Program 810,
  November 4, 2003

 

A. Promoting Power Generation Efficiency Without Environmental Damage

Narrator: This is Science Today. The U.S. Department of Energy has teamed up with three California universities to promote higher efficiency in power generation without causing more environmental damage. Daniel Kammen, a professor in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley, says that promoting the capture and use of waste heat could double power plant efficiency.

Kammen: Combined Heat and Power, or CHP, is the fact that most power plants produce electricity, but they also produce heat, which is generally waste heat. It's vented to the environment; all that heat is a large source of energy we're not using.

Narrator:Kammen says that the combination of fossil fuels and the capturing of waste heat could increase efficiency from 30% to 80%. He adds that this technique can be adopted by single family homes and businesses with small generators.

Kammen: So we would like to talk more about how homes can generate their own electricity and capture that heat; and whether they use it in their own home or sort of export it to a neighboring business. Those are parts of this whole Combined Heat and Power mandate.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.

B. Consumers Should Use Caution When Buying Internet Prescriptions

Narrator: This is Science Today. Scores of Internet pharmacies have sprung up worldwide offering consumers discounted prescription drugs. While some of these web sites are legitimate, others have little or no safeguards. University of California, Davis toxicologist Art Craigmill says consumers are better served by the local management of drugs sales, where there is record of the patient's medical history.

Craigmill: One of the most serious things that can happen when drugs are mixed is drug interactions and drug interactions can be a major cause of hospitalization. Drug interactions can occur between over the counter drugs and prescription drugs, prescription drugs and prescription drugs and over the counter drugs, prescription drugs and herbal remedies.

Narrator: Without a medical history, Craigmill says Internet prescriptions may cause adverse effects.

Craigmill: Another possible interaction is that one drug may interfere with the effect of another one and prevent it from having its therapeutic effect. Or it may increase the metabolism of another one, which would therefore diminish the response as well.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.

C. Will Children Who Stutter Have Sleep Apnea Later in Life?

Narrator: This is Science Today. UCLA scientists have linked obstructive sleep apnea to brain damage. Ronald Harper, who led the study, says they also discovered almost half of these patients stuttered as children, suggesting that sleep apnea may be the result of faulty brain wiring early in life.

Harper: We believe that the initial loss or damage or miswiring in the language expression areas triggers the conditions for obstructive sleep apnea. Once that apnea is triggered and once it continues and that is accentuated by enlarged tonsils or by obesity in later life, then some of the later damage occurs.

Narrator: Harper and his colleagues believe the later damage occurs in the brain's cerebellum, which has a major role in cardiovascular and respiratory control.

Harper: What we hope to do is examine children, using these non-invasive procedures and see whether they suffer the same consequences.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.

D. What's Causing Extinctions in our National Parks?

Narrator: Extinctions in our National Parks - too little land, or too many people? This is Science Today. Sandy Harcourt, an anthropologist and conservationist at the University of California, Davis, says it turns out endangered species - including bear, mountain sheep and wolves - are affected not by the size of a park, but rather by the amount of people living outside park boundaries.

Harcourt: The graph of extinctions against the amount of land was a completely flat line and what it really looked like is, what was killing off American large mammals is what people are doing around the parks - the number of people around the park is proportional to the number of species going extinct in these parks.

Narrator: Harcourt's findings dispel a common notion that animals in our national parks are safe and it suggests more has to be done to protect them.

Harcourt: We have to manage what people are doing around the national park as well. And the more people there are around the national park, the heavier, the more intense, our management of what those people do is going to have to be.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.

E. A Supplement that 'Gives Back' to Every Cell in Your Body

Narrator: This is Science Today. Scientists have long known that each cell in our bodies produce energy with the aid of coenzymes like CoenzymeQ10, or CoQ, but our stores of these coenzymes lessen as we age. University of California, Santa Barbara, biochemist Bruce Lipshutz says that replenishing your body's store of coenzymes like CoQ is an easy and effective way to give back to every cell in your body.

Lipshutz: As we age the amount of CoQ in our cells simply drops over time, and that's why it's important to think about it as a dietary supplement given its importance in so many biological functions. I'm not sure that people really see the distinction that CoQ is a unique position because all we're doing is putting back what we're losing as we age.

Narrator: CoQ acts as an antioxidant and boosts our immune systems. Fortunately for Americans, the supplement form of the enzyme is available over the counter, whereas in other countries like Japan, where is it produced, CoQ is only available by prescription. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For comments or more information about Science Today, contact Larissa Branin at larissa.branin@ucop.edu