SciTech Briefs

New HIV vaccine to be tested in Africa

Merck & Co said that it would test a new HIV vaccine on HIV-negative patients and strain C HIV-positive patients in South Africa. The MRKAd5 HIV-1 vaccine prevents HIV infection or lowers HIV levels in infected patients. Three thousand HIV negative people between ages 18 and 35 will participate in the trial.

“This test vaccine is one of the most promising currently available internationally,” said Anthony MBewu, president of the Medical Research Council. Currently, in South Africa, one out of every nine people have HIV.

Source: Scientific American

England to use gas and wind energy

In the Ormonde project, Eclipse Energy plans to utilize both wind and gas energy to supply electricity to parts of northwest England. The project is meant to supply the majority of electricity through 30 wind turbines.

When the wind is not strong enough to meet the region’s electrical needs, power will be provided by Morecambe Bay’s gas fields on a smaller scale. The wind turbines will be able to generate 108 megawatts of power, and the gas resources will be able to generate 93 megawatts of power.

Source: Reuters

Law may fine street crossers with music

In New York, use of electronics when crossing a street could become a crime. New York State Senator Carl Kruger is pushing for legislation to impose a $100 fine on individuals who cross the street while listening to an iPod or talking on a cell phone. This action is in response to the deaths of three pedestrians who were trying to cross traffic in Brooklyn while focusing their attention on electronic devices.

The fine does not apply solely to iPods. Other popular gadgets, such as BlackBerries and video games, will be included. Kruger will introduce the legislation on Wednesday.

Source: CNN

Brain technology can read minds

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences found that they could read the thoughts of people using fMRI technology and a customized computer program.

In one experiment, researchers asked participants to think about a mathematical sum or difference. Using a process called multivariate pattern recognition, researchers then looked for certain patterns of neural activity to detect particular thoughts.

Results show that the computer program could detect people’s intentions in 70 percent of participants. Researchers also found that people’s intentions are indicated in the front regions of the brain, whereas people’s calculations are indicated in the back parts of the brain.

Source: BBC News