Thursday, March 24, 2005

Horoscopes for March - Virgo

Virgo - August 23rd - September 22nd

The way you rub your eyebrow when you exaggerate keeps your soul guarded for its own good. Keep your windows shut and there'll be no bad luck for seven years. Have some fun, and don't worry so much.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Horoscopes for March - Leo

Leo - July 23rd - August 22nd

The warm sun is a pain in your side. Stop gnashing your teeth so much and accept that windows don't need to have bars to keep you in.

Food for thought - Ancestoral Effects on Genetics

Upending prevailing genetic theory, a team of scientists at Purdue University has discovered a mechanism in plants that allows them to correct defective genes from their parents by tapping into an ancestral data bank of healthy genetic material.

In essence, the plants back up the evolutionary path and use past genes to restore traits that would otherwise be lost, according to a study published Tuesday in the online version of the journal Nature.

The finding proposes "an extraordinary view of inheritance," the scientists said in their paper.

The mechanism appears to be a way for self-fertilizing plants, which are more likely to suffer from the negative consequences of inbreeding, to maintain a healthy level of genetic diversity and increase their chances of survival.

It could also be a way for plants to adapt to changing environmental conditions by having a store of diverse traits at their disposal, the scientists said.

The proposal offers a radical addition to the widely embraced laws of Mendelian genetics, which date back to the mid-1800s. They hold that plants and animals inherit only two copies of a gene — one from each parent. If both copies were defective, a plant would have no ability to correct the error.

"This means that inheritance can happen more flexibly than we thought in the past," said Robert Pruitt, a molecular geneticist who co-authored the paper. "While Mendel's laws that we learned in high school are still fundamentally correct, they're not absolute."

If the newly discovered mechanism is also found to be at work in people, "it's possible that it will be an avenue for gene therapy to treat or cure diseases in both plants and animals," Pruitt said.

The Purdue scientists happened upon their discovery by accident. They were intending to study a deformed version of the Arabidopsis plant, a member of the mustard family.

Their particular variety produced flowers that were fused into tight balls, a consequence of the plants' having two defective copies of a gene dubbed "hothead."

Breeding the plants should produce only offspring that are also deformed. But the scientists were startled to see that 10% of the offspring produced normal flowers that radiated out from the center of a cluster.

They conducted a series of experiments that indicated the bright white flowers were not the result of accidental cross-pollination or other contact with normal seeds.

The plants "can recover DNA variants that have come from one of their great-grandparents, even if their immediate parent did not contain the variant," wrote molecular biologists Detlef Weigel and Gerd Jurgens in an accompanying article.

The researchers said the plants must contain a normal version of the hothead gene, although they searched the plants' genomes and were unable to find it.

That has led them to believe that the genetic information could be contained in the plant's RNA, a close cousin to DNA that is thought to be a less reliable vessel of genetic information.

Each of the steps necessary for RNA to modify the genes in DNA has already been demonstrated in other research, the scientists said.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Positive News - Today is World Water Day

Marking World Water Day, UN to launch Water for Life Decade

To spur efforts by governments and civil society to meet agreed targets on halving the number of people lacking access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015, the United Nations is launching the international Water for Life Decade on World Water Day.

With agriculture being the main consumer of water and women in developing countries often being the main carriers of water, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message, "We need to increase water efficiency, especially in agriculture. We need to free women and girls from the daily chore of hauling water, often over great distances. We must involve them in decision-making on water management."

"It has been estimated that an additional investment of $11.3 billion per year over and above current spending could result in a total economic benefit of $84 billion annually," Dr. Lee said. "The economic benefits would range from $3 to $34 per $1 invested, depending on the region."

The launch will be marked by a "Blessing of the Waters" tomorrow at UN Headquarters in New York, while a web site on the decade will be made available.

Among the goals CSD-13 will consider will be ensuring that no one is excluded from essential water supplies.

Countries could also make basic sanitation access affordable to poor people, by subsidizing household hook-ups to sewerage services, as in Jamaica and in Trinidad and Tobago, and providing cross-subsidies to meet the sanitation needs of the poor, as in Egypt, it said.

Horoscopes for March - Cancer

Cancer – June 22nd – July 22nd

Make the phone call. Do it. Stop being so crabby.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Positive News - Plain- language food labels to come in 2006

New Food Label Law Eagerly Awaited

New "plain language" food labeling requirements in the United States, which take effect less than a year from now, will reduce allergic reactions in people who have potentially life-threatening food allergies.

The new law, which will take effect in January 2006, will require manufacturers to use plain, common language on the presence of any of the eight major food allergens (milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy). Companies will also be required to indicate any major food allergens used in spices, flavorings, additives and colorings, categories which had previously been exempt.

Currently, consumers are often confused by complicated language masking simple ideas, for example "casein" instead of "milk."

Horoscopes for March - Gemini

Gemini - May 21st - June 21st

You will mentally date, fall in love, get married, have children, grow old together and die with someone you know in the period of 30 seconds and feel strangely relieved afterward, for whatever reason. Just talk to them, they might be closer to you than you think.