Peace of my Mind

Thoughts about life, love, politics,lyrics that hook me and finding dimes.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Massive ice shelf breaks free of Arctic island

Fri, December 29, 2006

A giant ice shelf the size of 11,000 football fields has snapped free from Canada's Arctic, leaving a trail of icy boulders floating in its wake.
The mass of ice broke clear from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 800 kilometres south of the North Pole.
Warwick Vincent of Laval University, who studies Arctic conditions, travelled to the newly formed ice island and couldn't believe what he saw.
"It was extraordinary," Vincent said yesterday, adding that in 10 years of working in the region he has never seen such a dramatic loss of sea ice.
"This is a piece of Canadian geography that no longer exists."
The collapse was so powerful that earthquake monitors 250 kilometres away picked up tremors from it.
Scientists say it is the largest event of its kind in 30 years and point fingers at climate change as a major contributing factor.
"We think this incident is consistent with global climate change," Vincent said, adding that the remaining ice shelves are 90 per cent smaller than when they were first discovered in 1906.
"We aren't able to connect all of the dots . . . but unusually warm temperatures definitely played a major role."
The ice shelf -- believed to be about 100 square kilometres or one quarter the size of London -- actually broke up 16 months ago, but no one witnessed the dramatic event.
Laurie Weir, who monitors ice conditions for the Canadian Ice Service, was poring over satellite images when she noticed that the shelf had split and separated.
Weir notified Luke Copland, head of the new global ice lab at the University of Ottawa, who initiated an effort to find out what had happened.
Using U.S. and Canadian satellite images, as well as data from seismic monitors, Copland discovered that the ice shelf collapsed in the early afternoon of Aug. 13, 2005.
"These ice shelves can break up really quickly, perhaps more quickly than we thought they could do in the past," he said.
"Within an hour we could see this entire ice chunk just disconnect and float away."
Within days, the floating ice shelf had drifted a few kilometres offshore. It travelled west for 50 kilometres until it finally froze into the sea ice in the early winter.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Mystery Illness

December 27, 2006

Children's Hospital illness a mystery
BOSTON - What city health officials at first thought was an outbreak of whooping cough among employees at Children's Hospital Boston may have been something else entirely.

But exactly what is still in question.

It started when a 19-month-old patient came down with the classic symptoms of whooping cough, a respiratory disease also known as pertussis. Symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, slight fever, and mild cough, which can develop into a violent and persistent cough.

A laboratory test confirmed the boy had the disease.

Three dozen hospital employees and one other patient also tested positive for whooping cough from late September through early November.

But further testing, different from the initial tests, could find little evidence of the highly contagious bacteria. Now no one can say for sure what made the workers sick, but pertussis hasn't been ruled out.

Federal and state health officials joined the city in trying to figure out exactly what ailed the workers, all of whom recovered.

The Children's Hospital cases were at first confirmed through a test called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR.

Based on the tests, Children's moved to contain the outbreak.

''Children's, much like we do at the local health department, really relies on laboratory tests to guide us on what the diagnosis is, especially illnesses that can look like a lot of different things,'' said Dr. Anita Barry of the Boston Public Health Commission.

''Having accurate test results early on, particularly when they're consistent with the clinical symptoms, really launches us into control steps.''

State lab workers then performed other tests, including the laborious task of culturing samples and taking blood samples from hospital workers.

The additional tests were almost uniformly negative for pertussis.

Samples were sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

''The results were inconclusive,'' said Dr. Amanda Cohn, a medical epidemiologist for the federal agency.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Media Statistics

December 15, 2006

America's media addiction rises
WASHINGTON - Americans spend more time watching TV, listening to the radio, surfing the Internet and reading newspapers than anything else except breathing.

In fact, media use has risen every year since the start of the decade, helped by faster and easier ways to get information and entertainment, according to statistics in a new government report.

Next year, Americans are projected to spend more than 9½ hours a day with the media, though hours spent doing two things at once, such as watching TV and using the Internet, are counted twice in the report.

''There are more TVs than people and there's a TV, in many houses, in every room,'' said Patricia McDonough, senior vice president at Nielsen Media Research. ''For teenagers, being on the Internet and watching TV at the same time are not mutually exclusive.''

Americans spend an average of 4½ hours a day watching TV, far more time than they spend on any other medium. Next come the radio and the Internet. Reading newspapers is fourth, passed this year by Internet use.

McDonough said an increasing variety of cable TV channels has cut into broadcast viewers, but it has helped increase overall viewership.

''Before, if you looked at kids' TV programming, it was on Saturday morning,'' McDonough said. ''Now there is always targeted programming available for anyone in the household.''

McDonough said she expects overall viewership to continue increasing as baby boomers get older. The oldest of the post-World War II generation turned 60 this year.

''People who are 50 watch TV more than people who are 20,'' McDonough said. ''That will continue to drive this.''

The data on media use are part of the Census Bureau's annual Statistical Abstract of the United States, a 999-page book of numbers quantifying just about every aspect of American life, to be released today. The Census Bureau assembles the statistics from government and private sources so researchers, academics and businesses can find them in one place.

Many of the media numbers are from the Communications Industry Forecast & Report by Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a private equity firm serving the media industry.

Next year, Americans are projected to spend an average of 3,518 hours using the media. That's up from 3,333 at the start of the decade.

The number of hours projected for next year in different categories:

n 1,555 hours watching television, up from 1,467 in 2000. The estimate includes 678 hours watching broadcast TV and 877 watching cable and satellite.

n 974 hours listening to the radio, up from 942 in 2000.

n 195 hours using the Internet, up from 104.

n 175 hours reading daily newspapers, down from 201.

n 122 hours reading magazines, down from 135.

n 106 hours reading books, down an hour.

n 86 hours playing video games, up from 64.

Many people use multiple electronic devices at once, increasing media consumption, said Leo Kivijarv, vice president of research at PQ Media, a research firm.