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June 4, 2000


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To: bpr-list@philologos.org (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Eureka! Scientists break speed of light
From: bpr-list@philologos.org("Moza")
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2000 12:51:33 -0400

June 4 2000
UNITED STATES

Eureka! Scientists break speed of light

Jonathan Leake, Science Editor

 SCIENTISTS claim they have broken the ultimate speed barrier: the
 speed of light.

 In research carried out in the United States, particle physicists have
 shown that light pulses can be accelerated to up to 300 times their
 normal velocity of 186,000 miles per second.

 The implications, like the speed, are mind-boggling. On one
 interpretation it means that light will arrive at its destination almost
 before it has started its journey. In effect, it is leaping forward in
 time.

 Exact details of the findings remain confidential because they have
 been submitted to Nature, the international scientific journal, for
 review prior to possible publication.

 The work was carried out by Dr Lijun Wang, of the NEC research
 institute in Princeton, who transmitted a pulse of light towards a
 chamber filled with specially treated caesium gas.

 Before the pulse had fully entered the chamber it had gone right
 through it and travelled a further 60ft across the laboratory. In effect
 it existed in two places at once, a phenomenon that Wang explains
 by saying it travelled 300 times faster than light.

 The research is already causing controversy among physicists.
 What bothers them is that if light could travel forward in time it
 could carry information. This would breach one of the basic
 principles in physics - causality, which says that a cause must come
 before an effect. It would also shatter Einstein's theory of relativity
 since it depends in part on the speed of light being unbreachable.

 This weekend Wang said he could not give details but confirmed:
 "Our light pulses did indeed travel faster than the accepted speed of
 light. I hope it will give us a much better understanding of the nature
 of light and how it behaves."

 Dr Raymond Chiao, professor of physics at the University of
 California at Berkeley, who is familiar with Wang's work, said he was
 impressedby the findings. "This is a fascinating experiment," he
 said.

 In Italy, another group of physicists has also succeeded in breaking
 the light speed barrier. In a newly published paper, physicists at the
 Italian National Research Council described how they propagated
 microwaves at 25% above normal light speed. The group speculates
 that it could be possible to transmit information faster than light.

 Dr Guenter Nimtz, of Cologne University, an expert in the field,
 agrees. He believes that information can be sent faster than light and
 last week gave a paper describing how it could be done to a
 conference in Edinburgh. He believes, however, that this will not
 breach the principle of causality because the time taken to interpret
 the signal would fritter away all the savings.

 "The most likely application for this is not in time travel but in
 speeding up the way signals move through computer circuits," he
 said.

 Wang's experiment is the latest and possibly the most important
 evidence that the physical world may not operate according to any
 of the accepted conventions.

 In the new world that modern science is beginning to perceive,
 sub-atomic particles can apparently exist in two places at the same
 time - making no distinction between space and time.

 Separate experiments carried out by Chiao illustrate this. He showed
 that in certain circumstances photons - the particles of which light is
 made - could apparently jump between two points separated by a
 barrier in what appears to be zero time. The process, known as
 tunnelling, has been used to make some of the most sensitive
 electron microscopes.

 The implications of Wang's experiments will arouse fierce debate.
 Many will question whether his work can be interpreted as proving
 that light can exceed its normal speed - suggesting that another
 mechanism may be at work.

 Neil Turok, professor of mathematical physics at Cambridge
 University, said he awaited the details with interest, but added: "I
 doubt this will change our view of the fundamental laws of physics."

 Wang emphasises that his experiments are relevant only to light and
 may not apply to other physical entities. But scientists are beginning
 to accept that man may eventually exploit some of these
 characteristics for inter-stellar space travel.

http://www.sunday-
times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/2000/06/04/stifgnusa01007.html

Link via:
http://www.newsviewtoday.com

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To: bpr-list@philologos.org (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - IBM plans computer to unfold mysteries of life
From: bpr-list@philologos.org("Moza")
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2000 13:16:03 -0400

Sunday 4 June 2000
IBM plans computer to unfold mysteries of life

WASHINGTON: IBM is planning to build the fastest computer in the world --
500 times faster than anything in existence today -- to put genetics on a
fast track, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

IBM scientists intend to spend five years building the computer, the
newspaper reported.

The machine, dubbed Blue Gene will be turned loose on a single problem: It
will try to model the way human protein folds into a particular shape that
gives it unique biological properties. That puzzle is at the heart of
mankind's efforts to understand the nature of consciousness, the origins of
sex, the causes of disease and many other mysteries.

The machine will use up so much electricity and throw off so much heat that
engineers have bought a gas turbine the size of a jet engine to cool it.

Since proteins are the molecular work horses of the human body, scientists
would like to know the basic chemical rules for every one of about 40,000 of
them.

But it won't be easy. The Blue Gene, 40 times faster than the combined
speed of the 40 fastest supercomputers in the world today, will run for an entire year to
produce an answer for one protein.

"This is the biology of the 21st century," said the Post. "The project
underway at the International Business Machines is one notable effort to
tackle a new problem, one so daunting it is already causing wrenching
changes in science and industry."

Sometime later this year, scientists expect to post a virtually complete
human genetic sequence in the world's computer banks, the newspaper
reported.

However, the completion of the human genome project will only be the
beginning of a new race to unravel all the information encoded in genes. The
real goal, likely to take decades to accomplish, is to understand in their
entirety the ingredients and the chemical interactions that make up a human
being.

J. Craig Venter, one of the scientists involved in the race to publish the
sequence, said: "I am certain that a century from now, scientists will still be
making major, insightful discoveries on the genetic sequence that is going to
get determined this year. It is a mind-boggling amount of information."

Genes are scattered in bits and pieces along the 3.1 billion letters of
genetic code that make up the genome. The genes are basically instruction
sets for making proteins, and those proteins do nearly all the work
associated with keeping a person alive.

From The Times of India,
http://www.timesofindia.com/040600/04hlth5.htm

via: isml@egroups.com

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To: bpr-list@philologos.org (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Cures of the future are growing on 'pharms' today
From: bpr-list@philologos.org("Moza")
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2000 13:19:29 -0400

Sunday, June 4, 2000
Cures of the future are growing on 'pharms' today

Genetically altered goats are producing milk that contains drugs. Sales
could begin in months.

By Andrea Knox INQUIRER STAFF WRITER CHARLTON, Mass. - The GTC
Farm oozes a storybook charm, with its shaded brook, old-fashioned
clapboard farmhouse, and gamboling goats that rush from their barns and
thrust their noses over fences to inspect visitors.

But the aura of times past masks a scene straight out of a science-fiction
future. This is no farm. It is a pharm, a 21st-century pharmaceutical plant.

In the hilltop laboratory, scientists inject goat embryos with strips of
synthetic human DNA to create four-legged drug factories - animals that
produce pharmaceuticals in their milk.

The goats are churning out 12 potential drugs, some of which are being
tested in people.

One, a blood-clotting agent for use in heart bypass surgery, could be on the
market by next year.

Opening a momentous new chapter in pharmaceutical history, this would be
the first commercial drug produced in a transgenic animal - one that
scientists have given a gene for a trait it doesn't naturally possess. The gene
is inserted into a fertilized embryo, which is carried to birth in an adult.

The added gene in the GTC goats spurs the secretion of a protein that has
potential therapeutic use in people.

And amid some unease about whether it's all moving a bit too fast, this
pharm has plenty of company. Transgenic cows in Virginia and Wisconsin,
sheep in New Zealand, and rabbits in Europe are making milk containing
proteins that may one day be used as drugs.

Among the drugs are potential treatments for HIV, rheumatoid arthritis,
Crohn's disease, and osteoporosis. There's a protein to help premature
infants digest fats, and another to help in tissue repair. There's Factor
VIII, which stops bleeding in hemophiliacs, and a therapy that's being
tested against Pompe's disease, a rare genetic disorder that kills infants
within months of diagnosis.

In every case, the protein is extracted from the animal's milk and purified into
a treatment before being administered to patients in the traditional forms of
pill, shot, or intravenous drip. The animals are killed and incinerated when
their useful lives are over, so they do not become human or animal food and
cannot be adopted as pets.

Although scientists have been adding genes to animal embryos for nearly
three decades, no transgenic drug has yet been through enough human trials
to assure that it is both safe and effective.

But several - besides the blood-clotting agent produced by the GTC goats -
have shown enough promise that their developers expect to seek marketing
approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within two years.

The prospect that transgenic drugs might soon be a viable treatment option
is a heady one for scientists and patient advocates, not to mention investors
and entrepreneurs who have staked hundreds of millions of dollars and more
than a decade of work on the technology.

They hold out hope that animal production could cut production costs of
some drugs, although making no promises that the savings would be passed
on to consumers. But they also say that transgenic animals could increase
the supply of some drugs, including Factor VIII, and could produce new
treatments that are impossible to make by other methods.

"This is the drug-production technology of the 21st century," says George J.
M. Hersbach, president and CEO of Pharming, N.V., a Netherlands company
that is working with the American Red Cross on Factor VIII and is developing
the Pompe's disease treatment with Genzyme Transgenics Corp. of
Framingham, Mass., which owns the GTC Farm.

"It's all about getting new drugs to people who need them, in a cost-effective
way," adds Genzyme chief executive officer Sandra Nusinoff Lehrman. She
estimates that in some cases, her goats can produce drugs for a quarter of
what it would cost otherwise.

She also points out that it is quicker to expand production by breeding a
few more goats than by building a new plant.

Skeptics, however, wonder whether the industry isn't rushing into unknown
territory too quickly.

Margaret Mellon, director of the agriculture and biotechnology program for
the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C., says: "There are a
lot of novel problems that come with treating animals as a drug production
facility."

One issue is how to assure that no viruses or other infectious agents -
including the prions that cause mad cow disease - creep into the finished
products, Mellon says. The FDA has no regulations governing either
transgenic animal health or the process of purifying drugs from milk, she
notes.

The drug producers respond that they are meticulous in quarantining and
testing their herds to assure that they are free of infection.

The FDA, for its part, points to the guidelines it issued in 1995 for drug
production in transgenic animals, which cover both animal health and drug
purification. These "provide sufficient guidance on what we consider
important," says spokeswoman Lenore Gelb, who says the agency has no
plans to issue formal regulations on the topic.

The guidelines were written in consultation with the transgenic drug
companies, which say they continue to discuss the issues with the FDA.

But guidelines aren't the same as regulations, says Mellon, and working
them out in private discussions with industry excludes the public from the
conversation.

"Before these products start appearing in our pharmacies, there should be a
much broader debate about whether they are needed and what standards are
being used to assure safety," she says.

Mixing genes to create a drug-producing animal may still sound a bit
fantastic, but it is built on a technology that is nearly three decades old. The
first successful transfers of genes into mammal embryos were carried out in
the 1970s, most famously by Ralph Brinster at the University of
Pennsylvania.

By the late 1980s, the ability to create transgenic animals had moved from
the research laboratory to the world of commerce, and Scotland's PPL
announcing the first transgenic sheep in 1987. Still, the process was slow
and building a herd big enough for drug-production was arduous until
scientists got the hang of cloning in 1996, when Dolly the sheep was born.

The drug Genzyme expects to take to the FDA by the end of this year is
antithrombin III, for use in heart bypass operations to make the clotting
agent heparin more effective in some patients.

Next year, Pharming and Genzyme hope to request FDA authorization to sell
the Pompe's disease treatment.

PPL Therapeutics Ltd. of Scotland has a target date of 2002 to enter the
U.S. market with a protein, made by some of its 1,000 New Zealand sheep,
that fights cystic fibrosis and congenital emphysema.

Sometime in the next few years, Centocor Inc., of Malvern, will seek FDA
approval to use goats to expand production of Remicade, the drug it already
markets to fight rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, an intestinal
disorder.

The transgenic pipeline also includes collagen, a protein used by the body
in tissue repair; fibrinogen, a protein that can stanch bleeding from
wounds; additional rheumatoid arthritis drugs; and a treatment for
hereditary angioedema, a potentially fatal swelling of tissues and organs.

Though this roster suggests the breadth of possibilities for transgenic
drugs, many are still in early stages of development and may not pan out.

Development so far has cost hundreds of millions of dollars - Pharming has
spent nearly $100 million and Genzyme has raised $180 million - and profits
are still two to four years away.

If they come, companies may not pass lower production costs on to patients
but may instead keep the profits. This could boost the share price,
rewarding the investors who financed development but haven't yet earned a
penny of return.

Pharming, for one, is cautious in promising lower costs. For Factor VIII,
which induces blood clotting in hemophiliacs, "the goal is to lower treatment
cost, but that will depend on how efficiently we can make it, and we don't yet
know that for sure," says CEO Hersbach. Factor VIII is now extracted from
human blood plasma and made in cell culture. Animal production is
expected to increase the supply and perhaps to lower the price to patients.

But the other promise of transgenics is to make more or better drugs
available.

At Centocor, "I think of transgenic production as a way [to generate]
savings that can be invested into additional research on cures for other
diseases," says Fred Bader, vice president for worldwide operations at
Centocor.

The Philadelphia Inquirer,
http://web.philly.com/content/inquirer/2000/06/04/front_page/PHARM04.htm

via: isml@egroups.com

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========
To: bpr-list@philologos.org (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Tsunami Feared Off Island Sumatra
From: bpr-list@philologos.org("Khazneh")
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2000 15:47:15 -0400

Tsunami Feared Off Island Sumatra

Updated 3:33 PM ET June 4, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) - A great earthquake, capable of causing massive damage,
struck Sunday off the Indonesian island Sumatra, and the U.S. Geological
Survey said it was likely to have caused a tsunami.
The survey's Carolyn Bell said the quake was measured at magnitude 7.9 and
occurred at 11:28 p.m. local time, or 12:28 p.m. EDT.

The shock was felt strongly at Benjkulu, 70 miles
north-northeast of the epicenter, where it could have caused "major
structural damage," she said. It also was felt as far away as Jakarta, the
capital, 335 miles north-northwest of the center.

Bell said the epicenter was 33 kilometers - almost 20 1/2 miles - beneath
the Earth's surface, very shallow in geological terms.

"It set up a possible tsunami situation in the area of the Indian Ocean,
where there are no warning systems," she said. "If tsunami were going to
happen, it has already happened."

A tsunami is a massive wave caused by an earthquake or volcanic eruption.

Eleven minutes after the original shock, an aftershock was recorded at
magnitude 6.7, Bell said.

Both the first quake and the aftershock were larger than the largest temblor
in recent years in the area. In 1995, a 6.4 earthquake occurred there.

 http://news.excite.com/news/ap/000604/15/int-earthquake-sumatra

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