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first_imgby, Kavan Peterson, Editor, ChangingAging.orgTweetShareShareEmail0 Shares Martin Bayne was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s at 53. He now writes a blog The Voice of Aging Boomers and publishes a literary journal called The Feathered Flounder, featuring writers in their 60s and older.Martin Bayne, former reporter and Zen monk, longtime culture change advocate and friend of Dr. Bill Thomas, has been catapulted onto the national stage after publishing a gut-wrenching account of life in assisted living and nursing homes where he has lived the past decade after being diagnosed with young-onset Parkinsons at age 53.Martin’s story was published this summer in Health Affairs and the The Washington Post and last week NPR’s Terry Gross interviewed him on Fresh Air. As an observer-advocate, Martin’s writing exposes the loss of identity and control that is emblematic of living in institutions which he described as being operated by  “a top-down management team whose initial goal seems to be to strip us of our autonomy.”Martin’s unique perspective has allowed him to be an observer and voice for his fellow residents, the vast majority of whom are over the age of 80 and typically suffering form the shock of a traumatic loss or illness that precipitated their move to assisted living. He poignantly notes that the real problem people face in assisted living is not infirmity or illness, but coping emotionally with the change.“Most residents show a calm, even peaceful veneer,” he wrote. “But beneath the surface, all of us are susceptible to the ambient despair that is a permanent component of life in assisted living. It’s the result of years of loneliness and isolation.”I can’t encourage readers strongly enough to read Martin’s articles, listen to his interview with Terry Gross and subscribe to his blog The Voice of Aging Boomers. He is by far one of America’s leading voices for ChangingAging. Just check out this passage from his latest blog post:To discover the absurd irony in many of these cases, ask yourself: What would happen to the parent, grandparent, sister etc. if they WEREN’T transferred into a facility. Why they would die, of course. At home. In their own bed.And that’s when you realize how preposterous this dynamic really is:(1) We transfer people to a facility to add a few more years of boredom, isolation and unhappiness to their lives before they die, because WE are AFRAID of death.(2)  The cost of medical care and custodial care during the last year of this “extended” life is bankrupting families, individual states and our country. FEAR is essential in this equation. But ask yourself, Who is it that’s really afraid to die? The answer might surprise you.(3)  Stop meddling with God. People “know” how do die. It’s instinctive. Most are not afraid when their time comes. Leave them alone. Let nature and the Eternal take them Home.I’ve been honored to get to know Martin this summer and learn about his ongoing efforts to transform Assisted Living from the inside out by empowering residents. He is developing a new framework for a more therapeutic Assisted Living that is grounded in the immutable truth that aging and death are a natural part of life and love and compassion are the most powerful forces in life. His framework is based on principles and interventions that are person-centered and put the needs and desires of residents first. I look forward to learning more about this from Martin in the future. Related PostsCulture Change Means Nothing Without ThisNothing we do will make a shred of difference until the people living in long term care take responsibility for finding purpose in their own lives, says Martin Bayne.Battling For Recovery After a Brush With DeathMartin Bayne called me from the hospital today asking if ChangingAging would help him chronicle his journey of recovery as he transitions to a nursing home to regain adequate health and mobility to return to his home at Sacred Heart Assisted Living.Martin Bayne Talks about Life on the InsideToday’s must read is an interview that Martin Bayne recently gave to the New York Times.TweetShareShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more


first_imgMay 10 2018Imagine how much patients could benefit if you could discover the presence of cancer, and even how that cancer develops over time, with a simple blood test.There is vast potential in precision-medicine methods of both detecting and monitoring disease by looking for indications of cancer mutations in cell-free DNA (cfDNA), found floating in the blood. However, there are many factors that can significantly alter these samples as they are collected and analyzed.To help evaluate and ensure the quality of these molecular biomarkers, a scientific team led by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) has devised a rapid test — a droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) assay — so these samples can be used to help determine the presence and progression of disease.Related StoriesEmbrace your natural skin tone to prevent skin cancer, say expertsNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskThis new test has shown promising results in helping evaluate cfDNA biomarkers in several cancer types, including melanoma, cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer), rectal cancer and breast cancer, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific Reports.”In order for us to rely on sequencing results and evidence of cancer mutations from these samples and to make valid recommendations for treating physicians, we must ensure they have been collected and processed appropriately,” said Dr. Muhammed Murtaza, Co-Director of TGen’s Center for Noninvasive Diagnostics, a researcher at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus, and the senior author of the study. “We developed this new quality-control assay to ensure we can confirm reliability using a very small volume of a patient’s blood sample.”For example, the cfDNA in blood can be contaminated if peripheral blood cells are ruptured, releasing longer DNA fragments, not intended as part of the readout, which can then bias the results.The new TGen test can filter out such variables, and evaluate the quantity and quality of blood cfDNA samples to improve the performance of subsequent sequencing tests, in which the billions of data points in DNA can be spelled out and analyzed.While the consensus of professional medical experts is that these types of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) tests have not yet been perfected enough for use outside clinical trials, the new TGen assay is a significant step towards making these so-called liquid biopsies a routine, non-invasive and accurate method of screening for cancer, detecting early-stage cancer, making treatment decisions, and monitoring how well a treatment is working.”We now routinely use this assay for quality assessment of all plasma samples processed and analyzed for ctDNA studies in our lab,” said Havell Markus, a member of Dr. Murtaza’s lab, and the study’s lead author.Also contributing to this study were: Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, Oxford University, the North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre, University of California Los Angeles, and Yale University.Dr. Murtaza and Tania Contente-Cuomo, a member of Dr. Murtaza’s lab and also an author of the study, have applied for a patent for the ddPCR assay. Source:https://www.tgen.org/news/2018/may/09/tgen-develops-quality-control-test-for-detecting-cancer-in-blood/last_img read more


first_img Source:http://www.psych.org/ May 25 2018A mobile health (mHealth) intervention was found to be as effective as a clinic-based group intervention for people with serious mental illness in a new study published online today in Psychiatric Services.In a randomized controlled trial, researchers compared an mHealth approach (FOCUS), using mobile phones to deliver intervention, to a more traditional clinic-based group intervention, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). The study, led by Dror Ben-Zeev, Ph.D., with the University of Washington, Seattle, looked at the differences in treatment engagement, satisfaction, improvement in symptoms, recovery and quality of life.Participants included 163 individuals with long-term, serious mental illness, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. Participants were randomly assigned to either the smartphone-based FOCUS group or the clinic-based WRAP group, and the interventions lasted 12 weeks. Assessments were done pre-intervention, post-intervention, and at a six-month follow-up.Related StoriesResearchers find new physical evidence in the brain for types of schizophreniaComplement system shown to remove dead cells in retinitis pigmentosa, contradicting previous researchAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyFOCUS is a smartphone-delivered intervention for people with serious mental illness with three main components: the FOCUS app, a clinician dashboard, and support from an mHealth specialist. It includes daily self-assessment prompts and content that can be accessed 24 hours a day as either brief video or audio clips, or a series of written material with images. FOCUS users’ responses to daily self-assessments are relayed to the support specialist, who holds weekly calls with each participant.WRAP is a widely used evidence-based, group self-management intervention led by trained facilitators with lived experience of mental illness. It emphasizes individuals’ equipping themselves with personal wellness tools focusing on recovery concepts, such as hope and self-advocacy.On random assignment, participants in the mHealth group were more likely to begin mental health treatment (90 percent), compared with WRAP (58 percent). Significantly more FOCUS participants completed eight or more weeks of treatment, but the percentage completing the full 12 weeks was similar for the two groups. After the intervention, participants in both groups improved significantly. WRAP participants showed significant improvements in recovery at the end of treatment (three months), and mHealth participants showed significant improvement in recovery and quality of life at six months.Participants in both groups reported high satisfaction, noting the interventions were enjoyable and interactive and helped them feel better. Age, gender, race, having previous experience with smartphones, and number of previous psychiatric hospitalizations were not associated with recovery outcomes.The authors report this is the first randomized controlled trial comparing a smartphone intervention to a clinic-based intervention involving individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.​​last_img read more


first_img Source:https://aasm.org/teenage-girls-are-more-impacted-by-sleepiness-than-teen-boys-are/ Jun 7 2018Preliminary results of a recent study show that teen girls reported a higher degree of interference of daytime sleepiness on multiple aspects of their school and personal activities than boys.The study examined whether teen boys and girls report similar negative impact of sleep disturbances on their daytime functioning.”What was most surprising is the fact that teenage girls reported a higher degree of interference of daytime sleepiness than teenage boys on multiple aspects of their school and personal activities,” said co-author Pascale Gaudreault, who is completing her doctoral degree in clinical neuropsychology under the supervision of principal investigator Dr. Geneviève Forest at the Université du Québec en Outaouais in Gatineau, Québec, Canada. “For example, teenage girls have reported missing school significantly more often than teenage boys due to tiredness, as well as reported having lower motivation in school due to a poor sleep quality.”Related StoriesOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTNovel bed system with VR brainwave-control for sleep bliss731 adolescents (311 boys; 420 girls; ages 13 to 17.5 years; grades 9-11) completed a questionnaire about sleep and daytime functioning. Questions were answered on a seven-point Likert scale (1=never; 7=often). Gender differences were assessed using t-tests.Study results show that teenage girls reported more difficulties staying awake during class in the morning, during class in the afternoon, and during homework hours than boys. They also reported feeling too tired to do activities with their friends, missing school because of being too tired, feeling less motivated in school because of their poor sleep, and taking naps during weekends more often than boys. However, there was no gender difference when it came to using coffee or energy drinks to compensate for daytime sleepiness or for falling asleep in class.”These results suggest that teenage girls may be more vulnerable than teenage boys when it comes to the negative impacts of adolescence’s sleep changes,” said Gaudreault.​last_img read more


first_imgAs one person at the dinner table leans back, stretches, and opens their mouth in a gaping yawn, others will soon follow suit. Catching a yawn is more likely to occur between relatives than strangers, and scientists believe it’s a sign of empathy. Plus, other social primates like chimps and bonobos do it, too. A new study suggests that women (traditionally branded the more empathetic sex) might be more susceptible to copycat yawning than men. Researchers surreptitiously analyzed more than 4000 real-world yawns on planes and trains, in restaurants, and in offices. They noted when someone yawned, and then whether a nearby acquaintance or friend did the same within a 3-minute period. Men and women spontaneously yawned with about the same frequency. But when someone else yawned first, women were more likely than men to follow suit. Women picked up yawns about 55% of the time, whereas men only did so 40% of the time. Women tend to score higher than men on tests of empathy, and traditional female social roles (like child-rearing) place a higher emphasis on those traits. That might make women more attuned to others’ yawns, the researchers suggest. Gender roles aren’t as rigid in our modern society—but the yawning gap appears to linger.last_img read more


first_img Part of the map showing the potential for international spread of Zika in The Lancet. D.A. Henderson, an epidemiologist who helped lead the program that eradicated smallpox and has advised the U.S. government on several other infectious diseases, says the threat of Zika to the United States does not warrant the degree of fear and concern that it has triggered. “I can’t get very excited about this whole affair,” says Henderson, who now is at the UPMC Center for Health Security in Baltimore, Maryland.Although he’s all for stepped-up mosquito control efforts, he stresses that the virus causes few, if any, symptoms in most people it infects and doesn’t transmit well between people. “We do not see smashing big epidemics,” he says.Henderson, who is 87 and has seen many epidemics come and go, says the U.S. Zika media coverage is driven in part by the comparatively recent surge in laboratories that now work on viral diseases. “Their inclination, in good faith, is to say, ‘This could be a real problem’ to keep their money flowing to their laboratories,”  Henderson says. “It’s not evil and I don’t want virologists bereft of funds, but you have to keep in perspective what some of these things mean. It’s gotten a little out of hand.” [Editor’s note: Henderson died in August 2016, after this story was published.] Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country eLife Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The White House PLOS Current Outbreaks Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Andrew Monaghan, a modeler at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, says his team hasn’t updated the Zika forecast it did in 2016, but suggests that next year the virus may transmit locally in U.S. locales that now have local dengue transmission. “So, in addition to continued high risk for Zika virus transmission in Brownsville and metropolitan Miami[, Florida,] next year, there may be elevated risk in communities in central Florida, the Florida Keys, as well as border communities in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas,” Monaghan says. But he stresses that he could be wrong. “It’s always difficult to forecast virus transmission due to the complex dynamics of these systems,” he says.Here’s our story from this past May, which mapped out the modelers’ thinking:If history repeats itself, the U.S. media will make a whoop dee doo out of the first confirmed case of Zika virus transmission that takes place in the United States from a mosquito to a person. So far, such “autochthonous” transmission hasn’t happened, but scientists believe it’s very likely to occur in the next few weeks. Given the attention that each imported case of Zika has triggered so far—see here and here and here and here and here—expect the U.S. media to go full-throttle.Politics will further increase the clamor: Just 2 days ago, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at his daily briefing pointed to a map that appears to show the virus blanketing half the continental United States by mid-summer. “The map behind me is a graphic illustration of the need for immediate congressional action,” said Earnest, urging Congress to heed President Barack Obama’s 3-month-old request to pump $1.9 billion in emergency aid to fight Zika.But researchers who have studied Zika and the mosquitoes that transmit it say that the country is currently in the calm before the calm. Damaging as Zika is to fetuses, they predict that autochthonous transmission will only affect a small swath of the country that stretches from Florida along the Gulf Coast to Texas. And the dynamics of mosquito-borne disease in the United States are so different from those in Latin America that the number of confirmed cases probably will be in the hundreds, if that, before autochthonous spread sputters out.There are many mysteries about Zika and how, in particular, it behaves in pregnant women, triggering some to miscarry and others to give birth to babies with brain disorders like microcephaly. There also are questions about how much spread occurs without a mosquito vector: Zika can persist in semen and be transmitted sexually, and there’s an outside chance that viral RNA in saliva, which never has been linked to an infection, might pose a risk. But when it comes to the mosquito species that harbor the virus and the transmission cycle with humans, a great deal is known. Experience with two other diseases spread by the same mosquitoes, dengue and chikungunya, offer insights as well.The United States simply doesn’t have the ingredients for the type of explosive, autochthonous transmission seen in Latin America, says Thomas Scott, an entomologist and epidemiologist at the University of California, Davis. “I don’t want to blow this off and leave people with the impression that you don’t need to worry about it—who knows where this is going,” he says. “But I don’t think we’re going to have sustained transmission in the U.S., primarily because of our lifestyle. We also don’t have enough mosquitoes.”The temperature-sensitive Aedes aegypti, the main mosquito vector, only lives in high numbers in a small portion of the United States, and mainly thrives in summer months when the temperature is between 25°C and 32°C. There are many more A. aegypti to spread Zika in Brazil—which saw up to an estimated 1.3 million infections in 2015 alone—than in the United States. There’s also a feast of human skin available, as people in warmer climes often wear tank tops, flip-flops, and shorts.Poverty explains some of Zika’s success in Latin America as well. Window and door screens are uncommon in many locales, and houses often have stagnant tubs or pools of water in dark places that provide breeding grounds for the homebound A. aegypti, which Scott calls “the cockroach” of mosquitoes. “They don’t fly very far from where they emerge,” he says. “It’s mostly people moving the virus around.” Add to this mix Latin culture: “A lot of places where Zika is common the people are incredibly social, and they go all over the city to see family and friends,” he says, while in the United States, “people often come home and go inside and there’s air conditioning and they watch TV.”As of 11 May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had confirmed 503 “travel-associated” cases of Zika in the United States, 10 of which involved sexual transmission. No evidence exists that a mosquito has yet bit any of these people and then spread the infection to another person in the country.Scott recently collaborated on a global Zika modeling project led by Simon Hay, head of the geospatial science division at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington. The team mapped the environmental suitability for Zika based on annual rainfall, temperature, areas where A. aegypti persists, and conditions where Zika has already occurred.The researchers also included data for A. albopictus—better known as the Asian tiger mosquito—which can harbor the virus. In the United States, A. albopictus has a greater range than A. aegypti. But Scott doubts it can keep the transmission cycle going because, unlike A. aegypti, it can bite a human as an appetizer and then turn to several other species to complete its blood meal. “Little changes in biting frequencies on an appropriate host can make a big difference” for transmission, Scott says.The model, published online 19 April by eLIFE, calculated that 2.17 billion people in the world live in areas that are environmentally suitable for Zika. High-risk areas include more than half of Latin America—where the virus is now circulating—as well as parts of South and Southeast Asia, Northern Australia, and a broad swath of Africa around the equator. The mosquito prevalence map produced by the White House.center_img In the paper in PLOS Current Outbreaks, however, the figures indicate the “potential abundance” of the mosquito population—that is, how big it could be—based on a model that uses climate data. That potential range vastly exceeds the actual area where the mosquito is known to live. The map includes places as far north as Denver and Salt Lake City, where A. aegypti has never been seen.“I don’t have any explicit comment on the use of the graphic by the White House,” says Andrew Monaghan, a meteorologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, who led the team that made the map. Monaghan stresses that “we were clear that our map primarily shows seasonal climatic suitability for Aedes aegypti, and is not meant to be a precise indicator of where the mosquito will be found.”Monaghan and his colleagues from NASA and North Carolina State University in Raleigh agree that A. aegypti is most abundant in the region that stretches from Florida to the Gulf Coast of Texas. The map includes another variable that likely will fuel autochthonous spread: the number of travelers (shown as circles) arriving in the United States from Latin American and Caribbean countries that have local spread of Zika now. The Lancet A map from the paper in PLOS Current Outbreaks combines potential abundance of Aedes aegypti and travel data. Part of the Zika risk map published by Simon Hay and colleagues in eLife. Monaghan says that the places where Zika will most likely start spreading in the United States are those where dengue and chikungunya have done so as well. Those areas, colored dark brown on the map, are Brownsville, Texas, which abuts Mexico and has a busy land border crossing, and southern Florida.If history repeats itself, these may be the only places Zika virus transmits in the continental United States.Dengue was detected in the United States as far back as 1780 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but autochthonous transmission stopped in 1945 and did not surface again until 1980 in Texas, when a 5-year-old girl in Brownsville became infected. In 1986, Texas had nine more documented autochthonous cases, four of which were in Brownsville, and the city again had three indigenous cases in 2005. Hawaii had 122 confirmed dengue cases in 2001–02. There, the vector was not A. aegypti, but A. albopictus. Florida first had dengue autochthonous transmission in 2009–10, with the Department of Health tallying a total of 88 cases “associated with Key West,” the southernmost part of the state. There have been other sporadic local transmissions since, all in the southern and central part of the state, with one serious outbreak in 2013 that involved 28 people.Chikungunya has, so far, been equally easy on the United States. The first confirmed indigenous transmission occurred in Florida’s Miami-Dade County on 27 June 2014. Only 10 other cases followed, as CDC reported in December 2014. All of these occurred in southern Florida counties, too.A third map, published in The Lancet 14 January, seals the deal that southern Florida is prime Zika real estate. These researchers analyzed passengers arriving in the United States who left airports in Brazil located within 50 kilometers of areas that potentially could transmit Zika year-round. They additionally highlighted U.S. regions that had the most hospitable climes for both Aedes species that transmit Zika. Miami and Orlando turn out to be the best airports of entry for the virus. (Brownsville does not get a mention, because it does not have a major airport.) But Zika’s potential for spread in the United States is limited. The only “highly suitable” regions are Florida and portions of nearby states to the west, including coastal regions of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.The map shown at the White House press briefing came from another paper, published online 16 March in PLOS Current Outbreaks. The White House presents it as a “month-by-month look at the prevalence of the mosquitoes that can carry the mosquito virus,” visible as a wave of yellow, orange, and red circles washing over the country as 2016 progresses. (The White House Zika website has an even more alarming map prepared by CDC “from a variety of sources.”) Scientists who use computer models to forecast future events often receive punishing criticism for getting it wrong. (Just ask Hillary Clinton’s polling team.) So here’s a ScienceInsider shoutout to some modelers who appear to have gotten it right: the meteorologists and entomologists who joined forces last May and predicted where local transmission of Zika in the continental United States was most likely to occur.As of today, the only documented cases of viral transmission from a mosquito to a human in the continental United States have taken place in southern Florida and Brownsville, Texas. That’s precisely what the best models indicated. And, if history repeats itself, as winter approaches and cold weather reduces populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito—Zika’s main vector—this transmission likely will stop and resurface late next spring.The so-far narrow U.S. outbreak is certainly no consolation to those struck by the virus, but offers some relief to public health officials bracing for the worst. And it gives modelers some confidence that their virtual crystal balls are working. Emaillast_img read more


first_imgOn eliminating DOE:”My past statements made over 5 years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking. In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.” Later, Senator Robert Menendez (D–NJ), wanted to know how Price’s background as a physician had shaped his views on several biomedical topics.”Does HIV cause AIDS?” Menendez asked.Price: “I think that the scientific evidence is clear that HIV and AIDS are clinically … correlated.””Do abortions cause breast cancer?”Price: “The science is relatively clear that that’s not the case.””Do vaccines cause autism?”Price: “The science in that instance is that it does not.”Will Price “swiftly and unequivocally debunk false claims to protect the public health”?Price: “What I’ll commit to doing is doing the due diligence that the department is known for and must do to make certain that factual information is conveyed.”Will that effort be “dictated by science”?Price: “Without a doubt.”Menendez also asked for Price’s views on whether immigrants have caused leprosy outbreaks in the United States, a scenario apparently promoted by some conservatives. Price said he was unfamiliar with any such incident, but noted that any “any time you get two individuals together … and one individual has an infectious disease, then it is possible that that individual transmits that infectious disease, whether it’s the flu, a cold, any infectious disease whatsoever.”In a subsequent exchange, Senator Benjamin Cardin (D–MD) said that Trump’s executive order yesterday reinstating the so-called Mexico City policy, which bans U.S. funding for foreign nongovernmental organizations that perform or promote abortions in the context of family planning, could also apply to maternal health organizations and others working to stop the Zika virus and HIV/AIDs. How would Price ensure that the United States can still participate in these efforts?Price praised HHS’s infectious disease specialists, but suggested he wants to craft a new plan to guide them: “The department’s full of all sorts of heroes, as you well know. Incredibly talented individuals. And my goal if I’m given … the privilege of serving as the secretary of [HHS] is to gather the best minds, the best talent that we have within the department and without and determine what is the wisest policy for this nation to have as it relates to in this instance, infectious disease. Germs know no geographic boundaries.” Climate change real, Mulvaney says, but not sure of human role or whether his opinion mattersEarlier in the hearing, Senator Tim Kaine (D–VA) had asked Mulvaney whether he believed climate change posed a serious risk. Mulvaney had generally disagreed and wondered whether his views on climate change were germane to his job as OMB director. Late in the hearing, Kaine returned to the topic, noting that “we spend a lot of money dealing with climate change,” whether adapting to sea level rise or preparing the military for a warmer world. And he noted that Mulvaney’s views on climate could influence whether he would support spending to address climate change.Mulvaney pushed back, saying: “What I see my job as doing is analyzing the costs and benefits” of various regulations and policy proposals. He said he wasn’t sure why his opinion on climate change might matter.Kaine tried one last time: “Do you accept that climate change is caused by human activity, at least in part?”Mulvaney replied: “I recognize the fact that there is some science that would indicate that … I am not yet convinced that it is a direct correlation between manmade activity and a change in the climate, which I do believe is real.”Mulvaney offers qualified support for research spendingSenator Kamala Harris (D–CA) noted that Mulvaney had voted against a controversial spending package that included funding for research into the Zika virus, and had later posted this question on Facebook: “… do we really need government funded research at all.” Did he agree that federal funding for science had promoted innovation, she asked, drawing agreement from Mulvaney. Harris then read a quote from prominent University of California, Berkeley, biologist Jennifer Doudna, one of the discoverers of the CRISPR gene-editing technology, highlighting the importance of federal funding for basic research. “Is there a proper role for government in research?” Harris asked.”I do believe there is a proper role for the federal government in research,” Mulvaney replied, particularly in areas where the private sector is not likely to support research.”Will research be a priority for the Trump administration?” Harris then asked.In his answer, Mulvaney emphasized quality over quantity. “When we look at grant programs … the key is not the amount of the grant to begin with, but what we are getting for the taxpayer dollars,” he said, adding that he has supported research into particular diseases.Harris then moved on.Perry and DOEPerry comes across as surprisingly conventionalThe DOE hearing is over, after 3.5 hours, and perhaps the most surprising  outcome for critics of Perry’s record as Texas governor and two-time failed presidential candidate is how much he presented himself as a traditional Cabinet nominee. That means defending the role of his department, without leaving too much daylight between himself and the more ideologically driven factions of the incoming Trump administration. For example, Perry repeatedly rebuffed the rumors of deep cuts to several DOE programs, saying that as a former chief executive he’d learned that the budget process is long and complicated. And his cautious comments on reopening the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada reflected his understanding that there are deep divisions within Republican ranks about its fate, along with the fact that the ultimate decision is above his pay grade.Scientists have reason to be heartened by his continual embrace of DOE research in general and, more specifically, the importance of advanced scientific computing.  That’s not to say he would fight to protect specific programs, such as climate research, from budget hawks. But Perry knows that there is strong support among members of his own party in Congress for many of DOE’s research activities—and that overall funding levels will be determined by larger forces.Perry parries with Sanders on climate, nuclear weaponsSenator Bernie Sanders (I–VT), arriving late, resumed the Democrats’ attempt to separate Perry from the incoming Trump administration on the issue of climate change. Sanders asked whether Perry agrees with him that climate change is an “existential threat” that requires an immediate global response. Perry stiffened noticeably before citing how Texas, during his tenure as governor, managed to increase energy generation while reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants. “Don’t you think that’s a good thing?” Perry challenged Sanders. Sanders ignored the taunt by responding, “I think it would be better for you to say that we face a crisis and the United States should lead the way” in helping the world move toward a low-carbon economy.Weapons testsNonproliferation advocates are worried that the Trump administration will drop the country’s self-imposed ban on conducting underground nuclear tests that has existed since 1993. Perry parried Sanders’s attempt to commit to a continuation of that policy, however, saying that “I’m going to rely on the experts” to tell him whether the current technology is adequate to ensure that the nuclear stockpile still works.In bed with Al Franken?Perry preserved his reputation for occasionally putting his foot in his mouth in his opening exchange with Senator Al Franken (D–MN), after Franken asked whether Perry was “happy to see me” today. Perry’s answer was meant to refer to a previous meeting in Franken’s office, the typical courtesy call for a nominee. But Perry’s answer—“I hope you are as much fun on the dais as you were on the couch,” said with a straight face—brought the hearing to a screeching halt, followed by an outburst of guffaws.Perry: Budget hawks may come to regret plan to slash DOE budgetSeveral Democratic senators cited media reports that staffers on the Trump transition team are pushing a proposal by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.–based think tank, to make deep cuts at DOE. Earlier today, The Hill newspaper reported that the plan “would roll back funding for nuclear physics and advanced scientific computing research to 2008 levels, eliminate the Office of Electricity, eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and scrap the Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”When the senators solicited Perry’s opinion, the former Texas governor injected some self-deprecating humor to what has otherwise been a pretty serious hearing. “Maybe they will have the same experience I had and forget they said that,” he told Senator Mazie Hirono (D–HA), referring to his recent change of heart on the value of DOE itself.Senators try to pin Perry down on role of scienceSenator Maria Cantwell (D–WA), the ranking Democrat on the panel, tried to pin down Perry on his support for climate research at DOE, and whether he would protect its budget in that area. But she coupled it with her concerns about cyber attacks on the nation’s electrical grid. Perry’s answer conflated the two issues, and she never got a clear answer. “I don’t care whether the attack is from a formal state organization or a private group,“ Perry told the committee, “if they are trying to penetrate the private views of Americans … I will stop cybersnooping or any attempt to harm Americans.”A few minutes later, Senator Martin Heinrich (D–NM) tried another approach, asking Perry whether he would commit to “using science as your guide” in setting policy. Perry said his record “clearly shows that is the case.” But his example—ordering an evacuation of the Houston, Texas, area after predictions that a Category-5 hurricane was approaching—wasn’t what Heinrich had in mind, and Heinrich quickly moved on to another issue.Perry “regret” over vow to eliminate DOEPerry’s opening statement, posted online prior to the start of his confirmation hearing, addresses several issues that have worried scientists, including his infamous 2011 pledge to eliminate the department. That’s no longer his view, he tells the committee. This is the third week of U.S. Senate hearings on President Donald Trump’s nominees to his Cabinet. Most, if not all, of the nominees are expected to win confirmation, which requires just 51 votes. ScienceInsider is keeping a watch to see whether scientific issues—such as climate change and vaccine issues—get much discussion, and what kind of reaction any comments draw.  Representative Mick Mulvaney (R–SC), Trump’s pick to run the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which plays a major role in spending and regulatory decisions Representative Tom Price (R–GA), the nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services, the parent agency of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, to head the Department of Energy (DOE) Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Investor Wilbur Ross, to lead the Department of Commerce, home of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Representative Ryan Zinke (R–MT), to head the Department of the Interior (DOI) Betsy DeVos, for education secretary  Representative Mike Pompeo (R–KS), to run the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Retired Marine General James Mattis, for secretary of defense (confirmed by the Senate) Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, for secretary of state On research:”I am a major proponent of maintaining American leadership in the area of scientific inquiry. I support the academic and government mission of basic research, even when it will not yield benefits for a generation. Our scientists and labs are the envy of the world. I look forward to visiting our national labs this year, if confirmed, and learning more about the unique work they are doing. I have a long record of aggressively courting leading scientific minds to bring innovation and job creation to my home state.”Pruitt and PriceGroups react predicably to Pruitt hearingSam Adams, U.S. director of the World Resources Institute, a Washington, D.C.–based environmental think tank, issued this statement:“At the hearing, Pruitt, who has close ties to the fossil fuel industry, failed to definitively demonstrate he would be committed to controlling climate change and protecting public health. While Pruitt did acknowledge that EPA has a ‘role to play’ in regulating carbon dioxide emissions, he fell short in making it clear that he intends to fulfill the agency’s mandate to reduce emissions. On the positive side, he did indicate that he will stand up for the ‘endangerment finding,’ which is the legal foundation for EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, established by the Supreme Court in 2007. Senators should continue to press Pruitt to ensure he would continue EPA’s leading role in addressing climate change. It’s noteworthy that Pruitt was grilled on his views on climate at the same time that NASA confirmed 2016 was the hottest year on record. We cannot afford to have an EPA administrator who fails to grasp the urgency of addressing climate change.”Adam Brandon, CEO of Freedom Works, a conservative group based in Washington, D.C., issued this statement:“Attorney General Pruitt demonstrated today why he is the right pick to lead the EPA. He knows the agency must work within its statutory limitations. It cannot simply go around Congress, consume authority it doesn’t have to target particular industries of our economy on which many states depend and, through its actions, destroy jobs. In the past ten years, according to a recent report, the EPA has mandated $1 trillion in rules, three-quarters of which have occurred on President Obama’s watch. This heavy-handed approach to regulation only harms our nation’s prosperity and consolidates power in the regulatory state. Attorney General Pruitt’s federalist approach to regulation presents the states as partners in the effort to ensure that our air and water are clean. We urge the Senate to quickly confirm Attorney General Pruitt’s nomination to lead the EPA.”Pruitt: Climate change no more important than any other issueSenator Jeff Merkley (D–OR) asked Pruitt about the urgency of combating climate change. “I think it’s very difficult to prioritize,” said Pruitt. He said climate change, which he called the “C02 issue” wasn’t any more important than any other issue. Instead, Pruitt suggested he only intends to do what the law required, and nothing more.Whitehouse asks Pruitt about languishing about email requestSenator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) asked Pruitt about the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office lack of response to an open records request, made under state law, for emails between his office and fossil fuel companies it regulated. The office acknowledged that it had identified 3,000 documents that were covered by that request, but apparently hadn’t provided any of them for more than 740 days. Whitehouse asked how Pruitt could be trusted to handle conflict of interest properly when he hadn’t release those documents. Pruitt responded that he wasn’t personally involved with open records requests.Pruitt: Mostly dry streams should be covered by stream regulationsCardin asked Pruitt how he defined the “waters of the United States.” Law gives the U.S. government the power to control and regulate all navigable waters, but is vague on what other waterways the EPA is empowered to regulate. The issue has become a major point of tension between some members of Congress and the Obama administration, which has issued new rules attempting to improve protection of small wetlands and intermittent waterways (the new rules have been blocked by federal judges).  Pruitt didn’t provide specifics about what he believed should be regulated except for saying that the U.S. government shouldn’t be regulating creeks that stay dry most of the year.In response to further questions by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Pruitt said he would not regulate “ordinary farming practices” under regulations designed to protect the waters of the United States.Inhofe uses hearing to repeat climate hoax claimsSenator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) used the hearing to repeatedly criticize climate scientists and climate change research, accusing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of “fraud” and of perpetrating an “outrageous lie.” Inhofe also accused the Obama administration of prematurely issuing vehicle fuel economy standards for political reasons, and asked Pruitt if he would review them. Pruitt agreed the regulation “merits review.”Price Bullish on NIH BudgetBoosters of NIH may take heart from Price’s comments on the agency’s budget. Price had spent 2 hours testifying before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee when Senator Susan Collins (R–ME) declared herself a passionate partisan for biomedical research, and noted her founding roles in the Senate’s Alzheimer’s disease task force and its Diabetes Caucus. She then asked Price, an orthopedic surgeon who represents the affluent suburbs north of Atlanta in the House of Representatives:“Do you support the increases for NIH that we have passed in the last year and are on track to pass this year?” A lunch break was imminent and Price’s response was brief:“NIH is a treasure for our country,” he said, and one of the avenues through which medical innovation happens. “I supported the increase.” This past July, a House panel proposed increasing NIH’s budget by $1.25 billion, to $33.3 billion, in fiscal year 2017 (which began this past October). Senate funders proposed an even heftier $2 billion boost, equal to the increase the agency received in 2016. So far, Congress hasn’t settled on a final 2017 budget for NIH; like much of the government, the agency is operating under a continuing resolution that has essentially frozen its spending. Final action is expected this spring.The HELP Committee doesn’t actually have power of approval over the Price nomination. That vote falls to the Senate Finance Committee, before which Price is scheduled to appear next Tuesday.Sanders challenges Pruitt on climate, oil-related quakesSanders asked Pruitt why the climate was changing. Pruitt, who repeatedly referred to climate change as “the CO2 issue,” refused to say humans were the main reason the climate was changing, allowing only that humans had “impacted” the climate.Sanders also asked about what actions Pruitt had taken to punish oil companies whose wastewater disposal activities had contributed to causing earthquakes in Oklahoma. Sanders announced he would not vote for Pruitt after he refused to say more than the earthquakes “concerned” him.Won’t commit to protecting California’s tougher fuel standards, Pruitt saysCalifornia has a special waiver to enforce fuel standards that go beyond federal standards. Harris asked whether Pruitt would commit to upholding that waiver. Pruitt declined, saying he would “review” the issue.Pruitt: I’ll make EPA regulatory data available to allIn response to a question by Senator John Boozman (R–AR), Pruitt agrees to release the scientific data behind EPA rulemaking. (Editor’s note: The exchange appears to reference longstanding complaints by Republicans in Congress that EPA does not fully share the data that underpin some regulations. Environmental groups have argued that the complaints are part of an effort to paralyze EPA’s regulatory efforts by enabling endless challenges to technical information.)Won’t necessarily recuse myself from lawsuits I helped file, Pruitt saysThere are still eight lawsuits against EPA that were filed by Pruitt. Senator Ed Markey (D–MA) asked whether he would recuse himself from those cases. Pruitt refused to preemptively recuse himself unless directed by the EPA ethics council.Pruitt: Booker jabs on childhood asthmaSenator Cory Booker (D–NJ) made a connection between air pollution and asthma. Pruitt has joined with oil companies in suing EPA, Booker noted. The senator then asked Pruitt how many suits he’d brought on behalf of children with asthma (who often suffer in polluted air). Pruitt said he only brought lawsuits that he had legal “standing” to bring.Merkley focuses on Pruitt’s oil industry tiesSenator Jeff Merkley (D–OR) repeatedly questioned Pruitt about his connections to fossil fuel industries. He brought up a letter that Pruitt had sent to EPA questioning the cost-benefit analyses of methane regulations. The letter was mostly written by Devon Energy, a fossil fuel company, reporters revealed. Merkley repeatedly asked whether Pruitt was using his office as a direct extension of an oil company. Pruitt said he was “representing the interest of an industry in Oklahoma.” Pruitt said he was concerned about methane as a greenhouse gas, but not “deeply concerned.”Pruitt declines to disclose advocacy group funding sourcesPruitt was questioned about his role in the Rule of Law Defense Fund, an organization of Republican attorneys general. He recently resigned as chairman of the group. Merkley asked how much money he had solicited for the group from companies owned by the Koch family and Devon Energy. Pruitt refused to answer. That funding didn’t have to be disclosed publicly, he said.Cardin plumbs Pruitt’s views on leadCardin asked whether there were any safe levels of lead that could be taken into the human body and what role Pruitt believed the Clean Air and Water Act played in regulating lead. Pruitt said he hadn’t “looked at the scientific research on that,” but lead in water concerned him. He also said that, despite lawsuits he’d filed to prevent EPA from enforcing lead pollution rules, he believed EPA had a role in regulating air and water quality, especially across state lines.Pruitt: Regulators too unpredictableSenator Shelley Moore Capito (R–WV) asked whether Pruitt would work harder to make economic evaluations of regulations, mentioning the coal industry downturn in her state. Pruitt suggested there was too much regulation. “Often times those that are regulated don’t know what’s expected of them,” he said, saying he supported the rule of law.EPA should regulate mercury emissions, Pruitt says, but questions EPA’s cost-benefit studiesPruitt has repeatedly sued EPA over its efforts to regulate mercury pollution from coal fired power plants. Senator Tom Carper (D–DE) asked whether, in light of those lawsuits, he supported EPA’s regulation of mercury emissions. Pruitt said mercury should be regulated under existing law, but questioned the cost-benefit analyses EPA did to justify regulations.Pruitt: Climate change occuring, but human role hard to measureClimate change is happening, and humans play a role, Pruitt said in his opening statement, but there is “continued debate and dialogue” about the human role, climate change impacts, and what to do about them. He also cited climate change as an area where disagreements should be debated in a civil manner.Highlights from Zinke’s testimonySenator Joe Manchin (D–WV) suggested that it was hypocritical for environmentalists to oppose burning coal, while allowing dead trees in forests to rot. Manchin asked Zinke about forest management and the management of dead trees. Zinke said he believed most management was done through forest fires; earlier, he said he believed fires are a major contributor to climate change. Manchin reiterated his belief that rotting dead lumber was a major contributor to climate change. “Lots of CO2 here,” Manchin said, referencing his wooden desk. Asked by Manchin whether he could work with environmentalists, Zinke said “there’s extremists on both sides.”No one size fits all stream rulesStream protection policies should be different in different parts of the country, because not all environments are the same, Zinke said. (Editor’s note: Some Republicans have complained that Obama administration stream protection policies are too rigid and not responsive to geographic differences and the needs of different kinds of land uses. Environmentalists have argued such arguments are aimed at weakening regulatory protections.)A spotlight on access to water“Clean water is a right not a privilege,” Zinke said. He highlighted investments in infrastructure as a way to preserve access to water, especially in Western states and isolated areas. Logging could help with climate change by curbing firesZinke suggested harvesting more timber will help with climate change, saying that forest fires contributed more to climate change than coal. “The statistics I have from a single summer of forest fires in Rosebud County [in Montana] … [they] emitted more particulate in the air in that single season than 3000 years of coal strip,” Zinke said.Declines to stand by letter he signed suggesting climate change a threat to national securityFranken asked Zinke about a letter he had signed as a Montana state legislator in 2010. In it, Zinke called climate change a “threat multiplier” in respect to the United States’s national security. Zinke declined to state whether he still agreed with his stance in the letter. He said he wasn’t an “expert” and that there was “no model today that can predict tomorrow … we need objective science to figure a model out.””The war on coal is real”“The war on coal is real,” Zinke said, in response to a question by Senator John Barrasso (R–WY). He called for more research and development into “clean coal,” saying that coal was part of his all-of-the-above approach to energy.A vow to advocate for science funding and information sharingIn response to a question from Senator Debbie Stabenow (D–MI), Zinke committed to advocating for maintaining funding levels for science and scientists within DOI, without respect to ideology. “Management decisions should be based on objective science,” he said. He also said there should be more research sharing between different public agencies and private institutions.Still “debate over human role in climate change,” and nod to “all-of-the-above” energy strategySanders asked Zinke whether President-elect Donald Trump was correct in calling climate change a “hoax.”Zinke acknowledged climate is changing and humans have had an influence, but claimed there is a lot of “debate” over how much of a role humans have played and what can or should be done to combat climate change. He also said he would listen to scientists from the United States Geological Survey, which is a part of DOI, on climate issues.In response to another question from Sanders, Zinke said he supported extracting fossil fuel from public lands along with supporting wind and solar power, calling for an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy production.Highlights from Pompeo and Mattis hearings Pompeo ducks on climate“Frankly, as the director of CIA, I would prefer today not to get into the details of climate debate,” he said in response to a question from Harris about whether he accepted climate science. (She referred specifically to findings by NASA’s Earth Science division.) As head of CIA, Pompeo said his role would be “different.”Previously, Pompeo has said that scientists think “lots of different things” about climate change and called President Barack Obama’s climate policies “radical.”(In a speech last November, John Brennan, the outgoing CIA director, called climate change one of the “deeper causes of this rising instability” in places like Libya, Syria, and Ukraine.)Mattis on Department of Defense research and the “active” ArcticMattis was not asked directly about climate change, but his answer to a question about competition with Russia in the Arctic suggests he believes climate change is having an impact on national security. Noting that melting sea ice is opening new shipping lanes, Mattis said the Arctic is now an “active area” where the United States will need to assert its sovereignty.Senator Elizabeth Warren (D–MA) asked Mattis about how the Department of Defense (DOD) should dole out its research funding, noting that her state hosts one of the nation’s top research universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mattis agreed with Warren’s assertion that DOD should “assess the intellectual resources” of an area when deciding which organizations the military partners with for scientific research.Highlights from Tillerson’s hearingClimate change not “imminent national security threat”“I don’t see [climate change] as the imminent national security threat as others do,” Tillerson said. He also declined to make any direct links between an increase in natural disasters and climate change, calling the scientific literature “inconclusive.”When asked by Merkley whether the United States should step up in combatting climate change, to match major efforts in countries including India and China, Tillerson said, “I think we have stepped up.”Breaks with Trump on nuclear proliferationTillerson “does not agree” with Trump’s statements suggesting that countries like Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia should get nuclear weapons.Ebola outbreak exposed “deficiency” at World Health OrganizationIn response to questions by Senator Johnny Isakson (R–GA) about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tillerson praised the U.S. response to disease outbreaks, but suggested the ebola outbreak “exposed deficiency in the World Health Organization and how they responded.”United States would be “better served” by staying in Paris pactSenator Tom Udall (D–NM) asked Tillerson directly whether he supports the Paris climate agreement.The United States would be “better served by being at that table,” Tillerson replied.For context: Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and said during the campaign that he would “cancel” the Paris Agreement. More recently, Trump has suggested he would have an “open mind” about the accord.Paris Agreement “looks like a treaty”Senator Ron Johnson (R–WI) asked Tillerson about the executive branch making treaties without proper legislative input citing the Paris climate accord (which is not technically a treaty, so did not need Senate ratification), among other treaties.Tillerson said he “respects the proper roles of both branches of government. He also said the Paris climate accord “looks like a treaty.” It’s still unclear exactly where Tillerson stands on withdrawing, or not withdrawing from the agreement.Ducks question about oil lobbying groupBooker asks Tillerson whether Exxon was part of USA*Engage, an oil lobbying group who has lobbied against government sanctions in the past.Tillerson refused to answer and referred the question to Exxon.Exxon appears to have been part of USA*Engage. A press release from USA*Engage suggests that Exxon’s Robert W. Haines, the manager of international relations for the company, was chairman of the lobbying organization in 2003. He served until 2007.Green think tank: Tillerson’s comments don’t go far enough“It’s encouraging that Tillerson recognizes that climate change requires a global response and that the U.S. must be at the table. But he must go further,” David Waskow, director of International Climate Initiatives at the World Resources Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank, said in a statement responding to some of Tillerson’s comments. “As the country’s potential top diplomat, Tillerson should understand that the U.S. needs to be a leader on climate change and honor its international commitments. The Paris Agreement is one of the singular achievements in international diplomacy in recent years, and the U.S. must continue to cooperate with the rest of the world in driving forward strong action on this urgent challenge. The vast majority of Americans want the U.S. to support the Paris Agreement and the international community expects the country to be a productive participant. This leadership is critical to U.S. diplomatic, economic, and security interests. Senators should continue to press Tillerson to ensure the U.S. maintains its key role in tackling this issue.”United States will review funding for United Nations climate fundSenator John Barrasso (R–WY) asked: “Will you commit that no funding will go to the U.N. Green Climate Fund?”The new administration will “look at things from the bottom up,” Tillerson responded.Barrasso also advocated for more coal energy, especially in developing countries. Tillerson said he supported delivering electricity to developing areas in whatever way was the most efficient use of U.S. dollars.Paris climate deal could put United States at a “disadvantage”The nominee refused to commit to honoring the Paris climate agreement, when asked by Senator Ed Markey (D–MA). Tillerson suggested that although he would share his opinion about the reality of climate change with senators, the president-elect’s “priority in campaigning was America first,” and the Paris Agreement could put us at a “disadvantage.”No plan to recuse himself from decisions involving Exxon after 1 yearTillerson refused to commit to recusing himself from decisions about Exxon as secretary of state, outside of an initial 1-year period required by law. Instead, he suggested that it would be enough to solicit and follow the advice of the Office of Government Ethics when it came to potential conflicts of interests.United States should keep seat at climate negotiation tableAsked by Cardin, the ranking member of Senate foreign relations committee, whether the United States should “continue in international leadership on climate change,” Tillerson suggested he wanted the United States to continue to have a seat at the table.No retaliation against State Department climate expertsSenator Tom Udall (D–NM) asked Tillerson about reports that President-elect Trump’s transition team had asked the Department of Energy for names of staffers who had worked on climate change. Tillerson said he wouldn’t retaliate against Department of State staffers who had worked on climate issues, calling it “unhelpful.”Declines to answer questions about Exxon’s role in climate scienceTillerson refused to answer questions from Kaine about Exxon’s past and current relationship with climate change science. Citing reporting by the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News, Kaine asked about documents that showed Exxon concluded in the 1970s that carbon dioxide affected climate, then for years after publicly cast doubt on the science. Kaine also asked about Exxon’s past funding of climate denial groups and current lesser funding of these groups.Tillerson refused to answer the questions because he no longer worked for Exxon and didn’t want to speak for them.“Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question or are you refusing to answer my question?” Kaine asked.“A little of both,” Tillerson said.Kaine said he didn’t believe Tillerson didn’t have the knowledge to answer after nearly 40 years working for Exxon.Later, Kaine tweeted: “It’s shameful Tillerson refused to answer my questions on his company’s role in funding phony climate science. Bottom line: #ExxonKnew”No climate questions earlyIn his own opening statement, Tillerson, Trump’s nominee to be the nation’s chief diplomat and run the Department of State, didn’t mention climate change, instead focusing more on issues including relations with China and fighting the Islamic State group.The first mention of science and climate change came nearly 40 minutes into the hearing. In an opening statement, Cardin pointed out that climate change was causing irreparable harm to our world and also that business and government interests were different. “Having a view from the C-Suite at Exxon is not at all the same as the view from the seventh floor of the Department of State,” Cardin said.Sessions: Climate and Krispy KremeOn Tuesday, climate change made a momentary appearance during the confirmation hearing of Senator Jeff Sessions (R–AL) to be attorney general. In the past, Sessions has acknowledged that human activity may be warming the planet but has fiercely fought government efforts to curb emissions of warming gases including carbon dioxide and methane. During the hearing, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D–RI) asked Sessions how he would approach “making a decision about the facts of climate change” if a case before the Department of Justice required it.In response, Sessions said:“I don’t deny that we have global warming. In fact, the theory of it always struck me as plausible, and it’s the question of how much is happening and what the reaction would be to it. So, that’s what I would hope we could see occur.”Here is the whole exchange, according to an unofficial transcript published by CNN.WHITEHOUSE: You may be in a position as attorney general to either enforce laws or bring actions that relate to the problem of carbon emissions and the changes that are taking place both physically and chemically in our atmosphere and oceans as a result of the flood of carbon emissions that we’ve had.It is the political position of the Republican Party in the Senate, as I have seen it, that this is not a problem, that we don’t need to do anything about it, that the facts aren’t real, and that we should all do nothing whatsoever. That’s the Senate.You as attorney general of the United States may be asked to make decisions for our nation that require a factual predicate that you determine as the basis for making your decision. In making a decision about the facts of climate change, to whom will you turn? Will you, for instance, trust the military, all of whose branches agree that climate change is a serious problem of real import for them?Will you trust our national laboratories, all of whom say the same? Will you trust our national science agencies—by the way, NASA is driving a rover around on the surface of mars right now. So, they’re [sic] scientists, I think, are pretty good.I don’t think there is a single scientific society, I don’t think there is a single credited university, I don’t think there is a single nation that denies this basic set of facts.And, so, if that situation is presented to you and you have to make a decision based on the facts, what can give us any assurance that you will make those facts based on real facts and real science?SESSIONS: That’s a good and fair question, and honesty and integrity in that process is required. And if the facts justify a position on one side or the other on a case, I would try to utilize those facts in an honest and appropriate way.I’ve not—I don’t deny that we have global warming. In fact, the theory of it always struck me as plausible, and it’s the question of how much is happening and what the reaction would be to it. So, that’s what I would hope we could see occur.WHITEHOUSE: Indeed, I’ll bet you dollars against those lovely Krispy Kreme donuts we have out back that if you went down to the University of Alabama and if you talked to the people who fish out of mobile, they had already seen the changes in the ocean. They’d be able to measure the PH changes and they’d know the acidification is happening, and there’s no actual dispute about that except in the politics of Washington, D.C.SESSIONS: I recognize the great interest in time and you’ve committed to the issue and I value your opinion.WHITEHOUSE: I do come from an ocean state, and we do measure the rise in the sea level and we measure the warming of Narragansett Bay and we measure the change in PH. It’s serious for us, Senator. Thank you. My time has expired. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img The nominees that senators have heard from include:  Below, check out dispatches from the hearings. We’ll be updating periodically as new hearings occur, with the most recent news at the top, so come back to see what’s happening.Price says he will support science-based policies, rejects vaccine-autism and abortion–breast cancer linksPrice made a few statements about science and research at his hearing today before the Senate Finance Committee. His opening statement included a nod to biomedical research at the department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Leading the agency “means maintaining and expanding America’s leading role in medical innovation and in the treatment and eradication of disease,” he said. Email On climate change:”I believe the climate is changing. I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by manmade activity. The question is how do we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth, the affordability of energy, or American jobs.”  Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwelast_img read more


first_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Imagine cells that can move through your brain, hunting down cancer and destroying it before they themselves disappear without a trace. Scientists have just achieved that in mice, creating personalized tumor-homing cells from adult skin cells that can shrink brain tumors to 2% to 5% of their original size. Although the strategy has yet to be fully tested in people, the new method could one day give doctors a quick way to develop a custom treatment for aggressive cancers like glioblastoma, which kills most human patients in 12–15 months. It only took 4 days to create the tumor-homing cells for the mice.Glioblastomas are nasty: They spread roots and tendrils of cancerous cells through the brain, making them impossible to remove surgically. They, and other cancers, also exude a chemical signal that attracts stem cells—specialized cells that can produce multiple cell types in the body. Scientists think stem cells might detect tumors as a wound that needs healing and migrate to help fix the damage. But that gives scientists a secret weapon—if they can harness stem cells’ natural ability to “home” toward tumor cells, the stem cells could be manipulated to deliver cancer-killing drugs precisely where they are needed.Other research has already exploited this method using neural stem cells—which give rise to neurons and other brain cells—to hunt down brain cancer in mice and deliver tumor-eradicating drugs. But few have tried this in people, in part because getting those neural stem cells is hard, says Shawn Hingtgen, a stem cell biologist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Right now, there are three main ways. Scientists can either harvest the cells directly from the patient, harvest them from another patient, or they can genetically reprogram adult cells. But harvesting requires invasive surgery, and bestowing stem cell properties on adult cells takes a two-step process that can increase the risk of the final cells becoming cancerous. And using cells from someone other than the cancer patient being treated might trigger an immune response against the foreign cells.center_img Email To solve these problems, Hingtgen’s group wanted to see whether they could skip a step in the genetic reprogramming process, which first transforms adult skin cells into standard stem cells and then turns those into neural stem cells. Treating the skin cells with a biochemical cocktail to promote neural stem cell characteristics seemed to do the trick, turning it into a one-step process, he and his colleague report today in Science Translational Medicine.But the next big question was whether these cells could home in on tumors in lab dishes, and in animals, like neural stem cells. “We were really holding our breath,” Hingtgen says. “The day we saw the cells crawling across the [Petri] dish toward the tumors, we knew we had something special.” The tumor-homing cells moved 500 microns—the same width as five human hairs—in 22 hours, and they could burrow into lab-grown glioblastomas. “This is a great start,” says Frank Marini, a cancer biologist at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who was not involved with the study. “Incredibly quick and relatively efficient.”The team also engineered the cells to deliver common cancer treatments to glioblastomas in mice. Mouse tumors injected directly with the reprogrammed stem cells shrank 20- to 50-fold in 24–28 days compared with nontreated mice. In addition, the survival times of treated rodents nearly doubled. In some mice, the scientists removed tumors after they were established, and injected treatment cells into the cavity. Residual tumors, spawned from the remaining cancer cells, were 3.5 times smaller in the treated mice than in untreated mice.Marini notes that more rigorous testing is needed to demonstrate just how far the tumor-targeting cells can migrate. In a human brain, the cells would need to travel a matter of millimeters or centimeters, up to 20 times farther than the 500 microns tested here, he says. And other researchers question the need to use cells from the patient’s own skin. An immune response, triggered by foreign neural stem cells, could actually help attack tumors, says Evan Snyder, a stem cell biologist at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in San Diego, California, and one of the early pioneers of the idea of using stem cells to attack tumors.Hingtgen’s group is already testing how far their tumor-homing cells can migrate using larger animal models. They are also getting skin cells from glioblastoma patients to make sure the new method works for the people they hope to help, he says. “Everything we’re doing is to get this to the patient as quickly as we can.”last_img read more


first_img Rise and fall of Roman Empire exposed in Greenland ice samples LouieLea/shutterstock.com Email Lead pollution from the Roman Empire fell on Greenland—where it was preserved in layers of ice. Modern people aren’t the only ones who’ve polluted the atmosphere. Two thousand years ago, the Romans smelted precious ores in clay furnaces, extracting silver and belching lead into the sky. Some of that lead settled on Greenland’s ice cap and mixed in with ever-accumulating layers of ice. Now, scientists studying annual deposits of those ice layers have found that spikes and dips in lead pollution during the Roman era mirror the timing of many historical events, including wars fought by Julius Caesar.The level of detail is “astounding,” says Dennis Kehoe, a scholar of Roman economic history and law at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, who wasn’t involved in the work. What really impressed him was how closely the lead pollution numbers tracked what ancient historians know about the expansion and collapse of the Roman economy—a system built on silver coinage known as denarius. “It’s really the rise and fall of a monetary system based on silver,” he says. “Prices were reckoned in silver, so they had to have silver.”Scientists have known about the Roman-era spike in lead pollution since the 1990s. Back then, researchers measured lead levels at a few places along the length of cores extracted from Greenland’s ice cap—with each measurement representing a 2-year period. Later studies confirmed the same pattern in soil samples from peat bogs in Spain, Scotland, and the Faroe Islands. But those studies couldn’t show how lead pollution changed year by year. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Katie LanginMay. 14, 2018 , 3:00 PM Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) So Andrew Wilson, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and an expert on the Roman era, teamed up with ice core experts to get a more complete picture. The team measured lead levels along a roughly 400-meter cross-section of Greenland ice, representing layers that froze between 1100 B.C.E. and 800 C.E. They melted the ice bit by bit, from one end to the other, and siphoned off the ice melt for analysis—obtaining around 12 measurements per year during the Roman era. Not all the lead came from pollution related to ore smelting; some came from naturally occurring dust and volcanic emissions, which researchers estimated and subtracted from the total lead count.The result: an incredibly detailed 1900-year timeline of Roman lead pollution, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Lead pollution was greatest at the height of the Roman Empire—during the first century C.E.—at levels roughly six times higher than during the 11th century B.C.E. But after the Antonine Plague hit in 165 C.E., likely killing millions, lead pollution suddenly dropped back down to pre-Roman levels and remained that way for 500 years. Dips in lead pollution also occurred in the middle of the Roman era, particularly when wars erupted in Spain—a hot spot for lead-silver smelting—during the last few centuries B.C.E.Based on air circulation patterns, the team thinks that the Roman-era pollution, which peaked annually at just under a millionth of a gram of lead deposited per square meter, came mostly from the western half of the Roman empire, in western and northern Europe. By comparison, the amount of lead that fell on Greenland is roughly 50 times lower than levels in the 1900s, says Joe McConnell, an environmental scientist at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada, and lead author on the study.The work “raises all kinds of interesting questions,” says Kevin Butcher, an ancient historian at The University of Warwick in Coventry, U.K. He says there are a few puzzling points where there is a mismatch between peaks in lead pollution and silver coin production, making him wonder whether the Romans were smelting and stockpiling silver—but not turning it into coins right away. The data, he says, are “food for thought.”last_img read more


first_img When the Zika virus exploded in the Americas in 2015, it quickly became an international scare: Pregnant women, bitten by infected mosquitoes, could pass the virus to their babies, some of whom suffered brain malformations as a result. But the epidemic eventually wound down, thanks in part to large swaths of populations developing immunity. Now, scientists in Brazil have discovered that more than a third of the wild monkeys they tested for Zika have been infected, the strongest evidence yet that a “reservoir” for the disease outside of humans has the potential to form.“We found this phenomenon in two different cities at the same time, so [infected monkeys] are more common than we think,” says Maurício Lacerda Nogueria, a virologist at the São José do Rio Preto School of Medicine in Brazil, who led the new study.Even though his team is still a long way from showing that the monkeys spread the virus between themselves—which is required for a reservoir to form—and then reinfected humans through a mosquito intermediary, he says the new study shows the potential is there. If a reservoir of Zika virus in wild monkeys does develop in the Americas, it could set up a “sylvatic cycle” in which the pathogen repeatedly retreats into remote forests and then jumps back into cities, starting new human outbreaks. Just such a sylvatic cycle occurs between monkeys, mosquitoes, humans, and the Zika virus in Africa, as well as with its cousin yellow fever in Africa and the Americas. Are wild monkeys becoming a reservoir for Zika virus in the Americas? A Brazilian study found Zika virus in many wild marmoset monkeys, which could become part of a threatening transmission cycle for humans. By Jon CohenOct. 31, 2018 , 11:55 AM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Leszek Leszczynski/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0) center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email Two years ago, a different research group identified Zika in three capuchin and four marmoset monkeys in Brazil using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which detects viral genetic pieces. But these monkeys, several of which were pets, lived in close proximity to humans. The new study examined wild monkeys that live near two cities: São Paulo and Belo Horizonte.The researchers and their colleagues analyzed the carcasses of 82 marmosets and capuchins that had been killed either by people or wild animals. In 32 of the monkeys, at least one tissue tested positive for Zika on PCR, they report this week in Scientific Reports. “The new findings are quite significant,” says co-author Nikos Vasilakis, an arbovirologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston. When the researchers sequenced the Zika virus from four marmosets so they could compare it to the Americas strain circulating in humans, they found a close match. And they showed a geographic link between Zika-infected mosquitoes and the monkeys.Scott Weaver, an arbovirus specialist at UTMB who was not involved with the study, says the new findings add support to the “vertebrate half of the equation” needed to prove that a sylvatic cycle exists. He notes that an experiment he co-authored with Vasilakis lends further support. They found that—in three infected different New World monkeys—the Zika virus could copy itself to high levels in the animals’ blood; theoretically, these animals thus could easily transmit the virus to mosquitoes that bit them.But researchers have yet to prove the mosquito half of the equation. Aedes aegypti, the main species responsible for the Brazilian outbreak, preferentially feeds on humans and would only bite monkeys if its favorite food was in short supply. A sylvatic cycle would require a mosquito species that typically feeds on monkeys and supports growth of the Zika virus. The virus then could survive by moving between monkeys and mosquitoes, without a human intermediary, for years. No such mosquito has been found. What’s more, if Zika did move only between monkeys and then jumped back into humans, the virus would have a different genetic signature than those found in previously infected humans; genetic analyses have found no such changes over time.The lack of a sylvatic cycle would be good news for disease eradication. No vaccine for Zika yet exists, but an effective one, if widely used, could chase the virus out of the continent until an infected human imports it again. On the other hand, a sylvatic cycle would make it impossible to eradicate Zika, even with mosquito control and an effective vaccine, Vasilakis says. “The virus will be probing the human population all the time until it finds enough susceptible people to cause an outbreak,” he says.Vasilakis’s hunch is that the monkeys he and his colleagues studied likely were not part of a sylvatic cycle but were bitten by mosquitoes that regularly dined on the many infected humans who lived near their habitat. “I suspect they’re victims of opportunity,” he says. “But this is how things start.”last_img read more


first_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email A female of the world’s most recently named tarantula species has electric-blue legs and a creamy toffee body. She’s native to the state of Sarawak in Malaysia and would fit nicely in your palm. Spider fanciers were thrilled when the new species came to light. But its emergence also highlights a growing illegal trade in tarantulas and researchers’ laissez-faire attitudes about dubious specimens.The spider was described in the February issue of The Journal of the British Tarantula Society by arachnologists Ray Gabriel and Danniella Sherwood, who list their affiliation as the Hope Entomological Collection, Oxford University Museum of Natural History in the United Kingdom. They classified the spider as a new species in a new genus and named it Birupes simoroxigorum. Its genus name stems from biru, the Malay word for blue; simoroxigorum incorporates names of the children (Simon, Roxanne, and Igor) of the three European collectors who provided the specimens. They captured the animals in the forests of Sarawak and transported them to Europe. But the Forest Department of Sarawak says they lacked permits to collect or export wildlife.”This case reflects the all-too-prevalent bio-piracy in Malaysia,” says Chien Lee, a naturalist and photographer in Sarawak. With Lars Fehlandt, a German photographer, Lee found the tarantula in September 2017, about 6 weeks before the collectors did, and posted photographs online. By Yao-Hua LawFeb. 27, 2019 , 12:00 PM A spectacular spider is new to science. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img This amazing blue tarantula is a new spider species—but did researchers break the law when they studied it? Chien Lee Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sherwood says she and her co-author “had no reason to believe” that the specimens were illegal. They received two dead spiders from the collectors “in good faith, meaning that we were told they were legally collected with all appropriate paperwork needed,” she wrote in an email. Science requested that Sherwood provide records of those permits, but she did not respond. Gabriel did not respond to requests for comment.The collectors, Krzysztof Juchniewicz, Emil Piorun, and Jakub Skowronek—based in Poland and the United Kingdom—find, breed, and sell tarantulas. Juchniewicz concedes they had no permit for collection, saying he didn’t know they needed one. But he insists they didn’t smuggle the tarantulas out of Malaysia, saying their driver mailed the spiders to Europe. “I’ve got all the necessary documents” for legal import, he says. “We didn’t do anything wrong.” (The other two collectors didn’t respond to requests for comment.)Science reconstructed their expedition to Sarawak in October and November 2017 from the collectors’ public Facebook posts, online chats with Juchniewicz provided by Fehlandt, and an interview with Juchniewicz. The three had been planning the trip for months. But they likely found out about what would make a prize catch just a few weeks earlier, on 14 September 2017, when Lee and Fehlandt posted their photos. The photographers named a nearby city as the vicinity of the sighting—a decision Lee now regrets.After the collectors trekked many kilometers over “plenty of nights” in “every type of jungle,” they triumphantly announced on Facebook that they found their target on the night of 2 November 2017. In photos, each of the three men gingerly holds the then-unnamed B. simoroxigorum. (The photos were removed after this article was published.)Sometime after their return to Europe, Juchniewicz, Piorun, and Skowronek passed two dead specimens to Gabriel and Sherwood for identification. When the arachnologists announced the tarantula qualified as a new genus and species, Juchniewicz posted the news on his store’s Facebook page, saying his greatest dream had come true.Piorun and Skowronek are now advertising the species for sale through their online stores, asking for more than $300 for a juvenile. Peter Kirk, chairman of the British Tarantula Society in London, says he saw B. simoroxigorum spiderlings labeled as captive-bred at an exposition in the United Kingdom just a few weeks ago.But Juchniewicz, who is based in Dewsbury, U.K., and is not selling the species, says there are no captive-bred B. simoroxigorum spiders on the market. The two animals he and the other collectors took in Sarawak died without breeding, he says. All B. simoroxigorum on the market have been caught in the wild and smuggled in “very, very big amounts” by others, he says.”Illegal tarantula collecting is a burgeoning problem worldwide,” says tarantula expert Rick West of Sooke, Canada. Collectors are meeting demand for “prettier, rarer, nastier, larger” spiders. Illegal collectors have long favored Brazil and Mexico, he says, but have begun to shift their hunts to Southeast Asia.Engkamat Lading, deputy controller of Wildlife Sarawak, says his powers to prevent illegal trade stop at the border. Although collecting nonprotected wildlife without a permit in Sarawak is punishable with a year in prison, he says, “how to get hold of [the collectors]? They have left Sarawak.” He hopes to get the three collectors banned from re-entering Sarawak.Joseph Koh, an arachnologist at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum in Singapore and author of several guides on spiders in Southeast Asia, says collectors sometimes dig up tarantula nests and destroy the arachnids’ sites. “As such spiders are rare to begin with,” Koh says, “wiping out their few remaining habitats, and destroying or capturing the juveniles, will definitely threaten the survival of such vulnerable species.”In the United States and Canada, it is a crime to violate the wildlife laws of another country, but no EU country forbids it, says Ernie Cooper, a wildlife trade specialist in Vancouver, Canada, and a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Spider and Scorpion Specialist Group. As a result, Cooper says, “The primary market for illegally collected or traded tarantulas is the EU.” Those spiders can then easily be exported to North America, Pedro Cardoso and Caroline Fukushima, biologists at the University of Helsinki who study illegal trade in tarantulas and scorpions, wrote in an email.The arachnologists, however, may have broken U.K. laws. In signatory countries of the Nagoya Protocol, including the United Kingdom, taxonomists must ensure that specimens they study are legal. Darren Mann, head of zoology at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, tells Science that the arachnologists who worked on the new tarantula are not staff members and that the museum won’t house specimens collected illegally. Ray Hale, the British Tarantula Society’s vice-chairman and an arachnologist in Sussex, adds that Gabriel and Sherwood “have been naïve in the extreme” about the sources of the specimens they examined.Charles Leh, who retired in 2018 after 35 years as a curator at the Sarawak Museum, appreciates foreign taxonomists’ contributions because there is little local interest. But he contends that Gabriel and Sherwood should have been more cautious and not used poached specimens.Conservation of tarantulas and other spiders gets little attention from governments or advocacy groups, Cooper says. “Increased awareness of the problem might open up new opportunities” to address illegal tarantula trade, he says.With reporting by Erik Stokstad.last_img read more


first_imgAbout 30% of the 1.5 million tons of residue stored on Lynas’s facility in Malaysia is slightly radioactive and covered with a black lining. Radioactive waste standoff could slash high tech’s supply of rare earth elements China 68% Ryan Castilloux, Adamas Intelligence Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country (GRAPHIC) N. Desai/Science; (DATA) Adamas Intelligence The standoff has caused Lynas’s stock to lose almost half its value since May 2018 and has worried many countries hungry for REOs. A shutdown would be “a significant event with a ripple effect,” says Ryan Castilloux, a metals and minerals analyst at Adamas Intelligence in Amsterdam. For one thing, the shutdown would strengthen China’s position as the dominant supplier of REOs, which many countries deem a strategic risk. Japan’s electric vehicle industry, for instance, would lose its main supplier of REOs for permanent magnets; “it would have to reestablish a relationship with China after almost a decade of friction” in the REO trade, Castilloux says.Rare earth elements (REEs) occupy atomic numbers 57 to 71, the “lanthanide series” of the periodic table, and also include scandium and yttrium. Their exceptional magnetic and conductive traits make them critical to clean energy technology, such as hybrid fuel cells, solar panels, and wind turbine magnets. “Although rare earth oxides production worldwide is only worth several billions of dollars, it is essential for industries worth trillions,” Castilloux says.Rare earth deposits themselves are not scarce—more than 800 are known on land. Refining them takes lots of corrosive chemicals and generates huge amounts of residue. China was long the sole supplier; when it reduced exports in 2010, citing environmental concerns, prices jumped as much as 26-fold and major consumers scrambled for alternate sources. Lynas has become a “flagship” of REO production outside China, Castilloux says. The United States and Myanmar mine REEs as well, but they are processed in China, which today produces about 89% of the global REO output. Australia Myanmar Chinese dominance Rare earths are mined worldwide but are mostly processed in China. Lynas is the only notable rare earth oxide supplier outside of China. 89% 11% Rare earth oxide production2018 10% Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Othercenter_img 1% By Yao-Hua LawApr. 1, 2019 , 4:25 PM KUANTAN, MALAYSIA—Companies and governments around the world are anxiously watching the fate of a sprawling industrial facility 30 kilometers north of this city on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia.The 100-hectare Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) produces 10% of the world’s output of rare earth oxides (REOs), minerals needed in technologies including mobile phones, hard drives, fiber optic cables, surgical lasers, and cruise missiles. Lynas, an Australian company, imports concentrated ores from mines on Mount Weld in Australia and refines them here in Malaysia, where costs are lower; it sells REOs—which include cerium compounds, used in catalytic converters, and neodymium, critical to permanent magnets—to Japan, the United States, and other countries. The plant produced almost 18,000 tons of REOs in 2018.Now, the LAMP faces closure, barely 7 years after it opened. Environmental groups have long opposed the storage on the site of slightly radioactive waste from the extraction process, and they found a sympathetic ear in a new government elected in May 2018. In December 2018, the government demanded that the facility ship its radioactive waste back to Australia if it wants to renew its operating license, which expires on 2 September. On 12 March, a government task force to help organize the shipments was announced. But the company says exporting the more than 451,000 tons of residue by the deadline is “unachievable.” Rare earth mining 2018 2% Malaysia (Lynas) China 9% Save Malaysia Stop Lynas 10% United States Although rare earth oxides production worldwide is only worth several billions of dollars, it is essential for industries worth trillions. Email Other But in Malaysia, the waste has raised red flags. At the LAMP, concentrated ores are roasted with sulfuric acid to dissolve the rare earths and then diluted with water in a process called water leach purification, leaving a moist, pastelike residue. By September 2018, the LAMP had already produced 1.5 million tons of residue; because the ores contain thorium and uranium, almost 30% of it is slightly radioactive.Some REO facilities elsewhere have built permanent, secure facilities to store such waste, says Julie Klinger, a geographer and expert in REO mining at Boston University; others are secretive about what they do with it. In a plan approved by the previous government, Lynas agreed to try to recycle its residues. The company has sponsored Malaysian researchers to find new uses, including products that can improve soil properties.These efforts have not yielded commercial products, however. And in December 2018, a new executive committee, appointed by Malaysia’s Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change to evaluate the LAMP, cautioned against using the waste in agriculture because radioactive nuclides might accumulate in the environment. Radiochemist Amran Majid, a retired radiation protection officer at the National University of Malaysia in Bangi, and others have suggested a different strategy—extract the thorium, which accounts for the vast majority of the radioactivity, for use as fuel for nuclear reactors.So far, the LAMP has been storing residues on site instead, in rapidly growing hills. The imagery of piled up radioactive waste has sparked public fears, which experts say are exaggerated. Workers at the site are exposed to less than 1.05 millisieverts (mSv) per year, Lynas reports, far below the 20-mSv threshold advised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for workers exposed to radiation. The health effects of such low doses are “negligible,” says Kwan Hoong Ng, a medical physicist at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. People outside the facility are at an even lower risk, Amran adds.Still, in 2011 and 2014 IAEA found that Lynas lacked adequate plans for a permanent facility if recycling fails. The executive committee has suggested Lynas build one immediately, citing the potential for natural disasters to disperse the residues. (Monsoon storms and floods hit the area 4 months of the year.) Radioactivity isn’t the only risk, says Bun Teet Tan, chair of Save Malaysia Stop Lynas, a nongovernmental organization here. A 2013 review by the Öko-Institute in Darmstadt, Germany, commissioned by Tan’s group, found that heavy metals such as nickel, chromium, lead, and mercury could contaminate groundwater. Despite the new government’s tough language, Tan worries whether “real action would ever be taken,” saying the government has been lax about enforcing regulations at the LAMP in the past.Neither the ministry nor Lynas responded to interview requests from Science. In a financial report issued in late February, Lynas directors said it has lived up to the terms of its operating license, and that it will build permanent storage if necessary. Exporting the residue should be the last resort, the report says. But the government hasn’t budged. Saleem Ali, an expert in energy and the environment at University of Delaware in Newark who visited the LAMP in 2014, says the anti-Lynas fervor in Malaysia is “unfortunately a classic case of the not-in-my-backyard syndrome.” He says recycling is a commendable option but worries activists are now “stigmatizing the waste.” Given the importance of REOs for green technology, “The industry needs to make the case more effectively that [it] benefits not just the local, but also the global community,” Ali says.While the dispute in Malaysia has intensified, REO producers from developed countries are establishing new footholds around the world—in Africa, Central and Southeast Asia, and South America. A Lynas shutdown “might reduce global investment,” says Castilloux, as other investors might fear similar problems, “or it could fast-track other players to fill the gap.” But Klinger says the conflict could yet become an “exciting opportunity” for Lynas to come up with more innovative solutions that could save the plant and become a model for clean REO production. “Lynas could assume a leadership role globally and show other companies how to do the same thing,” she says.last_img read more


first_img By Mara HvistendahlMay. 30, 2019 , 2:30 PM MD Anderson clears researcher flagged by NIH for not disclosing foreign ties MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, says it has concluded an investigation of the last of five researchers flagged by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) for potential violations of agency rules. The investigation “confirmed non-compliance with NIH and MD Anderson rules and policies, but such violations were not in our view serious or indicative of willful malfeasance,” the center said yesterday in a statement.The institution did not recommend any “disciplinary or corrective action” because the researcher retired voluntarily before the investigation concluded, according to the center.Last month, Science and the Houston Chronicle reported that NIH had sent letters to MD Anderson identifying five cancer center researchers, all described by the center as Asian, who NIH said might have violated agency rules on maintaining the confidentiality of peer review or disclosing foreign ties. Three of the researchers subsequently left MD Anderson. The center said it had begun termination proceedings against a fourth. The results of the fifth investigation were released yesterday and first reported by the Houston Chronicle. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, has said it has sent approximately 60 letters to institutions identifying specific grantees with potentially problematic foreign ties. MD Anderson, which worked closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on apparently related inquiries that preceded the NIH letters by at least 8 months, was the first institution publicly known to have disciplined researchers identified by NIH. Last week, Emory University in Atlanta said it had fired two researchers after inquiries from NIH; both are Chinese American. Other universities, including Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, have investigated possible violations but opted not to discipline faculty members.The developments have raised fears that U.S.-based researchers of Chinese ethnicity are being singled out for unfair scrutiny. In Houston, the “Asian American community has been filled with rumors, confusion, and anxiety since the beginning of 2018, well before MD Anderson received the NIH letters,” says engineer Steven Pei. He is part of a group of Chinese American community organizers who are preparing to take their concerns to a meeting with MD Anderson’s president, Peter Pisters, scheduled for June. Emaillast_img read more


first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) University of Manchester Synchrotron x-ray scans of a 3-million-year-old mouse fossil reveal a chemical trace of the pigment pheomelanin (bright yellow here). To test the idea, the scientists analyzed two exceptional fossils—with soft tissues and hair still visible—of an extinct mouse called Apodemus atavus that lived 3 million years ago in what is now Germany. Close relatives of the species alive today, such as the European wood mouse, have reddish fur, so the researchers thought the fossil mouse might have had similar coloring. Sure enough, when they scanned the mouse fossils, they found the characteristic overlap of sulfur and zinc in regions where hair was visible on the fossil. They report their find today in Nature Communications.Now that scientists know what to look for, Wogelius says, he’s confident the pheomelanin signature will be detectable in much older fossils. The new data support the team’s previous claim of evidence for pheomelanin in a 30-million-year-old fossil tadpole. “I’m certain we can go back 30 million years, and probably even longer than that.”The technique is “a very elegant method for analyzing the whole fossil in a nondestructive way,” says Jasmina Weimann, a molecular paleobiologist at Yale University. “It’s very cool.”Other chemical analysis methods require researchers to take tiny samples from fossils. Not only does that damage part of the fossil, it also means the full picture is still guesswork. “If you took a square-millimeter sample of zebra skin, you might be able to tell if the sample was black or white, but you wouldn’t understand what a zebra looks like,” Wogelius says.Weimann hopes similar techniques might allow researchers to identify not only pigments, but also other chemical signatures, for example of proteins specific to certain tissues. Email Figuring out the colors of fossilized animals used to be complete guesswork—even in the rare finds containing bits of feathers, scales, or fur, the original hues in such soft tissues are usually long gone. Now, for the first time, researchers have been able to identify the chemical signature of the pigment that gives red hair its color in the fossil of an ancient mouse—using a new technique that leaves precious fossil specimens intact.“The mouse fossil, it looks nice. It’s a beautiful specimen. But then you scan it, and it’s this eureka moment,” says Roy Wogelius, a geochemist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, who with his colleagues developed the technique.Using a variety of techniques, scientists have been able to gather hints about the colors of fossils including dinosaur feathers and dinosaur eggs. A decade ago, scientists used high-energy synchrotron x-rays to identify the key chemical signatures of a pigment called eumelanin, which colors skin, hair, and other tissues black, brown, and gray. But its sister pigment called pheomelanin, which gives skin and hair a pink or red hue, has been tougher to nail down. By Gretchen VogelMay. 21, 2019 , 5:00 AM This 3-million-year-old mouse just gave scientists the key to decoding ancient red pigments University of Manchester Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Part of the problem, Wogelius says, was that relatively little was known about the chemistry of the pigment in modern-day tissues. In work published in 2016, he and his colleagues looked carefully at the different trace metals in pigments from modern feathers and found that whereas eumelanin contains copper, pheomelanin contains sulfur and zinc. They wondered whether tracing those metals might allow them to find signs of the reddish pigment in fossils as well. The mouse Apodemus atavus lived 3 million years ago in what is now central Germany.last_img read more


first_img Space laser will map Earth’s forests in 3D, spotting habitat for at-risk species Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Tallying up the biomass in a forest—and monitoring changes to it—is no easy task. You can cordon off a patch of forest and use tape measures to assess tree growth, hoping your patch is representative of the wider forest. Or you can turn to aerial or satellite photography—if the pictures are available and sharp enough. But even the best cameras can’t see past the forest canopy to the understory below.On 5 December, scientists gained a new tool for this tricky business when NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) was launched on a SpaceX rocket. The instrument, the size of a large refrigerator, will be attached to the International Space Station, where it will begin to gather data on the height and 3D structure of tropical and temperate forests. The campaign will help scientists understand whether forests are slowing or amplifying climate change, and identify prime habitat for valued species. “We’ve wanted this data set desperately,” says Ralph Dubayah, a geographer at the University of Maryland in College Park and the project’s principal investigator.GEDI will harness a technology called light detection and ranging (lidar). Like its cousin radar, lidar sends out pulses of electromagnetic energy and measures the reflections. But whereas radar uses radio waves, GEDI’s lidar uses laser light, firing 242 times per second in the near-infrared. The focused, high-frequency radiation offers sharp resolution and can penetrate dense forests, bouncing not only off the treetops, but also off midstory leaves, branches, and the ground. Dubayah and his colleagues will combine GEDI data with ground measurements and statistical models to produce maps of tropical forest carbon that, at 1 kilometer resolution, should vastly shrink the errors of previous maps. By Gabriel PopkinDec. 5, 2018 , 1:20 PM The GEDI laser will penetrate tropical forest treetops to map the understory’s 3D structure.center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe BRUSINI Aurélien/hemis.fr/Hemis/Alamy Stock Photo Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Countries that want to use the carbon stored in their forests to help meet Paris agreement climate targets may use those maps to gauge progress, says Naikoa Aguilar-Amuchastegui, director of forest carbon science at the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, D.C. Researchers tracking forest degradation, due to the selective logging of individual trees and fuelwood harvesting from the understory, are eager for the data, too. Those activities are invisible to imaging satellites such as Landsat, says Laura Duncanson, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “GEDI gets you that third dimension,” she says.The 3D maps could also identify the rich structure and variety of forests that harbor at-risk species such as the orangutan, says Scott Goetz, an ecologist at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and a mission deputy principal investigator. The maps could find priority areas for conservation, and even help plan habitat corridors for wildlife migrating because of climate change.The finely tuned laser will also resolve the heights of treetops and the ground more precisely than previous instruments—crucial for monitoring the health of the carbon-dense mangrove forests that shroud tropical coastlines, says Goddard research scientist Lola Fatoyinbo Agueh. Knowing how high the mangroves sit above the water could determine whether they will keep pace with sea level rise or die back, releasing stored carbon—a key input for climate models, she says.GEDI’s perch on the space station—chosen to keep its cost below a $94 million cap—comes with a drawback, however. Its view will be confined to latitudes between 51.6° north and south. That means it will miss the boreal forests of North America and Asia. And it will likely get booted after 2 years to make room for a Japanese instrument. The short mission will make it harder to answer an urgent question: Are tropical forests overall a carbon sink, capturing some of the emissions from vehicles and industry, or a source? That depends on whether forest growth is sequestering more carbon than deforestation and degradation are releasing. But seeing such a trend requires years of continuous data, says Wayne Walker of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. “Nothing’s better than a long-term record.”GEDI also can’t distinguish tree species, which vary in carbon density. Dubayah is using species-specific measurements from about 5000 field plots to calibrate the GEDI data. But with more than 40,000 tree species in the tropics, that’s just a start, says Oliver Phillips, an ecologist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, who runs a large tropical forest plot network. “A large ground effort is needed to get maximum value from this,” Phillips says.Researchers may be able to work around some of these limitations. Alessandro Baccini, a remote sensing scientist also at Woods Hole, hopes to train machine-learning algorithms to extend carbon estimates into the past and future by using GEDI’s carbon maps to calibrate long-term forest-cover data from imaging satellites. He adds that by combining data from GEDI and ICESat-2, a NASA lidar satellite launched in September that primarily measures ice sheets but is flying over the whole planet, investigators could construct a global carbon map—one that includes the boreal forest. Still, Baccini wants more. “Why can’t we have a proper mission designed for vegetation that is global?” he asks.last_img read more


first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country 400 Salzburger and his colleagues searched for opsin genes in 101 fish species, including seven Atlantic Ocean deep-sea fish whose genomes they fully sequenced. Most fish have one or two RH1 opsins, like many other vertebrates, but four of the deep-sea species stood apart, the researchers report this week in Science. Those fish—the lantern-fish, a tube-eye fish, and two spinyfins—all had at least five RH1 genes, and one, the silver spinyfin (Diretmus argenteus), had 38. “This is unheard of in vertebrate vision,” says K. Kristian Donner, a sensory biologist at the University of Helsinki.To make sure the extra genes weren’t just nonfunctional duplicates, the team measured gene activity in 36 species, including specimens of 11 deep-sea fish. Multiple RH1 genes were active in the deep-sea species, and the total was 14 in an adult silver spinyfin, which thrives down to 2000 meters. “At first it seems paradoxical—this is where there’s the least amount of light,” Salzburger says. ConesD. argenteus By Elizabeth PennisiMay. 9, 2019 , 2:00 PM Living in the gloom 2000 meters down, the silver spinyfin may see color. Wavelength (nanometers) Normalized absorbance In the deep, dark, ocean fish have evolved superpowered vision Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) 600 0 650 550 500 450 350 1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 Researchers can predict the wavelengths that an opsin protein is most sensitive to from its amino acid sequence. The deep-sea fish had a total of 24 mutations that alter the function of their RH1 proteins, fine-tuning each to see a narrow range of blue and green wavelengths—the colors of bioluminescence. “Some of these opsins might be tuned to detect particular bioluminescent signals associated with food, danger, or social interactions,” says Gil Rosenthal, a behavioral ecologist at Texas A&M University in College Station.The four deep-sea species belong to three different branches of the fish family tree, indicating that this supervision evolved repeatedly. “This indicates that animals living in extreme light environments may be subject to extreme natural selective pressures to improve visual performance,” says Eric Warrant, a visual ecologist at Lund University in Sweden.The bountiful opsins also help explain the unusual anatomy of the spinyfin retina. Some of its rod cells are much longer than usual, and many are stacked one on top of another rather than arranged in a single layer. The enlarged cells and the stacking help ensure more incoming photons are detected, but researchers have long assumed these rods all had the same opsin. Now, it appears that, like the layers in old photographic film, rods of different sizes might capture different wavelengths of light. “We now have to accept that our view [of deep-sea vision] has been too limited,” Donner says.Because of the depths these fish inhabit, it’s impossible to collect live specimens to test their vision. But the multiple rod opsins may enable them to distinguish color, Salzburger and others agree. For these fish, the faint bioluminescence in the inky depths could be as vivid and varied as the bright surface world.center_img Optic nerve Pavel Riha/University of South Bohemia Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Residual daylight Bioluminescence Special eyes for the ocean depths The retina of the silver spinyfin (Diretmus argenteus) has an unusual arrangement of low light–sensing rod cells, which house diverse photoreceptor proteins (right). Some of the rod layers are stacked to best capture the few photons available below a depth of 1000 meters. Email When the ancestors of cave fish and certain crickets moved into pitchblack caverns, their eyes virtually disappeared over generations. But fish that ply the sea at depths greater than sunlight can penetrate have developed super-vision, highly attuned to the faint glow and twinkle given off by other creatures. They owe this power, evolutionary biologists have learned, to an extraordinary increase in the number of genes for rod opsins, retinal proteins that detect dim light. Those extra genes have diversified to produce proteins capable of capturing every possible photon at multiple wavelengths—which could mean that despite the darkness, the fish roaming the deep ocean actually see in color.The finding “really shakes up the dogma of deep-sea vision,” says Megan Porter, an evolutionary biologist studying vision at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu who was not involved in the work. Researchers had observed that the deeper a fish lives, the simpler its visual system is, a trend they assumed would continue to the bottom. “That [the deepest dwellers] have all these opsins means there’s a lot more complexity in the interplay between light and evolution in the deep sea than we realized,” Porter says.At a depth of 1000 meters, the last glimmer of sunlight is gone. But over the past 15 years, researchers have realized that the depths are pervaded by a faint bioluminescence from flashing shrimp, octopus, bacteria, and even fish. Most vertebrate eyes could barely detect this subtle shimmer. To learn how fish can see it, a team led by evolutionary biologist Walter Salzburger from the University of Basel in Switzerland studied deep-sea fishes’ opsin proteins. Variation in the opsins’ amino acid sequences changes the wavelength of light detected, so multiple opsins make color vision possible. One opsin, RH1, works well in low light. Found in the eye’s rod cells, it enables humans to see in the dark—but only in black and white. Long rodsMultibank of short rodsUltralong rodsNuclear and other retinal layersLensIrisChoroidScleraRetina Tuned to bioluminescenceMany of the opsin proteins found in the silver spinyfin’s rod cells are sensitive to distinct wavelengths, which enables the fish to see the full range of bioluminescence, the faint light given off by other creatures. (GRAPHIC) V. ALTOUNIAN/SCIENCE; (DATA) ZUZANA MUSILOVA/UNIVERSITY OF BASEL/CHARLES UNIVERSITY last_img read more


first_imgBy Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDOct 19 2018There has been a recent trend of cardboard baby boxes for infants that are supposed to promote their sleeping. Some have claimed these boxes to be safer than traditional cots, cradles and bassinets. Now researchers from Universities of Bristol and Durham have warned that these recommendations are not founded on research and evidence and it is safer to use traditional cots for putting babies to sleep.The new recommendation has been published in the latest issue of the journal British Medical Journal. Professor Peter Blair at the University of Bristol and colleagues wrote in a letter to the BMJ stating, “the cardboard baby box should not be promoted as a safe sleeping space, but as only a temporary substitute if nothing else is available.” They urge researchers to conduct high quality studies for better understanding of “how families use the cardboard baby box and its safety implications.”In Finland for example these cardboard boxes have been given to all expectant mothers since the 1930s with a mattress that fits into the bottom of the box. The idea originated there. The officials there claim that these boxes have brought down cot deaths or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Since then these boxes are also being given out to pregnant mothers in parts of UK and other places as well.Blair and his fellow researchers including Francine Bates, chief executive of the safe sleep charity the Lullaby Trust, state however that there is no evidence that these boxes can cut down SIDS because even without the boxes, Sweden and Denmark have also seen a decline in cot deaths.Related StoriesTackling high sugar content in baby foodStudy casts new light into how mothers’ and babies’ genes influence birth weightExercise during pregnancy can promote bone health of both mother and childOne of their major arguments is the fact that cots with their rails, bassinets and Moses baskets with their low walls can not only allow air to flow easily but also allow the parents to see their babies sleeping.The cardboard boxes on the other hand have opaque side walls that do not allow carers to see the baby easily unless they are directly overhead. These baby boxes are also flammable, the authors write and also when placed on the floors they can be easily accessible to pets and young brothers and sisters.When placed on floors, these boxes can also let in low level droughts, they write. When placed higher up these boxes are susceptible to falls and when wet or dirty they may become susceptible to breakage and result in fatal injuries.Another important problem with these boxes is the limited size and babies older than three months cannot be placed in them.Most cases of SIDS occur before six months of age in the babies. These boxes cannot be used in the parent’s bed and thus bed-sharing is not allowed just like any of the other forms of sleeping arrangements for infants such as cots or bassinets.The authors write, “We support any initiative that raises awareness of SIDS, including appropriate SIDS risk reduction advice distributed with cardboard baby boxes. But this advice can be undermined if the messages given are incorrect or mixed with non-evidence based messages about the intervention itself.”They conclude, “Population-wide initiatives should have to meet high standards of safety and efficacy and should be subject to rigorous evaluation before implementation, because the potential to cause inadvertent and unintended harm is much greater than for those that target a selected population.” Source:https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4311last_img read more


first_img Source:https://www.fau.eu/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 1 2019Scientists from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Department of Medicine 3 – Rheumatology and Immunology, headed by Prof. Dr. Georg Schett, have now decrypted a molecular network that controls these processes and could in future provide a new way to treat organ scarring. The results show that the protein PU.1 causes pathological deposition of connective tissue. The scientists have now published their results in the renowned journal Nature.In connective tissue diseases such as systemic sclerosis, referred to collectively as ‘fibrosis’, excessive activation of connective tissue cells leads to hardening of the tissue and scarring within the affected organ. In principle, these diseases can affect any organ system and very often lead to disruption of organ function. Connective tissue cells play a key role in normal wound healing in healthy individuals. However, if the activation of connective tissue cells cannot be switched off, fibrotic diseases occur, in which an enormous amount of matrix is deposited in the tissue, leading to scarring and dysfunction of the affected tissue. Until now, scientists did not fully understand why repair processes malfunction in fibrotic diseases.Related StoriesScientists discover hundreds of protein-pairs through coevolution studyOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchHinge-like protein may unlock new pathways for cystic fibrosis treatmentAn international team of scientists led by Dr. Andreas Ramming from the Chair of Internal Medicine III at FAU has now been able to decipher a molecular mechanism responsible for the ongoing activation of connective tissue cells. In experimental studies, the researchers targeted the protein PU.1. In normal wound healing, the formation of PU.1 is inhibited by the body so that at the end of the normal healing process the connective tissue cells can return to a resting state.’We were able to show that PU.1 is activated in various connective tissue diseases in the skin, lungs, liver and kidneys. PU.1 binds to the DNA in the connective tissue cells and reprogrammes them, resulting in a prolonged deposition of tissue components,’ explains Dr. Ramming. PU.1 is not the only factor involved in fibrosis, as factors that are involved in the deposition of scar tissue have already been identified in the past. What has been discovered now, however, is that PU.1 plays a central role in a network of factors controlling this process. ‘PU.1 is like the conductor in an orchestra,’ explains Ramming, ‘if you take it out, the entire concert collapses.’ This approach has already been tested using an experimental drug, fuelling the hope that clinical trials on inhibiting PU.1 may soon be able to be launched, aimed at treating fibrosis better.last_img read more


first_img Source:https://pratt.duke.edu/about/news/its-spring-already-physics-explains-why-time-flies-we-age Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 21 2019A Duke University researcher has a new explanation for why those endless days of childhood seemed to last so much longer than they do now–physics.According to Adrian Bejan, the J.A. Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Duke, this apparent temporal discrepancy can be blamed on the ever-slowing speed at which images are obtained and processed by the human brain as the body ages.The theory was published online on March 18 in the journal European Review.Related StoriesStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingRush University Medical Center offers new FDA-approved treatment for brain aneurysmsAn active brain and body associated with reduced risk of dementia”People are often amazed at how much they remember from days that seemed to last forever in their youth,” said Bejan. “It’s not that their experiences were much deeper or more meaningful, it’s just that they were being processed in rapid fire.”Bejan attributes this phenomenon to physical changes in the aging human body. As tangled webs of nerves and neurons mature, they grow in size and complexity, leading to longer paths for signals to traverse. As those paths then begin to age, they also degrade, giving more resistance to the flow of electrical signals.These phenomena cause the rate at which new mental images are acquired and processed to decrease with age. This is evidenced by how often the eyes of infants move compared to adults, noted Bejan–because infants process images faster than adults, their eyes move more often, acquiring and integrating more information.The end result is that, because older people are viewing fewer new images in the same amount of actual time, it seems to them as though time is passing more quickly.”The human mind senses time changing when the perceived images change,” said Bejan. “The present is different from the past because the mental viewing has changed, not because somebody’s clock rings. Days seemed to last longer in your youth because the young mind receives more images during one day than the same mind in old age.”last_img read more


first_imgCaregiving, if done right, can actually be an extremely beneficial, healthy activity that enhances your life because you’re engaging in pro-social behavior.” Johns Hopkins researchers say the link between caregiving and detrimental effects on immune system has been overstated and the association is extremely small. Credit: iStock The researchers are now conducting a large population-based study with carefully matched controls and biomarkers collected at multiple times in order to get even more detailed information on the connection—or lack thereof—between caregiving and the immune system. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, more than 34 million people in the U.S. provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend in any given year. The value of the services provided by these family caregivers is estimated at $375 billion annually. In 1987, a study concluded that caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease had decreased levels of certain immune molecules. Since then, other studies have suggested that family caregivers have increased mortality and rates of psychiatric diseases, decreased immune function and life span, and slower wound healing than other people.After noticing statistical weaknesses in a handful of recent papers on caregiving and immunity, Roth and his colleagues wanted to take a fresh look at the more than three decades of papers on these ideas. They focused their search on papers about immune or inflammatory biomarkers—molecules that can be detected through a blood test—and combed through databases of medical literature to find papers linking the chronic stress of family caregiving and these biomarkers. After reviewing 132 full texts, they narrowed the meta-analysis to 30 original, data-based papers.Related StoriesAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyIt is okay for women with lupus to get pregnant with proper care, says new studySchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchIn all, the papers that Roth’s group studied spanned from 1987 to 2016 and reported data on 86 biomarkers from 1,848 caregivers and 3,640 noncaregivers. When the researchers began reviewing the manuscripts, Roth says they immediately noticed concerning trends—for one, the studies were quite small. Of the 30 studies, 16 had fewer than 50 caregivers, with some having as few as 11 or 14. “A lot of these are small exploratory studies that can end up over interpreting what they find,” Roth says.Roth adds that the studies tended to compare caregivers found in clinical settings with other adults recruited from senior centers, churches or other community organizations. “These people differ in many factors besides just who is a caregiver,” Roth says. “Many of the so-called controls are healthy, socially active volunteers.” Due to issues like this, 11 of the papers were given a “moderate” (instead of “low” or “minimal”) ranking for potential bias.When the team combined the data into a meta-analysis, it found an overall effect size of caregiving on biomarkers of 0.164 standard deviation units. While the effect was statistically significant, the researchers reported that the association was generally weak and of questionable clinical significance. A standard deviation unit of less than 0.20, Roth says, is generally thought to indicate a small effect size.Roth says: It’s not that we didn’t find anything, but it’s a whisper of an effect, not nearly as large as what people have been led to believe.” The team hopes its new look at the existing data helps encourage people to be more open to becoming caregivers. The researchers also hope it helps medical professions move away from the idea of caregivers as vulnerable.Roth says: We’re not saying that family caregiving can’t be stressful, but there’s a notion that it’s so stressful that it causes deteriorating health and increased mortality. This can lead to fear of caregiving and a reluctance to care for loved ones in need. We’re challenging that narrative as being too exaggerated.”First Author David Roth, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center on Aging and Health at The Johns Hopkins University Source:https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/caregving-not-as-bad-for-your-health-as-once-thought-study-says Apr 11 2019For decades, articles in research journals and the popular press alike have reported that being a family caregiver takes a toll on a person’s health, boosting levels of inflammation and weakening the function of the immune system. Now, after analyzing 30 papers on the levels of immune and inflammatory molecules in caregivers, Johns Hopkins researchers say the link has been overstated and the association is extremely small. Caregiver stress explains less than 1 percent of the variability in immune and inflammation biomarkers, they report. Their new meta-analysis was published March 10 in The Gerontologist.last_img read more