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Blackberry phones could trigger allergies

iPhones have an edge over Blackberries, when it comes to your health, according to a study.

The study being presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), tested several popular smartphones for two of the most common allergens – cobalt and nickel – and found neither metal was present in iPhones.

But one-third of all Blackberries tested contained nickel. “Both metals can cause an allergic reaction including dry, itchy patches along the cheekbones, jawline and ears,” said allergist Tania Mucci, M.D., lead study author and ACAAI member. The less popular flip phone models also revealed levels of cobalt and nickel. Roughly 91 per cent contained nickel and 52 per cent tested positive for cobalt.

These metals are commonly used in items such as jewelry, coins and even makeup. Nickel is one of the most common contact allergens, affecting 17 percent of women and 3 percent of men.

In the wake of these finding experts recommend iPhones for those with sensitive skin.
“Patients with nickel and cobalt allergies should consider using iPhones or Droids to reduce the chance of having an allergic reaction,” said allergist Luz Fonacier, M.D., study author and ACAAI fellow.  “Blackberry users with known allergies should avoid prolonged conversations, text messaging and handling their phones if they begin noticing symptoms,” Fonacier added.

Geoelectric changes may help predict earthquakes

A team of researchers claim to have found a link between the occurrence of earthquakes in the Izu Island chain and subtle changes in subterranean geoelectricity, a finding that one day might help develop techniques for predicting temblors.

The team, consisting of researchers from institutions including Tokai University and TokyoGakugei University, analyze the relation between small changes in geoelectricity around KozuIsland, located 170 km southwest of Tokyo, and quakes in the vicinity with a magnitude of at least 3.0, based on data gathered between May 1997 and June 2000. 
The geoelectric data were collected during this period through about 20 electrodes buried at intervals of between 100 and as much as 3,000 meters around Kozu. The team studied temblors that struck within 20 km of the island.

The researchers observed 19 anomalous changes in the strength and movement of geoelectric currents, 11 of which were proceeded by 3.0-magnitude or stronger quakes within 30 days — a 58 per cent rate of occurrence.

The researchers said they excluded geoelectric anomalies caused by factors such as lightning strikes and the sun when determining this rate of occurrence, and reported that a total of 23 temblors with a minimum magnitude of 3.0 struck during the period they examined.

BBC cancels experiment for fear it might affect aliens

The BBC recently shut down a TV presenter’s plan to point a radio telescope at a newly-discovered planet for fear that aliens might answer back.  Professor Brian Cox said the BBC was concerned the experiment, to be staged live on air during his show ‘Stargazing Life’, broke the corporation’s health and safety rules.

“We decided that we’d point the Jodrell Bank telescope at the planet (Threapleton Holmes B) that had been discovered by these two viewers (in January) and listen because no one had ever pointed a radio telescope at it and you never know,” Cox said.

“The BBC actually said, ‘But you can’t do that because we need to go through the regulations and health and safety and everything in case we discover a signal from an alien civilisation’.”  “(I said), ‘You mean we would discover the first hint that there is other intelligent life in the universe beyond Earth, live on air, and you’re worried about the health and safety of it?’

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