Friday, December 14, 2007

Global warming could kill coral reefs by 2050

Rising carbon emissions might kill off the ocean's coral reefs by 2050, scientists warn in today's edition of the journal Science.

The review article, co-authored by 17 marine scientists in seven countries, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is the most comprehensive review so far of the catastrophic threat global warming poses to coral, and by extension many ocean species.
Burning coal, oil and gas adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, the same gas used to give soft drinks fizz. Just as carbon dioxide is absorbed into the drink, ocean water absorbs it from the air. When the carbon dioxide enters the ocean, it makes the water more acidic. That interferes with the ability of coral to calcify their skeletons: They can no longer grow and they begin to die.

Coral reefs are important because they act as hatcheries and nurseries for open ocean fish. They also protect coasts from storms, and provide fish, recreation and tourism dollars. It is estimated that coral reef fisheries in Asia feed one billion people. The total economic value of coral is estimated to be $30 billion.
But global warming is seriously threatening that crucial component of the ocean biodiversity, the marine scientists said.

"We have created conditions on Earth unlike anything most species alive today have experienced in their evolutionary history. Corals are feeling the effects of our actions and it is now or never if we want to safeguard these marine creatures and the livelihoods that depend on them," said Bob Steneck of the University of Maine and co-author of the paper.
The scientists provide three possible scenarios of what might happen to the world's coral reefs, all based on the lower range predictions of atmospheric carbon dioxide given by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In the best-case scenario, carbon dioxide emissions are stabilized at today's levels of 380 ppm. Coral reefs survive mostly intact.
In the midrange scenario, carbon dioxide levels rise to 450-500 ppm and the temperature goes up 3.6 degrees. Heat-tolerant forms of coral take over and reefs become significantly less diverse, with a decline in fish and other sea life.
In the worst scenario, carbon dioxide levels rise above 500 ppm and the temperature increases more than 5.4 degrees. At this point, the reefs crumble and half of sea life disappears. Red, brown and green algae take over, plankton blooms increase and water quality erodes. Today's levels are rising quickly due to ever-larger amounts of fossil fuels being burned.
While coral expert Chris Langdon says it's clear this trend looks bad for corals, he does say that to predict their total loss by some date is a little sensational. "There's a chance that they'll be able to adjust their physiology," says the University of Miami marine biologist, who was not a contributor to the study.
However, there's no question the oceans are becoming more acid. Unlike climate sensitivity "where you don't know exactly how much the atmosphere will warm for each doubling of carbon dioxide," ocean chemistry is straightforward, he says.
"There's no uncertainly how much the pH is going to drop given a certain amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," Langdon says. "Everyone would agree within 1% what the pH is going to be." When it comes to ocean acidification, "it's crystal clear that it's caused by humans burning fossil fuels."
Coral reefs are already under stress due to increasing numbers of "bleaching events." When ocean temperatures rise for weeks or more, coral, which are actually tiny marine animals, expel the algae that live within them. These symbiotic algae provide the coral with a major source of food. If water temperatures drop the coral can recover, but are weakened. Too many bleaching events can kill them.
With overfishing, coastal development and the pollution it brings, bleaching and ocean acidification, the world's coral reefs are undergoing enormous changes, says NOAA's Billy Causey. "Coral will survive, but will it be in the forms we know?" he says.
One hope is that the worst-case global warming scenarios don't have to go that way, says study co-author, Ken Caldeira, a professor of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution.
"It's a much easier problem to handle than say Hitler," he said. "We came into WWII with biplanes and came out of it with jet planes and integrated circuits. If our society actually perceived this as a threat, we could fairly easily mobilize and respond to it."



Sea Life

Fish Life

Carbon Emissions

Coral Reefs

Global Warming

Ocean Species

Ocean Biodiversity

Marine Scientists

National Oceanic

Atmospheric Administration

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Related Video:

Amazing Coral Reefs

About This Video:

One of the most amazing habitats on earth is found in warm, clear, shallow waters of tropical oceans worldwide. Tiny cup-shaped animals, called polyps, live in colonies, and when they die, their skeletons form a hard, stony, branching structure made of limestone.

In our first episode we examine coral -- the growing, living, incredible, under-the-sea structures that provide shelter and food for many marine animals.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Vaccine rule stokes fears over autism

Children in New Jersey's public schools and day cares must get two new vaccines by September, state health authorities recommended Monday over objections by parents who fear that immunizations can cause autism.

The decision by the Public Health Council will make New Jersey the first state to require annual shots for influenza and bacterial (pneumococcal) pneumonia for infants and toddlers. For sixth-graders, the state also will mandate a meningitis vaccination and a booster for diphtheria/pertussis/ tetanus, or DPT.
Parents will have just two ways to opt out: religious conviction or medical necessity.
State Health Commissioner Fred Jacobs is expected to approve the regulation by the end of the month.
New Jersey has the country's highest autism rate, with one in 94 children affected by the neurological disorder that has no known cause or cure. A growing movement of activists believes that vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal are a chief contributor, although the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dismissed the connection.

One parent, Anne Downing of Readington, testified about receiving a flu shot when she was pregnant. Today her 7-year-old daughter has autism.
"Try having your child bite chunks out of your skin ... or threaten to chop your head off," she said. "Something's going on with these vaccines and we don't want any more mandates."
"There is no scientifically supported evidence that this causes autism," Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, deputy New Jersey health commissioner and state epidemiologist, told the council Monday. "The facts and the science do not support this opinion."
Autism can cause a range of behavioral and cognitive problems, from barely noticeable to completely incapacitating. Children whose autism is detected early, and who undergo intensive behavioral, occupational and other therapies appear to have the best chance of leading typical lives.
The 60-year-old Public Health Council, consisting of eight members appointed by the governor, acts as an independent adviser to the Department of Health and Senior Services. Jacobs has the option of rejecting its recommendation, but he has supported such vaccinations in the past.
Authorities on Monday said he will sign the new regulation before he leaves Governor Corzine's administration for a private-sector job.
The rules will take effect Sept. 1, in time for the school year. To enroll their children in licensed preschool or day care, parents must show proof of vaccination. Sixth-graders who lack their shots will be denied entrance to public school.
The council noted that it has no jurisdiction over children who are home-schooled or attend parochial schools. And no one will force immunizations on youngsters who are not enrolled in out-of-home care.
"If you don't send your kid to preschool or day care, you don't have to get the shots," said Tom Slater, a spokesman for the Department of Health.
Some doctors haven't waited for a mandate. They said they have routinely given such shots to infants, toddlers and sixth-graders for years, on the advice of federal health authorities and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
At the hearing, pediatricians, nurses and public-health officials called childhood vaccinations one of the country's great achievements, protecting against mumps, measles, rubella, smallpox, whooping cough, polio and other diseases that can cause grave sickness or death. The benefits of new immunizations, they said, far outweighed the risks.
"We have forgotten the seriousness of these diseases," said Dr. Stephen Rice, a Monmouth County pediatrician.
Dr. Robert Morgan, another pediatrician from Monmouth County, asked parents to consider a wider responsibility.
"You're not making a decision just for your child," Morgan said. "You're making it for the reading circle at the library, for other children who come along in the family."
But some parents and activists criticized forced immunization as anti-American. They decried the lack of long-term studies on the vaccines' safety.
"We deserve a choice, not a mandate," said Sue Collins, co-founder of the New Jersey Alliance for Informed Choice in Vaccination.
Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk, R-Westwood, was the sole legislator to testify.
"Children of this state are assaulted with shot after shot before they go to school," she said. "Don't force it on those who have these objections. This is America. What's happened to our freedom?"
New rules
By Sept. 1, 2008, New Jersey children in day care, preschool and sixth grade will be required to have four new vaccinations, under regulations expected to be signed this month.
Age 8 weeks to 4 years, 9 months: Pneumococcal (bacterial) pneumonia
Age 6 months to 4 years, 9 months: Influenza
Sixth grade: DPT booster, meningitis
Opting out
Children who do not attend preschool or day care will not be forced to receive the flu and bacterial pneumonia vaccinations. Nor will those who are enrolled in parochial school or who are home-schooled.
Parents may seek two types of exemptions.
For a medical waiver, a licensed physician must certify that immunization would harm the child.
For a religious waiver, a parent must certify that the vaccination would "conflict with the pupil's exercise of bona fide religious tenets or practices." The law does not allow a child to forgo immunization based solely on philosophical or moral grounds.

Related Video:

Robert Kennedy on the Vaccine Autism Coverup

About This Video:

Robert Kennedy talks about the cover up regarding vaccines and Autism.

In June 2000, a group of top government scientists and health officials gathered for a meeting at the isolated Simpsonwood conference center in Norcross, Georgia. Convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the meeting was held at this Methodist retreat center, nestled in wooded farmland next to the Chattahoochee River, to ensure complete secrecy. The agency had issued no public announcement of the session -- only private invitations to fifty-two attendees. There were high-level officials from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, the top vaccine specialist from the World Health Organization in Geneva and representatives of every major vaccine manufacturer, including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Wyeth and Aventis Pasteur. All of the scientific data under discussion, CDC officials repeatedly reminded the participants, was strictly "embargoed." There would be no making photocopies of documents, no taking papers with them when they left.

The federal officials and industry representatives had assembled to discuss a disturbing new study that raised alarming questions about the safety of a host of common childhood vaccines administered to infants and young children. According to a CDC epidemiologist named Tom Verstraeten, who had analyzed the agency's massive database containing the medical records of 100,000 children, a mercury-based preservative in the vaccines -- thimerosal -- appeared to be responsible for a dramatic increase in autism and a host of other neurological disorders among children. "I was actually stunned by what I saw," Verstraeten told those assembled at Simpsonwood, citing the staggering number of earlier studies that indicate a link between thimerosal and speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism. Since 1991, when the CDC and the FDA had recommended that three additional vaccines laced with the preservative be given to extremely young infants -- in one case, within hours of birth -- the estimated number of cases of autism had increased fifteenfold, from one in every 2,500 children to one in 166 children.




Health Vaccine Autism Children Parents Influenza Bacterial Pneumonia Meningitis Vaccination Neurological Disorder Mumps Measles Rubella

Monday, December 10, 2007

A morning walk could jog your memory

Older Americans play with video games that promise to keep their minds sharp. Some do crossword puzzles, try to master foreign languages or learn to play musical instruments — all in the hope of staving off Alzheimer's. Now, a growing body of research is offering tantalizing evidence that a brisk walk in the morning or some laps in the pool might accomplish the same task.

"There's an avalanche of neuroscience to support that (physical) exercise is good for the brain," said John Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and co-author of an upcoming book on the subject.

That's hopeful news for many who worry that growing old may mean losing their minds.

A survey conducted last year by Harris Interactive for the MetLife Foundation found that Alzheimer's was a bigger source of anxiety for Americans 55 and older than heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

"Losing one's mental faculties is people's biggest fear," said Shawn Brennan, who specializes in promoting senior health initiatives for Montgomery County's Department of Health and Human Services. "Whenever we have an event focusing on improving your memory, people just flock to it."

Dorothy Mudd, 80, of Chevy Chase, Md., has heard enough to change her habits. Her goal is to be physically and mentally fit, so six months ago she hired a personal trainer. She was sore at first, but within a few months, she says, she felt stronger - and mentally sharper.
In a six-year study of 1,740 adults 65 and older published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found those who exercised more than three times a week were less likely to develop dementia than those who didn't. A 2005 study of 3,375 adults in the same age group produced similar results. But investigators said the findings, while encouraging, don't yet prove that exercise prevents the onset of dementia.
Scientists believe aerobic exercise increases activity in the frontal regions of the brain that control "executive functions": working memory, multitasking and the ability to sort and screen out distractions. The findings are especially promising because these are the areas of the brain most vulnerable as people age, researchers say.

"Exercise can help turn off the death march of cells both in our bodies and our brains," Ratey said.
Designing research to test the potential effect of exercise on specific brain functions, however, can be tricky.
For one study published this year, Bradley Hatfield, a professor of kinesiology and sports psychology at the University of Maryland, and fellow researchers devised tests of mental skills: In one, they asked 120 seniors to distinguish quickly between a series of auditory tones; in another, the seniors had to sort through conflicting visual information. Hatfield and his team found that physically active participants showed "more vigorous" responses to the tests than others. Technological advances are also letting scientists monitor changes in the brain.
In a study published last year, a team of researchers from the University of Illinois was among the first to use functional magnetic resonance imaging, a neuroimaging technique, to show changes in the brains of subjects they studied. Those who took part in aerobic exercise showed the largest change in brain volume, particularly in the frontal areas of the brain associated with memory, the study showed.
Arthur Kramer, a professor of neuroscience who was part of the University of Illinois team, said the findings suggest that aerobic exercise has the potential to help roll back normal age-related declines in brain structure, though more evidence is needed.
Kramer said research demonstrates that aerobic exercise generates new neurons in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for some aspects of memory. He said animal studies show a strong link between exercise and a sharper mind.
A few weeks of exercise for mice and rats "will improve their learning and memory in the tasks that are used to test these functions," Kramer said. "We have no reason to believe that would be different for humans."

Kramer said the team's finding and those of others across the country are especially promising because they offer people an easy, low-cost path to better mental health.
But while early data look promising, scientists say more research is needed to answer such questions as how much exercise is optimum and what kind of workout is best.

"What is still not quite determined is whether it's physical fitness or physical activity," Hatfield said. "Just moving may be the key, as opposed to being someone who can run the Marine Corps marathon."
Once that's answered, another question will remain: Will the findings be enough to get seniors off the couch?
Despite this growing body of research extolling the physical and mental benefits of exercise, government surveys show that seniors remain the least likely to exercise. In fact, the older Americans get, the less likely they are to be physically active.
According to government surveys conducted between 2002 and 2004, about 39 percent of adults ages 18 to 24 engage in regular leisure-time physical activity. That compares with just 17 percent of adults 71 and older. A 2004 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than half - 58 percent - of people 65 and older reported 10 minutes or less per week of leisure-time physical activity.
Nonetheless, Kramer is optimistic that people's concern will translate into action.
Those who work with seniors cite a variety of reasons why older folks might be reluctant to start an exercise program. Some fear they'll get hurt, others would rather take a pill and still others are just lazy.
As the senior sports and fitness coordinator for the Rockville (Md.) Senior Center, Chris Klopfer's job is to get people moving, whether it's pushing them to sign up for a Chair Cardio class or senior belly dancing.

"I tell some people, 'Just start out with five minutes - get through five minutes on the bike. Walk five minutes on the treadmill,'" said Klopfer, who has become a pro at coaxing reluctant seniors onto treadmills. "I don't think people realize they can start out with that little bit and still make progress."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

WIC Program Goes on a Diet

The Department of Agriculture Thursday added fruits, vegetables and whole grains to a nutrition program aimed at low-income women and their children, while also offering new alternatives such as soy beverages and tofu. The changes to the Women, Infants and Children program also include reduced amounts of milk, cheese, eggs and juice.
"This is a historic day for USDA," said Eric Steiner, the department's associate administrator for special nutrition programs. "It's the first time in 30 years that the food packages for WIC have been revised to better meet the nutritional needs of women, infants and children." The changes will be effective next February, and state agencies will then have 18 months to implement them. The program serves about 8 million people. Steiner said WIC recipients typically have diets deficient in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. He said there's also a prevalence of obesity among the population.
The USDA based the changes on suggestions by the Institute on Medicine with the caveat that the revisions not increase costs. The Institute of Medicine is a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, an independent organization that advises the government on scientific matters. The reductions of other products, such as dairy, were made both to keep the cost of the program from rising and to better meet the nutritional needs of recipients. "The revised packages have less saturated fat and cholesterol, and this is accomplished by reducing the quantities of milk and cheese," Steiner said.
Under the WIC program, people receive vouchers for specific foods, averaging about $39 a month in 2007. Under the revisions, vouchers for fruits and vegetables will be $6 for children, $8 for women and $10 for fully breast-feeding women - with the goal of encouraging more women to breast-feed. Products such as soy beverages, tofu, tortillas and brown rice are being offered as alternatives to meet the demands of more culturally diverse populations. The department received more than 46,000 public comments since first proposing the changes last year, and most were supportive, Steiner said. Anti-hunger advocates praised the changes. Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, said the addition of whole grains, fruits and vegetables will reduce obesity and "help nutritionally vulnerable children form healthy eating habits from an early age."
The dairy, egg and fruit juice industries backed the changes, but lamented the reduced roles for their products. Carol Freysinger, executive director of the Juice Products Association, said the reductions could "send an inappropriate and unsubstantiated message about the benefits of 100 percent juice consumption."
According to government estimates, annual milk and cheese sales under the revised program will be about $960 million, a reduction of roughly $400 million. Juice sales would be reduced by nearly half, to $281 million, while egg sales would drop from $120 million to $67 million. Chris Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, called the lost sales to dairy significant. "And we don't think it's prudent from a public health standpoint," he said. Howard Magwire, a lobbyist for the United Egg Producers, said he was hopeful the industry could make up for some of the losses with WIC recipients spending other money on eggs.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Study: Overweight Kids Risk Early Heart Disease as Adults

Overweight Kids Become Adults With Sick Hearts; Huge Problem Seen by 2035
Overweight children grow into adults at high risk of early heart disease and early heart death, a long-term Danish study shows.
The finding isn't a prediction -- it's hard data from very long-term data on 10,235 men and 4,318 women born in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 1930 through 1976.
But given the size of the ongoing obesity epidemic, the findings predict a huge wave of future heart disease.
Researchers Jennifer L. Baker, PhD, and colleagues at Copenhagen's Center for Health and Society painstakingly compiled records for virtually every schoolchild in the city and matched them with national health records.
The bottom line: After the age of 7, overweight children have an increased risk of adult heart disease. The higher a child's body mass index -- BMI,which relates weight to height -- the higher that child's risk of becoming an adult with heart disease.
"What we found was at the age of 7, for both boys and girls, the risk was moderate," Baker tells WebMD. "By age 13, the risk increased dramatically."
A child does not have to be hugely obese to be at increased risk.
"We compared the average 13-year-old boy, who weighed 96 pounds, to a heavier boy of the same height who weighed 121 pounds," Baker says. "Even for a normal-weight boy, there is a one-in-nine risk of heart disease by age 60. For the heavier child, this risk becomes at least one in six. We find that highly significant."
Pediatric cardiologist Tom Kimball, MD, of Cincinnati Children's Hospital, says the findings are a warning that parents must take childhood weight problems seriously -- even in young children.
"This is not an adult problem. It is a kid problem," Kimball tells WebMD. "This study has a big message for parents."
During the 46 years of the study, an overweight child's risk of becoming an adult with a sick heart did not change much. The problem did not so much appear to be the modern diet as the simple fact of being overweight as a child.
Tsunami of Heart Disease Predicted
Modern diets being what they are, child obesity is increasing at an alarming pace. Overweight children tend to become overweight teens, and overweight teens tend to become adults with heart disease.
A computer simulation by Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD, and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, suggests that today's teen obesity epidemic means that by 2020, 30% to 37% of 35-year-old men and 34% to 44% of 35-year-old women will be obese.
By 2035, there would be up to a 16% increase in heart disease cases, with over 100,000 cases due to obesity, the researchers predict.
Both the Baker and Biggins-Domingo reports appear in the Dec. 6 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
In an editorial accompanying the studies, Harvard researcher David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, predicts that by 2050, the U.S. obesity epidemic will cut Americans' life span by two to five years. That effect would be equal to the effect of all cancers combined.
"We lack anything resembling a comprehensive strategy for encouraging children to eat a healthful diet and engage in physical activity," Ludwig writes.
He suggests that a sensible strategy would:
- Regulate junk-food advertising
- Fund healthy lunches and physical activities at school
- Restructure farm subsidies to reward production of nutrient-dense produce rather than calorie-dense produce
- Require that insurers cover programs to prevent and treat child obesity
At the bottom of the Pandora's box of child obesity, Baker finds hope.
"Even though we are showing that children's body size puts them at risk, there is still a ray of hope in what we find," she says. "Because risks are moderate at age 7 and increase by age 13, it suggests that helping these children attain and maintain appropriate weight -- even during this short time -- can really improve their future outlook."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Big brands slip up in anti-virus tests

Many big-brand security products fail to spot commonly-circulating malware, testing outfit has Virus Bulletin found in its latest tests.
A total of 17 out of 32 of anti-virus products failed the company's stringent VB100 test, which expects software to detect 100 percent of the commonly-circulating 'WildList' thrown at it without signalling any false positives.
Programs failing included those from Sophos, Kaspersky, Fortinet, Trend Micro, CA Home, and PC Tools, though within this group detection failures varied widely. CA's Home program scored a disturbingly high 40 misses, while the others scored from 8 misses down to only one miss for Kaspersky. PC Tools' Spyware Doctor detected the WildList suite but failed because it falsely identified two files as malware.
The worst performer on test was the relative unknown, Kingsoft AntiVirus, which missed large numbers of malware types, including 120 examples from the WildList, and over 80 percent of the worms and bots it was tested against.
"It was a shock and a concern to see such a poor performance from so many products in this latest round of testing," said John Hawes of Virus Bulletin.
"It is particularly disappointing to see so many major products missing significant real-world threats. In these days of hourly updates computer users really ought to be able to rely on their chosen security vendors for full protection against known threats."
The tests were run on Windows 2000 using a variety of worms, viruses, bots, and polymorphic malware though the company said it rated the issues as being independent of platform. A program failing to spot a particular piece of malware on one platform would be unlikely to spot it running on another, such as XP, because the detection system would be the same.
"Once the products are up and running, the detection engines should in much operate the same way on all systems - we use the default settings applied by the products," said another company source.
"The main problem here was with some particularly tricky polymorphic viruses listed as 'In the Wild' by the WildList organisation, with many products detecting some but not all files infected by the malware. There were also several clean files wrongly labelled as malware. Both these problems will have been repeated on XP, Vista, and probably other platforms too."
Not everyone agrees that the WildList, used by the VB100 tests, is a representative sample of real-world malware. The list excludes certain types of malware such as Trojans, backdoor rootkits. Moves are afoot to come up with a consistent set of tests for such malware based on behavioural characteristics rather than specific signatures.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

YOUR HEALTH: Research: Honey seems to calm children's coughs in 1-night study

A teaspoon of honey before bed seems to calm children's coughs and help them sleep better, according to a new study that relied on parents' reports of their children's symptoms.

The folk remedy did better than cough medicine or no treatment in a three-way comparison. Honey may work by coating and soothing an irritated throat, the study authors said.
"Many families are going to relate to these findings and say that grandma was right," said lead author Dr. Ian Paul of Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine.
The research appears in December's Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Federal health advisers have recently warned that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines shouldn't be used in children younger than 6, and manufacturers are taking some products for babies off the market.
Three pediatricians who read the study said they would tell parents seeking alternative remedies to try honey. They noted that honey should not be given to children under age 1 because of a rare but serious risk of botulism.
For the research, researchers recruited 105 children with upper respiratory infections from a clinic in Pennsylvania. Parents were given a paper bag with a dosing device inside. Some were empty. Some contained an age-appropriate dose of honey-flavored cough medicine containing dextromethorphan. And some contained a similar dose of honey.

The parents were asked about their children's sleep and cough symptoms, once before the bedtime treatment and once after. They rated the symptoms on a seven-point scale.
All of the children got better, but honey consistently scored best in parents' rating of their children's cough symptoms.

"Give them a little time and they'll get better," said Pat Jackson Allen, a professor at Yale University School of Nursing.
The study was funded by a grant from the National Honey Board, an industry-funded agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency had no influence over the study design, data or results, Paul said.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Virtual reality inside a ball

Imagine you're running through Central Park, the birds are singing, the sun is out and you're having a wonderful time. Or you could be on the battlefield fighting a war. And you don't even have to leave your house to experience all that!
If Alexey Palladin wants to see into the future, all he has to do is go to his garage. He doesn't have a crystal ball, but rather a giant, plastic one.
"This is the VirtuSphere - a device that will allow people to walk effortlessly in virtual reality," he said.
It may look like a human hamster wheel, but Alexey and his company, VirtuSphere Inc., believe this device will add a whole new spin on virtual reality.
"You can walk, you can run, you can crawl, you can jump, you can roll, you can do all kinds of things," Alexey said.
How it works is relatively simple.

"The VirtuSphere acts like a giant track ball. As it rolls, the coordinates are sent to the PC and as you walk the PC knows that and relays the information back to you showing you a different position," he explained.
So who's using this invention?
"We just got an order from the Office of Naval Research. The U.S. Marines want to test the VirtuSphere for their virtual environments. They want to train soldiers in a very safe way allowing them to be immersed into virtual battle, but at the same time be safe," Alexey said.
The VirtuSphere can also let people walk through buildings that haven't even been built.
"The Moscow Olympic Committee who are bidding on the 2012 Games asked us to create a virtual reality model of the future buildings that they would build," he continued. "While other potential Olympic cities just showed snapshots, members of the International Olympic Committee actually got inside the sphere and they walked around. They could see, they could touch, they could feel, they could see just what will be created seven years in the future."
So from battles, to buildings, Alexey believes the uses of the VirtuSphere are virtually limitless.
Whether it makes it into your garage though is a reality only he can see for now.
Alexey is currently looking for space in Sammamish where they can produce the VirtuSphere full-time."The VirtuSphere acts like a giant track ball. As it rolls, the coordinates are sent to the PC and as you walk the PC knows that and relays the information back to you showing you a different position," he explained.
So who's using this invention?
"We just got an order from the Office of Naval Research. The U.S. Marines want to test the VirtuSphere for their virtual environments. They want to train soldiers in a very safe way allowing them to be immersed into virtual battle, but at the same time be safe," Alexey said.
The VirtuSphere can also let people walk through buildings that haven't even been built.
"The Moscow Olympic Committee who are bidding on the 2012 Games asked us to create a virtual reality model of the future buildings that they would build," he continued. "While other potential Olympic cities just showed snapshots, members of the International Olympic Committee actually got inside the sphere and they walked around. They could see, they could touch, they could feel, they could see just what will be created seven years in the future."
So from battles, to buildings, Alexey believes the uses of the VirtuSphere are virtually limitless.
Whether it makes it into your garage though is a reality only he can see for now.
Alexey is currently looking for space in Sammamish where they can produce the VirtuSphere full-time.