Intellectual Property

WELLESLEY HILLS, Mass., Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ — Joseph F. Finn, Jr., C.P.A. (“Finn”), Assignee of the assets of Spherics, Inc. (“Spherics”) for the benefit of creditors, said, in an interview today, that interest in the Company’s therapeutic drugs and technology platforms was strong.  Numerous confidential agreements have been signed and conference calls between the Company’s science team and prospective buyers have been productive and informative.  The intellectual property will be sold at a sealed bid auction on October 10, 2008.

Persons interested in bidding must sign a Confidentiality Agreement (“CA”) obtained from Finn’s office — jffinnjr@earthlink.net or 781-237-8840. They will then receive a bid package and access to the Spherics electronic data room.

About Spherics

Spherics has built a strong intellectual property position around its drug delivery technologies and products. The Company has a broad range of issued US and international patents that they have applied to their four central nervous system products. These patents cover polyanhydride-based bioadhesive polymers and nanotechnology (PIN(TM)). In addition to these issued patents, Spherics has filed numerous applications covering compositions of matters of its proprietary polymers (SPHEROMERS(TM)), novel oral delivery systems (including BIOGIT(TM), BIOROD(TM) and PIN(TM)), manufacturing methods, methods of use, formulations and product compositions.

About Joseph F. Finn, Jr., C.P.A.

Joseph F. Finn, Jr., is the founding partner of the firm, Finn, Warnke & Gayton, Certified Public Accountants of Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. He works primarily in the area of management consulting for distressed enterprises, bankruptcy accounting and related matters, such as assignee for the benefit of creditors and liquidating agent for a corporation. He has been involved in a number of loan workouts and bankruptcy cases for thirty-four (34) years.  His most recent Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors in the Biotech field was ActivBiotics, Inc.

Source: Spherics, Inc.

February 28, 2008

More than one in 100 jailed in US

Is the US a police state? For the first time in our history more than one in 100 United States citizens are incarcerated.

From a NYT article:

Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars.

Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.

The report, from the Pew Center on the States, also found that only one in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 is behind bars, but that one in 100 black women is.

The report’s methodology differed from that used by the Justice Department, which calculates the incarceration rate by using the total population rather than the adult population as the denominator. Using the department’s methodology, about one in 130 Americans is behind bars.

This situation is not cheap. Also from the linked article:

Now, with fewer resources available to the states, the report said, “prison costs are blowing a hole in state budgets.” On average, states spend almost 7 percent on their budgets on corrections, trailing only healthcare, education and transportation.

In 2007, according to the National Association of State Budgeting Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 increase once adjusted for inflation. With money from bond issues and from the federal government included, total state spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion.

It cost an average of $23,876 to imprison someone in 2005, the most recent year for which data is available. But state spending varies widely, from $45,000 a year for each inmate in Rhode Island to just $13,000 in Louisiana.

The cost of medical care is growing by 10 percent annually, the report said, a rate that will accelerate as the prison population ages.

Sure, a lot those behind bars ought to be there, but are we, as a nation, more criminal right now than any other period of our history? Asinine minimum sentencing rules, three-strikes laws and the utter failure and policy of suck that is the “war” on drugs contribute heavily to this situation.

As a society it would behoove us to remember when we turn a petty problem into a criminal offense (e.g., much of our drug statutes, turning a third-time convicted shoplifter into a felon, sentencing a women to six years for touching an adolescent’s hair) we are actually creating criminals. Maybe hardened criminals if they are forced to do hard time with actual criminals. You know — murderers, rapists, b-and-e specialists, armed thieves, child predators.

Since I’m in Texas I’d throw in cattle rustlers and trespassers, but those types don’t usually make it to trial.