A Proposed Pollution-Free Power Plant
This is Science Today. There's a proposal in the
works by scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory to build a research facility that would
produce a pollution-free, ten Megawatt generation
plant using what's called Zero Emissions Steam Technology,
otherwise known as ZEST. Ray Smith, of the Lab's
Applied Energy Technologies, says the concept is
based on rocket engine technology.
You burn the fossil fuel with oxygen in a ratio
such that you produce only CO2 and water - you produce
The steam and carbon dioxide then go through high-
temperature steam turbines, which generate electricity.
The major thrust of this facility - the major
work - will actually be to improve the steam turbines
through materials development work to raise the
inlet temperature of these steam turbins, which
will increase the efficiency of the whole process.
And we think we can get to the 55 to 60% range that
combined-cycle plants do today, but without any
atmospheric emissions, which is a major, major difference.
For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.
Effects of Race, Gender and Age on Mental Health Care
This is Science Today. A UCLA study evaluating the
quality of mental health care found that health insurance
coverage had a relatively small effect on whether
or not people received treatment. Alexander Young,
an assistant professor of psychiatry who led the study,
says individual factors such as race, gender and age
actually had a larger effect on treatment.
Young: For instance, African
Americans were much less likely to get appropriate
care. Men were less likely to get appropriate care,
people that were younger - for instance in their twenties
or older - like in their fifties and sixties - were
less likely to get treated.
Narrator: Young says stigma about mental
health conditions probably has a lot to do with this
lack of treatment - but it's also because most people
with mental health conditions go to their primary
care physician first.
We looked at rates of care according to whether people
were in primary care or in specialty care and we found
that rates in primary care were much lower. Those
are busy settings in which there's often not a lot
of time to do a thorough evaluation of what's going
on or to have a lot of treatment resources available
in the primary care setting.
Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.
Early Detection of One of the Most Common Forms of
This is Science Today. Colorectal cancer strikes about
130 thousand Americans each year - making it one of
the most common forms of cancer in the United States.
And even though it's preventable, about half of colon
cancer patients eventually die from the disease -
partly because it often isn't detected until the later
stages. Dr. Charles Theuer, a professor of surgery
at the University of California, Irvine says polyps,
which can be precursors to cancer, can be easily removed
during a colonoscopy.
Getting rid of polyps during the procedure of
colonoscopy for instance is very painless and easy.
So we get rid of anything we see, knowing that only
one in ten will eventually become a cancer.
The good news, Theuer says, is if no abnormalities
are detected, you can wait ten years before your next
Even if you have a small polyp, we don't recommend
another one for five years. So it's not something
that you have to do every year or every month. So
if you engage in the program and get going, it's not
a huge intrusion in your life.
For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.
Researchers Work to Improve Gene-based Therapies
This is Science Today. A team of researchers has developed
- and recently patented - a pill that can deliver
genes into the bloodstream. Dr. Stephen Rothman, a
physiologist at the University of California, San
Francisco and one of the inventors of this 'gene pill'
says currently genes are delivered therapeutically
by injection. So, what's the advantage of a gene pill?
Partly expense - but there's another reason too, and
that is an often not appreciated fact about taking
medication by injection is that the amount that we
have to take in is far greater than what would be
required to keep a therapeutic level.
With a gene-based delivery system, the gene is constantly
producing and secreting the product, so blood levels
reach a constant level.
So that makes for a better therapeutic situation,
particularly for something like diabetes where fluctuations
in insulin levels are a serious issue.
Rothman says the gene pill is not available yet, since
more research is necessary. For Science Today, I'm
The Meaning of So Called Meaningless Words
This is Science Today. When you're speaking, do you
tend to use lots of ums, ahs, likes or you knows?
Pyscholinguist Jean Fox Tree of the University of
California, Santa Cruz, says these common elements
of natural speech, often considered undesirable, are
actually helpful to listeners.
Tree: People think that people who use ums and
ahs are nervous and anxious and all these other kinds
of things. But it's not necessarily the case that
that's in fact why people use ums and ahs. In fact,
ums and ahs are very related to the amount of pausing
that's about to happen in speech. So if you're about
to pause for a long time, you'll say Um. If you're
about to pause for a short time, you'll say Ah.
Fox Tree says people also use ums and ahs to let the
listener know they're still thinking about an answer
and are not just being uncooperative or stupid.
So there's a real relationship there between when
people say it. These words are not ignorable particles
of spoken talk. They actually might serve some real
Science Today, I'm ...ah...Larissa Branin.