NSA should track every American email

NSA should track every American email:

NSA should track every American email

NSA should track every American email

 

If you think that President Obama to review the National Security Agency panel was purely in loosening of its scope , think again.

One participant said on Sunday that the NSA recommends tracking details metadata such as sender, recipient , time and location emails of all Americans.

It would not be the first time. The NSA followed up on email metadata of Americans without a warrant, although it is said that the practice ended in 2011, and none of the documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden released so far contradicts that statement. The agency does not store all metadata, which admitted a couple of months after Snowden leaked documents showing that the case , although the review panel recommended ending the program.

Those familiar with the faces of five members of the review panel, Obama probably would not be surprised at who made ​​the recommendation : Michael Morell, former director of the CIA.

“I would say that in fact the email data is probably more valuable than data telephony,” Morell told the National Journal , in a telephone interview Sunday .

Morell actually granted what has previously been hailed as a victory for privacy advocates who oppose the NSA : the program metadata collection phone made ” only a modest contribution to the security of the nation ” and that ” the last thing a smart terrorist will do at this point is to call someone in the United States. ”

So the solution in Morell ‘s mind , is the ability to legally track all e- mails sent to or from American computers.

” If I had been in effect in 2000 and 2001 , I think , probably 9/11 would not have happened,” he said.

Firm denies accepting bribe from NSA

Firm denies accepting bribe from NSA:

Firm denies accepting bribe from NSA

Firm denies accepting bribe from NSA

 

More details came to light of the National Security Agency U.S. to break encryption schemes that protect personal communications and financial transactions on the Internet.

Reuters reported that RSA, a Internet encryption firms , may have accepted $ 10 million to weaken services. Specifically , the report claimed , generator vulnerable to attack by the NSA incorporates random numbers .

NSA ‘s efforts to weaken encryption Internet , either by direct attack or through agreements with several Internet companies apparently began after the September 11, 2001 .

On Sunday , RSA denied any money from the agency to weaken encryption. ” We categorically deny this accusation , ” RSA wrote in a blog. “We worked with the NSA , both as a provider and an active member of the security community . Never have kept this relationship a secret and , in fact, have openly publicized it.”

While RSA not refused to work with the spy agency , said that behind when he apparently went into contract together, ” the NSA had a role of trust in the community -wide effort to strengthen, not weaken , the encryption. ”

In fact , it was only in September 2013 that the New York Times revealed that the NSA had intentionally weakened the random number generator used by some of the tools of RSA . Once the history of time left , RSA agreed that the generator must not be used. ” RSA always acts in the best interest of their clients and in any case the RSA design or enable backdoors into our products,” the firm wrote at the time .

Three fundamental issues about Alzheimer’s

Three fundamental issues about Alzheimer’s:

 three fundamental issues about Alzheimer's

three fundamental issues about Alzheimer’s

 

” It has been known for years that Alzheimer ‘s disease in a region of the brain called the entorhinal cortex, ” said co -author Scott A. Small , MD , Boris Katz and Rose Professor of Neurology , professor of radiology and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center . ” But this study is the first to show in living patients starting specifically in the lateral entorhinal cortex , or LEC . LEC is considered a gateway to the hippocampus, which plays a key role in the consolidation of long memory term , among other functions. If the LEC is affected, also affected other aspects of the hippocampus. ”

With time , spreads Alzheimer LEC directly to other areas of the cerebral cortex , in particular the parietal cortex , a brain region involved in various functions including spatial orientation and navigation. Researchers suspect that Alzheimer “functionally ” , ie , to compromise the function of neurons in the LEC , which in turn threatens the integrity of neurons in adjacent areas spreads .

A third important finding of the study is that a LEC impairment when changes in tau and amyloid precursor protein (APP ) co -exist occurs . ” The LEC is especially vulnerable to Alzheimer ‘s disease because it typically accumulates tau , which sensitizes the LEC to the accumulation of APP . Together, these two proteins damage neurons in the LEC , setting the stage for Alzheimer ‘s disease ” said lead co -author Karen E. Duff , PhD , professor of pathology and cell biology ( in psychiatry and in the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer ‘s Disease and the Aging Brain ) at CUMC and the Psychiatric Institute of the State of New York.

Researchers used a high-resolution variant of functional magnetic resonance imaging to map metabolic defects in the brains of 96 adults who participated in the Project Aging Washington Heights – Inwood Columbia ( WHICAP ) . All adults were free of dementia at the time of registration.

” Study Dr. Richard Mayeux WHICAP allows us to follow a large group of healthy elderly individuals , some of whom have gone on to develop Alzheimer ‘s disease ,” said Dr. Small. “This study has given us a unique opportunity to image and characterize patients with Alzheimer’s disease in its early , preclinical phase. ”

The 96 adults were followed for an average of 3.5 years , at which time 12 individuals who have progressed to mild Alzheimer’s disease were found. An analysis of functional magnetic resonance basis of these 12 individuals found a significant decrease in cerebral blood volume ( CBV ) – A measure of the metabolic activity of the LEC – compared to the 84 adults who were free of dementia.

A second part of the study the role of tau and APP was addressed in the LEC dysfunction. While previous studies have suggested that dysfunction of the entorhinal cortex is associated with abnormalities in both tau and APP , it was not known how these proteins interact to drive this dysfunction , particularly in preclinical Alzheimer .

To answer this question , explained first author Usman Khan, a MD- PhD student from the laboratory of Dr. Small , the team created three mouse models , one with elevated levels of tau in the LEC , one with high levels APP , and one with high levels of both proteins. The researchers found that the LEC dysfunction occurred only in mice with both tau and APP .

The study has implications for both research and treatment. ” Now that we have established clearly where Alzheimer’s begins , and showed us that these changes are observable by fMRI, we may be able to detect Alzheimer’s disease at an early preclinical stage , when the disease may be treatable and before spreading to other regions of the brain , “said Dr. Small. In addition , the researchers say , the new imaging method could be used to evaluate the effectiveness of promising drugs during early Alzheimer ‘s disease .

The paper is entitled ” Molecular conductors and lateral entorhinal cortex dysfunction in preclinical Alzheimer ‘s disease cortical spreading . ” Other contributors are Li Liu, Frank Provenzano, Diego Berman, Caterina Profaci , Richard Sloan and Richard Mayeux , all CUMC .

Microsoft security is worthless

Microsoft security is worthless:

Microsoft security is worthless

Microsoft security is worthless

A assessment of Dennis Technology Labs , users antivirus software Microsoft might want to think about installing other malware protection .

Dennis Technology Labs, the independent testing laboratory software based in London , released a quarterly assessment of nine screening programs most popular in the market and found that virus Microsoft Security Essentials detected 39 percent of all malware tested .

The Microsoft program , available for free download to anyone with a validated copy of Windows rated well below the other programs evaluated , all of which drew 87 percent or higher. Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 ranked first , protection against 99 percent of the virus. Avast! Free Antivirus 8 was rated the best free program not only detects 2 percent of malware.

“We are fully committed to protecting our clients consumer and business against malware ,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement . ” Our strong comprehensive solutions provide the necessary protection against malicious code and attacks. Supporting our antimalware partners helps in building a strong and diverse ecosystem to combat malware .”

Microsoft has a history of poor performance on tests of Dennis Technology Labs . A test from the beginning of this year found that it has lost 41 percent of all malware.  Microsoft has defended the performance of the product , saying it is not intended to be the only line of defense a user .

“We’ve had an epiphany a few years ago , back in 2011 when we realized that we had a higher calling and that was to protect all customers of Microsoft , ” Holly Stewart , senior manager of the Center Malware Protection Microsoft , told PC Pro . ” But you can not do that with a monoculture and you can not do that with an ecosystem of malware that is not attractive solid and diverse. ”

Stewart explained that instead of concentrating resources on your computer to have Microsoft ‘s own software will be able to identify all the latest viruses , which would focus on the search for new threats and send that information to other companies producing anti software virus .

This strategy makes sense if the ultimate goal is to keep users safe from malware Windows , but has the potential to leave some people believing that they have robust antivirus protection when you only have what Microsoft calls a ” baseline” from which users are encouraged to add additional virus protection .

Exotic Chemicals from Salt

Exotic Chemicals from Salt:

 

Exotic Chemicals from Salt

Exotic Chemicals from Salt

 

Almost everything around you is made of elements that scientists have studied in some detail in the last 200 years. This understanding breaks when elements are subjected to high pressure and temperature . Using an advanced theoretical understanding and extreme conditions , researchers have become the exotic chemical table salt .

Salt is made of one part sodium and one part bleach . If somehow the salt were transported to the center of the Earth , where the pressure is three million times the surface , crystalline structure would change, but the ratio of these two elements would remain the same .

Vitali Prakapenka at the University of Chicago and colleagues wanted to find out what happens if there were an excess of sodium or chlorine at such high pressures. Could you change the relationship between the elements? ” Could ” Prakapenka said, “because the chemical changes completely in those conditions. ” Doing so , the result would not only be the formation of a new compound, but a serious review of what we think about chemistry.

Elemental behavior changes in such high pressures. For example , the oxygen molecules which usually contain two atoms , are decomposed into the increased pressure , and the element forms a box eight atom . Raising the pressure a little about 300,000 atmospheres, and begins to superconduct . Chemists are trying to develop chemicals that exhibit similar properties, but are stable under normal conditions – learn about these exotic compounds can help achieve that goal.

Sodium chloride (ie , table salt ) is a different beast . It is linked in a one -on-one by very strong ionic bonds . However, calculations by Artem Organov Prakapenka colleague at the State University of New York at Stony Brook said that even sodium chloride could be twisted to produce exotic chemicals. These calculations were given precise pressures to which , in presence of an excess of sodium or chlorine , salt may be transformed.

Calculations showed that NaCl3 , Na3Cl , Na2Cl , Na3Cl2 and NaCl7 could all be stable at pressures ranging from 20GPa to 142GPa , where 1GPa is about 10,000 atmospheres of pressure . Physicists high pressure have many models to predict the behavior of the elements in extreme conditions, but rarely the models agree with experiment .

Notably his calculations withstood the test of experiment in at least two cases : Na3Cl and NaCl3 . To run an experiment of this type , a device called luxury diamond anvil cell is needed. The chemicals are added between two diamonds, which can be compressed to produce pressures up to 300GPa . This is what Prakapenka colleague used to Na3Cl and NaCl3 , structures were verified by Prakapenka by X-ray analysis .

” Nobody thought this could happen , given how strong the bond is between sodium and chlorine ,” said Prakapenka . ” What we have shown is that the theory can be translated into the experiment, which is often not the case in the physics of high pressure.”

Malcolm McMahon, professor of physics at high pressure in the University of Edinburgh , said : . “These are amazing results , and are guided by the remarkable theoretical predictions Without tools like that have been built , would not have thought that the sodium chloride could be changed in this way. ”

It may not have any immediate application of the results. Instead , researchers have opened the door for scientists to begin probing other chemicals in the hope of making exotic combinations that can remain stable at room temperature. Diamonds are a good example . In nature , formed in the interior of the Earth when carbon is subjected to extreme pressure. Once formed, they are stable even at ambient conditions. So there may be other similar materials to diamond we can do , there may be others that our current understanding of chemistry has even predicted.

Other implications are not terrestrial . Each planet in our Solar System and Beyond has a vast amount of extreme pressure material. For example , Jupiter is predicted to have metallic hydrogen , hydrogen where electrons are free to move at will. It is hoped that this material becomes a superconductor at room temperature. Understanding how the chemicals we know behave in such conditions would be vital for predicting conditions in the army are discovering exoplanets .

If nothing else, Prakapenka work shows that even something as simple as table salt can be successfully transformed – which means that we still have much to discover about the items we all know.

Depressive sysmtoms linked to therapy uptake

Cognitive Depressive Symptoms and Antiretroviral Therapy Uptake:

Possible Link Between Cognitive Depressive Symptoms, Antiretroviral Therapy Uptake

Possible Link Between Cognitive Depressive Symptoms, Antiretroviral Therapy Uptake

 

The impact of depressive symptoms on antiretroviral therapy are being widely studied , studies have investigated the impact of these symptoms at ART initiation . According to researchers, understanding factors associated with ART initiation may be particularly useful where it is not as commonly prescribed , such as Russia , which has experienced a dramatic increase in rates of HIV infection in the past decade .

Jeffrey Samet, professor of internal medicine and principal investigator of the study, the researchers recruited participants in the evolution of the HIV epidemic in Russia – Mitigating Infection Transmission and Alcoholism in a growing epidemic study . The 133 eligible participants had their severity measured at six and 12 months of brands depressive symptoms.

The results do not provide evidence that the severity of depressive symptoms alone had no statistically significant effect on the initiation of ART , the findings suggest a possible role of cognitive depressive symptoms in decisions to initiate ART. According to investigators, the cognitive symptoms of depression are often regarded as an index of depression that is less influenced by the symptoms of HIV . In addition , the study showed findings consistent with existing studies showing participants with excessive alcohol co – morbid and injection drug use appears to have delayed the start of ART .

” Depressive symptoms have been shown to influence the progression of HIV and have been associated with poor virologic response to treatment and an increased immune failure,” said Tracie Goodness , a doctoral student in clinical psychology at the CAS and corresponding author of the study. “Starting the timely ART has been associated with many positive health effects , such as decreased mortality , increased immune function and lower rates of HIV transmission,” he added.

More research is needed, these results provide initial evidence for the role of depressive symptoms and may contribute to the understanding of the initiation of ART in HIV  infected populations

Anxiety Linked to Risk of Stroke

Anxiety Linked to Risk of Stroke:

 

Anxiety Linked to Risk of Stroke

Anxiety Linked to Risk of Stroke

 

 

 

A study is the first to link researchers anxiety and stroke independent of other factors such as depression . Anxiety is one of the most common problems of mental health. Symptoms include worried, stressed , nervous or tense feeling.

A period of 22 years, researchers studied a nationally representative group of 6,019 people aged 25-74 in the first National Health Examination Survey and Nutrition.

Participants underwent an interview and took blood tests, medical examinations and complete psychological questionnaires to measure levels of anxiety and depression . Researchers studied strokes through the reports of the hospital or nursing home , and death certificates. After accounting for other factors , they found that even a modest increase in anxiety were associated with an increased risk of stroke.

People in the highest third anxiety symptoms had a 33 percent higher risk of stroke than those with the lowest levels .

” Everyone has some anxiety from time to time . But when is high and / or chronic, can have an effect on the vasculature years down the road ,” said Maya Lambiase , Ph.D. , study author and cardiovascular medicine behavior researcher at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pittsburgh.

People with high levels of anxiety are more likely to smoke and be physically inactive, possibly explaining part of the link of anxiety – trait . The levels of stress hormones , heart rate or blood pressure could also be factors , Lambiase said.

In previous work , researchers found that depression was associated with an increased risk of stroke , which is the No. 4 murderer and a leading cause of disability in the United States. In contrast to anxiety , depression is a persistent feeling of hopelessness, discouragement and lack of energy, among other symptoms.

Scientist’s Grow Liquid Crystal

Researchers Grow Liquid Crystal:

Researchers Grow Liquid Crystal

Researchers Grow Liquid Crystal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In previous studies , the team produced patterns “defects” votes disruptions repeating patterns found in liquid crystals, in grids and rings nanometer scale. A three-dimensional matrix in the form of a flower : The new study a more complex pattern of an even simpler template is added.

And because the petals of this ” bloom ” are made transparent liquid crystal and radiates outward in a circle from a center point , the assembly resembles a compound eye and therefore can be used as a lens .

The team consists of Randall Kamien , a professor in the School of Arts and the Department of Physical Sciences and Astronomy ; Kathleen Stebe , the School of Engineering and Associate Dean of Applied Sciences for research and professor of Chemical and Bio molecular Engineering and Shu Yang , professor of Engineering departments Materials Science and Engineering and Chemical and Bio molecular Engineering . Members of their laboratories also contributed to the new study, including lead author Daniel Beller , Mohamed Gharbi and Apiradee Honglawan .

Ongoing work of researchers with liquid crystals is an example of a growing field of nanotechnology known as “directed assembly” , in which scientists and engineers aim to manufacture structures on smaller scales without that each component individually manipulated . Rather, the starting conditions are set precisely defined and allow the physics and chemistry that govern these components do the rest.

The starting conditions in the experiments of previous investigators were templates consist of small stalls . In one of his studies, which showed that changing the size , shape and spacing of these posts would result in corresponding changes in the patterns of defects on the surface of the liquid crystal resting on top of them . In another experiment , the researchers showed that they could make a ” hula hoop ” defects around the individual poles , which then act as a second model for a ring of surface defects .In his latest work , the researchers used a much simpler signal.

“Before these liquid crystals were growing into something like a trellis, a template with precisely ordered features,” Kamien said. ” Here , we are planting a seed. ”

The seeds , in this case , silica beads were – essentially polished sand grains . Planted on top of a pool of crystal flower-like patterns of liquid defects grow around each bead . The key difference between the template in this experiment and those in the earlier work of the research team was the shape of the interface between the template and the liquid crystal.

In their experiment that generated defects grid patterns , these patterns are derived from the signals generated by microposts templates . Domains elastic energy originated in the tops and edges of these flat positions and traveled to the liquid crystal layer , culminating in defects. Using a cord instead of a message , as the researchers did in their last experiment , made ​​so that the interface is no longer flat .

“Not just the interface at an angle is an angle that keeps changing , ” Kamien said. ” The way in which the liquid crystal responds to it is that makes these petal shapes in smaller sizes and smaller, trying to match the angle of the pearl until everything is flat. ”

The surface tension in the bead also makes it so that these petals are arranged in one of the convexly levels. And because the liquid crystal can interact with light , the whole can function as a lens, focusing the light to a point below the bead.

“It’s like the compound eye of an insect, or mirrors in larger telescopes,” Kamien said. ” As we learn more about these systems , we will be able to do this type of lenses to order and use them to direct the light . ”

This type of directed assembly could be useful in the manufacture of optical switches and other applications .

Alcohol Consumption Boosts Body’s Immune System

Moderate Alcohol Consumption Boosts Body’s Immune System, Study Suggests

Moderate Alcohol Consumption Boosts Body's Immune System, Study Suggests

Moderate Alcohol Consumption Boosts Body’s Immune System, Study Suggests

The scientists did their research in rhesus macaques, which have an immune system very similar to humans. To conduct the study, the researchers trained a group of 12 rhesus macaques to consume alcohol — a 4 percent ethanol mixture — of their own accord.

Researchers vaccinated the monkeys against small pox as part of the study. They then separated the animals into two groups — those with access to the 4 percent ethanol and those with access to sugar water. All of the animals had regular access to pure water, and to food.

The researchers then monitored the animals’ daily ethanol consumption for 14 months. And the animals were vaccinated again, seven months after the experiment began.

“Like humans, rhesus macaques showed highly variable drinking behavior,” said Ilhem Messaoudi, the lead author of the paper, a former assistant professor at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at OHSU and assistant scientist in the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology at the Oregon National Primate Research Center and now an associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of California, Riverside. “Some animals drank large volumes of ethanol, while others drank in moderation.”

The monkeys’ voluntary ethanol consumption segregated them into two groups. One group was made up of heavy drinkers, those that had an average blood ethanol concentration greater than 0.08 percent — the legal limit for humans to be able to drive a vehicle. The other group was made up of moderate drinkers, with an average blood ethanol concentration of 0.02 to 0.04 percent.

Prior to consuming the alcohol, all of the animals showed comparable responses to the vaccination. But after exposure to the alcohol, the two groups of monkeys responded in very different ways to the vaccination.

The heavy drinkers showed greatly diminished vaccine responses compared with the control group of monkeys who drank the sugar water. But the more surprising finding: the moderate-drinking monkeys displayed enhanced responses to the vaccine compared to the control group. Moderate drinking bolstered their bodies’ immune systems.

The researchers stressed that excessive alcohol consumption was injurious to the monkeys’ immune systems — just as excessive alcohol consumption is bad for human bodies in many ways.

“If you have a family history of alcohol abuse, or are at risk, or have been an abuser in the past, we are not recommending you go out and drink to improve your immune system,” Messaoudi said. “But for the average person who has, say, a glass of wine with dinner, it does seem in general to improve health and cardiovascular function. And now we can add the immune system to that list.”

The next steps for the researchers will be to better understand why the immune system reacts as it does to moderate alcohol. That may lead to a pharmaceutical alternative that could provide the same benefits as the moderate alcohol consumption.

3-D Printed Cells from Eye

3-D Tissue Printing: Cells from the Eye Inkjet-Printed for the First Time:

3-D Tissue Printing: Cells from the Eye Inkjet-Printed for the First Time

3-D Tissue Printing: Cells from the Eye Inkjet-Printed for the First Time

 

The breakthrough could lead to the production of artificial tissue grafts made from the variety of cells found in the human retina and may aid in the search to cure blindness.

At the moment the results are preliminary and provide proof-of-principle that an inkjet printer can be used to print two types of cells from the retina of adult rats―ganglion cells and glial cells. This is the first time the technology has been used successfully to print mature central nervous system cells and the results showed that printed cells remained healthy and retained their ability to survive and grow in culture.

Co-authors of the study Professor Keith Martin and Dr Barbara Lorber, from the John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, said: “The loss of nerve cells in the retina is a feature of many blinding eye diseases. The retina is an exquisitely organised structure where the precise arrangement of cells in relation to one another is critical for effective visual function.”

“Our study has shown, for the first time, that cells derived from the mature central nervous system, the eye, can be printed using a piezoelectric inkjet printer. Although our results are preliminary and much more work is still required, the aim is to develop this technology for use in retinal repair in the future.”

The ability to arrange cells into highly defined patterns and structures has recently elevated the use of 3D printing in the biomedical sciences to create cell-based structures for use in regenerative medicine.

In their study, the researchers used a piezoelectric inkjet printer device that ejected the cells through a sub-millimetre diameter nozzle when a specific electrical pulse was applied. They also used high speed video technology to record the printing process with high resolution and optimised their procedures accordingly.

“In order for a fluid to print well from an inkjet print head, its properties, such as viscosity and surface tension, need to conform to a fairly narrow range of values. Adding cells to the fluid complicates its properties significantly,” commented Dr Wen-Kai Hsiao, another member of the team based at the Inkjet Research Centre in Cambridge.

Once printed, a number of tests were performed on each type of cell to see how many of the cells survived the process and how it affected their ability to survive and grow.

The cells derived from the retina of the rats were retinal ganglion cells, which transmit information from the eye to certain parts of the brain, and glial cells, which provide support and protection for neurons.

“We plan to extend this study to print other cells of the retina and to investigate if light-sensitive photoreceptors can be successfully printed using inkjet technology. In addition, we would like to further develop our printing process to be suitable for commercial, multi-nozzle print heads,” Professor Martin concluded.

WiFi Kills House Plants

WiFi Kills House Plants:

 

WiFi Kills House Plants

WiFi Kills House Plants

 

Are you slowly killing your houseplants? Probably! But there might be a reason (other than neglect) why they’re all yellow and wilty: your Wi-Fi router.

An experiment by a handful of high school students in Denmark has sparked some serious international interest in the scientific community.

Five ninth-grade girls at Hjallerup School in North Jutland, Denmark, noticed they had trouble concentrating after sleeping with their mobile phones at their bedsides. They tried to figure out why. The school obviously doesn’t have the equipment to test human brain waves, so the girls decided to do a more rudimentary experiment.

They placed six trays of garden cress seeds next to Wi-Fi routers that emitted roughly the same microwave radiation as a mobile phone. Then they placed six more trays of seeds in a separate room without routers. The girls controlled both environments for room temperature, sunlight and water.

After 12 days, they found the garden cress seeds in the routerless room had exploded into bushy greenery, while the seeds next to the Wi-Fi routers were brown, shriveled, and even mutated. See for yourself:
Photo by Kim Horsevad

Teacher Kim Horsevad told the Daily Dot that her students did the test twice with the same results. She was quick to point out that while the students did the experiment to test only one variable to the best of their ability, it is a high school experiment and this isn’t a professional study…

Crude oil in 60 minutes

Chemical reactor developed that turns algae into crude oil in 60 minutes:

 

Chemical reactor developed that turns algae into crude oil in 60 minutes

Chemical reactor developed that turns algae into crude oil in 60 minutes

Although efforts are being made to cut down on our reliance on oil, such as more efficient cars and green energy production solutions, it seems very unlikely we’ll ever stop using it completely. At least, not before it runs out, anyway. So it’s reassuring to know that there may be an alternative in the works that allows us to produce our very own crude oil.

Engineers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have created a chemical reactor that takes in wet algae and outputs crude oil 60 minutes later. The only byproducts are clean water and a phosphorous-containing waste material that can be reused to grow more algae or converted into a burnable gas among other things.

The crude oil does require further refining as all oil does, but the researchers claim the end result is a usable fuel that replaces conventional aviation fuel, gasoline, or diesel.

One of the major roadblocks of fuel creation from algae is cost. Typically the algae needs to be dry, requires the use of solvents, and is only produced in batches, which is slow. This new method solves a lot of those problems. It works with wet algae, relies on heat and pressure inside the reactor, and is a continuous process so it can just keep producing 24/7.

The chemical reactor setup in their lab can process 1.5 liters of algae an hour, but it is very small and can easily be scaled. It operates at 350 degrees Celsius and uses water at a pressure of 3,000 PSI to create processes known as hydrothermal liquefaction and hydrothermal gasification. The reactor is expensive, but the costs are up front and therefore can be recouped long term from the oil and subsequent fuels it produces.

The researchers describe what they have created as a very high temperature pressure cooker that duplicates what the Earth does to produce oil, only much faster. Whether you believe the claims are true or not, it’s a solution that has already been licensed by Utah company Genifuel Corp. who is now working to roll it out on an industrial scale.

Anger Disorders Linked to Inflammation

Anger Disorders May Be Linked to Inflammation:

 

Anger Disorders May Be Linked to Inflammation

Anger Disorders May Be Linked to Inflammation

For some people, violent behavior and anger may be linked with inflammation in their bodies, a new study finds.

The researchers measured markers of inflammation in the blood of 70 people diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder (IED), a condition that involves repeated episodes of impulsive aggression and temper tantrums, as seen in road rage, domestic abuse and throwing or breaking objects.

The study also included 61 people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders not involving aggression, and 67 participants with no psychiatric disorder, who served as controls.

The results showed a direct relationship between levels of two markers of inflammation and impulsivity and aggression in people with IED, but not in control participants. The results held after controlling for lifestyle factors and other differences between groups of participants, according to the study published today (Dec. 18) in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

How the link may work remains unclear, the researchers said.

“We don’t know yet if the inflammation triggers aggression, or aggressive feelings set off inflammation, but it’s a powerful indication that the two are biologically connected, and a damaging combination,” said study researcher Dr. Emil Coccaro, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago.

The finding doesn’t mean that taking anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin would calm an angry person. But it does open a new direction for future studies, which could focus on whether reducing inflammation could eventually reduce aggression.

People with IED overreact to stressful situations with uncontrollable anger and rage. The condition affects people’s professional and social lives, and may put them at higher risks for other mental problems, such as depression, anxiety and alcohol or drug abuse, the researchers said. People with IED also face increased risk for medical problems, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, they said.

Treatment for IED includes mood stabilizers and psychotherapy, but they are not always successful for all patients, Coccaro said.

In the study, the researchers focused on two markers of inflammation, called C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). CRP is produced by the liver in response to an infection or injury, whereas IL6 is secreted by white blood cells to stimulate immune responses. Blood levels of both CRP and IL-6 rise when the body’s inflammatory response is activated.

The study also found that both CRP and IL-6 levels were higher, on average, in people with IED, compared with other participants, and that both markers were particularly elevated in people who had more aggressive behaviors in the past.

Animal studies have shown that introducing similar inflammatory proteins into the brains of cats and mice increase their aggressive behavior. It is possible that in humans, too, some of the elevated proteins in the blood find their way to the brain and affect brain regions that control aggressive behavior, the researchers said.

Bee Deaths Caused By EPA Approved Pesticide

U.S. Bee Deaths Caused By EPA Approved Pesticide:

 

U.S. Bee Deaths Caused By EPA Approved Pesticide

U.S. Bee Deaths Caused By EPA Approved Pesticide

 

The world honey bee population has plunged in recent years, worrying beekeepers and farmers who know how critical bee pollination is for many crops. A number of theories have popped up as to why the North American honey bee population has declined–electromagnetic radiation, malnutrition, and climate change have all been pinpointed. Now a leaked EPA document reveals that the agency allowed the widespread use of a bee-toxic pesticide, despite warnings from EPA scientists.

The document, which was leaked to a Colorado beekeeper, shows that the EPA has ignored warnings about the use of clothianidin, a pesticide produced by Bayer that mainly is used to pre-treat corn seeds. The pesticide scooped up $262 million in sales in 2009 by farmers, who also use the substance on canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat, according to Grist.

The leaked document (PDF) was put out in response to Bayer’s request to approve use of the pesticide on
cotton and mustard. The document invalidates a prior Bayer study that justified the registration of clothianidin on the basis of its safety to honeybees:

Clothianidin’s major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees). Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis. Although EFED does not conduct RQ based risk assessments on non-target insects, information from standard tests and field studies, as well as incident reports involving other neonicotinoids insecticides (e.g., imidacloprid) suggest the potential for long-term toxic risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects.

The entire 101-page memo is damning (and worth a read). But the opinion of EPA scientists apparently isn’t enough for the agency, which is allowing clothianidin to keep its registration…

Police Claim Teen Handcuffed In Cruiser Shot Himself

The epidemic of  suicides among improbably flexible teenage boys armed with undetectable firearms continues. In all cases, the boys were in the backs of police cruisers…    A Durham teen died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said Wednesday afternoon at a news conference.

Police Claim That Yet Another Teen Handcuffed In Back of Cruiser Shot Himself In the Head

Police Claim That Yet Another Teen Handcuffed In Back of Cruiser Shot Himself In the Head

Lopez held a 3 p.m. news conference and started by extending condolences to the family of Jesus Huerta, who died in a police cruiser in November. Huerta was 17.

He said the noise heard by the officer was a gunshot, and said it was a gunshot wound to the head.

Lopez said a handgun was found in the car and that Huerta was still handcuffed from behind. He said the wound was self-inflicted.

“The medical examiner’s office has confirmed that Jesus Huerta died from a gunshot wound to his head,” Lopez said. “Whether that wound was accidental or intentional is unknown at this time.”

Lopez said Huerta was searched, and police are not sure where how he had the weapon.

“I know that it is hard for people not in law enforcement to understand how someone could be capable of shooting themselves while handcuffed behind the back,” Lopez said. “While incidents like this are not common, they unfortunately have happened in other jurisdictions in the past.”

FBI’s Secretive Surveillance Unit Can Spy on Skype Communications

FBI’s New Secretive Surveillance Unit Can Spy on Skype and Wireless Communications:

 

FBI’s New Secretive Surveillance Unit Can Spy on Skype and Wireless Communicationsq

FBI’s New Secretive Surveillance Unit Can Spy on Skype and Wireless Communications

 

 

The FBI has recently formed a secretive surveillance unit with an ambitious goal: to invent technology that will let police more readily eavesdrop on Internet and wireless communications.

The establishment of the Quantico, VA-based unit, which is also staffed by agents from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency, is a response to technological developments that FBI officials believe outpace law enforcement’s ability to listen in on private communications.

While the FBI has been tight-lipped about the creation of its Domestic Communications Assistance Center, or DCAC — it declined to respond to requests made two days ago about who’s running it, for instance — CNET has pieced together information about its operations through interviews and a review of internal government documents.

DCAC’s mandate is broad, covering everything from trying to intercept and decode Skype conversations to building custom wiretap hardware or analyzing the gigabytes of data that a wireless provider or social network might turn over in response to a court order…

61% Of Internet Users are Bots

Bots Are Now 61% Of Internet Users:   

Bots Are Now 61% Of Internet Users

Bots Are Now 61% Of Internet Users

 

A study by Incapsula suggests 61.5% of all website traffic is now generated by bots. The security firm said that was a 21% rise on last year’s figure of 51%.

Some of these automated software tools are malicious – stealing data or posting ads for scams in comment sections. But the firm said the biggest growth in traffic was for “good” bots.

These are tools used by search engines to crawl websites in order to index their content, by analytics companies to provide feedback about how a site is performing, and by others to carry out specific tasks – such as helping the Internet Archive preserve content before it is deleted.

To generate its report, Incapsula said it observed 1.45 billion bot visits over a 90 day period. Dr Ian Brown, associate director at Oxford University’s Cyber Security Centre, said the figures were useful as an indication of the growth in non-human traffic.

False Memories Occur Amongst Superior Memory

False Memories Occur Even Among Those with Superior Memory:

False Memories Occur Even Among Those with Superior Memory

False Memories Occur Even Among Those with Superior Memory

 

Some people have the unique talent of being able to remember daily details of their lives from decades past.

But surprising new research finds that even among this select group of memory experts, false memories occur at about the same frequency as among those with average memory.

False memories are the recollection of an event, or the details of an event, that did not occur. UC Irvine psychologists and neurobiologists created a series of tests to determine how false information can manipulate memory formation.

In their study they learned that subjects with highly superior autobiographical memory preformed similar to a control group of subjects with average memory.

“Finding susceptibility to false memories even in people with very strong memory could be important for dissemination to people who are not memory experts.

“For example, it could help communicate how widespread our basic susceptibility to memory distortions is,” said Lawrence Patihis.

“This dissemination could help prevent false memories in the legal and clinical psychology fields, where contamination of memory has had particularly important consequences in the past.”

Patihis works in the research group of world-renowned psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, who pioneered the study of false memories and their implications.

Persons with highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM, also known as hyperthymesia) – have the astounding ability to remember even trivial details from their distant past. This includes recalling daily activities of their life since mid-childhood with almost 100 percent accuracy.

The lead researcher on the study, Patihis believes it’s the first effort to test malleable reconstructive memory in HSAM individuals.

Working with neurobiology and behavior graduate student Aurora LePort, Patihis asked 20 people with superior memory and 38 people with average memory to do word association exercises, recall details of photographs depicting a crime, and discuss their recollections of video footage of the United Flight 93 crash on 9/11. (Such footage does not exist.)

These tasks incorporated misinformation in an attempt to manipulate what the subjects thought they had remembered.

“While they really do have super-autobiographical memory, it can be as malleable as anybody else’s, depending on whether misinformation was introduced and how it was processed,” Patihis said.

“It’s a fascinating paradox. In the absence of misinformation, they have what appears to be almost perfect, detailed autobiographical memory, but they are vulnerable to distortions, as anyone else is.”

Physicists discover Universe is a hologram

 

Latest calculations chime with 1997 theory that reality is only perceived as 3D and is actually a 2D projection on the boundary of the universe:

Physicists discover ‘clearest evidence yet’ that the Universe is a hologram

Physicists discover ‘clearest evidence yet’ that the Universe is a hologram

 

A team of physicists have provided what has been described by the journal Nature as the “clearest evidence yet” that our universe is a hologram.

The new research could help reconcile one of modern physics’ most enduring problems : the apparent inconsistencies between the different models of the universe as explained by quantum physics and Einstein’s theory of gravity.

The two new scientific papers are the culmination of years’ work led by Yoshifumi Hyakutake of Ibaraki University in Japan, and deal with hypothetical calculations of the energies of black holes in different universes.

The idea of the universe existing as a ‘hologram’ doesn’t refer to a Matrix-like illusion, but the theory that the three dimensions we perceive are actually just “painted” onto the cosmological horizon – the boundary of the known universe.

If this sounds paradoxical, try to imagine a holographic picture that changes as you move it. Although the picture is two dimensional, observing it from different locations creates the illusion that it is 3D.

This model of the universe helps explain some inconsistencies between general relativity (Einstein’s theory) and quantum physics. Although Einstein’s work underpins much of modern physics, at certain extremes (such as in the middle of a black hole) the principles he outlined break down and the laws of quantum physics take over.

The traditional method of reconciling these two models has come from the 1997 work of theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena, whose ideas built upon string theory. This is one of the most well respected ‘theories of everything’ (Stephen Hawking is a fan) and it posits that one-dimensional vibrating objects known as ‘strings’ are the elementary particles of the universe.

Maldacena has welcomed the new research by Hyakutake and his team, telling the journal Nature that the findings are “an interesting way to test many ideas in quantum gravity and string theory.”

Leonard Susskind, a theoretical physicist regarded as one of the fathers of string theory, added that the work by the Japanese team “numerically confirmed, perhaps for the first time, something we were fairly sure had to be true, but was still a conjecture.”

 

Reference: http://www.independent.co.uk

Multivitamins Are a Waste of Money

 

Case Is Closed: Multivitamins Are a Waste of Money, Doctors Say:

 

Case Is Closed: Multivitamins Are a Waste of Money, Doctors Say

Case Is Closed: Multivitamins Are a Waste of Money, Doctors Say

 

People should stop wasting their money on dietary supplements, some physicians said today, in response to three large new studies that showed most multivitamin supplements are ineffective at reducing the risk of disease, and may even cause harm.

The new studies, published today (Dec. 16) in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine —including two new clinical trials and one large review of 27 past clinical trials conducted by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force — found no evidence that taking daily multivitamin and mineral supplements prevents or slows down the progress of cognitive decline or chronic diseases such as heart diseases or cancer.

“The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified and they should be avoided,” the physicians wrote in an editorial published along with the studies.

 

This message is especially aimed at people who have no signs of nutritional deficiency — meaning most supplement users in the United States, the researchers said.

“Study after study comes back negative — yet people continue to take supplements, now at record rates,” said Dr. Edgar Miller, one of the five authors of the editorial and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

There may be a psychological component to taking supplements, Miller said. Despite evidence showing supplements hold no benefit for the general population, some people may rationalize they need supplements because their diets lack necessary nutrients.

The new findings are in line with those of previously published studies that have found no benefits from dietary supplements, including B vitamins and antioxidants, and even suggested possible harms. Results of clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people have shown that beta-carotene, vitamin E and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements actually increase death rates, the researchers said.

“We believe that the case is closed — supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with most mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful,” the researchers wrote in their editorial.

The use of multivitamin and mineral supplements among Americans has increased to about 50 percent in the mid-2000s, up from 40 percent in the early 1990s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For some supplements, such as beta-carotene and vitamin E, studies have found declines in use, following reports of their negative effects on lung cancer and mortality.

In contrast, sales of multivitamins and other supplements have not been affected by major studies that didn’t find benefits, the researchers said. The U.S. supplement industry continues to grow, and reached $28 billion in annual sales in 2010. Similar trends have been reported in the United Kingdom and in other European countries.

The dietary-supplement industry maintains that for many Americans, diet alone may not provide the necessary vitamins they need daily, Miller said.

“The industry tries to create the impression that we are deficient, but randomized trials show that we are not all deficient and we don’t benefit from supplements,” Miller said, adding that clinical trials include people with varied diets from the general population.

The new review study looked at clinical trials that included a total of 450,000 older adults. All together, the researchers didn’t find clear evidence of a beneficial effect of supplements on cancer and heart diseases.

In another study, researchers looked at the effects of taking a daily combination of nutrients —including vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene and B vitamins — in 6,000 men ages 65 and older who were followed for 12 years. The cognitive performance and verbal memory of participants who took multivitamin supplements didn’t differ from those of participants who took placebo.

In the third study, the researchers examined whether high doses of multivitamins and minerals could prevent heart attacks, strokes and death in 1,700 people who have already had a heart attack. After an average follow-up of five years, the results didn’t show a difference between participants who took dietary supplements and those who didn’t.

Inequality rising in the average household

The One Percent Is Hogging so Much of Our Income That It’s Holding the Economy Back:

 inequality has been rising and the average American household

inequality has been rising and the average American household

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all know that inequality has been rising and the average American household has been suffering. There is a myth that says all this suffering is necessary, that extreme inequality is the by-product of a rapidly growing economy—or worse, that it’s a good thing because it motivates everyone to work hard and climb the long ladder to the One Percent.

Even a brief glance at the historical record reveals just how perverted this hypothesis is.

For one thing, the economy has not been growing rapidly since inequality started climbing. From 1950 to 1980, “real gross domestic product (GDP)”—the output of the economy, adjusted for inflation—grew by 3.8 percent per year. From 1980 to 2010, it grew by 2.7 percent per year. (Since then, it’s been even worse.)

So income inequality hasn’t been “growth-enhancing” at all. In fact, just the opposite.

The United States isn’t alone in this experience. Economists at the International Monetary Fund recently compiled the most comprehensive data set to date: 140 countries over 6 decades. They consistently found that countries with less inequality experienced stronger, more sustained economic growth and fewer, less severe recessions.

It’s been widely publicized, for example, that Europe has suffered from higher unemployment than the United States in recent years. Many Americans falsely believe that Europe is more equal than the U.S., but a new data set compiled by the economist James Galbraith and the University of Texas Inequality Project shows inequality between countries and regions across Europe for the first time—and they find that Europe has had higher inequality than us since the 1970s. It’s only within specific countries that inequality is lower than the U.S., and guess what: Those countries tend to have lower unemployment than us.

The reason is quite simple: Those workers are also consumers. When the 99 Percent earn more, they spend more, and the One Percent can produce more and earn more themselves.

“In this sense,” says the wealthy entrepreneur Nick Hanauer, “an ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than a capitalist like me. […] Anyone who’s ever run a business knows that hiring more people is a capitalist’s course of last resort, something we do only when increasing customer demand requires it.”

Or, as the late economist Michal Kalecki used to say, “The workers spend what they get and the capitalists get what they spend.” What he meant by that was that the rich can afford to save more of their income—and, indeed, we find that the One Percent continue to save 15 to 25 percent, while the saving rate of the 99 Percent has plummeted close to zero. If too much money goes to the One Percent and not enough to the 99 Percent, the economy will save more and more and spend less and less, until there isn’t enough consumer demand to justify increasing production and investment. Thus, the economy will slow down.

Phobias memories passed down from ancestors

Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors:

Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors

Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors

 

Memories can be passed down to later generations through genetic switches that allow offspring to inherit the experience of their ancestors, according to new research that may explain how phobias can develop.

Scientists have long assumed that memories and learned experiences built up during a lifetime must be passed on by teaching later generations or through personal experience.

However, new research has shown that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA.

Researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, found that mice can pass on learned information about traumatic or stressful experiences – in this case a fear of the smell of cherry blossom – to subsequent generations.

The results may help to explain why people suffer from seemingly irrational phobias – it may be based on the inherited experiences of their ancestors.

So a fear of spiders may in fact be an inherited defence mechanism laid down in a families genes by an ancestors’ frightening encounter with an arachnid.

Dr Brian Dias, from the department of psychiatry at Emory University, said: “We have begun to explore an underappreciated influence on adult behaviour – ancestral experience before conception.

“From a translational perspective, our results allow us to appreciate how the experiences of a parent, before even conceiving offspring, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations.

“Such a phenomenon may contribute to the etiology and potential intergenerational transmission of risk for neuropsychiatric disorders such as phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

In the study, which is published in the journal of Nature Neuroscience, the researchers trained mice to fear the smell of cherry blossom using electric shocks before allowing them to breed.

The offspring produced showed fearful responses to the odour of cherry blossom compared to a neutral odour, despite never having encountered them before.

The following generation also showed the same behaviour. This effect continued even if the mice had been fathered through artificial insemination.

The researchers found the brains of the trained mice and their offspring showed structural changes in areas used to detect the odour.

The DNA of the animals also carried chemical changes, known as epigenetic methylation, on the gene responsible for detecting the odour.

This suggests that experiences are somehow transferred from the brain into the genome, allowing them to be passed on to later generations.

The researchers now hope to carry out further work to understand how the information comes to be stored on the DNA in the first place.

They also want to explore whether similar effects can be seen in the genes of humans.

Professor Marcus Pembrey, a paediatric geneticist at University College London, said the work provided “compelling evidence” for the biological transmission of memory.

He added: “It addresses constitutional fearfulness that is highly relevant to phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders, plus the controversial subject of transmission of the ‘memory’ of ancestral experience down the generations.

“It is high time public health researchers took human transgenerational responses seriously.

“I suspect we will not understand the rise in neuropsychiatric disorders or obesity, diabetes and metabolic disruptions generally without taking a multigenerational approach.”

Professor Wolf Reik, head of epigenetics at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, said, however, further work was needed before such results could be applied to humans.

He said: “These types of results are encouraging as they suggest that transgenerational inheritance exists and is mediated by epigenetics, but more careful mechanistic study of animal models is needed before extrapolating such findings to humans.”

It comes as another study in mice has shown that their ability to remember can be effected by the presence of immune system factors in their mother’s milk

Dr Miklos Toth, from Cornell University in New York, found that chemokines carried in a mother’s milk caused changes in the brains of their offspring, affecting their memory in later life.

Scientists snap picture of immune system

Scientists snap the clearest picture yet of the immune system in action:

Scientists snap the clearest picture yet of the immune system in action.

Scientists snap the clearest picture yet of the immune system in action.

A microscope powerful enough to capture a single molecule has taken the clearest picture yet of the immune system in action.

The technique, called superresolution single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, recently helped scientists at the University of Manchester in England track natural killer (NK) cells, which help destroy cancer and viruses.

NK cells have receptors that are clustered together at their surface, and these receptors target proteins on another cell’s surface to tell whether the contacting cell is diseased or healthy. When the NK cell is activated, the receptor clusters change in size and density, which could help NK cells recognize and eliminate infected cells — but spare healthy ones — next time around.

3D printed synthetic biological material

Biological material could be 3D printed to create self-healing shoes:

Biological material could be 3D printed to create self-healing shoes

Biological material could be 3D printed to create self-healing shoes

Shoes as we know them are a pretty modern invention, and a lot of research has gone into creating more comfortable, high-performance materials to cover one’s feet. Even the most advanced rubber-soled shoe can’t compare to the concept being proposed by London designer and researcher Shamees Aden. These shoes would be 3D printed from synthetic biological material for the perfect fit, and they could repair themselves overnight.

The process would start with a 3D scan of the wearer’s foot. This would be used to print the “shoe,” which should conform perfectly to all the curves and lines of the scanned appendage. As for the material that it’s being printed with, that’s what makes the idea so intriguing.

Aden is working with Dr. Martin Hanczyc from the University of Southern Denmark. Dr. Hanczyc works with protocells, one of the most basic biological constructs. A protocell is not quite alive — it’s essentially a lipid membrane containing a collection of organic molecules that may have some biological activity. These structures can self assemble under the right circumstances, so there is great interest in the roll these almost-cells could have played in the appearance of life on Earth, a process known as abiogenesis.

protocell

Printing a foot covering out of protocells would allow for precise control of cushioning and support. The shoes could also react to different situations as they come by puffing up in places for added comfort. At the end of the day, the protocell shoe could be soaked in a solution the help the structures repair themselves.

This is obviously still just a concept — we don’t even have industrial scale biological printing. Even when we do, printing a semi-living shoes probably won’t be high on the to-do list.

Microbes May be Making You Fat

The Microbes in Your Gut May be Making You Fat:

The Microbes in Your Gut May be Making You Fat

The Microbes in Your Gut May be Making You Fat

 

In 2008, Rob Knight fell ill while vacationing in Peru. Camping along the Inca Trail, he found himself with the usual traveler’s symptoms, scrambling for the latrine in the middle of the night. He took antibiotics for five days and got better but then relapsed. A second five-day course of the drugs finally knocked out the infection.

After he returned home, Knight resumed his normal diet and exercise activities, and suddenly began dropping pounds that he had been trying to shed for years. He is convinced the antibiotics changed the composition of the microbes in his gut in a way that finally caused him to lose weight — at least 70 pounds.

 

“Exercise and diet, which had not worked before, began to work,” says Knight, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder who studies the microorganisms that live in our bodies, known as the human microbiome. “I think that reconfiguring my gut microbial community made it possible.”

His experience underscores a growing body of evidence suggesting that naturally occurring bacteria and other microbes in the body, and possibly even viruses, can influence weight in ways that scientists are only just beginning to understand. Numerous studies are underway looking at the role of intestinal organisms in obesity, with a focus on how they extract energy from food and how this affects weight gain or loss.

Ultimately, scientists say, insights gained from the research could identify people predisposed to obesity and possibly help clinicians create targeted weight-loss treatments for them. The specific composition of microbes in the intestines also might help predict the best candidates for weight-loss surgery, which doesn’t work for everyone.

“Taken together, we might at some point be able to effect weight loss in humans by affecting the microbiome,” Knight says.

Obesity in the United States has risen dramatically during the past 20 years. More than a third of American adults and about 17 percent of children and adolescents — triple the rate of a generation ago — are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. surgeon general estimates that as many as 300,000 Americans’ deaths every year may be linked to obesity.

Despite the popularity of fad diets, most experts believe there is no quick fix to losing weight. They view regulation of body weight as a complicated process that is likely to involve diet and exercise, genetics, and probably, various gastrointestinal microbes.

Studies in mice have shown that intestinal microbes may contribute to weight gain. A novel experiment published this fall, for example, took gut bacteria from human twins — in which one was lean and the other obese — and transferred them into lean mice. The animals with bacteria from fat twins grew fat; those that received bacteria from lean twins stayed lean.

Researchers suspect that bacteria may behave similarly among humans, since microbes help to extract calories from food and store that potential energy in fat tissue.

The obesity-bacteria link

Researchers speculate that people are more likely to gain weight when gut bacteria are more efficient at breaking down food, enabling the body to absorb more calories. They theorize that less-efficient bacteria allow food to pass more quickly through the intestines.

“If you want to stay lean, you’ll want bacteria that are not very efficient,” says Claire Fraser, a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “If we each eat a bowl of cereal and your bacteria are better than mine at breaking it down, you’ll get 95 calories, while I’ll only get 70, and the rest will pass through. You’re the one who’s going to gain weight.”

The food one eats contributes to the composition of the bacterial communities in the gut. For example, Fraser says, “high-fat, low-fiber diets have been associated with different bacteria in the gut than low-fat, high-fiber diets,” which may play a role in who develops obesity. “It may be a vicious cycle but one we can interrupt by altering our dietary habits.”

Recent studies by Stanley Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic, for example, have found that gastrointestinal bacteria “burp” out a chemical called TMAO (for trimethylamine N-oxide) after people consume red meat or eggs. TMAO increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, which may help explain why eating those foods increases the danger of heart disease more than following a vegan or vegetarian diet.

In another study, Fraser, Knight and colleagues studied members of the Old Order Amish in Lancaster, Pa., to see what their gut microbes might reveal about obesity in that community. The Amish were ideal study subjects, being a genetically homogenous society with a shared lifestyle, including a diet that features “lots of meat, potatoes and gravy, very high fat and high carbohydrate,” Fraser says.

The researchers analyzed data from 310 people and identified 26 species of gut bacteria that were found at different concentrations in obese individuals who had — or didn’t have — metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that includes hypertension, high blood-sugar levels, abnormal cholesterol, excess body fat around the waist and elevated serum markers associated with inflammation. The syndrome has been found to increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

One of the hallmarks of metabolic syndrome is chronic low-grade inflammation in the body, and “some of the bacterial species that were found at greatly reduced levels in subjects with the metabolic syndrome have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties,” Fraser says.

Knight points out, however, that the difference in microbial communities might be the result of inflammation rather than the cause of it, a question additional studies will need to examine.

Microbes and weight-loss surgery

Scientists also are trying to understand the influence of gut microbes in the outcome of weight-loss surgery, with the goal of identifying the best candidates for the procedure. In 2010, about 150,000 individuals underwent weight-loss surgery in the United States, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Bruce Rittmann, director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology in the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, was part of a group of researchers who specifically looked at microbes in gastric bypass surgery patients for a 2009 study.

He and team leader Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, associate professor in the Swette Center, analyzed stool samples from nine people in three groups: three individuals of normal weight, three who were morbidly obese and three who had undergone gastric bypass.

“The results were very striking,” Rittmann says. “Even though we didn’t have a large number of subjects, the groups were completely different from each other.”

The composition of microbes in the three gastric bypass patients differed substantially and in potentially important ways from obese and normal-weight individuals, suggesting that the extreme anatomical changes resulting from the surgery apparently had profound effects on the microorganisms living in the intestine.

There were two types of organisms specific to the obese group. The microbial populations extracted from obese individuals were high in hydrogen-producing bacteria, known as Prevotellaceae, and hydrogen-consuming methanogens, which are not bacteria, but another single-cell organism, Archaea.

The results suggest a cooperative co-existence in obese individuals between hydrogen producers and hydrogen consumers, a mutually reinforcing relationship known as syntrophy that contributes to obesity.

The researchers theorize that the methanogens, by removing hydrogen, speed up the breakdown of food, boosting the production of fatty acids and leading to the formation of fat, which over time, results in obesity.

Rittmann and his colleagues have another study underway, this time examining people before and after weight-loss surgery and comparing the types of weight-loss procedures, trying to determine which microbic changes occur and what they might mean.

“Managing the microbial community in our intestines is one of the tools of helping us manage obesity and other diseases,” he says. “It’s conceivable that someday we could get rid of the wrong microorganisms and put the right ones in. That is, ultimately, what we would like to do.”

Knight, however, warns that people should not assume that a course of antibiotics might make them thin, as he believes it did in his case. In fact, he says, it’s just possible that the opposite could occur.

“It’s difficult to generalize one person’s experience to the general population, especially because different people vary so much in their response to drugs, diet and exercise,” he says. “We are a long way from turning that into a large-scale study. All we have at the moment is an intriguing anecdote, based on a sample size of one.”

Root Causes of Dyslexia

Root Causes of Dyslexia Unraveled:

 Root Causes of Dyslexia Unraveled


Root Causes of Dyslexia Unraveled

Dyslexia, the learning disability that makes reading and processing speech a challenge, may result from problems with brain connectivity, a new study suggests.

Scientists estimate that dyslexia affects more than 10 percent of the world’s population. Some hypothesize that in people with dyslexia, the way that speech sounds are represented in the brain is impaired, while others contend that the brains of people with dyslexia represent the sounds correctly, but have trouble accessing them because of faulty brain connections.

Ultimately, understanding the roots of dyslexia could lead to better ways to help people with the disability, the researchers said.

Normally, when people read words or hear spoken language, the brain creates a map to represent the basic sounds in speech, called phonemes. These brain representations have to be robust, for instance, all “b” sounds must map to the same category. But they must also be distinct, in order to distinguish between similar sounds such as “b” and “d.”

In the new study, Bart Boets, a clinical psychologist at KU Leuven, in Belgium, and his colleagues used brain imaging to test which hypothesis — flawed sound representations or flawed wiring — best explains dyslexia.

The researchers scanned the brains of 23 adults with dyslexia and 22 adults without the condition as they responded to various speech stimuli. The scientists looked at how accurately the participants’ brains mapped sounds to their phonetic representations.

People with dyslexia had intact representations of basic sounds, just as non-dyslexic people did, the scans revealed.

“To our surprise, and I think to the surprise of a large part of the dyslexia research society, we found out that phonetic representations were perfectly intact. They were just as robust and distinct in individuals with dyslexia as they were in typical readers,” Boets told reporters today (Dec. 5).

The researchers then investigated whether brain connectivity differed between the dyslexic and normal participants. In particular, they examined how well 13 brain areas involved in language processing were connected to phonetic representations.

The participants with dyslexia had notably worse connectivity between Broca’s area, a region in the brain’s frontal lobe linked to speech production, and the left and right auditory cortexes, the researchers reported online today in the journal Science. In addition, the people with the weakest connections performed the worst on reading and spelling tests.

The findings suggest dyslexia stems from a failure to connect to fundamental sound representations, rather than problems with those representations themselves, the researchers said.

Boets compared the dyslexic brain to data stored on a computer server. “The data [itself is] perfectly intact, but the connection to access this data is somehow degraded — maybe too slow or somehow distorted,” Boets said.

Frank Ramus, a cognitive scientist at the École Normale Supérieure, in France, who was not involved in the study, called it the most conclusive study of dyslexia’s causes in the last five years, adding that, if the results hold, they would change scientists’ understanding of dyslexia.

However, Usha Goswami, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, in England, who supports the view that dyslexia is a problem of faulty representations, interpreted the results differently.

“The data in the study do not show that dyslexia is caused by a difficulty in accessing phonemes, as the participants are adults,” Goswami told LiveScience. “The reduced connectivity shown could be a result of a lifetime of poor reading, rather than evidence for a reduced access to phonemes which has caused dyslexia.”

DNA Can Be Reprogrammed by Words and Frequencies

Scientist Proves DNA Can Be Reprogrammed by Words and Frequencies:

 Scientist Proves DNA Can Be Reprogrammed by Words and Frequencies:

Scientist Proves DNA Can Be Reprogrammed by Words and Frequencies:Type 2 diabetes: New associations identified between genes and metabolic markers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE HUMAN DNA IS A BIOLOGICAL INTERNET and superior in many aspects to the artificial one. Russian scientific research directly or indirectly explains phenomena such as clairvoyance, intuition, spontaneous and remote acts of healing, self healing, affirmation techniques, unusual light/auras around people (namely spiritual masters), mind’s influence on weather patterns and much more. In addition, there is evidence for a whole new type of medicine in which DNA can be influenced and reprogrammed by words and frequencies WITHOUT cutting out and replacing single genes.

Only 10% of our DNA is being used for building proteins. It is this subset of DNA that is of interest to western researchers and is being examined and categorized. The other 90% are considered “junk DNA.” The Russian researchers, however, convinced that nature was not dumb, joined linguists and geneticists in a venture to explore those 90% of “junk DNA.” Their results, findings and conclusions are simply revolutionary! According to them, our DNA is not only responsible for the construction of our body but also serves as data storage and in communication. The Russian linguists found that the genetic code, especially in the apparently useless 90%, follows the same rules as all our human languages. To this end they compared the rules of syntax (the way in which words are put together to form phrases and sentences), semantics (the study of meaning in language forms) and the basic rules of grammar. They found that the alkalines of our DNA follow a regular grammar and do have set rules just like our languages. So human languages did not appear coincidentally but are a reflection of our inherent DNA.

The Russian biophysicist and molecular biologist Pjotr Garjajev and his colleagues also explored the vibrational behavior of the DNA. [For the sake of brevity I will give only a summary here. For further exploration please refer to the appendix at the end of this article.] The bottom line was: “Living chromosomes function just like solitonic/holographic computers using the endogenous DNA laser radiation.” This means that they managed for example to modulate certain frequency patterns onto a laser ray and with it influenced the DNA frequency and thus the genetic information itself. Since the basic structure of DNA-alkaline pairs and of language (as explained earlier) are of the same structure, no DNA decoding is necessary.

One can simply use words and sentences of the human language! This, too, was experimentally proven! Living DNA substance (in living tissue, not in vitro) will always react to language-modulated laser rays and even to radio waves, if the proper frequencies are being used.

This way the entire information was transmitted without any of the side effects or disharmonies encountered when cutting out and re-introducing single genes from the DNA. This represents an unbelievable, world-transforming revolution and sensation!

This finally and scientifically explains why affirmations, autogenous training, hypnosis and the like can have such strong effects on humans and their bodies. It is entirely normal and natural for our DNA to react to language. While western researchers cut single genes from the DNA strands and insert them elsewhere, the Russians enthusiastically worked on devices that can influence the cellular metabolism through suitable modulated radio and light frequencies and thus repair genetic defects.

Garjajev’s research group succeeded in proving that with this method chromosomes damaged by x-rays for example can be repaired. They even captured information patterns of a particular DNA and transmitted it onto another, thus reprogramming cells to another genome. So they successfully transformed, for example, frog embryos to salamander embryos simply by transmitting the DNA information patterns! This way the entire information was transmitted without any of the side effects or disharmonies encountered when cutting out and re-introducing single genes from the DNA. This represents an unbelievable, world-transforming revolution and sensation! All this by simply applying vibration and language instead of the archaic cutting-out procedure! This experiment points to the immense power of wave genetics, which obviously has a greater influence on the formation of organisms than the biochemical processes of alkaline sequences.

Esoteric and spiritual teachers have known for ages that our body is programmable by language, words and thought. This has now been scientifically proven and explained. Of course the frequency has to be correct. And this is why not everybody is equally successful or can do it with always the same strength. The individual person must work on the inner processes and maturity in order to establish a conscious communication with the DNA. The Russian researchers work on a method that is not dependent on these factors but will ALWAYS work, provided one uses the correct frequency.

But the higher developed an individual’s consciousness is, the less need is there for any type of device! One can achieve these results by oneself, and science will finally stop to laugh at such ideas and will confirm and explain the results. And it doesn’t end there. The Russian scientists also found out that our DNA can cause disturbing patterns in the vacuum, thus producing magnetized wormholes! Wormholes are the microscopic equivalents of the so-called Einstein-Rosen bridges in the vicinity of black holes (left by burned-out stars). These are tunnel connections between entirely different areas in the universe through which information can be transmitted outside of space and time. The DNA attracts these bits of information and passes them on to our consciousness. This process of hyper communication is most effective in a state of relaxation. Stress, worries or a hyperactive intellect prevent successful hyper communication or the information will be totally distorted and useless.
Under certain conditions stable wormholes can organize themselves which then form distinctive vacuum domains in which for example gravity can transform into electricity…

…When hyper communication occurs, one can observe in the DNA as well as in the human being special phenomena. The Russian scientists irradiated DNA samples with laser light. On screen a typical wave pattern was formed. When they removed the DNA sample, the wave pattern did not disappear, it remained. Many control experiments showed that the pattern still came from the removed sample, whose energy field apparently remained by itself. This effect is now called phantom DNA effect. It is surmised that energy from outside of space and time still flows through the activated wormholes after the DNA was removed. The side effect encountered most often in hyper communication also in human beings are inexplicable electromagnetic fields in the vicinity of the persons concerned….

Hyper communication in the new millennium means something quite different: Researchers think that if humans with full individuality would regain group consciousness, they would have a god-like power to create, alter and shape things on Earth! AND humanity is collectively moving toward such a group consciousness of the new kind.

…To come back to the DNA: It apparently is also an organic superconductor that can work at normal body temperature. Artificial superconductors require extremely low temperatures of between 200 and 140°C to function. As one recently learned, all superconductors are able to store light and thus information. This is a further explanation of how the DNA can store information. There is another phenomenon linked to DNA and wormholes. Normally, these supersmall wormholes are highly unstable and are maintained only for the tiniest fractions of a second. Under certain conditions stable wormholes can organize themselves which then form distinctive vacuum domains in which for example gravity can transform into electricity….

Diet Quickly Alters Gut Bacteria

A New Diet Quickly Alters Gut Bacteria:

 

A New Diet Quickly Alters Gut Bacteria

A New Diet Quickly Alters Gut BacteriaGut clock regulates when we’re hungry

 

The types of bacteria in your gut today may be different tomorrow, depending on what kinds of food you eat, a new study suggests.

In the study, participants who switched from their normal diet to eating only animal products, including meat, cheese and eggs, saw their gut bacteria change rapidly — within one day.

While the participants were on the animal-based diet, there was an increase within their guts in the types of bacteria that can tolerate bile (a fluid produced by the liver that helps break down fat), and a decrease in bacteria called Firmicutes, which break down plant carbohydrates.

 

Gut bacteria also tended to express (or “turn on”) different genes during the animal-based diet, ones that would allow them to break down protein. In contrast, the gut bacteria of another group of participants who ate a plant-based diet expressed genes that would allow them to ferment carbohydrates.

The differences between the gut bacteria of the people on the plant-only and animal-only diets “mirrored the differences between herbivorous and carnivorous mammals,” the researchers wrote in the study published today (Dec. 11) in the journal Nature.

Researchers knew that a person’s diet affects his or her gut bacteria, but it wasn’t clear just how quickly this happens.

The researchers said they were surprised by their results. “We weren’t at all sure it was going to happen this quickly in humans,” said study researcher Lawrence David, an assistant professor at Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy.

The findings suggest “the choices that people make on relatively short time scales … could be affecting the massive bacterial communities that live inside of us,” David said.

The study also adds evidence to the idea that human diets — acting through the gut bacteria — influence the risk of certain diseases. People on the animal-based diet had higher levels of a bacterium called Bilophila wadsworthia, which grows in response to bile acids and has been linked with inflammatory bowel disease in mice, according to the study.

This finding supports a link between dietary fat (from animal fat), bile acids and an increase in growth of microbes that may affect the risk of inflammatory bowel disease, the researchers said.

People who ate the plant-based diet saw fewer changes in the abundance of bacterial species in their gut than people who ate the animal-based diet. This may have, in part, been due to the fact that humans produce bile acids in response to eating animal products, and bile acids, in turn, influence bacterial growth, according to the researchers.

The study included 10 people (six men and four women) ages 21 to 33. One of the participants was a lifelong vegetarian who switched to eating only animal products, such as eggs and cheese (but not meat), for the study. Participants stuck to their diet for five days, and gave stool samples each day for analysis.

While previous studies have looked at changes in gut bacteria in response to diet, most of these collected samples on a weekly or monthly basis, because it is difficult to recruit volunteers willing to give samples daily, David said.

Because the study was small, the researchers are cautious about generalizing their results to the population as a whole. But “the changes we saw appeared to be uniform across these subjects, suggesting that if we were to recruit more people, we would see similar results,” David said.

The study was a collaboration between researchers at Duke, Harvard University, Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco.

Computers Hacked Using High-Frequency Sound

Computers Can Be Hacked Using High-Frequency Sound:

Computers Can Be Hacked Using High-Frequency Sound

Computers Can Be Hacked Using High-Frequency Sound

 

 

Using the microphones and speakers that come standard in many of today’s laptop computers and mobile devices, hackers can secretly transmit and receive data using high-frequency audio signals that are mostly inaudible to human ears, a new study shows.

Michael Hanspach and Michael Goetz, researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics, recently performed a proof-of-concept experiment that showed that “covert acoustical networking,” a technique which had been hypothesized but considered improbable by most experts, is indeed possible.

“If you have a high demand for information security and assurance, you would need to prepare countermeasures,” Hanspach wrote in an email to Inside Science.

In particular, it means “air-gapped” computers — that is, computers that are not connected to the Internet — are vulnerable to malicious software designed to steal or corrupt data.

“This is indeed a newsworthy development,” said retired Navy Capt. Mark Hagerott, a cybersecurity professor at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

“These arms races between defensive and offensive advanced technologies have been going on for [a long time], but now, with the low cost of writing code, it may get progressively more challenging to defend against,” said Hagerott, who was not involved in the study.

Secret transmissions

In their experiments, Hanspach and Goetz were able to transmit small packets of data between two air-gapped Lenovo business laptops separated by distances of up to about 65 feet (20 meters). Moreover, by chaining additional devices that picked up the audio signal and repeated it to other nearby devices, the researchers were able to create a “mesh network” that relayed the data across much greater distances. Importantly, the researchers were able to emit and record the ultrasonic and near-ultrasonic frequencies, which cannot be detected by humans, using the sound processor, speakers and microphone that came standard with the laptops.

The researchers experimented with a variety of software, but the best one was a program originally developed to transmit data acoustically under water. Created by the Research Department for Underwater Acoustics and Geophysics in Germany, the so-called adaptive communication system modem proved more reliable than the other techniques, but it had one significant drawback: it could only transmit data at a paltry rate of about 20 bits per second — a tiny fraction of today’s standard network connections.

While not practical for transmitting video or other large files, this low transmission rate is still sufficient for sending and receiving keystrokes and other sensitive data such as private encryption keys or login credentials.

“If you have small-sized files of high value, you do not want to take the risk,” Hanspach suggests.

Historical parallels

The low transmission rate would also suffice to send an electronic signal to a malware program that had been inadvertently installed — through a tainted USB stick, for example — onto an air-gapped computer and trigger an electronic attack, said Hagerott.

Moreover, Hagerott said, if history is any guide, it will only be a matter of time before someone refines the technique and increases its maximum transmission rate.

“Once you demonstrate that you can do something like this, other people will keep enhancing it,” Hagerott said.

Hagerott also saw parallels between the current cyber arms race and the contest between real-world arms races of past eras. For example, experts once declared that there was no way a plane could sink a battle ship.

“They said, the planes weren’t big enough, but then they got bigger and began carrying bigger bombs. But sadly, the experts didn’t fully absorb this lesson until two British battleships in 1941 were sent to the bottom,” Hagerott said.

Countermeasures

Military history also suggests that countermeasures will eventually be developed against the new security threat that Hanspach and Goetz demonstrated. In their paper, the researchers themselves suggest several that might work. For example, one could simply switch off the audio input and output of devices, or use audio-filtering techniques to block high-frequency audio signals.

Devices running the Linux could implement the latter technique using tools that have already been developed for the operating system, the researchers write. They also propose the use of an “audio intrusion detection guard,” a device that Hanspach and Goetz said would “forward audio input and output signals to their destination and simultaneously store them inside the guard’s internal state, where they are subject to further analyses.”

Oftentimes, though, the weakest links in cyber security systems are not hardware or software, but the humans who interact with them. For example, the Stuxnet virus that spread to air-gapped machines in the Iranian Natanz nuclear facilities and the Conficker digital worm that turned millions of PCs into a giant botnet in the city of Manchester, England, are believed to have been spread when employees used infected USB sticks.

 

Greenhouse Gas More Potent Than CO2

Newly Detected Greenhouse Gas Is 7,000 Times More Potent Than CO2:

Newly Detected Greenhouse Gas Is 7,000 Times More Potent Than CO2

Newly Detected Greenhouse Gas Is 7,000 Times More Potent Than CO2

A greenhouse gas that is thought to have a potent impact on global warming was detected in trace amounts in the atmosphere for the first time, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Toronto discovered very small amounts of an industrial chemical, known as perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA), in the atmosphere. While only traces of PFTBA were measured, the chemical has a much higher potential to affect climate change on a molecule-by-molecule basis than carbon dioxide (CO2), the most significant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, and a major contributor to global warming, said study co-author Angela Hong, of the University of Toronto’s department of chemistry. 

“We look at potency on a per-molecule basis, and what makes this molecule interesting is that, on a per-molecule basis, it’s very high, relative to other compounds in the atmosphere”.

 

Potency measured

This potency is measured as radiative efficiency, which describes how effectively a molecule is at preventing long-wave radiation from escaping back into space. The higher the radiative efficiency, the greater that molecule can influence climate. This value is then multiplied by the greenhouse gas’s atmospheric concentration to determine its total climate impact..

“It takes into consideration where it would exist in the atmosphere, how it absorbs heat, and what else is in the atmosphere,” Hong explained. “It’s not an intrinsic property; it’s a measure of how it would behave in the Earth system.”

In these meteorological terms, PFTBA has the highest potential to affect climate of all known chemicals to date, the researchers said.

“Calculated over a 100-year time frame, a single molecule of PFTBA has the equivalent climate impact as 7,100 molecules of CO2,” Hong said.

But, it’s important to note that the amount of PFTBA in the atmosphere is still far less than global concentrations of carbon dioxide, she added.

“If we had more [PFTBA] in the atmosphere, we’d see more warming,” she said. “This is very potent on a per-molecule basis, but there’s very little of it in the atmosphere.”

Just a pinch of PFTBA

For the study, the researchers collected atmospheric data from November 2012 to December 2012, and measured the proportion of PFTBA in the atmosphere at 0.18 parts per trillion. This means that for every 1 trillion air molecules, less than a full molecule of PFTBA is present. For comparison, the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million earlier this year.

PFTBA has been used in electrical equipment since the mid-1900s. So far, there are no policies in place to regulate its use, particularly within the context of climate change, Hong said.

There are also no known ways to destroy or remove PFTBA from the atmosphere, and the chemical has a very long life span. Molecules of PFTBA could linger in the lower atmosphere for hundreds of years, according to the researchers.

Yet, much is still unknown about the chemical’s history, including whether concentrations of PFTBA have changed over time.

“Our measurements are snapshots within the November to December 2012 period, so we can only see how things varied during that time,” Hong said. “We don’t have any historical measurements, so we can’t project backward or forward.”

The researchers hope their findings encourage others to study the chemical’s behavior, and how it could affect global warming.

“This work is the first measurement ever, but we’re not in the monitoring business,” Hong said. “It would be really nice if we could get other people to measure and monitor PFTBA.”

Government shuts down Bitcoins

US government shuts down production of physical Bitcoins:

US government shuts down production of physical Bitcoins

US government shuts down production of physical Bitcoins

Back before the recent Bitcoin boom, an enthusiast named Mike Caldwell created a physical representation of the virtual currency — the Casascius coin. The difficult-to-type Casascius Bitcoin derived its name from nowhere of interest (named after Caldwell’s online handle), but the idea is certainly an interesting one. The Casascius Bitcoin is a shiny, physical coin — each one with its own Bitcoin wallet attached. The coins are a clever way to trade Bitcoins without having access to a computer (or even a wallet you know how to access), but perhaps the idea was too clever; the US Department of Treasury shut down Caldwell’s Bitcoin mint.

Just before Thanksgiving, Caldwell received a notice from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) stating that he must stop producing the coins, as the Treasury Department is classifying the action as transmitting money — something the government would not allow him to do unregulated. Interestingly, Caldwell only accepts a payment in BTC for the coins, which means he isn’t accepting “real,” regulated currency, so it’s odd that the Treasury Department would consider his actions as transmitting “money.”

Amusingly, because Caldwell runs a Bitcoin service, there isn’t an account the government can seize should he incur FINCEN’s wrath. Admittedly, FINCEN’s interest would make a little more sense if Caldwell were trading Bitcoins for cash, but he’s only trading Bitcoins for Bitcoins.

Using the current BTC exchange rate, Caldwell has minted around $82 million worth of Casascius coins — around 90,000. There are other physical Bitcoin (and even Litecoin) products, but perhaps Caldwell’s prolific production and popularity is why FINCEN took notice of his service and not others. Caldwell hasn’t agreed to completely discontinue the Casascius coin, but he obviously has some things to work through before he can begin again, government-willing.

 

Hominin DNA suggests link to mystery population

A dig at the Sima de los Huesos cave in Spain, the site of ancient hominin fossils.

Hominin DNA baffles experts  Analysis of oldest sequence from a human ancestor suggests link to mystery population.

Hominin DNA baffles experts
Analysis of oldest sequence from a human ancestor suggests link to mystery population.

 

Another ancient genome, another mystery. DNA gleaned from a 400,000-year-old femur from Spain has revealed an unexpected link between Europe’s hominin inhabitants of the time and a cryptic population, the Denisovans, who are known to have lived much more recently in southwestern Siberia.

The DNA, which represents the oldest hominin sequence yet published, has left researchers baffled because most of them believed that the bones would be more closely linked to Neanderthals than to Denisovans. “That’s not what I would have expected; that’s not what anyone would have expected,” says Chris Stringer, a palaeoanthropologist at London’s Natural History Museum who was not involved in sequencing the femur DNA.

The fossil was excavated in the 1990s from a deep cave in a well-studied site in northern Spain called Sima de los Huesos (‘pit of bones’). This femur and the remains of more than two dozen other hominins found at the site have previously been attributed either to early forms of Neanderthals, who lived in Europe until about 30,000 years ago, or to Homo heidelbergensis, a loosely defined hominin population that gave rise to Neanderthals in Europe and possibly humans in Africa.

But a closer link to Neanderthals than to Denisovans was not what was discovered by the team led by Svante Pääbo, a molecular geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

The team sequenced most of the femur’s mitochondrial genome, which is made up of DNA from the cell’s energy-producing structures and passed down the maternal line. The resulting phylogenetic analysis ­— which shows branches in evolutionary history — placed the DNA closer to that of Denisovans than to Neanderthals or modern humans. “This really raises more questions than it answers,” Pääbo says.

The team’s finding, published online in Nature this week, does not necessarily mean that the Sima de los Huesos hominins are more closely related to the Denisovans, a population that lived thousands of kilometres away and hundreds of thousands of years later, than to nearby Neanderthals. This is because the mitochondrial genome tells the history of just an individual’s mother, and her mother, and so on.

 

Nuclear DNA, by contrast, contains material from both parents (and all of their ancestors) and typically provides a more accurate overview of a population’s history. But this was not available from the femur.

With that caveat in mind, researchers interested in human evolution are scrambling to explain the surprising link, and everyone seems to have their own ideas.

Pääbo notes that previously published full nuclear genomes of Neanderthals and Denisovans suggest that the two had a common ancestor that lived up to 700,000 years ago. He suggests that the Sima de los Huesos hominins could represent a founder population that once lived all over Eurasia and gave rise to the two groups. Both may have then carried the mitochondrial sequence seen in the caves. But these mitochondrial lineages go extinct whenever a female does not give birth to a daughter, so the Neanderthals could have simply lost that sequence while it lived on in Denisovan women.

“I’ve got my own twist on it,” says Stringer, who has previously argued that the Sima de los Huesos hominins are indeed early Neanderthals. He thinks that the newly decoded mitochondrial genome may have come from another distinct group of hominins. Not far from the caves, researchers have discovered hominin bones from about 800,000 years ago that have been attributed to an archaic hominin called Homo antecessor, thought to be a European descendant of Homo erectus. Stringer proposes that this species interbred with a population that was ancestral to both Denisovans and Sima de los Huesos hominins, introducing the newly decoded mitochondrial lineage to both populations .

This scenario, Stringer says, explains another oddity thrown up by the sequencing of ancient hominin DNA. As part of a widely discussed and soon-to-be-released analysis of high-quality Denisovan and Neanderthal nuclear genomes, Pääbo’s team suggests that Denisovans seem to have interbred with a mysterious hominin group.

The situation will become clearer if Pääbo’s team can eke nuclear DNA out of the bones from the Sima de los Huesos hominins, which his team hopes to achieve within a year or so.

Obtaining such sequences will not be simple, because nuclear DNA is present in bone at much lower levels than mitochondrial DNA. And even obtaining the partial mitochondrial genome was not easy: the team had to grind up almost two grams of bone and relied on various technical and computational methods to sequence the contaminated and damaged DNA and to arrange it into a genome. To make sure that they had identified genuine ancient sequences, they analysed only very short DNA strands that contained chemical modifications characteristic of ancient DNA.

Clive Finlayson, an archaeologist at the Gibraltar Museum, calls the latest paper “sobering and refreshing”, and says that too many ideas about human evolution have been derived from limited samples and preconceived ideas. “The genetics, to me, don’t lie,” he adds.

Even Pääbo admits that he was befuddled by his team’s latest discovery. “My hope is, of course, eventually we will not bring turmoil but clarity to this world,” he says.

Dyslexia brain communication breakdown

 

 

Dyslexic people have trouble linking written symbols with corresponding speech sounds.

 

Dyslexia linked to brain communication breakdown

Dyslexia linked to brain communication breakdown

Dyslexia may be caused by impaired connections between auditory and speech centres of the brain, according to a study published today in Science1. The research could help to resolve conflicting theories about the root causes of the disorder, and lead to targeted interventions.

When people learn to read, their brains make connections between written symbols and components of spoken words. But people with dyslexia seem to have difficulty identifying and manipulating the speech sounds to be linked to written symbols. Researchers have long debated whether the underlying representations of these sounds are disrupted in the dyslexic brain, or whether they are intact but language-processing centres are simply unable to access them properly.

A team led by Bart Boets, a clinical psychologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, analysed brain scans and found that phonetic representations of language remain intact in adults with dyslexia, but may be less accessible than in controls because of deficits in brain connectivity.

“The authors took a really inventive and thoughtful approach,” says John Gabrieli, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “They got a pretty clear answer.”

Communication channels

Boets and his team used a technique called multivoxel pattern analysis to study fine-scale brain signals as people listened to a battery of linguistic fragments such as ‘ba’ and ‘da’. To the researchers’ surprise, neural activity in the primary and secondary auditory cortices of participants with dyslexia showed consistently distinct signals for different sounds.

But images of dyslexic people’s brains revealed reduced structural integrity of the white-matter tracts linking the auditory cortices and the left inferior frontal gyrus — a brain area involved in language processing, including speech production. Even when the study participants were not doing any tasks, activity in these areas was less correlated in the brains of the dyslexic people than in the controls, suggesting that they had weaker communication between their auditory and speech centres.

Together, these findings suggest that dyslexic people do not have distorted neural representations of speech sounds; rather, “the problem seems to be in pathways down the road that help us assemble those sounds and produce those sounds when we read out loud”, explains Guinevere Eden, a neuroscientist at Georgetown University in Washington DC.

Boets cautions that studying adults can reveal only the end result of atypical development; dyslexic people could have distorted phonetic representations early in life. But, he says, the results argue that weakened connections between specific brain regions have an important role. Ultimately, Boets hopes that the insights could lead to improvements to treatments and exercises for dyslexia, which historically have focused on strengthening phonetic representations.

“It should be possible to design strategies to specifically improve the connections,” says Boets.

Simulation Universe is a hologram

A team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our Universe could be just one big projection:

Simulations back up theory that Universe is a hologram

Simulations back up theory that Universe is a hologram

 

In 1997, theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena proposed1 that an audacious model of the Universe in which gravity arises from infinitesimally thin, vibrating strings could be reinterpreted in terms of well-established physics. The mathematically intricate world of strings, which exist in nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram: the real action would play out in a simpler, flatter cosmos where there is no gravity.

Maldacena’s idea thrilled physicists because it offered a way to put the popular but still unproven theory of strings on solid footing — and because it solved apparent inconsistencies between quantum physics and Einstein’s theory of gravity. It provided physicists with a mathematical Rosetta stone, a ‘duality’, that allowed them to translate back and forth between the two languages, and solve problems in one model that seemed intractable in the other and vice versa. But although the validity of Maldacena’s ideas has pretty much been taken for granted ever since, a rigorous proof has been elusive.

In two papers posted on the arXiv repository, Yoshifumi Hyakutake of Ibaraki University in Japan and his colleagues now provide, if not an actual proof, at least compelling evidence that Maldacena’s conjecture is true.

In one paper2, Hyakutake computes the internal energy of a black hole, the position of its event horizon (the boundary between the black hole and the rest of the Universe), its entropy and other properties based on the predictions of string theory as well as the effects of so-called virtual particles that continuously pop into and out of existence. In the other3, he and his collaborators calculate the internal energy of the corresponding lower-dimensional cosmos with no gravity. The two computer calculations match.

“It seems to be a correct computation,” says Maldacena, who is now at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and who did not contribute to the team’s work.

The findings “are an interesting way to test many ideas in quantum gravity and string theory”, Maldacena adds. The two papers, he notes, are the culmination of a series of articles contributed by the Japanese team over the past few years. “The whole sequence of papers is very nice because it tests the dual [nature of the universes] in regimes where there are no analytic tests.”

“They have numerically confirmed, perhaps for the first time, something we were fairly sure had to be true, but was still a conjecture — namely that the thermodynamics of certain black holes can be reproduced from a lower-dimensional universe,” says Leonard Susskind, a theoretical physicist at Stanford University in California who was among the first theoreticians to explore the idea of holographic universes.

Neither of the model universes explored by the Japanese team resembles our own, Maldacena notes. The cosmos with a black hole has ten dimensions, with eight of them forming an eight-dimensional sphere. The lower-dimensional, gravity-free one has but a single dimension, and its menagerie of quantum particles resembles a group of idealized springs, or harmonic oscillators, attached to one another.

Nevertheless, says Maldacena, the numerical proof that these two seemingly disparate worlds are actually identical gives hope that the gravitational properties of our Universe can one day be explained by a simpler cosmos purely in terms of quantum theory.

Low-cost metal 3D printer

Low-cost metal 3D printer could be the next step in home manufacturing revolution:

Low-cost metal 3D printer could be the next step in home manufacturing revolution

Low-cost metal 3D printer could be the next step in home manufacturing revolution

A common criticism of 3D printers is that whilst they can easily replicate any number of shapes and objects, they can only do so in plastic. This might be great for printing trinkets like a mobile phone case or a chess set, but how it will it help when you need, say, a new dishwasher part?

However, a new type of 3D printer designed by engineers from Michigan Technological University might solve some of these problems. It’s open source, it costs less than $1,500 and it prints in metal.

The prototype has been developed by Joshua Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engeineering, who admits that the unit is very much still a work in progress.

However, it still represents a significant breakthrough compared to current 3D metal printers, the vast majority of which are operated by industrial manufacturers and cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

However, Pearce is optimistic that his design will help spur further development:

“Similar to the incredible churn in innovation witnessed with open-sourcing of the first RepRap plastic 3D printers, I anticipate rapid progress when the maker community gets their hands on it,” he said in a press release.  “Within a month, somebody will make one that’s better than ours, I guarantee it.”

Pearce’s design uses a small commercial MIG welder (one that uses inert gas) to lay down thin layers of steel, with the printing process controlled by an open-source microcontroller. The entire ensemble is less expensive than many commercial plastic 3D printers, though Pearce hopes future models will be used by small companies.

Commercially priced plastic 3D printers are becoming more common, but will they print anything we need?

“Small and medium-sized enterprises would be able to build parts and equipment quickly and easily using downloadable, free and open-source designs, which could revolutionize the economy for the benefit of the many.”

Unfortunately, the spread of low-cost 3D metal printers would also lead to increased fears of home-made weapons.  Although 3D printed plastic guns have so far only proved to be unreliable and dangerous to the user, the first 3D printed metal gun fired over 600 rounds in testing and was said to ‘function beautifully’.

For the rest of it us, it’s still hoped by many that 3D printers will one day enter the home, providing replacements parts for domestic appliances. One US study from August this year even suggested that 3D printers could ‘pay for themselves’ in just two months – though the researchers were restricted by the range of objects available to print.

“I really don’t know if we are mature enough to handle it,” Pearce said of the technology, “but I think that with open-source approach, we are within reach of a Star Trek-like, post-scarcity society, in which ‘replicators’ can create a vast array of objects on demand, resulting in wealth for everyone at very little cost. Pretty soon, we’ll be able to make almost anything.”