Saturday, February 13, 2010

New Scientist: Friendly bacteria keep your skin's defences in check

Bacteria are, and have always been, considered unpleasant. Bacteria live on the whole Earth: from the blizzards of Antarctica to the rainforest's of the Amazon. They cause a number of number of diseases including tuberculosis and pneumonia. It is not a wonder why they are despised and eradicated by us, humans. However we may have just found a 'friendly' bacteria living very close to you... That's right, on your skin.

These bacteria play a vital role in regulating inflammation triggered by injury and unwanted bacteria. This means that when we apply soap or any other moisturizing cream we not only remove damaging bacteria but helpful bacteria as well.  The study of these bacteria found that one molecule stopped skin cells from releasing chemicals that trigger inflammation. "Lipoteichoic acid" as the bacteria is called causes the human immune system to react quickly to the threat of enemy bacteria.

This helpful protection does not occur only on the skin:
"In the gut, friendly bacteria control inflammation, while in the mouth they may kill strains that cause decay and halitosis" 
I, of course, was one of those ignorants who believed that bacteria are all bad. Well, this article has cleared my mind of that. The next time you think of scraping yourself clean of all bacteria, think again, some of those bacteria will save your life.
23 November 2009 by Linda Geddes
Magazine issue 2736.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tech Review: Apple's vision of the future

What must it be like to work at Apple? A well-payed job that's for sure, but at what mental cost? Apple has become the leading innovator when it comes to technological advancement. The iPhone is just the icing on the cake. The company has clearly revolutionized the concept of the portable computer, music player and much more.

However, in my most humble opinion, Apple's latest invention, the iPad, is a complete opposite of what I was expecting from the foremost expert on technological innovations. The iPad is basically a bigger version of the iPod Touch: the screen is much bigger (9.7 inches). Apart from this the iPad is no "tablet savior" of any kind. Features that have already been associated with the iPod are all present and accounted for: WiFi (models only shipping in March!), Music player, video viewer, accelerometer, app store and of course the touch screen.  Please Mr. Jobs the touch screen has been around for more than 3 years! I expected something bigger.

The only new addition that Apple has come up with the iBooks which is essentially the App Store but for books. However, unlike most other eBook readers ( Kindle by Amazon, the Sony eReader) you cannot transfer books from your computer, you can only buy them from iBooks. Each book is retailed for $12.99! This a huge price when compared with paper books that not only sell for 1-15 dollars at most on, they also don't damage your eyes.
" The stripped down 16-gigabyte model starts at $499; the biggest iPad holds 64 gigabytes and costs $829"
 I love the first statement on the Apple website about the iPad: "With a revolutionary, 9.7 inch touch screen, and amazing new apps, it does things no tablet PC, netbook, or e-reader could." What "things" Apple?! Does it provide a better Internet surfing, movie viewing, book reading or music hearing experience than other competitor brands? They haven't proved it to me yet.

Of course not all is bad about the iPad. It does give you many features on one single device, rather than having an mp3 player, a dvd player, a laptop and an ereader. I also like the idea of app games on the iPad. With its big screen it can be home to a number of different family games.

With a new decade looming ahead I believe that Apple will have to rethink its marketing strategies if it wants to continue to maintain its overall economical superiority over its competitors.,8599,1957291,00.html