Stories tagged danger

Jun
06
2007

Sign of the times: More stores, malls and public places are posting signs banning the use of "heeling' shoes, shoes that have a wheel built into the heel to allow them to be used like a roller skate. (Photo by voteprime)
Sign of the times: More stores, malls and public places are posting signs banning the use of "heeling' shoes, shoes that have a wheel built into the heel to allow them to be used like a roller skate. (Photo by voteprime)
In my job on working on the floor of the Science Museum of Minnesota, I see more and more young visitors rolling their way along with the new “heeling” shoes. They have a roller wheel equipped in the heel that allows the wear to scoot around like on roller skates.

Some of the floor staff can’t stand the shoes and quickly ask visitors to stop using them. If it’s not busy, I’m a little more forgiving, but when the museum is crowded, it’s a problem just waiting to happen.

Now a group on international doctors are chiming in…they don’t like Heelys (the brand name of the shoes). The list of injuries incurred from heeling incidents around the world includes broken wrists, arms and ankles; dislocated elbows and even a few cracked skulls.

A hospital in Ireland recorded 67 treated injuries to children over a 10-week period last summer. In the U.S., there were roughly 1,600 emergency room visits last year caused by “heeling” shoes, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Crash landing: National statistics show that there were at least 1,600 emergency room visits last year in the U.S. due to the use of "heeling" shoes. (photo by stevejlovegrove)
Crash landing: National statistics show that there were at least 1,600 emergency room visits last year in the U.S. due to the use of "heeling" shoes. (photo by stevejlovegrove)
All of those incidents have led the American Academy of Orthopeadic Surgeons to put out recommendations that heelers wear helmets, wrist protectors and knee and elbow pads while their zigging around.

Further investigation by the medial organizations has found that many of the “heeling” injuries happen to kids new to the using shoe. Still, many schools and shopping malls have banned use of the shoes for safety concerns.

Overall, since being introduced to the market in 2000, more than 10 million pairs of “heeling” shoes have been sold, making it one of the hottest new segments of the footware business. And officials from Heelys this spring addressed the issue by noting that their shoes are statistically safer than skateboarding, inline skating and swimming. Safety instructions are included with each new pair of “heeling” shoes that are sold.

What do you think? Are these new shoes a problem? Should they be banned? What could be done to make them safer? Is it no big deal? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

May
29
2007

Non-problem: With only four fatal shark attacks recorded around the world last year, experts describe shark attacks as a "non-problem." What do you think? (photo by davecompton987)
Non-problem: With only four fatal shark attacks recorded around the world last year, experts describe shark attacks as a "non-problem." What do you think? (photo by davecompton987)
Now that Memorial Day is behind us, it’s on to summer and that can mean just one thing: lots of media attention about shark attacks.

But the most recent compilation of shark attack data shows that only four people worldwide died in 2006 from unprovoked shark attacks. A total of 58 people around the globe sustained injuries from sharks.

George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida, not that the numbers may be lower than average, but still point out that sharks get a lot of bad press.

Shark attack fatalities actually were increasing in numbers in the late 20th Century, due largely in part to an increased number of people finding recreation in deep sea diving.

But recent numbers have dipped back down to what Burgess calls a “non-problem, a minor, minor thing.”

None of the fatalities happened off of U.S. waters. A total of 38 injuries happened in the U.S. last year.

So why do shark attack stories generate so much publicity? Personally, I think it’s another sign of our sensationalizing media. They know it’s an automatic story that’s going to generate attention and ratings. What do you think about the hype surrounding shark attacks?

Aug
17
2006

Green green grass: Is genetically engineered grass a form of nanotechnology?Photo courtesy StarMama
Green green grass: Is genetically engineered grass a form of nanotechnology?
Photo courtesy StarMama

A type of grass created by bioengineers in a lab has escaped out into the environment for the first time--at least that we've noticed.

The grass is being developed to resist the common herbicide Roundup. Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and Monsanto, who are engineering this grass, hope to use it on golf courses so that Roundup could be sprayed to kill weeds without killing the grass.

So what's this got to do with nanotechnology?

Well, I've been doing lots of research into nanotechnology and the social concerns around its use. Just like bioengineered crops, people worry that we don't have a clue what could happen if these plants or particles, in the case of nanotechnology, escape into the environment.

Could the genes from this Roundup resistant grass find their way into wild grasses? If they do it might be that much harder to eliminate weeds that grow wild in our environment.

Okay, but really, what about this nanotech stuff?

Well, this story got me and some of my coworkers thinking about the definitions of genetic engineering and nanotech. In genetics we are manipulating DNA at the nanoscale. In nanotechnology we are manipulating molecules and atoms at the nanoscale. Despite having many people tell me that they are unique I still don't totally get it.

I think it mostly lies in the methods with which the different sciences go about manipulating things. The processes that genetic engineers use to create a new kind of grass are unique from those that nanotech scientists use to engineer something like carbon nanotubes.

So what do you think? I will ask around and see if I can get some answers to the question, "Is genetic engineering a type of nanotechnology?"