Tech & Science

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  • What Do Female Mosquitoes Want, Anyway?

    If you are diligently following the experts’ advice on mosquito control—getting rid of standing water in old tires, pots, gouges in your patio and other places where water pools—scientists have made a discovery that can reduce your labors: concentrate on the puddles where leaves are floating. That might be especially welcome news for Midwesterners who, after suffering the floods of June, are now dealing with plagues of mosquitoes that are in some cases 20 times the usual number....
  • Fact or Fiction: Why Some People Are Mosquito Magnets

    After this weekend's barbeques and fireworks displays, you might wonder why some people wind up covered in mosquito welts and others are bite-free. It's not a coincidence. Each person's individual body chemistry determines how many mosquitoes will come calling.According to Joe Conlon, a medical entomologist who advises the American Mosquito Control Association, the insects can detect their targets from nearly 100 feet away. But what are they seeking? Mostly the scent of carbon dioxide and lactic acid, two compounds that indicate to the hematophagous—or blood-sucking—pests that their next landing pad is nearby. (It's worth noting that when a female mosquito latches on to you, she's not looking for food; instead, she sucks out blood to help fertilize her eggs … that's why males don't "bite").Carbon dioxide and lactic acid are released whenever we breathe or sweat, but the emission rates vary by person. Larger people and pregnant woman, for example, have higher levels and are more...
  • Fact or Fiction: Does a 'Base Tan' Protect You From Sunburn?

    Answer: FictionThough many believe it's best to be slightly tanned before going on vacation, doing so will hardly save your skin, according to Sarah Stein, a professor of dermatology at the University of Chicago Medical Center. "Really, we want to protect ourselves from [both] tanning and burning," she says. Although having a base tan might help prevent sunburns, the tan itself already indicates sun damage. "When we see someone who is chronically tanned, that's a marker for someone who is getting a lot of sun exposure, and that's risky for the development of future skin cancers." Sunburns, of course, signal a more intense level of damage. But don't think that maintaining a constant level of bronze is any better.
  • In a Galaxy Far, Far Away . . . But It Might As Well Be Next Door

    A staple of science fiction is to change the laws of nature, especially by having interplanetary travelers land on a world where those laws differ from the ones on Earth. It is equally a staple of science fact that the laws here are the same as the laws anywhere. But really, that was more assumption than a firm observation....
  • Can Preparation H Make Your Belly Look Leaner?

    We've all been there. Standing in front of the mirror in a bathing suit that you swear looked better last year, wishing you hadn't been the Girl Scout's No. 1 cookie customer. With your friends waiting in a car stuffed with beach chairs and towels, there is no quick fix for that slightly flabby postwinter look—or is there?For years, bodybuilders have sworn by an unusual method for looking leaner fast: they apply over-the-counter hemorrhoid ointments like Preparation H to their stomach or anywhere else that doesn't look as defined as they'd like.Does it work? Yes. Although the ointment does not dissolve fat or take off pounds, when applied it does make your body appear more toned, says New York City dermatologist Dr. Craig Austin. Here's how: Preparation H's active ingredient is phenylephrine, a natural vasoconstrictor, which means it constricts blood vessels. By constricting blood vessels, excess water is removed from under the skin. This in turn creates the illusion of a tighter,...
  • Can Certain Hairstyles and Smells Make a Headache Worse?

    If you're migraine-prone, getting primped for a night out can be a real headache—literally. Certain hairstyles, perfume and even earrings can trigger or worsen a headache."During a migraine, the scalp is hypersensitive," says Dr. Seymour Diamond, founder of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago and executive chairman of The National Headache Foundation. "If you put your hair in a tight bun or [ponytail], you are creating pressure that pulls on the scalp, intensifying the pain." The scalp area becomes more sensitive because of a nervous phenomenon called cutaneous allodynia, which occurs during a migraine, he says. But your choice of hairstyle isn't the only thing that can intensify the pain. Earrings, headbands and even certain smells like perfumes or hairsprays can do it, as well. Migraines are sensitive to certain triggers, including smells, which originate as electrical impulses deep within the brain, Diamond says. The trigger created by the smell then spreads throughout the...
  • The Four Worst Weightlifting Blunders

    Getting a good workout is not just about running on a treadmill or using a stationary bike. Weightlifting is another important part of any gym routine—especially if you're trying to slim down. Increased metabolism from growing muscles can speed up fat loss, and lifting weights can also create stronger skeletal muscles and bones. An hour of vigorous weightlifting can burn just as many calories an hour of playing basketball, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But if you don't train properly you may not achieve the results you want—or, worse, you might even injure yourself. So before you pick up the free weights, take a look at our list of the top mistakes to avoid when weightlifting, according to Joe DiAngelo, a New York City certified personal trainer of more than 10 years. ...
  • The Most Fattening Ice Cream Flavors

    Back in 1961 an enterprising young ice cream maker named Reuben Mattus invented an exotic Danish-sounding name, put a map of Scandinavia on the carton, and America's first commercial "super-premium ice-cream," Häagen-Dazs, was born. All but irresistible to anyone with a sweet tooth, the new treat was also loaded with butterfat. Enter two entrepreneurial hippies named Ben and Jerry with a gift for catchy product names, and you get the battle for the richest frozen dessert. Nowadays any number of premium flavors pack 300 calories and 20 grams of fat—or more—into a mere half cup of ice cream. (Breyer's or Turkey Hill, by contrast, may have half the calories and fat, or less.) Here's a list of the most fattening flavors (all nutrition information is for a half-cup serving). Dieters, beware. ...
  • Health: Can Metal Earrings Irritate Your Skin?

    Everyone loves a bargain; but, when it comes to buying earrings, you may want to dig a little deeper into your wallet. In a study published online this month in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers tested several types of inexpensive earrings and found that nearly one third contained nickel, which can trigger an allergic reaction in some wearers. For the study, Howard I. Maibach, a professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, and his collaborator, Jacob Pontoppidan Thyssen, M.D., purchased inexpensive (all under $50) earrings from 34 different locations in San Francisco in October 2007. The earrings were then examined with a routine spot test using solutions in order to discover the presence of nickel. Of those earrings, 30.7 percent tested positive for nickel.The presence of the metal may cause allergic contact dermatitis, which can leave you with swollen, reddened and itchy skin. Research has indicated that exposure may also...
  • Surviving Cancer: Advice for Survivors

    The news that Sen. Ted Kennedy has malignant brain cancer turned the spotlight once again on our most relentless foe. Kennedy, the third member of his immediate family to develop cancer, is just one of an estimated 1.4 million people in the country who will be diagnosed this year. In addition, there are nearly 12 million cancer survivors living in the United States....
  • Treatments for Brain Tumors like Ted Kennedy’s

    Researchers at Cedars-Sinai are racing to develop experimental treatments, and even vaccines, for fast-growing malignant brain tumors like the one Sen. Edward Kennedy has been diagnosed with.