There are currently 0 users and 41 guests online.
Signs of the Times sott.net
Microbes exhibit bewildering diversity even in relatively tight living quarters. But when a population is a mix of cooperators, microbes that share resources, and cheaters, those that selfishly take yet give nothing back, the natural outcome is perpetual war. A new model by a team of researchers from Princeton University in New Jersey and Ben-Gurion University in Israel reveals that even with never-ending battles, the exploiter and the exploited can survive, but only if they have room to expand and grow. The researchers present their findings at the 57th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society (BPS), held Feb. 2-6, 2013, in Philadelphia, Pa. "In a fixed population, cells that share can't live together with cells that only take," said David Bruce Borenstein, a researcher at Princeton. "But if the population repeatedly expands and contracts then such 'cooperators' and 'cheaters' can coexist." Our world and our bodies play host to a vast array of microbes. On our teeth alone, there are approximately a thousand different kinds of bacteria, all living in very close quarters. This is amazing, the researchers observe, because many of those species share resources with nearby neighbors, who might not be so cooperative or even related . At the scale of cells, individuals cooperate mainly by exporting resources into the environment and letting them float away. "This is a deceptively complex process in which cells interact at long ranges, but compete only with nearby individuals," explained Borenstein. "Our models predict that, even when this exploitation prevents any possibility of peaceful coexistence, the exploiter and the exploited can survive across generations in what is basically a perpetual war." The researchers speculate that similar competition might occur between cancer cells and normal tissue.
Sound waves are widely used in medical imaging, such as when doctors take an ultrasound of a developing fetus. Now scientists have developed a way to use sound to probe tissue on a much tinier scale. Researchers from the University of Bordeaux in France deployed high-frequency sound waves to test the stiffness and viscosity of the nuclei of individual human cells. The scientists predict that the probe could eventually help answer questions such as how cells adhere to medical implants and why healthy cells turn cancerous. "We have developed a new non-contact, non-invasive tool to measure the mechanical properties of cells at the sub-cell scale," says Bertrand Audoin, a professor in the mechanics laboratory at the University of Bordeaux. "This can be useful to follow cell activity or identify cell disease." The work will be presented at the 57th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society (BPS), held Feb. 2-6, 2013, in Philadelphia, Pa. The technique that the research team used, called picosecond ultrasonics, was initially applied in the electronics industry in the mid-1980s as a way to measure the thickness of semiconductor chip layers. Audoin and his colleagues, in collaboration with a research group in biomaterials led by Marie-Christine Durrieu from the Institute of Chemistry & Biology of Membranes & Nano-objects at Bordeaux University, adapted picosecond ultrasonics to study living cells. They grew cells on a metal plate and then flashed the cell-metal interface with an ultra-short laser pulse to generate high-frequency sound waves. Another laser measured how the sound pulse propagated through the cells, giving the scientists clues about the mechanical properties of the individual cell components.
Sleep duration naturally waxes and wanes over a period of days. This happens regardless of individual lifestyle, or timing of sleep or waking, says a new study from the University of Sydney in Australia. "Sleep requirements vary in a cyclical fashion and between individuals. If you incur a sleep debt, your body will signal a need to catch up on extra sleep," notes Dr. Chin Moi Chow, principal investigator of the study. Dr.Chow explains: "As you increase your sleep duration to recover from the debt, your ability to prolong wakefulness increases. Then, as prior wakefulness increases, sleepiness is inevitable, and a need for further sleep develops again." Dr Chow and colleagues Shi Wong and Dr Mark Halaki, from the University's Faculty of Health Sciences, monitored a group of healthy young males. To the researchers' fascination, the participants' sleep duration oscillated in a sine wave pattern - a phenomenon that had not previously been observed. Clear periodic patterns were found in the majority of the participants, varying from periods of between two and 18 days.
"Junk" DNA includes a whole subset of names such as introns, retrotransposable elements, and non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). In fact, ncRNAs are often located near genes known to be important to both stem cells and cancer, to serve as enhancer elements which promote their gene expression. Stem cells are the cells that have the potential to turn into lots of other cells. So this junk DNA can influence how stem cells specifically differentiate into multiple cell types. In fact, it is now estimated that 80% of our genome is biologically active with only 1% of our genome encoding for proteins: Junk DNA Not Junk After All A staggering batch of over 30 papers published in Nature, Science, and other journals this month, firmly rejects the idea that, apart from the 1% of the human genome that codes for proteins, most of our DNA is "junk" that has accumulated over time like some evolutionary flotsam and jetsam.The papers, representing 10 years of work of the ENCODE ("Encyclopedia of DNA Elements") project, completed by hundreds of scientists from dozens of labs around the world, reveal that 80% of the human genome serves some purpose and is biochemically active, for example, in regulating the expression of genes situated nearby. That was known for some time, but it is now official since September 2012 or so. Evolutionary speaking, it makes a lot of sense... Viral "Junk" DNA The greatest shock of genomic science was to find that the human genome contains more viral than "human" genes. That is, the human genome is made from thousands of viruses that infected our distant ancestors. They got there by infecting eggs or sperm, inserting their own DNA into ours. Viruses are peculiar things that at a zoomed-in level may look very pretty or downright creepy depending on the virus. A virus may have DNA or RNA and the type of genetic material depends on the function and nature of the virus. Some are very infectious, others allowed us to be alive since the gene that encodes for a protein that allows for babies to fuse to their mothers during pregnancy, is a virus gene. Most of the genetic diversity can be found in virus genes. Scientists agree that there are some 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 viruses in the ocean and it matches almost nothing to any gene from any microbe, animal, plant or other organism, even from any other known virus. All living things have hundreds or thousands of genes imported by viruses. There are a group of viral species known as retroviruses which insert their genetic material into the host cell's DNA. When the host cell divides, it copies the virus's DNA along with its own. Retroviruses have "on switches" that prompt their host cell to make proteins out of nearby genes. Sometimes their switches turn on host genes that ought to be kept shut off, and cancer can result. This is precisely what our junk DNA - ncRNA- seems to be doing "next" to genes that have to do with stem cells and cancer cells. What is known as endogenous retrovirus - endogenous meaning generated within, are the viruses that lurk in the genomes of just about every major group of vertebrates, from fish to reptiles to mammals. Virologists have found retrovirus-like segments in our human genome and they were able to track its genetic code down to an original functioning virus. The virus was called Phoenix, for the mythical bird that rose from its own ashes. It is known that part of our junk DNA, the retrotransposable elements, are viral in its origin. It includes the endogenous retroviruses. But it is now argued that ncRNA (non coding RNA) might be viral in its origin as well. This has interesting implications in the sense that epigenetic control of gene expression involves this junk DNA - ncRNAs. It would mean that our entire junk DNA (98%) might well be very functional epigenetically speaking (more info on epigenetics below), and active in the induction of regulatory genes that code for stem cells, or for reprogramming o modulating genes known to response to oxidative stress, DNA damage and p53 - a protein that regulates the cell cycle and is implicated in about half of all human cancers. You might be wondering why we are reviewing all this viral genome potential. As it happens, the damage done by evil lectins - antinutrients - in our diet is through a lock and key mechanism, that is, a circulating lectin serves as a key that unlocks the cell to within it attaches. Evil lectins can initiate a cascade of events once they attach to the cell "mem-brain" that may lead to attraction of the immune system, cell death, production of chemicals, multiplication of the cell and so forth. It depends. And it might well depend on the adaptation response from the viral-like properties inside the cell, our "junk" DNA. Harmful lectins - such as the ones found in gluten, soy, dairy, corn - cause inflammation and damage without a defense/immune response which end up being secondary to the initial damage. Some response in quite a drastic way (i.e. autoimmune diseases) others respond in a milder way, constituting thus the wide nature of symptoms among people. Moreover, wheat's evil lectin (WGA) and viruses share similar properties. For instance, when the influenza virus incorporates its own genetic material into our cells, the defense/immune system must attack its own virally transformed cell in order to fight the infection. WGA has access to our bodies and to our cells' "mem-brain's" through viral ports. Then they influence gene expression and trigger autoimmune attacks like viruses do. As John B. Symes, D.V.M. pointed out back in 2007:
First a bit of terminological history, to clear up any confusion about the meanings of "sociopath," "psychopath," and related terms. In the early 1800s, doctors who worked with mental patients began to notice that some of their patients who appeared outwardly normal had what they termed a "moral depravity" or "moral insanity," in that they seemed to possess no sense of ethics or of the rights of other people. The term "psychopath" was first applied to these people around 1900. The term was changed to "sociopath" in the 1930s to emphasize the damage they do to society. Currently researchers have returned to using the term "psychopath." Some of them use that term to refer to a more serious disorder, linked to genetic traits, producing more dangerous individuals, while continuing to use "sociopath" to refer to less dangerous people who are seen more as products of their environment, including their upbringing. Other researchers make a distinction between "primary psychopaths," who are thought to be genetically caused, and "secondary psychopaths," seen as more a product of their environments. The current approach to defining sociopathy and the related concepts is to use a list of criteria. The first such list was developed by Hervey Cleckley (1941), who is known as the first person to describe the condition in detail. Anyone fitting enough of these criteria counts as a psychopath or sociopath. There are several such lists in use. The most commonly used is called the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R), developed by Robert Hare and his colleagues. An alternative version was developed in 1996 by Lilienfeld and Andrews, called the Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI). The book that psychologists and psychiatrists use to categorize and diagnose mental illness, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM IV) contains a category for something called "antisocial personality disorder" (APD), while the World Health Organization delineates a similar category it calls "dissocial personality disorder." These are much broader categories than that of psychopathy. The category of psychopath is seen as included within this category but considerably smaller so that only roughly 1 in 5 people with APD is a psychopath (Kiehl and Buckholtz, 2010).
Famines plagued Iceland and food prices spiked in medieval England following extreme space weather events, according to a new study of historical data The Earth's local interplanetary environment is a maelstrom of solar winds, giant clouds of hot plasma ejected from the Sun and violent magnetic fields. To a large extent, we are protected from this so-called space weather by our atmosphere and the Earth's magnetic field. But every once in a while, these interplanetary storms are so ferocious that even our planetary defences fail. In 1989, for example, a powerful geomagnetic storm knocked out the Hydro-Quebec power grid leaving six million people without electricity. Today, Lev Pustil'nik and Gregory Yom Din at Tel Aviv University in Israel say the effects of space weather could be much more significant than originally thought. These guys make the case that under certain special conditions, space weather can influence terrestrial weather so severely that it can have a dramatic effects on agriculture, causing crop failures, death and starvation.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported today that January agricultural product prices received by farmers rose 9% in January compared with December prices. Prices were 15% higher than in January 2012. The prices paid index (i.e., the cost of producing the crops) rose 1.4% above the December index and is up 5.2% compared with January 2012. Producers received higher prices for lettuce, cattle and corn, and lower prices for milk, eggs and wheat. Costs rose for rent, nitrogen fertilizer and other services, while falling for diesel fuel, interest and mixed fertilizer. Food prices paid by consumers will be going up, due in part to continued drought conditions in some of the country's most productive farmland and due in part rising costs. The rising farm price index does not predict that inflation will zoom up, but it is one indicator that consumers will be squeezed again to decide whether to buy something to eat or that new electronic gizmo. Food usually wins, and the effect on the economy is (usually temporarily) not good.
Crippling bushfires followed by an epic flood have punished large swaths of Australia in recent weeks. Now plagues of disease-infested vermin and insects are threatening a cruel end to a disastrous summer. Authorities have warned of an explosion in disease, infections and bites because of the perfect storm of high rainfall, fauna dislocation and sewage overflow. Mosquitoes, rodents, spiders and snakes are the main offenders, while black flies are poised to create a spike in bacterial skin infections and allergic reactions. NSW Health public health physician Professor David Durrheim said the risks increased as flood waters receded: "On the coast the rain event coincided with high tide and that generally increases the water levels into salt marshes and that's where the salt marsh mosquito breeds."
French Employment Minister has questioned the economic policies of President Francois Hollande, admitting that the European country is "totally bankrupt." Michel Sapin's remarks were made during a radio interview on Tuesday, where he also warned against Hollande's controversial "tax and spend" policy, which has made many high-profile people move abroad. "There is a state but it is a totally bankrupt state," said Sapin, adding, "That is why we had to put a deficit reduction plan in place, and nothing should make us turn away from that objective." France's Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici gave an immediate response saying the remarks were 'inappropriate.' Meanwhile, a recent poll in the French daily Le Figaro showed that 80 percent of the population agree with Sapin's viewpoint.
Does a seemingly innocent YouTube video of yard work contain the otherworldly wails of a ghostly child? One man thinks so. Gavin Espley, from Birmingham, England believes he accidentally captured the eerie voice of a child's ghost on camera and he's uploaded the video to the internet in the hopes of convincing others. The clip, which as of this writing has a scant 63 views, was already a bit weird to begin with.. it's a cell phone video of a man raking leaves shot from a second story window overlooking a nunnary yard. It only gets stranger though, when you turn up the volume and hear what sounds like a distant wailing.. a lost child moaning, "I'm cold, Mummy. I'm cold."
The Invisible Gorilla is part of the popular culture nowadays, thanks largely to a widely-read 2010 book of that title. In that book, cognitive psychologists Dan Simons and Christopher Chabris popularized a phenomenon of human perception -- known in the jargon as "inattentional blindness" -- which they had demonstrated in a study some years before. In the best known version of the experiment, volunteers were told to keep track of how many times some basketball players tossed a basketball. While they did this, someone in a gorilla suit walked across the basketball court, in plain view, yet many of the volunteers failed even to notice the beast. What the invisible gorilla study shows is that, if we are paying very close attention to one thing, we often fail to notice other things in our field of vision -- even very obvious things. We all love these quirks of human perception. It's entertaining to know that our senses can play tricks on us. And that's no doubt the extent of most people's familiarity with this psychological phenomenon. But what if this perceptual quirk has serious implications -- even life-threatening implications? A new study raises that disturbing possibility. Three psychological scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston --Trafton Drew, Melissa Vo and Jeremy Wolfe -- wondered if expert observers are also subject to this perceptual blindness. The subjects in the classic study were "naïve" -- untrained in any particular domain of expertise and performing a task nobody does in real life. But what about highly trained professionals who make their living doing specialized kinds of observations? The scientists set out to explore this, and in an area of great importance to many people -- cancer diagnosis.
Ankara, Turkey - In the second deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic post in five months, a suicide bomber struck the American Embassy in Ankara on Friday, killing a Turkish security guard in what the White House described as a terrorist attack. Washington immediately warned Americans to stay away from all U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey and to be wary in large crowds. Turkish officials said the bombing was linked to leftist domestic militants. The attack drew condemnation from Turkey, the U.S., Britain and other nations and officials from both Turkey and the U.S. pledged to work together to fight terrorism. "We strongly condemn what was a suicide attack against our embassy in Ankara, which took place at the embassy's outer security perimeter," said White House spokesman Jay Carney. "A suicide bombing on the perimeter of an embassy is by definition an act of terror," he said. "It is a terrorist attack." Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said police believe the bomber was connected to a domestic leftist militant group. Carney, however, said the motive for the attack and who was behind it was not known. A Turkish TV journalist was seriously wounded in the 1:15 p.m. blast in the Turkish capital, and two other guards had lighter wounds, officials said. The state-run Anadolu Agency identified the bomber as Ecevit Sanli. It said the 40-year-old Turkish man was a member of the outlawed Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C, which has claimed responsibility for assassinations and bombings since the 1970s. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States but had been relatively quiet in recent years.
Event Time 2013-02-01 22:16:36 UTC 2013-02-02 09:16:36 UTC+11:00 at epicenter Location 10.926°S 165.450°E depth=19.9km (12.4mi) Nearby Cities 47km (29mi) WSW of Lata, Solomon Islands 542km (337mi) NNW of Luganville, Vanuatu 624km (388mi) ESE of Honiara, Solomon Islands 814km (506mi) NNW of Port-Vila, Vanuatu 1122km (697mi) N of We, New Caledonia Technical Details
San Fransisco - Twitter confirmed Friday that it had become the latest victim in a number of high-profile cyber-attacks against media companies, saying that hackers may have gained access to information on 250,000 of its more than 200 million active users. The social media giant said in a blog posting that earlier this week it detected attempts to gain access to its user data. It shut down one attack moments after it was detected. But it discovered that the attackers may have stolen user names, email addresses and encrypted passwords belonging to 250,000 users. Twitter reset the pilfered passwords and sent emails advising affected users. The online attack comes on the heels of recent hacks into the computer systems of U.S. media and technology companies, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Both American newspapers reported this week that their computer systems had been infiltrated by China-based hackers, likely to monitor media coverage the Chinese government deems important. China has been accused of mounting a widespread, aggressive cyber-spying campaign for several years, trying to steal classified information and corporate secrets and to intimidate critics. The Chinese foreign ministry could not be reached for comment Saturday, but the Chinese government has said those accusations are baseless and that China itself is a victim of cyber-attacks. "Chinese law forbids hacking and any other actions that damage Internet security," the Chinese Defense Ministry recently said. "The Chinese military has never supported any hacking activities." Although Bob Lord, Twitter's director of information security said in the blog that the attack "was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident."
Washington - Hillary Rodham Clinton formally resigned Friday as America's 67th secretary of state, capping a four-year tenure that saw her shatter records for the number of countries visited. In a letter sent to President Barack Obama shortly before she was to leave the State Department for the last time in her official capacity, Clinton thanked her former foe for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination for the opportunity to serve in his administration. Clinton said it had been an honor to be part of his Cabinet. "I am more convinced than ever in the strength and staying power of America's global leadership and our capacity to be a force for good in the world," she said in the letter. Her resignation will be effective on the swearing-in of her successor, John Kerry, who was to take the oath of office in a private ceremony later Friday. Clinton pushed through a throng of American foreign service workers who clamored for handshakes and smartphone photos with her and gave an emotional goodbye speech. She told them to continue to "serve the nation we all love, to understand the challenges, the threats and the opportunities that the United States faces and to work with all our heart and all of our might to make sure that America is secure, that our interests are promoted and our values are respected."
U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, a 30-year veteran of the agency that protects American presidents and visiting dignitaries, will retire on Feb. 22, according to Brian Leary, a spokesman. Sullivan, who began his Secret Service career in 1983, has been its director since 2006, when he was promoted from assistant director. He will retire as the third-longest-serving head of the agency, Leary said yesterday. "From securing large events such as presidential inaugurations to safeguarding our financial system, the men and women of the agency perform their mission with professionalism and dedication," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "That is a testament to Mark and his steadfast leadership, which will be missed." Sullivan, a Massachusetts native, joined the Secret Service as a special agent in the Detroit Field Office and rose through the ranks to lead the agency's more than 150 offices around the world. In 1991, Sullivan began work in the Presidential Protective Division, where he served for four years, according to his biography on the agency's website. "Mark Sullivan epitomizes the term 'public service,' and has devoted his life to the safety of our First Families, our nation's leaders, and the public at large," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement. "I am deeply grateful for his contributions."