“We are in the middle of an Education Emergency”
The gunfire caused swelling in Malala’s skull and a break in the delicate bones that help turn sound into sensory impulses to her brain. “God has given me this new life,” she recently said, speaking for the first time on camera since the shooting. “I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated.” Though the gunshots to her neck and head made many doubt that she would walk again, Malala continued to improve over the past several months. “I can walk a little bit and I’m feeling better,” the 15-year-old said on February 6. At that time, she said she hoped to be fully recovered in a month.
You can read Malala’s journey from near death to recovery here : http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/10/world/asia/pakistan-malala-one-month/index.html?iid=article_sidebar
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Education for All
Lung diseases cause one in 10 deaths across Europe
Lung conditions are the cause of one in 10 of all deaths in Europe and smoking is a major factor, says a report from European Respiratory Society. It says deaths from lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will rise over the next 20 years because of past smoking rates. But a British lung charity says lung disease kills one in four in the UK. Yet it does not receive priority when it comes to prevention, treatment or research funding, it says. The data, presented in a publication called the European Lung White Book, uses the latest data from the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to analyse trends in lung disease.
In the WHO European Region, which stretches from the Atlantic to Central Asia, it found that the four most commonly fatal lung diseases – lower respiratory infections (including pneumonia), COPD, lung cancers and tuberculosis – accounted for one-tenth of all deaths. Among the 28 countries of the European Union, however, these diseases account for one in eight deaths, the White Book said. Only Belgium (117 deaths per 100,000 population), Denmark, Hungary and Ireland had higher death rates from lung disease than the UK, at 112 per 100,000 people. Finland and Sweden had the lowest mortality rates of 53.7 and 55.7 per 100,000. But the report said the proportion of total deaths attributed to a lung condition is highest in the UK and Ireland, a figure which the British Lung Foundation puts at one in four people.
The data in the White Book also shows that half of the total socio-economic costs of respiratory disease can be put down to smoking. It describes tobacco smoking as “the most important health hazard in Europe” and it maintains that smoking is the main preventable cause of death from illnesses such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and coronary artery disease. While smoking rates in many high-death rate countries such as Denmark and the UK have fallen significantly since the 1970s, the report says the long-term effects of those habits are keeping cases of lung cancer and COPD at high levels. This means the proportion of deaths caused by lung conditions is likely to remain stable over the next 20 years, even though a decrease in lung infections is predicted.
Since 2000, the NHS has offered free counselling and drugs to people who want to stop smoking. The White Book says this approach “results in more smokers becoming involved in cessation attempts”. After analysing hospital admissions data across the EU, the book found a wide variation in figures which did not match the pattern of mortality. It said this could be due to national differences in the quality of community care patients receive, which may prevent some hospital admissions.
In conclusion, Prof Francesco Blasi, president of the European Respiratory Society, said of the data in the White Book: “Both the prevention and treatment of lung diseases will need to be improved if their impact on longevity, quality of life of individuals and economic burden on society are to be reduced in Europe and worldwide.”
Lack of priority
Prof Richard Hubbard, from the British Lung Foundation, says the report doesn’t tell the full story of the burden of respiratory disease in the UK. “Diseases like lung cancer and COPD do kill tens of thousands of people each year, but there are over 40 different types of lung disease. Mortality rates for some of these, such as IPF and mesothelioma, have been steadily increasing for decades. “Taken all together, it is likely that around a quarter of deaths in the UK each year are from respiratory disease – as many as are killed by all non-lung-related forms of cancer put together.” He said one reason for the UK’s high death rates for diseases like lung cancer suggest that patients were going to see their doctor too late. Prof Hubbard added that treatment and prevention of lung disease was not given enough priority by NHS England and researchers were not given enough funding. “For instance, investment in lung cancer research totals around a third of that allocated to breast cancer, half that allocated to bowel cancer and less than half that allocated to leukaemia, even though it currently kills more people per year than all three put together.”
The quest to fly from New York to London in one hour
A trans-Atlantic journey of just sixty minutes has been promised since the dawn of supersonic flight, but is it now closer to reality?
In late September, a secretive experimental vehicle roared into the clear blue skies above a military base deep within the Arctic Circle in Norway. As the sleek, rocket approached its target altitude of 350km (218 miles), it began to arc back to earth, gradually accelerating to so-called hypersonic speeds of up to Mach 8 – about 9,800km/h (6,100 mph). The test was the fifth of nine planned launches for the Hifire vehicle, which its backers claim “could be a major step forward in the quest for hypersonic flight”, generally regarded as Mach 5 and above. At these speeds, headline writers like to say, we could soon be zipping from London to New York in just one hour. It is a promise that is often repeated about Hifire and other vehicles, such as the experimental US Air Force X-51A WaveRider, that had its latest (unsuccessful) test in August. Yet, delve back in history, you find similar promises. In the pages of popular books, magazines and newspaper comics, the hyperfast world of airline travel was predicted to be just over the horizon. There was seemingly no limit to humanity’s capability to zip about the globe with increasing speed. In his 1965 book Supersonic Transport, Irwin Stambler charts the progression of time it took to cross the Atlantic in history: from 350 hours on wooden ships to 120 hours on steam ships to 60 hours in dirigibles to 12 hours prop planes to 6 hours in planes of the very near future. The graph continues and projects forward to when the one hour barrier would be passed. It was written at a time when air travel was emerging as a reasonably affordable option for many middle class people and there was reason to be optimistic that not only would prices continue to fall, but jets would continue to get faster.
Needle point nose
This period of optimism started on 14 October 1947, when Air Force pilot Charles “Chuck” Yeager dropped from the bomb bay of a B-29 bomber in the experimental X-1, a rocket-powered airplane that was the first to break the sound barrier. In the following years, the prospect of supersonic – and faster – air travel was always just around the corner. On 22 January 1953, for example, the Gleaner, a paper based in Kingston, Jamaica, carried a story from the Associated Press with the headline “London to N.Y in one hour seen”. The story quoted a talk given by the then chief executive of British Overseas Airways to the Aircraft Recognition Society. “In the next 50 years our grandchildren will probably be looking at supersonic commercial aircraft carrying up to 500 passengers at fares cheaper than third class travel today,” he was quoted as saying. The first vehicles to begin to test these claims – as with today’s hypersonic craft – were built and operated by the military. This was in part out of necessity and precedent. But, as Stambler notes in his book, building a military plane and a commercial “supersonic transport” for passengers are two completely different challenges. Providing an acceptable experience for paying customers (taking into account high temperatures, appropriate cabin pressurization, and so on) is one of the obvious and yet daunting challenges of non-military high-speed aircraft.
But that didn’t stop people trying. In Europe, the UK and French governments subsidised designs that would eventually become Concorde, while in Russia, plans were revealed form the Tupolev Tu-144, nicknamed Concordski for its similarity to the European craft. In the US, various firms hawked competing designs. In a 1960’s Popular Mechanics article titled “Here’s a peek at tomorrow’s huge planes”, the writer describes two different designs from North American Aviation and Lockheed. The North American Aviation was designed primarily for military use, but Lockheed focused on the mass market.
“Lockheed officials, arguing that there is now no technical , operational or economic reason why a supersonic transport could not be developed in the US, suggest that its shape could be needed-pointed fore and aft, and that it have a swept back stabilizer near the front end of the fuselage,” it reads. “Passengers would sit forward of the delta wing.” The steel plane would cost $160m to develop, it says, but the firm believed it could sell up to 200 of them at $9,240,000 each. By the early 1960s, Concorde was given the go ahead. However, its high cost meant that the French Aerospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation had to combine forces. Their final design was revealed in March 1969, when the sleek-nosed aircraft climbed into the sky for the first time.
In the run up to this 27 minute maiden flight, supersonic transport was a recurring theme in popular culture. For example, the July 11, 1965 edition of the Sunday comic strip Our New Age, written by Athelstan Spilhaus, promised readers that supersonic commercial aircraft would become a reality by 1972. The comic strip, taking its cues from Concorde, explained that these high-speed vehicles will look “just like paper darts – just one triangular wing and a vertical tail – but built of titanium alloys to withstand the heat.” The strip explained that while the 200 passenger supersonic planes of tomorrow would travel supersonically above (45,000 feet), they would have to take off and descend slowly in order to not disturb people on the ground, and even break windows in areas around the airport. The last frame of the strip paints a glorious picture for the wide-eyed airline passenger of tomorrow: “cruising at altitudes over 70,000 feet, you may see aurora, a dark blue sky and the curvature of the earth – while going three times the speed of sound.”
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be; at least not for long. Concorde began commercial flights in 1976, becoming one of only two supersonic passenger planes to ever fly. But in perhaps the most blatant affront to the theory of exponential technological growth (at least that the market will sustain), ceased flights 27 years later following a deadly crash and ongoing concerns about safety and cost. No commercial supersonic transport has so far replaced it, despite various designs being put forward. Although Concorde set many records, it did not come close to the mythical one hour crossing between New York and London. Its fastest crossing occurred on 7 February 1996 when Captain Leslie Scott flew from the US to the UK in two hours 2 hours 52 minutes and 59 seconds. The Press Association reported that the Concorde “breezed into the record books – thanks to 175mph tail winds across the Atlantic. “The aircraft averaged more than 1,250 miles an hour all the way from take-off to landing – travelling a mile every three seconds,” the report read. Other craft have admittedly come closer. In 1974 two American Air Force officers flew their SR-71A “Blackbird” from New York to London in one hour 54 minutes 56.4 seconds. But, it seems that despite the promises of yesteryear, a one hour flight still remains firmly in the future.
PayPal ‘credits’ US man $92 quadrillion in error
Online payments broker PayPal has admitted it erroneously credited a man with $92 quadrillion (£60 quadrillion).
Chris Reynolds, 56, of Pennsylvania, found the amount when he opened his monthly statement. But the error was quickly recognised and his account had returned to zero by the time he had logged in. “This was obviously an error and we appreciate that Mr Reynolds understands this was the case,” PayPal said in a statement to the BBC. The online money-transfer firm said it would offer to make a donation to a charity of Mr Reynolds’ choice. The $92,233,720,368,547,800 statement had been “quite a big surprise”, Mr Reynolds told the Philadelphia Daily News, which first reported the story.
“Toddler dies after experimental operation”
Less than three months after receiving a synthetic windpipe made from her own stem cells, 2-year-old Hannah Warren has passed away. Warren died Saturday at Children’s Hospital of Illinois, according to a statement from the hospital. She was the youngest patient to undergo the experimental windpipe procedure and the first patient to receive it in the United States. She would have been 3 years old in August. “Our hearts are broken,” her family wrote on their blog. “We will forever miss her infectious personality and miraculous strength and spirit. … She is a pioneer in stem-cell technology and her impact will reach all corners of our beautiful Earth.” The Korean-Canadian toddler was born without a trachea — a condition that’s fatal in 99% of cases. She spent every day of her life leading up to the transplant surgery in intensive care, kept alive by a tube that connected her mouth to her lungs.
Boy hears for the first time
Experimental treatments help child
Sarah Murnaghan gets new lungs
Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, director of the Advanced Center for Translational Regenerative Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, performed Warren’s operation on April 9. Her new windpipe that was created using stem cells from the toddler’s bone marrow and plastic fibers shaped into a tube. Stem cells are able to develop into different types of body cells and are great at adapting to a new environment. Because of this, the body is less likely to reject organs made from these cells, especially if they come from the patient. Children make ideal patients for regenerative procedures, since they are naturally better than adults at healing and growing new tissue. In the months after surgery, Warren’s new trachea was doing well, the family wrote, but her lungs continued to deteriorate. Dr. Mark Holterman, a pediatric surgeon at the hospital, told the New York Times that the trachea operation also involved surgery on the toddler’s esophagus, which never healed properly. Macchiarini has performed six of these transplants worldwide. Four of the patients are doing well. The fifth was a cancer patient from Baltimore named Christopher Lyles; he died four months after receiving the synthetic trachea in Sweden, according to the Baltimore Sun. Macchiarini told the Times Sunday that he plans to continue with similar operations, including one he is performing this week in Stockholm. “Although regenerative medicine remains in the early stages for pediatric patients, progress is being made,” Children’s Hospital of Illinois said in their statement. “Even at this time of loss and grief, we, and Hannah’s family, take comfort in the knowledge that the efforts of her physicians and the care team working with them will benefit and serve other children and adults in the years to come.”