Mad Cow-like Chronic Wasting Disease in North American Deer and Elk

Wild mule deer in Colorado. Photograph courtesy Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Wild mule deer in Colorado. Photograph courtesy Colorado Division of Wildlife.

February 4, 2001  Denver, Colorado - This past week, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned countries around the world to be concerned about the risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) known as mad cow disease. In a formal statement, FAO said: "All countries which have imported cattle or meat and bone meal from Western Europe, especially Britain, during and since the 1980s can be considered at risk from the disease."

 

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U. N. Global Warming Forecast: Up to 10.5 Degrees F. Hotter At End of 21st Century

"The idea of having a planet that really warmed 10 degrees Fahrenheit is rather baffling. That's the same change we saw back to the last Ice Age. And obviously that was a hugely different kind of world to live on. So, if we really experience something at that high end of temperature warming, it sounds like there is a possibility for widespread disaster."

- Drew Shindell, Ph.D., Atmospheric Physicist, NASA/GISS

Lightening in violent thunderstorm courtesy National Severe Storm Center, Norman, Oklahoma.
Lightening in violent thunderstorm courtesy National Severe Storm Center, Norman, Oklahoma.

January 28, 2001  New York City ­ The largest decline in a mammal population ever recorded by modern scientists has occurred in the otter population of the Aleutian Islands off the west coast of Alaska. In the 1980s, as many as 100,000 otters inhabited the islands. Today, there are only about 6,000 left. And 70% of that decline occurred between 1992 and 2000, a rate of decline that scientists say is unprecedented for any mammal population in the world. Researchers have been trying to find out what happened. And the answer seems to be global warming. Warmer ocean currents in the Aleutians have driven out the huge population of seals and sea lions that used to be the staple food of killer whales. When the seals and sea lions disappeared, the whales turned to otters for food. As water temperatures increased, so did the salmon population. Salmon have attracted sharks. So, in a few short years a warmer water temperature has transformed the once safe mammal sanctuary of the Aleutian Islands into a feeding ground for predators.

 

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Prions – The Misshapen Protein That Causes Mad Cow and CJ Disease

Cow infected by Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) that destroys brain tissue, on right, with a myriad of holes that resemble a sponge. Photographs courtesy www.mad-cow.org.
Cow infected by Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) that destroys brain tissue, on right, with a myriad of holes that resemble a sponge. Photographs courtesy www.mad-cow.org.


January 21, 2001  Europe - Mad cow disease once thought to be confined to England continues to be found in western Europe. This past week scientists announced the discovery of a diseased cow in Italy. The term "mad cow" comes from the shaking and stumbling of sick animals before they die. The scientific name is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, now thought to have spread by recycling meat and bone meal from infected animals back into cattle feed. But even after strict measures were taken in England and other European countries to eliminate infected cattle feed, mad cow disease cases have been reported in several western European countries.

 

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An Australian Zircon Crystal is 4.4 Billion Years Old

"We weren't expecting to find a sample at 4.4 billion because our prejudice said that the earliest part of the earth was so violent that no samples would be preserved.Now, we realize that is not correct."

- Prof. John Valley, Geologist, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Tiny zircon crystal that uranium and lead isotopes indicate was formed on earth 4.4 billion years ago. BSE on left is Back Scattered Electrons which concerns average density of crystal. Three black areas are inclusions of quartz which indicates the crystal was created in continental surface crust. CL on right is Cathode Luminescence. Photograph courtesy of geologist William H. Peck.
Tiny zircon crystal that uranium and lead isotopes indicate was formed on earth 4.4 billion years ago. BSE on left is Back Scattered Electrons which concerns average density of crystal. Three black areas are inclusions of quartz which indicates the crystal was created in continental surface crust. CL on right is Cathode Luminescence. Photograph courtesy of geologist William H. Peck.

January 14, 2001  Madison, Wisconsin - Another surprising find on earth is revolutionizing thinking about what the earth was like at its beginning. For the past fifteen years, geologists have been studying very ancient rock outcroppings in the Australian outback at a place called Jack Hills several hundred kilometers northeast of Perth.

 

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Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Punched 22 Miles Through Earth’s Entire Crust

Red circle represents the Chicxulub impact crater in northwestern Yucatan peninsula produced by the violent impact of an object about 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide when dinosaurs were alive on the earth 66 million years ago. Asteroid, or comet, it punched through 22 miles of the earth's crust and is thought to be the extinction event that annihilated more than 75% of all earth life. Map courtesy of marine geophysicist Gail L. Christeson.
Red circle represents the Chicxulub impact crater in northwestern Yucatan peninsula produced by the violent impact of an object about 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide when dinosaurs were alive on the earth 66 million years ago. Asteroid, or comet, it punched through 22 miles of the earth's crust and is thought to be the extinction event that annihilated more than 75% of all earth life. Map courtesy of marine geophysicist Gail L. Christeson.


January 7, 2001  Austin, Texas - Sixty-six million years ago more than 75% of all living earth creatures died. It was the end of a warm period called Cretaceous and the beginning of another named Tertiary. At that "K-T boundary," as scientists call it, there was a major, worldwide change that exterminated the dinosaurs. Experts have argued about the cause of the global extinction for at least two centuries. Twenty years ago physicist Luis Alvarez and his geologist son, Walter, reported the discovery of a worldwide layer of clay that has a high iridium content right at the K-T boundary layer in the earth's crust. Iridium is rare on earth, but abundant in some comets and asteroids, so the Alvarez team theorized that a comet or large asteroid must have hit the earth. When scientists looked for the greatest concentration of iridium, the data took them to the northwestern corner of the Yucatan peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. There they found the massive 60-mile wide underwater crater called Chicxulub now thought to be the impact site.

 

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U. S. Will Attempt First Landing On Asteroid Eros

This color image of Eros was acquired by NEAR's multi-spectral imager on February 12, 2000 at a range of 1100 miles (1800 kilometers). The color is close to what the unaided human eye would see. The butterscotch hue is typical of a wide variety of minerals thought to be major components of asteroids such as Eros. Photograph courtesy of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland
This color image of Eros was acquired by NEAR's multi-spectral imager on February 12, 2000 at a range of 1100 miles (1800 kilometers). The color is close to what the unaided human eye would see. The butterscotch hue is typical of a wide variety of minerals thought to be major components of asteroids such as Eros. Photograph courtesy of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland

January 6, 2001  Laurel, Maryland - NASA said OK this week to America's and the world's first attempt to land on an asteroid - or at least touch down briefly. Scientists on the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) team at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland have been controlling NASA's NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft orbiting the asteroid Eros since February 14, 2000. Now, nearly one year to the day on February 12, 2001, NEAR's rocket engines will be turned on to slow the orbiter's descent toward Eros at about 7 miles per hour.

 

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Top Trends 2001

December 31, 2000  Rhinebeck, New York - As 2000 comes to an end and the true first year of the 21st Century begins, The Trends Research Institute in Rhinebeck, New York has released its list of Top Trends for 2001 and beyond. They include: Ugly Americans, Recession Proofing, Peace Talks on the Drug War, Immigration issues, Closed Minds, Involuntary Simplicity, Re-Unionizing of the Soviet Union and Corporate Dumbsizing, Round 2.

 

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Martian Bacteria?

"The presence of prismatic magnetites in Martian meteorite ALH84001 is strong evidence for life on early Mars."

- Kathie Thomas-Keprta, Biochemist,
Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

Mars by Hubble Space Telescope on June 30, 1999.
Mars by Hubble Space Telescope on June 30, 1999.


December 24, 2000  Houston, Texas - Three Christmases from now on December 26, 2003, a spacecraft built by the British called "Beagle 2" is scheduled to land on Mars to look for life. The lander will use a robotic arm to burrow into soil and under rocks. Samples will be analyzed chemically and results transmitted back to earth. What are the odds that Beagle 2 finds traces of organic life?

 

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Immortal Human Skin Cells – A Miraculous Answer for Burn Victims?

Could skin cells that do not die at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, provide a better and unlimited skin supply for burn victims? Healthy skin supply is limited, demanding experiments such as this film seeded with autologous keratinocyte skin cells to repair a burned shoulder. Photo: Lyons Burn Centre, Edouard Herriot Hospital, Claude Bernard University, Lyons, France.
Could skin cells that do not die at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, provide a better and unlimited skin supply for burn victims? Healthy skin supply is limited, demanding experiments such as this film seeded with autologous keratinocyte skin cells to repair a burned shoulder. Photo: Lyons Burn Centre, Edouard Herriot Hospital, Claude Bernard University, Lyons, France.

December 17, 2000  Madison, Wisconsin - In a week, it will be Christmas - a holiday to celebrate the birth of the man named Jesus Christ long considered by many to be divine, even immortal. The New Testament says his disciples heard Christ tell them that "whosoever believeth in Him who sent me shall have ever lasting life." As if to prove the lesson of his words, he also told the disciples that he would die before them and then resurrect with new life to walk among them again.

 

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A Pleiadian Star Tears Apart Black Interstellar Cloud

An black interstellar cloud is being destroyed by strong radiation from a nearby hot star named Merope in the Pleiades. Hubble telescope photograph courtesy NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team, George Herbig and Theodore Simon, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii.
An black interstellar cloud is being destroyed by strong radiation from a nearby hot star named Merope in the Pleiades. Hubble telescope photograph courtesy NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team, George Herbig and Theodore Simon, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii.

December 14, 2000 Hubble Space Telescope - In this new Hubble image, the star Merope in the Pleiades cluster is just outside the frame on the upper right. Not far away in astronomical terms is a cloud of dust and gas referred to as "Barnard's Merope Nebula," or IC 349. The cloud is being destroyed by the passage of Merope. NASA says the beautiful and eerie light effect is produced "like a flashlight beam shining off the wall of a cave. The star is reflecting light off the surface of pitch black clouds of cold gas laced with dust. These are called reflection nebulae." The parallel wisps extending from the lower left to upper right are explained by University of Hawaii astronomers, George Herbig and Theodore Simon, as dust particles slowed down by the strong starlight. Physicists call this phenomenon "radiation pressure."

 

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