Thar she blows?

Mauna Loa,? Hawaii’s biggest and potentially most destructive volcano,? is showing signs of life again nearly two decades after its last eruption. Recent geophysical data collected on the surface of the 13,500-foot volcano revealed that Mauna Loa’s summit caldera has begun to swell and stretch at a rate of 2 to 2.5 inches a year, according to scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and Stanford University. Surface inflation can be a precursor of a volcanic eruption, the scientists warn.

Kids with Down syndrome learn language beyond adolescence

Researchers have traditionally thought that language learning in children with Down syndrome stopped during the teenage years. As a result, Down youth typically received no language instruction after puberty. But a new study suggests the opposite: that individuals with Down syndrome can benefit from language intervention programs during adolescence and beyond, precisely because it takes them longer to learn. Down syndrome is a developmental disability resulting from an extra copy of chromosome 21, and it affects about 5,000 newborns in the United States every year. Most children begin learning language skills, such as grammar and speaking, at rapid rates early in their lives. Children with Down syndrome, however, typically experience delays in language development, learning more slowly and at varying rates.

Valium-like drug helps treat lupus

A cousin to the anti-anxiety drug Valium has been shown in mice to reduce some of the symptoms associated with lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. “The best available therapies for lupus haven’t changed for many, many years,” says U-M’s Gary D. Glick, Ph.D., one of the lead authors on the study. “It’s a disease where the mechanisms that normally prevent the immune system from attacking components of one’s own body are defective. Because we do not yet understand what triggers lupus, it has been very difficult to develop lupus-specific therapies.”

Now for something really important … pork!

Treating pork and other livestock meat with plain old baking soda improves the taste, Wisconsin researchers have found. “For years consumers have noticed that pork quality is inconsistent. A major reason is that the meat from some pigs becomes pale, soft and watery after they are slaughtered, according to Robert Kauffman, an expert on pork quality and a UW-Madison emeritus professor.” Vegetarians in the audience should move on now, as this clearly meat-friendly story may make you a little uncomfortable.

Researchers to test smallpox vaccine

Researchers in Northern California are conducting a clinical trial that will test whether diluted doses of the smallpox vaccine produce adequate immunity in adults who have previously been vaccinated. The results of the federally funded study, for which volunteers are now being sought, will help shape U.S. policy on how the vaccine would be given in the event of a smallpox outbreak.

See also:
When rashes kill
Facing disfigurement in 2002
Smallpox immunity lasts longer than thought