SciTech Briefs

Senate passes stem cell research bill

The U.S. Senate passed a bill last Wednesday to lift particular limitations on governmen-sponsored embryonic stem cell research with a vote of 63–34.

The bill would allow researchers to use embryonic stem cells from in-vitro fertilization clinics with the approval of the donor. Researchers are not restricted by the time of creation of the stem cells. President Bush, who supports a bill on “ethically appropriate research,” which would have no “cultural or ethical conflict,” has threatened to veto the bill.

Bush has, instead, encouraged members of Congress to vote for a different, Republican-supported bill that backs research on adult stem cells.

Source: The New York Times

Study done on NYC greenhouse gases

A study released last Tuesday on greenhouse gas emissions shows that New York City accounts for almost 1 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases. In total, the city emitted 58.3 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2005. These emissions came from transportation pollutants and waste decomposition.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg requested the study to see how far the city has advanced in its plan to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 30 percent over the next 23 years. The plan includes the construction of green buildings and alternative fuel vehicles.

Source: CNN

New dyes generate electricity

Scientists have created new synthetic dyes that are capable of producing electricity. The dyes, which were developed at the Nanomaterials Research Center at Massey University in New Zealand, are significantly cheaper and more sensitive to the environment than silicon-based panels.

The dyes can be placed in window panes to be used as a provider of electricity, even in weak light. On cloudy days, they can produce enough energy to power small fans. The dyes have different colors, and they are derived from simple organic compounds. Green dye, for instance, is made from synthetic chlorophyll, and other dyes are made from hemoglobin.

Sources: MetaEfficient

Incidents of E. coli infection increase

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been an increase of E. coli infections in the United States over the past two years. The number of cases of other food-related illnesses has not increased. Recent E. coli contamination occurred in tomatoes, lettuce, and spinach.

According to the CDC, approximately 5000 people die from food-borne illness every year in the United States and 76 million people become sick every year with such an illness. These numbers are estimates because there is no way to track the total number of individuals whose illness resulted from food, according to the CDC.

Laboratory tests have shown the CDC has determined that 590 individuals became sick with E. coli in 2006. E. coli infections have risen from 0.9 cases per 1000 people in 2004 to 1.31 cases in 2006.

Sources: Reuters and USA Today