All posts by aturtips

Florida Man Used Cell Phone Jammer On Highway For 2 Years

I don’t exactly know how you feel about people talking on their cell phones while driving, but it certainly annoys some people more than it does others. While there are those who claim it’s perfectly safe, there are still others who think it distracts a driver too much to safely operate a vehicle. Even if you hate the fact that some people drive and talk, you’ve probably never gone to any kind of extreme measures to prevent it from happening around you. After all, what could you even do in the first place? I guess you could try giving out dirty looks until each car around you ends their call(s), but good luck with that. Or, you could just go out and get yourself a cell phone jammer and prevent anyone around you within a certain radius from making any type of cell phone call.

At least that’s the length one Florida man went to so he could make sure all of the drivers on the road around him focused solely on their driving

Jason Humphreys, a 60-year-old from Florida, used a personal cell phone jammer for 2 years whenever he decided to drive anywhere.

Florida Man Used Cell Phone Jammer For 2 Years On Highway

Obviously, while he was using the cell phone jammer, no vehicles within a certain distance were able to make or receive any type of phone calls. This worked out well for Humphreys until certain phone providers were noticing some peculiar activity around the town of Tampa. Eventually, it was discovered that certain frequencies which jammed cell phones were coming out of the vehicle driven by Humphreys.

It took a while, but Humphreys was eventually pulled over by the police who found the jammer in the car. He now must pay $48,000 in fines. Jeez – all this because he didn’t want anyone to talk on the phone while they were driving.


EPA’s New Car Emissions Standards Will Clear the Air (Op-Ed)


Peter Lehner is executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). This Op-Ed is adapted from a post that appeared onthe NRDC blogSwitchboard. Lehner contributed this article to LiveScience’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

When I worked for the City of New York, I often asked people what they felt was the worst environmental problem. Many said tailpipe pollution. Emissions from the tailpipes of cars and trucks seemed particularly insulting because — as we all walked our kids to school — the tailpipes seemed to be spewing black smoke just at the level of our kids’ heads.

Cars and trucks have become a lot cleaner since then, but exhaust from vehicle tailpipes is still a major source of air pollution, responsible for up to 45 percent of soot and smog-forming pollution in many areas of the country. Air pollution still sends thousands of kids and adults to the emergency room every year with asthma attacks or breathing difficulty, and keeps hundreds of thousands more home from school or work; it can even shorten the lives of people with heart or lung trouble.

The latest set of tailpipe and clean-gasoline standards announced this week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will help reduce smog and soot, and clear the air for millions of Americans — saving thousands of lives and up to $19 billion in health costs each year.

The EPA’s new standards will reduce the amount of sulfur in gasoline by two-thirds. This will have an immediate impact on air quality. Sulfur, in addition to being a source of air pollution, builds up in a car’s exhaust system and makes emissions-control less effective. When every gas-powered car on the road fills up with cleaner, lower-sulfur gasoline, they’ll all start running cleaner — even older vehicles. Smog-forming pollution is expected drop by 260,000 tons by 2018, a year after the new standards take effect — that’s the equivalent of replacing roughly 30 million of today’s cars with zero-emission vehicles.

With less sulfur in the fuel tank to gum up the works, automakers can move ahead with cleaner engines and exhaust systems optimized for cleaner gasoline. Vehicles built in 2017 and beyond will produce 80-percent less smog-forming pollution, and 70-percent less particle pollution — the soot — than cars built under today’s tailpipe standards. Soot is a particularly harmful type of air pollution, because very tiny particles can lodge deep in the lungs or even enter the bloodstream. It’s been linked to premature death, heart attacks, aggravated asthma and other heart and lung problems.

The American public has expressed strong support for the new standards, which will prevent, according to EPA estimates, as many as 2,000 premature deaths each year, as well as thousands of hospital visits and 1.4 million days of missed work, school absences or activity restrictions. By 2030, these standards will save Americans anywhere from $6.7 billion to $19 billion in health costs each year. The additional cost for cleaner gasoline will be less than a penny per gallon.

If you’re a topical expert — researcher, business leader, author or innovator — and would like to contribute an op-ed piece,

Automakers, eager to move forward with more clean-car technologies, support the new standards. The oil industry, however, has been a major roadblock against getting these standards through, protesting that meeting them would be prohibitively expensive. But analysis from the EPA, and even some oil-industry analysts, showed their numbers didn’t add up.

The oil industry voiced similar concerns about earlier sulfur reductions, which were achieved successfully, and objected to the removal of lead from gasoline, which NRDC began advocating for in the 1970s. Lead standards, which NRDC helped push through in the United States and then worked to expand globally, have effectively eliminated lead in gasoline around the world, resulting in a remarkable 90-percent drop in blood-lead levels globally, and an estimated $2.4 trillion in annual health, societal and economic benefits. This is truly amazing public-health victory, achieved at a fraction of the cost the industry originally claimed.

Like removing lead from gasoline, reducing sulfur and tailpipe emissions is an important win for clean air and public health. Clearing the air of lung-damaging pollution will save thousands of lives. It means fewer trips to the emergency room with an acute asthma attack or irregular heartbeat; fewer days when asthmatic kids can’t go outside and play. These are cost-effective, health-protective standards that will produce real benefits for millions of Americans who can look forward to breathing cleaner air.

Astronomers Discover ‘Death Star’

Astronomers have claimed that vast O-type stars are littered across the galaxy destroying young planets before they have had time to form.  A research team from US and Canadian are using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to discover that massive quantities of ultraviolet radiation from stars 16-times the mass of our own Sun can destroy the raw materials for fresh planetary systems.

Death Star

The researchers were tracking stars and protostars in the Orion Nebula when they found that any protostars within 0.1 light years (approx 600bn miles) of an O-type star would have their raw material wiped out by the radiation before it even had a chance to cluster together.  Astronomer Rita Mann explained the situation, “Using ALMA, we looked at dozens of embryonic stars with planet-forming potential and, for the first time, found clear indications where protoplanetary disks simply vanished under the intense glow of a neighbouring massive star”

Scientist estimate that it takes millions of years for gases and stellar dust to begin to combine into something denser and over further time, form into planets. The raw materials in these pre-clusters are believed to come from the explosions of massive stars going supernova.  James Di Francesco, National Research Council of Canada said, “Massive stars are hot and hundreds of times more luminous than our Sun. Their energetic photons can quickly deplete a nearby protoplanetary disk by heating up its gas, breaking it up, and sweeping it away.”

Telescopes such as Hubble have previously allowed astronomers to view very young protostars, (known as proplyds) in Orion; they have lacked the skill to recognize how much mass each one had. But using ALMA meant researcher teams could look inside these forms, to reveal what dust was contained within them.  The team says that with future investigations they will hopefully indicate how ‘common’ solar systems such as our own are.  Who knows? Maybe there are a couple of ‘Sith’ trying to control star systems?

If you have any sensible comments regarding this story, please leave your comments in the section below.

LGBT Youth Struggle Worldwide, Researcher Seeks Remedy


This Behind the Scenes article was provided to Live Science in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

It’s no secret that minorities in the U.S. face unique challenges and often experience compromised outcomes. In fact, the story is even worse than many people think. Some Americans expect there might be a different story in countries with allegedly different views toward minorities, such as Norway. But is this, in fact, the case? As a human developmentalist, I examine data from studies that follow tens of thousands of individuals in both the U.S. and Norway to find the best predictors of success for non-heterosexual individuals.

I work with a team of scientists at the Frances McClelland Institute, which is part of the University of Arizona’s Family Studies and Human Development program. I use longitudinal data to inform a program of research on creating supportive academic and social environments, reducing bullying and finding supportive communities for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) youth across the United States, and now Norway. My motivation for visiting Norway, which has a reputation for more progressive attitudes regarding LGBT issues, stems from my findings in the United States. Specifically, I and my colleagues have found that LGBT youth are eight times more likely to report suicide attempts, six times more likely to report high levels of depression and three times more likely to abuse drugs and engage in unsafe sex.

These disparities are not confined to adolescence: Early experiences at school specific to being LGBT have important implications over the lifespan. For example, LGBT youth are more likely to disengage at school due to the stigma of their sexual orientation. Those students who are disengaged in high school report clinical levels of depression and suicidality in young adulthood. Compared to their LGBT counterparts who are able to apply themselves in the face of discrimination and stigma, the disengaged youth suffer emotionally throughout their entire lives, and even at work as adults.

Most striking are the outcomes for LGBT youth that are associated with bias-based bullying . Compared to heterosexual youth, LGBT students who are bullied due to their sexual orientation are up to 10 times more likely to smoke, get into trouble with the police and get into fights. They also are more likely to be killed. Stigma and victimization related to sexual orientation oftentimes are implicated as the causes of these negative outcomes.

Research continually shows that some youth are protected against these outcomes. My team and I want to know what makes these youth resilient in the face of discrimination. Thus, the next logical step is to inquire why negative outcomes are so prevalent for LGBT youth and how we can support these youth. I turned to Norway for answers.

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide program and the Research Council of Norway funded me to travel to Trondheim, Norway to collaborate with a leading scholar in adolescent psychopathology, Lars Wichstrøm at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Together, we are using a database designed by Wichstrøm that traces the experiences of youth from 1992 to 2005. My advisor at the University of Arizona, Stephen Russell, will work with me to compare these findings to a dataset that tracked more than 20,000 youth in the United States from 1994 to 2008.

Ryan Watson speaks to researchers

Ryan Watson speaks to a team of researchers interested in health issues affecting LGBT people, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway.
Credit: Chris Wheldon, University of South Florida

My findings, thus far, are intriguing.

While we might expect the experiences for LGBTs in Norway to be different because of progressive social environments and a plethora of gay rights as compared to the United States, preliminary analyses suggest otherwise. Youth are reporting compromised outcomes across the board in both the United States and Norway — such that gay individuals are almost 12 times more likely to use hard drugs compared to their heterosexual counterparts in Norway. In some cases, youth report higher levels of mental health disorders in Norway than in the United States. For example, youth who report their sexual identity as heterosexual yet engaged in same-sex relations were 10 times more likely to be depressed; this finding did not hold in the United States. This particular finding makes me wonder about the role of culture for Norwegian youth. Are youth suffering from internalized homophobia differently in Norway as compared to the United States?

Other Norwegian findings show the importance of parents, peers and romantic partners in protecting youth against compromised mental health. For example, LGBT youth report less depression and suicidality when they have parents who show more care and acceptance. More intimacy with peers and romantic partners also protect youth in Norway from being depressed and suicidal. Data from both the United States and Norway implicate parents as the most important support system for LGBT youth. [Accepting Parents Boost Mental Health of LGBT Teens ]

Finally, the focus turns to: how can we inform others about these disparities and protective support systems? I am a part of theCrossroads Collaborative at the University of Arizona, a coalition of scholars and community members who are trying to answer this question. With my colleagues, I authored a research brief that informs multiple stakeholders on how to reduce bullying (especially bias-based bullying) in our schools. The ultimate goal for our research is to disseminate it to the public.

By way of a National Science Foundation Pre-doctoral fellowship, I have talked to LGBT youth in Arizona and studied the experiences of this LGBT youth across the world to understand the best ways scholars, families and policymakers can support the needs of this vulnerable population. We seek to take the next steps to battle against stigma, discrimination, and bullying.

While I continue to trace the experiences of LGBT youth across time, efforts to find ways to empower this population remain strong across the United States. But we can always do better. The hope is that cross-cultural research on this population can shed light on the best ways to support our youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and help them grow into successful, healthy and happy adults.

Want to learn more? I write a blog to document my travels and research projects across the world.


Sorry, Robin Thicke, ‘Blurred Lines’ Are a Myth


In the song “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke croons, “I hate these blurred lines/ I know you want it.” In reality, the lines in the club scene Thicke sings about aren’t so blurred at all.

In a new study, researchers find that in one-third of cases where men initiated unwanted sexual contact with women in bars and clubs, the advances were obviously unwelcome. In the other two-thirds of cases, there was some chance the men had misinterpreted the women’s cold-shoulder behavior as inviting, but independent observers still suspected the guys knew better.

The behaviors ranged from cat-calling to sudden groping or grinding against women, typically by complete strangers, said study researcher Kathryn Graham, a seniorscientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto.

“If that happened in a subway or at a university cafeteria or something, they’d call the police or people would have consequences,” Graham told Live Science. “But somehow, in bars it’s become very normative, and guys are able to get away with doing this sort of thing. ” [Busted! 6 Gender Myths in the Bedroom & Beyond]

Bad bar behavior

Graham and her colleagues were originally researching a program meant to prevent general violence and aggression in bars in Toronto. As part of that program evaluation, they sent 148 trained observers into the night. In pairs, these observers visited 118 bars and clubs on Fridays and Saturdays. Over 1,334 total visits, they recorded 1,057 incidents of aggression ranging from angry words to all-out brawls.

In the course of analyzing the data, the researchers noticed that 258, or 25 percent, of these aggressive encounters, were sexual in nature. They decided to take a closer look at what the observers had recorded.

In 90 percent of cases, men were the aggressors and women the targets. (The remaining 10 percent were split between men sexually harassing other men, women harassing men and women harassing women.) Because incidents involving other configurations of gender were too rare, the researchers focused their study on the 90 percent involving male aggressors and female victims.

The researchers were interested in whether men were intentionally harassing women, or whether they were simply confused about female signals (as one 2008 study suggests is all too common for some young men).

They found that in 34 percent of those cases, it was beyond clear that the women didn’t want to be groped, yelled at or otherwise targeted. For example, in one case, a man and a woman were on the dance floor when he suddenly moved in close and grabbed her butt with both hands. She pushed him away immediately, and he looked at his male friend and laughed. Ten seconds later, he grabbed her breasts. She pushed him away harder as the guys laughed again. She then headed to another area of the dance floor.

“For about a third of them, it was clearly intentional aggression,” Graham said. “When you walk through a bar and grab a woman’s breast and keep on walking, it’s not some sort of misperception that she wants him to do that.” [51 Surprising Facts About Sex]

Even in the remaining two-thirds of cases where the observers could not definitively infer aggressive intent, they almost always agreed that the man probably knew that what he was doing was unwelcome.

Examples included a man slapping a woman’s behind, a man touching his mouth to a strange woman’s hair, and a man coming up behind a server and encircling her waist with his hands, trying to follow as she rushed away.

Peer pressure and predators

The reason for all of this unwanted groping is likely cultural in part, Graham said. Pop culture, including songs like Thicke’s, suggest women aren’t allowed to say no, and if they do, they secretly want sexual advances anyway. Bars are staffed mostly by male bouncers, many of whom hold these beliefs, too, Graham said. In only one case out of 258 observed was the male initiator ejected from the bar.

More often, bystanders encouraged bad behavior rather than stopping it, the researchers found.

“A lot of times, it’s done for the amusement of their friends,” Graham said of the groping and cat-calling. “So it’s a group of guys, and they’re harassing women. They’re not thinking about what is happening to the women, they’re just thinking about amusing their friends.”

In a few cases, she said, the men appear to be predators “getting their kicks by making women feel very uncomfortable,” Graham said — for example, a man who came up to two women dancing and ground his crotch into one of them, only to turn around and do the same to the other when her friend moved away.

“We had persistence to the point where women had to leave the bar altogether to get away from somebody,” Graham said.

In a follow-up study, the researchers issued surveys to people leaving bars in Windsor, Ontario, across the Detroit River from Detroit. They found that 50 percent of women reported unwanted sexual contact that very night, suggesting the problem is widespread. The researchers reported their findings today (March 3) in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Could Sugar Power Cell Phones Of The Future?


Researchers are charged up about biobatteries, devices able to harness common biological processes to generate electricity. Most biobatteries are unable to generate large amounts of power, but researchers recently developed a prototype version that has the potential to be lighter and more powerful than the batteries typically found in today’s portable electronic devices, including smartphones.

In the body, sugar is converted into energy in a process called metabolism, which decomposes sugar into carbon dioxide and water while releasing electrons. Biobatteries produce energy though the same conversion process by capturing the electrons that are generated in the decomposition of sugar with the same tools that the body uses. Because biobatteries use materials that are biologically based, they are renewable and non-toxic, making them an attractive alternative to traditional batteries that need metals and chemicals to operate.

Percival Zhang and Zhiguang Zhu, researchers at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, designed a new biobattery with a greater output per weight than the typical lithium-ion batteries used in most electronics. They described the research online last month in the journal Nature Communications.

The new biobattery fully converts sugar to energy, which means more power output than previous biobatteries, and a greater battery charge than common lithium-ion batteries.

“By using the lithium-ion battery, for example, your phone can only last for one day, but in the future it will use sugar as the fuel…then the phone could last 10 days,” said Zhu.

The new biobattery gets its efficiency by using a novel system of enzymes, which are proteins that help the reaction to take place. The system uses two active enzymes that liberate two pairs of electrons from the sugar, while 10 other enzymes help to reset the reaction inside the biobattery. Once the reaction is reset, the active enzymes release another quartet of electrons. After six cycles, the biobattery extracts all of the energy bound in the sugar molecule, along with carbon dioxide and water.

Previous biobatteries could only extract one-sixth the energy of the new biobattery, because they didn’t use the non-active enzymes for recycling. By extracting more electrons per weight of sugar, the effective “energy density” of the sugar has increased.

One of the major advantages of this biobattery is that, while the cycle can fully convert sugar to energy, it uses fewer enzymes than the body, making it more robust.

Shelley Minteer, a biobattery expert from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City who was not involved with the work, likes that the team was able to develop an enzyme cycle, also known as an enzyme pathway, which uses fewer enzymes than the body.

“It’s really important to get all the electrons out, but not just to get all of the electrons out,” said Minteer. She added that it’s important to extract all of the electrons using the fewest enzymes.

With their new recycling enzyme system, Zhang and his team have done just that. “I think it’s a great [enzyme] pathway,” noted Minteer.

While the new enzyme system marks a major step forward for biobatteries, the technology still has some hurdles to surmount before it is market-ready.

“So far there are two more challenges in front of us,” Zhu explained.

He said that, in the current, non-optimized form of the battery, the power output is still too low for many devices and the lifetime of the cell is still too short, as it cannot yet be recharged.

However, as Minteer noted, these challenges are more “on the engineering side of things.” Zhu and Zhang agree and expect to solve these problems at Zhang’s startup company, Cell-Free Bioinnovations.

Baby’s Rare Brain Tumor Had Teeth

brain-tumor-teeth-140226 (1)


A 4-month-old infant in Maryland may be the first person to have had teeth form in his brain as a result of a specific type of rare brain tumor, according to a new report of the case.

The boy is doing well now that his tumor has been removed, and doctors say the case sheds light on how these rare tumors develop.

Doctors first suspected something might be wrong when the child’s head appeared to be growing faster than is typical for children his age. A brain scan revealed a tumor containing structures that looked very similar to teeth normally found in the lower jaw.

The child underwent brain surgery to have the tumor removed, during which doctors found that the tumor contained several fully formed teeth, according to the report. [14 Oddest Medical Cases]

After an analysis of tumor tissue, doctors determined the child had acraniopharyngioma, a rare brain tumor that can grow to be larger than a golf ball, but does not spread.

Researchers had always suspected that these tumors form from the same cells involved in making teeth, but until now, doctors had never seen actual teeth in these tumors, said Dr. Narlin Beaty, a neurosurgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center, who performed the boy’s surgery along with his colleague, Dr. Edward Ahn, of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

“It’s not every day you see teeth in any type of tumor in the brain. In a craniopharyngioma, it’s unheard of,” Beaty said.

Craniopharyngiomas commonly contain calcium deposits, “but when we pulled out a full tooth…I think that’s something slightly different,” Beaty told Live Science.

Teeth have been found in people’s brains before, but only in tumors known as teratomas, which are unique among tumors because they contain all three of the tissue types found in an early-stage human embryo, Beaty said. In contrast, craniopharyngiomas have only one layer of tissue.

The boy’s case provides more evidence that craniopharyngiomas do indeed develop from the cells that make teeth, Beaty said.

These tumors are most often diagnosed in children ages 5 to 14, and are rare in children younger than 2, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The boy is progressing well in his development, the researchers said. However, because craniopharyngiomas are tumors of the pituitary gland — a gland in the brain that releases many important hormones — they often cause hormone problems.

In the boy’s case, the tumor destroyed the normal connections in the brain that would allow certain hormones to be released, Beaty said, so he will need to receive hormone treatments for the rest of his life to replace these hormones, Beaty said.

“He’s doing extremely well, all things considered,” Beaty said. “This was a big tumor right in the center of his brain. Before the modern surgical era this child would not have survived,” Beaty said.

The teeth were sent to a pathologist for further study, Beaty said, and generally, these types of tissue samples are saved for many years in case more investigation is needed.

The report is published in the Feb. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.