3 Jujur 2012

These are my students from 3 Jujur 2012. Gonna miss this bunch of kids!

3 Amanah 2012

My 3 Amanah kids. They are normally a lot happier!

4 Usaha 2011

Best of luck guys!

5 Murni 2011

I will never forget all of you.

Choral Speaking Team 2012

Champions of Zone H (Pasir Gudang)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Electric Ion Therapy, Aqua Detox: Bad Science and Rusty Footbath Revisionism

Have you ever tried electric ion therapy a.k.a. aqua detox? This therapy system works by immersing one's feet into saline water connected to an ionization device. After a while, one can see the initially clear water darkens with what claimed to be toxins from one's body. Out of curiosity I tried this a few days ago and was charged RM10 for 30 minutes of 'treatment'. I was actually expecting the 'toxins' to come out of my feet, but instead it was the metal plates in the ionization device that release the so-called 'toxins'. So in the whole 30 minutes I was being 'treated', my brain was trying to figure out the possibilities. When I was in school, I did several electrolysis experiments in Chemistry. This looks so like an electrolysis process, which means the whole thing is a fraud. Skeptical as I was, I decided to find out whether this therapy can really do as it claims.

Ray Girvan in his article “Dodgy Detox” concludes that this therapy is just an electrolysis reaction. The yellowish red particles are just oxidized iron that originate from the electrodes (metal plates). As to the brown colour, a number of critics, such as WicklowLass cited below, argue that foot detox machines are simply AC-DC transformers attached to ferrous electrodes that corrode to generate rust when used to electrolyse the saline water in the footbath.

This theory is backed up by some observers who have found by experiment that their feet didn’t need to be in the bath for the brown to appear. Ben Goldcare from The Guardian did a simple experiment to analyse the water before and after the detoxification process. It was found that the level of iron particles skyrocketed after the process. Other than that, urea and creatinine were not found in the analysed sample, meaning that there are no toxin that come out of the body.

Bravely I sent along my friend Dr Mark Atkins to have himself Aqua Detoxed. He took water samples from the bowl, which we sent off to the Medical Toxicology Unit at New Cross, south-east London. You can only imagine our excitement, especially as they charged us £200 for the analysis. And so – triumphant music – the water taken out before they switched their Aqua Detox machine on contained only 0.54mg per litre of iron (probably from the metal spoon); but afterwards it contained … 23.6mg/l. Our water, from our kitchen table setup, contained 97mg/l (and it was a bit browner).

But did it extract toxins? “Toxin” is classic pseudoscience terminology. Essentially, the Aqua Detox people are offering dialysis, through your feet. Urea and creatinine are probably the smallest molecules – call them “toxins” if you like – that your body gets rid of, in places like urine and sweat: if “toxins” were going to come out, anywhere, you’d expect those to come out, too. There was no urea or creatinine in the water before the Aqua Detox, and there was none in the water afterwards. Which means, I believe, that this therapy is a fraud.

The Guardian Unlimited article has had some impact on how the Aqua Detox and its imitators are marketed. Some marketers admit that the colors are due entirely to electrode conversion, and there is less emphasis on toxin removal and more emphasis on the “balancing” of “energy” that is not measurable with scientific instruments (and is therefore untestable.) But the bottom line is very simple. All such devices should be considered medically worthless.

Hydrogen and chlorine gas is given off in this process. The oxygen atoms from the water combine in the liquid with the salt(added to water to improve conductivity) to form hydroxyl ions. The chlorine gas is from the chloride in the salt. The oxygen in the hydroxyl ions stay in the solution. Given that chlorine gas is poisonous, this process can be potentially be dangerous to your health. And the explosive hazard posed by the hydrogen is another minus.

However did the press manage to arrive at such a misconception? Perhaps via the vendors’ own statements? Hydra Detox (www.hydradetox.com) now says that its machine merely rebalances the body: “This type of machine is described as a detox machine because the response of a rebalanced body is to excrete any excess toxins via the kidneys, liver, bowels and skin AFTER the treatment” (their capitals, not mine). But a Google search finds a repeated occurrence of an older marketing tagline “Hydra Detox Foot Spas, simply immerse your feet in water and watch in amazement as the toxins are released through the pores in your feet”. Similarly, a Google search also finds many sites for Aqua Detox and Bio Detox stating that you’ll “see the excreted toxins in the water”, in texts whose near-identical content suggests that the claim was in their manufacturers’ blurb.

A research has been done in Indonesia which found that "from the electrolysis reaction, yellow, red and brown-coloured water contains Fe3+, while green-coloured water contains Ni2+. The electrolysis process also releases Cl2 which is a harmful gas. The result from the analysis showed that the first substance that come out is iron ions (Fe) which are yellowish brown, followed by nikel ions (Ni) which are green/dark green. Invisible ions such as Cr and Mn are also released. Conclusively, the colours and air bubbles that are released  in the electric ion therapy originate from the electrodes (cathode and anode) used, not from the feet.

Science expert Dr Ben Goldacre said: “It has nothing to do with toxins. It’s just basic chemistry – electrolysis. The water goes brown because metal electrodes are rusting in a salt water bath.” So even if you don’t put your feet in the water, it would still turn brown. Goldacre even demonstrated the process with some salt water, a car battery and a Barbie doll. Even Barbie turned the water brown. Here is a video that shows that the water would still turn brown even when you don't put your feet in it.

The company still claims the machine will get rid of your toxins, but not over the course of the 30-minute session. It now says it’ll kick start your body’s natural immune system, and toxins will be released over the course of a few days. Watchdog showed these claims to Dr David Bender, a senior lecturer in biochemistry at UCL, who said these new claims were also scientific nonsense.

The Aqua Detox probably won’t do you any harm – except to your wallet – but it seems it won’t do you much good either.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Scarlett, the Blaze Heroine

Scarlett (June or July, 1995-October 11, 2008) was a former feral cat from Brooklyn, New York whose efforts to save her kittens from a fire attracted worldwide media attention, and have been described in a number of non-fiction books.

She was probably born in June or July 1995. As a stray cat, Scarlett probably had her first litter at about eight months old. If the kittens were her first litter, she was probably about nine months old, when she became a heroine.

The Fire
On March 30, 1996, Scarlett and her five kittens were in an abandoned garage allegedly used as a crack house in Brooklyn when a fire started for undetermined reasons. The fire department responded to a call about the fire and quickly extinguished it. When the fire was under control, one of the firefighters on the scene, David Giannelli, noticed Scarlett carrying her kittens away from the garage one by one. Scarlett herself had been severely burned in the process of pulling her kittens from the fire. Her eyes were blistered shut, her ears and paws burned, and her coat highly singed. The majority of her facial hair was found to be burnt away. After saving the kittens she was seen to touch each of her kittens with her nose to ensure they were all there and alive, as the blisters on her eyes kept her from being able to see them, and then she collapsed unconscious.

Gianelli took the intact family to a veterinary clinic at the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, New York where Scarlett and her kittens were treated. The weakest of the kittens, a white coated, died of a virus a month after the fire. However, after three months of treatment and recovery, Scarlett and her surviving kittens were well enough to be adopted, during which time one of the staff of the clinic stated that Scarlett was “spoiled rotten and treated like a queen“.

The name Scarlett for her came about because her actions in saving her family recalled those of Scarlett O’Hara in the epic film Gone with the Wind; but also because of the red patches of skin visible through the burnt fur. Her eyes gradually regained their sight, although it was necessary for surgeons to replace one of her eyelids.

The story of this feline mother’s heroic efforts to save her kittens attracted international media attention and the clinic received approximately 7,000 letters offering to adopt Scarlett and her kittens. The clinic ultimately chose to divide the kittens into two pairs and the pairs were given over for adoption to residents of Long Island. Scarlett herself was adopted by Karen Wellen. In her letter Wellen indicated that, as a result of losing her cat shortly after being injured in a traffic accident herself, she had become more compassionate and would take in only animals with special needs.

Passed Away
In December 2007,  Scarlett was still living with Karen and ‘as sweet and beautiful as ever’. However, despite all she had been through, she had had to fight a new battle, as during 2007 she was diagnosed with lymphoma. Excellent medical care and a good response to the treatment meant that the disease was later in remission — and of course  Scarlett was nothing if not a fighter. Karen kindly sent a new photo.

In late April 2008, though, came further bad news: Scarlett was suffering from hyperthyroidism, which she’d had in the past but which had been dormant for some time. It became necessary for her to be taken into a facility called Thyro-Cat to receive treatment with radioactive iodine; during this time, because of the danger from radiation, she was not allowed visitors. The treatment and the time until she was deemed ‘safe’ and able to return home lasted a week — clearly an extremely worrying time for Karen and her parents. However, with Scarlett’s heart and kidneys in good shape, and the cancer still in remission, she seemed to come through the treatment all right (right). Although she suffered from loss of appetite for a time and had to be hand fed, the news in early June was that her thyroid was functioning correctly, she had her appetite back and once again all seemed to be well with this remarkable cat. All her many, many fans and supporters out there, ourselves included, hoped that would continue to be the case for some years yet.

While with her adoptive family in Brooklyn. On top of all her other problems, including now a heart murmur and some difficulties with her teeth, came kidney trouble — so often fatal in older cats. So it was with brave Scarlett. Each day became more of a struggle for her, and the quality of life she could enjoy was deteriorating rapidly. She was hospitalised, but when she went home she could not even stand up. Karen said she ‘knew there was no going back’. After consultation with her vets it was felt that the cat had suffered enough, and so on 11 October the heartbreaking decision was made to put her to sleep. She died peacefully in Karen’s arms, with ‘two wonderfully caring and compassionate vets’ from NSALA in attendance. Anyone who has had to make a similar agonising decision will know how Scarlett’s owner felt.

Scarlett died on October 11, 2008

The Scarlett Award
The North Shore Animal League has formed an award named the Scarlett Award for Animal Heroism, in Scarlett’s honor. This award is presented to animals that have engaged in heroic acts to benefit others, whether humans or animals.

She has also become a featured animal in the fund-raising and public relations efforts of the shelter that treated her and her kittens, the North Shore Animal League. On October 15, 2008, the League announced that Scarlett had died.

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