nearly spotless record: star slacker?
This is the height of the 11-year solar cycle, the so-called solar maximum. The face of the sun should be pockmarked with sunspots, and cataclysmic explosions of X-rays and particles should be whizzing every which way. Instead, the sun has been tranquil, almost spotless.
As W. Dean Pesnell, the project scientist for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, dryly noted, “We’re not having much of a solar maximum.”
A week ago, a solitary sunspot blemished an otherwise blank yellow disk. In the ensuing days, a few more specks appeared, but even a small explosion, or coronal mass ejection, last week seemed like the halfhearted effort of a slacker star. “The truth of it is there isn’t a lot going on,” said Joseph M. Kunches, a scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center. “It’s been a bit of a dud.”
For scientists trying to understand the dynamics in the interior of the sun, it has been a humbling experience. “If there’s anyone who has figured it out, I haven’t heard, that’s for sure,” said Douglas Biesecker, a physicist at the Space Weather Prediction Center and the chairman of a panel that had issued predictions about the solar cycle.
MAGNETS don’t help with arthritis PAIN
Many people use copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps to alleviate the pain of arthritis, but a new randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study concludes they do not work.
British researchers randomized 65 patients with rheumatoid arthritis to receive four treatments: wearing a powerful magnetic wrist strap, a weak magnetic strap, a nonmagnetic strap and a copper bracelet. Each patient wore each device for five weeks. The study appears in the September issue of PLoS One.
There was no statistically significant difference in any of these measures regardless of which device patients were wearing. Stewart J. Richmond, a researcher at the University of York who led the study, acknowledged that the devices may have some benefits as placebos.
you can blame your genes for COLD SORES
If you are among the roughly 20 percent of people who regularly get cold sores, you can now blame your genes, researchers say.
The virus that causes most such sores, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), is found in as many as 9 out of 10 people, and scientists have long wondered why only a minority get the sores. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland analyzed thousands of genes to see which ones were responsible for making the protein that prevents the virus from becoming active. They found that one of the genes, IL28B, was consistently mutated in people who got sores. The mutated gene is unable to produce the necessary protein, leaving the body’s immune system unable to fend off the sores, the researchers said in the journal PLoS Pathogens.
The insight suggests a possible treatment route not just for cold sores but other infections caused by HSV-1, said Dr. Jürgen Haas, a professor of viral genomics at the University of Edinburgh and an author of the study. “In cold sores you can use acyclovir,” he said, referring to a common treatment. But in cases where acyclovir is ineffective, he said, a treatment involving IL28B might be used.
new york times