Science, Health & Recalls Week of November 16
Honda Device Builds Immediate Strength
Honda Motor Co. recently introduced a supportive lower-body exoskeleton to assist walking, Scientific American reports. The Fundamental Technology Research Center of Honda R&D Co. began designing the walking assist device in 1999, with the goal of improving the mobility of people who walked with difficulty. The user sits on a belted mini saddle connected to two artificial legs that fit alongside the wearer’s own. The technology was introduced at the International Trade Fair on Barrier Free Equipments and Rehabilitation for the Elderly & The Disabled (BARRIER FREE 2008) in Osaka, but no marketing plans have yet been made.
Global Warming To Eliminate Ice Age
A new study suggests that the emission of greenhouse gases are heating the atmosphere to such an extent that the next ice age may be averted, National Geographic News reports. The next ice age, predicted to occur about 10,000 to 100,000 years from now, would freeze over much of Canada, Europe and Asia if it weren’t for the current conditions of heat-trapping CO2 on the planet, according to a computer model used by Thomas Crowley and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. More tests are needed to see if the study’s prediction seems correct, and further information appears in the current issue of the journal Nature.
Space Shuttle Device Filters Urine
The Space Shuttle Endeavor left Kennedy Space Center last Friday equipped with a device that will turn urine into water for space station recycling, Science Daily reports. Researchers at Michigan Technological University spent four years developing the Water Recovery System before finding a way to make water as pure as the water we drink on Earth. The urine undergoes a distillation process and then joins other recovered fluids like sweat and water vapor in the water processor. The processor filters out solids before sending the waste water through a series of multi-filtration beds to remove contaminants. The new system will also cut the annual cost of shipping supplies to the space station.
Breastfeeding Improves Lung Health
A new study by UK and US scientists found that breastfeeding improves lung function in children, BBC reports. Researchers studied 1,456 babies from the Isle of Wight to their 10th year, and found that those who were breast fed for at least four months could blow out more air after taking a deep breath, and could blow it out faster. Studies have already established that breastfeeding protects babies from respiratory problems early in life.
U.K. Considers Japanese Insect To Combat Weeds
A sap-sucking insect from Japan could be introduced to the British countryside next summer to curb the spread of the invasive Japanese knotweed, Times Online reports. The tiny insect called Aphalara itadori is a jumping plant lice that eats knotweed in its homeland. It will be used as a biological solution for controlling the plant’s population in a foreign environment. Releasing alien creatures into an ecosystem carries a risk that the animals will cause damage to the environment rather than protect it, so more reviews need to take place before a decision is made.