Friday, July 22, 2005

Bird flu kills in Indonesia

As avian influenza continues its seemingly relentless spread around the world the number of human cases, and fatalities, from the flu increases. This story covered the first deaths in Indonesia and growing fears of human-to-human spread.

There is some debate about human-to-human transmission, especially on the blogs that are covering this story most intently. Some would argue that this has happened and there is already ample evidence of this. They cite clusters of cases in families where the second case must have been caught from another family member and not from a common source (say contact with infected birds). Virologists say that even if the case has spread from human-to-human this does not necessarily mean that the virus has mutated into one that is easily transmitted. It may be, they say, that the first infected family member exudes so much infective material that it is picked up by other members of the family.

This article, on June 21st 2005 in The Economist is a short update of the situation in Indonesia.

Further reading on avian influenza:
World Health Organisation Avian flu FAQ
Wikipedia – avian influenza

Blogs about influenza
Effect Measure
Avian flu, What we need to know.
Bird flu today
Recombinomics, What's new.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Podcasting from the frontiers of science, technology and current affairs

In the course of writing and reporting about science and technology, I come across a lot of interesting people and new ideas. Particularly in my travels I'm privileged to hear some of the world’s leading thinkers and scientists talk about what they do, and what the future holds. In the past, all the recordings I’ve made have been for personal use only, to back up my note taking. But technology moves fast and podcasting offers a way of sharing audio files more widely.

In the coming months and years I, along with a close friend, will put out some of the best or most useful recordings as podcasts. The FrontierSounds project is only just starting but the first two podcasts can be downloaded directly from the links below.

Burt Rutan takes off
The designer of the first private spacecraft, SpaceShipOne, talks about the future of spaceflight. This was recorded at the 2005 meeting of the National Space Society in Washington D.C. Date: May 19 2005. Download this mp3

Autism-what the future holds
Where might research into autism take us in the future? Listen to a media briefing on the subject with six of the UK«s leading autism researchers. Recorded in London at the Science Media Centre. Speakers include: Professor Simon Baron-Cohen from the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge & Dr Tony Charman at the Institute of Child Health. Date: June 28 2005. Download this mp3