In Future: If you drunk, your car won't start its engine

future CarFor the very first time, a public demonstration has been presented in front of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood when he visited QinetiQ North America, a Waltham, Mass-based research and development facility. Such systems that could measure whether a motorist has a blood alcohol content at or above the legal limit of .08 and — if so — prevent the vehicle from starting.

The technology is being designed as unobtrusive, unlike current alcohol ignition interlock systems often mandated by judges for convicted drunken drivers. Those require operators to blow into a breath-testing device before the car can operate.

The Driver Alcohol Detection Systems for Safety, as the new approach is called, would use sensors that would measure blood alcohol content in one of two possible ways: either by analyzing a driver's breath or through the skin, using sophisticated touch-based sensors placed strategically on steering wheels and door locks, for example.


The mystery of what killed tens of thousands of fish Ark. remains unsolved

Ark Fish Dead Remain UnsolvedThe mystery of what killed tens of thousands of fish that washed up along the Arkansas River late last year can't be solved, state wildlife officials announced Wednesday, but they do have a theory about what caused birds to fall out of the sky in a small Arkansas town on New Year's Eve.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission issued separate news releases on the Dec. 29 fish kill and the New Year's Eve event in which red-winged blackbirds began raining down, evoking images of the apocalypse. The agency issued the releases after autopsies and multiple tests were conducted on the fish and birds.

Scientists determined it's likely that unusually loud noises reported before the birds began falling frightened them so much that they flew off in the dark, even though they have poor night vision and typically do not fly at night. The Fish and Game Commission also said New Year's Eve fireworks likely led the birds to fly at a lower-than-normal altitude and into buildings or trees. It's estimated that 4,000 to 5,000 birds fell before midnight.

Less is known about the fish kill. None of the tests conducted on fish or water samples from the area turned up anything conclusive, the agency.

Facebook new ads approach "subtle and misleading"

FacebookFacebook users who check in to a store or click the "like" button for a brand may soon find those actions retransmitted on their friends' pages as a "Sponsored Story" paid for by advertisers.

Currently there is no way for users to decline this feature.

Facebook says this lets advertisers promote word-of-mouth recommendations that people already made on the site. They play up things people do on the site that might get lost in the mass of links, photos, status updates and other content users share on the world's largest social network.

The new, promoted posts would keep the same privacy setting that the original posting had. So if you limit your check-ins to a specific group of friends, only these same friends would see the "Sponsored Story" version later.

The promoted content will appear on the right side of users' home pages, not in their main news feed. That's where regular ads, friend requests and other content are located.

Involving users in advertisements without their consent has been a thorny issue for Facebook. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said in this case the company is making money off a person's name or likeness without their consent. He calls it "subtle and misleading" and says users should object.


Do not ignore sharp pain in your side

appendicitisIf you feel as if you're being skewered in your right side, and you're also nauseated and running a fever, you could have appendicitis. For women, another possibility is an ovarian cyst.

Typically these fluid-filled sacs are harmless and disappear on their own. But if one twists or ruptures, it can cause terrible pain.

In both cases, you're looking at emergency surgery. “If you don't remove an inflamed appendix, it can burst," says Lin Chang, MD, a gastroenterologist and co-director of the Center for Neurovisceral Sciences and Women's Health at UCLA.

A twisted cyst also needs to be removed right away, as it can block blood flow to the ovary within hours.


Research: Genes play role in friendship

Genes play role in friendshipThe researchers looked at six genetic markers in two long-running US studies, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the Framingham Heart Study, which contain both genetic data and information on friends.

With one gene, called DRD2, which has been associated with alcoholism, they found clusters of friends with the very same marker.

Another gene called CYP2A6, which has a suspected role in the metabolism of foreign bodies including nicotine, appeared more divisive. People with this gene seemed to steer clear of those who also carry the gene.

Why, the researchers don't know, but they speculate it could form part of a defensive ploy.

They say similar patterns have been observed among couples, with individuals avoiding prospective partners who are susceptible to the same diseases.

The gene CYP2A6 has also been associated with an openness to new ideas and situations, they say.


Six small changes can help keep off pounds

keep off poundsHere are a half-dozen small changes you can make that help you keep off pounds. They are alternative approaches to the drastic diet and exercise revisions that most people find so difficult to follow.

The idea is to start with smaller, easier changes that will, at the very least, halt the weight-creep and give encouraging results.

Stop drinking calories

Replacing your favorite full-sugar drink with an artificially sweetened version. The evidence is mixed. Some studies suggest that though diet sodas don't add calories, they still activate your sweet tooth. But other studies show no such effect. "It's very difficult for my patients to stop drinking soda," said Caroline Apovian, M.D., director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center. "I always tell them to switch to diet soda."

Eat more protein

Low-carb, high-protein diets have proved surprisingly effective, especially in the short term. And it turns out that people who eat a higher proportion of their calories from protein end up consuming fewer calories overall.

Eat more fiber

Fiber is the good guy of food. It may help protect against colon cancer and heart disease, and it is your weight-control friend. It slows digestion, helping you to feel fuller longer, and displaces other caloric foods. Best of all, it comes in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals.

Add 2,000 steps a day

That's 20 to 25 minutes of walking, covers about a mile, and will burn about 100 calories a day—enough, Hill said, to prevent gradual weight gain in most people.

Cut your screen time

"When we're sitting, we are burning almost as few calories as we do when we're sleeping," said Marc T. Hamilton, Ph.D., a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. "Sitting too much is hazardous to your health in a different way than exercising too little."

"Standing upright washing dishes, getting dressed, or filing papers isn't exercise by anybody's standard," Hamilton said. "Yet these activities double your metabolic rate compared to sitting. If you can find 6 or 7 more hours a week to spend standing instead of sitting, you've done something good for yourself."


Few people correctly cover coughs, sneezes

cover coughs"When you cough into your hands, you cover your hand in virus," said study author Nick Wilson, an associate professor of public health at the Otago University campus in Wellington.

"Then you touch doorknobs, furniture and other things. And other people touch those and get viruses that way," he explained.

Health officials recommend that people sneeze into their elbow, in a move sometimes called 'the Dracula' for its resemblance to a vampire suddenly drawing up his cape. But only about 1 in 77 did that.

Using a tissue or handkerchief is another preferred option, but only about 1 in 30 did that.


Fresh vegetables are more nutritious than frozen?

frozen veggiesStudies show that sometimes you can get more nutrients from frozen veggies, depending on variety and how old the vegetables at your supermarket are. That's because produce starts losing nutrient quality as soon as it's picked.

Frozen vegetables are flash-frozen right after harvest so they are preserved at their peak of freshness when they are most nutritious. Your best bet in terms of taste, nutrition, and the environment is still local in-season produce.

When that's not an option frozen can be a better choice (from a nutrient standpoint) than spinach that takes two weeks to reach your table.

Steam or roast veggies instead of boiling, which leaches out water-soluble vitamins into the cooking water.


Cameron Diaz Fitness Secret

Cameron Diaz Fitness SecretIn a recent interview cited by Digital Spy, the actress admits that she does have an ace up her sleeve when it comes to staying in shape. And it’s quite unbeatable: she can’t put on any weight, even if she tries to.

As Diaz puts it, she’s been blessed with an excellent metabolism that actually has her eating more when she’s putting more strain on her body, like when she’s on the set of a movie, for instance.

“When I’m filming, I have to eat a lot more. I’m constantly eating because I’m burning so much energy doing what we’re doing,” Cameron says.

“Even if we’re just sitting around on the set of a movie, we’re talking about the next scene and burning energy,” the actress adds. Consequently, she has to compensate by eating more.

Of course, eating more doesn’t mean that she’s no longer keeping an eye on what she’s eating, she stresses. Quite on the contrary, actually, she remains mindful, perhaps even more so than before.

“However, I try to have the right kinds of food which I can eat throughout the day. I have a really good metabolism but sometimes I want to put weight on and I can’t. That’s my burden,” Cameron explains.

Study linking vaccine to autism was fraud

vaccine to autismAs quoted from AP, the first study to link a childhood vaccine to autism was based on doctored information about the children involved, according to a new report on the widely discredited research.

The conclusions of the 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues was renounced by 10 of its 13 authors and later retracted by the medical journal Lancet, where it was published. Still, the suggestion the MMR shot was connected to autism spooked parents worldwide and immunization rates for measles, mumps and rubella have never fully recovered.

A new examination found, by comparing the reported diagnoses in the paper to hospital records, that Wakefield and colleagues altered facts about patients in their study.

The analysis, by British journalist Brian Deer, found that despite the claim in Wakefield's paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previously documented developmental problems. Deer also found that all the cases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from medical records and the children's parents.


Should social networks release data?

social networksThe US government has subpoenaed the social networking site Twitter for personal details of people connected to Wikileaks, court documents show. Should social networks ever disclose such information to governments? and this leaves Wikileaks in a difficult position.

Twitter has been keen to stress that it complies with local laws, says Mr Cellan-Jones, but it has also been eager to promote Twitter's role as "a forum for free expression" in countries like Iran.

Our correspondent asks: "If confidential details of overseas Twitter users are disclosed to the US authorities, how keen will an international audience be to trust this or other American social networks in future?"

Should social networks give up data to help in legal proceedings? Or is it more important for personal details to remain confidential? Will this damage users' trust in social networks?


These Tricks Work: Boost Your Metabolism!

Boost Your MetabolismNow that you're hovering around middle age, part of the problem is that your metabolism decreases as a result of other age-related factors, like decrease in muscle mass. However, there's no need to give in to a bigger pant size just yet! Following are several ways to rev up your metabolism and keep those unwanted pounds from your waistline.

Do Intervals
An Australian study found that women who did intervals while they were biking lost three times as much fat as those who worked out at a steady pace. If you’re a walker, simply walk at your normal pace for 1 to 2 minutes, then speed-walk for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat the sequence 10 to 15 times.

Opt for Caffeine
It’s time to hit Starbucks. A study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior shows that coffee drinkers have a 16 percent higher metabolic rate than those who abstain or drink decaf joe, because caffeine increases your heart rate and stimulates your central nervous system.

Eat a Big Breakfast
It’s time to start your day with a fatty breakfast, including eggs and even a piece of bacon, suggests Molly Bray, PhD, lead author of a recent study showing that a fat-filled morning meal will jumpstart your metabolism for the day faster than a lowfat, low-calorie breakfast.

Drink Green Tea
Researchers found that people who drank the equivalent of three to five cups daily for three months shaved 5 percent off their body weight. Green tea contains ECGC, a plant compound that stimulates your metabolism, says Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist in private practice in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, and founder of Essential Nutrition consulting.

Build More Muscle
Gaining lean muscle mass boosts your metabolism and makes losing weight much easier, McGee says. If you add just 5 pounds of muscle to your body, you’ll burn up to 150 more calories per day without even working out those muscles. And, you can burn an average of 600 calories per hour during your cardio workout thanks to that extra muscle mass. The key is to challenge all your muscles and do a full-body strength-training workout, hitting your core, arms, legs, back and chest.

Pick Up Heavier Weights
By using heavy weights at a very slow rate—twice as slow as would feel natural—you break down your muscles (you’ll know the weights are heavy enough and the workout slow enough if you start to shake after just a few lifts or squats). Researchers at Wayne State University found that when your body repairs those overworked muscles, it causes your metabolism to increase for up to three days after the workout.


How to Save More Money in 2011

2011 Money Saving ResolutionMoney-saving goals are resolutions for many people in 2011. Here are some ways you can do to achieve it:

Coupon System

Too often, my newspaper pile becomes a graveyard for coupons. Potential savings die an early death because of clutter. For instance, I have squandered store coupons sporting savings of $1 to $10 due to missed deadlines or misplaced coupons. For 2011, I've begun to store coupons in a side pocket of my purse, which is always with me. Wallets and glove-compartments in cars are also a great place to store coupons.

Unplug Chargers

Even when not used, cell phone chargers, coffee makers, micro-wave ovens and other appliances drain energy when plugged into wall sockets. Conserving cash and energy is my January goal, and I've been teaching my kids to unplug idle appliances. But this step requires organization and constant awareness. When we are running late, we leave the house in a whirlwind of anxiety and fail to take energy-saving steps. An earlier wake-up call will preserve energy and create less stress.


Late fees and other financial penalties are the byproduct of disorganization. To avoid missed deadlines, I plan to raise my financial IQ with my smartphone and laptop. Both devices provide digital calendars that can be programmed with bill reminders and deadline alerts. There are also a variety of online services that offer e-mail notices about approaching deadlines. Online bill-paying programs also add organization and efficiency.


With better organization some household chores and personal tasks can become money-saving, do-it-yourself projects. For example, if you have the talent and the right tools, you can save money with haircuts, manicures, pedicures and other personal grooming chores. Car-washing, lawn mowing and house-painting duties can also represent frugal home projects. But calculate the cost of your time, and honestly evaluate your skills.


Go green and orange for dinner, red and blue for dessert

healthy fruits and vegetablesOngoing studies at Tufts University's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging and other institutes show that certain fruits and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, packed with disease-fighting phytochemicals, with the potential to ward off cancer, protect against heart disease and diabetes, and even slow aging itself at least to some degree.

Blueberries, for example, have been shown to reverse balance, coordination, and memory problems. Cranberries deactivate bacteria and prevent infection. Broccoli made headlines last year when it was shown to ward off prostate cancer in men who were at risk.

How to make this work for you: Anti-aging "superfoods" give themselves away by virtue of their color: The dark green of broccoli and kale; the rich orange of squash, sweet potatoes, and mangos; the deep purple of grapes; and the rich reds, blues, and purples of berries all indicate these foods are essentially medicine in food form. Nutritionists say the best thing to do is "eat a rainbow," choosing brightly colored foods and steering clear of those that are light-colored or colorless. Here's a quick color-coded guide:

Red = lycopene
Orange/yellow = carotenoids
Green = lutein and chlorophyll
Blue/purple = anthocyanins

The exception: White vegetables like garlic and onions contain important phytochemicals too. In addition, cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, which are eaten in "bud" form before they leaf out, have chemicals called indoles that protect against cancer; and leafy greens like spinach are rich in folate, which protects the heart and prevents birth defects and colon cancer.


Thousands of dead birds and fish in Arkansas, why?

dead birds in ArkansasRoughly 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky over a mile of land near Beebe, a small town in northwest Arkansas, and observers spotted the fish kill near the town of Ozark. Maybe the Mayans were on to something?

That's surely what students of the famed Mayan 2012 prophecy for the end of the world had to be thinking with the news of recent eerie wildlife die-offs in Arkansas.

In a statement Saturday morning, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission quoted staff ornithologist Karen Rowe as saying that such events have happened before around the world: "Test results usually were inconclusive, but the birds showed physical trauma and that the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail."

Because it happened New Year's Eve, some officials suggest that revelers shooting fireworks may have spooked the birds, to the point that they died en masse from stress-induced cardiac arrest.

Meanwhile, wildlife officials say that the estimated 100,000 drum fish discovered by a tugboat captain over a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River appears to be a natural occurrence that isn't tied to the bird kill in any way.

"The fish kill only affected one species of fish," Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission told CNN. "If it was from a pollutant, it would have affected all of the fish, not just drum fish." He added that fish kills in the area are common, though this one was larger than most.