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Archive for September 4th, 2008

Defective Roman Gene Responsible for Higher HIV Rates?

Posted by feww on September 4, 2008

Roman Empire ‘raised HIV threat’

BBC News Bulletin – September 4, 2008

The spread of the Roman Empire through Europe could help explain why those living in its former colonies are more vulnerable to HIV.

The claim, by French researchers, is that people once ruled by Rome are less likely to have a gene variant which protects against HIV.

This includes England, France, Greece and Spain, New Scientist reports.

Roman marble statue of Apollo from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. The god is depicted with his attributes, the lyre and the sacred snake Python. The tree trunk around which the snake is wrapped is inscribed with the words “Apollonios made it”. Circa 150 AD, restored c. 1790. Item number IN 1632.

Copyleft: Credit: ChrisO.


Others argue the difference is linked to a far larger event, such as the spread of bubonic plague or smallpox.

The idea that something carried by the occupying Romans could have a widespread influence on the genes of modern Europeans comes from researchers at the University of Provence.

They say that the frequency of the variant corresponds closely with the shifting boundaries of the thousand-year empire.

In countries inside the borders of the empire for longer periods, such as Spain, Italy and Greece, the frequency of the CCR5-delta32 gene, which offers some protection against HIV, is between 0% and 6%.

Countries at the fringe of the empire, such as Germany, and modern England, the rate is between 8% and 11.8%, while in countries never conquered by Rome, the rate is greater than this.

Legionnaire’s disease

However, the researchers do not believe that the genetic difference is due to Roman soldiers or officials breeding within the local population – history suggests this was not particularly widespread, and that invading and occupying armies could have been drawn not just from Italy but from other parts of the empire.

Instead, they say that the Romans may have introduced a disease to which people with the CCR5-Delta32 variant were particularly susceptible. This tallies with some other theories of why some have the gene variant, and some do not.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool had suggested that the variant could have offered protection against pandemics such as the Black Death which swept Europe on a regular basis during and after the Roman era.

These, said the Liverpool researchers, were viral illnesses which were lethal to people without the gene variant, raising its frequency from one in 20,000 people to approximately 10% in Northern Europe.

Dr Susan Scott, one of the researchers, said that the idea of Roman occupation being the driving force behind this was another theory to be considered.

“We just don’t know. This is just another piece of the jigsaw, but we’re waiting for the big piece of evidence which will solve this.”

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Ike Becomes the Third Major Hurricane in 2008

Posted by feww on September 4, 2008

Ike Update 9/12: Who Rubbed the Oil Lamp?

With sustained winds of 185 km/hr Ike strengthens to a Category 3A Hurricane

GOES Floater – Tropical Imagery – Water Vapor Image – Date and Time: Updated. Credit NOAA/SSD

FEWW Comment: Hurricane Ike has shown a remarkable ability to self organize since almost immediately after birth. Ike has been strengthening steadily, but rapidly. There are no obvious reasons yet why Ike might change its nascent characteristics. While there’s still a long way to go to forecast the possible impact of Ike on any specific land areas, Ike could prove to be the strongest and most dangerous hurricane of the season yet.

Hurricane Ike’s Latest Update

Source: NHC
Forecaster: Brown/Blake
: Sep 4, 2008
Time: 00:01UTC
Location: The eye of hurricane Ike was located near latitude 21.7 north, longitude 53.2 west or about 1,035 km east-northeast of the Leeward Islands.
Direction: Ike is moving toward the west-northwest . This general motion is expected to continue tonight and early Thursday. By Thursday night early Friday a turn to the west is expected taking Ike over the open waters of the west-central Atlantic during the next 48 hours. It is too early to determine what if any land areas might eventually be affected by Ike.
Speed: About 30 km/hr (unchanged from previous report).
Wind Speed: Maximum sustained winds are about 185 km/hr with higher gusts.  Ike is a dangerous category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, or a category 3A on the FEWW hurricane scale.  Some fluctuations in intensity are expected during the next 48 hours.
Breadth: Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 55 km from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 260 km.
Estimated minimum central pressure: 960mb (28.35 inches)

Coastal Watches/Warnings and 5-Day Track Forecast Cone [NHC/NWS/NOAA]

This graphic shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow). The orange circle indicates the current position of the center of the tropical cyclone. The black line and dots show the National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast track of the center at the times indicated. The dot indicating the forecast center location will be black if the cyclone is forecast to be tropical and will be white with a black outline if the cyclone is forecast to be extratropical. If only an L is displayed, then the system is forecast to be a remnant low. The letter inside the dot indicates the NHC’s forecast intensity for that time.

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“We thought that it was Jesus who had come back”

Posted by feww on September 4, 2008

Folks, it ain’t Jesus; it’s Human-induced climate change. Ask your local teacher to tell you about the effects of GHG Emissions!

The ferocious storm in Busara, about 260 km northwest of the capital, Nairobi, turned parts of central Kenya white with a massive hailstorm.

Villagers play with snow after heavy hailstorms hit a deforested hillside in Gikingi Village in Nyahururu town, some 220km from Nairobi, September 3, 2008. REUTERS/Antony Njuguna. Image may be subject to copyright.

“We thought a big white sheet had been spread, so we decided to come and see for ourselves. We thought that it was Jesus who had come back,” a villager said.

“The hailstones falling on the ground joined together to form expansive sheets of ice or snow flakes occupying a large area, 30 acres,” meteorologists said. the storm was caused “the convergence of cold air currents from the Indian Ocean and warm air currents from the Congo.”

“In fact this thing is very sweet, we have never seen anything like this. We like the ice so much because with the sun being hot, you take it and you feel satisfied,” another villager said.

Kenya straddles the equator. “The only snow to be seen in normally sunny Kenya is on top of the country’s highest mountain, 5,199-meter (17,057 ft) Mount Kenya.” Reuters said.

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