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July 18, 2005 at 6:40 PM
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Drilling set at Chesapeake Bay meteor site

BALTIMORE, July 18 (UPI) -- Scientists will drill more than a mile under Chesapeake Bay this fall to study a 35-million-year-old meteorite impact, the Baltimore Sun reported Monday.

The meteorite struck what is now the lower Chesapeake Bay off Virginia with such force it threw debris for thousands of miles and created a Rhode Island-sized crater, the newspaper noted.

"Whatever we find is going to be interesting," Charles Cockell, a professor of geomicrobiology at England's Open University, told the Sun.

Since the impact crater was discovered in 1993, scientists have drilled at least 12 holes, mainly to assess the crater's effect on groundwater supplies.. This fall's deeper drilling is designed to allow a better determination of how fast the meteorite was traveling, its size, effect on surrounding rocks and whether it was an asteroid or comet.

More than 40 researchers from the United States, Austria, South Africa and Japan will take part in the $1.3 million study. The bay crater is the largest in the United States and the sixth largest of 170 known impact craters in the world, the newspaper reported.


British butterfly popuation is decreasing

LONDON, July 18 (UPI) -- Britain is losing a large portion of its butterfly population, with 7 of 10 species declining during the past 25 years, the Independent reported Monday.

The fact that most Britons are unaware of the problem has prompted the chief executive of the charity Butterfly Conservation to begin a sponsored walk along the coast of southern England, distributing leaflets headlined, "Don't let butterflies become dinosaurs of the future."

The figures came to light during an in-depth statistical scientific comparison of two atlases of British butterflies, birds and wild flowers published in 1984 and 2001, the newspaper said. The conservation scientists found 28 percent of England's native plant species had decreased, as had 54 percent of bird species and 71 percent of butterfly species.

Scientists said the decreases are largely due to a loss to intensive farming and urban development of the specific habitat each species needs to breed.


U.S. healthcare costs are double Canada's

MONTREAL, July 18 (UPI) -- A comparison of Canadian and U.S. surgery costs suggests Canada's single-payer system is more efficient, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported Monday.

The research of hospital costs found heart-bypass surgery costs an average $10,373 in Canada, compared with $20,673 in the United States, the newspaper said.

"The conventional wisdom is that healthcare is much more expensive in the United States and the conventional wisdom is right," said Dr. Mark Eisenberg, head of cardiovascular epidemiology at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.

"All this extra technology, all this extra spending, does not lead to improved survival," Eisenberg told the Globe and Mail, noting the rate of post-surgical complications is about the same in both nations, despite the significantly higher U.S. costs.

"It's striking how much more everything costs (in the United States): Gauze pads cost twice as much; stents cost twice as much," Eisenberg said, noting, for example, in the United States it costs $1.56 to deliver an acetylsalicylic acid pill (aspirin) to a bypass patient, while it costs 97 cents in Canada.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked only at the cost of surgery, not appropriateness of treatment.


Prostate treatment with low side effects

FAIRFAX, Va., July 16 (UPI) -- U.S. men receiving a type of radiation therapy to combat early-stage prostate cancer did not suffer some distressing side effects associated with radiation.

Researchers enrolled 98 men from 24 institutions and set out to gauge the health-related quality of life in patients receiving low-dose rate prostate brachytherapy -- a form of internal radiation therapy in which tiny radioactive seeds are implanted directly into the prostate gland to battle the cancer.

Patients were given three separate health-related quality of life questionnaires a total of five times before, during and after undergoing radiation therapy to allow researchers to evaluate what effect their treatment was having on them. The two most important side effects studied were sexual and urinary function.

The study, published in International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, found 78 percent of the men were able to achieve an erection. The study also found the overall rate of incontinence was low at 1 percent, although some men did have difficulty urinating after one year of the treatment.

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