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Forty years since the big one, Alaska Science Forum

It's Alaska disaster anniversary week...

On that day 40 years ago, Alaska shook for about four minutes, about as long as it takes to listen to a song on the radio. During that time, the gargantuan Pacific plate slid under the North American plate an average of about 30 feet. The earthquake rupture began at the meeting place of the two plates about 15 miles deep under College Fiord.

The Alaska earthquake released 100 times as much energy as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and the only larger earthquake ever recorded was a 1960 magnitude 9.5 in Chile. Seismic waves traveled through the planet for weeks as Earth rang like a bell from the shock of the Alaska earthquake, wrote Doug Christensen, associate director of the University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute. Water sloshed in lakes and harbors as far away as Louisiana, and water levels jumped in wells as far away as South Africa.

During the earthquake, more than 100,000 square miles of Alaska broke, twisted, tilted, dropped and rose. Seward moved about 47 feet south; Cordova migrated 46 feet southeast. Parts of Montague Island rose more than 30 feet; areas around Portage dropped nine feet. According to a National Academy of Sciences study commissioned by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the earthquake also killed 90 percent of the mussels in Prince William Sound, stopped the flow of Ship Creek in Anchorage for 18 hours, and shortened the intervals between eruptions of Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

Shake here.

March 28, 2004 in alaska | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top doc backs picking your nose and eating it

Picking your nose and eating it is one of the best ways to stay healthy, according to a top Austrian doctor.

Innsbruck-based lung specialist Prof Dr Friedrich Bischinger said people who pick their noses with their fingers were healthy, happier and probably better in tune with their bodies.

He says society should adopt a new approach to nose-picking and encourage children to take it up.

Dr Bischinger said: "With the finger you can get to places you just can't reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner.

"And eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body's immune system.

Didn't think I could put this under the 'Wacky' category. Maybe it's time to add a "Gross' category. Blow here.

March 27, 2004 in complementary and alternative medicine | Permalink | Comments (0)

'The Passion of the Christ' may change hearts and history

Me traveling with the Auca/Huaorani

I have no interest in seeing this movie, but I have traveled with a group that made this list of Christian turning points.

...There are well-known turning points in history, such as Paul setting off on his missionary trips that ushered in the rapid spread of Christianity beyond Israel, and Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, awakening the Protestant Reformation.

There are lesser known moments along the way.
A more recent example was the slaughter of five young American missionaries led by Jim Elliot and Nate Saint, who were killed in 1956 in Ecuador by the Auca Indians whom they were trying to tell about Christ. The Indians, now called the Huaorani, are Christians today. And, the deaths of the men made worldwide news and kindled a fire for missions among a generation of young people.

I'm sure the Huaorani would appreciate the fact that they created a "seminal moment" in Christian history.

More 'great moments' here.

Apparently the author missed this article about his 'Christian' friends:

Update: May 29, 2003. Tagaeri Indians killed in Ecuador. It is being reported that Huaorani from the Tiguino community recently killed up to 30 members of the Tagaeri (a Huaorani clan). ONHAE, the Organization of the Huaorani Nation of the Ecuadorian Amazon, is asking people to stay away from the area. Many tour companies operating out of Quito and Coca (Ecuador) bring tourists through this area. The potential visitor should seek up-to-date information before going to this area. Revenge attacks, even revenge killings, are a strong possibility.

You can find more on this weblog published by a missionary in Ecuador.

And some more here.

The Huaorani were very friendly when we visited, however the Huaorani villages we visited are filled with villagers who fled the mission villages. The killings are what happens when you mix oil, timber and "primitive" people. The best book on oil and the Huaorani is Savages.

March 27, 2004 in ecuador | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bill would let natural healers dole drugs

A bill that would give naturopaths in Alaska the right to prescribe drugs and perform minor surgery is moving rapidly through the Senate.

Advocates of the legislation say naturopaths undergo training that to some extent parallels that of medical doctors and is more lengthy than that of nurse practitioners, who are allowed to prescribe drugs.

"It's important the laws in Alaska reflect the high quality of education naturopaths receive," said Sen. Ralph Seekins, R-Fairbanks, who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

The Senate Finance Committee had a hearing on the measure Thursday morning, and Co-chairman Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, said he expects to allow the bill to move from the committee after one more hearing. From there, it could go to the Senate floor for a vote.

A similar bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Holm, R-Fairbanks, is being considered in the House.

Scott Luper, a Fairbanks naturopath, said the bill would allow naturopaths to function as they are trained -- as primary care doctors. It would eliminate the need for patients to make an appointment with a medical doctor for ailments that require a prescription or minor surgery.

Naturopaths, who are required to be licensed in Alaska, generally prefer using nutrition, herbs and similar methods before using prescription drugs, but say they do not oppose using drugs when necessary.

The Alaska State Medical Association and the Alaska State Medical Board oppose the bill.

"Training for naturopaths is significantly less rigorous than that for physicians, in both length and depth of study," said the medical association's president, Alex Malter.

"Its emphasis on natural healing does not allow adequate opportunity for its students to fully learn the accepted pathology, physiology and pharmacology necessary to safely treat most medical conditions," Malter said.

Clyde Jensen, who heads a biomedical consulting firm in Oregon, has been testifying with naturopaths on the bill. He has advanced degrees in physiology and pharmacology and has taught at traditional medical schools, as well as naturopathic medicine schools, he said.

Both naturopaths and medical doctors start with an undergraduate degree and their first two years of postgraduate school are very similar, including courses in physiology, anatomy and pharmacology, Jensen said.

In the third and fourth years, their paths diverge. A medical student starts clinical training, typically in a hospital, while a naturopathy student's clinical training would usually be in an outpatient clinic under the supervision of a naturopath, Jensen said.

After graduating from medical school, medical doctors enter residency training, which is not required of naturopaths.

Several other states that license naturopaths allow them to perform minor surgery and prescribe some medicines, Luper said.

"The track record of naturopathic physicians is quite good," Luper said. "In fact, the malpractice costs for naturopathic physicians are among the lowest of all professions. I personally pay $3,000 a year, which is unheard of for any other kind of doctor."

Some medical doctors have written letters in support of the bill, saying they have collaborated successfully with naturopaths on mutual patients.

The bill would require naturopaths to complete 45 hours of continuing education every year, including 15 hours in pharmacology.

Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer, who headed a subcommittee of the House Labor and Commerce Committee that looked at the bill, is not convinced the existing law governing naturopaths needs to change.

Gatto is not comfortable allowing naturopaths to prescribe drugs and disagrees with a section of the bill that would allow them to refer to themselves as naturopathic physicians.

"I just want to make sure when you go to a naturopath, you fully understand they're not what you for your whole life have known to be a physician," Gatto said.

The Labor and Commerce Committee amended the bill to remove the ability for naturopaths to prescribe controlled substances, such as morphine, Valium and other potentially addictive drugs, as well as mental health drugs, such as antidepressants.

The bill passed the committee Wednesday, but still must go through the House Health Education and Social Services and Judiciary committees.

The Senate Finance Committee removed the ability for naturopaths to prescribe the most addictive drugs, such as morphine, but would still allow them to prescribe less dangerous drugs, such as Valium.

From the Anchorage Daily News

March 26, 2004 in alaska, complementary and alternative medicine , politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Exxon Valdez Spill, 15 Years Later: Damage Lingers

It was 9:12 p.m. on March 23, 1989, when the Exxon Valdez left the trans-Alaska pipeline terminal in Valdez, Alaska, carrying more than 53 million gallons (200 million liters) of crude oil bound for Long Beach, California.

It seemed like a routine run. Ships had safely transited through the area more than 8,700 times in the 12 years since oil began flowing through the pipeline.

But this evening, the 986-foot (300-meter) Exxon Valdez encountered icebergs in the shipping lanes. Capt. Joe Hazelwood, who later admitted to having had several alcoholic drinks that day, ordered a helmsman to go around the icebergs. After leaving instructions on when to steer the ship back into the shipping lanes, Hazelwood retired to his quarters.

That was a terrible mistake. The helmsmen failed to make the turn back into the shipping lanes. Three hours after taking off, the ship ran aground on Bligh Reef, rupturing 8 of its 11 cargo tanks. The ship spewed some 11 million gallons (40 million liters) of crude oil into the pristine Prince William Sound, causing the biggest environmental disaster in United States history.

More here.

One lingering question is the health effects on clean-up crews and others humans in the Sound. Anyone have any info?

March 23, 2004 in alaska | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wild Dog Urine May Be Used as "Fences" in Africa

Hey, this really is a picture of a wild dog in Botswana, I'm just a crappy photographerThe African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), is in serious trouble, largely because its instinct to roam widely keeps bringing it into lethal contact with humans. Now researchers are hoping to keep the dog from wandering where they are not wanted by using wild dog urine samples. The urine scent marks would be used in the same way the dogs use urine to demarcate their territory.

Demarcate here.

And yes, that blur on the picture is a wild dog in Botswana, taken in 2001 on our "No Brains, No Money" Wild Dog Tour. What does wild dog urine have to do with anything? Beats me, I just think wild dogs are cool.

March 23, 2004 in africa, animals, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

IVAX, Serono say oral cladribine trials for MS positive

The Swiss pharmaceuticals group Serono and its US partner IVAX Corp. posted positive results from two clinical trials with an oral formulation of cladribine, a potential new treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS).

"This is a major step in the development of the first oral disease modifying treatment for multiple sclerosis."

That would be nice.

Swallow here.

March 23, 2004 in follow the money..., research, worth following... | Permalink | Comments (0)

Biogen Idec, Elan to submit MS drug for European approval

Biogen Idec and Elan Corp. plc said Tuesday that they plan to submit their multiple sclerosis drug Antegren for approval in Europe.

The filing will be made to the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products in the summer of 2004.

More here.

March 23, 2004 in antegren , economy, follow the money..., stocks, tysabri | Permalink | Comments (0)

Studies Show Massage Relieves Symptoms Of Many Conditions

Curtis Griffith has multiple sclerosis, a condition that leave his muscles aching. He says that regular massage helps alleviate the pain and the tightness.

Griffith says nearly 13 years of massage have helped keep him on his feet.

Rub here.

March 23, 2004 in complementary and alternative medicine | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chemo could help treat multiple sclerosis

Doctors at Drexel University reported promising results using huge doses of a potent chemotherapy drug in treating autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, though an MS researcher said more patients and time are needed before any victory is declared.
The drug, cyclophosphamide, is given to patients at such high doses that most or all of the person's disease-fighting immune cells are destroyed.
The patient's stem cells within their bone marrow survive the drug's onslaught, the doctors say, and are stimulated with drugs to rebuild the immune system from scratch - but without the bad triggers that cause the body to attack its own cells.
"Once the immune cells are destroyed, they come back no longer recognizing the stimulus that brought them on," Dr. Isadore Brodsky, director of hematology and oncology at Drexel's Hahnemann University Hospital, said Monday. "The immune system comes back naive, so it's tolerant of whatever trigger caused the autoimmune response."

More here.

You might be able to find more here.

March 23, 2004 in treatment | Permalink | Comments (0)