Science Scanner: New Year, New Calendar?

Posted December 28th, 2011 at 11:30 pm (UTC-4)

Pope Gregory XIII introduced the calendar we use today back in 1582. His namesake Gregorian calendar replaced one instituted back in 46 BC by Julius Caesar.

As you can see, our method of keeping track of the days, months and years has remained pretty constant.  Although ideas for new calendars have been introduced over the years, none  really caught on.

But now researchers at Johns Hopkins University say it’s time for a change.

Using computer programs and sophisticated mathematical formulas, they’ve created a perpetual calendar in which each new 12-month period is identical to the one before it and repeats year after year.

Under what researchers call the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar,  if you were born on a Sunday, your birthday would always fall on a Sunday.

In addition, under this new calendar, September and June would go from being 30-day months to 31 days and only March and December would remain at 31 days. All other months would have 30 days.

“Our plan offers a stable calendar that is absolutely identical from year to year and which allows the permanent, rational planning of annual activities, from school to work holidays,” says Richard Conn Henry, an astrophysicist and one of the researchers involved in developing this proposed  calendar. “Think about how much time and effort are expended each year in redesigning the calendar of every single organization in the world and it becomes obvious that our calendar would make life much simpler and would have noteworthy benefits.”

>>>> Read more…

Link between poor mother – toddler relationship and teen obesity

(Photo: Eduardo Merille via Flickr)

(Photo: Eduardo Merille via Flickr)

Toddlers who lack a strong emotional bond with their mothers have a greater the chance of becoming obese by age 15, according to a new study.

Ohio State University researchers examined and analyzed national data that detailed various relationship characteristics between mothers and their children during the toddler years.

The researchers’ findings suggest obesity-prevention efforts should consider strategies to improve the mother-child bond and not focus exclusively on eating and exercise.

“It is possible that childhood obesity could be influenced by interventions that try to improve the emotional bonds between mothers and children rather than focusing only on children’s food intake and activity,” says Sarah Anderson, assistant professor of epidemiology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.

>>>> Read more…

Detecting serious illness in a breath

(Photo: Tecnalia - Interreg Medisen project)

(Photo: Tecnalia – Interreg Medisen project)

A Spanish-based company is developing biosensors capable of detecting lung cancer tumor markers in a person’s exhaled breath.

Serious illnesses, such as lung and stomach cancer as well as some liver diseases, are often difficult to diagnose because their symptoms can be confused with other, more routine maladies.

As a result, in many cases, the disease isn’t properly diagnosed until it reaches an advanced stage and is difficult or impossible to treat.

The new biosensors could change that.

Researchers say this method of detection is possible because of various bio-chemical changes produced by someone who is ill; changes, they say, that are reflected in the patient’s exhaled breath.

A person’s breath is comprised of a hundreds of organic compounds such as acetone, methanol, butanol and hydrocarbons.

According to the researchers, while there isn’t a single specific component in an exhaled breath that can act as a marker to help provide a diagnosis, a range of biomarkers taken from a combination of compounds can be analyzed to do so.

Project researchers say the biosensors they’re developing will help doctors diagnose certain diseases, mainly lung related, at the earlier stages of  illness, which could considerably increase chances of patient survival.

>>>> Read more…

Are you attractive to mosquitoes?

Have you ever noticed that some people tend to get more mosquito bites than others?

This might actually be true because, according to a new study, researchers have found that microbes on your skin can determine just how attractive you are to mosquitoes.

These findings could have important implications for malaria transmission and prevention.

A person’s sweat is odorless to the human nose without bacteria, so the various microbes on the skin help produce an individual’s specific body odor.

Conducting experiments with a mosquito known for its role in the transmission of malaria, researchers found that those who have a higher quantity, but smaller assortment, of bacteria on their skin were more attractive to the mosquito.

From their findings, the researchers speculate people who have a greater assortment of skin bacteria may have among them a group of microbes that emits certain compounds which interfere with the normal attraction of mosquitoes, which could lead to developing more personalized methods for malaria prevention.

>>>> Read more…

Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

12 responses to “Science Scanner: New Year, New Calendar?”

  1. […] sleek and standardized …The Calendar Revolution Begins in Three DaysWall Street Journal (blog)Science Scanner: New Year, New Calendar?Voice of America (blog)Static Calendar and Single Time Zone For All, Propose US ScholarsThe Epoch […]

  2. […] with leap Calendar Revolution Begins in Three DaysWall Street Journal (blog)Science Scanner: New Year, New Calendar?Voice of America (blog)TG Daily -Hindustan Times -Daily Mailall 45 news […]

  3. […] in Three DaysWall Street Journal (blog)New calendar to have identical 12-month periodHindustan TimesVoice of America (blog) -TG Daily -Daily Mailall 45 news articles » […]

  4. I will immediately grasp your rss as I can not find your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly let me recognize so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

    • Hi!
      Thanks for your note. Yes, while we do offer an rss feed we do not (at this time at least) offer email subscriptions or newsletters


      Rick Pantaleo