Lyme disease bacteria can persist after antibiotics

A new study by Stephen Barthold and colleagues at UC Davis shows that Borrelia burgdorferii, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, can persist in mice after antibiotic treatment. There was no sign that these persistent bacteria were causing disease, however.

Lyme disease is spread by the bite of infected ticks. Symptoms can include headache, fever and rash, but the disease can also spread to effect the joints, heart and nervous system. It is usually treated successfully with a four-week course of antibiotics, but some patients complain of persistent symptoms after treatment. There is disagreement over how to treat this persistent disease.

HighFire Day for the LSST

I spent the weekend in Tucson, Arizona where the main mirrors for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope are being made. The primary mirror is 8.4 meters in diameter and is being cast at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab.

Just over a week ago, the Mirror Lab staff loaded about 20 metric tons of borosilicate glass chunks into a purpose-built mould and set it spinning as they brought the temperature up to soften the glass. Peak temperature — “Highfire” — of over 1100 degrees Celsius was reached on the evening of March 29, so the glass chunks softened, melted and flowed into the mould. The rotation forces the molten glass to spread out into a parabola or bowl shape.

A wet winter, but maybe not enough

The Sierra snowpack is “average” this year after last year’s dry conditions, but the state water supply still faces challenges this year. That’s partly because an averagely-wet winter doesn’t quite make up for a dry year, and also because less water will be pumped south from the San Joaquin Delta to preserve the extremely endangered Delta smelt.

Previous blogging on the Delta smelt, here.

Report: “The Delta is a disaster in waiting.”

As usual in California, it’s all about water.

More on combined PET and MRI scans

Combined PET/MRI scanA group from the University of Tübingen, Germany has published a paper in Nature Medicine this week, describing a scanner that combines positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) capabilities. Earlier this month, Simon Cherry and colleagues from UC Davis announced a similar machine in a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Cherry Ciprian Catana are authors on the Nature Medicine paper, and Bernd Pichler and Martin Judenhofer from Tübingen were authors on the UC Davis paper). The new paper goes a bit further than the PNAS paper in demonstrating how the machine can track tumor growth in lab mice.

Video gaming not end of society. Phew.

Children use technology to display social skills and develop higher planning, according to studies by UC Davis education professor Cynthia Carter Ching and her colleague at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, X. Christine Wang.

“There is a lot of hemming and hawing among educators about the introduction of technology in the early grades,” said Cynthia Carter Ching, associate professor of education at the University of California, Davis. “But the worst-case scenarios just don’t pan out. Technology can facilitate creativity and social awareness, even when we don’t design the use of it to do so. And when we do design technology activities with these things in mind, the possibilities are endless.”

Will Lake Tahoe Turn Green?

Geoff Schladow, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, recently presented results showing that Lake Tahoe could abruptly change from blue to green as soon as 2019. The lake’s waters have been warming as the climate warms, and this could shut down the circulation of water from top to bottom of the 1,645-foot deep lake. If that does happen, it would create a cascade of effects from a deoxygenated “dead zone” at the bottom to algal blooms in the upper waters.

And poof! no more clear blue lake. Plus, big increases in costs for water treatment. Similar problems are being seen in deep freshwater lakes around the world, according to the Bee story.

Five Years

UC Davis historian Eric Rauchway joined a discussion on “Five years in Iraq” on Minnesota Public Radio yesterday. Listen online here.

Particle Physics and Cosmology Converge

The Spring 2008 issue of UC Davis Magazine is out, with my cover story on the Large Hadron Collider, physics and cosmology. This was an interesting story to write…if hard to get one’s brain around some of the concepts.

I guess the points I would like people to take away from this article are:

  1. We have made amazing progress in understanding the universe.
  2. But there is a lot we don’t know…
  3. And we may be about to find out something truly new.

Are Ski Park Jumps Too Risky?

Last year, a Washington jury awarded $14 million in damages to a man paralyzed in a ski accident. Kenny Salvini attempted a jump at the Summit at Snoqualmie terrain park, flew high, missed the landing field and crashed on compact snow and ice, breaking his spine. Nine days later a ski instructor from the resort was killed on the same jump.

Courts have usually ruled in favor of ski resorts in such liability cases, and several states have “ski safety” laws that protect the industry from lawsuits. Skiing is after all a dangerous sport. In this case, though, the jury found that the resort was liable, because the jump was not reasonably safe. There are no national standards for the safe design of ski terrain parks, which have become increasingly popular.

Read and Chat About Cat Genetics

Today’s Washington Post has a feature article about the work on the genetics of domestic cats by Leslie Lyons, Monica Lipinski and colleagues at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. They recently confirmed that modern cats originated in the fertile crescent region running from what is now Turkey through Iraq and Iran, about the same time as the development of agriculture there.

Lipinski is taking part in a live forum on the topic on the Post’s website this morning, hosted by science writer Rob Stein.