Professor decodes Voynich’s manuscript

600 year old mystery manuscript decoded by University of Bedfordshire professor:

voynich

voynich

AN award-winning professor from the University has followed in the footsteps of Indiana Jones by cracking the code of a 600 year old manuscript, deemed as ‘the most mysterious’ document in the world.

Stephen Bax, Professor of Applied Linguistics, has just become the first professional linguist to crack the code of the Voynich manuscript using an analytical approach.

The world-renowned manuscript is full of illustrations of exotic plants, stars, and mysterious human figures, as well as many pages written in an unknown text.

Up until now the 15th century cryptic work has baffled scholars, cryptographers and codebreakers who have failed to read a single letter of the script or any word of the text.

Over time it has attained an infamous reputation, even featuring in the latest hit computer game Assassin’s Creed, as well as in the Indiana Jones novels, when Indiana decoded the Voynich and used it to find the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’.

However in reality no one has come close to revealing the Voynich’s true messages.

Many grand theories have been proposed. Some suggest it was the work of Leonardo da Vinci as a boy, or secret Cathars, or the lost tribe of Israel, or most recently Aztecs … some have even proclaimed it was done by aliens!

Professor Bax however has begun to unlock the mystery meanings of the Voynich manuscript using his wide knowledge of mediaeval manuscripts and his familiarity with Semitic languages such as Arabic. Using careful linguistic analysis he is working on the script letter by letter.

“I hit on the idea of identifying proper names in the text, following historic approaches which successfully deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs and other mystery scripts, and I then used those names to work out part of the script,” explained Professor Bax.

“The manuscript has a lot of illustrations of stars and plants. I was able to identify some of these, with their names, by looking at mediaeval herbal manuscripts in Arabic and other languages, and I then made a start on a decoding, with some exciting results.”

Among the words he has identified is the term for Taurus, alongside a picture of seven stars which seem to be the Pleiades, and also the word KANTAIRON alongside a picture of the plant Centaury, a known mediaeval herb, as well as a number of other plants.

Although Professor Bax’s decoding is still only partial, it has generated a lot of excitement in the world of codebreaking and linguistics because it could prove a crucial breakthrough for an eventual full decipherment.

“My aim in reporting on my findings at this stage is to encourage other linguists to work with me to decode the whole script using the same approach, though it still won’t be easy. That way we can finally understand what the mysterious authors were trying to tell us,” he added.

“But already my research shows conclusively that the manuscript is not a hoax, as some have claimed, and is probably a treatise on nature, perhaps in a Near Eastern or Asian language.”

 

Source:  beds.ac.uk

Bacteria exploit proteins to trigger potentially lethal infections

New research by scientists at the University of York sheds light on how bacteria exploit human proteins during infections:

bacteria exploit proteins

bacteria exploit proteins

 

 

A research team led by Professor Jennifer Potts, a British Heart Foundation Senior Research Fellow in York’s Department of Biology, studied how Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause life-threatening human infections, attach to two proteins fibronectin and fibrinogen found in human blood.

The human proteins play important roles in clot formation and wound healing and the bacteria appear to exploit them during the process of infection. Scientists had earlier shown that the binding sites for fibrinogen and fibronectin on the S. aureus protein FnBPA appear to “co-operate” in causing the dangerous heart infection infective endocarditis and the latest research suggest how the process occurs. The researchers, who included Vaclav Stemberk and Dr Richard Jones at York and Dr Ruth Massey, a microbiologist at the University of Bath, used X-ray crystallography, biophysical techniques and bacterial assays to investigate the process.

In research published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, they solved the three dimensional structure of the bacterial protein FnBPA in complex with a small part of the human protein fibrinogen. This work showed that the fibrinogen binding site on FnBPA is close to, but not overlapping with, the binding site for fibronectin.

They then studied the binding of the two human proteins simultaneously to FnBPA and found that binding of fibronectin appears to block binding of fibrinogen to the bacterial protein. It appears that regulation of binding arises due to the close proximity of the fibrinogen and fibronectin binding sites on the bacterial protein and the large size of the human proteins. While the research provides the first biophysical evidence in support of the co-operation previously observed in the infection studies, it is still not clear how these two observations are linked. The scientists are planning further studies.

Professor Potts said: “Bacteria have evolved various mechanisms to exploit human proteins to cause infection. Understanding these mechanisms might not only lead to the development of new therapeutics but can also provide important information regarding the normal role of these human proteins in the body.”

Dr Sanjay Thakrar, Research Advisor at the British Heart Foundation, which co-funded the study, said: “The bacteria studied can cause a wide range of infections including the potentially fatal heart infection known as infective endocarditis.

“This study showed how this bacterium interacts with proteins found in our blood, which may give us an insight into how these deadly heart infections occur. This is an important step towards developing new treatments, but more research is needed to fully understand this interaction.”

 

Source:   eurekalert.org

Police analyze Facebook to catch you

Researchers are interested in analyzing Facebook and social media to see how you score on a Self-Report Psychopathy scale:
The researchers are interested in analyzing what people write on Facebook or in other social media, since our unconscious mind also holds sway over what we write. By analyzing stories written by students from Cornell and the University of British Columbia, and looking at how the text people generate using social media relates to scores on the Self-Report Psychopathy scale.

The researchers are interested in analyzing what people write on Facebook or in other social media. By analyzing stories written by students and looking at how the text people generate using social media relates to scores on the Self-Report Psychopathy scale.

Psychopaths appear to view the world and others instrumentally, as theirs for the taking, the team, which included Stephen Porter from the University of British Columbia, wrote. As they expected, the psychopaths’ language contained more words known as subordinating conjunctions. These words, including “because” and “so that,” are associated with cause-and-effect statements. “This pattern suggested that psychopaths were more likely to view the crime as the logical outcome of a plan (something that ‘had’ to be done to achieve a goal),” the authors write. While most of us respond to higher-level needs, such as family, religion or spirituality, and self-esteem, psychopaths remain occupied with those needs associated with a more basic existence. Their analysis revealed that psychopaths used about twice as many words related to basic physiological needs and self-preservation, including eating, drinking and monetary resources than the nonpsychopaths, they write. Jeffrey Hancock, the lead researcher and an associate professor in communications at Cornell University said, “the nonpsychopathic murderers talked more about spirituality and religion and family, reflecting what nonpsychopathic people would think about when they just committed a murder”. Police and researchers are interested in analyzing what people write on Facebook or in other social media, since our unconscious mind also holds sway over what we write. By analyzing stories written by students from Cornell and the University of British Columbia, and looking at how the text people generate using social media relates to scores on the Self-Report Psychopathy scale. Unlike the checklist, which is based on an extensive review of the case file and an interview, the self report is completed by the person in question. This sort of tool could be very useful for law enforcement investigations, such as in the case of the Long Island serial killer, who is being sought for the murders of at least four prostitutes and possibly others, since this killer used the online classified site Craigslist to contact victims, according to Hancock. Text analysis software could be used to conduct a “first pass,” focusing the work of human investigators, he said. “A lot of time analysts tell you they feel they are drinking from a fire hose.” Knowing a suspect is a psychopath can affect how law enforcement conducts investigations and interrogations, Hancock said.

Computer that will never crash

Scientists invent a self-repairing computer that will never crash:

Scientists invent a self-repairing computer that will never crash Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2013/02/14/scientists-invent-a-self-repairing-computer-that-will-never-crash

Scientists invent a self-repairing computer that will never crash

Scientists at University College London (UCL) have created a self-healing computer. The “systemic” machine, according to a report in the New Scientist, can instantly recover corrupted data. The invention is expected to have far-reaching consequences for physicians and the military. It could allow drones to recover from combat damage in a matter of seconds, or create a more realistic model of the human brain. The team behind the systemic computer built it to be able to respond to random and unpredictable events. Computers were originally designed to follow a linear set of instructions, and can only consider one thing at a time. “Even when it feels like your computer is running all your software at the same time, it is just pretending to do that, flicking its attention very quickly between each program,” Peter Bentley, a computer scientist at UCL, said in an interview with the New Scientist. Together with his colleague Christos Sakellariou, Bentley re-engineered a new computer that thinks more like the human brain. Anant Jhingran, who has been considered the brains behind IBM’s super computer “Watson,” said that new computing systems are designed to “mimic the real world better.” The vice president of products at Apigee, a “big data” analytics company, said IBM has spent years building computers that “observe and then react” like humans do. The trick is a safety in numbers approach: The new computer contains multiple copies of its instructions across its individual systems, so if one fails, it can access a clean copy and repair itself. In the future, Bentley’s team will incorporate machine learning, so if you’re sitting outside working and the temperature gets too high, the computer will respond to preemptively prevent a crash. The next generation of school kids may need to come up with a more creative excuse for failing to turn in work on time!

Officer kills naked freshman

Campus officer kills naked freshman at University of South Alabama:

Campus officer kills naked freshman at University of South Alabama

Campus officer kills naked freshman at University of South Alabama

Authorities are investigating why a University of South Alabama officer fatally shot an 18-year-old freshman who they say was naked and acting erratically outside the campus police station early Saturday. With few details of the shooting in the Gulf Coast city of Mobile, the student’s mother and one of his friends said they could not understand how a six-year varsity wrestler and good-natured teenager could have died under such strange and sad circumstances. According to a statement from the school, the campus police officer heard a loud banging noise on a window at the station at 1:23 a.m. CT (2:23 a.m. ET) Saturday. When he left the station to investigate, the school said, “he was confronted by a muscular, nude man who was acting erratically.” Minnesota: police officer facing charges for hitting man in detox. The man, later identified as Gilbert Thomas Collar, of Wetumpka, Alabama, repeatedly rushed and verbally challenged the officer in a fighting stance, the school said. The officer, whose name hasn’t been released, drew his weapon and ordered Collar to stop, the school said. The officer retreated several times to try to calm the situation. “When the individual continued to rush toward the officer in a threatening manner and ignored the officer’s repeated commands to stop, the officer fired one shot with his police sidearm, which struck the chest of the assailant,” the school statement said. “The individual fell to the ground, but he got up once more and continued to challenge the officer further before collapsing and expiring.” Collar’s mother, Bonnie, said the two people who called her with the news of her son — someone from the school and another involved in the investigation — did not mention that her son was trying to attack anyone when he was shot. “He was wearing no clothes and he was obviously not in his right mind,” she told CNN. “No one said that he had attacked anybody, and obviously he was not armed. He was completely naked.” Bonnie Collar said she did not know why her son was acting that way when he was killed. She said he weighed 135 pounds and was 5-foot-7 with a wrestler’s build. “The first thing on my mind is, freshman kids do stupid things, and campus police should be equipped to handle activity like that without having to use lethal force,” she said. Campus police immediately contacted the district attorney’s office to request an external investigation, and the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department will assist, the school said. The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of internal and external investigations, according to the school, which enrolls about 15,000 students. Philadelphia: Officer who struck parade-goer will be fired. Investigators are looking at security camera tape of the shooting, Collar’s mother said. CNN’s calls about the tape were referred to school spokesman Keith Ayers, who did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Earlier Saturday, Ayers called it a “campus tragedy” for the university family but offered no other details, citing the active investigation. One of Collar’s oldest friends was Chris Estes, 18. He said the boys became friends at age 5 and grew up playing baseball together. Along with their friend Jared, they became three best friends with the slogan “JGC for life,” Estes told CNN by e-mail. “Gil was a very ‘chill’ guy, mellow and easy going,” Estes wrote. “That’s why I don’t understand the story that he attacked the cop. He got along with anybody at school no matter who you were. He could always have a conversation with anyone. As many times as I’ve hung out with Gil, I’ve never seen aggression in him, especially not towards a cop.” As the boys grew up in Wetumpka, Estes said, Collar stopped playing baseball to focus more on his dominant sport, wrestling. Collar’s mother said he was a two-time state qualifier in wrestling, and Estes said he could have wrestled at the collegiate level if he chose. “Gil loved to hang out with friends, he loved having a good time and made the best out of every situation, always keeping his head up,” said Estes, who stayed behind to attend nearby Auburn University at Montgomery. Estes said it’s unfortunate he didn’t go off to college with his friend. “If I did, I think the whole situation would have been avoided,” he said. Collar’s mother said their hometown of nearly 8,000 people is in disbelief about the shooting. On Twitter, some used the hashtag #WetuFam (Wetumpka Family) on Saturday in remembering Collar. “Our entire community is in shock because this is so different than his demeanor and his personality that we’ve seen for the 18 years that he’s been on this earth,” she said.

Sexist Iranian’s ban females from university

 

Iranian university bans on women causes consternation:

Iranian university bans on women causes consternation

Iranian university bans on women causes consternation

With the start of the new Iranian academic year, a raft of restrictions on courses open to female students has been introduced, raising questions about the rights of women to education in Iran – and the long-term impact such exclusions might have. More than 30 universities have introduced new rules banning female students from almost 80 different degree courses. These include a bewildering variety of subjects from engineering, nuclear physics and computer science, to English literature, archaeology and business. No official reason has been given for the move, but campaigners, including Nobel Prize winning lawyer Shirin Ebadi, allege it is part of a deliberate policy by the authorities to exclude women from education. “The Iranian government is using various initiatives… to restrict women’s access to education, to stop them being active in society, and to return them to the home,” she told the BBC. Higher Education Minister Kamran Daneshjoo has sought to play down the situation, stressing Iran’s strong track record in getting young people into higher education and saying that despite the changes, 90% of university courses are still open to both men and women. But many in Iran fear that the new restrictions could now undermine this achievement. “I wanted to study architecture and civil engineering,” says Leila, a young woman from the south of Iran. “But access for girls has been cut by fifty per cent, and there’s a chance I won’t get into university at all this year.” It is not yet clear exactly how many women students have been affected by the new rules on university entrance. But as the new academic year begins, at least some have had to completely rethink their career plans. “From the age of 16 I knew I wanted to be a mechanical engineer, and I really worked hard for it,” says Noushin from Esfahan. “But although I got high marks in the National University entrance exam, I’ve ended up with a place to study art and design instead.” Over the coming months campaigners will be watching closely to track the effects of the policy and to try to gauge the longer-term implications.

 

Stanford Organics Study “Fraud” – Sponsored Cargill & Tobacco Money

Stanford Organics Study A “Fraud” – Linked to Cargill & Tobacco Money:

Stanford Organics Study A “Fraud” – Linked to Cargill & Tobacco Money

Stanford Organics Study A “Fraud” – Linked to Cargill & Tobacco Money

A new study, issued by scientists at the Freeman Spogli institute at Stanford university in California, that suggests that organic food has no medical or health values is deeply flawed, say outraged activists. Media coverage of the scientific paper that was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last week was mostly supportive, as is customary for studies from famous universities. “Organic Food ‘Not Any Healthier,” wrote a BBC journalist, while the New York Times published an article titled “Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce.” NGOs immediately questioned the conclusions of the study. “There was just no way that truly independent scientists with the expertise required to adequately answer such an important question would ignore the vast and growing body of scientific literature pointing to serious health risks from eating foods produced with synthetic chemicals,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, food and farm policy director at the Cornucopia Institute Institute, an organic farm policy organization in Wisconsin. “Make no mistake, the Stanford organics study is a fraud,” says Mike Adams of Naturalnews.com and Anthony Gucciardi of Naturalsociety.org. “The mainstream media has fallen for an elaborate scientific hoax that sought to destroy the credibility of organic foods by claiming they are “no healthier” than conventional foods (grown with pesticides and genetically modified organisms).” Adams and Gucciardi note that Dr. Ingram Olkin, a co-author of the organics study and a professor emeritus in statistics at Stanford, has deep financial ties to Cargill, the agribusiness multinational which sells genetically engineered foods. Olkin also accepted money from the tobacco industry’s Council for Tobacco Research, according to letters dating back to 1976. “I learned, in visiting with Dr. Olkin, that he would like to examine the theoretical structure of the “multivariate logistic risk function.” This particular statistical technique has been employed in the analysis of the Framingham study of heart disease,” wrote William W. Shinn, a lawyer with Shook Hardy & Bacon who represented the tobacco industry’s Committee of Counsel at the time. “He is asking for two years of support at the rate of $6,000 per year … We believe that a modest effort now may stimulate, a broader interest in such questions especially among theoretical statisticians at Stanford and elsewhere. Dr. Gardner has reviewed and approved the proposal.” “To say that conventional foods are safe is like saying that cigarettes are safe,” adds Adams. “Both can be propagandized with fraudulent science funded by corporate donations to universities, and we’re seeing the same scientist who helped Big Tobacco now helping Big Biotech in their attempt to defraud the public.” Stanford University has reacted to the controversy in a defensive manner: “This paper was published in a reputable, peer-reviewed journal, and the researchers received no funding for the study from any outside company. We stand by the work and the study authors,” the university is quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Times. “Stanford Center for Health Policy (where the study was conducted) has never received research money from Cargill.” One of the reasons that the Stanford study has become a lightning rod is a ballot initiative that California voters will be asked to vote on in November. Proposition 37 will require labeling on raw or processed food “if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways” and also “prohibit labeling or advertising such food as ‘natural.’”