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Researchers demonstrate new strategy for stimulating autophagy

first_img Source:https://news.brown.edu/articles/2018/05/autophagy May 16 2018Brown University researchers studying the biology of aging have demonstrated a new strategy for stimulating autophagy, the process by which cells rebuild themselves by recycling their own worn-out parts.In a study published in the journal Cell Reports, the researchers show that the approach increased the lifespans of worms and flies, and experiments in human cells hint that the strategy could be useful in future treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, ALS and other age-related neurodegenerative conditions.”Autophagy dysfunction is present across a range of age-related diseases including neurodegeneration,” said Louis Lapierre, an assistant professor of molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry at Brown who led the work. “We and others think that by learning how to influence this process pharmacologically, we might be able to affect the progression of these diseases. What we’ve shown here is a new and conserved entry point for stimulating autophagy.”Autophagy has become a hot topic in recent years, earning its discoverer the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 2016. The process involves the rounding up of misfolded proteins and obsolete organelles within a cell into vesicles called autophagosomes. The autophagosomes then fuse with a lysosome, an enzyme-containing organelle that breaks down those cellular macromolecules and converts it into components the cell can re-use.Lapierre and his colleagues wanted to see if they could increase autophagy by manipulating a transcription factor (a protein that turns gene expression on and off) that regulates autophagic activity. In order for the transcription factor to switch autophagic activity on, it needs to be localized in the nucleus of a cell. So Lapierre and his team screened for genes that enhance the level of the autophagy transcription factor, known as TFEB, within nuclei.Using the nematode C. elegans, the screen found that reducing the expression of a protein called XPO1, which transports proteins out of the nucleus, leads to nuclear accumulation of the nematode version of TFEB. That accumulation was associated with an increase in markers of autophagy, including increased autophagosome, autolysosomes as well as increased lysosome biogenesis. There was also a marked increase in lifespan among the treated nematodes of between about 15 and 45 percent.Related StoriesAn active brain and body associated with reduced risk of dementiaResearchers develop a more precise version of CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing systemResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repair”What we showed was that by blocking the escape of this transcription factor from the nucleus, we could not only influence autophagy but we could get an increase in lifespan as well,” Lapierre said.The next step was to see if there were drugs that could mimic the effect of the gene inhibition used in the screening experiment. The researchers found that selective inhibitors of nuclear export (SINE), originally developed to inhibit XPO1 to treat cancers, had a similar effect — increasing markers of autophagy and significantly increasing lifespan in nematodes.The researchers then tested SINE on a genetically modified fruit fly that serves as a model organism for the neurodegenerative disease ALS. Those experiments showed a small but significant increase in the lifespans of the treated flies. “Our data suggests that these compounds can alleviate some of the neurodegeneration in these flies,” Lapierre said.As a final step, the researchers set out to see if XPO1 inhibition had similar effects on autophagy in human cells as it had in the nematodes. After treating a culture of human HeLa cells with SINE, the researchers found that, indeed, TFEB concentrations in nuclei increased, as did markers of autophagic activity and lysosomal biogenesis.”Our study tells us that the regulation of the intracellular partitioning of TFEB is conserved from nematodes to humans and that SINE could stimulate autophagy in humans,” Lapierre said. “SINE have been recently shown in clinical trials for cancer to be tolerated, so the potential for using SINE to treat other age-related diseases is there.”Future research, Lapierre said, will focus on testing these drugs in more clinically relevant models of neurodegenerative diseases. But this initial research is a proof of concept for this strategy as a means to increase autophagy and potentially treat age-related diseases.Lapierre is a faculty member in the newly approved Center on the Biology of Aging within the Brown Institute for Translational Science. This center, led by Professor of Biology John Sedivy, studies the biological mechanisms of aging. The center’s mission is to expand biomedical research and education programs in the emerging discipline of biogerontology, and to bring forth scientific discoveries related to aging and associated disorders.last_img read more

Study finds increase in lifestylerelated cancers over the past decade

first_imgLowest rates In 2016, there were 17.2 million cancer cases worldwide, an increase of 28% over the past decade. There were 8.9 million cancer deaths the same year. While cancer death rates decreased in a majority of countries from 2006 to 2016, incidence rates conversely increased. Breast cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in women. Lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in men; it was also the leading cause of cancer mortality globally, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all cancer deaths in 2016. Prostate cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer incidence and death in men, in both high- and low-SDI countries, but especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Jun 4 2018Lifestyle-related cancers, such as lung, colorectal, and skin cancers, have increased globally over the past decade, according to the most comprehensive analysis of cancer-related health outcomes and patterns ever conducted.”While the increase in lung, colorectal, and skin cancers over the past decade is concerning, the prevention potential is substantial,” said Dr. Christina Fitzmaurice, Assistant Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, whose organization coordinated the study. “Vital prevention efforts such as tobacco control, dietary interventions, and broader health promotion campaigns need to be scaled up in response to this rise in lifestyle-related cancers.”The study, published today in JAMA Oncology, covers 1990 to 2016; it is part of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, a comprehensive effort to quantify health internationally. Researchers reviewed 29 cancer groups, including lung, breast, prostate, skin, colorectal, pancreatic, stomach, and liver cancers, as well as leukemia and other cancer groups (full list below). The study provides findings by age and sex for 195 countries and territories.While lifestyle-related cancers saw a universal increase from 2006 to 2016, several cancers from infectious causes – including cervical and stomach cancers – decreased over the same time period.Study estimates were analyzed using a Socio-demographic Index (SDI) based on rates of education, fertility, and income. SDI is more comprehensive than the historical “developed” versus “developing” nations framework. Countries with high SDI have high levels of income and education and low fertility, whereas low-SDI countries have low levels of income and education and high fertility.Large disparities in cancer incidence and death persist between high- and low-SDI countries. Researchers found rates of cancer incidence and death remained higher in high-SDI countries in 2016. For example, the odds of developing breast cancer over the course of one’s lifetime were the highest – at 1 in 10 women – in high-SDI countries, but only 1 in 50 for women in low-SDI countries.Conversely, the largest and fastest increase in new cancer cases between 2006 and 2016 occurred in middle-SDI countries. And women in low-SDI countries are nearly four times more likely to develop cervical cancer than women in high-SDI countries, and in 2016, cervical cancer was the most common cause of cancer incidence and death in low-SDI countries.”Ensuring universal access to health care is a vital prerequisite for early detection and cancer treatment,” said Fitzmaurice. “And improving access to advanced diagnostic technologies not commonly available in low-SDI countries is a critical step toward achieving health equity globally.”Additional key findings include: Tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer: North Korea (61.7), Egypt (4.8), global (25.8) Colon and rectum cancer: Hungary (31.3), Sri Lanka (5.0), global (12.8) Stomach cancer: Mongolia (44.0), Maldives (3.2), global (12.6) Liver cancer: Mongolia (114.7), Morocco (2.0), global (12.1) Breast cancer: Tonga (24.7), Oman (4.0), global (7.9) Other neoplasms: Malawi (37.6), Syria (2.6), global (6.4) Esophageal cancer: Malawi (32.4), Syria (0.8), global (6.2) Pancreatic cancer: Uruguay (12.8), Bangladesh (2.5), global (6.2) Prostate cancer: Dominica (54.9), North Korea (1.9), global (6.1) Leukemia: Syria (15.3), Bangladesh (1.9), global (4.6) Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Grenada (11.0), Kyrgyzstan (1.4), global (3.6) Cervical cancer: Zimbabwe (28.7), Syria (0.6), global (3.5) Brain and nervous system cancer: Palestine (8.3), Japan (1.2), global (3.2) Bladder cancer: Malawi (11.8), Albania (0.9), global (2.9) Lip oral cavity cancer: Kiribati (14.6), Syria (0.6), global (2.6) Gallbladder and biliary tract cancer: Chile (11.3), Uzbekistan (0.6), global (2.5) Ovarian cancer: Lithuania (5.9), United Arab Emirates (0.9), global (2.4) Kidney cancer: Czech Republic (7.1), Bangladesh (0.5), global (2.0) Other pharynx cancer: India (6.1), Syria (0.2), global (1.7) Larynx cancer: Cuba (5.3), Japan (0.4), global (1.6) Multiple myeloma: Dominica (5.9), Tajikistan (0.4), global (1.5) Uterine cancer: Grenada (5.4), Maldives (0.5), global (1.3) Malignant skin melanoma: New Zealand (6.6), Bangladesh (0.2), global (0.9) Nasopharynx cancer: Malaysia (3.7), Chile (0.1), global (0.9) Non-melanoma skin cancer: Zimbabwe (4.5), Bangladesh (0.2) global (0.8) Thyroid cancer: Zimbabwe (2.3), Syria (0.2), global (0.6) Mesothelioma: United Kingdom (2.6), Palestine (0.1), global (0.5) Hodgkin lymphoma: Afghanistan (2.2), Japan (0.1), global (0.4) Testicular cancer: Kiribati (1.0), Maldives (0.02), global (0.1) Australia (743.8) New Zealand (542.8) United States (532.9) Netherlands (477.3) Luxembourg (455.4) Iceland (455.0) Norway (446.1) United Kingdom (438.6) Ireland (429.7) Denmark (421.7) Lowest rates CANCER DEATHS PER 100,000 PEOPLE (AGE-ADJUSTED) IN 2016Highest rates Syria (85.0) Bhutan (86.0) Algeria (86.7) Nepal (90.7) Oman (94.9) Maldives (101.3) Sri Lanka (101.6) Niger (102.3) Timor-Leste (105.9) India (106.6) Tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer: North Korea (56.9), Kenya (4.2), global (30.2) Colon and rectum cancer: Netherlands (57.5), The Gambia (4.3), global (25.9) Breast cancer: Luxembourg (61.8), Niger (5.8), global (24.1) Non-melanoma skin cancer: Australia (300.4), Bangladesh (0.7), global (23.2) Prostate cancer: Dominica (113.1), North Korea (2.4), global (22.1) Stomach cancer: South Korea (44.5), Namibia (2.7), global (17.3) Liver cancer: Mongolia (108.4), Morocco (1.9), global (14.6) Other neoplasms: Malawi (39.6), Syria (2.6), global (10.9) Cervical cancer: Somalia (34.0), Qatar (1.1), global (7.0) Leukemia: New Zealand (20.3), Zambia (2.0), global (6.8) Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Canada (21.2), Kyrgyzstan (1.5), global (6.7) Bladder cancer: Lebanon (31.1), Nigeria (1.2), global (6.7) Esophageal cancer: Malawi (25.2), Syria (0.7), global (6.6) Pancreatic cancer: Czech Republic (12.5), India (2.6), global (6.4) Uterine cancer: Latvia (23.1), Bangladesh (0.8), global (6.0) Lip and oral cavity cancer: Pakistan (22.1), Sao Tome and Principe (1.0), global (5.5) Kidney cancer: Latvia (20.5), Nepal (1.0), global (5.0) Brain and nervous system cancer: Iceland (20.8), Namibia (1.4), global (4.6) Malignant skin melanoma: Australia (55.6), Nepal (0.2), global (4.1) Ovarian cancer: Estonia (9.3), Niger (1.2), global (3.6) Thyroid cancer: Iceland (18.7), Ghana (0.2), global (3.3) Gallbladder and biliary tract cancer: Chile (11.5), Uzbekistan (0.6), global (2.8) Larynx cancer: Cuba (8.8), The Gambia (0.6), global (2.7) Other pharynx cancer: Hungary (7.3), Palestine (0.2), global (2.4) Multiple myeloma: Barbados (6.3), Tajikistan (0.4), global (2.1) Nasopharynx cancer: Malaysia (5.1), Mali (0.1), global (1.3) Hodgkin lymphoma: Greece (5.3), Syria (0.1), global (1.0) Testicular cancer: Chile (6.4), Mozambique (0.04), global (0.9) Mesothelioma: United Kingdom (2.9), Palestine (0.1), global (0.5) Related StoriesIt is okay for women with lupus to get pregnant with proper care, says new studyMetabolic enzyme tied to obesity and fatty liver diseaseRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaDEATHS PER 100,000 PEOPLE (AGE-ADJUSTED) IN 2016″Worst,” and “best” countries and global NEW CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE (AGE-ADJUSTED), 2016″Worst” and “best” countries and global Source:http://www.healthdata.org/news-release/increase-lifestyle-related-cancers-over-past-decade-spotlights-critical-need-prevention NEW CANCER CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE (AGE-ADJUSTED) IN 2016Highest rates Syria (67.4) Algeria (67.5) Oman (69.2) Maldives (72.0) Sri Lanka (74.7) Bhutan (78.6) Uzbekistan (80.6) Nicaragua (80.9) Morocco (81.0) Qatar (81.6) Mongolia (272.1) Zimbabwe (245.8) Dominica (203.1) Hungary (202.7) Grenada (201.0) Uruguay (190.6) Tonga (189.7) North Korea (188.7) Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (183.1) Croatia (180.2)last_img read more

Your computer knows you better than your friends do

first_imgAre you a shy person with a snarky sense of humor who secretly craves hugs? You might be able to conceal that from your friends, but not from your computer. A new study of Facebook data shows that machines are now better at sussing out our true personalities than even our closest acquaintances. The idea for the study came together last year when psychologist Youyou Wu and computer scientist Michal Kosinski, then both at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, watched Her, a 2013 science fiction film in which a man falls in love with his computer operating system. “By analyzing his digital records, his computer can understand and respond to his thoughts and needs much better than other humans,” Wu says, “including his long-term girlfriend and closest friends.” Wu and Kosinski wondered: Is that possible in real life?They had access to a perfect data set to put the idea to the test. In 2007, their colleague David Stillwell, another Cambridge psychologist, created a Facebook app called myPersonality. With consent, users give the app abundant personal data. Not only do they grant access to Facebook info such as their likes and list of friends, but they also take standard psychological tests and answer survey questions. Their only rewards are the results of those psychological tests and a synopsis of how they compare with the rest of the myPersonality user population. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email With Kosinski’s help, the app became a viral hit, with more than 4 million people signing up and using it so far. It also became a scientific gold mine. In a 2013 analysis of the myPersonality data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a team led by Kosinski showed that the pattern of people’s likes on Facebook is enough to predict their personal traits such as gender, race, political persuasion, and even sexuality. The paper was one of the year’s most blogged about and cited.Computationally judging whether people on the Internet are gay or straight based on their Facebook likes is one thing, but determining those people’s personalities more accurately than a human seemed far-fetched, Wu admits. Experiments have shown that “people are very good at judging each other,” she says.One of the standard methods for assessing personality is to analyze people’s answers to a 100-item questionnaire with a statistical technique called factor analysis. There are five main factors that divide people by personality—openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism—which is why personality researchers call this test the Big Five. People can accurately predict how their friends will answer the Big Five questions. “For example, I got a 4.5 out of 5 on extraversion based on my answers about myself,” Wu says, “and my friend got a 4.4 out of 5 based on his answers about me.”Wu, Kosinski, and Stillwell focused on 86,220 people who took the Big Five personality test through the myPersonality Facebook app during the past 2 years. The researchers used those results and the people’s Facebook data to create a statistical model that predicts personality based on Facebook likes. To compare the computer’s accuracy with human judgment, they analyzed results from 17,622 friends of those participants who filled out the 100-item questionnaire based on how they thought their friends would answer. Those people “liked” thousands of things on the Internet—everything from David Bowie and atheism to Rush Limbaugh and smiling. If you really can predict personality from Facebook likes, these items should combine into fingerprints for different personality types.Computers aren’t yet as smart and sultry as the one in Her, but armed with your Facebook data, they can accurately judge your personality in a fraction of a second. Compared with humans predicting their friends’ personalities by filling out the Big Five questionnaire, the computer’s prediction based on Facebook likes was almost 15% more accurate on average, the team reports online today in PNAS. Only people’s spouses were better than the computer at judging personality.So what do our Facebook personality fingerprints look like? Some of the patterns make intuitive sense. For example, the “openness” factor ranges from liberal to conservative, loosely mapping onto political tendencies, and indeed liberal people tended to like Bowie and atheism, whereas conservative people like Fox News and Limbaugh. Other personality predictors seem bizarre. People on the cooperative side of the “agreeableness” spectrum tend to like The Bourne Identity, a film about a lone government assassin, but competitive people like the Oatmeal, an Internet cartoon that celebrates science, geek culture, and long-distance running, among many other topics.”It is a clever use of like data,” says Dana Carney, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who wasn’t involved in the study. Besides contributing to our understanding of how personality affects life choices, she notes that online marketing is the obvious application of the research, because the better you understand the “personality characteristics of an online user base,” the better your chances are of influencing them. A next step will be to increase the accuracy of the predictions by harvesting “other Internet behaviors and combine them with likes,” she says, such as individuals’ Web browsing behavior, which companies are already harvesting.center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Ice core suggests humans damaged atmosphere long before the industrial revolution

first_imgPeople were mining and smelting copper in South America as early as 1400 B.C.E., and the Incas introduced the smelting of silver ore (which often contains lead) in the 15th century C.E., explains François De Vleeschouwer, an environmental geochemist at EcoLab in Toulouse, France, who was not involved in the study. Smelting these metals in open furnaces released particles into the atmosphere, where they became part of the precipitation and dust that eventually landed, among other places, on the Quelccaya Ice Cap. Gabrielli’s team found traces of metals, including copper and lead, dating to the pre-Columbian period in the Quelccaya ice core, supporting similar evidence of Incan and pre-Incan emissions from De Vleeschouwer’s study of peat records in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The new paper is the first to quantify precolonial air pollution in South America, showing that the emissions levels “are [high] enough to consider the Incas polluters,” De Vleeschouwer says.But it wasn’t until the Spanish colonized South America in the 16th century that air pollution really took off, Gabrielli says. The main culprit was probably the gigantic silver mine in Potosí, Bolivia, which exploited the planet’s largest deposit of the precious metal throughout the colonial period—and released unprecedented levels of lead and other metals into the South American atmosphere. Between 1450 C.E. and 1900 C.E., lead levels in the Quelccaya ice core nearly doubled, and the amount of the metal antimony in the ice increased 3.5 times, Gabrielli and his colleagues report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Air pollution tapered off a bit in the 19th century, when South America was rocked by wars of independence and its economy languished because of lasting damage to infrastructure and capital. But it roared back with a vengeance in the 20th century, as new copper mines opened; coal-burning trains and, later, cars fueled by leaded gasoline were introduced; and novel metals, such as molybdenum, began to be mined in the region. Between 1900 and 1989, the last year included in the Quelccaya ice core, silver levels in the atmosphere nearly tripled, copper and lead levels doubled, and molybdenum levels rose more than twofold. “It would be important to check whether atmospheric pollution of molybdenum persists today, because dust enriched in this element may be toxic to humans,” Gabrielli notes.Although the vast majority of South America’s air pollution was released in the 20th century, Gabrielli and his colleagues believe that colonial mines like Potosí had such a dramatic impact on the environment that they should be considered the beginning of the Anthropocene in the region. That’s 240 years before the industrial revolution began, which suggests that “the timing for the onset of the Anthropocene may differ around the world,” says Alexandre Correia, an atmospheric physicist at the University of São Paulo in Brazil who has studied South American ice cores and was not involved in the current study. But whenever it started, the Anthropocene has left its mark on the present, Gabrielli says. “Today, there are no glaciers on Earth” in which traces of human-produced air pollution cannot be detected. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Emailcenter_img Hike nearly 5500 meters up in the Peruvian Andes and you’ll find the Quelccaya Ice Cap. The landscape is stark and seemingly pristine, with barely a shrub eking out a living on the rocks surrounding the tropical glacier. But drill into that ice and you’ll find a dirty history: the record of air pollution in South America. New research on an ice core taken from Quelccaya reveals that humans began polluting the region centuries before the industrial revolution arrived with its steam engines and coal plants. The results suggest that the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch defined by humans’ effect on the planet, began at different times around the world.For as long as people have been releasing pollution into the atmosphere, ice in Earth’s glaciers has been trapping it. The Quelccaya ice core offers a particularly vivid record of atmospheres past, thanks to the tropics’ annual pattern of wet and dry seasons. The wet season brings snow to Quelccaya, and the dry season brings dust. Once everything gets packed down into the glacier, the alternating seasons show up as stripes of “clean and dusty ice,” explains Paolo Gabrielli, an earth scientist at Ohio State University, Columbus. Anything that’s in the air at the time the snow or dust lands will eventually be trapped inside the glacier.That means scientists can use ice cores like the one from Quelccaya to reconstruct what Gabrielli calls pollution histories. For example, trace metals released into the atmosphere by ancient Greek and Roman mining operations have been discovered in ice from Greenland. Gabrielli thought South America’s glaciers might have recorded similar human activities, especially because the continent has a long history of mining and metallurgy. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwelast_img read more

Podcast Finicky cats cancerdetecting bacteria and more

first_imgJust why is your cat so finicky? Can bacteria be engineered to detect cancer in your body? And what can the game rock-paper-scissors tell us about evolution? Science’s Online News Editor David Grimm chats about these stories and more with Science’s Sarah Crespi. Plus, Alexei Bylinskii discusses friction at the atomic level and Braxton Boren talks about the acoustics of historical spaces.last_img

Dinosaur wore forest camouflage to hide from predators

first_imgPsittacosaurus, whose name means “parrot lizard,” was a smallish, horned dinosaur that ran about on two legs eating nuts and seeds in what is now northeastern China. It was found in the same rock strata as many feathered dinosaurs, although it didn’t have feathers itself. But it does have complex pigmentation, says Jakob Vinther, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and lead author of the new study. When he first saw an exceptionally well-preserved specimen of Psittacosaurus in Germany in 2009, which included multiple areas of dark pigment, Vinther says his reaction was: “Holy cow, this thing has beautiful color patterns.” But it wasn’t until a few years later that he began to wonder whether it would be possible to use those patterns to learn something new about the dinosaur—not just what it looked like, but where it lived.To do this, the researchers would have to first reconstruct a 3D model of the dinosaur in painstaking detail, from its precise body shape to its pigmented skin. Then, his team would have to observe the model in various types of lighting environments, to see what shadows were cast along its body. Because the light in an open savanna comes straight down and casts harsh shadows, animals there have sharp dark-to-light transitions in pigmentation, located at the top of their bodies. In forests, light is more diffuse, and pigmentation transitions tend to be farther down on the body and less sharp.The team turned to paleoartist Robert Nicholls to bring the flat fossil to life. Nicholls first photographed the fossil from different angles, using cross-polarized filters to remove light reflections and capture any tiny traces of pigment. Then he took multiple measurements of its bones and soft tissue.Nicholls says he took it all back to his studio and began to draw Psittacosaurus “from the inside out”—first its skeleton, then its muscles and sensory organs, and finally its skin. Getting the details right “required many hours of staring,” Nicholls says, as he and Vinther studied how to untangle the overlapping pigmentation patterns left in the various folds of the flattened fossil. Those drawings became the basis for an anatomically accurate, life-sized sculpture of the animal made of clay, Styrofoam, and wire mesh. The skin pigments took 3 weeks to paint.The reconstruction itself was revealing: Psittacosaurus was indeed countershaded, with a lighter belly and darker back. But its chest was also darker than the abdomen, which confirms that the animal stood upright on its hind legs. The head was also heavily pigmented, and its horns were apparently made of a soft tissue, not hard keratin, which suggests that perhaps they were used for signaling rather than aggression, Vinther says.The team also wanted to see how the light would react just with the animal’s body shape, so Nicholls made a second model devoid of all pigmentation, colored a simple matte gray. Then, they took a field trip to the University of Bristol Botanic Garden, where they placed both models against different types of Cretaceous plants. The reconstructed patterns closely matched the “optimal countershading” for the diffuse light under a forest canopy, the team reports online today in Current Biology. That corresponds well with evidence from previous paleobotanical studies of the region, which suggest that it was dotted with lakes surrounded by coniferous forests. “These color patterns are a testament to an arms race [between predator and prey] that took place 120 million years ago,” Vinther says.“It’s impressive enough that Vinther et al. managed to recreate the color pattern of a long-extinct dinosaur,” says zoologist Hannah Rowland of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the study. “But to have also shown that this pattern of countershading is best suited to a closed, wooded-type habitat environment is a real advance.” She adds, however, that although there is good evidence that countershading acts as a defense mechanism, there will always be some uncertainty about interpreting countershading in dinosaurs, because we can’t present a model Psittacosaurus to their natural predators to see which type of pattern provides the best protection.“I hope that now we can start to think more about the ecology, to get a better picture of these animals,” Vinther says. “Definitely, in paleontology, we have become more astute to the fact that we have more evidence in these fossils than we thought we had.” Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Emailcenter_img Camouflage—in particular, clever patterns of skin pigmentation—helps many modern animals hide from predators in plain sight. The same was true nearly 120 million years ago in the Cretaceous. Now, researchers studying that era have taken reconstruction of fossil remains a step further, using the pigmentation patterns preserved in the fossil of a small, horned dinosaur to find out where it most likely lived. The answer? A dimly lit, dense forest.The study is “a very welcome and very clever addition to the really limited information we have on dinosaur color and coloration patterns,” says Anne Schulp, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Netherlands, who wasn’t involved in the research. “If there’s one question that keeps on popping up amongst our visitors, it’s the question on the color and color patterns dinosaurs had,” she adds.It’s a question in which scientists, too, are keenly interested. And by tracing the remains of pigments in fossils, called melanosomes, scientists have in recent years begun to breathe new life into the dun-colored relicts, discovering the Technicolor hues in prehistoric birds’ wings and the clever shading that veiled ancient mosasaurs from predators. The pigmentation patterns on those Cretaceous marine reptiles followed a pattern called countershading, in which the animal’s back is dark and the belly is lighter. It’s a pattern found in many modern animals dwelling in land and sea. In water, the pale belly blends in with sunlight falling from above, making the animal invisible to predators below, whereas the dark back hides the animal from shallow predators by helping it blend in with the darker depths. On land, the pigmentation counteracts the effect of light falling on the animal: The lighter belly is cast into shadow while the darker back is lightened, giving it a flat appearance that makes it much harder to see. 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Alien life could thrive in the clouds of failed stars

first_imgThere’s an abundant new swath of cosmic real estate that life could call home—and the views would be spectacular. Floating out by themselves in the Milky Way galaxy are perhaps a billion cold brown dwarfs, objects many times as massive as Jupiter but not big enough to ignite as a star. According to a new study, layers of their upper atmospheres sit at temperatures and pressures resembling those on Earth, and could host microbes that surf on thermal updrafts.The idea expands the concept of a habitable zone to include a vast population of worlds that had previously gone unconsidered. “You don’t necessarily need to have a terrestrial planet with a surface,” says Jack Yates, a planetary scientist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, who led the study.Atmospheric life isn’t just for the birds. For decades, biologists have known about microbes that drift in the winds high above Earth’s surface. And in 1976, Carl Sagan envisioned the kind of ecosystem that could evolve in the upper layers of Jupiter, fueled by sunlight. You could have sky plankton: small organisms he called “sinkers.” Other organisms could be balloonlike “floaters,” which would rise and fall in the atmosphere by manipulating their body pressure. In the years since, astronomers have also considered the prospects of microbes in the carbon dioxide atmosphere above Venus’s inhospitable surface. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Yates and his colleagues applied the same thinking to a kind of world Sagan didn’t know about. Discovered in 2011, some cold brown dwarfs have surfaces roughly at room temperature or below; lower layers would be downright comfortable. In March 2013, astronomers discovered WISE 0855-0714, a brown dwarf only 7 light-years away that seems to have water clouds in its atmosphere. Yates and his colleagues set out to update Sagan’s calculations and to identify the sizes, densities, and life strategies of microbes that could manage to stay aloft in the habitable region of an enormous atmosphere of predominantly hydrogen gas. Sink too low and you are cooked or crushed. Rise too high and you might freeze.On such a world, small sinkers like the microbes in Earth’s atmosphere or even smaller would have a better chance than Sagan’s floaters, the researchers will report in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal. But a lot depends on the weather: If upwelling winds are powerful on free-floating brown dwarfs, as seems to be true in the bands of gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn, heavier creatures can carve out a niche. In the absence of sunlight, they could feed on chemical nutrients. Observations of cold brown dwarf atmospheres reveal most of the ingredients Earth life depends on: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, though perhaps not phosphorous.The idea is speculative but worth considering, says Duncan Forgan, an astrobiologist at the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom, who did not participate in the study but says he is close to the team. “It really opens up the field in terms of the number of objects that we might then think, well, these are habitable regions.”So far, only a few dozen cold brown dwarfs have been discovered, though statistics suggest there should be about 10 within 30 light-years of Earth. These should be ripe targets for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is sensitive in the infrared where brown dwarfs shine brightest. After it launches in 2018, the JWST should reveal the weather and the composition of their atmospheres, says Jackie Faherty, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. “We’re going to start getting gorgeous spectra of these objects,” she says. “This is making me think about it.”Testing for life would require anticipating a strong spectral signature of microbe byproducts like methane or oxygen, and then differentiating it from other processes, Faherty says. Another issue would be explaining how life could arise in an environment that lacks the water-rock interfaces, like hydrothermal vents, where life is thought to have begun on Earth. Perhaps life could develop through chemical reactions on the surfaces of dust grains in the brown dwarf’s atmosphere, or perhaps it gained a foothold after arriving as a hitchhiker on an asteroid. “Having little microbes that float in and out of a brown dwarf atmosphere is great,” Forgan says. “But you’ve got to get them there first.”center_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Emaillast_img read more

Underwater network gives scientists a rare glimpse into deepsea volcanoes

first_imgMost volcanic eruptions on Earth happen in a hidden, dark place: deep underwater. Scientists rarely detect these outbursts on the sea floor, but last year, they caught a seamount eruption in the act. Now, researchers have characterized it in unprecedented detail—showing how a rash of earthquakes preceded the eruption and how bulging of the volcano’s surface was used to successfully forecast the eruption. Scientists say the results will help them understand how other volcanoes around the world behave.The eruption began on 24 April 2015 at Axial Seamount, which lies 480 kilometers off the Oregon coast. Researchers already had a good picture of the volcano’s magma chamber, and they’ve now learned how it erupts, thanks to a cabled array of seismometers and pressure gauges deployed by the U.S. Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) and other projects. Scientists hope the results, published today in two Science papers, will shed light on volcanic processes, and also help quiet the OOI’s detractors, who have criticized the project’s $1.8 billion lifetime cost.Immediately after the OOI sensors came online in late 2014, they started recording hundreds of daily tremors, says William Wilcock, a marine geophysicist at the University of Washington in Seattle who led the first study. By March 2015, they had increased to upward of 2000 per day. The frequency of earthquakes also tracked the tides, with more than six times as many events occurring at low tide—a pattern that can be a sign of an imminent eruption, Wilcock says. If the volcano is close to erupting, pressure from the magma critically stresses the faults, so that a drop in water pressure at low tides can trigger small earthquakes. “You unclamp the faults,” he says. After the eruption, seismometers also recorded booms that the researchers attribute to steam exploding out of fresh rock, which helped them map lava flows. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The eruption didn’t come out of the blue, however. Scientists had some pressure recorders, which measure seafloor deformation, in place for eruptions in 1998 and 2011. Based on how fast magma seemed to be accumulating again in recent years, lifting the roof of the volcanic caldera, researchers were expecting another outburst soon. “The magma chamber inflates to a certain level, and then it can no longer withstand the pressure anymore and the magma breaks out,” says Scott Nooner, a geophysicist at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington.In September 2014, after seeing that the caldera had started growing at a faster rate, Nooner and William Chadwick, a geologist at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, predicted another eruption in 2015. In the second study, they show that their forecast was successful. The researchers also documented how the caldera deflated by 2.5 meters after the lava erupted.At the moment, such forecasts are only possible for well-behaved volcanoes like Axial, Nooner says. “We think it’s a simpler volcanic system than a lot of volcanoes on land.” But Nooner thinks it’s a good start toward ultimately understanding more complicated volcanoes, like those along subduction zones that pose threats to people. Researchers have only monitored one other submarine volcano with seafloor seismometers, and this is the first one where they tracked seafloor deformation through several eruption cycles, he says.Other researchers are equally excited. “That is really a great advance,” says Vera Schlindwein, a seismologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, who was not involved in the work. Such comprehensive measurements are rare for submarine eruptions, and although every volcano is different, Schlindwein says the results will help other researchers interpret sparser data from other locations. “With such full coverage, it helps to place these others in a better framework.”Wilcock and others hope that the results will help demonstrate the value of the OOI, a network of 830 moored, mobile, and seafloor-based instruments at seven sites around the globe. A 2015 U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report suggested shrinking the costly project to fund other oceanographic research during a time of contracting budgets. The rollout has also been marred by delays and problems with data management and distribution. “On anything big and new, there’s always going to be people criticizing it,” Wilcock says. But he says the new results show how the program is already starting to pay off.Nooner adds that the OOI’s ability to alert researchers to an eruption right when it happens lets them respond rapidly and make more measurements—for instance, of changes in water temperature and chemistry that can only be detected immediately after an eruption. The 2015 eruption provided proof of concept for real-time monitoring, he says, and next time Axial erupts, researchers hope to mount such a response. Given how the caldera is inflating now, Nooner thinks they won’t have to wait long. Based on his latest measurements, he predicts the seamount will blow again in just three short years.center_img Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)last_img read more

Top stories A killer cell transplant and the secret to reducing your

first_img(Left to right): Tobias Bernhard Raff/Minden Pictures; Thomas Hafeneth/creative commons; Image courtesy of Sean Murtha Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country By Giorgia GuglielmiJul. 14, 2017 , 2:30 PM Email Top stories: A killer cell transplant and the secret to reducing your carbon footprint Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) A stem cell transplant helped beat back a young doctor’s cancer. Now, it’s assaulting his bodyA few months before completing medical school in 2003, Lukas Wartman was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a blood cancer that’s particularly lethal when it strikes adults. So began a battle to stay alive that has involved more than 70 drugs and a staggering series of twists and turns, including a stem cell transplant that almost killed him.The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is one the government isn’t telling you about Recycling and using public transit are all fine and good if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, but to truly make a difference you should have fewer children. That’s the conclusion of a new study in which researchers looked at 39 peer-reviewed papers, government reports, and web-based programs that assess how an individual’s lifestyle choices might shrink their personal share of emissions.‘Replication grants’ will allow researchers to repeat nine influential studies that still raise questionsIs experimenting with e-cigarettes among young people associated with a higher risk of smoking tobacco? Can exposure to a natural environment help you recover from stress? We may soon have fresh answers to those questions, thanks to the first research fund specifically dedicated to replication studies. The Dutch Organization for Scientific Research this week announced the scheme’s first nine grantees; all of them plan to replicate a study that had a major impact in their field but also raised questions—or eyebrows—for some reason.Tiny fossil reveals what happened to birds after dinosaurs went extinctThe fossils of a tiny bird found on Native American land in New Mexico are giving scientists big new ideas about what happened after most dinosaurs went extinct. The 62-million-year-old mousebird suggests that, after the great dino die-off, birds rebounded and diversified rapidly, setting the stage for today’s dizzying variety of feathery forms.New Zealand aims to eradicate invasive predators, but winning public support may be big challengeA year ago, the New Zealand government announced a bold plan to rid the country of a trio of invasive predators—brush-tailed possums, rats, and stoats—that threatens native birds. Experts say the task will require new technologies that have yet to be invented, including deadlier toxins and possibly even the release of genetically modified organisms. But winning public support for these new methods could be an even bigger task, scientists say.last_img read more

Nominee for Department of Energys undersecretary for science draws praise

first_img By Adrian ChoJul. 19, 2017 , 4:00 PM Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Nominee for Department of Energy’s undersecretary for science draws praise Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) It looked like the sort of appointment that would make many scientists uneasy. Last week, the White House announced the nomination of Paul Dabbar, now an investment banker, as undersecretary for science for the Department of Energy (DOE). The position aims to coordinate scientific efforts and expertise across the sprawling agency, which has a $30.8 billion annual budget. Several sources familiar with DOE’s $5.3 billion Office of Science—the United States’s single largest funder of the physical sciences—told ScienceInsider that they did not know Dabbar, who has his Senate confirmation hearing tomorrow. But observers versed in DOE’s broader mission say that Dabbar is highly qualified and applaud his nomination.“He is one bright cookie,” says Beverly Ramsey, a systems ecologist at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada, who has worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and currently serves with Dabbar on DOE’s Environmental Management Advisory Board. “Dabbar has a great personality, he has a very easy way of making his points, and he asks great questions.”The White House announcement stresses Dabbar’s business experience. He’s the managing director for mergers and acquisitions at J.P. Morgan in New York City and, according to the White House announcement, “has over $400 billion in investment experience across all energy sectors.” But it’s Dabbar’s earlier career that DOE observers point to with interest. A graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Dabbar served as a nuclear submarine officer. “As a general principle, the nuclear navy is a really elite organization,” says Matthew Bunn, an expert on nuclear arms, energy, and proliferation at Harvard University, who says he doesn’t know Dabbar. “There ain’t no such thing as a stupid nuclear navy guy.”center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Paul Dabbar © The Philadelphia Tribune Co., Inc. Those who do know Dabbar say he has the experience, skills, and disposition needed to succeed as undersecretary. In the greater DOE milieu, Dabbar is very well known, says Daniel Poneman, president and CEO of Centrus Energy Corp. in Bethesda, Maryland, who from 2009 to 2014 served as DOE’s deputy secretary of energy. “If you talk to utility CEOs, I think you would find that most if not all of them know Paul very well,” he says. “He’s got all the technical knowledge and the regulatory knowledge, but he’s also deeply practical.” Ramsey says Dabbar has already demonstrated the kind of insight that would benefit DOE’s mission. “He has been very good at looking at what are the emergent technologies and how we could apply them to do what DOE needs to do,” she says.The undersecretary need not be a scientist to be an effective administrator, says Poneman, a lawyer. Dabbar will have plenty of help with the scientific matters, Poneman predicts: “He’ll have 17 national lab directors to talk to who are rocket scientists.” Ramsey cautions against underestimating Dabbar’s scientific understanding. “The guy is certainly not science-free,” she says. “You don’t get to take the path he’s taken without knowing a lot about everything from mechanical engineering to nuclear physics.”Perhaps the biggest question surrounding Dabbar’s nomination is what role he will actually play if confirmed by Senate (which is expected). Congress created the undersecretary for science position in 2005, during the administration of former President George W. Bush, and it was first held by Raymond Orbach, a theoretical physicist who simultaneously served as director of the Office of Science. However, the position proved problematic during the administration of former President Barrack Obama when Steven Koonin, also a theoretical physicist, served as undersecretary for science. Koonin had little budget authority and direct responsibility for only the Office of Science, a situation that left numerous observers suggesting that he and the director were sharing a job. Koonin left DOE in 2011 after serving just 2 years.The position remained vacant until 2013, when then–Secretary of Energy Ernst Moniz reorganized DOE management. He combined the undersecretary for science and the parallel undersecretary of energy position to create an undersecretary for science and energy who had authority over the Office of Science, DOE’s nuclear and fossil energy programs, its energy efficiency and renewable energy program, and others. (Moniz also created an undersecretary for management and performance who was given control over the national laboratories, environmental clean-up, human resources, etc.) Last week’s White House announcement, and the current DOE organizational chart, suggest that Secretary of Energy Rick Perry will restore the undersecretary positions to their original specifications. The biggest question may then be whether Dabbar finds the downsized remit satisfying.last_img read more

Human influence may prolong ocean cycle that gave birth to Harvey

first_img Update: Life after Harvey—scientists take stock of the damage, and their luck Last weekend, Hurricane Harvey put an end to a lucky streak: It became the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2005. The Category-4 storm barreled into Texas on 25 August, lashing the coast with 200-kilometer-per-hour winds, and deluging Houston with more than a meter of rain. As the third hurricane of the season, Harvey also gave weight to predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that 2017 will be an above-average year for Atlantic storms. For decades now, storms have been getting a boost from a powerful but still mysterious long-term cycle in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures, which appears to be holding steady in its warm, storm-spawning phase. A pacemaker for tropical storms The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), a cycle of temperature anomalies in the North Atlantic, swings between warm and cool phases, impacting storms (represented by accumulated cyclone energy). Researchers first detected the AMO in ocean temperature measurements spanning the past 150 years. But tree rings and other climate records from places strongly influenced by the AMO show evidence of temperature variations going back centuries.Shifts in the AMO reverberate through the climate system, affecting rainfall in Europe, drought in the Amazon, and Atlantic hurricanes. The warm phase fuels storms by warming the tropical Atlantic and intensifying the West African monsoon. A stronger monsoon, like La Niña (a cooling of the eastern tropical Pacific), reduces wind shear, vertical changes in wind direction that tend to break up embryonic storms. The monsoon also spins up low-pressure systems that enter the hurricane nursery of the tropical Atlantic. “This wind pattern allows these storms to very quickly develop rotation and energize,” says Gerry Bell, lead hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. Hurricane Harvey provides lab for U.S. forecast experiments In Colorado, a global flood observatory keeps a close watch on Harvey’s torrents This cycle, called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), swings between warm and cool phases every 20 to 60 years, shifting North Atlantic temperatures by a degree or so and setting the backdrop for hurricane season. Since about 1995, the AMO has been in a warm state, but researchers aren’t sure where it’s headed next. The AMO has traditionally been attributed to natural shifts in ocean currents, and some think it’s on the cusp of shifting back toward a cool, quiescent phase. But others propose that human activities—a combination of declining air pollution and greenhouse warming—might prolong the current warm period, keeping hurricane activity high.“It’s important to understand the mechanism,” says Rong Zhang, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey. “The projections are opposite.” Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img Hurricane Harvey on 24 August, a day before it made landfall in Texas as a Category-4 storm. NASA/NOAA GOES Project By Julia RosenAug. 29, 2017 , 5:15 PM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Human influence may prolong ocean cycle that gave birth to Harvey Related Harvey stories CREDITS: (GRAPHIC) G. GRULLÓN/SCIENCE; (DATA) NOAA/ESRL (AMO); NOAA/NHC (ACE) By NOAA’s metrics, the AMO remained in a warm phase this year, but some see hints of a change. “The waters in the far North Atlantic, up by Greenland, have been really cold—much colder than normal,” says Phil Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The pattern potentially upset tropical conditions from afar, causing quieter than average hurricane seasons in recent years, he says.The cold anomaly may herald a transition toward a cool phase, especially if the AMO is mainly driven by natural variations in a “conveyor belt” of Atlantic Ocean currents. This circulation draws warm surface water northeast along the Gulf Stream until it cools and sinks in the seas surrounding Greenland, returning south in the deep Atlantic. Stronger circulation brings more warm water north and leads to a positive AMO; when the circulation flags, cooling begins in the far North Atlantic and moves south, culminating in a negative AMO, Zhang says. According to her estimates, the AMO is now close to neutral. Klotzbach’s approach, which factors in high-latitude temperatures, suggests that the AMO has already shifted negative.However, recent research indicates that factors outside the ocean may also trigger changes in the AMO. Natural climate records suggest that, for centuries, volcanic eruptions and small changes in the sun’s output warmed and cooled the ocean, helping pace the AMO. In past decades, humans have added their own influences, such as aerosol particles from burning coal, which reflect sunlight back to space and cool the ocean, says Ben Booth, a climate scientist at the Met Office Hadley Centre in Exeter, U.K. Booth thinks skyrocketing aerosol emissions in the second half of the 20th century were the primary cause of the most recent cold phase of the AMO, which lasted from 1970 to 1994. A subsequent drop—thanks to clean air regulations in the United States and Europe—may have instigated the current warm phase.The role of greenhouse gas emissions is another story. Hotter oceans are generally thought to boost the intensity of storms, but not necessarily their frequency, and researchers subtract out this long-term warming when calculating the AMO. However, research by Lisa Murphy Goes, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Miami in Florida, suggests that greenhouse emissions may still help trigger swings in the AMO. As greenhouse gases keep rising and aerosols fall, Murphy Goes says the AMO should remain slightly positive for at least the next decade.Understanding what lies ahead depends on whether natural variability or human influences win out. Most likely, both play a role; Booth suggests that their impacts could vary by region. Changes in ocean circulation might matter most in the northern Atlantic—where the cold anomaly has hunkered down—whereas external factors, such as aerosols, might impact the tropics most. These forces might also play off of one another over many decades in unexpected ways, or evolve under the long-term effects of climate change. “We hold many of the pieces,” Booth says, “but we don’t yet have a holistic picture.” Harvey could be a tragic culmination to the current hurricane era—or a sign that it’s not over yet.*Correction, 30 August, 3 p.m.: An earlier version of the story gave the incorrect location for the Climate Prediction Center.last_img read more

Controversial plastic trash collector begins maiden ocean voyage

first_img By Erik StokstadSep. 11, 2018 , 9:55 AM Email An experimental plastic trash collector is towed out of San Francisco Bay on 8 September. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Controversial plastic trash collector begins maiden ocean voyage Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Slat’s 4-year-old organization, The Ocean Cleanup, based in Delft, the Netherlands, is well on its way to launching its first unit. At an event tonight in the Werkspoorkathedraal—an industrial meeting hall in Utrecht, the Netherlands—Slat unveiled a new design that he says will allow The Ocean Cleanup to deploy its first collector in 2018, 2 years earlier than planned. It will also collect trash at twice the rate of earlier designs, he predicts. The Ocean Cleanup *Update, 11 September, 9:55 a.m.: A high-profile and controversial effort to collect and haul away plastic trash in the ocean is finally going to sea. A massive tugboat left San Francisco Bay this weekend, pulling a long sinuous boom constructed by The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The device, which is intended to catch plastic trash floating at the surface, will be tested for 2 weeks about 400 kilometers offshore. If it does well, the boom will be towed to a concentration of floating trash about 2200 kilometers from California. Although the original design called for a few trash collectors each with a 200-kilometer span, revised plans called for many smaller collectors with 1-kilometer-long booms. The current system has been scaled down further, to 600 meters in length. The Ocean Cleanup hopes to make its first pickup run in 6 months, shipping the trash back to shore and converting it into promotional objects to help cover costs. As Science reported below on 11 May 2017, critics are skeptical of the project, which some see as well-intentioned but misguided.Critics say plan for drifting ocean trash collectors is unmooredIt is undeniably an ambitious vision. Boyan Slat, a charismatic 22-year-old drop-out inventor, plans to clean up plastic trash circulating in the North Pacific Gyre by launching a fleet of floating trash collectors. Ocean currents would propel floating plastic trash into curved floating booms, which would funnel trash toward a central tank, to be collected monthly by ships. “We let the plastic come to us,” he says. The group hopes to eventually finance the operation by recycling the plastic and selling it as a branded product or raw material. Slat already has a pair of sunglasses made from recycled Pacific plastic.Skeptics say the idea doesn’t make much sense and that collecting trash closer to shore would be more cost effective. “Focusing clean-up at those gyres, in the opinion of most of the scientific community, is a waste of effort,” says marine biologist Jan van Franeker of Wageningen Marine Research in the Netherlands. “It’s a lot of money to reduce something that disappears in 10 to 20 years, if you stop the input.” His research on seabirds showed a 75% decline of ingested plastic over 2 decades after reductions in industrial plastic entering the North Sea. Critics also worry that the high-tech clean-up project could distract from less glamorous efforts to lessen the use of plastic.   Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Early encounter with plastic trashSlat says he first experienced ocean plastic when he was 16. While diving in Greece, he recalls, he saw more plastic bags than fish. He designed a high school science project for cleaning up marine trash, and says he’s always been passionate about technology. “The act of creation, making something a reality, is one of the most fulfilling things you can do.” After a half-year of studying aerospace engineering (model rocketry was another early passion), Slat left university to found The Ocean Cleanup in 2013. Since then, and with the help of a TEDx Talk that has received 2.5 million views, The Ocean Cleanup has raised $31.5 million in donations—two-thirds of it since November 2016, with large amounts coming from silicon valley investor Peter Thiel, the chemical company Royal DSM, and other donors.The Ocean Cleanup has about 65 engineers and other staff. While designing the collector, Slat’s team has also been studying plastic in the North Pacific. Most research vessels use 1-meter-wide trawls to sample plastic debris. In 2015, The Ocean Cleanup organized an expedition of some 30 ships, including a decommissioned National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel, to measure larger pieces of debris. Last year, they also flew over the area to measure amounts of even bigger trash, including lost or discarded fishing gear called ghost nets. They plan to publish their findings this year.In June 2016, the group tested a 100-meter prototype collector for structural integrity, placing it 16 kilometers into the North Sea. After 2 months the shackles connecting the booms to the mooring had begun to fail. Although the prototype experienced weather rougher than that typical of the Pacific, the test highlighted the long-standing challenge of how to secure the collectors to the seabed in water some 5 kilometers deep.In a shift, engineers have come up with a new design. The approach is to use weights suspended a few hundred meters below the surface, where, according to the organization’s ocean circulation models, the currents are about one-fifth the surface speed. The weights consist of 12-meter-tall metal towers, shaped like a plus sign in cross section, that will drag in these slower currents. Because the surface water moves faster, plastic debris will collect on the drifting booms.The organization also announced today it was downscaling the overall design. Instead of a few units each with two 100-kilometer-long arms, they will build multiple smaller collectors that are 1 kilometer long. This smaller scale should cut the per-unit cost to a few million dollars, Slat says, and also advance the production schedule by about 2 years, allowing deployment of the first unit in early 2018. Initial calculations suggested a moored design would collect about 40% of the plastic in the North Pacific Gyre within 10 years. The new design should be able to collect trash faster—by drifting into the denser accumulations of plastic—and remove half of the plastic within 5 years, once 50 units are at work.Erik van Sebille, a physical oceanographer at Utrecht University, Netherlands, attended the event and liked what he saw. Two years ago, he says, Ocean Cleanup seemed like a group of single-minded engineers out to save the world. “A lot of scientists thought they were stubborn,” he says. “Yesterday they showed that there are not afraid to change their approach. The radical rethink, ditching the mooring–I think that’s great. And they’ve become more scientifically aware.” From an oceanographic perspective he says the new design “makes sense in the first order,” but he would need to see more details before being convinced that it will work as intended.  Solution, or ineffective distraction?So far, critics haven’t been impressed, listing technical limitations and concerns such as harm to marine life. “It’s not the best solution,” says Marcus Eriksen of the ocean nonprofit The 5 Gyres Institute, based in Los Angeles, California. “In fact, it’s a distraction from the work going on upstream.” Most environmental groups working on ocean pollution focus on reducing the amount of plastic that enters the ocean, and, ultimately, what Eriksen calls “the heavy lift of ending the one-time, throwaway culture.” Another issue is that researchers suspect much of the plastic that enters the ocean sinks to the sea floor, where it is inaccessible to floating trash-catching devices.The open ocean may not be the best place to locate trash collectors. Computer simulations, published last year in Environmental Research Letters, suggested that collectors located near China and Indonesia would be more than twice as efficient at capturing microplastic—and collect fewer plankton—than ones located in the North Pacific. In streams and rivers, floating collectors can significantly reduce the amount of trash entering the ocean.Slat replies that there is not an either-or solution. “We need to do both,” he says. “We need to intercept plastic before it becomes ocean plastic. And we need to clean up what is out there.” Eriksen says that plastic on the high seas is mostly lost or discarded fishing gear. Fishermen could be paid or encouraged to collect it, which he says has worked reasonably well in the North Sea. The rest will eventually break down. Updated, 5/12/2017, 1:00 p.m.: This story has been updated to include a quote from Erik van Sebille,last_img read more

This spider turns its web into a slingshot flinging itself at prey

first_img This spider turns its web into a slingshot, flinging itself at prey S. I. Han When we think of how spiders hunt, we usually picture intricate webs that can ensnare passing insects. But the triangle weaver spider (Hyptiotes cavatus)—native to the United States and Canada—does something special: It creates a slingshot with its silk web to catapult itself forward and capture its prey.To watch the spiders at work, scientists recorded them using high-speed videos. They saw that the arachnids stretch and tighten their silk threads, using their body as a bridge between the anchor line and the web (as seen in the photo above) and can hold the web under tension for hours on end. When prey wanders into the web, the spider releases its hold and uses the silk’s stored energy to shoot forward at extraordinary speeds, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The web then wraps around the prey from all directions, blocking any chance of escape.According to scientists, this is the only known example of an arachnid using a device to boost its power—thus revealing a new function of spider silk.center_img By Helen SantoroMay. 13, 2019 , 3:00 PMlast_img read more

The Tragedy of the First Apollo Mission to Space

first_imgOn July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to step on the surface of the moon. But two years prior to that momentous occasion, tragedy would strike the space program: a fire inside a capsule during a launch rehearsal, killing all three men on board and threatening the future of NASA. The 1960s were a frenzied time for the U.S. space program. In 1961, President John Kennedy set a goal to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. NASA engineers and technicians were working at breakneck speed to make it happen. In his 1966 book Calculated Risk, George Leopold would describe it as “a deadly malady called ‘Go Fever.’”Apollo 1 Prime CrewIn 1966 alone, NASA would fly no less than five Gemini missions. Meanwhile, engineers and technicians were working at a on a third spacecraft — Apollo. It arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in August 1965, with its first launch scheduled for February of the following year.Command Module 012, labeled Apollo One, arrives at Kennedy Space Center, August 26, 1966.Earlier Mercury and Gemini flights were designed to see how humans behaved in space and to conduct rendezvous. Apollo, however, was a whole new ballgame, taking astronauts to the moon for orbital and landing missions. The crew chosen for the first manned mission, Apollo 1: Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.Official portrait of prime and backup crews for AS-204, as of April 1, 1966. The backup crew (standing) of McDivitt (center), Scott (left) and Schweickart were replaced by Schirra, Eisele and Cunningham in December 1966.As NASA prepared for the countdown test, last-minute changes were still being made to the spacecraft. No one was concerned. Things were always being done on the fly. Besides, astronauts, who figured they could handle pretty much any emergency, were famous for shrugging off risk.Apollo 1 – Chaffee in Apollo Block I space suit.Walt Cunningham, a member of the Apollo 1 backup crew, recalled “We always expected that we’d lose at least one mission before we landed on the Moon, because of how far we were reaching out. But we didn’t expect it to be on the ground.”Walt Cunningham.But that’s exactly what happened on January 27, 1967. The Apollo crew entered the vehicle at 1:00 p.m. EST, and the hatch was closed at 2:42 p.m. But because of communications problems between the spacecraft and mission control, the rehearsal ran into the early evening.The Apollo 1 crewmen enter their spacecraft in the altitude chamber at Kennedy Space Center, October 18, 1966.At one point, a frustrated Grissom, the capsule’s commander, would shout, “How are we going to get to the moon if we can’t talk between two or three buildings?” Eight seconds later, at 6:31 p.m., came a single horrifying word from inside the spacecraft: “Fire!”Grissom, White, and Chaffee in front of the launch pad containing their AS-204 space vehicleAs the crew struggled with the latch to open the capsule’s door, technicians tried to put out the fire with extinguishers. Soon the pressure inside the cabin became so intense that the hull ruptured and thick, blinding smoke billowed into the control room.Chaffee, White, and Grissom training in a simulator of their Command Module cabin, January 19, 1967.Finally, the door was pried open, but it was too late. After an official investigation, NASA issued a report, stating that the crew had died of cardiac arrest after inhaling carbon monoxide, as well as toxic fumes given off by incinerated materials inside the capsule. In short, they were unconscious before sustaining burns and dying.Legends Of Aerospace: Neil ArmstrongThe news was of little comfort to NASA officials, who were devastated by the loss. A thorough investigation conducted in the following months would uncover a number of mistakes and miscalculations that had led to the disaster.Exterior of the Command Module was blackened from eruption of the fire after the cabin wall failed.For one thing, a spark, most likely from damaged wires beneath Grissom’s seat, started the fire — which then spread in a matter of seconds, due to highly flammable material inside the capsule, such as foam padding and nylon netting.The charred remains of the Apollo 1 cabin interior.Making matters worse, the latch door proved impossible to open because of the intense pressure inside the capsule. The most lethal error, however: the atmosphere inside the cabin. Pure oxygen is necessary in orbit (a combination of nitrogen and oxygen wouldn’t be capable of sustaining life in space). But putting men inside a capsule filled with pure, pressurized oxygen — needing only a spark to ignite — during ground tests was dangerous.Deputy Administrator Seamans, Administrator Webb, Manned Space Flight Administrator George E. Mueller, and Apollo Program Director Phillips testify before a Senate hearing on the Apollo accident.It would take more than 18 months and literally thousands of changes to the Apollo spacecraft to improve safety. Among the revisions: The door of the spacecraft was redesigned to open in just a matter of seconds, and the pure oxygen environment was replaced with a safer nitrogen-oxygen mix for ground tests.Apollo 1 Fliteline medallion flown on Apollo 9 by Jim McDivitt.As a result, a better Apollo capsule was created which most likely saved the space program, as well as lives. Indeed, less than three years following the Apollo 1 accident, NASA was able to launch five Apollo missions without incident.Actual Apollo 1 hatch on display at the Kennedy Space Center Apollo Saturn V complex. Photo by Iraq.vet CC BY-SA 4.0The final one, in 1969, would meet President Kennedy’s challenge, sending Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the Moon.Read another story from us: Houston we have a Problem: How Jim Lovell used Bioluminescent Algae to Land his Broken AircraftNASA pays tribute to the Apollo 1 crew — as well as the crews of Challenger and Columbia, who died in 1985 and 2003 — each January, with a Day of Remembrance. Another honor is an exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center, displaying the hatches from the doors of the ill-fated Apollo I.Barbara Stepko is a New Jersey-based freelance editor and writer who has contributed to AARP magazine and the Wall Street Journal.last_img read more

Camp draws hundreds to learn livestock care and life skills

first_imgPhoto by Toni GibbonsThe day was heating up as Holbrook High School student Dallon Laird gave his steer, Gunther, a cool bath in prep for more show training on July 19 during the Arizona Livestock Camp 2018 at the Navajo County Fairgrounds in Holbrook. July 24, 2018 Camp draws hundreds to learn livestock care and life skillscenter_img By Toni Gibbons The Arizona Livestock Camp 2018 was in full swing from July 17-20 at the Navajo County Fairgrounds, promoting, “Where Champions Begin”, for 250 kids from Arizona, California, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico.Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Adlast_img read more

Week after assault by TRS MLAs brother Telangana forest official gets armed

first_img Telangana forest officer assaulted: ‘MLA, brothers have history of assaulting government officials’ “I am feeling good now, I was able to eat and talk to my family. I was scared and shocked at the violence unleashed on me and my colleagues. My head and hands, which are swollen, still hurt. I should be fine in a couple of days, and I want to join duty as soon as possible,” she said.Officials said that Anita, who had identified a reserve forest land in Sirpur Mandal’s Sarasala village, started planting saplings along with 20 other forest department officials when villagers objected, claiming ownership of the land.The villagers then informed Rao, who arrived on the spot with supporters and allegedly started attacking the staff.  Anita tried to escape by climbing on to a tractor but Rao followed her and brutally assaulted her with a stick, hitting her several times on the head.“Without even asking why the forest officials had gone there, the villagers and Krishna Rao launched a brutal assault on our officials. Without even considering that the FRO is a woman, the men armed with stick and rods surrounded her and beat her up. The officials had gone there to plant saplings on forest land, it is government’s land,” a forest officer said. Case against TRS MLA, son for obstructing forest officials LiveKarnataka floor test: Will Kumaraswamy’s 14-month-old govt survive? 1 Comment(s) Day after attack, Telangana forest official says want to join work soon Advertising Best Of Express Advertisingcenter_img Anita, a Forest Range Officer, was assaulted with a stick last week during a plantation drive in Komaram Bheem Asifabad district. A day after her assault, over 700 forest department personnel protested by conducting an afforestation drive at the same spot.“As a precautionary measure, and after assessing the situation, and in view of threat perception, one gunman security has been given to the woman FRO, while 2+2 security has been extended to the forest divisional officer,” a senior police official told PTI.The footage of her assault went viral on social media, after which the Telangana Police arrested Rao.TRS MLA Koneru Konappa’s brother assaults woman forest officer at a village in Telangana. Forest Range Officer C Anita went to Sarasala village in Sirpur Mandal to take part in a plantation drive. pic.twitter.com/jE5GitgZRj— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) June 30, 2019Meanwhile, Anita suffered a hairline fracture on her wrist and was shifted to the Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) in Hyderabad the next day. Telangana forest officer assault, telangana forest department, telangana forest department officials, forest department officer assault, forest range officer, forest range officer assault, telangana forest ranger officer assault, TRS, India news, Indian express Anita, a Forest Range Officer, was viciously assaulted with a stick. (File)A week after a Telangana forest officer was assaulted by a group of people, allegedly including TRS MLA Koneru Konappa’s brother Koneru Krishna Rao, police said they had extended armed security for her. After Rao’s arrest, police said that both the brothers had a history of assaulting government officials, especially women officers.According to sources, the brothers are known to violently confront authorities — police, forest department, excise, prohibition and municipal authorities. By Express Web Desk |New Delhi | Updated: July 7, 2019 10:28:29 pm Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Related News last_img read more