Fukushima: Everyone From Japan Has Had Health Problems

Fukushima: Hawaii-Based Nonprofit Group Says “Every Single Person” They Hosted from Japan Has Had Health Problems

Fukushima: Hawaii-Based Nonprofit Group Says “Every Single Person” They Hosted from Japan Has Had Health Problems

Interview with Vicki Nelson, founder of Fukushima Friends (nonprofit organization which facilitates trips to Hawaii for Fukushima radiation refugees), Nuclear Hotseat hosted by Libbe HaLevy, Jun 9, 2015 (at 16:30 in):

  • Vicki Nelson, founder of Fukushima Friends (emphasis added): We have a home that’s open for them to come and experience some time of respite and eat different food. What we’ve been experiencing also is that every single person that comes has reaction to the change as soon as they come here. There’s been people who have vomited, they’ve been having nosebleeds, they’ve been dizzy, they’ve been very ashen in color.
  • Libbe HaLevy, host: This is once they have left Japan? In other words, it is the lack of the radiation that allows them to then have these reactions?
  • Nelson: It’s like it is expelling from their body. There’s diarrhea, there’s nosebleeds— almost every single person has had nosebleeds on their pillow. I find blood, and they don’t want to tell me that they have these reactions, they’re embarrassed. Tokiko’s son [from Koriyama, Fukushima] vomited the whole first week practically, and had diarrhea. We actually took him to the hospital because we felt that he was dehydrated. They did run tests, and they said yes he was dehydrated. So he was kept overnight at the Hilo hospital on the big island and cared for.

Meeting hosted by Andrew Cash, member of Canadian parliament, Dec 2012 — Japanese mother (at 2:12:30 in): “My home town is Sapporo [northernmost island in Japan]… In my city, no one thinks about radiation. I found a group of escaped mothers from Tokyo and the Fukushima area, and I was very surprised… Most of them had thyroid problems, or eye problems, or nose bleeds… They are very worried about it. In Japan we knew about the meltdowns two months after the meltdowns happened, so we can have no information about radiation. Now the government is telling us to eat food from Fukushima. We can’t rely on government. The TV said Fukushima is safe, no problem… Fukushima is good to live. They want to invite a lot of tourists to Fukushima.

 

PLUS:

  • Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) admits record radiation spike in port water from Fukushima Daiichi leak.
  • Japanese government gets pushback for plan to end rent subsidies for some Fukushima evacuees/refugees.
  • Japan plans nuke restarts despite severe volcanic activity less than 50 miles from reactor site.
  • The pro-nuclear International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) releases report that Japan’s overconfidence regarding the safety of its nuclear power plants was a major reason behind the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
  • AND – Japan plans for nukes to supply 20-22% of all electricity in the country by 2030.  What’s wrong with this picture?

 

Source:  globalresearch.ca

Half Of All Jobs Will Be Automated By 2034

47% Of All Jobs Will Be Automated By 2034

47% Of All Jobs Will Be Automated By 2034

Almost half of all jobs could be automated by computers within two decades and “no government is prepared” for the tsunami of social change that will follow, according to the Economist.

The magazine’s 2014 analysis of the impact of technology paints a pretty bleak picture of the future.

It says that while innovation (aka “the elixir of progress”) has always resulted in job losses, usually economies have eventually been able to develop new roles for those workers to compensate, such as in the industrial revolution of the 19th century, or the food production revolution of the 20th century.

But the pace of change this time around appears to be unprecedented, its leader column claims. And the result is a huge amount of uncertainty for both developed and under-developed economies about where the next ‘lost generation’ is going to find work.

It quotes a 2013 Oxford Martin School study that estimates 47% of all jobs could be automated in the next 20 years:

“Our findings thus imply that as technology races ahead, low-skill workers will reallocate to tasks that are non-susceptible to computerisation – i.e., tasks requiring creative and social intelligence. For workers to win the race, however, they will have to acquire creative and social skills,” that study says.

The Economist also points out that current unemployment levels are startlingly high, but that “this wave of technological disruption to the job market has only just started”.

Specifically the Economist points to new tech like driverless cars, improved household gadgets, faster and more efficient online communications and ‘big data’ analysis to areas that humans are quickly being superceded. And while new start-ups are raising billions, they employ few people – Instagram, sold to Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion, employed just 30 people at the time.

Those conclusions are echoed elsewhere. Another study (‘Are You Ready For #GenMobile?’), to be released in full on 21 January by Aruba Networks, points out just how fast traditional working models are changing.

It says that 72% of British people now believe they work more efficiently at home, and that 63% need a WiFi network to complete their tasks – not bad for a technology that was barely standardised 10 years ago.

Meanwhile in ‘The Second Machine Age’, out this week, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argue workers are under unprecedented pressure by the automation of skilled and unskilled jobs.

In a recent Salon interview Brynjolfsson said: “technology has always been destroying jobs, and it’s always been creating jobs, and it’s been roughly a wash for the last 200 years. But starting in the 1990s the employment to population ration really started plummeting and it’s now fallen off a cliff and not getting back up. We think that it should be the focus of policymakers right now to figure out how to address that.”

The BBC also produced a report earlier this month which claimed, in stark tones, that “the robots are coming to steal our jobs”.

“AI’s are embedded in the fabric of our everyday lives,” head of AI at Singularity University, Neil Jacobstein, told the Beeb.

“They are used in medicine, in law, in design and throughout automotive industry.”

That report too pointed out the change will affect jobs of all kinds – from a Chinese factory Hon Hai which has announced plans to replace 500,000 workers with robots in three years, to lawyers, surgeons and public sector workers.

Opinions remain divided on the impact and future of technological innovation on the jobs market, and wealth inequality. The Economist leader argues that governments have a responsibility to innovate in education, taxation and embracing progress, though the solutions are by no means obvious or without uncertainty.

If only we could automate the process of making and implementing those political decisions – now that would really be something.

 

Source:  huffingtonpost.co.uk

Animals internal compass possibly found

Internal Compass

Internal Compass

Scientists have long known that animals have some kind of internal compass that allows them to use Earth’s magnetic field to navigate. This ability allows species such as the monarch butterfly to travel up to an incredible 5,000 km across the US to the exact same location, year after year, and the Arctic tern to travel 71,000 km between Greenland and Antarctica annually. But these magnetic fields are pretty much invisible to humans, and we’ve never been able to find the sensor that lets animals to detect them.

Now a team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin in the US has identified a tiny antenna-like structure in the brain of worms that allows them to sense Earth’s magnetic field, and they suspect the same structure could be the key to helping other species navigate, too.

“Chances are that the same molecules will be used by cuter animals like butterflies and birds,” one of the researchers, Jon Pierce-Shimomura, said in a press release. “This gives us a first foothold in understanding magnetosensation in other animals.”

Back in 2012, scientists found cells in pigeons that process information about magnetic fields, but this is the first time researchers have ever found the actual sensor in animals.

“It’s been a competitive race to find the first magnetosensory neuron,” said Pierce-Shimomura. “And we think we’ve won with worms, which is a big surprise because no one suspected that worms could sense the Earth’s magnetic field.”

The team made the discovery while conducting Alzheimer’s research in small soil worms, C. elegans. They noticed that when worms from Texas soil were hungry, they moved downwards to look for food. But worms that came from other parts of the world – Hawaii England and Australia, for example – didn’t move down; they moved at a precise angle to the magnetic field that would have corresponded to down if they’d been in their home country.

The team then altered the magnetic field around the worms’ enclosure using a special magnetic coil system, and found that they changed their behaviour accordingly.

But the real breakthrough came when they worked with worms that had been genetically engineered to block a structure called the AFD neuron from forming in the brain. These worms didn’t change their behaviour when the magnetic fields around their enclosure were altered – in fact, they seemed unable to detect the magnetic fields at all.

The AFD neuron is a tiny structure at the end of a neuron that gives worms the ability to sense carbon dioxide levels and temperature while underground. To confirm its additional role in sensing magnetic fields, the team used a technique called calcium imaging to show that changes in the magnetic field caused the AFD neuron to light up. Their findings have been published in the journal eLife. 

The next step will be to confirm that this AFD neuron exists in other species and that it works in the same way. If that’s the case, we might finally have an explanation for the incredible navigation abilities of animals, and perhaps a roadmap for how humans could one day achieve the same ability.

 

Source:  sciencealert.com

1 in 3 American’s are Alcoholic’s

American's are alcoholics

American’s are alcoholics

About 30 percent of adults in the United States misuse alcohol at some point in their lives, but the large majority don’t seek treatment, a new study suggests.

Researchers also found that in a given year, about 14 percent of American adults misuse alcohol, which researchers refer to as having “alcohol use disorder.” This yearly rate translates to an estimated 32.6 million Americans with drinking problems during a 12-month period.

“The study found that the risk of alcohol use disorders appears to be going up in the last decade,” said George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the agency that conducted the research.

Not only is problem drinking becoming more widespread, but the intensity of drinking is also going up, Koob said. Instead of having three drinks on a night out, more people may be drinking heavily and having at least five, or even eight or 10 drinks at a time.

“Alcohol use disorder” is a relatively new term. Prior to May 2013, people who had drinking problems were diagnosed with either “alcohol abuse” or “alcohol dependence.”

Now, rather than categorizing these problems as two separate conditions, the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013) considers the two a single diagnosis known as “alcohol use disorder.” A person with the disorder is further classified as having a mild, moderate or severe form of the condition, based on the number of symptoms the individual has. [7 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health]

Adults who meet at least two of the 11 diagnostic criteria are considered as having an alcohol use disorder. Criteria include having strong cravings for alcohol, making unsuccessful efforts to cut down consumption and drinking causing problems at work, home or school.

The results, published online today (June 3) in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, are the first to estimate nationwide prevalence rates for alcohol misuse since the diagnostic criteria were changed.

 

Source:  livescience.com

Majority of American’s are now Obese

Most American's are Obese

Most American’s are Obese

The number of overweight and obese adults in the United States continues to rise, according to a new study that’s found more than two-thirds of adult Americans aged 25 years or older are now overweight or obese.

The research analysed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which ran from 2007 to 2012, and included information on a sample of 15,208 men and women. Based on the data, the researchers estimate that 39.96 percent of US men (36.3 million) are overweight and 35.04 percent (31.8 million) are obese.

 For women, the estimates are 29.74 percent (28.9 million) of them are overweight, while 36.84 percent (35.8 million) are obese. If you do the maths, sure enough, the number of obese adult Americans (67.6 million) now eclipses those who are only overweight (65.2 million).

What’s so remarkable about the research, conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine and published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is just how stark the numbers are for the US population. Every three in four men is overweight or obese, and the same can be said for two out of every three women.

In other words, people in healthy weight ranges in the US make up only a distinct minority of the population, especially when you consider that some portion of the remainder in these figures will be people who are actually underweight.

The researchers found the African American community has the biggest problem with obesity – affecting 39 percent of black men and 57 percent of black women – followed by Mexican Americans and then whites.

A similar study was published back in 1999, finding that 63 percent of men and 55 percent of women aged 25 and older were overweight or obese, so clearly the problem has only gotten worse over the last two decades, despite efforts from the government and the health community to educate people on how to take care of themselves when it comes to food and lifestyle choices.

“This is a wakeup call to implement policies and practices designed to combat overweight and obesity,” said Lin Yang, the study’s lead, in a statement. “An effort that spans multiple sectors must be made to stop or reverse this trend that is compromising and shortening the lives of many.”

Scary stuff, but hopefully this latest research will help galvanise efforts to turn weights around in the US and put healthy eating and living squarely back on the agenda.

 

Source:  sciencealert.com

Human cyborgs within 200 years

cyborg women

cyborg women

Within the next 200 years, humans will have become so merged with technology that we’ll have evolved into “God-like cyborgs”, according to Yuval Noah Harari, an historian and author from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.

Harari researches the history of the human species, and after writing a new book on our past, he now believes that we’re just a few short centuries away from being able to use technology to avoid death altogether – if we can afford it, that is.

 “I think it is likely in the next 200 years or so Homo sapiens will upgrade themselves into some idea of a divine being, either through biological manipulation or genetic engineering of by the creation of cyborgs: part organic, part non-organic,” Harari said during his presentation the Hay Festival in the UK, as Sarah Knapton reports for the Telegraph. “It will be the greatest evolution in biology since the appearance of life … we will be as different from today’s humans as chimps are now from us.”

Obviously, we should take Harari’s predictions with a grain of salt, but while they sound more suited to science fiction than real life, they’re not actually that out-there. Many researchers believe that we’ve already started down the path towards a cyborg future; after all, many of us already rely on bionic ears and eyes, insulin pump technology and prosthetics to help us survive. And with researchers recently learning how to send people’s thoughts across the web, subconsciously control bionic limbs and use liquid metal to heal severed nerves, it’s not hard to imagine how we could continue to use technology to supplement our vulnerable human bodies further.

Interestingly, Harare’s comments came just a few days after UK-based neuroscientist Hannah Critchlow from Cambridge University got the Internet excited by saying that it could be possible to upload our brains into computers, if we could build computers with 100 trillion circuit connections. “People could probably live inside a machine. Potentially, I think it is definitely a possibility,” Critchlow said during her presentation at the festival.

But Harari warned that these upgrades may only be available to the wealthiest members of society, and that could cause a growing biological divide between rich and poor – especially if some of us can afford to pay for the privilege of living forever while the rest of the species dies out.

If that sounds depressing, the alternative is a future where instead of us taking advantage of technology, technology takes advantage of us, and artificial intelligence poses a threat to our survival, as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates have all predicted.

Either way, one thing seems pretty clear – our future as a species is now inextricably linked with the technology we’ve created. For better or for worse.

 

Source:  sciencealert.com

Friends genetically more similar than strangers

'We Become Friends With Genetically Similar People'

‘We Become Friends With Genetically Similar People’

Our friends seem to be genetically more similar to us than strangers, according to a new U.S. scientific study led by prominent Greek-American professor of sociology and medicine at Yale University Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, professor of medical genetics and political science at the University of California.

The researchers, who made the relevant publication in the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), analyzed the genome of 1,932 people and compared pairs of friends with pairs of strangers.

There was no biological affinity among all these people, but only the difference in the level of social relations between them.

The study showed that, on average, every person had a more similar DNA with his friends than with strangers. The researchers noted that this finding has to do with the tendency of people to make friends with similar racial (and hence genetic) background.

The genetic similarity between friends was greater than the expected similarity between people who share a common national and genetic inheritance. It is not clear yet by what mechanisms this occurs.

But how similar are we with our friends?

On average, according to the study, a friend of ours has a genetic affinity comparable to our fourth cousin, which means that we share about 1% of our genes our friends.

“1% does not sound a big deal, but it is for geneticists. It is noteworthy that most people do not even know who their fourth cousins ​​are, but somehow, from the countless possible cases, we choose to make friends with people who are genetically similar to us,” said Prof Christakis.

Christakis and Fowler even developed a “friendship score”, which predicts who will befriend whom with nearly the same accuracy as scientists predict, on the basis of genetic analysis, the chances of a person to obesity or schizophrenia.

Focusing on individual genes, the research shows that friends are more likely to have similar genes related to the sense of smell, but different genes that control immunity; thus friends vary genetically in their protection against various diseases.

It seems to be an evolutionary mechanism that serves the society in general, since the fact that people hang out with those who are vulnerable to different diseases constitutes a barrier to the quick spread of an epidemic from person to person. Another notable finding is that the common genes we share with our friends seem to evolve more rapidly than others.

Prof. Christakis explains that probably that is why human evolution seems to have accelerated over the past 30,000 years, as the social environment with an important role of linguistic communication is a vital evolutionary factor.

 

Source:  humansarefree.com

Multitasking lowers your IQ

Multitasking makes you stupid

Multitasking makes you stupid

Envisage the switched-on new-millennium male – his iPhone in one hand while he switches between emails and business reports on his computer screen – a vision of productivity in this wondrous age of apps.

Wrong. He’s seriously dumbing himself down.

Several scientific studies around the world have concluded the brain doesn’t switch tasks like an expert juggler. Quite the opposite. It can reduce your IQ by as much as 10 points, cause mental blanks and reduce your productivity by 40 per cent.

Not a single study in psychology shows that women are better than men at multitasking, says Dr Julia Irwin, senior lecturer in psychology at Macquarie University.

What about women? They’re legends at multitasking and concentrating on several things at once. Nope. Not a single psychological study concludes women are better at multitasking than men, and some research indicates they can be worse.

One Australian researcher in the field, Dr Julia Irwin, senior lecturer in psychology at Macquarie University, advises people to abandon their apps, turn off their mobiles and ignore their emails while they concentrate on one task at a time. “At the end of the day, they will have been a lot more productive,” she says.

“If you’re sending an email while also working on an assignment, one downside is that withdrawing your attention from one task to another creates a split-second in which the brain’s in no-man’s land. It’s called a post-refractory pause.

“Over time these pauses add up and can mean your mind wasn’t on the job for a couple of minutes.”

Dr Irwin says such mental blanks can be dangerous when doing something of critical importance like keeping an eye out for a child in a playground. “If, in that pause, a child wobbles on their bicycle, it’s obviously a worry. You just haven’t got your attention on it.

“The other aspect is, if you’re deeply immersed in writing something and turn your attention to an email that’s just come in, there are studies that show it can take you up to 15 minutes to get yourself back into that same degree of immersion.”

One early study by the Institute of Psychiatry in London involved more than 1000 workers and found multitasking with electronic media caused a temporary 10-point decrease in IQ – a worse effect than smoking marijuana or losing a night’s sleep.

The study’s leader, an adjunct professor at the University of Nevada, Dr Glenn Wilson, called it “informania”, a condition created by using multiple electronic devices and employers’ growing demands to tackle more than one task at a time.

“This is a very real and widespread phenomenon,” he told CNN. “We have found that this obsession with looking at messages, if unchecked, will damage a worker’s performance by reducing their mental sharpness. Companies should encourage a more balanced and appropriate way of working.”

Another study, by Professor David Meyer, director of the University of Michigan’s Brain Cognition and Action Laboratory, concluded that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks cost as much as 40 per cent of someone’s productive time.

Dr Irwin’s own Australian research concludes clearly that in today’s multitasking multi-app world, people should turn off their devices when doing something that merits their full attention.

One of her studies also defies a widespread belief that women are better at multitasking. “One of the very first studies I did was with young students driving and either talking to passengers or on a mobile,” she says. “I thought, oh, the women are going to ace this, but the women actually scored worse on the phones than the men.

“When I looked in the literature, there is not a single study in psychology that shows that women are better at multitasking. But what I did find in the sociological literature is that they perform multiple tasks more often.

“This has  led to the belief that women are better at multitasking, but the more studies are done, the fewer differences they find between female and male brains.”

 

Source:  theage.com.au

Reality doesn’t exist, quantum experiment confirms

 

Reality doesn't exist

Reality doesn’t exist

Australian scientists have recreated a famous experiment and confirmed quantum physics’s bizarre predictions about the nature of reality, by proving that reality doesn’t actually exist until we measure it – at least, not on the very small scale.

That all sounds a little mind-meltingly complex, but the experiment poses a pretty simple question: if you have an object that can either act like a particle or a wave, at what point does that object ‘decide’?

Our general logic would assume that the object is either wave-like or particle-like by its very nature, and our measurements will have nothing to do with the answer. But quantum theory predicts that the result all depends on how the object is measured at the end of its journey. And that’s exactly what a team from the Australian National University has now found.

“It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” lead researcher and physicist Andrew Truscott said in a press release.

Known as John Wheeler’s delayed-choice thought experiment, the experiment was first proposed back in 1978 using light beams bounced by mirrors, but back then, the technology needed was pretty much impossible. Now, almost 40 years later, the Australian team has managed to recreate the experiment using helium atoms scattered by laser light.

“Quantum physics predictions about interference seem odd enough when applied to light, which seems more like a wave, but to have done the experiment with atoms, which are complicated things that have mass and interact with electric fields and so on, adds to the weirdness,” said Roman Khakimov, a PhD student who worked on the experiment.

To successfully recreate the experiment, the team trapped a bunch of helium atoms in a suspended state known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, and then ejected them all until there was only a single atom left.

This chosen atom was then dropped through a pair of laser beams, which made a grating pattern that acted as a crossroads that would scatter the path of the atom, much like a solid grating would scatter light.

They then randomly added a second grating that recombined the paths, but only after the atom had already passed the first grating.

When this second grating was added, it led to constructive or destructive interference, which is what you’d expect if the atom had travelled both paths, like a wave would. But when the second grating was not added, no interference was observed, as if the atom chose only one path.

The fact that this second grating was only added after the atom passed through the first crossroads suggests that the atom hadn’t yet determined its nature before being measured a second time.

So if you believe that the atom did take a particular path or paths at the first crossroad, this means that a future measurement was affecting the atom’s path, explained Truscott. “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behaviour was brought into existence,” he said.

Although this all sounds incredibly weird, it’s actually just a validation for the quantum theory that already governs the world of the very small. Using this theory, we’ve managed to develop things like LEDs, lasers and computer chips, but up until now, it’s been hard to confirm that it actually works with a lovely, pure demonstration such as this one.

Source:  Sciencedaily.com

Google turns your clothes into touchscreens

Google plans on turning your clothes into touchscreens

Google plans on turning your clothes into touchscreens

Last week Google unveiled a wealth of new innovations and initiatives at its annual I/O developer conference, and one of the big reveals was Project Jacquard. It’s part of the Google ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) division and it’s the company’s plan for the future of clothing: touch-sensitive materials that you can interact with in the same way as your smartphone display.

Project Jacquard uses touch-sensitive, metallic yarns that are weaved in with normal material – cotton, silk or polyester – to give it the kind of capabilities that you don’t usually find outside of science fiction movies. The yarn is connected to a small receiver and controller the size of a button, with the idea that one day you might be able to tap your lapel to switch on the washing machine, or flick your cuff to change the volume on your smart television set.

One of the demos that Google showed off at I/O 2015 was a touch-enabled outfit controlling a set of Philips Hue lights. A quick tap on the clothing turned the lights on and off, while swiping left and right changed the colour, and swiping up and down adjusted the brightness. You wouldn’t have to take your phone out of your jeans pocket to do all this – the pocket itself would act as the controller.

Monitoring capabilities can be included too, so your pillow could track your breathing or your t-shirt could monitor your heart rate without the need for any other equipment. Google is expecting to work with a number of different partners on the technology in the future, and already has an agreement in place with denim manufacturer Levi Strauss & Co in the US.

What makes the technology so exciting is its invisibility. There’s no need to wear a clunky headset or a smart wristwatch to get connected – it’s essentially the ultimate in wearables. Project Jacquard is still at the early stages, but a lot of progress has been made in a short space of time, and Google thinks the interactive yarn will have an important role to play in our sartorial future.

“The complementary components are engineered to be as discreet as possible,” explains the official Project Jacquard page. “We developed innovative techniques to attach the conductive yarns to connectors and tiny circuits, no larger than the button on a jacket. These miniaturised electronics capture touch interactions, and various gestures can be inferred using machine-learning algorithms.”

The smart clothing is stretchable and washable, and Google says it’s up to the designer whether the special yarn is highlighted on the material or kept completely invisible. It can be restricted to a certain patch of clothing or spread over the whole garment.

Jacquard, by the way, is a type of loom used in the 19th century. Google says that the new touch-enabled clothing can be made at scale using equipment that already exists, so when it’s ready for the mass market it can be cheaply and easily produced.

Ultimately, we could see all kinds of smart clothing, furnishings and textiles that look identical to the ‘dumb’ versions that came before them. Google doesn’t have a timescale for launching Project Jacquard out into the world just yet, but you can sign up for updates at the project page.

 

Source:  sciencedaily.com

Woolly mammoths genome mapped

woolly mammoth genome

woolly mammoth genome

An international team of researchers has sequenced the nearly complete genome of two Siberian woolly mammoths — revealing the most complete picture to date — including new information about the species’ evolutionary history and the conditions that led to its mass extinction at the end of the Ice Age.

“This discovery means that recreating extinct species is a much more real possibility, one we could in theory realize within decades,” says evolutionary geneticist Hendrik Poinar, director of the Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster University and a researcher at the Institute for Infectious Disease Research, the senior Canadian scientist on the project.

“With a complete genome and this kind of data, we can now begin to understand what made a mammoth a mammoth — when compared to an elephant — and some of the underlying causes of their extinction which is an exceptionally difficult and complex puzzle to solve,” he says.

While scientists have long argued that climate change and human hunting were major factors behind the mammoth’s extinction, the new data suggests multiple factors were at play over their long evolutionary history.

Researchers from McMaster, Harvard Medical School, the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm University and others produced high-quality genomes from specimens taken from the remains of two male woolly mammoths, which lived about 40,000 years apart.

One had lived in northeastern Siberia and is estimated to be nearly 45,000 years old. The other -believed to be from one of the last surviving mammoth populations — lived approximately 4,300 years ago on Russia’s Wrangel Island, located in the Arctic Ocean.

“We found that the genome from one of the world’s last mammoths displayed low genetic variation and a signature consistent with inbreeding, likely due to the small number of mammoths that managed to survive on Wrangel Island during the last 5,000 years of the species’ existence,” says Love Dalén, an associate professor of Bioinformatics and Genetics at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

Scientists used sophisticated technology to tease bits and pieces of highly fragmented DNA from the ancient specimens, which they then used to sequence the genomes. Through careful analysis, they determined the animal populations had suffered and recovered from a significant setback roughly 250,000 to 300,000 years ago. However, say researchers, another severe decline occurred in the final days of the Ice Age, marking the end.

“The dates on these current samples suggest that when Egyptians were building pyramids, there were still mammoths living on these islands,” says Poinar. “Having this quality of data can help with our understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of elephants in general and possible efforts at de-extinction.”

The latest research is the continuation of the pioneering work Poinar and his team began in 2006, when they first mapped a partial mammoth genome, using DNA extracted from carcasses found in permafrost in the Yukon and Siberia.

 

Source:  Sciencedaily.com

Iris scanner that works 12 metres away

Iris scanner that can work at 12 metres away

Iris scanner that can work at 12 metres away

Iris scanner that can work at 12 metres away

Imagine an advertising billboard or a smart door that can recognise you from across the street – that’s the futuristic type of technology that’s on the way after researchers the US developed an iris scanner that can work at a distance of 12 metres (40 feet).

We’re starting to see primitive eye scanners appear in consumer electronics, but this new device takes the innovation one step further. The team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has developed a scanning system that can spot and identify a driver sat in a car, so whether you’re traveling through a toll bridge or exceeding the speed limit, the cameras will know who you are.

That brings up a whole series of difficult questions about user privacy and the capabilities of law enforcement agencies across the world. Given a positive spin, it means a dangerous criminal getting spotted ahead of time; seen more cynically, the technology could be used to track citizens without their knowledge.

This long-range iris scanning system is primarily the work of CMU engineering professor, Marios Savvides. As our irises are as distinctive as our fingerprints, the technology is very accurate – but as with fingerprints, your eyeballs will already need to be on file for you to be spotted.

Savvides thinks the technology is helpful rather than scary. “Fingerprints, they require you to touch something. Iris, we can capture it at a distance, so we’re making the whole user experience much less intrusive, much more comfortable,” he told The Atlantic. “There’s no X-marks-the-spot. There’s no place you have to stand. Anywhere between six and 12 metres, it will find you, it will zoom in and capture both irises and full face.”

If nothing else, it could speed up queues at the airport. But in the wrong hands or used in the wrong way, it could be just as dangerous as it is convenient. There’s no chance of these types of biometric technology going backwards, so rigorous laws on how it can be used become increasingly important.

Savvides thinks we’re already in a new era of surveillance, and that his invention won’t change that. “People are being tracked,” he says. “Their every move, their purchasing, their habits, where they are every day, through credit card transactions, through advantage cards – if someone really wanted to know what you were doing every moment of the day, they don’t need facial recognition or iris recognition to do that. That’s already out there.”

Like many recent advancements in biometrics, increased convenience and accuracy comes at a cost – it’s all a question of how the technology is used. Just don’t be surprised if in the near future your office door spots you well before you reach it.

 

Source:  Sciencealert.com

Monsanto Department discredits scientists who are against GMOs.

‘discrediting’ and ‘debunking’ scientists who speak out against GMOs.

‘discrediting’ and ‘debunking’ scientists who speak out against GMOs.

Dare to publish a scientific study against Big Biotech, and Monsanto will defame and discredit you. For the first time, a Monsanto employee admits that there is an entire department within the corporation with the simple task of ‘discrediting’ and ‘debunking’ scientists who speak out against GMOs.

The WHO recently classified glyphosate, a chemical in Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, as carcinogenic – news that is really heating things up with biotech. So Monsanto has been demanding that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) retract their statements about the poisons’s toxicity to human health.

The company demands this even though a peer-reviewed study published in March of 2015 in the respected journal, The Lancet Oncology, conducted a analysis proving that glyphosate was indeed ‘probably carcinogenic.’

Monsanto’s vice president of global regulatory affairs Philip Miller told Reuters the following in interview:

“We question the quality of the assessment. The WHO has something to explain.”

It has already been explained, Mr. Miller. The study states:

“Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide, currently with the highest production volumes of all herbicides. It is used in more than 750 different products for agriculture, forestry, urban, and home applications. Its use has increased sharply with the development of genetically modified glyphosate-resistant crop varieties. Glyphosate has been detected in air during spraying, in water, and in food. There WAS limited evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of glyphosate.

Glyphosate has been detected in the blood and urine of agricultural workers, indicating absorption. Soil microbes degrade glyphosate to aminomethylphosphoric acid (AMPA). Blood AMPA detection after poisonings suggests intestinal microbial metabolism in humans. Glyphosate and glyphosate formulations induced DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells in vitro. One study reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) in residents of several communities after spraying of glyphosate formulations.”

In a recent talk attended mostly by students hoping to get decent paying internships in their field, a student asked what the company was doing to negate “bad science” concerning their work.

Monsanto’s employee, Dr. William “Bill” Moar, who gives talks on Monsanto’s products to reassure everyone that they are safe, perhaps forgot the event was public when he openly revealed that Monsanto had:

“An entire department” (waving his arm for emphasis) dedicated to “debunking” science which disagreed with theirs.”

Likely, this is the first time a Monsanto employee has publicly admitted that they have immense political and financial weight to bear on scientists who dare to publish against them. Of course they don’t list this discrediting department anywhere on their website.

The company will stop at nothing to discredit and devalue the contributions of unimpeachably respected Lancet and the international scientific bodies of WHO and IARC, among others.

The stakes are high – after all, an entire industry of GMO seed (for which they currently hold more than a three-fourths monopoly share) is based on being Roundup ready. Glyphosate is their hallmark product, and it accounts for billions in sales when you account for the seed they sell to go with their best-selling herbicide.

In a single publicly made phrase, Moar has admitted that the Monsanto-funded science is sheer propaganda – essentially that they indeed have dozens, if not hundreds of employees out making sure that no science which tells the truth about their cancer-causing products ever garners any credibility whatsoever in the information age.

Monsanto has also held up the findings of regulatory bodies, particularly in the United States where the revolving door between agrochemical corporations and government seems never ending.

 

Source:  themindunleashed.org