Children from Logan, Miramar Ranch and Spreckels elementary schools who have been mentored by Jacobs School of Engineering undergraduates for the past nine months will compete in a roller coaster design competition May 31.

    The outreach program was the work of JSOE student organizations, including the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, the Society of Women Engineers and the Biomedical Engineering Society.

    Participating undergraduates will use hands-on instruction to teach the pupils basic principles of physics and engineering, culminating in the roller coaster competition.

    The “”coasters”” are made of rubber tubing fastened to a wooden base and the “”cars”” are ball bearings that speed through the tubing. The roller coasters will be judged on bearing speed, design creativity and wise use of materials.

    Students will also tour UCSD.

    The event, which takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Geisel Library, coincides with the groundbreaking for new facilities to house the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. Gov. Gray Davis, UC President Richard Atkinson and Qualcomm CEO Irwin Jacobs will be present for the ceremony.

    New UC report condemns tobacco company practices

    Two studies conducted by UC researchers reveal that the tobacco industry used covert, subversive and illegal tactics to protect their business practices.

    The first analysis was authored by Ruth E. Malone, an assistant professor of nursing and health policy at the UC San Francisco School of Nursing. It shows that at least two tobacco companies secretly monitored anti-smoking groups with the aim of subverting their activities.

    RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris used public relations agencies and private consultants to illegally tape record meetings of a group called Stop Teenage Addiction to Tobacco, tried to discredit anti-smoking activists and obtained information about anti-smoking groups under false pretenses.

    “”Although it is not uncommon for companies to gather intelligence about competitors, it is surprising to see such aggressive activities aimed at obstructing the efforts of public health groups,”” Malone said.

    The second study was authored by Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine at the UCSF; Dr. Pamela M. Ling, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF’s Center for AIDS Prevention; and Anna Landman, tobacco document researcher at the American Lung Association of Colorado.

    It shows that tobacco industry-initiated anti-smoking programs for students are ineffective and may in fact increase the likelihood of smoking.

    Such programs apparently never mentioned the addictive properties of nicotine or harmful effects of smoking, and instead emphasize the “”adult”” nature of of choosing to smoke.

    The curricula’s structuring was designed to stave off further anti-tobacco legislation, the study found. The results of the study are published in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

    Study shows potassium-rich foods can prevent osteoporosis

    According to medical researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, foods rich with potassium such as bananas, orange juice and tomatoes decrease a woman’s chance of contracting osteoporosis.

    Potassium, the researchers say, aids in maintaining healthy calcium levels. Calcium is often lost through urine after excessive salt consumption. While dietary calcium and vitamin D have already proven beneficial to the maintenance of bone density, UCSF’s study is the first to link potassium to the prevention of bone density loss in high-sodium diets.

    In the study, researchers compared the excretion levels of calcium and the bone protein MTX between women taking a potassium supplement and a control group given a placebo. Female subjects that were given the placebo had higher levels of urinary calcium excretion.

    The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that 55 percent of Americans ages 50 and older are at risk for the bone deterioration disease, which affects nearly 44 million Americans, most of whom are women.

    The study appears in the May issue of the Journal of Clinical Endicrinology and Metabolism and was funded by the National Institute of Health.

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