Parrotfish on menu puts coral at risk
October 31, 2007 01:37 PM - Ben Hirschler, Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) - The delicate balance of the Caribbean's coral reefs is in jeopardy as more parrotfish end up on dinner plates, international scientists said on Wednesday. The colorful grazing fish, named for their parrot-like beaks which are used to scrape up algae, play a vital role in stopping seaweed from smothering coral. But their numbers are now being threatened by over-fishing. New research based on computer modeling shows parrotfish are a key defense in preventing the vulnerable Caribbean reefs from becoming a very different ecosystem -- one dominated not by living coral but by blooms of algae or seaweed.
Google phone could be tough sell to U.S. carriers
October 31, 2007 01:22 PM - Sinead Carew - Analysis
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Google Inc, which is used to dominating the Web search advertising business, may find negotiating its way into the cell phone market a tougher task. Dealing with America's largest mobile companies, which keep control of devices and features, could force the Web search leader to make concessions that cut into future revenue from wireless, an area Google has long said would be key to growth. So far no U.S. carrier has confirmed working with Google on a new mobile platform. No. 2 U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless is in active talks about putting Google applications on phones it offers, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Want to Stop Superbugs? Clean up Hospitals: Study
October 31, 2007 01:20 AM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hospitals seeking to keep patients from picking up infections should focus as much on cleaning up invisible germs as on removing the visible dirt, a British doctor argued on Tuesday.
Clean hands can only go so far in protecting patients from infection if doorknobs, bed rails and even sheets are covered with bacteria and viruses, Dr. Stephanie Dancer of South General Hospital in Glasgow writes in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.
But other infection experts differed on whether clean equipment and telephones affect a patient's biggest risk of acquiring a "superbug" such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.
Moderate earthquake hits Northern California
October 31, 2007 01:16 AM -
OAKLAND, California (Reuters) - A magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck in a rural area about 9 miles northeast of San Jose, California, Silicon Valley's biggest city, on Tuesday night, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The earthquake was felt across the San Francisco Bay Area just before 8:05 p.m. (11:05 p.m. EDT). There were no immediate reports of major damage but the San Jose Mercury News Web site reported phone service failed in a part of Palo Alto, home to Hewlett-Packard computer company and Stanford University.
It said the quake caused minor damage and residents poured out of apartments in downtown San Jose to survey the damage.
Solar energy boom may help world's poorest
October 31, 2007 01:06 AM - Gerard Wynn, Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) - A surge in investment in solar power is bringing down costs of the alternative energy source, but affordability problems still dog hopes for the 1.6 billion people worldwide without electricity.
The sun supplies only a tiny fraction -- less than one tenth of 1 percent -- of mankind's energy needs. But its supporters believe a solar era may be dawning, boosted by western funding to combat oil "addiction" and climate change.
Governments from Japan to Germany and the United States are helping the public wean themselves off fossil fuels.
Tropical Storm Noel drenches Cuba, Bahamas
October 30, 2007 05:12 PM - By Anthony Boadle, reuters
HAVANA (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Noel weakened as it moved across northeastern Cuba on Tuesday and the storm that killed more than a dozen people in the Dominican Republic was not expected to become a hurricane as it neared the Bahamas.
Torrential rains drenched eastern Cuba, where double the average rainfall in October had reservoirs already filled to the brim and authorities worried about flooding. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages.
"There's lots of rain but no really strong winds like a hurricane," said Chantal Rivas, owner of a bed and breakfast in the port of Gibara, 470 miles east of Havana.
Too many Halloween treats prompt health warnings
October 29, 2007 11:27 PM - Reuters
TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - While adults may relish the gore of Halloween, most children enjoy the night for another reason -- the vast amount of candy they receive which is prompting warnings to parents.
With concern growing about rising childhood obesity rates, medical experts advised parents to limit how much candy they allow their children to eat.
"I don't think the indiscretion of a single day or a couple of days around Halloween would have any measurable impact on that child's health," said Dr Michael Kramer, a child health and development expert at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Brain scans of obese show hunger hormone at work
October 29, 2007 11:19 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Giving the body's natural appetite suppressant to morbidly obese volunteers de-activated their brain's response to tasty food -- and the new brain activity lasted for as long as the hormone was delivered, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.
They said their imaging tests show some of the brain circuits activated by leptin, a hormone that helps control appetite, and may lead to new and better treatments for obesity, the researchers wrote in their report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"While they were off leptin they got really hungry when they saw pictures of high-calorie food, and that was associated with high activation in a part of the brain that is related to food craving," said Edythe London of the University of California Los Angeles, who led the study.
GE says smart panel to cut power bills
October 29, 2007 11:06 PM - Timothy Gardner, Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Electric Co said it is developing a control panel that should allow homeowners to trim rising utility bills by helping manage power and water consumption.
The "eco-dashboard" will be available in December in new home developments in southern and western U.S. states, areas where power and water supplies are particularly stressed, Juan de Bedout, a renewable energy specialist at GE's global research center in Niskayuna, New York said late last week.
New York may join crackdown on plastic bags
October 29, 2007 10:57 PM - Edith Honan, Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City may follow an international trend and crack down on plastic shopping bags, seeking to cut their use with a plan officials hope will be a model for other cities.
A proposal introduced on Monday requires stores larger than 5,000 square feet to set up an in-store recycling program and sell reusable bags.
Some 700 food stores plus large retailers such as Target and Home Depot would have to collect used bags and provide a system for turning them over to a manufacturer or to third-party recycling firms.