A Telling Disconnect

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£4 million project seeks to find new therapies for promoting tissue repair

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Single course of antibiotics early in childhood may increase risk for Type

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A Telling Disconnect

first_imgby, Theresa ReidTweetShare7ShareEmail7 SharesI’ve been heavily involved in the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement for a few years. Recently, other local group leaders and I were gathered in my living room for our usual monthly meeting. We range in age from early thirties to mid-seventies. All of these leaders are committed activists; the older among us have been fighting the good fight for social justice since the 1960s. We’ve been there. And back.This particular week, we’d invited an 18-year-old to meet with us. She and her friends had launched an impressive local youth initiative that concerned itself with GVP, racism, police brutality, and other pressing social ills. We wanted to hear from her about coordinating efforts on the GVP front. We wanted to be supportive without seeming to attempt to take over.Well, but – are you woke?She looked a little uneasy for a while, and was noncommittal, then blurted, “Well, some of the people–not me, but some others—wonder if you guys are woke enough. You know what I mean?”It would’ve been a stitch to be a fly on the wall in the room right then, to observe the body language of all of us “elders” during our shocked silence: collective leaning back, widened eyes, suppressed laughter, disbelieving glances at each other.It was on the tip of my tongue to say, “Honey, we were woke before you were born!” I think my friend Deborah was the first to speak. “You know,” she said, “some of us have been fighting for social justice for 40 years. Some even longer than that.” After this admirable young person had left, we all had a good laugh.But activists of the 1960’s were young – not like youBut I kept pondering the disconnect between her evident perception of us and the homage paid on her group’s website to the student activists of the ‘60s. “We stand on these giants’ shoulders,” the website said.But when she looked at us living, breathing people, she didn’t see the courageous student activists we’d been—those “giants”; she saw parents and grandparents who might represent many good things, but look nothing like the young student activists in her head—the student activists who looked like her and her friends, though in goofier clothes.A self-protective imagination gapI think what I saw was this 18-year-old’s inability to imagine herself aging into someone who looked like us. And I get that. It’s hard to imagine when you’re 18 and your body’s perfect, blooming, unblemished, perky, that you’ll ever look like someone decades older. You think you’ll escape. We all do. It’ll never happen to me, personally. I think kids that age almost see aging as a failing on our part, one they’ll never be so blind as to stumble into.It’s this absolute disconnect–making elders “Other”–that enables and reinforces ageism. This is why Ashton Applewhite’s idea of becoming “An Old Person in Training” is so important. In a nutshell, it means actively imagining yourself into your aging body.Hard as that is, it’s much harder to imagine yourself into the experienced, generous, creative mind you’re likely developing as you age. Becoming An Old Person in Training is a radical act: it’s a refusal to reject your future self. Read more here about this vital idea.Originally Published on  agingforlife.orgRelated PostsGiving A Cat a Reason to Live  It is 1 am.  I am holding the plastic IV needle firmly, but gently.. She receives the fluid without looking, as if she doesn’t want to know her frailty. I love her, but this is some place I don’t want to be.  I never wanted to be here again. …Short Story: All I Want is Loving You and Music, Music, Music…It’s an old song. Georgia liked to shuffle about to it in the Common Room, which was what they call the area next to the Dining Room. Georgia called that one the PeePee Room and the other the Slops Room. So you can guess she wasn’t wild about being at…The Hillside Piano PlayerSandra Wood, the activity coordinator for Hillside Residential Care Home in Swansea, England attended the Eden Associate course taught by our Regional Coordinators for UK and Ireland, June Burgess and Paul Bailey. According to Sandra, this is what happened when she returned to work. “After spending a few days with…TweetShare7ShareEmail7 Shareslast_img read more

£4 million project seeks to find new therapies for promoting tissue repair

first_img Source:https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2018/ps4m-bid-to-find-therapies-that-prompt-tissues-to May 9 2018Stem cell scientists are to join forces with doctors to investigate methods of promoting tissue repair in the liver, lungs and joints.The £4 million project seeks to better understand the environment in which stem cells grow in the body, known as the niche.Experts will use their findings to design new therapies that mimic this environment, in order to stimulate repair mechanisms in tissues damaged by disease or injury.Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are leading the collaboration, called the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP)-Engineered Cell Environment Hub.Related StoriesAbcam Acquire Off-The-Shelf Diploid Library of Over 2,800 Knockout Cell LinesSlug serves as ‘command central’ for determining breast stem cell healthExciting study shows how centrioles center the process of cell divisionTeams hope to work with industry partners to test potential therapies in clinical trials.The project – led by the University’s Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine – includes experts at the Universities of Cambridge and Birmingham, King’s College London and UCL (University College London).The work is supported under Phase 2 of the UKRMP, funded by the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.Professor Stuart Forbes, Director of the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Project Lead, said: “We’re bringing together a research network of regenerative biologists, tissue engineers and clinician scientists in order to understand why the niche environment does not always allow cells to grow and repair damaged tissues. We hope to develop novel treatments to promote the regeneration of tissues and organs.”Dr Rob Buckle, Chief Science Officer at the MRC, said: “Regenerative medicine holds enormous potential for delivering the treatments and cures of tomorrow. The UKRMP has been pivotal in bringing together and supporting the interdisciplinary science required to tackle the key bottlenecks in the field. Great strides have been made so far and this second tranche of UKRMP funding will enable the UK to continue to lead the way to new understanding, treatments and therapies.”The MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine is part of the University of Edinburgh’s new Institute for Regeneration and Repair. It is located at Edinburgh BioQuarter, a leading location for life sciences and healthcare innovations bringing together scientists from industry and academia with NHS experts.last_img read more

Single course of antibiotics early in childhood may increase risk for Type

first_img Source:https://nyulangone.org/press-releases/changes-in-bacterial-mix-linked-to-antibiotics-increase-risk-for-type-1-diabetes-in-animal-model Jul 25 2018A single course of antibiotics early in childhood may increase risk for Type 1 diabetes. This is the finding of a study in mice led by researchers from NYU Medical School and published online July 24 in the journal eLife.The study centered on the intestinal microbiome, the mix of bacterial species that live in the digestive tract, and that co-evolved with humans to play roles in nutrition and immunity. As rates of children’s exposure to antibiotics has increased in recent decades – with each child receiving nearly three courses on average in the first two years of life – the number of patients with type 1 diabetes has doubled, say the study authors.In prior work, and using mice that have an unusually high rate of type 1 diabetes, the research team had found that exposure to multiple courses of antibiotics accelerated onset of this disease. The current study finds that even a single antibiotic course significantly increased risk and severity.The normal mix of inherited microbes is thought to “educate” the founding immune system, with evolution choosing microbes that decrease the sensitivity of immune cells, making them less likely to mistakenly attack the body’s own cells, say the authors. In autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, immune cells that normally control invading microbes instead destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.Patients with type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin, the hormone that controls the level of sugar in the blood. In the current study, the onset of disease was determined by measuring blood sugar, and by marking when levels rose to extremely high levels due to the lack of insulin.”Our findings confirm earlier work showing that antibiotics can increase risk for type 1 diabetes,” says lead study author Xuesong Zhang, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine at NYU School of Medicine. “Even a single early life course may perturb the intestinal microbiome in ways that lead to long-term consequences in the intestinal wall, including immune cell changes and damage to the pancreas.”Senior study investigator Martin Blaser, M.D., director of the Human Microbiome Program at NYU School of Medicine, said the results “are a model of the pervasive effects that antibiotic courses may have on children, causing immune systems to develop abnormally on the way to serious illness.”Related StoriesDiabetes patients experiencing empathy from PCPs have beneficial long-term clinical outcomesAADE’s comprehensive guidance on care of children, young adults with diabetes releasedIntermittent fasting may protect against type 2 diabetesThe research team used genomic and statistical techniques to analyze the millions of pieces of bacterial DNA in samples taken from the study mice. Past studies had already matched key DNA sequences to known bacterial species, enabling the team to define each mouse’s microbiome, and to watch the effect of antibiotics on each.Specifically, the study found that four bacterial species groups (taxa) – Enterococcus, Blautia, Enterobacteriaceae, and Akkermansia – were significantly more abundant in the guts of mice treated with the single course of antibiotics, and likely involved in driving progression of type 1 diabetes. While normally harmless, such species, called pathobionts, cause disease when environmental factors like antibiotics alter the normal balance. Past studies had found that human children who later developed type 1 diabetes were more likely to have had altered gut microbiota representation of Blautia and Akkermansia mucinophila early in life, with corresponding changes to their immune systems.The shift in dominant species seen with antibiotics was accompanied by a shift in active bacterial genes and in chemical compounds produced by the bacteria. This in turn caused changes in gene expression patterns in the intestinal wall, say the authors. Many of these genes are known to influence the type of immune cell activation that damages pancreatic islets.In addition, populations of four different taxa – S24-7, Clostridiales, Oscillospira, and Ruminococcus – were significantly smaller in mice treated with antibiotics in comparisons with normal mice during the developmental post-birth time window previously shown to be critical to educating the immune system. The results suggest that these taxa may be protective against Type 1 diabetes, and could be a focus of future development of probiotics, for instance, that seek to restore healthy species in newborns.The current study focused on male mice simply because it examined mechanisms found to be important in the autoimmune development regardless of gender.The authors say their findings support the hypothesis that, by diminishing particular beneficial bacteria, one early exposure to antibiotics permits the emergence of other species that change immunological development and worsen pancreatic damage.last_img read more

New model for eradicating peste des petits ruminants

first_img Source:https://www.cirad.fr/en/news/all-news-items/press-releases/2018/peste-des-petits-ruminants-model Jul 31 2018Eradicating peste des petits ruminants is an ambitious objective that is neveretheless looking increasingly realistic, notably thanks to a targeted vaccination strategy centering on production systems that act as a virus reservoir. This was the conclusion drawn by a scientific study published in the journal PNAS.In theory, the peste des petits ruminants control strategy relies on mass vaccination campaigns. However, although the existing vaccine provides lifelong immunity, such campaigns are both costly and highly complex to implement from a logistical point of view.The study was initiated by CIRAD and conducted by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC, University of London), in collaboration with Ethiopian and European partners. The researchers combined a dynamic model that simulates virus spread with a national serological study. The information obtained served to assess the level of virus transmission within endemic zones and the vaccine coverage required to halt transmission and eliminate the disease. The results also suggested that some pastoral production systems act as virus reservoirs from which the virus can spread.Related Stories$3.1 million NIH funding awarded to develop universal flu vaccineMore effective flu vaccine begins clinical trials across the U.S.Novel vaccine against bee sting allergy successfully testedFor Guillaume Fournié, an epidemiologist at the RVC, “identifying high-risk populations and adapting vaccination strategies to local situations is vital in order to cut the cost of eradicating the disease while boosting the chances of success”.”Peste des petits ruminants causes huge economic losses and is a particular threat to the livelihoods and food security of the most vulnerable farmers”, François Roger, a CIRAD epidemiologist and co-author of the study, points out. “In view of the limited budgets currently allocated for control of the disease and the numerous constraints in the field, effective decision support tools are vital.”The OIE and FAO, with the support of the European Union in particular, are launching a global program to eradicate the disease within fifteen years. This would make peste des petits ruminants the third infectious disease to be eradicated, after smallpox and rinderpest.Peste des petits ruminants, a devastating diseaseThis highly contagious viral disease affects almost a billion sheep and goats in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It causes substantial economic losses due to high morbidity and mortality rates. The role of wild ruminants in the spread of the disease is still largely undetermined, but models could be used to understand it better, like here with buffalos in Africa.last_img read more

Improving the Health of Older Men Through Exercise

first_imgImage Credit: Toa55 / Shutterstock Thought LeadersDr. Barbara JefferisAssociate ProfessorUniversity College London (UCL)An interview with Dr. Barbara Jefferis, Associate Professor at UCL, discussing the importance of exercise in older age, and the effectiveness of current recommendations. Why is it important to remain active in older life?Being physically active is an incredibly good way to protect against a lot of conditions which are more common in later life and which can be disabling: heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, several cancers, poor mental health.Image Credit: Halfpoint / ShutterstockPeople who do more physical activity live longer than those who do less and also have better quality of life and are less likely to have poor mobility, falls and to live independently in their own home rather than in a care setting.What are the current recommendations for exercise in old age?At present the UK guidelines recommend accumulating 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activities, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity activity (or a combination of the two), in bouts of 10 minutes or more. UK Physical activity guidelines for older adults (65+ years). Interview conducted by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Aug 27 2018 Barbara Jefferis is an Associate Professor at University College London (UCL) in the Department of Primary Care and Population Health.She received her BA from Oxford University, a Masters from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a PhD from University College London.Her research focuses primarily on prevention of heart disease and stroke in older adults, with a particular emphasis on the preventive role of physical activity. This suggests that even modest amounts of activity may be beneficial in this older age range, so it’s important to do some activity even if the official target of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity seems unachievable.We also found greater benefits from more vigorous activities, so for those able to do the more intense activities, there were even greater benefits.We found that there were large benefits to reaching the government recommended 150 minute weekly tally of moderate to vigorous activity, but that the way it was reached didn’t matter too much.So the total time spent being active over the week (rather than absolutely needing to be active in 10 minute bouts, as current guidelines suggest) may be the key thing.Of course there is a caution, this was an observational study and although it is a strong study design and we took steps to reduce the risk of reverse causality, no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.Also as those who wore the accelerometer tended to be younger and have healthier lifestyles than those who didn’t, this could have skewed the results.Finally, it’s not clear if the findings would be equally applicable to older women, but based on other studies, we don’t have a strong reason to expect very different results for women.Do you think that the current exercise recommendations need to be changed?I think that it remains a good target to aim for 150 minutes each week of activity that is at last moderate intensity (that is, an activity that gets the heart pumping harder, but lets you still talk to a friend whilst doing the activity).However, given that we know that the benefits of being active start at a lower level than 150 minutes per week, we could encourage older people who are unable to meet the 150 minute target, to at least do something: either a smaller amount of moderate activity eg 10-15 minutes per day instead of 30 minutes per day 5 times a week, or a similar amount (30 minutes per day) of lighter intensity activity.I also think that in order to make the targets more accessible for older adults, it would be good to encourage them to be active irrespective of doing activity in bouts lasting 10 minutes or more, as we found that the pattern of accumulation of physical activity did not appear to affect mortality risks.So future guidelines could emphasize that all physical activity, however modest, is worthwhile for extending the lifespan.This is particularly important given that we know that physical activity levels decline rapidly with advancing age. That said, the more activity people can fit into their daily lives, the greater the benefits they will gain.Image Credit: cdrin / ShutterstockWhat are the next steps for your research?Having looked at all-cause mortality, we are now going to use similar methods to look at whether the different intensities of activity and patterns of activity are related to specific illnesses in old age, in order to better understand what recommendations about activity levels are useful for specific conditions.Where can readers find more information?Objectively measured physical activity, sedentary behaviour and all-cause mortality in older men: does volume of activity matter more than pattern of accumulation?About Dr. Barbara Jefferis They say that physical activity to improve muscle strength should be done on at least two days a week. Also, older adults at risk of falls should do physical activity to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week.Finally, all older adults should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.Please describe your recent research in the field of sports medicine.Most physical activity guidelines have used information about physical activity that participants had to recall, but it’s hard to remember all the physical activity that we do, especially light activity as this may include routine tasks.In order to better understand how different intensities and patterns of activity are related to longevity, we recently did a prospective study using physical activity monitors which track how much the wearer moves and linked that to information about longevity over the next 5 years.Critically, this allowed us to test the importance of hard to remember lighter intensity activities and also the importance of accumulating activity in bouts lasting 10 minutes or more.Image Credit: Devenorr / ShutterstockWe used information from the British Regional Heart Study which recruited 7735 men (aged between 40 and 59 years) from primary care centres in 24 British towns in 1978-80.  In 2010-12, the 3137 surviving men were invited for a check-up which included a physical examination, and a questionnaire asking about their lifestyle, sleeping patterns, whether they had ever been diagnosed with heart disease.The men were also asked to wear an accelerometer; a portable gadget that continuously tracks the volume and intensity of physical activity, during waking hours for 7 days. They were then followed up until June 2016 or death, whichever came first.In all, 1566 (50%) men agreed to wear the device, but after excluding those with pre-existing heart disease and those with incomplete data, the final analysis included 1181 men, with an average age of 78 years.We found that the total volume of physical activity, from light intensity upwards to moderate and vigorous activity, was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause.For example, each additional 30 minutes a day of light intensity physical activity was associated with a 17 percent reduction in the risk of death.The reduction in risk remained even after we took account of potentially influential lifestyle factors, such as sedentary time.The equivalent reduction in the risk of death was around 33 percent for each additional 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day, meaning participants benefited greatly from more intense exercise.We also found no evidence to suggest that accumulating moderate to vigorous activity in bouts lasting 10 minutes or more, which is the current recommendation, was better than accumulating it in shorter bouts.What’s more, sporadic bouts seemed much easier for the participants to manage as two thirds (66 percent) of the men achieved their weekly total of moderate to vigorous activity in this way while only 16 percent managed to do so in bouts of 10 or more minutes.Finally, there was no evidence to suggest that breaking up sitting time was associated with a lower risk of death.What conclusions can be made from the research?We concluded that the associations between light intensity activity and reduced risk of dying were large enough to mean that even light activity might prolong life in older men.last_img read more

How the transgenic petunia carnage of 2017 began

first_img Two years ago, plant biologist Teemu Teeri was walking by a train station in Helsinki when he noticed some vivid orange petunias in a planter. The flowers reminded Teeri, who has studied plant pigments at the University of Helsinki, of blooms created in a landmark gene-engineering experiment some 30 years earlier. As far as he knew, those flowers never made it to market. But he was curious, and he stuck a stem in his backpack.Now, that chance encounter has ended up forcing flower sellers on two continents to destroy vast numbers of petunias. Teeri ultimately confirmed that the plants contained foreign DNA, and he tipped off regulators in Europe and the United States, who have identified other commercial strains that are genetically engineered (GE). Although officials say the GE petunias pose no threat to human health or the environment—and likely were unknowingly sold for years—they’ve asked sellers to destroy the flowers, because it’s illegal to sell them in the United States and Europe without a permit.Ironically, proposed revisions to U.S. biotechnology rules now under discussion might have exempted the harmless petunias from regulation. But the petunia carnage highlights the growing complexity of regulating GE plants, which have a long history of showing up where they aren’t allowed and can be hard to track. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email F. D. RICHARDS/FLICKR (CC BY-SA 2.0) How the transgenic petunia carnage of 2017 began Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Veikko Somerpuro 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 Zimbabwecenter_img The African Sunset petunia is one of the genetically engineered varieties that U.S. officials are asking breeders to destroy. A prominent experimentPurveyors of petunia varieties with names such as Trilogy Mango and African Sunset were likely unaware that orange-pigmented petunias are the product of a prominent biotechnology study. In a 1987 Nature paper, a team led by plant geneticist Peter Meyer, then with the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany, showed that inserting a maize gene into a petunia enabled it to produce the pigment pelargonidin and take on a salmon color. The 30,000 petunias that the team planted in a trial were the first transgenic plants ever released into the field in Germany, notes Meyer, now at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. Public resistance was fierce at the time, he recalls: “The term transgenic was basically used synonymously with toxic.” By 2 May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) was on alert. It worked with breeders to perform a standard GE screen, searching suspect petunias’ DNA for the cauliflower mosaic virus sometimes used to control the expression of an inserted gene. Like several early workhorses of genetic engineering, the virus is officially considered a “plant pest,” and plants containing its DNA are subject to APHIS regulation. The testing has so far revealed 10 varieties of GE petunia, and 21 others have been “implicated as potentially GE.” In a guidance to the industry, it gave growers and sellers several options: Incinerate, autoclave, bury, compost, or dispose of the plants in a landfill.The doomed petunias may number in the thousands, though industry groups couldn’t provide precise estimates. Some companies appear to have unwittingly purveyed the plants for nearly a decade, says Michael Firko, deputy administrator of APHIS’s Biotechnology Regulatory Services division in Riverdale, Maryland. A member of his team even discovered the orange flowers in a centerpiece at a graduation party earlier this month. “She was tempted to take a sample, but she didn’t want to destroy the nice floral display,” Firko says.Wayward plantsThis is far from the first discovery of unauthorized GE plants. Aventis CropScience’s StarLink GE corn variety, approved in the United States only for use in animal feed, popped in up in commercial taco shells in 2000, forcing a nationwide recall of hundreds of supermarket products. When GE wheat appeared on an Oregon farm in 2013, USDA launched an investigation that linked the herbicide-resistant crop to agricultural chemical giant Monsanto. The event caused several Asian countries to postpone imports, though the agency ultimately found no evidence that GE wheat had entered the commercial market.In this case, USDA says it isn’t planning to pursue or punish flower firms for what seems to be an honest mistake with few implications for international trade. And it’s also unlikely to do the difficult forensics that would be necessary to trace the links between the modern petunia varieties and their ancestors. Biotech conglomerate Sandoz, which owned Zaadunie when the GE petunia was first developed, merged to form Novartis in 1996, which then joined its agribusiness with AstraZeneca’s in 2000 to form Syngenta.“I don’t know what happened between 1987 and today, but somewhere along the line, it would seem that somebody lost sight of the fact that the original color breakthrough in question here had been achieved through genetic modification,” says Craig Regelbrugge, senior vice president in the Washington, D.C., office of the trade group AmericanHort. And companies often use their competitors’ varieties to develop new ones, he notes. “Nobody would have ever thought to check” for foreign genes, he says.Challenges to comeThe petunias are likely an isolated case—not harbingers of more stealthy GE flower discoveries to come, Regelbrugge says, but as genetic engineering becomes more common in the industry, seed companies may begin to track GE varieties more carefully.Detecting engineered plants is only likely to get harder. Varieties made with newer gene-editing technologies—such as CRISPR, for example—may not contain any definitive evidence of tinkering. Meanwhile, APHIS is mulling draft regulations—still in early stages of public comment—under which the presence of plant pest DNA alone would no longer trigger oversight. Strict regulation of a product based simply on the method that produced it is “quite irrational,” says Teeri, who hopes to publish a paper on his discovery of the GE petunias.Teeri also wonders whether the petunias will offer a more sympathetic emblem of genetically modified organisms that have aroused strong opposition in both the United States and Europe. Unlike large-scale agricultural crops engineered to benefit farmers, orange GE petunias focus on “a consumer trait,” he says. “The consumer has chosen to buy it because it’s beautiful.”U.S. consumers aren’t being asked to rip the GE petunias from their yards and planters, but even those that evade destruction won’t survive the winter in most parts of North America, so are likely to be history by next spring.Correction, 5/26/17, 2:58 p.m.: As a result of an editor’s error, petunias were identified as an annual plant. According to Eulalia Palomo of the website hunker.com, petunias are “often referred to and grown as annuals” but “are technically warm climate perennials. They grow year round in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11.” By Kelly ServickMay. 24, 2017 , 3:45 PM Teemu Teeri The controversy didn’t deter S&G Seeds, an affiliate of the Dutch seed company Zaadunie, from licensing the technology. And in 1995 it reported creating petunias with more stable gene expression—and a vivid orange color—fit for commercial breeding. Another company, Rogers NK, also collaborating with Zaadunie, won clearance from U.S. regulators for an orange petunia field trial in Florida. But the companies apparently never commercialized the variety, Meyer says—whether because of unfriendly public perceptions, regulatory hurdles, or simple economics. “I had almost forgotten about it.”Because he knew that history, Teeri was initially flummoxed by the orange blooms he saw at the Helsinki train station. “This petunia was sort of cheating me, fooling my eye,” he recalls. “There must be a yellow pigment on top” that created the orange appearance, he thought. But months later his tests revealed a DNA insert matching what the 1987 paper described. Other orange petunia seed varieties he bought online also had the tell-tale alterations.Teeri then made a decision he now regrets: spilling the beans to a former Ph.D. student who had taken a job as a regulator at the Finnish Board for Gene Technology. “I told too much,” he says. “I should have asked a hypothetical question,” about what would happen if regulators discovered GE petunias that had not gone through the proper regulatory channels. On 27 April, Evira, Finland’s food safety body, called for eight petunia varieties to be removed from the market. Other European nations also began investigations.last_img read more

Underwater network hunts for mysterious slow quakes

first_imgSlow slip events were discovered less than 2 decades ago in the Cascadia subduction zone off the coast of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia in Canada; they have since been observed in subduction zones around the world. “They’re pretty widespread and a really fundamental part of how faults work,” says Laura Wallace, a geophysicist at the University of Texas in Austin and the research company GNS Science in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. But they can easily pass unnoticed. 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YOU/SCIENCE; (DATA) VLADIMIR KOSTOGLODOV On a dimly lit loading dock at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, geophysicist Víctor Cruz-Atienza heaves the lid off a wooden crate to reveal a device that could help solve a geophysical mystery. Peeking through the packing material is the yellow body of a wave glider, an aquatic drone that’s the size and shape of a chunky surfboard with underwater wings and that can trace programmed paths across the ocean’s surface. Next week, Cruz-Atienza and colleagues from Mexico and Japan will embark on a cruise to place sensors on the sea floor off the Mexican state of Guerrero. Then they’ll release the wave glider to roam overhead, gathering sensor data that could indicate whether stresses that might one day produce a big earthquake are building up on the sea floor—or quietly dissipating.The sensors are part of a $6 million network, funded jointly by Mexico and Japan, that includes nearly 70 new seismometers and GPS stations on land, as well as on the sea floor. What it reveals could affect tens of millions of people. Most of central Mexico’s Pacific coast roils with earthquakes as the ocean’s tectonic plates force their way underneath the continental plate of North America. But a 130-kilometer stretch of Guerrero’s coast has been seismically silent for more than 100 years (see map, below).Researchers have long feared that stress is mounting in the so-called Guerrero gap, and that the accumulated energy could one day unleash an earthquake of magnitude 8 or more. That could topple buildings as far away as Mexico City, which is still reeling from a magnitude-7.1 earthquake on 19 September that killed more than 300 people. But recently, a new hypothesis has emerged: Perhaps most of the Guerrero gap’s pressure has already been relieved by puzzling “slow slip events,” in which swaths of Earth’s crust shift by several centimeters—not in seconds, as in ordinary earthquakes, but over weeks or months. Researchers practice deploying a wave glider that will help measure seismic strain off the Mexican coast. LIQUID ROBOTICS, A BOEING COMPANY Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Plugging the gap New underwater sensors off the coast of the Mexican state of Guerrero will reveal whether slow earthquakes are relieving stress in a feared seismic gap, bypassed by major earthquakes for more than a century. Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Underwater network hunts for mysterious slow quakes “Guerrero is one of the best places to do slow earthquake science,” says Yoshihiro Ito, a seismologist at Kyoto University in Japan and Cruz-Atienza’s co–principal investigator. Vladimir Kostoglodov, a UNAM geophysicist, already has observed what appears to be pressure-relieving slow slip there: Landbased GPS stations near Guerrero’s coast gradually shift northeast over several years, a sign that the continental plate is deforming and building up stress under the pressure of the oceanic plate. But every 3.5 to 4 years, the stations are carried back to nearly their starting points by what appears to be a slow slip event, moving an average distance of about 10 centimeters over 6 months. So much land shifts during these events that they can release as much energy as a magnitude-7.6 earthquake—but slowly and harmlessly.Yet slow slips can be “a double-edged sword,” Wallace says, relieving stress in one place only to displace it and boost quake risk elsewhere. In 2014, a slow slip event redistributed seismic stress just northwest of the Guerrero gap and triggered a magnitude-7.3 earthquake, according to a 2016 paper in Nature Geoscience. Slow slip events have also preceded major quakes in Japan and Chile.Scientists hope the new seafloor network will give them a detailed look at whether the terrestrial slow slip events they’ve observed extend to the marine trench where the oceanic and continental plates meet. If not, an earthquake there remains a risk—and would likely trigger a tsunami that could devastate Acapulco and other coastal communities. “Better understanding the likelihood of tsunami-generating earthquakes on the offshore plate boundaries is critically important. And what these guys are doing [in Mexico] is really the only way to get at that,” Wallace says.The research cruise, which will run from 10 to 23 November, is timed to what should be the beginning of Guerrero’s next slow slip event, 3 years and 9 months after the last one. “We’re hoping that we can catch it,” says Vala Hjörleifsdóttir, a seismologist at UNAM. She, Cruz-Atienza, and Ito will deploy the wave glider, which will determine the precise position of a point on the sea floor using data transmitted by sonar from the sensors plus positional information from GPS satellites.When the researchers return next year, they will be able to see whether that point has moved, reflecting the deformation of the sea floor due to the grinding of the tectonic plates—and, if they’re lucky, the reverse action of a slow quake. If slow slip has kept the point from moving northeastward, it would show that such events are relieving pressure near the trench—and Mexico can breathe a little easier.last_img read more

Watch this sheep spot a celebrity almost as well as a human

first_img By Virginia MorellNov. 7, 2017 , 7:01 PM Watch this sheep spot a celebrity almost as well as a human can Sheep never forget a face, especially if it belongs to a celebrity. In a new study, scientists trained eight female Welsh mountain sheep to recognize photos of four celebrities: actress Emma Watson, former U.S. President Barack Obama, actor Jake Gyllenhaal, and U.K. newsreader Fiona Bruce. After a few days of being rewarded for correctly choosing the stars’ images over those of unfamiliar people displayed on side-by-side computer screens, the animals could distinguish the celebrities with about 80% accuracy. Most significantly, the sheep could also pick out Watson and company if they saw pictures of them from a different perspective (with their faces tilted to the left or right, for example), this time with about 67% accuracy, the team reports today in Royal Society Open Science. That’s not much worse than humans, whose accuracy drops from about 90% to 76% in similar tests. The work shows that sheep have advanced face-recognition talents similar to those of humans and some other primates. The animals could be helpful in investigating neurodegenerative ailments such as Huntington and Parkinson’s diseases, which cause patients to have difficulty learning unfamiliar faces, the scientists say.last_img read more

Even fruit flies succumb to cultural dating pressures

first_img 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 Even fruit flies succumb to cultural dating pressures The team also tested how reliably preferences were passed to the next generation by placing 12 observers in the center of a hexagonal container surrounded by six demonstrators who went exclusively for either pink or green males. In the next round of mating, the first observers to mate became the demonstrators. Over the course of 36 trials, the pink or green preference “trickled down” to the eighth generation of flies before they started to choose randomly again.But when groups were bigger than 30 flies per generation, the team found—using computer simulations—that the inherited preference was much more likely to persist and snowball over thousands of generations.The scientists want to use their results to probe both the genetics and brain circuitry behind the flies’ social learning; they also hope to test the phenomenon of cultural inheritance in wild insect populations, and see whether they can discover any hidden cultural traditions in species beyond large mammals and birds. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Frankie SchembriNov. 29, 2018 , 2:00 PMcenter_img Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Fruit flies might not sing songs, make art, or don traditional garments, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have culture. New evidence suggests female fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) can create unique dating customs based on the partners they see other female fruit flies select.Cultural traditions—the traits and behaviors that are handed down across generations and spread through social learning—have been found in the grooming patterns of certain apes and the songs of some whales and birds. But scientists had little proof that smaller creatures such as insects could have culture.So researchers set up a series of experiments in which one “observer” female fruit fly watched a “demonstrator” fly pick between two males that differed only in their artificial color—pink or green. When it was their turn to mate, observers chose the same color of mate more than 70% of the time, compared with random chance, researchers report today in Science.last_img read more

Oldest evidence of marijuana use discovered in 2500yearold cemetery in peaks of

first_imgOldest evidence of marijuana use discovered in 2500-year-old cemetery in peaks of western China TAJIKISTAN Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Today, more than 150 million people regularly smoke cannabis, making it one of the world’s most popular recreational drugs. But when and where humans began to appreciate the psychoactive properties of weed has been more a matter of speculation than science. Now, a team led by archaeologists Yang Yimin and Ren Meng of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing reports clear physical evidence that mourners burned cannabis for its intoxicating fumes on a remote mountain plateau in Central Asia some 2500 years ago.The study, published today in Science Advances, relies on new techniques that enable researchers to identify the chemical signature of the plant and even evaluate its potency. “We are in the midst of a really exciting period,” says team member Nicole Boivin of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) in Jena, Germany. The paper is part of a wider effort to track how the drug spread along the nascent Silk Road, on its way to becoming the global intoxicant it is today.Cannabis, also known as hemp or marijuana, evolved about 28 million years ago on the eastern Tibetan Plateau, according to a pollen study published in May. A close relative of the common hop found in beer, the plant still grows wild across Central Asia. More than 4000 years ago, Chinese farmers began to grow it for oil and for fiber to make rope, clothing, and paper. The cannabis burned 2500 years ago at the Jirzankal cemetery, 3000 meters high in the Pamir Mountains in far western China, was different. Excavations there have uncovered skeletons and wooden plates, bowls, and Chinese harps, as well as wooden braziers that held burning material. All are typical of the Sogdians, a people of western China and Tajikistan who generally followed the Persian faith of Zoroastrianism, which later celebrated the mind-expanding properties of cannabis in sacred texts. At Jirzankal, glass beads typical of Western Asia and silk from China confirm the long-distance trade for which the Sogdians became famous, and isotopic analysis of 34 skeletons showed that nearly a third were migrants. Radiocarbon analysis put the burials at about 500 B.C.E.The wooden braziers were concentrated in the more elite tombs. Yang’s and Ren’s team ground bits of brazier into powder and applied gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify chemical compounds left behind. They found unusually high levels of THC compared with typical wild cannabis, although much less than in today’s highly bred plants. The cannabis was apparently burned in an enclosed space, so mourners almost certainly inhaled THC-laced fumes, the authors say, making this the earliest solid evidence of cannabis use for psychoactive purposes. Pinpointing when people began to take advantage of hemp’s psychoactive properties has proved tricky. Archaeologists had made claims of ritual cannabis burning in Central Asian sites as far back as 5000 years ago. But new analyses of those plant remains by other teams suggest that early cannabis strains had low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant’s most powerful psychoactive component, and so lacked mind-altering properties. One academic who works in Central Asia said he and colleagues tried to smoke and eat wild varieties—but got no buzz. Ancient people put cannabis leaves and hot stones in this brazier, and likely inhaled the resulting smoke. 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DESAI/SCIENCE Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The region’s high altitude could have stressed the cannabis, creating plants naturally high in THC, says co-author Robert Spengler, also of MPI-SHH. “It is quite likely that people came across cannabis plants at higher elevations that were naturally producing higher THC levels,” he says. But humans may also have intervened to breed a more wicked weed, he adds.”The methods are convincing, and the data are unambiguous regarding early use of cannabis as a psychoactive substance,” says Tengwen Long, an environmental scientist at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom who has researched cannabis origins. But Megan Cifarelli, an art historian at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, who has studied ancient drug use, notes the aromatic fumes might also have had another purpose: to mask the smell of a putrefying corpse.Yang’s and Ren’s team thinks cannabis use was restricted to elites until potent pot began to spread across Central Asia through the Silk Road linking China with Iran. In 440 B.C.E., the Greek historian Herodotus wrote that the nomadic Scythians, who controlled vast areas from Siberia to Eastern Europe, made tents and heated rocks in order to inhale hemp vapors that made them “shout for joy.” And Andrei Belinski, an archaeologist based at the heritage museum in Stavropol, Russia, in 2013 began to excavate a nearby 2400-year-old Scythian tomb that held gold vessels bearing residues of both opium and cannabis, supporting the idea that elites used the drug first.Ancient artwork and textual references from Syria to China hint at even earlier cannabis drug use, and the new analytical methods could soon provide concrete evidence of this, says Michael Frachetti, an archaeologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. But it’s already clear that the ancient Silk Road trafficked in more than spices, grains, and ideas. “Crops weren’t just about food,” he says. “They were also about making contact with another world.”last_img read more

Does a dark triad of personality traits make you more successful

first_img The dark side of human personality has long fascinated the public and psychologists alike. Research has linked unpleasant traits such as selfishness and a lack of empathy to a higher income and better odds of landing a date.But critics are starting to push back. In a new study, scientists argue such work is often superficial, statistically weak, and presents an overly simplistic view of human nature. Worse, they say it could have harmful implications in the real world by downplaying the damage dark personalities can cause.“The situation is cause for real concern,” says Josh Miller, a clinical psychologist at the University of Georgia in Athens. Researchers, he says, have focused “on attention-grabbing, provocative work without the necessary interpretative caution.” By David AdamMar. 12, 2019 , 10:45 AM The criticism focuses on research into the so-called dark triad of personalities. Two Canadian psychologists coined the term in 2002 to group together Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy: traits linked by callousness, manipulation, and a lack of empathy. Thousands of papers have been published on the topic since then, with 1700 last year alone.To capture all three, studies using the dark triad ask people to agree or disagree with statements such as “I have been compared to famous people” or “It’s not wise to tell your secrets.”Some studies have then tried to link a volunteer’s dark triad score with real-world metrics, such as salary, sexual behavior, and attitude toward co-workers. Many of these papers have been picked up by the press, with such headlines as “Why a little evil is good” and “Republicans have more psychopathic traits than Democrats.”Companies have gotten in on the action, too. In 2016, a U.K. firm advertised for a “Psychopathic New Business Media Sales Executive Superstar! £50k – £110k.” The advert claimed one in five CEOs were psychopaths, and said it wanted to find someone with “the positive qualities that psychopaths have.”But dark triad studies are often far too superficial to draw any meaningful conclusions, says Miller, who—with colleagues—has published a strong critique of the field on the preprint server PsyArXiv. It will soon appear in Current Directions in Psychological Science.Part of the problem, Miller says, is that these studies usually use only a handful of criteria to rate someone as, say, a narcissist, a Machiavellian, and a psychopath, whereas standard tests use dozens to justify even one of those designations. In addition, he notes, much of the dark triad work has been carried out on narrow groups such as undergraduates seeking course credits, leading to doubts about whether the results can be applied broadly, including to the workplace.The biggest flaw of dark triad research, however, is that it can oversimplify personality traits, Miller says, because the tests use so few criteria. A study might label someone a narcissist because they show high self-esteem, for example, even though many narcissistic attitudes—including a tendency to view others as rivals—are actually driven by low self-esteem. And the way academic researchers measure Machiavellianism in dark triad studies is problematic because it’s so different from how clinical experts do so in the field, he adds. Work on the dark triad, Miller says, needs to “take a really big step towards better quality.”Delroy Paulhus, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and co-author of the original dark triad paper, rejects many of Miller’s criticisms. He says, for example, that any personality test has to be simplified to work with the general population. “These kinds of criticisms can be made of any personality scale,” he says. Miller and others who have taken issue with the dark triad idea “resent its popularity,” he says.Minna Lyons, a psychologist at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom and author of a new book on the dark triad, acknowledges that the field is a “mess.” But she blames that on sloppy psychologists rather than fundamental weaknesses with the idea. She says her work shows psychopathy and Machiavellianism can both be accurately measured by the dark triad.Paulhus does agree with Miller that dark triad researchers need to work on a wider range of volunteers. And he says scientists in the field should try harder to confirm subjects’ personality traits, perhaps by bolstering their self-reported traits with second opinions from friends. “Lots of research on the dark triad out there is less than stellar.”All of this could help correct misconceptions playing out in the real world, says Ernest O’Boyle, associate professor of management at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington. He says many in the business community have become seduced by the idea—spread from flippant discussion in the research literature—that dark triad traits including psychopathy could have benefits, such as risk taking, which can influence hiring decisions.“It’s potentially damaging when we start to glorify what are socially adverse behaviors and attitudes,” O’Boyle says. People who show psychopathic behavior, he adds, “are not people you want to helm a company.” Does a ‘dark triad’ of personality traits make you more successful? Gary Waters/Getty Images 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. 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Watch a tiny worm make one of the loudest sounds in the

first_img By Kelly MayesJul. 9, 2019 , 3:25 PM Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) In an ocean filled with whales, sharks, and giant schools of fish, one of the loudest sounds comes from a 29-millimeter-long marine worm, new research reveals.The worms (Leocratides kimuraorum) were first discovered in 2017. They spend their lives in the crevices of hexactinellid sponges, often called glass sponges, off the coast of Japan. But it wasn’t until researchers brought them to the lab that they noticed how noisy they were.When the creatures fight, they wriggle toward each other, contract their bodies, and launch themselves headfirst at their opponent, the team found. They also make a loud popping noise that sounds like a champagne cork, underwater microphones revealed. Researchers say the popping sounds emitted by the worms are almost as loud as those of snapping shrimp, which produce sounds so powerful they can break small glass jars. 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 Zimbabwecenter_img Email Watch a tiny worm make one of the loudest sounds in the ocean The worms are otherwise silent, even when the researchers tried to aggravate them. Normally, creatures making a noise like this use a hard structure at some point on their anatomy, like the snapping shrimp, which produces a loud noise by closing its claws rapidly. L. kimuraorum is different in that it is able to generate enough pressure in its body to emit the sound through a simple muscle contraction, the team reports this week in Current Biology.This is the first recorded instance of a soft-bodied organism or any other mollusk making a loud underwater noise, the team says. The researchers say that although the popping sound could just be due to rapid movements in the attack, it could also be a call to other worms of the same species to let them know they are under attack. Regardless, their roar makes these soft-bodied creatures seem awfully tough.last_img read more

Worlds First Painting Produced By Artificial Intelligence Fetches Huge Sum

first_imgThe first “painting” to be produced by artificial intelligence fetched nearly half a million dollars after an auction held by Christie’s in late October 2018. The portrait of “Edmond De Belamy” sold for $432,500, or 43.5 times the estimated price, Christie’s said in a statement. It is the first piece of Artificial Intelligence art sold at a major auction house.The new owner is an anonymous phone bidder, who won it after “a battle between three phone bidders, an online participant in France and one gentleman in the room,” the statement continued.A genuine Picasso print in the same auction sold for about the same price as the AI painting.A section work of art created by an algorithm by French collective named OBVIOUS which produces art using artificial intelligence, is titled ‘Portrait of Edmond de Belamy’ (estimate: $7,000-10,000) at Christies in New York on October 22, 2018. Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty ImagesThe AI portrait is of a gentleman dressed in black and framed in gold, resembling a work from the 18th or 19th century. But up close the face is fuzzy and the picture looks unfinished. Instead of an artist’s signature, it has the stamp of a mathematical formula on the bottom right of the painting.“The art was created by a French collective of artists and artificial intelligence researchers called Obvious with code mostly borrowed from a 19-year-old AI artist and programmer named Robbie Barrat,” according to Adweek. “The group fed a system called a Generative Adversarial Network with a data set of 15,000 pieces painted between the 14th and 20th centuries.One component of the network would then paint its own work based on what it saw and try to fool another algorithm, which was programmed to tell the difference between real and algorithmically generated art.”Pierre Fautrel, co-founder of the team of French entrepreneurs called OBVIOUS which produces art using artificial intelligence, stands next to a work of art created by an algorithm titled ‘Portrait of Edmond de Belamy.’ Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty ImagesAfter the sale, Obvious released a statement: “We would like to thank the A.I. community, especially to those who have been pioneering the use of this new technology, including Ian Goodfellow, the creator of the GAN algorithm, who inspired the name of the Famille de Belamy series, and artist Robbie Barrat.”Collective member Pierre Fautrel said to ABC News, “We are really fascinated by the power of algorithms. We begin to discuss, if you create art like this, is this art?”The subject of the painting, Edmond Belamy, is a member of a fictional family of 11 of the collective’s machine-created portraits that resemble the type of aristocrats you might see in classical European portraiture, said Adweek. “While the complexities of facial features typically make portraits tougher for computers to mimic than other forms, the collective felt it was the best way to show off their algorithm’s proficiency, according to Hugo Caselles-Dupré of Obvious.”Le Marquis de Belamy. Photo by ObviousRichard Lloyd, International Head of Prints and Multiples at Christie’s, persuaded the collective to put the print up for sale in order to advance the debate about artificial intelligence in art. “I know it’s a debate that’s going on quite widely, I thought that in a way this marked a watershed — or slightly a tipping point,” he told AFP.Christie’s had an interesting analysis of the painting: “The portrait in its gilt frame depicts a portly gentleman, possibly French and — to judge by his dark frockcoat and plain white collar — a man of the church. The work appears unfinished: the facial features are somewhat indistinct and there are blank areas of canvas. Oddly, the whole composition is displaced slightly to the north-west.”Le Cardinal De Belamy. Photo by ObviousThe sale of the painting has some people talking about the Singularity, the theory that one day an artificial intelligence will emerge and completely change humanity and the world itself. This idea reached popular culture in the film The Terminator.But as Christie’s writer pointed out, this painting highlights the genuine limitations of the AI program in art.“It departs from a human idea of an 18th-century portrait. There is something weirdly contemporary about him: he looks unnervingly like one of Glenn Brown’s art-historical appropriations.”Read another story from us: Artistic Battles used to be an Olympic SportExperts concluded that portrait painting is an extremely tough genre for AI to excel at, since humans are highly attuned to the curves and complexities of a face in a way that a machine cannot be, said Christie’s.last_img read more

Old Mill Cultural Centre hosts literary cultural and art Expo

first_imgShareTweetSharePinCultural Officer, Carlton HenryThe Old Mill Cultural Centre hosted an Expo on Wednesday to display a number of Dominica’s publications, artwork and cultural events.The Expo held on the grounds of the Government Headquarters featured publication of books of Dominica’s traditional dress, Dominica’s Folk songs, special publications of independence magazines, magazines on the Kalinago heritage and the latest publication which was launched today, Dominica Heritage Volume 3 which are old photos of special events, venues and people. “Today we decided to have an open day of all the publication and artwork that is being done at the Old Mill Cultural Centre,” Cultural Officer at the Cultural Division, Carlton Henry told Dominica News Online (DNO) during an interview. “Because really and truly we are at the Old Mill; people know that we are doing it but it’s like sometimes the evidence don’t show.”He continued, “Today, we decided to come here at the Government Headquarters to have an in-your-face event where people actually get to see what is going on at the Old Mill.”“We wanted to keep history alive so the best we could do was document it,” Henry stated. “It’s a while we haven’t done an Expo like that.”He ad that seeing the way people came forward and showed interest, “I believe it’s something we should take up every year or at least twice a year…”Carlton revealed that the Division is working on the publication of a creole dictionary.“We recently ran out of copies of the creole dictionary and we are presently working on a new publication that should be out by the end of this year or sometime next year,” he revealed.last_img read more

Merrill Young sworn in as Holbrooks mayor

first_imgJune 6, 2019 Merrill Young sworn in as Holbrook’s mayor Photo by Linda KorHolbrook City Clerk Cher Reyes (left) swears in Holbrook mayor Merrill Young (right) during the Holbrook City Council meeting. center_img Photo by Linda Kor The four members of the Holbrook City Council who retained their seats were sworn in by City Clerk Cher Reyes (left) on March 28. Pictured are (left to right) Francie Payne,Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Adlast_img

Chandigarh Congress youth wing launches drive to encircle potholes

first_imgBy Express News Service |Chandigarh | Published: July 16, 2019 1:14:23 pm Advertising RLD launches ‘selfie with gaddha’ drive to expose UP roads’ condition Harmail Kesri, who led the drive, said their aim is to caution people regarding these potholes as many commuters have been facing a tough time due to their presence on city roads.”“ Have the senior officials ever conducted a check? Have they ever asked their drivers to take their official vehicle to other roads of the stretch? Their (officers) visit remains confined only from their house to their office, where potholes will never surface because even if they do, they are repaired immediately. Only the common man is left to suffer,” he said.The condition of the road is pathetic near the light of St Kabir School in Sector 26 and one is in for a bumpy ride throughout the stretch of the road, leading straight to Raj Bhawan. However, the road ahead of Raj Bhawan is smooth and well re-carpeted. Post Comment(s) Kesri added, “ At Mauli Jagran light point, some traffic police officers came to us and even appreciated our efforts. They told us that commuters have been facing a lot of problem due to the potholed roads which have been left unattended by the MC officials.”The volunteers stated that if the officials do not treat these potholed roads, they will even hold a protest.“ These roads have been constructed recently and big craters have already appeared. These potholes are in fact potholes of corruption. One can clearly smell where the public money has gone,” Kesri added. Advertising Bengaluru potholes claim fourth victim this month: A 21-year-old woman on scooter Chandigarh, Chandigarh news, Congress youth, Congress youth wing chandigarh, potholes, chandigarh rains, city news, Indian express The volunteers stated that if the officials do not treat these potholed roads, they will even hold a protest. (Express Photo)Members of Congress youth wing on Monday encircled potholes on different roads of the city and termed them ‘potholes of corruption’. The drive to encircle the potholes began Monday morning and was carried out in Mauli Jagran, slip road from Transport light towards Sector 28, along with various other sectors. Related News Mumbai man, whose son died in accident, fills potholes to save others last_img read more

Saudi Arabia granted women the right to drive A year on its

first_img FILE — Hessah Alajaji in her car, hours before Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers official lifted, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Tasneem Alsultan/The New York Times)Written by Megan Specia Saudi Arabia’s new US ambassador is a princess with an impossible job One killed, several wounded in Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia airport Officials say they have issued tens of thousands of driver’s licenses to Saudi women since last year. A handful of driving schools catering to women have popped up and dozens of women have shared celebratory photos with their licenses in hand.Car manufacturers have created advertising campaigns aimed at Saudi women, with experts saying the lifting of the ban could transform the country’s automotive industry.Rawan Radwan, a reporter for Arab News, an English-language news outlet based in Riyadh, shared a video from behind the wheel in honor of the anniversary.“I am commuting to work today, just getting my coffee, it’s a good time,” she said. “Congratulations to every female driver in Saudi Arabia.” “Mohammed bin Salman has consistently pledged to support a more ‘moderate’ version of Islam,” he said, “while his country maintains a prosecution service that seeks the death penalty against religious reformers for expressing their peaceful ideas.” After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Advertising Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Advertising More Explained Advertising Donald Trump shrugs off killing of Khashoggi by Saudi agents Human rights groups say that while it is important to celebrate the milestone for female drivers, these activists should not be forgotten.Yahya Assiri, the director ALQST, a human rights group, said in a statement that rather than being a cause for celebration, “this anniversary is unfortunately instead a sad and timely reminder that the many women who fought so bravely for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, including the right to drive itself, are still being punished for their activism.”Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent figure in the push to allow women to drive, was detained in May 2018 and is still behind bars. Her sister Lina al-Hathloul, who lives in Belgium, said that her trial finally began in Riyadh this March, though a later hearing was abruptly postponed.Among the charges against al-Hathloul are that she sought to undermine the security of the kingdom, which her sister said stemmed from al-Hathloul’s contacts with foreign journalists, and accusations that she applied for a job at the United Nations.“I would like people to remember that these reforms wouldn’t have happened if Loujain and the others like her didn’t put their lives in danger,” Lina al-Hathloul said.“Driving is a really good thing for Saudi women,” she added. “But on the other hand, if they stop the reformers and put them in jail and torture them, we question the good of the reforms.”saudi arabia, saudi women, immigration, refugees, asylum, repatriation, united states, turkey, un high commissioner for refugees, human rights watch, world news, indian express news FILE — Women practice driving in Dammam, Saudi Arabia (Tasneem Alsultan/The New York Times)— Saudi women still face strict guardianship laws.Some activists detained last year were also campaigning for an end to Saudi Arabia’s guardianship laws, which have long kept women out of public life.The guardianship laws are legal codes based on an austere Saudi interpretation of Islam. Beginning in 2017, a series of royal decrees loosened some restrictions — such as those on owning businesses and renting — and allowed for more mixing of the sexes in public spaces like movie theaters and sports arenas. But many constraints remain.Under the system, a girl’s father is her legal guardian; once a woman is married, her husband becomes her guardian. If her husband dies, guardianship transfers to her son or another male family member. A woman who goes against her guardian’s wishes can be arrested on charges of disobedience.Saudi women do not need their guardian’s approval to get a driver’s license, but they do need permission to marry, enroll in school and university, and apply for a passport.— Other abuses have overshadowed reforms.Even as Prince Mohammed has vowed to return Saudi Arabia to a more moderate Islam and continues to push reforms, international monitors say human rights abuses in the country have not slowed, with arbitrary detentions and disproportionate punishments doled out frequently.The 2018 killing of the dissident Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul has been linked to the crown prince, and has cast his leadership in a new light. A recent U.N. report concluded that the destruction of evidence following Khashoggi’s death “could not have taken place without the crown prince’s awareness.”Rights groups have denounced a Saudi-led coalition’s continued war in Yemen, which has left the country in a humanitarian crisis. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the trial of a Saudi religious reformist thinker, Hassan Farhan al-Maliki, drawing more condemnation. Michael Page, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said that in order to truly reform, Saudi Arabia’s ruling family needed to allow for freedom of expression. Related News In March 2019, Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Bassami, a top Saudi transportation official, said that at least 70,000 women had been issued driver’s licenses, according to a report in the Saudi Gazette. Seven driving schools for women have opened, the report said.The ban was lifted amid a wide-scale public relations push, but the Saudi government has released few hard figures about the growth of female driving in country. The Saudi government did not respond to requests for updated figures on the number of women driving and the number of driving schools for them, and calls to the General Department of Traffic went unanswered.— Women’s rights activists are still being detained.Just weeks before the driving ban was lifted, at least 11 women’s rights activists were arrested in a sweeping crackdown. In subsequent weeks, more were detained and many were later charged with crimes related to their activism.Some have since been released on bail, while others have remained imprisoned for more than a year, enduring torture, according to rights groups. Many still await trials shrouded in secrecy. Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Post Comment(s) Saudi Arabia granted women the right to drive one year ago, a historic move that cracked open a window to new freedoms for women who have long lived under repressive laws. The measure was enacted by the country’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also eased other restrictions on women, leading some to hail him as a feminist reformer.But behind the celebrations lay larger issues. Despite renewed freedoms on the road, in the year since the ban was ended, Saudi women remain subject to strict guardianship laws that forbid them from making many basic decisions without the permission of a male relative.And some of the very activists who fought for their rights have been languishing behind bars. Here’s what to know a year after the ban on female drivers was lifted.— Tens of thousands of Saudi women are driving. Taking stock of monsoon rain Best Of Express By New York Times | Published: June 25, 2019 7:50:39 amlast_img read more

Theresa May is resigning as UK premier and shes not going quietly

first_img After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Related News Post World Cup win: England basks in deflected glory Advertising More Explained Best Of Express Theresa May is resigning as UK premier, and she’s not going quietly Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the House of Commons in London (File/UK Parliament/Roger Harris/Handout via REUTERS)Theresa May will stand down as Britain’s prime minister next month but she is not giving up. With three weeks left before she hands over to someone else, the premier is busier than ever trying to build an ambitious legacy. May and her allies are painfully conscious of their defeat and failure to leave the country in a better state than she found it, according to a person familiar with the matter.The flood of announcements and diplomatic moves shows a glimpse of what May wanted to have achieved if she hadn’t been focused on her ultimately doomed efforts to deliver Brexit, the person said.Asked when she knew her time was over, May said she tried everything she could think of to get her Brexit deal through a vote in the House of Commons, including offering to resign earlier than planned. “Sadly, even that did not bring the votes for it,” she said.Her impatient party wanted her gone immediately, so she resigned. An internal Tory party election to choose a replacement is now under way, with Johnson and Hunt, the foreign secretary, competing for the top job.Not Going Anywhere Donald Trump blasts ‘foolish’ UK PM May and her ‘wacky’ envoy over leaked memos By Bloomberg | Published: June 30, 2019 8:04:48 am May said her commitment to reducing U.K. greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” was a good example of the work that she needs to do. Other initiatives she has championed recently include efforts to boost housing, reforming marriage rules, and changing how overseas aid is spent.But her hyper-activity also suggests she knows her time is running out — and is perhaps a psychological rebound from the shock of losing the job she loved.May was pushed to quit as leader of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party last month after failing three times to get her Brexit deal through Parliament. In an emotional statement outside her 10 Downing Street offices, May announced she was reluctantly resigning and the country will need a new prime minister.DoomedShe broke down at the end of that speech, as she walked back in through the famous black door of Number 10. Her officials watching were also distraught and the wounds are still sore. Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield May will stay on working for her constituents in the district she has represented since 1997 — and could even stay on to fight the next general election in 2022.“I’m certainly going to be continuing as the MP for Maidenhead — I’m going to stay in Parliament and play my role by my own constituents,” May said. “I’m expecting the next election will be in 2022 and I haven’t ruled out standing in that next election.” Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Advertising Post Comment(s) Explained: What will UK PM May’s successor Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt do about Brexit May flew to Japan for the Group of 20 summit this week, where she tried to persuade Vladimir Putin to stop destabilizing the world and Donald Trump to tackle climate change.She also hinted she won’t be a silent passenger when she rejoins the Conservative Party’s lower ranks. When it comes to Brexit, May has warned she will not meekly follow orders from Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt — the two contenders to replace her — if they try to take Britain out of the European Union with no deal.“Look, government is continuing,” May told reporters on her trip to Japan when challenged to justify committing money to legacy projects. “I’ve still got work to do as prime minister until I handover to my successor.” Taking stock of monsoon rain last_img read more

Closing in on a centuryold mystery scientists are figuring out what the

first_img Villus Goblet cell Tuft enoughTuft cells are odd-looking cells that use tastereceptors and other surface proteins to sensepathogens, then release chemical messengersthat trigger multiple responses.Weep and sweepTuft cells help eliminate gut pathogens by releasing interleukin-25 (IL-25), which stimulates mucus-producinggoblet cells, recruits immune cells, and leads to muscle contractions.TuftlessMice whose tuft cells are missing or impairedproduce less IL-25 than normal mice and havetrouble clearing para- sites from the intestines. Immune cells While poring over tissue slides in the 1920s, a Soviet microscopist spotted an oddball cell squeezed into the intestinal lining. With its bulbous shape and bristly top knot, it didn’t look like any of its neighbors. He was baffled—and so were later researchers who spotted the same kind of cells in the following decades. What they did was a mystery. “It was amazing to me that this huge piece of biology was out there undiscovered,” says mucosal immunologist Michael Howitt of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who began to study those tuft cells, as they are called, in 2011.What was known about them only made the mystery more tantalizing. Some tuft cells display the same chemical-sensing surface proteins that act as taste receptors on the tongue. And the cells station themselves in the linings of many body structures and organs—not only the intestines, but also the lungs, pancreas, gallbladder, urethra, and nasal passages. “Almost any hollow tube in the body has something like a tuft cell,” says immunologist Mark Anderson of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). But why would the pancreas or urethra possibly need a sense of taste?Now, a wave of recent research reveals a reason. Tuft cells serve as sentinels along the body’s invasion routes, relying on their sensory capabilities to detect pathogens and allergens that are inhaled or trying to infiltrate in other ways. Although not part of the immune or nervous system—they are a type of epithelial cell—tuft cells interact with those systems to help coordinate protective responses in many parts of the body, scientists have found. Epithelial cells Closing in on a century-old mystery, scientists are figuring out what the body’s ‘tuft cells’ do The cells’ responsibilities appear to go beyond guard duty. In 2014, Timothy Wang, a gastrointestinal and cancer researcher at Columbia University Medical Center, and colleagues were probing tuft cells’ function by testing genetically modified mice whose tuft cells die when exposed to the diphtheria toxin. To their surprise, dosing the animals with the toxin to eliminate their intestinal tuft cells produced no obvious ill effects. But when the researchers stimulated colitis or triggered other types of intestinal injury in mice lacking tuft cells, the animals quickly perished. Unlike unaltered rodents, those animals could not refurbish their damaged intestines, indicating the cells help orchestrate tissue repair.Another organ in which the cells may perform unexpected jobs is the thymus, where some kinds of immune cells mature and learn not to attack the body’s own tissues. Anderson and colleagues were tracking the varieties of epithelial cells in the part of the thymus where that education takes place when they found “goofy cells with taste receptors” that they didn’t recognize. Anderson then ran into Locksley in a hallway at UCSF, who had a pretty good idea what they were. The cells had a tuft, and an analysis of gene activity confirmed them as the enigmatic cells.After teaming with Locksley and von Moltke, Anderson’s group showed that the thymus’s tuft cells carry surface proteins that are key to teaching young immune cells not to target the body’s own proteins. The team reported its finding in Nature last year, along with a second group that had independently found similar results. The researchers aren’t sure what tuft cells are sensing in the thymus, however.Cancer concernsMuch about the cells remains fuzzy—including the function of the namesake tuft. The cells are most abundant in the gallbladder, but nobody knows what they are doing there. And researchers are still trying to understand the cells’ roles—protective or harmful—in disease. Cancer biologist Kathleen DelGiorno of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California, notes that in mice, tuft cells appear in the pancreas after it is injured and seem to promote healing. They may prevent lesions, which some patients harbor for many years, from becoming aggressive tumors. “Tuft cells inhibiting the immune system might be one reason why these lesions persist but don’t progress,” DelGiorno says.Yet some work suggests tuft cells in the pancreas are themselves the source of tumors there. And stronger evidence reveals the cells can help instigate tumors in other organs. In their 2014 study, Wang and colleagues studied genetically modified mice whose tuft cells lack the tumor-suppressor gene APC, which is faulty in most people with colon cancer. When the researchers gave the rodents a noxious compound that spurred colitis, the tuft cells began to proliferate and formed colon tumors.”I don’t think tuft cells are the primary source of colon cancer” in humans, Wang says, but they may on occasion spark the growths. The cells may also promote stomach cancer. When Wang and his team gave mice a chemical that induces stomach tumors, the number of tuft cells in the organ surged. Those cells poured out acetylcholine, which serves as a neurotransmitter in the nervous system but also stokes the initial growth of the tumors, the scientists reported in 2017.Other work is now hinting that tuft cells in our respiratory system drive conditions such as asthma, sinus inflammation, and nasal polyps, perhaps by releasing the same immune-stimulating molecules that trigger defenses against parasites.Tuft cells aren’t about to become a major target of medical treatments, but researchers are thinking about ways to harness them. In the nasal passages, for example, prodding tuft cells with bitter molecules might help combat sinus infections. Recent work shows that in mice with Crohn disease, tuft cells are less abundant in the most inflamed portions of the intestine, so stimulating the cells to divide might promote healing. In the airways, by contrast, blocking the cells might help ease asthma and allergy symptoms.It’s too early to say whether discoveries about tuft cells will pay off in medicine. But the recent revelations have dispelled the old view that tuft cells are, as Anderson puts it, just oddities that “medical students get quizzed about.”*Correction, 3 April, 2 p.m.: This story has been edited to remove the statement that tuft cells in nasal passages use IL-25 to stimulate other cells to release antimicrobial production (They appear to use calcium instead) At about the same time, Locksley and colleagues serendipitously arrived at the same conclusion. He and the other scientists hadn’t even heard of tuft cells when they began their experiments, recalls immunologist Jakob von Moltke, a former UCSF postdoc with Locksley who now runs a lab studying the cells at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. The group was trying to pin down which cells in the intestinal lining pump out interleukin-25 (IL-25), a protein signal that helps the body defend against parasites but also promotes allergy symptoms and asthma.The researchers analyzed intestinal tissues from mice genetically modified so that any cells making IL-25 also produced a red fluorescent protein. A few bright cells stood out, and antibodies specific for different kinds of intestinal cells revealed their identity. “That’s when we went and looked up what a tuft cell is,” von Moltke says. A third group led by researchers from France simultaneously discovered an antiparasite role for tuft cells in the intestine.The teams ultimately demonstrated that tuft cells are crucial for the body’s “weep and sweep” defense against parasites. In that mechanism, mucus-producing goblet cells in the intestinal lining divide rapidly and secrete copiously while muscle cells in the intestinal walls step up their contractions—all to help force the invaders from the body. Tuft cells that sense parasites discharge IL-25 to unleash those responses and stimulate immune cells; genetically altering mice to remove or disable their tuft cells impairs their ability to eliminate parasitic worms, the groups found.The cells strengthen gut defenses against parasites in a second way, as Locksley, von Moltke, and colleagues revealed last year. The responses of tuft cells to one kind of parasite help make it harder for additional parasites to infect the animals.How tuft cells in the intestines detect parasites remained unclear until 2018. It would be fitting if the interlopers tasted bitter to the cells, but intestinal tuft cells don’t rely on bitter taste receptors. Instead, three papers—including two on which von Moltke and Locksley are authors—showed the cells react to succinate, a metabolic molecule that worms and other parasites secrete. Tuft cells have receptors for succinate, but other, unidentified detectors also seem to be involved. Even giving the mice succinate in their water girds their defenses: “When we put the animals on succinate diets, they didn’t get colonized” by parasitic worms, Locksley says.Tuft cells also fend off invaders elsewhere in the body. Studies on rodents have shown that when tuft cells in the urethra recognize bitter or umami molecules or bacterial cells, they activate nerves that spur urination, flushing away potentially harmful microbes. Otolaryngologist Noam Cohen of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues determined that tuft cells in the nasal passages respond to bitter chemicals and spur neighboring cells to pump out bactericidal proteins. In rodents, but not people, nasal tuft cells can even temporarily halt breathing by stimulating a nerve that connects to the part of the brain that controls respiration. That might help stop inhalation of pathogens—a handy adaptation for animals constantly sticking their noses into dirty corners. V. ALTOUNIAN/SCIENCE 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 IL-25 IL-25 (GRAPHIC) V. ALTOUNIAN/SCIENCE; (DATA) S. STEELE ET AL.; TRENDS IN MOLECULAR MEDICINE, VOL. 22, 921, (2016) center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country On the lookout for parasites and likely other pathogens, tuft cells (blue) are stationed among the microvilli-capped cells of the intestinal lining and many other places in the body. MONIA MICHAUD Gut interior Tuft cell By Mitch LeslieMar. 28, 2019 , 1:00 PM Through their interplay with other cell types, tuft cells may confer other benefits as well, such as healing damaged tissues, forestalling cancer, and priming the maturation of certain immune system cells. But tuft cells can also betray us. They foster some cancers; offer a foothold to norovirus, the stomach-churning pathogen that causes more than 600 million cases of food poisoning each year; and help instigate inflammatory conditions such as asthma.The cells haven’t shed all their mysteries. What pathogen molecules tuft cells recognize, which chemical-sensing receptors they deploy, and how much they contribute to certain diseases remain uncertain, for example. Still, their role in defending the body and marshaling other cells suggests that “potentially, they are very important cells,” says UCSF immunologist Richard Locksley.Policing parasitesA clue to their function comes from their resemblance to tufted cells on the skin of fish that detect chemicals in the water, alerting the animals to nearby food or predators. “As mammals went ashore, these cells became internalized,” Locksley says. Besides their signature plume, tuft cells share with their forebears details of their internal structure and an aptitude for detection. They are well equipped to sample their surroundings, carrying receptors for the tastes of bitter, sweet, and umami as well as for other molecules.But researchers knew little about what tuft cells perceive and what benefits they provide until 2016. One study that helped clarify the cells’ function began when Howitt made a disturbing observation. Two years into his postdoc at Harvard University, he was probing potential interactions between tuft cells and intestinal bacteria. If tuft cells were attuned to those microbes, Howitt reasoned, the cells’ numbers might change in germ-free mice. To test that possibility, he counted tuft cells in the intestines of mice born and raised at Harvard’s animal facility in what was intended to be an environment free of infectious microbes and even the natural, helpful bacterial residents of the gut. As he examined intestinal tissue from the mice, however, Howitt noticed single-celled parasitic protozoa called Tritrichomonas muris sculling through the microscope’s field of view. The mice weren’t free of pathogens after all.”My response was not one of glee,” Howitt says. Tuft cells were about 20 times more abundant in the supposedly germ-free mice than in normal rodents. He worried that contamination by the parasite had affected the result and that he would have to start over. But when he and colleagues fed the protozoa-rich intestinal contents of their homegrown mice to parasite-free mice, tuft cell numbers surged. And when the researchers introduced the parasite into germ-free mice whose tuft cells couldn’t sense chemicals, that increase did not occur, implying that tuft cells normally act to detect protozoa, a potential threat, and proliferate. Mucus Parasite Fluorescent markers identify tuft cells (green) amid other cells of the intestinal villi. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Emaillast_img read more

China reacts guardedly as Hong Kong leader says extradition bill is dead

first_img Karnataka: SC to rule today, says Speaker’s powers need relook Related News The Chinese government has backed Lam’s move on June 15 to suspend the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 following violent protests by lakhs of people. After her plans to suspend the bill was rejected by protestors who continued to stage mass demonstrations, Lam on Tuesday announced that the widely-loathed move to allow extradition to the Chinese mainland “is dead” but again stopped short of protesters’ demands to completely withdraw the bill.“There are still lingering doubts about the government’s sincerity or worries (about) whether the government will restart the process with the Legislative Council,” she said in a press conference. “So I reiterate here, there is no such plan. The bill is dead,” she said.Asked how the Chinese central government views Lam’s announcement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters: “On June 15, after the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong decided to suspend the amendment, the Chinese government expressed its respect and understanding. I have nothing more to add for the time being”. ‘We’re almost extinct’: China’s investigative journalists are silenced under Xi While the suspension of the bill was seen as a major setback for China’s increasing hold over the former British colony Hong Kong which was returned to China by the UK in 1997, the continued large scale protests demanding its withdrawal raised concern here over the growing opposition to Beijing among the local people, especially students.Lam’s latest announcement too met with opposition from the protestors who demanded its complete withdrawal as it still remained dormant in the local legislature.“The bill is dead, is a political description and it is not a legislative language,” Civic Party lawmaker of Hong Kong Alvin Yeung told the BBC, adding that the bill is still in the process of second reading technically. “We have no idea why the chief executive refuses to adopt the word withdraw,” he said.One of the leading figures of the protest movement, student activist Joshua Wong, reiterated the demand for the bill to be “formally withdrawn” and accused Lam of using wordplay to “lie to the people of Hong Kong”.Critics of the legislation argue it would undermine the territory’s judicial independence and could be used to target those who speak out against the Chinese government, the BBC report said. Best Of Express Advertising Hong Kong, a former British colony, became a Special Administrative Region of China in 1997 when Britain’s 99-year lease expired. It has its own judiciary and a separate legal system from mainland China.The city is governed under the principle of “one country, two systems”, under which China has agreed to give it some autonomy and preserve its economic and social systems for 50 years from the date of the handover. There have been massive violent protests in Hong Kong over a controversial extradition law which the locals apprehend could be used to send political dissidents from Hong Kong to mainland China for prosecution.Hong Kong Chief Executive Lam, who came under intense criticism at home and abroad, had put off plans to pass the controversial legislation and apologised but the protests continued, calling for its complete withdrawal and her resignation. In undecided Congress, first open call for Priyanka: She should be party chief center_img Post Comment(s) Another Canadian detained in China amid diplomatic chill Advertising China, Carrie Lam, Extradition bill, China Extradition bill legislation, chinese extradition bill amendment, world news, Indian Express news Carrie Lam doubting the government’s sincerity on Tuesday reiterated “there is no such plan. The bill is dead”. (Representational Image)China on Tuesday reacted guardedly to Hong Kong’s embattled pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam’s declaration that the highly controversial plan to allow the extradition of Hongkongers to the mainland “is dead”, saying it has “nothing more to add” to its endorsement of her June 15 announcement to suspend it. China GDP growth slows to 6.2% in second quarter NRC deadline approaching, families stranded in Assam floods stay home By PTI |Beijing | Published: July 9, 2019 7:24:25 pmlast_img read more