British Chiropractors vs. Simon Singh: what next?

A “grumpy scientist” at Dr. Aust’s Spleen weighs the positions in the BCA’s libel suit against science writer Simon Singh, and wonders if they’ll force him to prove in court that there’s no good, scientific evidence for the effectiveness of chiropracy for things like infant feeding problems.

Mexican swine flu jumps to Alberta pigs

A farm worker came back from a visit to Mexico April 12 and went to on a farm two days later. This seems slightly odd to me, as every time I cross the border I’m asked if I have visited any farms in the last week. That should raise some caution about travelling between foreign countries and farms.

The swine on an Alberta farm have become ill with the Mexican swine flu (H1N1 subtype). That gives it another place to recombine and another pool to live in. We could have alternating epizootics and epidemics. Great.

Recombinomics blog adds:

Co-circulation of human and swine H1N1 provide significant opportunities for adaptation to the human host via recombination.  Two polymorphisms are already fixed in seasonal flu, H274Y for Tamiflu resistance, and E627K in PB2 which allows the virus to more efficiently replicate at lower temperatures.

These changes can lead to adaptation in humans, as well antiviral resistance.  Therefore, the evolution of the H1N1 over the summer will be closely monitored.  The current H1N1 has already acquired tandem human H1N1 polymorphism in HA, which may have led to the species jump from swine to human.

Thus, the efficient transmission from swine to human and vice verse, raises concerns that further adaptation to humans can lead to a fall pandemic similar to 1918.  The species jump indicates the virus can adapt to a new host, and additional acquisitions over the summer continue to be a cause for concern.

Meteorite yields record number of fragments

A meteorite that crashed into Alberta last year blazed a fireball across the sky. It was tracked by a couple of security cameras. The details of its trajectory were calculated and that let scientists know about where it came down. Fragments were found on pond ice in short order. Since then, volunteers have been looking for the pieces. They’ve brought in more meteorite fragments than ever before for a single strike.

Alan Hildebrand, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Planetary Science, said more than 1000 meteorite pieces have been discovered in farmers’ fields in the Buzzard Coulee region just southeast of the border city of Lloydminster, Alberta/Saskatchewan and thousands more remain to be recovered now that the search has resumed.

“Now that the snow is gone we have lots of work to do. In the last few weeks we’ve resumed the search and, on average, collectively searchers are finding dozens a day,” said Hildebrand. “The meteorites came through the winter pretty well; some show a bit of rusty weathering on broken surfaces, but the fusion crusts haven’t changed very much.”

The Buzzard Coulee asteroid fragment weighed approximately 10 tonnes when it entered the atmosphere, and it is estimated that more than 10,000 pieces larger than 1 gram fell to the ground.

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