Audi Aims For Max Production Of etron By End Of Year

Audi produces in Brussels battery packs too, but the electric motors come from Győr, Hungary. That production capacity in Hungary stands at 400 electric axle motors each day with an option for a gradual increase.Each e-tron is equipped with two drive axles, which gives us 200 a day or several thousand a month. Assuming increased production, 20,000 e-tron annually sounds reasonable.Danau adds that ultimately, production depends also on new suppliers:“You have to bear in mind not only the company has to ramp up but also the different suppliers. They have to train their people, start their own new facilities and bring them up to the same speed that we are giving according to the plan, so that is a challenge for all of us.”Audi e-tron specs:0-60 mph – 5.5 secondsTop speed – 124 mphover 400 km (250 miles) expected under WLTP test cycle95 kWh battery (36 cell modules, each module is equipped with 12 pouch cells, nominal voltage of 396 volts)battery pack weight: 700 kilograms (1543.2 lb)dual-motor all-wheel drive – up to 300 kW and 664 Nm in S mode (boost) or up to 265 kW and 561 Nm in D mode. Front motor is 135 kW, the rear is 165 kW (S mode).Maximum tow rating – 4,000 pounds when properly equipped9.6 kW on-board charger (240 V, 40 A) in U.S. and 11 kW or 22 kW three-phase in EuropeDC fast charging up to 150 kW: 0-80% in 30 minutes Audi e-tron: Video Round Up Plus Live Images Audi Says No To Stocking e-tron At Dealerships: Special Order Only 28 photos Audi e-tron production at full swing within 3 months?Production of the Audi e-tron began early September, ahead of the unveiling and, according to Patrick Danau, managing director of Audi Brussels, by the end of this year, the pace of production will reach full capacity.“We believe that at the end of the year, we will reach our maximum capacity,”The natural next question is what is the full capacity of Audi’s Brussels plant that in 2019 will produce the Audi e-tron Sportback too? There is no official answer for that question, but it’s expected to be 20,000 annually, according to French analyst firm Inovev.Audi e-tron news Source: Automotive News Source: Electric Vehicle News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on October 4, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News Audi Receives 10,000-Plus Pre-Orders For e-tron read more

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Heliox Introduces MultiStandard Charging For Buses In Europe

first_img Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on November 25, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News As Sales-Lentz has always been an early adopter of new technologies, it is no surprise that the new technology of Heliox is implemented in their bus depot in Bascharage, Luxembourg. “We understand our role as a public transport operator to trigger our suppliers, bus manufacturers, software developers, to deliver and develop technologies that meet the market needs. Being very close to public and private customers that require mobility solutions, Sales-Lentz sees itself as a development partner and an entrepreneur ready to invest in sustainable mobility,” General Director Sales-Lentz Technics, Georges Hilbert.In June 2017, Heliox delivered its fast charging system to Sales-Lentz, comprising of 3 charging stations laid en route in the city of Differdange and in the bus depot. These buses charge via inverted pantograph system, with a wireless communication.As Sales-Lentz will deploy new e-buses, which follow the Bus-Up system (roof-mounted pantograph), Heliox has engineered a multi-standard system, which allows both bus models to be charged with the same charging equipment.“Thanks to the win-win partnership of HELIOX and Sales-Lentz that led to this development, the Grand Duchy is one of the front-runners of e-mobility in Europe. As in many other sectors, the Luxembourg government supports also new innovative technology in public transportation. We are happy to see that more and more cities are in fast pace moving towards sustainable transportation. Projects such as the multi-standard system push e-mobility further and contribute to a healthier, climate-and-environmentally-friendly society to preserve the quality of life for our citizens,” said Luxembourg’s Secretary of State of the Economy, Francine Closener.Luxembourg is making major efforts to switch sensitive lines that run across living areas and city centers, where pollution levels are critical, to sustainable solutions with reduced or zero emissions.“This project continues to support our forward-thinking approach in delivering innovative systems to the market that emphasize interoperability and the importance of open standards. We are proud to have been delivered this project together with Sales-Lentz for the future of Luxembourg. We are happy to see that transportation sector throughout Europe is turning further towards alternative forms of mobility and our reliable and robust innovations are well-received,” Koen van Haperen, Business Development Manager To amplify the change towards electromobility, Heliox has committed to anchor continuous innovation through its products and durable fast charging solutions that drive e-mobility. The new multi-standard charging system allows different e-buses independent of the interface they use for charging, to charge with one Heliox fast charger. This means that both the buses that follow the principles of Bus-Up and the buses that use the Oppcharge system use the same Heliox charger for their charging sessions and automatically switch from one to the other. ABB Hints At Big EV Bus Project – 35 Vehicles, 8 450 kW Chargers The Bus-Up is kind of a pantograph type, while OppCharge is inversed pantograph. If we end up adding a few other standards in Europe and U.S. plus the wireless charging standards, we feel the industry has a lot homework to do..embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } Source: Electric Vehicle News Multi-standard charging now hits electric busesThe war of charging standards for electric cars expanded to the electric buses in Europe and at least temporarily, the remedy for the ailment seems to be multi-standard charging stations.There are to two major (but not the only ones) overhead bus charging standards at the moment – OppCharge and the Bus-Up system. At first, there was only a single system (buses and stations) in the particular cities, but when at some point two incompatible standards will appear in one place or in one fleet, there is a need for a multi-standard charging stations (sort of CHAdeMO and CCS Combo in case of cars).Here is one of the first examples of such multi-standard charging station, provided by Heliox in Luxembourg for the Sales-Lentz. One Heliox OC charger allows electric buses to charge with different interfaces: Bus-Up and Oppcharge.Bus charging news Heliox Launches Europe’s Largest Opportunity & Depot Charging For Buses Heliox To Build Charging Infrastructure For EV Buses In Oslolast_img read more

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Issues To Consider From The BristolMyers Enforcement Action

first_imgThis recent post highlighted the SEC’s FCPA enforcement action against Bristol-Myers.This post continues the analysis by highlighting various issues to consider from the enforcement action.False and Misleading SEC ReleaseThe SEC routinely brings enforcement actions against companies for false and misleading public statements.Pardon me for being the stickler, but the first paragraph of the SEC’s press release announcing the Bristol-Myers action is false and misleading. It states:“The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that New York-based pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to settle charges that its joint venture in China made cash payments and provided other benefits to health care providers at state-owned and state-controlled hospitals in exchange for prescription sales.”The above is false and misleading because the only charges that the SEC brought against Bristol-Myers (BMS) were the following as stated in the SEC’s order:“BMS, through the actions of certain BMS China employees, violated [the FCPA’s books and records provisions] by falsely recording, as advertising and promotional expenses, cash payments and expenses for gifts, meals, travel, entertainment, speaker fees, and sponsorships for conferences and meetings provided to foreign officials, such as HCPs at state-owned and state-controlled hospitals as well as employees of state-owned pharmacies in China, to secure prescription sales. BMS also violated [the FCPA’s internal controls provisions] by failing to devise and maintain a system of internal accounting controls relating to payments and benefits provided by sales representatives at BMS China to these foreign officials.”No Allegations Regarding GermanyAs previously stated in Bristol-Myers disclosures, its FCPA scrutiny began in 2006 the following way.“In October 2006, the SEC informed the Company that it had begun a formal inquiry into the activities of certain of the Company’s German pharmaceutical subsidiaries and its employees and/or agents. The SEC’s inquiry encompasses matters formerly under investigation by the German prosecutor in Munich, Germany, which have since been resolved. The Company understands the inquiry concerns potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The Company has been cooperating with the SEC.In March 2012, the Company received a subpoena from the SEC issued in connection with its investigation under the FCPA, primarily relating to sales and marketing practices in various countries. In particular, the Company is investigating certain sales and marketing practices in China. The Company has been cooperating with the government in its investigation and is in discussions with the SEC regarding a potential settlement agreement that would result in a resolution of the SEC’s investigation. The Company believes it is fully reserved for this matter.”Given the above disclosure, it is notable that the Bristol-Myers enforcement action concerned conduct only in China. Granted, 2006 is a long time ago but the SEC has not shied away from “old” allegations in other FCPA enforcement actions and, as a practical matter, statute of limitations have little impact in corporate FCPA enforcement actions.Double StandardAt its core, the Bristol-Myers action focused on various things of value (such as gifts, meals, travel, entertainment, speaker fees, and sponsorships for conferences and meetings) provided to foreign physicians.Pardon me for saying this, but this happens all the time in the U.S. (See here and here for the most recent posts).Compliance Take-AwaysRegardless of the above, set forth below are certain compliance take-aways from the Bristol-Myers action:If a company is going to provide FCPA training to its employees (and companies most certainly should), the company needs to make sure the employees are actually taking the training.  The SEC’s order dings Bristol-Myers as follows: “[The] BMS sales force in China received limited training and much of it was inaccessible to a large number of sales representatives who worked in remote locations. For example, when BMS rolled out mandatory anti-bribery training in late 2009, 67% of employees in China failed to complete the training by the due date.”The use and abuse of employee reimbursement requests.  The SEC’s order dings Bristol-Myers as follows. “BMS lacked effective internal controls sufficient to provide reasonable assurances that funds advanced and reimbursed to employees of BMS China were used for appropriate and authorized purposes.”Boots on the ground.  The SEC’s order dings Bristol-Myers as follows. “The corporate compliance officer responsible for the Asia-Pacific region through 2012 was based in the U.S. and rarely traveled to China. There was no dedicated compliance officer for BMS China until 2008, and no permanent compliance position in China until 2010.”last_img read more

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Issues To Consider From The Sanofi Enforcement Action

first_img Learn More & Register This previous post highlighted the SEC’s $25.2 million FCPA enforcement action against Sanofi and this post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider.TimelineSanofi’s FCPA scrutiny began in mid-2014 (see this prior post). Thus, from start to finish, its scrutiny lasted approximately 4 years.At the risk of sounding like a broken record to regular readers … if the FCPA enforcement agencies want the public to have confidence in their FCPA enforcement programs, they must resolve instances of FCPA scrutiny much quicker. The validity and credibility of FCPA enforcement depends on this. Having FCPA scrutiny linger for over four years is inexcusable particularly since Sanofi, in the words of the SEC:“During the course of the investigation, [Sanofi] provided regular briefings regarding the facts developed in its internal investigation in Kazakhstan, Levant, and the Gulf, and with respect to other countries. [Sanofi] timely conveyed the facts it learned in the course of its investigation, including facts that the Commission would not have been able to readily and independently discover, produced and highlighted particularly relevant documents, promptly responded to additional requests by the Commission staff, and provided translations of documents as needed.”Invoking A Standard That Does Not Even ExistTo anyone who values the rule of law, it is troubling when an FCPA enforcement agency invokes a standard of liability that does not even exist under the FCPA.Yet once again, that is what the SEC did in the Sanofi enforcement action.In the words of the SEC, Sanofi violated the FCPA’s internal controls provisions “by failing to devise and maintain sufficient accounting controls to detect and prevent the making of improper payments to foreign officials.”Problem is, the invoked “detect or prevent” standard does not even exist in the FCPA!Rather, the FCPA’s internal controls provisions state that an issuer shall “devise and maintain a system of internal accounting controls sufficient to provide reasonable assurances that” certain financial objectives are met.The FCPA then defines  “reasonable assurances” and “reasonable detail” to “mean such level of detail and degree of assurance as would satisfy prudent officials in the conduct of their own affairs.”No-Charged Bribery DisgorgementThe Sanofi enforcement action is the latest example (of numerous prior examples) of the SEC seeking a disgorgement remedy in the absence of FCPA anti-bribery charges or findings. Specifically, the $25.2 million settlement amount, based on books and records and internal controls violations, consisted of the following: disgorgement of $17.5 million prejudgment interest of $2.7 million and a civil monetary penalty of $5 million.As highlighted in this previous post (and numerous prior posts thereafter), so-called no-charged bribery disgorgement is troubling.Among others, Paul Berger (here) (a former Associate Director of the SEC Division of Enforcement) has stated that “settlements invoking disgorgement but charging no primary anti-bribery violations push the law’s boundaries, as disgorgement is predicated on the common-sense notion that an actual, jurisdictionally-cognizable bribe was paid to procure the revenue identified by the SEC in its complaint.” Berger noted that such “no-charged bribery disgorgement settlements appear designed to inflict punishment rather than achieve the goals of equity.”Kokesh Only Matters to the Extent Companies Don’t Roll Over and Play DeadThe disgorgement amount in the Sanofi enforcement action was troubling for another reason.As highlighted here, in June 2017 the Supreme Court unanimously held in SEC v. Kokesh that disgorgement is a penalty and thus disgorgement actions must be commenced within five years of the date the claim accrues. However, as highlighted in this post, Kokesh, not to mention other Supreme Court decisions and other legal principles, only matter to the extent companies under FCPA scrutiny do not roll over and play dead.The bulk of the disgorgement amount in the Sanofi enforcement action appears to have been based on the conduct in Kazakhstan which, per the SEC’s order, occurred between 2007 and 2011. In other words, 7-11 years prior to the enforcement action.In short, Kokesh is not going to matter one bit if companies role over and play dead when under FCPA scrutiny and presumably Sanofi did what most companies under FCPA scrutiny do: either waive or toll statute of limitation defenses. As highlighted in this previous guest post from a former SEC Enforcement Division attorney and DOJ Fraud Section prosecutor, issuers simply need to stop doing this.Is the Post-Enforcement Action Reporting Truly Necessary?In the words of the SEC, Sanofi’s remedial efforts included the following:“Prior to the Commission’s investigation, Respondent had begun independently enhancing its compliance program by, among other things, developing a centralized compliance program, revamping its internal controls and procedures over HCP expenditures, increasing the number of its compliance officers globally, enhancing the operation of local compliance committees, and placing compliance personnel in high-risk local markets. Additionally, it enhanced its (1) policies governing interactions with HCPs and government officials, gifts, travel, meetings, congresses, contributions, and ISTs; (2) anti-corruption training, audits, and due diligence procedures for third-party agents; and (3) monitoring for certain Sanofi-sponsored events for HCPs. Respondent also reports that it has terminated 121 employees, including senior local business managers, accepted resignations from another 14 employees, and disciplined 49 employees.”Nevertheless, as a condition of settlement Sanofi is required to “report on the status of its remediation and implementation of compliance for a period of at least two years.” As stated in the order:“During this two-year period, Respondent shall conduct and prepare self reviews, as well as related follow-up, and submit written reports of the results, as set forth in the Compliance Program Review Plan (“Plan”) submitted with its Offer of Settlement and report to the Commission staff as outlined below:[Sanofi]] shall submit to the Commission staff a written report within six (6) months of the entry of this Order setting forth a complete description of its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and anti-corruption related remediation efforts to date, its proposals reasonably designed to improve the policies and procedures of [Company] for ensuring compliance with the FCPA and other applicable anticorruption laws, and the parameters of the subsequent reviews (the “Initial Self Report”). […][Sanofi] shall undertake two (2) follow up reviews (the “Follow up Self Reports”), incorporating any comments provided by the Commission staff on the previous report(s), and following up on matters identified in earlier reports, to further monitor and assess whether the policies and procedures of [Company] are reasonably designed to detect and prevent violations of the FCPA and other applicable anti-corruption laws.”Is post-enforcement action reporting truly necessary or yet another example of a government required transfer of shareholder wealth to FCPA Inc. (see here a prior post including additional posts embedded therein).Relevant to the Success IssueWith the FCPA turning 40, it is prudent to ask the salient question of whether the FCPA has been successful in achieving its objectives? (See here for a prior post and here for 25 minute video on the subject).The following statement from Charles Cain (SEC FCPA Unit Chief) in the SEC’s release is relevant to the above question.“Bribery in connection with pharmaceutical sales remains as a significant problem despite numerous prior enforcement actions involving the industry and life sciences more generally. While bribery risk can impact any industry, this matter illustrates that more work needs to be done to address the particular risks posed in the pharmaceutical industry.”Not the First TimeThis week’s FCPA enforcement action is not the first time Sanofi has resolved a bribery enforcement action. As highlighted here:“A German court convicted two former [Sanofi] employees of bribery … and slapped the French drugmaker with a €28 million ($39 million) fine […] According to Reuters, a Sanofi ($SNY) spokesman said an investigation of the former employees found that between 2007 and 2010 they had bribed a consultancy that advised one of the company’s clients–a pharmaceuticals dealer–in order to win more orders from that client. “Sanofi was unfairly given preference because of this,” he told the news service.”Distributor DiscountsThe Sanofi enforcement action is yet another involving so-called distributor discounts. The SEC explains in its order:“The funds paid to foreign officials were derived from discounts and credit notes extended to several distributors who colluded with senior managers to kick back funds to Sanofi employees in Kazakhstan which were then used to pay Kazakh officials.The scheme took several stages to execute. First, senior managers of Sanofi KZ identified to a distributor a public tender for pharmaceuticals that could be filled by Sanofi products. Second, the distributor submitted a bid for the public tender and, when awarded, notified Sanofi of its need to purchase products to fulfill the tender. Third, the sale price between Sanofi and the distributor included a pre-determined discount or credit note from the sale price between the distributor and the public institution. Fourth, from the amount of the discount or credit note, Sanofi and the distributor were able to designate a portion as the funds which were used to bribe Kazakh officials. Fifth, once the funds which were used to bribe Kazakh officials were earmarked, the distributor kicked back those funds to Sanofi employees who then delivered the illicit proceeds to Kazakh officials. The scheme typically involved providing a 20-30 percent discount to the distributors, a portion of which was then used as the funds from which bribes were paid to Kazakh officials. The funds kicked back to Sanofi employees were tracked in internal spreadsheets and referred to as “marzipans.”At the time, Sanofi had no standardized commercial policy for distributor discounts and did not review the discounts provided by local management.” FCPA Institute – Boston (Oct. 3-4) A unique two-day learning experience ideal for a diverse group of professionals seeking to elevate their FCPA knowledge and practical skills through active learning. Learn more, spend less. CLE credit is available.last_img read more

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Morning Roundup July 2 2019

first_imgShea Patterson made the most of his year at Michigan by making a lot of #bigtimethrows. pic.twitter.com/sEqYlompvL— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 28, 2019 Tags: morning roundup, Nico Collins, Shea Patterson DL Who’ll Win the Transfer Portal in 2019:Jon Greenard, Louisville FlaMike Danna, CMU MichTrevon Hill, VT MiaLamonte McDougle, WV WazzuShameik Blackshear, S Car TCUDarrion Daniels, Ok St NebrAntonneous Clayton, Fla GTAubrey Solomon, Mich Tenn— Rich Cirminiello (@RichCirminiello) July 1, 2019  1 0You need to login in order to vote Hit the jump for more.center_img Nico Collins (image via Twitter) 247 Sports looks at college football’s ten most underrated players, and Nico Collins made the list (LINK).last_img read more

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Sustained preoperative opioid use predicts continued use following surgical procedure

first_imgJun 8 2018Patients who take prescription opioids for a longer period before spinal surgery are more likely to continue using opioids several months after surgery, reports a study in the June 6, 2018, issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio in partnership with Wolters Kluwer. According to the new research, led by Andrew J. Schoenfeld, MD, MSc, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, nearly nine percent of patients were still taking opioids six months after spinal surgery, and duration of opioid use before surgery was the main risk factor for continued use.Sustained Preoperative Opioid Use Predicts Continued Use After Spine SurgeryUsing insurance claims data, the researchers identified more than 27,000 patients who underwent various types of lower (lumbar) spine surgery between 2006 and 2014. Most of the patients underwent removal of a spinal disc (discectomy) or spinal fusion (arthrodesis). Although the data came from the US Department of Defense’s Tricare insurance program, most of the patients in the study were civilians (such as retired military personnel or dependents of active-duty or retired personnel).Nearly all patients had at least some opioid exposure before spinal surgery. They were classified into four groups: Source:http://wolterskluwer.com/ After surgery, 67 percent of the patients stopped taking opioids within 30 days, and 86 percent discontinued opioids by 90 days. Six months after surgery, 8.8 percent of patients were still taking prescription opioids.Longer duration of opioid use before spinal surgery was an independent risk factor for continued use after surgery. After adjustment for other patient characteristics, the authors found that the likelihood of discontinuing opioid use within six months was 65 percent lower for patients in the “intermediate sustained” and 74 percent lower in the “chronic sustained” groups, compared to the “acute exposure” group. Somewhat surprisingly, even the patients who were “exposed” but not actively using opioids before surgery were 29 percent less likely than those in the “acute exposure” group to discontinue opioids after surgery.Related StoriesOpioids are major cause of pregnancy-related deaths in UtahTransobturator sling surgery shows promise for stress urinary incontinenceTen-fold rise in tongue-tie surgery for newborns ‘without any real strong data’Several other factors were associated with long-term opioid use after surgery: spinal fusion surgery, preoperative depression or anxiety, preoperative spinal fracture, a longer hospital stay, and junior enlisted rank (suggesting lower socioeconomic status).The ongoing opioid crisis in the United States has prompted increased attention to the use of pain medications prescribed before and after surgery. Previous opioid use has been linked to an increased risk of complications and adverse outcomes after spinal surgery. This new study focuses on how preoperative opioid use affects continued opioid use after lumbar spine surgery, and finds evidence of a “dose-response” effect: patients taking opioids for a longer period before surgery are less likely to discontinue opioid use after surgery.”Our results indicate that the majority of patients who are using prescription opioids prior to spine surgery discontinue these medications following surgical intervention,” Dr. Schoenfeld and coauthors write. However, because close to 1 out of 10 patients are still taking opioids at six months after spinal surgery, the researchers highlight the need for surgeons to recognize the “biopsychosocial” factors contributing to chronic opioid use.Since nearly all patients receive opioids before spinal surgery, Dr. Schoenfeld believes it’s “reasonable” for surgeons to discuss risk factors for sustained opioid use with patients at the time of surgery. He adds, “Expectation management – defining shared goals of post-surgical pain control and a suspense date when the surgeon and patient agree opioids should likely no longer be necessary – could go a long way toward smoothing the opioid cessation process following surgery.”​​center_img Exposed: 60 percent had used opioids in the past, but were not actively using them at the time of surgery. Acute exposure: 34 percent had their first opioid prescription within one month before surgery. Intermediate sustained use: two percent had uninterrupted opioid use for less than six months before surgery. Chronic sustained use: three percent had uninterrupted opioid use for six months or longer before surgery.last_img read more

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Scientists use stem cells to uncover why the Zika virus is so

first_img Source:FSU research: Zika suppresses virus-fighting cells If you understand how [the Zika virus is able to] cross these barriers, then you can develop more effective countermeasures to protect people.”Professor Hengli Tang, Florida State University By Sally Robertson, B.Sc.Jul 5 2018Researchers from Florida State University have made an important discovery about the Zika virus that could lead to the development of more effective measures to protect people. Image Credit: Tacio Philip Sansonovski / ShutterstockProfessor Hengli Tang and colleagues compared the Zika virus  to the Dengue virus. Initially, the two viruses appear to be very similar; they are both transmitted by mosquitoes and their genetic material is organized in a similar way. However, Zika is far more effective at penetrating barriers to infection.Related StoriesStudy reveals how dengue virus replicates in infected cellsResearchers succeed in conquering chronic infection with hepatitis B virusVirus employs powerful strategy to inhibit natural killer cell functionTang and team wanted to find out whether Zika manages to reach more sites in the body than Dengue does because it is better at spreading throughout the body. To test this, they grew macrophages from stem cells and then exposed them to either the Zika virus or the Dengue virus.As reported in the journal Stem Cell Reports, the researchers found that Zika is unique in that it circulates throughout the body rather than becoming immobilized like most viruses do.The virus achieves this by “hitching a ride on macrophages to other parts of the body,” says Tang.Usually, macrophages circulating in the bloodstream migrate to an infection site to fight a virus once it has invaded.When the researchers measured the mobility of the macrophages on glass slides, they found that cells infected with Dengue were effectively immobilized and stayed in one place while they fought the infection.Zika-laden macrophages, on the other hand, continued to migrate.In a mammal, the macrophages infected with Zika would have continued circulating in the blood stream, says Tang, which may be why Zika is so effective.The question now is whether the Zika virus also uses the macrophages to cross the placenta barrier, the blood-brain barrier and the testicular barrier.last_img read more

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Researchers create vaccine that protects against malaria in mouse models

first_imgJul 13 2018A Yale-led team of researchers have created a vaccine that protects against malaria infection in mouse models, paving the way for the development of a human vaccine that works by targeting the specific protein that parasites use to evade the immune system. The study was published by Nature Communications.Malaria is the second leading cause of infectious disease worldwide, and took more than a half million lives in 2013. To date, no completely effective vaccine exists, and infected individuals only develop partial immunity against disease symptoms. In a prior study, senior author Richard Bucala, M.D. described a unique protein produced by malaria parasites, Plasmodium macrophage migration inhibitory factor (PMIF), which suppresses memory T cells, the infection-fighting cells that respond to threats and protect the body against reinfection.In the new study, Bucala and his co-authors collaborated with Novartis Vaccines, Inc. to test an RNA-based vaccine designed to target PMIF. First, using a strain of the malaria parasite with PMIF genetically deleted, they observed that mice infected with that strain developed memory T cells and showed stronger anti-parasite immunity.Next, the research team used two mouse models of malaria to test the effectiveness of a vaccine using PMIF. One model had early-stage liver infection from parasites carried by mosquitos, and the other, a severe, late-stage blood infection. In both models, the vaccine protected against reinfection. As a final test, the researchers transferred memory T cells from the immunized mice to “naïve” mice never exposed to malaria. Those mice were also protected.The research shows, first, that PMIF is critical to the completion of the parasite life cycle because it ensures transmission to new hosts, said the scientists, noting it also demonstrates the effectiveness of the anti-PMIF vaccine.Related StoriesStudy shows how the mosquito immune system combats malaria parasitesNanotechnology-based compound used to deliver hepatitis B vaccineUM scientists receive $3.3 million NIH contract to develop opioid addiction vaccine”If you vaccinate with this specific protein used by the malaria parasite to evade an immune response, you can elicit protection against re-infection,” said Bucala. “To our knowledge, this has never been shown using a single antigen in fulminant blood-stage infection.”The next step for the research team is to develop a vaccine for individuals who have never had malaria, primarily young children. “The vaccine would be used in children so that they would already have an immune response to this particular malaria product, and when they became infected with malaria, they would have a normal T cell response, clear the parasite, and be protected from future infection,” he stated.The researchers also noted that because the PMIF protein has been conserved by evolution in different malaria strains and targets a host pathway, it would be virtually impossible for the parasite to develop resistance to this vaccine. Numerous other parasitic pathogens also produce MIF-like proteins, said the scientists, suggesting that this approach may be generalizable to other parasitic diseases — such as Leishmaniasis, Hookworm, and Filariais — for which no vaccines exist.Other authors are Alvaro Baeza Garcia, Edwin Siu, Tiffany Sun, Valerie Exler, Luis Brito, Armin Hekele, Gib Otten, Kevin Augustijn, Chris J. Janse, Jeff Ulmer, Ju?rgen Bernhagen, Erol Fikrig, and Andrew Geall.This work was funded by National Institutes of Health grants and Novartis Vaccines, Inc.Yale University and Novartis AG have filed a joint patent application describing the potential utility of a PMIF encoding RNA replicon. R.B. and A.G. are co-inventors on this application. Source:https://news.yale.edu/2018/07/13/yale-researchers-identify-target-novel-malaria-vaccinelast_img read more

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College students may experience pressures from secondary exposure to opioid abuse

first_imgAug 13 2018About one in five college students reported in a survey that they knew someone who was addicted to pain medications, and nearly a third said they knew somebody who overdosed on painkillers or heroin, according to a team of undergraduate Penn State Lehigh Valley researchers.This secondary exposure to opioid abuse may shine a light on the collateral damage that is often left out of the current debate about the epidemic, said Jennifer Parker, associate professor of sociology, Penn State Lehigh Valley.”Since the beginning of the opioid epidemic, public debate and prevention strategies have focused on the primary victims, misusers themselves, while surprisingly little attention has been paid to the burdens felt and experienced by those who are intimately or socially tied to them,” said Parker, who advised the group of researchers presenting at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting today (Aug. 11) in Philadelphia.According to the researchers, most of the 118 students who completed a survey admitted that they had been in some way exposed to people who misuse drugs and alcohol. Of those, 20.5 percent said they currently know someone who is addicted to pain medication. About 32.5 percent said they knew somebody who overdosed on either painkillers or heroin.Erica Hughes, an undergraduate student in Health Policy Administration, added about 15 percent of the students reported worrying that someone they knew may be misusing pain medication.”I was surprised by how many students report close ties to people who are addicted to or have overdosed on opioids,” Hughes said. “It makes me sad to think that so many are carrying around this worry because being a student in today’s world is already hard enough.”Hughes added that dealing with issues connected to their exposure to the effects of opioid abuse may be particularly difficult for college students. Many college students already face increased pressure from rising tuition costs and student debt, along with fears about the job market, she added.Related StoriesDynamic Light Scattering measurements in concentrated solutionsPatients taking opioids for chronic pain could face health care access problemsSleep quality and fatigue among women with premature ovarian insufficiencyAmanda Borges, a 2018 graduate in Health Policy Administration, said that the findings might raise awareness about the extent of the opioid crisis and offer insight into better ways to address it.”The general public should know how devastating this crisis has been and how it impacts all communities and social classes including college students,” said Borges.Gathering information on all aspects of the opioid crisis may help better allocate resources to help communities, added Kirsten Mears, also a 2018 graduate in Health Policy Administration.”The more we know, the better we are able to help and identify how particular communities, especially our poorest, may have certain disadvantages in this epidemic because of lesser resources and lack of health insurance,” said Mears.According to the researchers, gender may also play a role in how college students report their exposures to the opioid problem. For example, women were twice as likely to report having intimate ties to those who misuse or overdose on opioids, the researchers said.Shanice Clark and a team of 15 undergraduate students in Health Policy Administration also contributed to the study.The researchers collected data from surveys filled out by students at a university in a region particularly hard hit by the opioid crisis.Of the approximate 130 surveys were passed out, participants completed 122. Of those, the researchers determined that 118 surveys were both completed and valid.The researchers said that future research should look at whether secondary exposure to opioids impacts the students’ mental and physical health, as well as their academic performance. Source:https://news.psu.edu/story/530673/2018/08/11/research/college-students-may-face-pressures-opioid-epidemics-secondarylast_img read more

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Physicists observe weird quantum fluctuations of empty space—maybe

first_imgFor example, the virtual photons flitting in and out of existence produce a randomly fluctuating electric field. In 1947, physicists found that the field shifts the energy levels of an electron inside a hydrogen atom and hence the spectrum of radiation the atom emits. A year later, Dutch theorist Hendrik Casimir predicted that the field would also exert a subtle force on two closely spaced metal plates, squeezing them together. That’s because the electric field must vanish on the plates’ surfaces, so only certain wavelike ripples of the electric field can fit between the plates. In contrast, more ripples can push on the plates from the outside, exerting a net force. The Casimir effect was observed in 1997.But now, Claudius Riek, Alfred Leitenstorfer, and colleagues at the University of Konstanz in Germany say they have directly observed those electric field fluctuations by charting their influence on a light wave. The experiment riffs on a technique they developed to study a longer light pulse with a much shorter one by shooting them simultaneously through a crystal (see diagram). The longer “pump” pulse is polarized horizontally, meaning that the electric field in it oscillates sideways. The shorter “probe” pulse starts out polarized vertically. However, the properties of the crystal depend on the electric field in it, so the pump beam causes the polarization of the probe beam to change and emerge from the crystal tracing an elliptical pattern. By adjusting the timing of the pulses, researchers can use the polarization effect to map out the wiggles in the electric field in the pump wave.But vacuum fluctuations themselves will affect the crystal and hence the polarization of the probe pulse, Leitensdorfer says. So to measure the fluctuations of the vacuum field, “we only put in the probe pulse, nothing else.” On average the polarization of the lone probe pulse remained vertical. But over many repeated trials, it varied slightly, and that noise was the sign of the vacuum fluctuations, the team says.Spotting the effect is no mean feat, as the polarization also varies because of random variation in the number of photons in each pulse, or “shot noise.” To tease the two apart, the physicists vary the duration and width of the pulse, but not the number of photons in it. The shot noise should stay constant, whereas the noise from quantum fluctuations should shrink as the pulses become bigger. The researchers saw a change of a few percent in the noise, an effect they attribute to vacuum fluctuations.Some physicists question what the new experiment actually measures, however. The researchers assume that fluctuating optical properties of the crystal reflect the vacuum fluctuations, says Steve Lamoreaux, a physicist at Yale University and one of the first to observe the Casimir effect. But the variations in the crystal’s optical properties could have some other source, such as thermal fluctuations, he says. “The material properties will fluctuate on their own,” he says, so “how does one attribute these fluctuations to the vacuum alone?”Moreover, Leitenstorfer’s group is not the first to directly probe such fluctuations. In 2011, Christopher Wilson, a physicist now at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and colleagues reported in Nature that they had pumped up vacuum fluctuations and turned them into real photons. In principle, that can be done by accelerating a mirror back and forth at near light speed. Wilson used a more practical analog: a system in in which the effective length of a small superconducting cavity could be changed electronically. Leitenstorfer notes that the new experiment differs from Wilson’s in that it does not require amplifying the fluctuations. Wilson responds, “While I agree that that’s a difference, I don’t think that it’s fundamental.”Leitenstorfer contends that the new work makes a qualitative advance over previous efforts. “We clearly have gone a significant step further in comparison to anybody else by directly measuring the electric field amplitude of the vacuum as it fluctuates in space and time,” he says. Others seem less certain about that. 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Emailcenter_img Empty space is anything but, according to quantum mechanics: Instead, it roils with quantum particles flitting in and out of existence. Now, a team of physicists claims it has measured those fluctuations directly, without disturbing or amplifying them. However, others say it’s unclear exactly what the new experiment measures—which may be fitting for a phenomenon that originates in quantum mechanics’ famous uncertainty principle.”There are many experiments that have observed indirect effects of vacuum fluctuations,” says Diego Dalvit, a theorist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico who was not involved in the current work. “If this [new experiment] is correct, it would be the first direct observation of the field [of fluctuations] itself.”Thanks to the uncertainty principle, the vacuum buzzes with particle-antiparticle pairs popping in and out of existence. They include, among many others, electron-positron pairs and pairs of photons, which are their own antiparticles. Ordinarily, those “virtual” particles cannot be directly captured. But like some spooky Greek chorus, they exert subtle influences on the “real” world. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img read more

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Lizard racing stripes redirect predator attacks

first_imgWhen you take a look at a five-lined skink, its tail is probably the first thing to grab your eye. If so, you wouldn’t be alone: Predators are also attracted to its bright blue color, and they tend to attack these bright tails more than other body parts. That’s a good thing for the skink, because lizards can drop their tails when in danger and regrow them later. Now, new research shows that the lines running along the body of the five-lined skink—and similar color patterns in lizards around the world—may also redirect predator attacks by making the lizards appear slower than they actually are.Scientists have long thought that bright stripes in nature may function as optical illusions, helping animals avoid attacks by messing up how predators perceive motion. The explanation is one of many that researchers have used to explain the stripes of zebras. And it has even made its way into the military: Allied ships in World War I were painted with disorienting black-and-white stripes in an attempt to avoid torpedo strikes. But the evidence for whether this so-called “motion dazzle” works—in nature or in war—has been mixed.So Gopal Murali, an evolutionary biologist at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthapuram, decided to look at how such stripes might function in lizards, many of which sport racing stripes similar to the five-lined skink. But instead of traipsing into the woods to find animals that prey on lizards, he and his colleague turned to another kind of predator: graduate students. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email 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 “Humans are fantastic because you can tell them what to do and you can get a lot of them very easily,” says Anna Hughes, a visual ecologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, who wasn’t involved with the study.Using a touch screen computer game that rendered lizards as patterned rectangles zipping across a screen, the team asked the students to attack (or, in this case, click) the front half, which was covered in either stripes or blotches. When the front half was striped, they were 25% less likely to hit their target. That difference disappeared when the stripes were on the back half instead, the team reports today in Royal Society Open Science.To explain the phenomenon, the authors created a second game in which participants were asked to compare the speeds of two virtual lizards—one with stripes and one with blotches. If subjects said that one lizard was faster than the other, the game started over, with the “faster” lizard slowed down ever so slightly. That process repeated until subjects thought the two lizards were moving at the same speed. In reality, they weren’t: By the end of the experiment, the striped lizards were moving 5% faster on average. That shows that lizards with striped patterns “are perceived to move slower,” Murali says.Together, the two games show how these stripes might work in nature. If a bird goes in for the kill but underestimates a skink’s speed, it will come up with nothing but a mouthful of disembodied tail—and the skink will live another day.“They took a really interesting, innovative approach to asking a question that … a lot of people who are interested in lizard ecology have,” says Christian Cox, an evolutionary biologist at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. And now that there’s some solid evidence for why so many lizards have these stripes, it opens up all kinds of new questions, he says, along with providing a basis for future work with more natural predators.The study may also provide some direction for researchers who study “motion dazzle” using computer simulations. Such tests often just compare striped objects and nonstriped objects without a specific organism in mind, Hughes says. A focus on the specific patterns and lifestyles of one group of animals “is something the field has really been missing”—which may account for the mixed results the field has found so far. It may be that researchers were trying to find simple explanations for phenomena that, in nature, have lots of different functions in different animal groups.Murali himself has big plans for exploring the idea further. One of his ongoing studies looks at the role body size might play in the illusion. Another study looking at lizard family trees will test whether these patterns might play a role in evolution on a larger scale: By giving lizards protection as they move around, stripes may allow them to explore different habitats, increasing the speed at which new species appear.last_img read more

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Volcanic fumes warn of imminent eruptions

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 Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Last month, researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico hoped to reach the top of Popocatépetl, a 5400-meter-tall volcano near Mexico City, to install monitoring equipment at its summit crater. But El Popo, as locals call it, rebuffed them with ash and belches of acrid gas—precisely what the scientists wanted to measure. They settled for installing the sensor lower down the mountain, and hope to move it higher next year. The goal is to measure just what—and how much—El Popo has been smoking, because the fumes may hold a promising way to forecast eruptions.A growing body of monitoring data suggests that a sharp jump in the ratio of carbon to sulfur gases emanating from a volcano can provide days to weeks of warning before an impending outburst. The latest evidence comes from three recent studies, focusing on volcanoes monitored as part of the Volcano Deep Earth Carbon Degassing (DECADE) initiative. They offer hope that geochemical monitoring of gases could someday join the two geophysical mainstays of forecasting: tracking the swelling of Earth’s surface and the rise in earthquakes that typically precede eruptions. “It’s statistically robust as a forecasting tool,” says Tobias Fischer, a volcanologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and chair of the DECADE project.The idea of sniffing out restlessness in volcanic fumes has been around for decades. For instance, a sharp rise in sulfur emissions helped scientists anticipate the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. Scientists have also keyed in on the carbon-to-sulfur (C-S) ratio in volcanic gases as a particularly helpful metric. In principle, it can signal when a fresh injection of magma is rising from deep in the crust—a prelude to an eruption. A whiff of future eruptions Spikes in gas ratios occur just days before eruptions at Turrialba, a volcano in Costa Rica. Atonaltzin/iStockphoto (Graphic) J. You/Science; (Data) Turmoil at Turrialba volcano (Costa Rica), Maarten de Moor et al., 2016 Popocatépetl, a volcano near Mexico City, may warn of its eruptions in its gassy belches. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The ratio changes because carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolved in rising magma bubbles out at depths of 10 kilometers or more, as the pressure drops. Sulfur-rich gases, in contrast, stay in solution up to shallower depths. A spike in the ratio can thus provide warning that a new batch of magma has risen above a deep threshold. A subsequent drop in the C-S ratio could indicate that the magma has climbed further, to depths where sulfur gases are released, but Fischer says this hasn’t been observed enough to be reliable. Volcanic fumes warn of imminent eruptions By Julia RosenNov. 21, 2016 , 12:00 PM Despite the simple mechanism, establishing a clear link between the ratios and eruptions requires constant monitoring. Historically, researchers just bottled a few gas samples during a visit to a volcano or used airplanes or remote-sensing tools to watch a volcano for several days or weeks, says Christoph Kern, a physicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Vancouver, Washington. Either way, Kern says, it was hard to catch an eruption in the act.But that changed in the early 2000s, when scientists began to develop new devices that could be left on volcanoes to make continuous measurements and transmit the data to researchers. They were solar powered, hardy enough to survive the elements, and cheap enough to risk sacrificing in an eruption. “They’re essentially expendable,” says Marie Edmonds, a volcanologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.Italian scientists were the first to deploy these instruments at volcanoes like Etna and Stromboli, and they began to notice changes in the C-S ratio in the days and hours prior to eruptions. Since then, U.S. and Japanese geologists have installed instruments at a handful of volcanoes in those countries, and the DECADE project has added them at nine more around the world, including El Popo. Overall, changes in C-S gas ratios seem to be a powerful portent, Fischer says. “Now, we’re seeing it at many different volcanoes.”Perhaps the clearest illustration comes from Turrialba in Costa Rica, a volcano that poses a threat to the city of San José, 30 kilometers to the west. Maarten de Moor, a researcher at the Volcanic and Seismic Observatory of Costa Rica, helped install gas sensors on Turrialba in early 2014, just in time for the volcano to start erupting. He led a study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in August, reporting sharp increases in the C-S ratio of gases a few weeks before each outburst over two eruption cycles (see chart, above). “What we’ve seen is quite mind-blowing,” he says. “These signals are eye-opening.”But for monitoring gas ratios to become a widely used forecasting tool, researchers will need to understand many complicating factors, says Clive Oppenheimer, a volcanologist at the University of Cambridge. “The interpretation of gas chemistry, particularly for the purposes of forecasting, is not an exact science,” he says. “Very far from it.”At Turrialba, for instance, there were different sulfur gases in the mix. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas from the magma interacted with underground water to produce hydrogen sulfide during the first eruptive episode, but not the second. De Moor says these observations could indicate that the water eventually boiled off, or that new volcanic conduits formed, bypassing the water reservoirs. At Poás, another Costa Rican volcano, the summit crater contains an acid lake that normally absorbs the SO2 percolating through it but allows the CO2 to pass through unimpeded—keeping the C-S ratio relatively high even when an eruption isn’t imminent. But DECADE’s monitoring efforts have revealed that, in the days before an eruption at Poás, the emissions of sulfur gases spike, exceeding the lake’s ability to scrub out the sulfur and causing the C-S ratio to plummet. It’s the opposite signal from the one seen at places like Etna and Turrialba, but it’s equally reliable, Fischer says. Satellites could theoretically help researchers monitor many of the world’s 550 historically active volcanoes from orbit. Instruments aboard NASA’s Terra satellite, for instance, can already measure volcanic sulfur emissions reasonably well. But researchers are still working to measure SO2 and CO2 at the same time, and measuring point sources of CO2 is challenging because of high background levels in the atmosphere. Even a big CO2 burp from a volcano only increases the concentration measured by satellites by less than a percent, says Florian Schwandner, a geochemist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. For now, the scientists who want to explore the forecasting power of the C-S ratio must wait for ground-based monitors to capture more eruptions. And maintaining these sensors can be a hassle, De Moor says. Even small dustings of ash can cover up solar panels or damage electronics. That’s what caused a sensor on Turrialba to stop transmitting data in May, forcing De Moor to visit once a week to download it in person—sometimes in dangerous conditions. But he says he’s always careful, and tries to remember a bit of wisdom passed down from Fischer, his Ph.D. supervisor, about taking risks in the name of science. “You are going to make more contributions if you actually survive this.”*Correction, 23 November, 4:17 p.m.: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated that the Carnegie Institutions for Science manages DECADE. In fact, DECADE is a program run by the Deep Carbon Observatory, an international effort led by Carnegie.last_img read more

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Meet the mammals that soared through Jurassic skies

first_img Tens of millions of years before bats took wing, tiny mammals were gliding from tree to tree in what is now eastern China, new fossils suggest. The fossilized remains of two species include traces of fur as well as hints of skin membranes used to parachute from one perch to another. Those membranes apparently stretched down to the wrists and ankles of each species, a configuration similar to that seen in many of today’s “flying” mammals. One of the animals (artist’s concept, above) was about the size of the modern-day flying squirrels of North America, the researchers report today in Nature. The scientists have dubbed that creature Maiopatagium, from the Latin for “mother with skin membrane.” Fossils of the other new species, found in rocks of a similar age a few dozen kilometers away, suggest that creature—dubbed Vilevolodon, roughly from the Latin for “toothed glider”—was about as large as a midsized mouse. The long digits on both species’ feet suggest that they were strong climbers and may have even been able to roost while hanging beneath limbs or on rocks, as modern-day bats do. Although these flying mammals may have supplemented their diet with insects, they likely fed mostly on the soft parts of ferns, gingkoes, and other vegetation; the flowers, fruits, and seeds that are favorite foods of some modern-day gliders didn’t evolve until long after Maiopatagium and Vilevolodon lived, the researchers note. Meet the mammals that soared through Jurassic skies By Sid PerkinsAug. 9, 2017 , 1:00 PMlast_img read more

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Artificial intelligence can evolve to solve problems

first_img By Matthew HutsonJan. 11, 2018 , 8:00 AM Artificial intelligence can ‘evolve’ to solve problems The most novel Uber paper uses a completely different approach that tries many solutions at once. A large collection of randomly programmed neural networks is tested (on, say, an Atari game), and the best are copied, with slight random mutations, replacing the previous generation. The new networks play the game, the best are copied and mutated, and so on for several generations. The advantage of this method over gradient descent is that it tries a variety of strategies instead of putting all its effort into perfecting a single solution. When compared with two of the most widely used methods for training neural networks, this exploratory approach outscored them on five of 13 Atari games. It also managed to teach a virtual humanoid robot to walk, developing a neural network a hundred times larger than any previously developed through neuroevolution to control a robot. Clune says the fact that the exploratory algorithm worked on such large networks was “eye-popping,” because millions of connections were being randomly mutated simultaneously. Further, he was surprised that their very basic “vanilla” version of the exploratory algorithm beat the industry-standard algorithms. That means researchers should be able to enhance it in a variety of ways. In fact, when they combined it with two techniques to improve its evolutionary selection process—one of which they invented and report in a companion paper—it showed big jumps in performance. In one case, it reached the end of a maze as three comparison algorithms—all using gradient descent—remained stuck in dead ends. 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 Emailcenter_img Many great ideas in artificial intelligence languish in textbooks for decades because we don’t have the computational power to apply them. That’s what happened with neural networks, a technique inspired by our brains’ wiring that has recently succeeded in translating languages and driving cars. Now, another old idea—improving neural networks not through teaching, but through evolution—is revealing its potential. Five new papers from Uber in San Francisco, California, demonstrate the power of so-called neuroevolution to play video games, solve mazes, and even make a simulated robot walk.Neuroevolution, a process of mutating and selecting the best neural networks, has previously led to networks that can compose music, control robots, and play the video game Super Mario World. But these were mostly simple neural nets that performed relatively easy tasks or relied on programming tricks to simplify the problems they were trying to solve. “The new results show that—surprisingly—you may actually not need any tricks at all,” says Kenneth Stanley, a computer scientist at Uber and a co-author on all five studies. “That means that complex problems requiring a large network are now accessible to neuroevolution, vastly expanding its potential scope of application.”At Uber, such applications might include driving autonomous cars, setting customer prices, or routing vehicles to passengers. But the team, part of a broad research effort, had no specific uses in mind when doing the work. In part, they merely wanted to challenge what Jeff Clune, another Uber co-author, calls “the modern darlings” of machine learning: algorithms that use something called “gradient descent,” a system that gradually improves a solution by reducing its error. Nearly all methods of training neural networks to perform tasks rely on gradient descent. 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 The other three Uber papers built on a pseudoevolutionary approach advanced by the San Francisco–based nonprofit OpenAI last year. OpenAI used the algorithm (which approximates gradient descent) to create networks that could master Atari games such as Pong and Skiing. The Uber team’s versions improved on it in a few ways, and provided insights into how the original version worked.Risto Miikkulainen, Stanley’s Ph.D. adviser and a computer scientist at the University of Texas in Austin and Sentient Technologies in San Francisco, says he’s “pretty excited” about the success of the exploratory algorithm, which was not simple to scale up. Tim Salimans, one of the computer scientists behind OpenAI’s algorithm, says that for solving tough problems, the exploratory algorithm “definitely adds one additional option to the mix.” All of the researchers suggested that going forward, the best solutions might involve hybrids of existing techniques, which each have unique strengths. Evolution is good for finding diverse solutions, and gradient descent is good for refining them. With the new tools offered by the OpenAI and Uber papers, Clune says 2017 will be seen as an “inflection point” for neuroevolution.last_img read more

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Gum disease–causing bacteria could spur Alzheimers

first_img 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 A new study finds evidence that a pathogen involved in gum disease can be found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. S. Dominy et al., Science Advances 5, (2019) β-amyloid (green) and tooth bacteria toxins called gingipains (red) in brain tissue from an Alzheimer’s patient 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 Working with labs in Europe, the United States, New Zealand, and Australia, the Cortexyme team confirmed earlier reports that P. gingivalis can be found in the brains of deceased people with Alzheimer’s, and they detected the microbe’s DNA in living patients’ spinal fluid. In more than 90% of the more than 50 Alzheimer’s brain samples, they also spotted toxic enzymes produced by the bacteria called gingipains. Brains with more gingipains had higher quantities of the Alzheimer’s-linked proteins tau and ubiquitin. Even the brains of roughly 50 deceased, apparently dementia-free elderly people selected as controls often had lower levels of both gingipains and the proteins indicating Alzheimer’s pathology. That early appearance is important, Lynch says, because “you would expect it to be there before the onset” of symptoms.To explore whether the bacteria were causing disease, the team swabbed the gums of healthy mice with P. gingivalis every other day for 6 weeks to establish an infection. They later detected the bacteria in the animals’ brains, along with dying neurons and higher than normal levels of β-amyloid protein. In a lab dish, the gingipains—whose job is to chop up proteins—damaged tau, a regularly occurring brain protein that forms tangles in people with Alzheimer’s. In the brain, this protein damage may spur the formation of tangles, they say. Gum disease–causing bacteria could spur Alzheimer’s Giving the mice a drug that binds gingipains cleared P. gingivalis from the brain better than a common antibiotic, and it reduced the β-amyloid production and resulting neurodegeneration. Targeting gingipains likely works by cutting off nutrients and other molecules that the enzyme supplies to the bacteria, Dominy says. In initial tests with human volunteers, a similar drug seemed safe and showed signs of improving cognition in nine participants with Alzheimer’s, the company says. A larger study is slated to start this year.Although the paper refers to “evidence for causation,” Dominy goes a step further and says the experiments suggest “P. gingivalis is causing Alzheimer’s.” He and Lynch note that a study published in PLOS ONE in October 2018 by a team at the University of Illinois in Chicago also found that an oral infection with P. gingivalis can cause amyloid buildup and neurodegeneration in the brains of mice.The Cortexyme study is “the largest to date” to find P. gingivalis in Alzheimer’s brains, and it “is clearly very comprehensively approached,” says neurologist James Noble of Columbia University, who has studied the link between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s. “These are strange ideas, but they seem to be getting some traction.”Other pathogens have been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, including spirochete bacteria, which can cause Lyme disease, and some herpesviruses. Moir and Rudolph Tanzi at MGH have shown that β-amyloid in the brain appears to protect mice from bacterial and viral infections by trapping the invaders. Too much of this protective response to pathogens could trigger the buildup of the disease’s signature amyloid plaques, they suggest.Moir thinks P. gingivalis is likely one of a variety of pathogens that contribute to the β-amyloid buildup and neuroinflammation. But he’s skeptical that the bacteria or its toxin directly cause Alzheimer’s. That’s partly because other recent studies that have explored the link with periodontal disease have not always found it in people with Alzheimer’s.Howard Fillit, a neuroscientist and chief science officer at the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation in New York City, is more impressed. “They did a lot of different experiments to build the case that gingipains are a drug target in Alzheimer’s disease,” he says. “I think it’s worth pursuing, and I’m glad they’re in a clinical trial.”If the findings hold up, do they mean that everyone with gum disease—nearly 50% of the U.S. adult population—will develop Alzheimer’s? Not necessarily. But if healthy people want to stay on the safe side and potentially reduce their risk, Noble says, “the main conclusion we still have is: brush and floss.” Email By Jocelyn KaiserJan. 23, 2019 , 2:00 PM iStock.com/bernardbodo Poor oral health is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. What’s not clear is whether gum disease causes the disorder or is merely a result—many patients with dementia can’t take care of their teeth, for example. Now, a privately sponsored study has confirmed that the bacteria that cause gum disease are present in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, not just in their mouths. The study also finds that in mice, the bacteria trigger brain changes typical of the disease.The provocative findings are the latest in a wave of research suggesting microbial infections may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. But even some scientists who champion that once-fringy notion aren’t convinced that Porphyromonas gingivalis, the species fingered in the new study, is behind the disorder. “I’m fully on board with the idea that this microbe could be a contributing factor. I’m much less convinced that [it] causes Alzheimer’s disease,” says neurobiologist Robert Moir of the Harvard University–affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, whose work suggests the β-amyloid protein that forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients is a protective response to microbial invaders.The new study, published today in Science Advances, was sponsored by the biotech startup Cortexyme Inc. of South San Francisco, California. Co-founder Stephen Dominy is a psychiatrist who in the 1990s became intrigued by the idea that Alzheimer’s could have an infectious cause. At the time, he was treating people with HIV at the University of California, San Francisco. Some had HIV-related dementia that resolved after they got antiviral drugs. Dominy began a side project looking for P. gingivalis in brain tissue from deceased patients with Alzheimer’s, and—after his work found hints—started the company with entrepreneur Casey Lynch, who had studied Alzheimer’s as a graduate student.last_img read more

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Maleah Davis Mother Not Sure About Abuse

first_imgBREAKING: missing 4YO Maleah Davis was removed from her home in August by CPS. They tell us it was due to allegations of physical abuse, related to Maleah’s head injury, which required several brain surgeries. She was returned home in Feb. @abc13houston pic.twitter.com/jiAq1E6XVU— Shelley Childers (@shelleyabc13) May 6, 2019Watch the interview below: A$AP Rocky Being In A Swedish Prison Will Not Stop Her From Going To The Country That Showed Her ‘So Much Love’ Brittany Bowens , Derion Vence , Maleah Davis Jesse Jackson Demands ‘Justice Now’ At EJ Bradford’s Moving Funeral Ceremony More By NewsOne Staff When asked about Maleah’s brain injury from the alleged abuse, Bowens attempted to explain herself and fumbled out.“All I know is when she fell…,” she said. Bowens’ representation then cut her off because it was “CPS stuff,” referring to Texas Child Protective Services, the agency that reportedly removed Maleah from the home because of abuse.When Bowens was also asked whether she did enough to “protect Maleah” from abuse in her home, she gave a curious answer.“I’m not sure, I was always home,” Bowens responded.Texas Child Protective Services reportedly removed Maleah from Bowens’ home last year “due to allegations of physical abuse” that “required several surgeries,” ABC reporter Shelley Childers tweeted earlier this month. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Braford Jr. Investigators were reportedly focusing their search on the on a rural area of Rosharon, where Vence once had a mail route, according to KITV. However, Texas Equusearch founder Tim Miller has said he was losing hope in finding the 4-year-old. “I certainly hope it’s not a dumpster. If it’s a dumpster, it’s over,” he said. “I don’t think she’ll ever be found.”He also said, “I have my fears now that Maleah may never be found but I had that with Kaylee Anthony too, and five months later she was found. So as long as calls keep coming in, we’ll keep going out.”There has been speculation that Bowens may have something to do with her daughter’s disappearance. Miller said Vence has spoken about how he would murder someone and where he would dump the body. Miller said Bowens confirmed that was true.Vence originally told Sgt. Mark Holbrook of the Houston Police Department’s Homicide Division that he, Maleah and his two-year-old son were on their way to George Bush Intercontinental Airport Friday night to pick up Maleah’s mother, who was flying in from Massachusetts. Vence said he heard a “popping noise” and pulled over. He said a blue pickup truck pulled up behind his vehicle and two Hispanic males got out and hit him in the head. He said he lost consciousness and woke up at 6 p.m. the next day. He said Maleah was missing but his son was still there. Vence claimed he then walked to a hospital, received treatment and then reported Maleah as missing. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisMoreShare to EmailEmailEmail A missing four-year-old girl’s stepfather remained the sole “person of interest” as authorities were searching for Maleah Davis in and around Houston. Derion Vence, 26, was in custody after his arrest earlier this week.However, there were still questions about whether her mother, Brittany Bowens, was being completely forthcoming. Bowens sat down Thursday for her first interview and said she was in the dark when it came to any allegations of Vence abusing Maleah.See Also: A Timeline Of Dallas Cop Amber Guyger Killing Botham Jean In His Own Home“I feel like I’m in a nightmare. A really bad nightmare that I can’t come out of,” Bowens cried to Fox 4 News. “I just feel so broken. My heart feels so broken.” She said that she “wanted to believe” Vence. The Associated Press reported that Houston authorities said Vence’s account has “changed several times.”Maleah was reportedly last seen wearing a pink bow in her hair with a light blue zip-up jacket, blue jeans and gray, white and pink sneakers. She has black hair and brown eyes and stands 3 feet tall, weighing 30 to 40 pounds.We hope and pray Maleah Davis is found safely.SEE ALSO:All The Ways Cops Are Still Trying To Cover Up LaQuan McDonald’s ExecutionOutrageous! Figurines Of White Cherub Crushing Head Of Black Angel Removed From Dollar StoreMeet Jogger Joe, The Man Who Took Racist Cue From BBQ Becky In Tossing Homeless Man’s Clothes Meghan McCain Whines That She Can’t Attack llhan Omar Because Trump Is Too Racist Gov. Cuomo Slams Mayor Bill De Blasio For The Eric Garner Case But He Also Failed The Familylast_img read more

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Looming Parliament vote boosts Brexit jitters for UK scientists

first_imgPrime Minister Theresa May hopes to persuade Parliament to accept a plan for an orderly Brexit. THIERRY ROGE/Avalon.red/Newscom Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Only a few U.K. scientists see more upside than down. Simon Willcock, a tropical ecologist at Bangor University in the United Kingdom who supports Brexit, believes liberation from EU regulations will allow the United Kingdom to set its own science-based public policies, including reforms to agricultural subsidies. “I can see the U.K. being more of a risk taker, more of an innovator,” he says.If both the United Kingdom and the European Union accept the 585-page draft agreement, the landing could be soft. The deal doesn’t specifically address research, but it would minimize disruption through a 2-year extension of the status quo while future participation in EU programs is negotiated. U.K. researchers could apply for EU grants during that period, for example.The European Union is expected to green-light the withdrawal agreement, which includes a $50 billion divorce bill and would require the United Kingdom to follow EU laws during the transition without any say in them. Those conditions mean the agreement faces tough prospects in the U.K. Parliament. Hardline Brexit proponents within May’s Conservative Party say it doesn’t offer enough independence. Other opponents include “Remainers” in the Labour and Conservative parties, who argue that even a soft Brexit would be too damaging.A deadlocked Parliament could default to a no-deal Brexit, which would send the value of the pound plummeting 25% and shrink the U.K. economy by 8% in the following months, according to a report released last week by the Bank of England. Airlines flying between the United Kingdom and Europe could be grounded, because the United Kingdom would leave the European Union’s aviation regulations. New customs checks could strangle trade with Europe. An oversight committee in Parliament last week called a lack of preparation at ports for consequences such as massive backlogs of trucks “extremely worrying.”All that would hurt research. Many reagents and other supplies, such as antibodies and cell-growth media, are imported. U.K.-based pharmaceutical companies are stockpiling drugs used in some clinical trials as well as routine medicines. Some researchers are considering whether they also need to stock up. “You don’t want to feel alarmist, but you have to think about the sustainability of your experiments,” says Jennifer Rohn, a cell biologist at University College London who needs expensive and perishable cell-growth media made in Europe. But Oscar Marín, a developmental neurobiologist at King’s College London, says a supply shortage is the least of his worries. “To be honest, the disruption will be of such an order that not having the right antibody will be meaningless.”A no-deal exit would also immediately void many research agreements. The U.K. government has said that if the European Union terminates grants to U.K. teams, the treasury will take over the payments. But U.K. researchers couldn’t apply for new EU grants. It’s also not clear whether they could continue to lead existing collaborations with European partners. The legal status of joint clinical trials—about 40% of U.K. trials include sites in the European Union—is murky, and how data might be transferred is uncertain. “We are very concerned about a no-deal outcome,” says Beth Thompson, head of U.K. and EU policy at the Wellcome Trust, a biomedical philanthropy in London.Regardless of how the United Kingdom departs, it will have to negotiate new science agreements with the European Union. The European Union’s Horizon Europe program will fund $113 billion in research from 2021 to 2027, and the U.K. government wants to participate as an associated member, a status Norway and a few other non-EU countries already have. But associate membership will likely cost more than it brings home in grants, and some fear the government might trim the domestic research budget to compensate. As an associate, the United Kingdom might also lose influence over the program’s goals. “There’s no deal we could get that would be as good as the one we have at the moment,” says Anne Glover, head of The Royal Society of Edinburgh.Nevertheless, both the United Kingdom and the European Union would benefit from maintaining close scientific ties, so the chances are good for agreements on funding programs, research regulations on clinical trials, and Euratom, says Venki Ramakrishnan, who heads The Royal Society in London. Speed will be crucial, he says. “The longer the uncertainty, the less of a player we’ll be in European science.”To many, the largest risk that Brexit poses for science is the same one that threatens the whole United Kingdom: a recession, which would jeopardize recent large increases in domestic research funding and could cause a brain drain. The end of free movement with the European Union also has “huge implications for science,” says Naomi Weir, deputy director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering in London, which advocates for a smooth and affordable research immigration system. A long-awaited government white paper on immigration is expected to be published this month. Ministers have said they will welcome foreign talent, but Weir worries about an increased burden on employers and an advisory committee proposal for a £30,000 minimum salary for all immigrants, which could complicate hiring of technical staff.Some scientists want a do-over. “Brexit is simply bad for science,” says Paul Nurse, head of The Francis Crick Institute in London. “The best thing would be to go back and say we made a mistake.” But the politics of a second referendum are tortuous, and time is short. As the maelstrom intensifies, many researchers are focusing on their work. Nurse, however, urges more to speak out. “The scientific community really has to indicate why it’s so worried,” he says. “I don’t think we’ve done enough.” U.K. scientists dreading the country’s impending departure from the European Union, known as Brexit, now face possible outcomes ranging from undesirable to potentially disastrous—with an outside chance of a last-minute reprieve. Two and a half years after a divisive popular vote to leave the European Union, against the wishes of most scientists, politicians must soon decide whether the divorce will be orderly or chaotic. “Everyone’s just holding their breath,” says economist Philip McCann of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, part of a team studying the implications of Brexit. “If it’s a disorderly exit, the consequences could be very, very severe.”On 11 December, Parliament will vote on a withdrawal agreement that Prime Minister Theresa May reached with the European Union in November. It lays out the terms of a costly but smooth departure from the European Union, starting in March 2019. If the agreement is rejected, the United Kingdom could crash out instead, triggering chaos at the border, food shortages, and economic hardship. But a growing number of politicians, including former science minister Sam Gyimah, who resigned last week to protest the withdrawal agreement, are now agitating for a second referendum that might reverse the first one.Ever since that referendum in June 2016, many U.K. scientists have lamented the loss of EU membership perks that Brexit will mean. It will end the free movement of researchers across the English Channel and Irish Sea. It could prevent U.K. researchers from applying to EU grant programs. And the country will leave the Euratom treaty, which governs the operations of the Joint European Torus, a fusion facility near Oxford, U.K., and give up a role in ITER, a much larger fusion research reactor being built near Cadarache in France. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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First fossil jaw of Denisovans finally puts a face on elusive human

first_imgThe international team of researchers also reports that the jawbone is at least 160,000 years old. Its discovery pushes back the earliest known presence of humans at high altitude by about 120,000 years.A massive search for Denisovans has been underway ever since paleogeneticists extracted DNA from the pinkie of a girl who lived more than 50,000 years ago in Denisova Cave and found she was a new kind of human. Max Planck Society researchers have since sequenced DNA from several Denisovans from the cave, but the fossils—isolated teeth and bits of bone—were too scanty to show what this enigmatic hominin looked like. Denisovans must have been widespread, because many living people in Melanesia and Southeast Asia carry traces of DNA from multiple encounters between modern humans and Denisovans. But although intriguing fossils across Asia could be Denisovan, they have not yielded the DNA that could confirm their identity.Enter the new jawbone, found by an unidentified monk in Baishiya Karst Cave in Xiahe county in China at an altitude of 3200 meters on the margins of the Tibetan Plateau, according to co-author Dongju Zhang, an archaeologist at Lanzhou University in northwestern China. She traced the jawbone’s discovery by interviewing local people in Xiahe, who told her they remembered human bones from the large cave, which is next to a Buddhist shrine and is still a holy place as well as a tourist attraction. Recognizing the jaw’s unusual nature, the monk gave it to the sixth Gung-Thang living Buddha, one of China’s officially designated “living Buddhas,” who consulted scholars and then gave the jaw to Lanzhou University. The jawbone was so “weird” that researchers there didn’t know how to classify it, and it sat on shelves for years, Zhang says. DONGJU ZHANG/LANZHOU UNIVERSITY DONGJU ZHANG/LANZHOU UNIVERSITY First fossil jaw of Denisovans finally puts a face on elusive human relatives The proteins in this lower jawbone identify it as Denisovan. 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 Ann GibbonsMay. 1, 2019 , 1:00 PM Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Thirty-nine years ago, a Buddhist monk meditating in a cave on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau found something strange: a human jawbone with giant molars. The fossil eventually found its way to scientists. Now, almost 4 decades later, a groundbreaking new way to identify human fossils based on ancient proteins shows the jaw belonged to a Denisovan, a mysterious extinct cousin of Neanderthals.The jawbone is the first known fossil of a Denisovan outside of Siberia’s Denisova Cave in Russia, and gives paleoanthropologists their first real look at the face of this lost member of the human family. “We are finally ‘cornering’ the elusive Denisovans,” paleoanthropologist María Martinón-Torres of the National Research Center on Human Evolution in Burgos, Spain, wrote in an email. “We are getting their smiles!”Together, the jaw’s anatomy and the new method of analyzing ancient proteins could help researchers learn whether other mysterious fossils in Asia are Denisovan. “We now can use this fossil and this wonderful new tool to classify other fossil remains that we can’t agree on,” says paleoanthropologist Aida Gomez-Robles of University College London, who reviewed the paper, which appears in Nature this week. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) A jawbone was found by a Chinese monk in a holy cave high on the Tibetan Plateau.  She and geologist Fahu Chen, also from Lanzhou University and the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research in Beijing, showed the jaw to paleoanthropologist Jean-Jacques Hublin of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. After seeing its large molars—as big as ones found in Denisova Cave—Hublin immediately suspected it was Denisovan.Max Planck paleogeneticists couldn’t get DNA from the jaw, but Hublin’s graduate student Frido Welker had found in his doctoral work that Neanderthals, modern humans, and Denisovans differ in the amino acid sequence of key proteins. Welker, now a postdoc at the University of Copenhagen, was able to extract collagen, a common structural protein, from a molar of the Xiahe jawbone. He found its amino acid sequence most closely matched that of Denisovans.Other team members dated a carbonate crust that had formed on the skull by measuring the radioactive decay of uranium in the carbonate. They got a date of 160,000 years ago—a “firm minimum date” for the skull, says geochronologist Rainer Grün of Griffith University in Nathan, Australia, who is not a member of the team.The date suggests Denisovans would have had tens of thousands of years to adapt to the altitude of Tibet by the time modern humans arrived in the region, some 30,000 to 40,000 years ago. Encounters between modern humans and Denisovans adapted to high altitude could explain how the Tibetans of today came by a Denisovan gene that helps them cope with thin air. “It seems likely that ancestral Tibetans interacted with Denisovans, as they began to move upslope,” archaeologist David Madsen of the University of Texas in Austin wrote in an email.The jaw’s features could be a template for spotting other Denisovans. “Its distinct large molars and premolar roots differ from those of Neanderthals,” and the jawbone “is very primitive and robust,” says Hublin, who sees a resemblance to a jawbone found off the coast of Taiwan known as the Penghu mandible.What anatomy can’t confirm, proteins might. “The protein analyses allow us to see landscapes where DNA cannot reach”—from warmer climates or much more ancient sites where fragile DNA doesn’t persist, Martinón-Torres says. Other researchers have a half-dozen fossils they want to test for proteins or compare with the Xiahe jaw.The implications are far-reaching. “Forget the textbooks,” says archaeologist Robin Dennell of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. “Human evolution in Asia is far more complex than we currently understand, and probably does involve multiple lineages, some of which probably engaged with our species.”Meanwhile, Chen and Zhang did their first excavation at the cave in December 2018, with permission from local villagers and Buddhists. They dug two small trenches where they have already found stone tools and cut-marked rhino and other animal bones. “We do have hope we’ll find more Denisovans,” Zhang says.last_img read more

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Former Wesley MP endorses DLP new comer Fidel Grant

first_imgShareTweetSharePinGloria Shillingford addressing DLP supporters at the launch of GrantFormer MP for the Wesley constituency, Gloria Shillingford has  endorsed Fidel Grant who is now the new candidate for the Dominica Labour Party (DLP).Grant was officially launched at a labour party rally held in Wesley on Sunday.“As your last parliamentary representative, I feel honoured and privileged to endorse him today as our next Parliamentary representative of the Wesley constituency,” Shillingford told DLP supporters at the rally.According to her, Dominica has come to an important time in history, “and now we have the power to maintain the political landscape of Dominica.”“I have said to you time and again that what this country needs is strong, bright and reliable leadership to maintain the successful path that we are now moving towards,” Shillingford stated.She described Grant as a Wesley man, a home–grown man, humble man, a responsible father and family man.“And for that we know you will represent us effectively,” the former Wesley MP told the new comer.last_img read more

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