Humans evolution rapidly evolving

Evolution Human

Evolution Human

 

Humans are evolving more rapidly than previously thought, according to the largest ever genetics study of a single population.

Scientists reached the conclusion after showing that almost every man alive can trace his origins to one common male ancestor who lived about 250,000 years ago. The discovery that so-called “genetic Adam”, lived about 100,000 years more recently than previously understood suggests that humans must have been genetically diverging at a more rapid rate than thought.

Kári Stefánsson, of the company deCODE Genetics and senior author of the study, said: “It means we have evolved faster than we thought.”

The study also shows that the most recent common male ancestor was alive at around the same time as “mitochondrial Eve” – the last woman to whom all females alive today can trace their mitochondrial DNA.

Unlike their biblical counterparts, genetic Adam and Eve were by no means the only humans alive, and although they almost certainly never met, the latest estimate which gives a closer match between their dates makes more sense, according to the researchers.

When the overall population size is stable – as it has been for long periods in the past – men have, on average, just one son, and women, just one daughter. This means that for any given man, there is a high chance that his paternal line will eventually come to an end. This means any male descendants, for instance his daughter’s son, would have Y-chromosomes inherited from other men. If you travelled back far enough in time, the theory goes, there would be only one man whose paternal line extends unbroken to the present day: this man is Y-chromosome Adam.

The researchers dated the existence of this man by comparing the Y-chromsomes of 753 Icelandic men, who were also grouped into 274 paternal lines. The researchers used a “molecular clock”, based on the number of DNA mutations that arise with each generation, to estimate Adam’s age.

The study, published in Nature Genetics, put the new age for genetic Adam at between 174,000 and 321,000 years ago. Genetic Eve is thought to have walked the Earth around 200,000 years ago: well within the new error margin for Adam.

“It gives us enormous confidence to have a timeline that is similar,” said Stefánsson.

Previous dates for ancestral Adam ranged from far more recent, just 50,000 years ago, right back to around 500,000 years ago, with some estimates showing major mismatches with the dating of ancestral Eve. Some researchers had suggested that polygamy could explain the gap, in the cases where Adam was more recent, by reducing the number of men who would pass on their Y-chromosome. Stefánsson describes this argument as a “crock of shit”. “The two sexes are inseparable,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how many women a man has children with – half of them will be boys and half girls.”

Agnar Helgason, also of deCODE, said the latest findings could help refine dates for major events during human evolution, such as when humans first migrated out of Africa and arrived in Europe. “We’re curious about where we came from and when,” he said. “This gives us a bit more solid information about when.”

Previous research also suggested that humans are evolving more quickly now than at any time since the split with the ancestors of modern chimpanzees 6m years ago. The study, by the University of Wisconsin, found that at least 7% of human genes have undergone recent evolution. Some of the changes included the emergence of fair skin and blue eyes in northern Europe, greater resistance to malaria in some African populations and the appearance of a gene that allows lactose to be digested.

 

Source:  theguardian.com

Scientists Closing in on Consciousness

 

 

Scientists Closing in on Theory of Consciousness

Scientists Closing in on Theory of Consciousness

Probably for as long as humans have been able to grasp the concept of consciousness, they have sought to understand the phenomenon.

Studying the mind was once the province of philosophers, some of whom still believe the subject is inherently unknowable. But neuroscientists are making strides in developing a true science of the self.

Here are some of the best contenders for a theory of consciousness.

Cogito ergo sum

Not an easy concept to define, consciousness has been described as the state of being awake and aware of what is happening around you, and of having a sense of self. [Top 10 Mysteries of the Mind]

The 17th century French philosopher René Descartes proposed the notion of “cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”), the idea that the mere act of thinking about one’s existence proves there is someone there to do the thinking.

Descartes also believed the mind was separate from the material body — a concept known as mind-body duality — and that these realms interact in the brain’s pineal gland. Scientists now reject the latter idea, but some thinkers still support the notion that the mind is somehow removed from the physical world.

But while philosophical approaches can be useful, they do not constitute testable theories of consciousness, scientists say.

“The only thing you know is, ‘I am conscious.’ Any theory has to start with that,” said Christof Koch, a neuroscientist and the chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Neuroscience in Seattle.

Correlates of consciousness

In the last few decades, neuroscientists have begun to attack the problem of understanding consciousness from an evidence-based perspective. Many researchers have sought to discover specific neurons or behaviors that are linked to conscious experiences.

Recently, researchers discovered a brain area that acts as a kind of on-off switch for the brain. When they electrically stimulated this region, called the claustrum, the patient became unconscious instantly. In fact, Koch and Francis Crick, the molecular biologist who famously helped discover the double-helix structure of DNA, had previously hypothesized that this region might integrate information across different parts of the brain, like the conductor of a symphony.

But looking for neural or behavioral connections to consciousness isn’t enough, Koch said. For example, such connections don’t explain why the cerebellum, the part of the brain at the back of the skull that coordinates muscle activity, doesn’t give rise to consciousness, while the cerebral cortex (the brain’s outermost layer) does. This is the case even though the cerebellum contains more neurons than the cerebral cortex.

Nor do these studies explain how to tell whether consciousness is present, such as in brain-damaged patients, other animals or even computers. [Super-Intelligent Machines: 7 Robotic Futures]

Neuroscience needs a theory of consciousness that explains what the phenomenon is and what kinds of entities possess it, Koch said. And currently, only two theories exist that the neuroscience community takes seriously, he said.

Integrated information

Neuroscientist Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed one of the most promising theories for consciousness, known as integrated information theory.

Understanding how the material brain produces subjective experiences, such as the color green or the sound of ocean waves, is what Australian philosopher David Chalmers calls the “hard problem” of consciousness. Traditionally, scientists have tried to solve this problem with a bottom-up approach. As Koch put it, “You take a piece of the brain and try to press the juice of consciousness out of [it].” But this is almost impossible, he said.

In contrast, integrated information theory starts with consciousness itself, and tries to work backward to understand the physical processes that give rise to the phenomenon, said Koch, who has worked with Tononi on the theory.

The basic idea is that conscious experience represents the integration of a wide variety of information, and that this experience is irreducible. This means that when you open your eyes (assuming you have normal vision), you can’t simply choose to see everything in black and white, or to see only the left side of your field of view.

Instead, your brain seamlessly weaves together a complex web of information from sensory systems and cognitive processes. Several studies have shown that you can measure the extent of integration using brain stimulation and recording techniques.

The integrated information theory assigns a numerical value, “phi,” to the degree of irreducibility. If phi is zero, the system is reducible to its individual parts, but if phi is large, the system is more than just the sum of its parts.

This system explains how consciousness can exist to varying degrees among humans and other animals. The theory incorporates some elements of panpsychism, the philosophy that the mind is not only present in humans, but in all things.

An interesting corollary of integrated information theory is that no computer simulation, no matter how faithfully it replicates a human mind, could ever become conscious. Koch put it this way: “You can simulate weather in a computer, but it will never be ‘wet.'”

Global workspace

Another promising theory suggests that consciousness works a bit like computer memory, which can call up and retain an experience even after it has passed.

Bernard Baars, a neuroscientist at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California, developed the theory, which is known as the global workspace theory. This idea is based on an old concept from artificial intelligence called the blackboard, a memory bank that different computer programs could access.

Anything from the appearance of a person’s face to a memory of childhood can be loaded into the brain’s blackboard, where it can be sent to other brain areas that will process it.  According to Baars’ theory, the act of broadcasting information around the brain from this memory bank is what represents consciousness.

The global workspace theory and integrated information theories are not mutually exclusive, Koch said. The first tries to explain in practical terms whether something is conscious or not, while the latter seeks to explain how consciousness works more broadly.

“At this point, both could be true,” Koch said.

 

Source:  livescience.com

Snopes.com officially a Hoax

Snopes.com Debunked as a Hoax

Snopes.com Debunked as a Hoax

Legendary urban legend debunking site snopes.com has been revealed to be a hoax after all.

After nearly 14 years patrolling the internet highways with a truth flashlight and de-misinformation nightstick, website owners Barbara and David P. Mikkelson finally came clean last night and admitted the whole thing was a joke.

“We never debunked anything”, Barbara sobbed “Most of the rumours on the site were actually true. We were just bored and hungry so we spent our evenings writing counter-conspiratorial guff to appease the anorak-wearing pedant in us all”

Astonishingly during our interview they revealed that Coca-Cola invented Santa Claus, the moon landings were faked and horrifyingly Madonna is actually a woman.

As we probed we discovered their deception was not just mental. It was financial. Mentally financial, as it emerged that the couple profited from the supposedly fake Microsoft email-tracking giveaway chain-mail in the late 90s, netting nearly $2,034,000 in pure hoax profit.

“Yes. Microsoft did develop this amazing email tracking technology which can detect if you forward an email and then pay you cash. It’s true. By debunking this rumour we were able to single-handedly get our hands on entire pot Microsoft put aside. We were just about to debunk the current Live Cashback promotion before the game was up.”

Finally Snopes confessed that the recent Steve Jobs fake death incident  was fact. A true fact. David P. Mikkelson admitting under non-lethal questioning techniques that the Apple CEO passed away in strange circumstances.

“Yes, in his current human form he is dead. However, like when he was fired from Apple in 1985, he will be back. I promise you…”

We at TechChuff cannot confirm or deny rumours that Steve Jobs will rise from the grave and helm MacWorld this year nor how weirded out we were when David said this

 

Source:  techchuff.com

Observations distinguish cause-effect relation between two variables.

cause-effect relation between two variables.

cause-effect relation between two variables.

 

Contrary to the statistician’s slogan, in the quantum world, certain kinds of correlations do imply causation.

Research from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics shows that in quantum mechanics, certain kinds of observations will let you distinguish whether there is a common cause or a cause-effect relation between two variables. The same is not true in classical physics.

Explaining the observed correlations among a number of variables in terms of underlying causal mechanisms, known as the problem of ‘causal inference’, is challenging but experts in field of machine learning have made significant progress in recent years Physicists are now exploring how this problem appears in a quantum context.

Causal inference hinges on the distinction between correlation and causation. “If A and B are correlated, then when you learn about A, you update your knowledge of B – this is inference. If A causes B, then by manipulating A, you can control B – this is influence,” said Robert Spekkens, a faculty member at Perimeter Institute and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Waterloo. “In quantum foundations, this distinction is key.”

Knowing if a correlation arises from a cause-effect relation or a common cause relation is a fundamental problem in science. A prime example: drug trials. When physicians observe a correlation between treatment and recovery, they cannot presume that the treatment is the cause of the recovery. If men are more likely to choose the treatment and also more likely to recover spontaneously, regardless of treatment, then the correlation would be explained by a common cause.

That is why, when testing treatments, pharmaceutical companies intervene and randomly assign either the drug or a placebo to participants. This ensures that the treatment variable is statistically independent of any potential common causes. This is a general feature of classical statistics: one needs to intervene in order to determine whether the correlations are due to a cause-effect relation, a common cause relation, or a mix of both.

The paper, published today in Nature Physics, demonstrates that quantum effects can eliminate the need for intervention. “This research provides a new way to think about quantum mechanics,” said Professor Kevin Resch, Canada Research Chair in Optical Quantum Technologies in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “It’s also a really useful framework for thinking about foundational problems.”

Spekkens, along with PhD student Katja Ried and fellow theorist Dominik Janzing, considered the situation of an observer who is probing two variables and finds them to be correlated. The observer doesn’t know whether this is because they are the input and output of a quantum process, that is, cause-effect related, or because they are the two halves of an entangled quantum state, and therefore correlated by a common cause. They realized that certain patterns of correlations are distinctive to each scenario.

Spekkens with Resch and Ried in Resch’s Quantum Optics and Quantum Information Lab.

Resch, together with his students Megan Agnew and Lydia Vermeyden, had the tools to put this idea to the test. They built a photonic circuit that could switch between the two scenarios proposed by the theorists, allowing them to vary the causal structure realized by the experiment.

Their results confirmed that the quantum effects of entanglement and coherence provide an advantage for causal inference. This parallels the way in which quantum effects can help to solve computational problems and make cryptography more secure. Thinking about which practical tasks are easier in a quantum world has traditionally led to many insights into its foundations.

The team describes their work as opening the door to answering questions such as: How can these techniques be generalized to scenarios involving more than two systems? Is the menu of possible causal relations between quantum systems larger than between classical systems? How should we understand causality in a quantum world?

 

Source:  eurekalert.org

NSA Reveal How To Hide From The NSA

NSA

NSA

 

If you want a truly anonymous life, then maybe it’s time you learned about Tor, CSpace and ZRTP.

These three technologies could help people hide their activities from the National Security Agency, according to NSA documents newly obtained from the archive of former contractor Edward Snowden by the German magazine Der Spiegel.

The combination of Tor, CSpace and ZRTP (plus another anonymizing technology for good measure) results in levels of protection that the NSA deems “catastrophic” — meaning the organization has “near-total loss/lack of insight to target communications,” according to Der Spiegel.

“Although the documents are around two years old, experts consider it unlikely the agency’s digital spies have made much progress in cracking these technologies,” Spiegel’s staff wrote.

In comparison, accessing somebody’s Facebook messages is considered a “minor” task for the agency. Similarly, virtual private networks (or VPNs), which are widely used by companies, are easily accessed by the NSA, according to Der Spiegel’s report, as are so-called “HTTPS” connections.

So, what are these services and what do you actually have to do to use them?

Tor is basically a network that offers an easy way for people to mask their location when communicating online. Anyone can download Tor’s web browser — it’s available on Mac, Windows, Linux, and smartphones. It’s not foolproof: When using Tor, you’re advised to sacrifice the convenience of browser plugins, torrent downloads, and websites that don’t use “HTTPS encryption” if you truly want to stay off the grid.

And that’s just if you want to mask your online habits — messaging and phone calls require more steps still, meaning you also have to add CSpace and ZRTP if you want to hide those from the NSA, according to Der Spiegel.

CSpace is a program that lets people text chat and transfer files, while ZRTP is a form of encryption that protects mobile phone calls and texting — it’s used in apps like RedPhone and Signal.

If that all sounds a bit daunting, anonymous living may not be for you. There are plenty of ways to stay relatively private online. But true anonymity is harder to achieve, and so coveted that some people will pay $629 for a special phone that purports to keep a user’s information more secure.

As noted, the Snowden documents are a couple of years old; it’s possible the NSA has found ways around these tools by now. But for the privacy-conscious, they are certain to work better than a tinfoil hat.

 

Source:  huffingtonpost.com

Harmful Effects of Smoking in Unborn Babies

Harmful Effects of Smoking

Harmful Effects of Smoking

 

The harmful effects of smoking during pregnancy may be reflected in the facial movements of mothers’ unborn babies, new research has suggested.

Researchers at Durham and Lancaster universities said the findings of their pilot study added weight to existing evidence that smoking is harmful to fetuses as they develop in the womb and warranted further investigation.

Observing 4-d ultrasound scans, the researchers found that fetuses whose mothers were smokers showed a significantly higher rate of mouth movements than the normal declining rate of movements expected in a fetus during pregnancy.

The researchers suggested that the reason for this might be that the fetal central nervous system, which controls movements in general and facial movements in particular did not develop at the same rate and in the same manner as in fetuses of mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy.

Previous studies have reported a delay in relation to speech processing abilities in infants exposed to smoking during pregnancy, the researchers added.

The researchers observed 80 4-d ultrasound scans of 20 fetuses, to assess subtle mouth and touch movements. Scans were taken at four different intervals between 24 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.

Four of the fetuses belonged to mothers who smoked an average of 14 cigarettes per day, while the remaining 16 fetuses were being carried by mothers who were non-smokers. All fetuses were clinically assessed and were healthy when born.

In common with other studies, the research also showed that maternal stress and depression have a significant impact on fetal movements, but that the increase in mouth and touch movements was even higher in babies whose mothers smoked.

The study also found some evidence of a bigger delay in the reduction of facial touching by fetuses whose mothers smoked, compared to the fetuses of non-smokers, but the researchers said this delay was less significant.

The research is published in the journal Acta Paediatrica.

 

Harmful Effects of Smoking

Harmful Effects of Smoking

Lead author Dr Nadja Reissland, in Durham University’s Department of Psychology, said: “Fetal facial movement patterns differ significantly between fetuses of mothers who smoked compared to those of mothers who didn’t smoke.

“Our findings concur with others that stress and depression have a significant impact on fetal movements, and need to be controlled for, but additionally these results point to the fact that nicotine exposure per se has an effect on fetal development over and above the effects of stress and depression.

“A larger study is needed to confirm these results and to investigate specific effects, including the interaction of maternal stress and smoking.”

Co-author Professor Brian Francis, of Lancaster University, added: “Technology means we can now see what was previously hidden, revealing how smoking affects the development of the fetus in ways we did not realise. This is yet further evidence of the negative effects of smoking in pregnancy.”

The researchers stressed that their research was a pilot study and that larger studies were needed to confirm and further understand the relationship between maternal smoking, stress, depression and fetal development.

They added that future studies should also take into account the smoking behaviours of fathers.

 

Source:  neurosciencenews.com

Scientists create organism with ‘Alien’ DNA

organism with 'alien' DNA

organism with ‘alien’ DNA

Scientists have created the first “semi-synthetic” micro-organism with a radically different genetic code from the rest of life on Earth.

The researchers believe the breakthrough is the first step towards creating new microbial life-forms with novel industrial or medical properties resulting from a potentially massive expansion of genetic information.

The semi-synthetic microbe, a genetically modified E. coli bacterium, has been endowed with an extra artificial piece of DNA with an expanded genetic alphabet – instead of the usual four “letters” of the alphabet its DNA molecule has six.

The natural genetic code of all living things is based on a sequence of four bases – G, C, T, A – which form two sets of bonded pairs, G to C and T to A, that link the two strands of the DNA double helix.

The DNA of the new semi-synthetic microbe, however, has a pair of extra base pairs, denoted by X and Y, which pair up together like the other base pairs and are fully integrated into the rest of the DNA’s genetic code.

The scientists said that the semi-synthetic E. coli bacterium replicates normally and is able to pass on the new genetic information to subsequent generations. However, it was not able to use the new encoded information to produce any novel proteins – the synthetic DNA was added as an extra circular strand that did not take part in the bacterium’s normal metabolic functions.

The study, published in the journal Nature, is the first time that scientists have managed to produce a genetically modified microbe that is able to function and replicate with a different genetic code to the one that is thought to have existed ever since life first started to evolve on Earth more than 3.5 billion years ago.

“Life on earth in all its diversity is encoded by only two pairs of DNA bases, A-T and C-G, and what we’ve made is an organism that stably contains those two plus a third, unnatural pair of bases,” said Professor Floyd Romesberg of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

“This shows that other solutions to storing information are possible and, of course, takes us closer to an expanded-DNA biology that will have many exciting applications, from new medicines to new kinds of nanotechnology,” Professor Romesberg said.

Expanding the genetic code with an extra base pair raises the prospect of building new kinds of proteins from a much wider range of amino acids than the 20 or so that exist in nature. A new code based on six base pairs could in theory deal with more than 200 amino acids, the scientists said.

“In principle, we could encode new proteins made from new, unnatural amino acids, which would give us greater power than ever to tailor protein therapeutics and diagnostics and laboratory reagents to have desired functions,” Professor Romesberg said.

“Other applications, such as nanomaterials, are also possible,” he added.

The researchers emphasised that there is little danger of the new life-forms living outside the confines of the laboratory, as they are not able to replicate with their synthetic DNA strand unless they are continuously fed the X and Y bases – synthetic chemicals called “d5SICS” and “dNaM”, that do not exist in nature.

The bacteria also need a special protein to transport the new bases around the cell of the microbe. The transporter protein comes from algae and if it, or the X and Y bases, are lacking, the microbial cells revert back to the natural genetic code, said Denis Malyshev of the Scripps Institute.

“Our new bases can only get into the cell if we turn on the “base transporter” protein. Without this transporter or when the new bases are not provided, the cell will revert back to A, T, G, C and the d5SICS and the dNaM will disappear from the genome,” Dr Malyshev said.

 

Source:  independent.co.uk

First photograph of light as a particle and a wave

Quantum mechanics tells us that light can behave simultaneously as a particle or a wave. However, there has never been an experiment able to capture both natures of light at the same time; the closest we have come is seeing either wave or particle, but always at different times. Taking a radically different experimental approach, EPFL scientists have now been able to take the first ever snapshot of light behaving both as a wave and as a particle. The breakthrough work is published in Nature Communications.

When UV light hits a metal surface, it causes an emission of electrons. Albert Einstein explained this “photoelectric” effect by proposing that light – thought to only be a wave – is also a stream of particles. Even though a variety of experiments have successfully observed both the particle- and wave-like behaviors of light, they have never been able to observe both at the same time.

A new approach on a classic effect

A research team led by Fabrizio Carbone at EPFL has now carried out an experiment with a clever twist: using electrons to image light. The researchers have captured, for the first time ever, a single snapshot of light behaving simultaneously as both a wave and a stream of particles particle.

The experiment is set up like this: A pulse of laser light is fired at a tiny metallic nanowire. The laser adds energy to the charged particles in the nanowire, causing them to vibrate. Light travels along this tiny wire in two possible directions, like cars on a highway. When waves traveling in opposite directions meet each other they form a new wave that looks like it is standing in place. Here, this standing wave becomes the source of light for the experiment, radiating around the nanowire.

This is where the experiment’s trick comes in: The scientists shot a stream of electrons close to the nanowire, using them to image the standing wave of light. As the electrons interacted with the confined light on the nanowire, they either sped up or slowed down. Using the ultrafast microscope to image the position where this change in speed occurred, Carbone’s team could now visualize the standing wave, which acts as a fingerprint of the wave-nature of light.

While this phenomenon shows the wave-like nature of light, it simultaneously demonstrated its particle aspect as well. As the electrons pass close to the standing wave of light, they “hit” the light’s particles, the photons. As mentioned above, this affects their speed, making them move faster or slower. This change in speed appears as an exchange of energy “packets” (quanta) between electrons and photons. The very occurrence of these energy packets shows that the light on the nanowire behaves as a particle.

“This experiment demonstrates that, for the first time ever, we can film quantum mechanics – and its paradoxical nature – directly,” says Fabrizio Carbone. In addition, the importance of this pioneering work can extend beyond fundamental science and to future technologies. As Carbone explains: “Being able to image and control quantum phenomena at the nanometer scale like this opens up a new route towards quantum computing.”

 

Source:  eurekalert.org

GMO corn turns stomachs to mush

GMO

GMO

 

If you have stomach problems or gastrointestinal problems, a new study led by Dr. Judy Carman may help explain why: pigs fed a diet of genetically engineered soy and corn showed a 267% increase in severe stomach inflammation compared to those fed non-GMO diets. In males, the difference was even more pronounced: a 400% increase. (For the record, most autistic children are males, and nearly all of them have severe intestinal inflammation.)

The study was conducted on 168 young pigs on an authentic farm environment and was carried out over a 23-week period by eight researchers across Australia and the USA. The lead researcher, Dr. Judy Carman, is from the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Kensington Park, Australia. The study has now been published in the Journal of Organic Systems, a peer-reviewed science journal.

The study is the first to show what appears to be a direct connection between the ingestion of GMO animal feed and measurable damage to the stomachs of those animals. Tests also showed abnormally high uterine weights of animals fed the GMO diets, raising further questions about the possibility of GMOs causing reproductive organ damage.

Proponents of corporate-dominated GMO plant science quickly attacked the study, announcing that in their own minds, there is no such thing as any evidence linking GMOs to biological harm in any animals whatsoever. And they are determined to continue to believe that, even if it means selectively ignoring the increasingly profound and undeniable tidal wave of scientific studies that repeatedly show GMOs to be linked with severe organ damage, cancer tumors and premature death.

“Adverse effects… toxic effects… clear evidence”

The study was jointly announced by GM Watch and Sustainable Pulse.

Lead author of the study Dr. Judy Carman stated, “We found these adverse effects when we fed the animals a mixture of crops containing three GM genes and the GM proteins that these genes produce. Yet no food regulator anywhere in the world requires a safety assessment for the possible toxic effects of mixtures. Our results provide clear evidence that regulators need to safety assess GM crops containing mixtures of GM genes, regardless of whether those genes occur in the one GM plant or in a mixture of GM plants eaten in the same meal, even if regulators have already assessed GM plants containing single GM genes in the mixture.”

The following photo shows one of the pig intestines fed a non-GMO diet vs. a pig intestine fed a GMO diet. As you can see from the photo, the pig fed the GMO diet suffered severe inflammation of the stomach:

Yet more evidence that GMOs damage mammals

The study adds to the weight of scientific evidence from others studies which show that rats fed a diet of GMOs grow horrifying cancer tumors and suffer premature death.

A scientific study published last year concluded that eating genetically modified corn (GM corn) and consuming trace levels of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide was linked with rats developing shockingly large tumors, widespread organ damage, and premature death.

That study was also criticized by corporate GMO trolls who argued that scientists should not show pictures of rats with large cancer tumors caused by GMOs because the pictures scare consumers into being afraid of GMOs.

Here are some of the pictures they don’t want you to see, taken right from the public announcement of the study:

That study also found that rats fed GM corn suffered severe kidney damage as well as shockingly high rates of premature death.
Source:  naturalnews.com

Sugar kills good cholesterol,

sugar

sugar

Scientists at the University of Warwick have discovered that ‘good’ cholesterol is turned ‘bad’ by a sugar-derived substance.

The substance, methylglyoxal – MG, was found to damage ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, which removes excess levels of bad cholesterol from the body.

Low levels of HDL, High Density Lipoprotein, are closely linked to heart disease, with increased levels of MG being common in the elderly and those with diabetes or kidney problems.

Supported by funding from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and published in Nutrition and Diabetes, the researchers discovered that MG destabilises HDL and causes it to lose the properties which protect against heart disease.

HDL damaged by MG is rapidly cleared from the blood, reducing its HDL content, or remains in plasma having lost its beneficial function.

Lead researcher Dr Naila Rabbani, of the Warwick Medical School, says that: “MG damage to HDL is a new and likely important cause of low and dysfunctional HDL, and could count for up to a 10% risk of heart disease”.

There are currently no drugs that can reverse low levels of HDL, but the Warwick researchers argue that by discovering how MG damages HDL has provided new potential strategies for reducing MG levels.

Commenting on the research’s implications Dr Rabbani said:

“By understanding how MG damages HDL we can now focus on developing drugs that reduce the concentration of MG in the blood, but it not only be drugs that can help.

“We could now develop new food supplements that decrease MG by increasing the amount of a protein called glyoxalase 1, or Glo 1, which converts MG to harmless substances.

“This means that in future we have both new drugs and new foods that can help prevent and correct low HDL, all through the control of MG.”

A potentially damaging substance, MG is formed from glucose in the body. It is 40,000 times more reactive than glucose it damages arginine residue (amino acid) in HDL at functionally important site causing the particle to become unstable.

Glo1 converts MG to harmless substances and protects us. MG levels are normally kept low in the body to maintain good health but they slowly increase with ageing as Glo1 slowly becomes worn out and is only slowly replaced.

Dr Rabbani says: “We call abnormally high levels of MG ‘dicarbonyl stress’. This occurs in some diseases – particularly diabetes, kidney dialysis, heart disease and obesity. We need sufficient Glo1 to keep MG low and keep us in good health.”

Source:   eurekalert.org

Half-Animal, Half-Plant

Half-Animal, Half-Plant Microbe

Half-Animal, Half-Plant Microbe

Japanese scientists have found a mysterious marine microbe, half of which cells eat algae like animals while the rest perform photosynthesis like plants.

Professor Isao Inoue, a member of the University of Tsukuba research team, told the Mainichi Daily News he believes the microbe demonstrates part of the process of single-cell marine microbes evolving into plants.

The research team discovered the single-cell microbe, a kind of flagellate, on a beach in Wakayama Prefecture, and called it “hatena” or “mystery.”

The microbe is originally green and is made up of algae. When it divides into two cells, one takes over the algae from its parent and remains green and the other turns colorless, Mainichi reported.

The animal-type colorless cell develops an organ like a mouth and uses it to eat algae, while the plant-type green one uses algae it has in its body to perform photosynthesis and produce energy, according to the team.

The researchers believe that as the marine microbes evolve into plants, only the chloroplasts in algae they had taken in their cells developed, while the other organs degenerated.

 

Source:  spacedaily.com

 

Alzheimer’s blood test breakthrough

alzheimers

alzheimers

 

A blood test has been developed to predict if someone will develop Alzheimer’s within a year, raising hopes that the disease could become preventable.

After a decade of research, scientists at Oxford University and King’s College London are confident they have found 10 proteins which show the disease is imminent.

Clinical trials will start on people who have not yet developed Alzheimer’s to find out which drugs halt its onset.

The blood test, which could be available in as little as two years, was described as a “major step forward” by Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, and by charities which said it could revolutionise research into a cure.

“Although we are making drugs they are all failing. But if we could treat people earlier it may be that the drugs are effective,” said Simon Lovestone, professor of translational neuroscience at Oxford. “Alzheimer’s begins to affect the brain many years before patients are diagnosed with the disease. If we could treat the disease in that phase we would in effect have a preventative strategy.”

Clinical trials into so-called “wonder drugs” such as BACE inhibitors and anti-amyloid agents, have shown little improvement for sufferers. Scientists believe that by the time Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, an irreversible “cascade” of symptoms has already occurred.

About 600,000 people in Britain suffer from Alzheimer’s and hundreds of thousands have mild cognitive impairment. Last month, David Cameron pledged to fast-track dementia research.

The new test, which examines 10 proteins in the blood, can predict with 87 per cent ccuracy whether someone suffering memory problems will develop Alzheimer’s within a year.

The researchers used data from three international studies. Blood samples were taken from 1,148 people, 476 of whom had Alzheimer’s, 220 with memory problems, and a control group of 452 without any signs of dementia. The scientists found that 16 proteins were associated with brain shrinkage and memory loss and 10 of those could predict whether someone would develop Alzheimer’s.

Mr Hunt said: “This is welcome research on an issue we’re made a national priority. Developing tests and biomarkers will be important steps forward in the global fight against dementia as we search for a cure.”

Previous studies have shown that PET brain scans and plasma in lumbar fluid could be used to predict that onset of dementia from mild cognitive impairment. But PET imaging is highly expensive and lumbar punctures are invasive and carry risks.

The first tests are likely to be available in between two and five years. However, the study is likely to throw up ethical dilemmas about whether patients should receive potentially devastating news about their future. Prof Lovestone said it was unlikely that GPs would use the test until a treatment was available.

The breakthrough was welcomed by dementia charities and academics.

Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, which helped fund the research, said it brought the prospect of Alzheimer’s becoming a preventable disease “significantly closer”.

Prof Gordon Wilcock, emeritus professor of geratology at Oxford, added that it was “great news”. The study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

 

Source:  telegraph.co.uk

Free will is an illusion

Free Will

Free Will

 

Let’s say you’re approaching a fork in the road, and at the very last minute you decide to take the right fork. Common sense says that you made at active decision to take the right fork — a decision you made more or less a split second before you shifted your body ever so slightly in the direction of said fork.

But recent research reveals that decisions such as these may have much deeper neurological roots — so deep, in fact, that scientists can observe patterns of brain activity that allow them to predict the outcome of decisions like these long before a person is even conscious of his own decision.

In other words, scientists have thrown a serious wrench in the works of the notion of free will.

Nature’s Kerri Smith writes:

As humans, we like to think that our decisions are under our conscious control – that we have free will. Philosophers have debated that concept for centuries, and now [neuroscientist John-Dylan] Haynes and other experimental neuroscientists are raising a new challenge. They argue that consciousness of a decision may be a mere biochemical afterthought, with no influence whatsoever on a person’s actions. According to this logic, they say, free will is an illusion.”

In the words of Patrick Haggard, a neuroscientist at University College London: “We feel we choose, but we don’t.”

 

Source:   io9.com

Neglect Harms Brain Development

Childhood neglect leads to harmful changes in the brain, a new study says.

In new research published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, researchers looked at brain differences between Romanian children who were either abandoned and institutionalized, sent to institutions and then to foster families, or were raised in biological families.

Kids who were not raised in a family setting had noticeable alterations in the white matter of their brains later on, while the white matter in the brains of the children who were placed with a foster family looked pretty similar to the brains of the children who were raised with their biological families.

Researchers were interested in white matter, which is largely made up of nerves, because it plays an important role in connecting brain regions and maintaining networks critical for cognition. Prior research has shown that children raised in institutional environments have limited access to language and cognitive stimulation, which could hinder development.

These findings suggest that even if a child were at a risk for poor development due to their living circumstances at an early age, placing them in a new caregiving environment with more support could prevent white matter changes or perhaps even heal them.

More studies are needed, but the researchers believe their findings could help public health efforts aimed at children experiencing severe neglect, as well as efforts to build childhood resiliency.

 

Source:   time.com

Head transplants could be a reality by 2017

Head Transplant

Head Transplant

 

 

Transplanting a human head onto a donor body may sound like the stuff of science fiction comics, but not to Italian doctor Sergio Canavero. He has not only published a paper describing the operation in detail, but also believes that the surgery could be a reality as early as 2017.

Canavero, Director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, initially highlighted the idea in 2013, stating his belief that the technology to successfully join two severed spinal cords existed. Since then he’s worked out the details, describing the operation in his recent paper, as the Gemini spinal cord fusion protocol (GEMINI GCF).

To carry out the transplant, a state of hypothermia is first induced in both the head to be transplanted and the donor body, to help the cells stay alive without oxygen. Surgeons would then cut into the neck tissue of both bodies and connect the blood vessels with tubes. The next step is to cut the spinal cords as neatly as possible with minimal trauma.

The severed head would then be placed on the donor body and the two spinal cords encouraged to fuse together with a sealant called polyethylene glycol, which Canavero notes in his paper, has “the power to literally fuse together severed axons or seal injured leaky neurons.”

After suturing the blood vessels and the skin, the patient is kept in a comatose state for three to four weeks to discourage movement and give both spinal stumps time to fuse. The fusion point will also be electrically stimulated to encourage neural connections and accelerate the growth of a functional neural bridge. The patient will additionally be put on a regime of anti-rejection medications.

According to Canavero, with rehabilitation the patient should be able to speak in their own voice and walk within a year’s time. The goal is to help people who are paralyzed, or whose bodies are otherwise riddled with degenerative diseases and other complications. While the procedure sounds extremely complex and disturbing on multiple levels, Canvero tells us he’s already conducting interviews with volunteers who’ve stepped forward.

“Many are dystrophic,” Canavero says “These people are in horrible pain.”

The most well-known example of a head transplant was when Dr. Robert White, a neurosurgeon, transplanted the head of one rhesus monkey onto another in 1970. The spinal cords, however, were not connected to each other, leaving the monkey unable to control its body. It subsequently died after the donor body rejected the head.

Current technology and recent advances hold out more promise. Canavero plans to garner support for the project, when he presents it at the American Academy of neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons conference in Annapolis, Maryland, later this year. Understandably his proposal has generated incredible controversy, with experts questioning the specifics and ethics of the procedure, even going as far as calling it bad science.

 

Source:   gizmag.com

Brains communicate from thousands of miles away

Brain study

Brain study

 

Brain-to-brain communication study conducted in coordination with Harvard Medical School has proven that extrasensory mind-to mind interaction can happen over great distances by leveraging different pathways in the mind. (Technological telepathy)

The study, coauthored by Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and a Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, found that information can be successfully transmitted between two intact human brains from distances over 5000 miles apart.

The following is excerpt from an article featured on Smithsonian Mag:

An international research team develops a way to say “hello” with your mind

In a recent experiment, a person in India said “hola” and “ciao” to three other people in France. Today, the Web, smartphones and international calling might make that not seem like an impressive feat, but it was. The greetings were not spoken, typed or texted. The communication in question happened between the brains of a set of study subjects, marking one of the first instances of brain-to-brain communication on record.

The team, whose members come from Barcelona-based research institute Starlab, French firm Axilum Robotics and Harvard Medical School, published its findings earlier this month in the journal PLOS One. Study co-author Alvaro Pascual-Leone, director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School, hopes this and forthcoming research in the field will one day provide a new communication pathway for patients who might not be able to speak.

“We want to improve the ways people can communicate in the face of limitations—those who might not be able to speak or have sensory impairments,” he says. “Can we work around those limitations and communicate with another person or a computer?”

Pascual-Leone’s experiment was successful—the correspondents neither spoke, nor typed, nor even looked at one another. But he freely concedes that the test was more a proof of concept than anything else, and the technique still has a long way to go. “It’s still very, very early,” he says, “[but] we can show that this is even possible with technology that’s available. It’s the difference between talking on the phone and sending Morse code. To get where we’re going, you need certain steps to be taken first.”

Indeed, the process was drawn out, if not downright inelegant. First, the team had to establish binary-code equivalents of letters; for example “h” is “0-0-1-1-1.” Then, with EEG (electroencephalography) sensors attached to the scalp, the sender moved either his hands or feet to indicate a 1 or a 0. The code then passed to the recipient over email. On the other end, the receiver was blindfolded with a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) system on his head. (TMS is a non-invasive method of stimulating neurons in the brain; it’s most commonly used to treat depression.) The TMS headset stimulated the recipient’s brain, causing him to see quick flashes of light. A flash was equivalent to a “1” and a blank was a “0.” From there, the code was translated back into text.

 

Source:   earthweareone.com

Nuclear battery developed

 

Long-lasting, water-based nuclear battery developed

Long-lasting, water-based nuclear battery developed

Researchers working at the University of Missouri (MU) claim to have produced a prototype of a nuclear-powered, water-based battery that is said to be both longer-lasting and more efficient than current battery technologies and may eventually be used as a dependable power supply in vehicles, spacecraft, and other applications where longevity, reliability, and efficiency are paramount.

“Betavoltaics, a battery technology that generates power from radiation, has been studied as an energy source since the 1950s,” said associate professor Jae W. Kwon, of the College of Engineering at MU. “Controlled nuclear technologies are not inherently dangerous. We already have many commercial uses of nuclear technologies in our lives including fire detectors in bedrooms and emergency exit signs in buildings.”

Utilizing the radioactive isotope strontium-90 to enhance the electrochemical energy produced in a water-based solution, the researchers have incorporated a nanostructured titanium dioxide electrode acting as a catalyst for water decomposition. That is, the catalyst assists the breakdown of water in conjunction with the applied radiation into assorted oxygen compounds.

As a result, when high-energy beta radiation passes through the platinum and the nanoporous titanium dioxide, electron-hole pairs are produced within the titanium dioxide, creating an electron flow and a resultant electric current.

“Water acts as a buffer and surface plasmons created in the device turned out to be very useful in increasing its efficiency,” Kwon said. “The ionic solution is not easily frozen at very low temperatures and could work in a wide variety of applications including car batteries and, if packaged properly, perhaps spacecraft.”

By no means the first-ever nuclear battery – the NanoTritium device from City Labs being one recent notable example – this is the first nuclear battery that has been produced to exploit the inherent advantages of radiolysis (water-splitting with radiation) to produce an electric current, at higher energy levels and lower temperatures than previously possible. And at much greater claimed efficiencies than other water-splitting energy production techniques.

This is because, unlike other forms of photocatalytic methods of water-splitting to produce energy, the high-energy beta radiation in the MU device produces free radicals in water such that the kinetic energy is recombined or trapped in water molecules so that the radiation can be converted into electricity – using the platinum/titanium dioxide electrode previously described – to achieve water splitting efficiently and at room temperature.

As a result, whilst solar cells use a similar mechanism for the transference of energy via hole-electron pairs, very few free radicals are produced because the photon energies are principally in the visible spectrum and subsequently at lower levels of energy.

Beta radiation produced by the strontium source, on the other hand, with its ability to enhance the chemical reactions involving free radicals at greater electron energy levels, is a much more efficient way to produce extremely long-lasting and reliable energy. So much so, that the water-based nuclear battery may well offer a viable alternative to the solar cell as a sustainable, low-pollution energy source.

 

Source:  Gizmag.com

Gluten Causes Weight Gain

The case against gluten seems to have been closed with recent research from a Brazilian research team that published a report in the January 2013 Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. It seems to have put an exclamation point on the wheat belly controversy.

The Study


Lacking scientific data confirming the mechanics of how gluten may or may not affect obesity, the study was set up to examine the differences in specific genetic and biochemical markers between rats fed gluten and rats that were kept gluten free.

The “wheat belly” syndrome and how it leads to other health issues was the purpose of their research. The research team chose biological markers that could indicate the onset of obesity and metabolic syndrome, precursors to diabetes and cardiac issues.

Both groups of rats were fed high fat diets. But one group was gluten free and the other group’s diet was 4.5 percent gluten. Even without tracing their predetermined markers, it was obvious the gluten free mice exhibited weight loss without any trace of lipid (fat) excretion.

An Analysis Of The Study


Sayer Ji of GreenmedInfo.com proposed this analysis: “… the weight gain associated with wheat consumption has little to do with caloric content per se; rather, the gluten proteins … disrupt endocrine and exocrine processes within the body, as well as directly modulating nuclear gene expression … to alter mamalian metabolism in the direction of weight gain.”

This study report, according to Sayer Ji proves that the major factor of obesity is gluten, not calories. Considering that both groups of mice were fed high fat diets and the gluten free mice lost weight without excreting lipids also implies that fat free diets for losing weight are bogus. This has been suspected by other nutritional experts who’ve abandoned matrix thinking.

Sayer Ji recommends that those who are overweight, pre-diabetic, experiencing metabolic syndrome, or suffering from irritable bowel syndrome try avoiding gluten grains, especially wheat, to determine from experience if gluten is the underlying cause.

There is evidence that gluten can be a factor in gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) and even autism. (http://www.naturalnews.com/033094_gut_health_brain.html)

So How Did Wheat, “The Staff of Life,” Become A Weed of Disease?


Wheat is not the same today. It has been agriculturally hybrid, not genetically lab engineered over some decades to resist fungus, grow more quickly, and be more pliable for industrial bread baking. As a consequence, 50-60 years ago wheat containing only five percent gluten has become 50 percent gluten today.

Agricultural resources used the hybrid process for wheat to accommodate the baking industry’s mechanical requirements of pliable proteins, leading to the 10-fold increase of wheat’s gluten.

The processed food industry’s concern for production efficiency and perception of consumer demands has focused on the bottom line with the usual disregard to negative health consequences.

Slightly different high speed methods of baking evolved over time. By artificially bleaching flour and adding “improvers” with often toxic additives and mixing the dough violently, loaves of bread could be baked, cooled, and packaged within a few, short hours. Cheap, unhealthy foods for many with massive profits for a few.

This is beginning to change with measures that seem to offset gluten’s damage for some. For example, Whole Foods has their own bakery providing fresh breads daily without bromides, which can displace the thyroid gland’s iodine contents and create hypothyroidism.

Other local bakeries may provide sprouted grain and real sourdough breads, which even some celiac sufferers manage to consume without adverse reactions.

 

Source:  hungryforchange.tv

Cheap invisibility cloak

invisibility cloak

invisibility cloak

 

 

Hats off to scientists at the University of Rochester in New York, who have managed to produce a cheap ‘invisibility cloak’ effect using readily available materials and a lot of clever thinking. Through a combination of optical lenses, any object that passes behind a certain line of sight can be made to disappear from view.

‘The Rochester Cloak’, as it’s being dubbed, uses a simplified four-lens system that essentially bends light around any objects you put into the middle of the chain — you’re able to see the area in the background as normal, but not the item in the foreground. According to its inventors, it can be scaled up using any size of lens, and the team responsible for the setup has used standard, off-the-shelf hardware.

“People have been fascinated with cloaking for a very long time,” said John Howell, a Professor of Physics at the University. “It’s recently been a really popular thing in science fiction and Harry Potter… I think people are really excited about the prospect of just being invisible.”

“From what we know this is the first cloaking device that provides three-dimensional, continuously multidirectional cloaking,” said doctoral student Joseph Choi, one of the team who worked on the project, when speaking to Reuters. “I imagine this could be used to cloak a trailer on the back of a semi-truck so the driver can see directly behind him. It can be used for surgery, in the military, in interior design, art.”

What makes this system so interesting is that it’s simple, inexpensive and capable of working at multiple angles, as long as the object remains inside the series of lenses. Howell and Choi say it cost them $1,000 to get all of the necessary equipment together, but it can be done more cheaply. A patent is pending for their invention but the pair have put together instructions on making your own Rochester Cloak at home for less than $100.

 

Source:  rochester.edu

Skeptic Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Fraud

 Brian Dunning Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Fraud

Brian Dunning Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Fraud

 

 

Brian Dunning, creator of the Skeptoid podcast and the world’s worst “science” rap video, pled guilty to wire fraud that had allowed him to collect more than $5 million. Sentencing has finally occurred, and the result is 15 months in prison starting on September 2, 2014, followed by three years of supervised release.

This is great news for the skeptic community at large, since it may be a long enough sentence for Dunning to fade from memory and stop publicly representing the very people who are supposedly trying to stop people from defrauding others.

Meanwhile, this case had brought to light an actual skeptical activist who appears to be smart, hilarious, and actually effective at stopping frauds: Assistant United States Attorney David R. Callaway. In the government’s sentencing recommendation to the court last week, Callaway* argued beautifully against the idea that Dunning deserves to be insulated from the consequences of his actions, saying that “There is no “Get out of Trauma Free” card for white-collar criminals or, unfortunately, their families.” In fact, Callaway argues that Dunning should be punished harshly in part because his crime wasn’t motivated by desperate need:

The crime in this case was motivated by pure greed….This was no “smash and grab,” motivated by poverty, hunger, or substance abuse, but rather a clever, sophisticated, calculated criminal scheme carried out over several years by a man who certainly had no pressing need for the money.

Callaway then cites scientific evidence suggesting that harsh sentencing for “white-collar” criminals may present a greater deterrence than “blue-collar” crimes, which tend to be more spontaneous crimes of passion compared to the pre-meditation of something like wire fraud.

Callaway points to Dunning’s “celebrity” in the skeptical community as a further reason to punish him harshly (emphasis mine):

The enhanced deterrence value of a prison term would be all the greater in Mr. Dunning’s case, as he is at least somewhat of a “public figure” by virtue of his podcast, “Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena,” which he claims has a weekly audience of 179,000 listeners. Mr. Dunning has written five books based on the podcast, and he even has a “rap” video.

On the plus side, this prison sentence could potentially do wonders for Dunning’s rap career. But let’s hope not.

Earth’s Water Is Older Than the Sun

 

 Earth’s Water Is Older Than the Sun

Earth’s Water Is Older Than the Sun

 

Much of the water on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system likely predates the birth of the sun, a new study reports.

The finding suggests that water is commonly incorporated into newly forming planets throughout the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, researchers said — good news for anyone hoping that Earth isn’t the only world to host life.

“The implications of our study are that interstellar water-ice remarkably survived the incredibly violent process of stellar birth to then be incorporated into planetary bodies,” study lead author Ilse Cleeves, an astronomy Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, told Space.com via email. [Theories on the Origin of Life]

“If our sun’s formation was typical, interstellar ices, including water, likely survive and are a common ingredient during the formation of all extrasolar systems,” Cleeves added. “This is particularly exciting given the number of confirmed extrasolar planetary systems to date — that they, too, had access to abundant, life-fostering water during their formation.”

Astronomers have discovered nearly 2,000 exoplanets so far, and many billions likely lurk undetected in the depths of space. On average, every Milky Way star is thought to host at least one planet.

Water, water everywhere

Our solar system abounds with water. Oceans of it slosh about not only on Earth’s surface but also beneath the icy shells of Jupiter’s moon Europa and the Saturn satellite Enceladus. And water ice is found on Earth’s moon, on comets, at the Martian poles and even inside shadowed craters on Mercury, the planet closest to the sun.

Cleeves and her colleagues wanted to know where all this water came from.

 

Source:  livescience.com

Organs grown inside animals for the first time

Lab mouse

Researchers have had success growing organs in controlled lab environments, but repeating that feat inside a complex, messy animal body? That’s more than a little tricky. However, researchers at the University of Edinburgh have managed that daunting feat for the first time. They’ve grown thymus glands inside lab mice by “reprogramming” the genes in tissue-regenerating cells and partnering those with support cells. The team didn’t have to use scaffolds or other “cheats” to trigger the growth; it just injected the cells and waited. There weren’t even any obvious limitations. The organs were full size (unlike the baby-like results from some experiments), and they were just as efficient at producing virus-fighting T-cells as the real deal.

The catch, as you might have guessed, is the scale. Mice aren’t nearly as challenging to work on as humans, and the thymus is one of the simplest organs in any animal. It wouldn’t be nearly as easy to give you a new heart or lung. If the University keeps making progress, though, it could shake up the transplant process. Patients wouldn’t have to wait for donors whose tissues are good matches, and people who’ve lost much of their immune system (such as bone marrow transplant recipients) could rebuild faster. You won’t get on-demand organs any time soon, but the concept isn’t as far-fetched as it once was.

 

Source:  w.engadget.com

Aspartame proven to cause brain damage

Aspartame Damages The Brain at Any Dose

Aspartame Damages The Brain at Any Dose

Did you know that Aspartame has been proven to cause brain damage by leaving traces of Methanol in the blood? It makes you wonder why Aspartame has been approved as “safe” and is found in thousands of food products. Currently more than 90 countries have given the artificial sweetener the “OK” to be used in foods.

“Multiple Sclerosis is often misdiagnosed, and that it could be aspartame poisoning” 

Given that Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar, manufacturers are able to produce their sweet foods and market them as “low calorie” so they can market and appeal to millions of people on “diets.” There is no doubt that the less sugar you have in your diet, the better. But replacing sugar with aspartame is not the solution, and in fact is likely to be even worse for your health.

In my personal experience, Aspartame has always made my head feel very odd when I consumed it. Headaches, light headedness and overall nausea, are all symptoms I personally feel from consuming Aspartame. But that isn’t even the bad part when you look at what all of the research is suggesting. So I question, and everyone should be asking the same: With all of the research about Aspartame and its dangerous effects, even in small quantities, why is it still approved by the FDA and other health agencies as being safe for human consumption? There are better solutions available and with less danger and side effects.

 

Source:  w.collective-evolution.com

Our Milky Way is connected to a vast network of galaxies

Milky Way connected to a vast network of galaxies

Milky Way connected to a vast network of galaxies

The Milky Way is part of a much vaster galactic network than previously thought. The galaxy drifts along in a stream of galaxies on the outskirts of a newly identified collection of galaxy clusters, a supercluster named Laniakea. This supercluster — whose name means “heaven immeasurable” in Hawaiian — holds the mass of 100 million billion suns within a region that spans about 520 million light-years.

Astrophysicist R. Brent Tully of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and colleagues sifted through data describing the positions and velocities of over 8,000 galaxies to get a fresh look at the Milky Way’s place in space. After accounting for the motion caused by the expansion of the universe, the team created a three-dimensional view of how gravity molds the galaxy’s cosmic neighborhood.

The new map, published in the Sept. 4 Nature, reveals Laniakea’s boundaries and weblike framework. The Milky Way lies along one of the lines of that web, in a tributary feeding one of many galactic rivers. Those streams converge in a gravitational valley roughly 200 million light-years away near two massive galaxy clusters: Norma and Centaurus. Their combined gravity appears to be drawing in other galaxies and clusters within Laniakea, including the Milky Way.

Watch Laniakea Supercluster to see how the Milky Way fits into this complex network of galaxies.

 

Source:  w.sciencenews.org

COP MORE LIKELY TO KILL YOU THAN A TERRORIST

 A COP IS MORE LIKELY TO KILL YOU THAN A TERRORIST


A COP IS MORE LIKELY TO KILL YOU THAN A TERRORIST

 

After 9/11, the fear of another attack on U.S. soil cleanly supplanted the fear of having one’s penis chopped off by a vengeful lover in the pantheon of irrational American fears. While we’re constantly being told that another attack is imminent and that radical Islamic fundamentalists are two steps away from establishing a caliphate in Branson, Missouri, just how close are they? How do the odds of dying in a terrorist attack stack up against the odds of dying in other unfortunate situations?

The following ratios were compiled using data from 2004 National Safety Council Estimates, a report based on data from The National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, 2003 mortality data from the Center for Disease Control was used.

You are 13 times more likely to die in a railway accident than from a terrorist attack

You are 12,571 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

You are six times more likely to die from hot weather than from a terrorist attack

You are eight times more likely to die from accidental electrocution than from a terrorist attack

You are 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane

You are 87 times more likely to drown than die in a terrorist attack

You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack

You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

You are 1048 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack

You are 12 times more likely to die from accidental suffocation in bed than from a terrorist attack

You are nine times more likely to choke to death on your own vomit than die in a terrorist attack

You are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist

 

 

Source:  w.prorev.com

Protein could reverse the aging process

protein that could reverse the aging process

protein that could reverse the aging process

Researchers from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) have shown that injections of a protein dubbed GDF11, when administered to older mice, appear to cause a reversal of many signs of aging. Analysis showed that every major organ system tested displayed signs of improvement, with the protein even appearing to reverse some of the DNA damage which is synonymous with the aging process itself.

The protein GDF11 is found in humans as well as mice, and is now being considered for possible human testing due to its surprising and apparently regenerative properties.

A previous study had focused on examining the hearts of mice the equivalent of 70 human years old. The mice were regularly exposed to the blood of younger mice whose blood carried a higher concentration of GDF11. Ordinarily the hearts of older mice are enlarged and weakened, however results from the previous study displayed that, thanks to the GDF11 protein present in the blood of the younger mice, the hearts of the elderly mice reduced in size, making them appear younger and healthier. The changes were not purely aesthetic however, with the mice displaying an increased ability to exercise for prolonged periods of time.

The most recent set of experiments tested the protein in two ways. The first stage of the testing involved linking the circulatory systems of an older and a younger mouse through what is known as a parabiotic system. This allowed the protein-rich blood from the younger mouse to flow through the elder’s system continuously, maximizing the effect of the protein. The second method involved injecting the older mice with a concentrated dose of GDF11.

Results from the second study showed that the protein had positive effects reaching far beyond the heart. It was found that, having been exposed to increased levels of the protein, all organs examined by the researchers displayed a heightened level of function. Furthermore, whilst previous studies on the protein had focused on regenerating damaged muscle in mice, the most recent study focused on the repair of cells damaged by the aging process. The GDF11 protein was found to reverse some of this damage, allowing muscle to function as effectively as that of a much younger mouse.

Analysis of the brains of the older mice via MRI imaging displayed an increase in neural stem cells along with the development of blood cells in the brain. “There seems to be little question that, at least in animals, GDF11 has an amazing capacity to restore aging muscle and brain function,” states Dr. Doug Melton, co-chair of HSCI. The team believes that due to the increased blood flow exhibited in the brain of the elderly mice, it may be possible to reverse some of the cognitive effects of aging. The protein was also found to improve the olfactory system of older mice, greatly heightening their sense of smell.

In terms of human applications, it is hoped that a drug derived from GDF11 will lead to a cure for conditions such as diastolic heart failure. This condition is a defect which eventually causes one or more of the ventricles of the heart to deteriorate while attempting to fill the heart with blood, in order to pump it around the body. There is also a possibility that a GDF11-inspired drug could be used to combat Alzheimer’s, a condition synonymous with the aging process.

Looking to the future, the team will continue studies of the GDF11 protein, with a view to begin human medical trials within three to five years.

 

Source: w.gizmag.com

Cancer-resistant blind mole rat

 

Cancer-resistant blind mole rat gets genome sequence

Cancer-resistant blind mole rat gets genome sequence

Scientists have sequenced the genome of the blind mole rat, a mammal that digs with its teeth, has skin over its eyes and lives for more than 20 years.

Its underground lifestyle means coping with no light, very little oxygen and an awful lot of dirt.

It is also resistant to cancer, like its distant cousin the naked mole rat.

The new work, published in the journal Nature Communications, will help unpick those secrets and the wider adaptation of animals to difficult environments.

Among the results were what the researchers believe are the genetic signatures of the mole rat’s complete loss of vision and its impressive tolerance of low oxygen (or “hypoxia”).

They also discovered how its special cancer-fighting mechanism might have evolved.

One of the study’s lead authors, Prof Eviatar Nevo from the University of Haifa in Israel, has studied blind mole rats for more than 50 years. In all of that time, a spontaneous tumour has never been discovered.

Even when treated with carcinogenic chemicals, these remarkable rodents were incredibly resistant to cancer.

Most animals rely on cells detecting a cancerous malfunction and shutting themselves down (programmed cell death or “apoptosis”), but the blind mole rat’s immune system attacks tumours and causes “necrosis” instead. The new study reports that genes involved in this immune defence have been favoured by evolution, and some have been expanded or duplicated.

All this may have happened because one of the key mediators of the normal cell-shutdown defence, a protein called p53, is mutated in the mole rats as part of their adaptation to low oxygen.

The mole rat spends its entire life under the ground, where oxygen is scarce. In other animals this would send p53 into overdrive.

“When there is low oxygen, in other species, [normal p53] would mean that some cells would die from apoptosis – but not in blind mole rats, because that would be a disaster,” said Dr Denis Larkin from the Royal Veterinary College in London, one of the study’s authors.

So the mole rats have evolved a unique trade-off, weakening p53 and boosting the immune system’s necrotic defence, which “the cancer doesn’t know how to deal with,” Dr Larkin told BBC News.

The genome study was carried out by a large team of researchers that also spanned China, Israel, the US and Denmark. Dr Larkin was involved in piecing together the evolution of the animal’s chromosomes, having done similar work on other genomes ranging from the pig to the yak.

He told the BBC the findings would shift the blind mole rat to “a new level” in the research community. “When you have the whole genome… you can more efficiently use the species as a model – for cancer resistance, or adaptation to hypoxia, or other medical challenges.”

The naked mole rat, also studied for its cancer resistance, is a distant relative of the blind mole rat

Dr Philippa Brice, from the genomics think-tank PHG Foundation at the University of Cambridge, told BBC News the mole rats and their “really unusual lifestyle” had already been valuable to scientists studying cancer resistance. She agreed that the genome sequence would mean more rapid progress.

“Now that their complete genome is available, it will make it much easier to probe their unique genetic features, with potential applications for human medical research,” Dr Brice said.

The blind mole rat (the newly sequenced species is Spalax galili) is only distantly related to the naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber), another unusual, subterranean critter with remarkable cancer resistance.

Their evolutionary histories diverged over 70 million years ago, according to calculations in the new study, and the two mole rats adapted completely separately to life underground.

In fact, the furry-but-blind Spalax is a closer cousin to the common house mouse than to the “sabre-toothed sausage” lookalike Heterocephalus.

 

Double meaning in genetic code

Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code:

Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code

Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code

Scientists have discovered a second code hiding within DNA. This second code contains information that changes how scientists read the instructions contained in DNA and interpret mutations to make sense of health and disease.

A research team led by Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine, made the discovery. The findings are reported in the Dec. 13 issue of Science. The work is part of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project, also known as ENCODE. The National Human Genome Research Institute funded the multi-year, international effort. ENCODE aims to discover where and how the directions for biological functions are stored in the human genome.

Since the genetic code was deciphered in the 1960s, scientists have assumed that it was used exclusively to write information about proteins. UW scientists were stunned to discover that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages. One describes how proteins are made, and the other instructs the cell on how genes are controlled. One language is written on top of the other, which is why the second language remained hidden for so long.

“For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made,” said Stamatoyannopoulos. “Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture. These new findings highlight that DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which nature has fully exploited in unexpected ways.”

The genetic code uses a 64-letter alphabet called codons. The UW team discovered that some codons, which they called duons, can have two meanings, one related to protein sequence, and one related to gene control. These two meanings seem to have evolved in concert with each other. The gene control instructions appear to help stabilize certain beneficial features of proteins and how they are made.

The discovery of duons has major implications for how scientists and physicians interpret a patient’s genome and will open new doors to the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

“The fact that the genetic code can simultaneously write two kinds of information means that many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously,” said Stamatoyannopoulos.

Source:  sciencedaily.com

Galaxy holds 100M complex-life-supporting planets

Our galaxy may hold 100M complex-life-supporting planets:

Our galaxy may hold 100M complex-life-supporting planets

Our galaxy may hold 100M complex-life-supporting planets

The number of planets in the Milky Way galaxy which could harbor complex life may be as high as 100 million, Washington State University astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch writes in a column posted this week on the Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine website.

The estimate, which assumes an average of one planet per star in the Milky Way, is drawn from a study believed to be the first quantitative assessment of the number of worlds in our galaxy that could harbor life above the microbial level.

Schulze-Makuch said the study is significant because it is the first to rely on observable data from actual planetary bodies beyond the solar system, rather than making educated guesses about the frequency of life on other worlds based on hypothetical assumptions.

The research was published recently in the journal Challenges by a group of scientists that includes Louis Irwin, of the University of Texas at El Paso; Alberto Fairen of Cornell University; Abel Mendez of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo; and Schulze-Makuch.

The researchers surveyed the growing list of more than 1,000 known planets outside the solar system. Using a formula that considers planetary density, temperature, substrate (liquid, solid or gas), chemistry, distance from its central star and age, they computed a “Biological Complexity Index (BCI),” which rates planets on a scale of 0 to 1.0 according to the number and degree of characteristics assumed to be important for supporting various forms of multicellular life.

“The BCI calculation revealed that 1 to 2 percent of exoplanets showed a BCI rating higher than Europa, a moon of Jupiter thought to have a subsurface global ocean which could harbor different forms of life,” writes Schulze-Makuch. “Based on an estimate of 10 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, and assuming an average of one planet per star, this yields the figure of 100 million. Some scientists believe the number could be 10 times higher.”

He emphasizes that the study should not be taken as an indication that complex life actually exists on as many as 100 million planets, but rather that the figure is the best estimate to date of the number of planets in our galaxy likely to exhibit conditions supportive to such life.

“Also, it should be understood that complex life doesn’t mean intelligent life or even animal life, although it doesn’t rule either out,” Schulze-Makuch said. “It means simply that organisms larger and more complex than microbes could exist in a number of different forms, quite likely forming stable food webs like those found in ecosystems on Earth.

“Despite the large absolute number of planets that could harbor complex life, the Milky Way is so vast that, statistically, planets with high BCI values are very far apart,” Schulze-Makuch writes. “One of the closest and most promising extrasolar systems, known as Gliese 581, has possibly two planets with the apparent capacity to host complex biospheres, yet the distance from the Sun to Gliese 581 is about 20 light years.”

And most planets with a high BCI are much farther away, he said.

If the 100 million planets that the team says have the theoretical capacity for hosting complex life were randomly distributed across the galaxy, Schulze-Makuch said they would lie about 24 light years apart, assuming equal stellar density. And he estimates the distance between planets with intelligent life would likely be significantly farther.

“On the one hand it seems highly unlikely that we are alone,” he writes in the article. “On the other hand, we are likely so far away from life at our level of complexity, that a meeting with such alien forms might be improbable for the foreseeable future.”

 

Source:  scienceblog.com

Nanomotors Placed Inside Live Human Cells

Tiny Nanomotors Successfully Placed Inside Live Human Cells For The First Time:

Tiny Nanomotors Successfully Placed Inside Live Human Cells For The First Time

Tiny Nanomotors Successfully Placed Inside Live Human Cells For The First Time

Scientists have successfully placed tiny synthetic motors in live human cells through nanotechnology. Using ultrasonic waves as the power source and magnets to steer, the nanomotors can zip around the cell and perform tasks.

The main obstacle for placing nanomotors in cells is the power source. Previous nanomotors needed toxic fuels to propel them. It wouldn’t move in a biological environment.

The researchers at Penn State University and at Weinberg Medical Physics found that ultrasonic waves can be used to power these motors and that magnetic fields can be used to steer them.

The image above is that of a HeLa cell with some gold-ruthenium nanomotors inside it. The arrows indicate the trajectories of the nanomotors, and the solid white line shows its propulsion. There are several nanomotors is spinning at the center. HeLa cells are a line of human cervical cancer cells that are used in research studies. Image credit: Mallouk lab, Penn State University.

Bionanotechnology is fast becoming popular in medical and scientific research. Implants and devices hundreds of times smaller than the width of a human hair, can be integrated into cells. This technology can open up various medical applications such as surgery, deliver medication, and even eradicate cancer cells. Because of its microscopic size, bionanotech devices are non-invasive and results in fewer complications normal open surgery would have.

For the first time, a team of chemists and engineers at Penn State University have placed tiny synthetic motors inside live human cells, propelled them with ultrasonic waves and steered them magnetically. It’s not exactly “Fantastic Voyage,” but it’s close. The nanomotors, which are rocket-shaped metal particles, move around inside the cells, spinning and battering against the cell membrane.

“As these nanomotors move around and bump into structures inside the cells, the live cells show internal mechanical responses that no one has seen before,” said Tom Mallouk, Evan Pugh Professor of Materials Chemistry and Physics at Penn State. “This research is a vivid demonstration that it may be possible to use synthetic nanomotors to study cell biology in new ways. We might be able to use nanomotors to treat cancer and other diseases by mechanically manipulating cells from the inside. Nanomotors could perform intracellular surgery and deliver drugs noninvasively to living tissues.”

The researchers’ findings will be published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition on 10 February 2014. In addition to Mallouk, co-authors include Penn State researchers Wei Wang, Sixing Li, Suzanne Ahmed, and Tony Jun Huang, as well as Lamar Mair of Weinberg Medical Physics in Maryland U.S.A.

Up until now, Mallouk said, nanomotors have been studied only “in vitro” in a laboratory apparatus, not in living human cells. Chemically powered nanomotors first were developed ten years ago at Penn State by a team that included chemist Ayusman Sen and physicist Vincent Crespi, in addition to Mallouk. “Our first-generation motors required toxic fuels and they would not move in biological fluid, so we couldn’t study them in human cells,” Mallouk said. “That limitation was a serious problem.” When Mallouk and French physicist Mauricio Hoyos discovered that nanomotors could be powered by ultrasonic waves, the door was open to studying the motors in living systems.

For their experiments, the team uses HeLa cells, an immortal line of human cervical cancer cells that typically is used in research studies. These cells ingest the nanomotors, which then move around within the cell tissue, powered by ultrasonic waves. At low ultrasonic power, Mallouk explained, the nanomotors have little effect on the cells. But when the power is increased, the nanomotors spring into action, moving around and bumping into organelles — structures within a cell that perform specific functions. The nanomotors can act as egg beaters to essentially homogenize the cell’s contents, or they can act as battering rams to actually puncture the cell membrane.

While ultrasound pulses control whether the nanomotors spin around or whether they move forward, the researchers can control the motors even further by steering them, using magnetic forces. Mallouk and his colleagues also found that the nanomotors can move autonomously — independently of one another — an ability that is important for future applications. “Autonomous motion might help nanomotors selectively destroy the cells that engulf them,” Mallouk said. “If you want these motors to seek out and destroy cancer cells, for example, it’s better to have them move independently. You don’t want a whole mass of them going in one direction.”

The ability of nanomotors to affect living cells holds promise for medicine, Mallouk said. “One dream application of ours is Fantastic Voyage-style medicine, where nanomotors would cruise around inside the body, communicating with each other and performing various kinds of diagnoses and therapy. There are lots of applications for controlling particles on this small scale, and understanding how it works is what’s driving us.”

quantumday.com

Source:

30 Year Power Laptop Battery

Scientists Invent 30 Year Continuous Power Laptop Battery!

 

Scientists Invent 30 Year Continuous Power Laptop Battery!

Scientists Invent 30 Year Continuous Power Laptop Battery!

 

Your next laptop could have a continuous power battery that lasts for 30 years without a single recharge thanks to work being funded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. The breakthrough betavoltaic power cells are constructed from semiconductors and use radioisotopes as the energy source. As the radioactive material decays it emits beta particles that transform into electric power capable of fueling an electrical device like a laptop for years.

Although betavoltaic batteries sound Nuclear they’re not, they’re neither use fission/fusion or chemical processes to produce energy and so (do not produce any radioactive or hazardous waste). Betavoltaics generate power when an electron strikes a particular interface between two layers of material. The Process uses beta electron emissions that occur when a neutron decays into a proton which causes a forward bias in the semiconductor. This makes the betavoltaic cell a forward bias diode of sorts, similar in some respects to a photovoltaic (solar) cell. Electrons scatter out of their normal orbits in the semiconductor and into the circuit creating a usable electric current.

The profile of the batteries can be quite small and thin, a porous silicon material is used to collect the hydrogen isotope tritium which is generated in the process. The reaction is non-thermal which means laptops and other small devices like mobile phones will run much cooler than with traditional lithium-ion power batteries. The reason the battery lasts so long is that neutron beta-decay into protons is the world’s most concentrated source of electricity, truly demonstrating Einstein’s theory E=MC2.

The best part about these cells are when they eventually run out of power they are totally inert and non-toxic, so environmentalists need not fear these high tech scientific wonder batteries. If all goes well plans are for these cells to reach store shelves in about 2 to 3 years.

 

Source:  bink.nu

Plants recognize their siblings

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover:

 

 

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover

The next time you venture into your garden armed with plants, consider who you place next to whom. It turns out that the docile garden plant isn’t as passive as widely assumed, at least not with strangers. Researchers at McMaster University have found that plants get fiercely competitive when forced to share their pot with strangers of the same species, but they’re accommodating when potted with their siblings.

The study appears today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

“The ability to recognize and favour kin is common in animals, but this is the first time it has been shown in plants” said Susan Dudley, associate professor of biology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. “When plants share their pots, they get competitive and start growing more roots, which allows them to grab water and mineral nutrients before their neighbours get them. It appears, though, that they only do this when sharing a pot with unrelated plants; when they share a pot with family they don’t increase their root growth. Because differences between groups of strangers and groups of siblings only occurred when they shared a pot, the root interactions may provide a cue for kin recognition.”

Though they lack cognition and memory, the study shows plants are capable of complex social behaviours such as altruism towards relatives, says Dudley. Like humans, the most interesting behaviours occur beneath the surface.

Dudley and her student, Amanda File, observed the behavior in sea rocket (Cakile edentula), a member of the mustard family native to beaches throughout North America, including the Great Lakes.

So should gardeners arrange their plants like they would plan the seating at a dinner party?

“Gardeners have known for a long time that some pairs of species get along better than others, and scientists are starting to catch up with why that happens,” says Dudley. “What I’ve found is that plants from the same mother may be more compatible with each other than with plants of the same species that had different mothers. The more we know about plants, the more complex their interactions seem to be, so it may be as hard to predict the outcome as when you mix different people at a party.”

 

Source: phys.org

Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic

Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic Than Regulators Say:

 

Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic Than Regulators Say

Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic Than Regulators Say

A highly concerning new study published in the journal Biomedical Research International reveals that despite the still relatively benign reputation of agrochemicals such as Roundup herbicide, many chemical formulations upon which the modern agricultural system depend are far more toxic than present regulatory tests performed on them reveal. Roundup herbicide, for instance, was found to be 125 times more toxic than its active ingredient glyphosate studied in isolation.

Titled, “Major pesticides are more toxic to human cells than their declared active principles,” the study evaluated to what extent the active principle (AP) and the so-called ‘inert ingredients,’ i.e. adjuvants, in globally popular formulations account for the toxicity of 9 major pesticides: 3 herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides.

The Deceptive Semantics of Pesticide Formulations And Their Regulation

The paper describes how the agrochemical industry conceals the true toxicity of their chemical formulations by focusing on the health risks associated with only one so-called ‘active principle’ (AP) in their complex formulations, and sets the public up for mass poisoning through the determination of an ‘acceptable level of harm’ via the calculation of the so-called ‘acceptable daily intake (ADI)’ based on the toxicological risk profile of only a single ingredient:

“Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle (AP), which is the only one tested in the longest toxicological regulatory tests performed on mammals. This allows the calculation of the acceptable daily intake (ADI)—the level of exposure that is claimed to be safe for humans over the long term—and justifies the presence of residues of these pesticides at “admissible” levels in the environment and organisms. Only the AP and one metabolite are used as markers, but this does not exclude the presence of adjuvants, which are cell penetrants.”

The problem of underestimated toxicological risk is so severe that the researchers describe previous research which found unexpected toxicity in so-called ‘inert’ adjuvants that were up to 10,000 times more toxic than the so-called active principle glyphosate itself, revealing them to be a greater source for secondary side effects than the main ingredient itself. They also note that this ‘synergistic toxicity’ may explain the results of previous long-term animal research where glyphosate-based formulations showed toxicity in the parts-per-trillion range (.1 part per billion) that could not be explained by glyphosate alone.

Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD, commented on this phenomena in connection with the study recently on her blog: “Similar to the non-placebo-controlled trials on vaccines, adjuvants and preservatives are considered innocent bystanders in the consideration of risk profile.” According to Dr. Brogan, an understanding of “Toxicant synergy has exploded the simplistic notion of “the dose makes the poison.””

The Test Method and Results

In order to ascertain the toxicity of various chemical formulations and their ingredients, the researchers used embryonic (HEK293), placental (JEG3), and hepatic (HepG2) human cell lines, “because they are well characterized and validated as useful models to test toxicities of pesticides, corresponding to what is observed on fresh tissue or primary cells.”  They noted, “these cells lines are even in some instances less sensitive than primary cells, and therefore do not overestimate cellular toxicity.”

The researchers describe the their method of determining toxicity:

We assayed their mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase (SD) activity (MTT assay) after 24h pesticide exposure, which is one of the most accurate cytotoxicity assays for measuring the toxicity of pesticide adjuvants such as surfactants. Cytotoxicity was confirmed by the measurement of apoptosis and necrosis, respectively, by caspases 3/7 activation and adenylate kinase leakage after membrane alterations

The results of the study were clear. Except for one pesticide (Matin), “All formulations were cytotoxic and far more toxic than their APs [active principles].”

Key findings included:

  • On human cells, among the tested products, fungicides were the most toxic, being cytotoxic from doses 300–600 times lower than agricultural dilutions, followed by herbicides (except Matin) and then insecticides.
  • In all cell types, fungicides were the most toxic (mean LC50 12ppm).
  • The herbicide Roundup (LC50 63ppm) was next in toxicity to fungicides, twice as toxic as Starane, and more than 10 times as toxic as the 3 insecticides, which represent the less toxic group (mean LC50 720ppm).

China fines Johnson & Johnson

China fines Johnson & Johnson and others for price fixing:

 

China fines Johnson & Johnson and others for price fixing

China fines Johnson & Johnson and others for price fixing

 

 

 

Johnson & Johnson, Bausch & Lomb Inc and other major producers have been fined more than 19 million yuan ($3.04 million) for fixing prices in China’s eye glass and contact lens market, China’s top economic regulator said on Thursday.

The companies mandated their dealers to set the price of lenses strictly in accordance to a “suggested level”, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement on its website.

They also ordered retailers to jointly launch promotions in major Chinese cities all year around to keep prices stable, the notice said.

Dealers and retailers who do not comply with the order will be subject to unspecified financial penalties, it said. Other penalties may include seeing a halt to their supplies from the overseas manufacturers.

Johnson & Johnson executives could not be reached immediately for comment.

Chinese authorities have charged executives at British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline over bribery and corruption. Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG had also been visited by a unit of China’s anti-trust regulator.

Other overseas eyes lenses brands named by NDRC included Essilor International SA, Nikon Corp, Carl Zeiss Meditec AG.

 

Source: reuters.com

 

Giant Ice Wall at Fukushima

Japan to Start Building Giant Ice Wall at Fukushima:

 

Japan to Start Building Giant Ice Wall at Fukushima

Japan to Start Building Giant Ice Wall at Fukushima

 

Japan Wants to Build an Ice Wall to Contain Fukushima’s Radioactive Water

Radioactive water full of carcinogenic chemicals is leaking out of the Fukushima power plant at a… Read more

Following examination of the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) plans to build the gigantic ice wall, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has given the go ahead for construction to commence. While similar techniques have been used in the past, it’s never been undertaken at the same scale as the proposed Fukushima plans. Speaking to PhysOrg, an anonymous official explained that:

“We had some concerns, including the possibility that part of the ground could sink. But there were no major objections to the project during the meeting, and we concluded that TEPCO can go ahead with at least part of the project as proposed after going through further necessary procedures.”

In June, then, engineers will begin building a 0.9-mile frozen wall that should stem the flow of radioactive groundwater. We’ve explained how it will work before:

The idea is to drive vertical pipes spaced about a meter apart between 20 and 40 meters into the ground and to pump coolant through them. This would effectively create a barrier of permafrost around the affected buildings, keeping the contaminated water in and groundwater out.

Despite the fact the plan is to go ahead, TEPCO may have to review other parts of the project as it progresses. There are some concerns that the ice wall may affect existing infrastructure—drains, utilities and the like—which will all have to carefully monitored once the project goes ahead.

 

Source:  Gizmodo.com