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     Volume 4 Issue 52 | July 1, 2005 |

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Machines to dispense drug refills
Customers, tired of waiting in long lines at U.S. pharmacies, will now be able to get refills of prescription drugs from automatic-teller-like machines. Once customers have filled an initial prescription with the pharmacist, they can register to retrieve and pay for refills at a vending machine in the store, even when the pharmacy counter isn't open, the Wall Street Journal reported. Consumers will order refills in the usual way, either online or by phone. A pharmacist fills the script and places packaged medicines in the machine. To pick up the order, consumers log on with a user name and password and swipe a credit or debit card. Their pre-wrapped package drops into the bin. One worry is that patients might end up with the wrong drug. But supporters reject that argument, saying many drugs are dispensed by mail order. One pharmacy company spokesman also said the vending machines also will free up pharmacists to spend more time talking with patients who have questions.

Tech Update
Humanoid Robots, called "Hubo"(L) and "Maru"(R), perform at a state workshop in a trade showroom in Seoul. The robots were designed by South Korea's government-financed research groups. South Korea aims to expand its robot industry by injecting billions of dollars.

Nepalese haulers most efficient
Belgium researchers are studying how porters in Nepal haul head-supported loads that weigh more than they do, supported by a strap across the forehead. Science reports the scientists from Catholic University of Louvain found that Nepalis carry loads more economically than any other group previously studied. The porters expend less energy per load than both Westerners with backpacks and African women who carry baskets on their heads. The oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production of the porters was measured through a mask as they walked along a flat track carrying different loads. The Nepalese became more efficient as the loads got heavier.

Junk DNA makes voles better dads
Scientists in Georgia have found that male voles with a certain strand of junk DNA are more attentive mates and better fathers. Larry Young and Elizabeth Hammock of Emory University bred strains of prairie voles with different lengths of micro satellite DNA in a gene coding for a hormone. They found that the voles with the longer strand of DNA were more attentive to their mates and spent more time with their pups. Microsatellites are strands of repetitive DNA that do not encode for proteins and thus are considered junk. About 95 percent of human DNA is junk. But Young said that junk strands of DNA appear to have a purpose. They can be a mechanism for rapid evolution and adaptation, he says.

Mad Cow
The U.S. Agriculture Department is reported to have cleared an animal suspected of having mad cow disease after skipping a key test last year. The agency said the cow was safe then, but now, seven months later, USDA admits the animal may have had the brain-wasting disease and has ordered a new battery of tests. That reversal sent cattle prices falling this week and sparked new questions about the USDA's ability to protect the public while at the same time trying to promote U.S. agricultural interests. They don't go the extra mile, said Craig Culp, a spokesman for the Center for Food Safety in Washington. They stop just short of it, cross their fingers and hope everything is OK. Jim Rogers, a spokesman for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the agency is reviewing its approach to mad cow cases.

Atlantic Ocean getting more fresh water
Large regions of the North Atlantic Ocean have been growing fresher because of melting glaciers and increased precipitation. The melting glaciers and increased precipitation are associated with greenhouse warming creating enhanced continental runoff into the Arctic and sub-Arctic seas. Ruth Curry of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Cecilie Mauritzen of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute quantified for the first time how much additional fresh water caused the observed salinity changes in the northern North Atlantic Ocean. Precipitation and river runoff at high latitudes have been increasing, Curry said. In the last decade, fresh water has been accumulating in the Nordic Seas layer -- the upper 1000 meters -- that is critical to the ocean conveyor, so it is something to watch.


Source: AFP , UPI and Webindia123

Compiled by: Imran H. Khan

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