Does a new genetic analysis finally reveal the identity of Jack the

first_imgA historical image of police discovering a Jack the Ripper murder victim 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 David AdamMar. 15, 2019 , 2:00 PM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Forensic scientists say they have finally fingered the identity of Jack the Ripper, the notorious serial killer who terrorized the streets of London more than a century ago. Genetic tests published this week point to Aaron Kosminski, a 23-year-old Polish barber and a prime police suspect at the time. But critics say the evidence isn’t strong enough to declare this case closed.The results come from a forensic examination of a stained silk shawl that investigators said was found next to the mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes, the killer’s fourth victim, in 1888. The shawl is speckled with what is claimed to be blood and semen, the latter believed to be from the killer. Four other women in London were also murdered in a 3-month spree and the culprit has never been confirmed.This isn’t the first time Kosminski has been linked to the crimes. But it is the first time the supporting DNA evidence has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. The first genetic tests on shawl samples were conducted several years ago by Jari Louhelainen, a biochemist at Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, but he said he wanted to wait for the fuss to die down before he submitted the results. Author Russell Edwards, who bought the shawl in 2007 and gave it to Louhelainen, used the unpublished results of the tests to identify Kosminski as the murderer in a 2014 book called Naming Jack the Ripper. But geneticists complained at the time that it was impossible to assess the claims because few technical details about the analysis of genetic samples from the shawl were available. Does a new genetic analysis finally reveal the identity of Jack the Ripper?center_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email Chronicle/Alamy Stock Photo The new paper lays those out, up to a point. In what Louhelainen and his colleague David Miller, a reproduction and sperm expert at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, claim is “the most systematic and most advanced genetic analysis to date regarding the Jack the Ripper murders,” they describe extracting and amplifying the DNA from the shawl. The tests compared fragments of mitochondrial DNA—the portion of DNA inherited only from one’s mother—retrieved from the shawl with samples taken from living descendants of Eddowes and Kosminski. The DNA matches that of a living relative of Kosminki, they conclude in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.The analysis also suggests the killer had brown hair and brown eyes, which agrees with the evidence from an eyewitness. “These characteristics are surely not unique,” the authors admit in their paper. But blue eyes are now more common than brown in England, the researchers note.The results are unlikely to satisfy critics. Key details on the specific genetic variants identified and compared between DNA samples are not included in the paper. Instead, the authors represent them in a graphic with a series of colored boxes. Where the boxes overlap, they say, the shawl and modern DNA sequences matched.The authors say in their paper that the Data Protection Act, a U.K. law designed to protect the privacy of individuals, stops them from publishing the genetic sequences of the living relatives of Eddowes and Kosminski. The graphic in the paper, they say, is easier for nonscientists to understand, especially “those interested in true crime.”Walther Parson, a forensic scientist at the Institute of Legal Medicine at Innsbruck Medical University in Austria, says mitochondrial DNA sequences pose no risk to privacy and the authors should have included them in the paper. “Otherwise the reader cannot judge the result. I wonder where science and research are going when we start to avoid showing results but instead present colored boxes.”Hansi Weissensteiner, an expert in mitochondrial DNA also at Innsbruck, also takes issue with the mitochondrial DNA analysis, which he says can only reliably show that people—or two DNA samples—are not related. “Based on mitochondrial DNA one can only exclude a suspect.” In other words, the mitochondrial DNA from the shawl could be from Kosminski, but it could probably also have come from thousands who lived in London at the time.Other critics of the Kosminsky theory have pointed out that there’s no evidence the shawl was ever at the crime scene. It also could have become contaminated over the years, they say.The new tests are not the first attempt to identify Jack the Ripper from DNA. Several years ago, U.S. crime author Patricia Cornwell asked other scientists to analyze any DNA in samples taken from letters supposedly sent by the serial killer to police. Based on that DNA analysis and other clues she said the killer was the painter Walter Sickert, though many experts believe those letters to be fake. Another genetic analysis of the letters claimed the murderer could have been a woman.last_img read more

Daily exercise facilitates elimination of toxic proteins from muscles

first_img Source: Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Sep 27 2018A study published in Scientific Reports by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil, in partnership with colleagues in the United States and Norway, shows that the lack of muscle stimulus results in a buildup of inadequately processed proteins in muscle cells and consequently leads to muscle weakness or wasting.This is a typical muscle dysfunction condition that affects the elderly or individuals suffering from sciatic nerve injury, something usually verified in bedridden patients or workers who spend long hours sitting.From tests with rats with induced sciatic nerve injury – which, therefore, stopped receiving stimuli – researchers found that this buildup was caused by the impairment of autophagy, the cellular machinery responsible for identifying and removing damaged proteins and toxins. The analysis of a group of rats subjected to a regime of aerobic exercise training previous to the injury allowed the scientists to demonstrate that physical exercise can keep the autophagic system primed and facilitate its activity when necessary, as in the case of muscle dysfunction due to the lack of stimulus.”Daily exercise sensitizes the autophagic system, facilitating the elimination of proteins and organelles that aren’t functional in the muscles. Removal of these dysfunctional components is very important; when they accumulate, they become toxic and contribute to muscle cell impairment and death,” said Julio Cesar Batista Ferreira, a professor in the university’s Biomedical Science Institute (ICB-USP) and principal investigator for the study.Ferreira offered an analogy to help explain muscle cell autophagy. “Imagine the muscles working in a similar manner to a refrigerator, which needs electricity to run. If this signal ceases because you pull the plug on the fridge or block the neurons that innervate the muscles, before long, you find that the food in the fridge and the proteins in the muscles will start to spoil at different speeds according to their composition,” told the researcher, who was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP.”At this point, an early warning mechanism, present in cells but not yet in fridges, activates the autophagic system, which identifies, isolates and ‘incinerates’ the defective material, preventing propagation of the damage. However, if the muscle does not receive the right electric signal for long periods, the early warning mechanism stops working properly, and this contributes to cell collapse.”Spoiled food in a broken fridge corresponds to proteins that instead of performing their proper function form toxic aggregates, which start killing cells. Autophagy can isolate these proteins and destroy them in lysosomes, intracellular organelles that degrade and recycle waste.”Without autophagy, a cascade effect occurs, leading to cell death,” said Juliane Cruz Campos. Campos developed part of the study described in Scientific Reports during her PhD research. First author of the article, she is currently engaged in postdoctoral research under Ferreira’s supervision with a scholarship from FAPESP.Experiment – method In the latest study, rats were submitted to sciatic nerve ligation surgery, creating an effect equivalent to that of sciatic nerve compression in humans. The pain it causes prevents the individual from using the affected leg, and eventually the muscles concerned weaken and atrophy.Related StoriesLiver fat biomarker levels linked with metabolic health benefits of exercise, study findsRegular physical activity can be effective in reducing pain from arthritisA short bout of exercise improves brain function, study revealsBefore the surgical procedure, the rats were divided into two groups. One remained sedentary, and the other was given exercise training that consisted of running at 60% of maximum aerobic capacity for an hour a day, five days a week.After four weeks of exercise training, the surgery was performed, and the muscular dysfunction induced by sciatic nerve injury was found to be less aggressive in the aerobic exercise group than in the sedentary group. Functional and biochemical parameters in the affected muscles were also evaluated at that time.”The exercise training increased autophagic flux and hence reduced dysfunctional protein levels in the muscles of the animals. At the same time, the exercise improved the muscle tissue’s contractility properties,” said the FAPESP scholarship holder.”Exercise is a transient stress that leaves a memory in the organism, in this case via the autophagic system,” Ferreira explained. “When the organism is subjected to other kinds of stress, it’s better prepared to respond and combat the effects.”Proof of conceptThe researchers performed two other experiments designed to investigate the link between exercise and autophagy more deeply. One experiment used mice in which the autophagy-related gene ATG7 was silenced in the skeletal muscle.ATG7 encodes a protein responsible for synthesizing a vesicle called the autophagosome that forms around dysfunctional organelles and transports them to the lysosome, where they are broken down and digested.This experiment validated the importance of autophagy in muscle biology because ATG7 knockout mice that had not been subjected to sciatic nerve ligation nevertheless displayed muscular dysfunction.In the other experiment, muscles from rats with sciatic nerve injury and control rats (without the injury) were treated with a drug called chloroquine, which inhibits autophagy by raising the lysosomal pH (alkalinity) and hence prevents the degradation of defective proteins.”The tests showed less muscle strength in the control animals treated with the drug than in the untreated group. Chloroquine had no effect on the muscles of rats with sciatic nerve injury, proving that the inhibition of autophagy is critical to muscular dysfunction caused by the lack of stimulus,” Ferreira said.The researchers stress that their studies do not aim to find a treatment for sciatica, one of the most common types of pain. The idea is to use the experimental model in further research to understand the cellular processes involved in muscle dysfunction. This will facilitate the development of new drugs and nonpharmacological interventions capable of minimizing or reversing an increasingly serious problem in contemporary societies, namely, muscle weakness and atrophy due to a lack of movement, especially among the elderly.”If we can identify a molecule that selectively keeps the autophagic system on alert, in a similar manner to what happens during physical exercise, we may be able to develop a drug that can be given to people with muscle dysfunction due to a lack of stimulus, such as patients with immobilized limbs, people who are bedridden for long periods, and even patients with [degenerative] muscular diseases,” Ferreira said.last_img read more

Maverick immune cells can act independently to identify and kill cancer cells

first_imgReviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 12 2018Immune cells called Gamma Delta T cells can act independently to identify and kill cancer cells, defying the conventional view of the immune system, reveals new research from the Francis Crick Institute and King’s College London.The study, published in Nature Immunology, reveals that Gamma Delta T cells possess a unique two-pronged device, allowing them to double-check whether the body’s cells are healthy or dangerous before deciding whether to kill them. Moreover, they can do this without relying on ‘authorization’ from other immune signals.”These maverick immune cells act as judge, jury and executioner, identifying and killing potentially dangerous cells in the body,” says Professor Adrian Hayday, whose teams at the Crick and King’s led the latest study. “This discovery was a huge surprise. It fundamentally changes our understanding of how the immune system makes critical judgment calls about when to act and when to hold back. This could open up exciting possibilities for treating disease.”Adrian is working with GammaDelta Therapeutics, a spin-out company that he co-founded, together with the Crick, King’s and Cancer Research UK, to apply the findings clinically. The company has a $100 million collaboration with pharmaceutical giant Takeda to develop new treatments using these unique cells, with the aim of starting human trials within two years.”We’re not only looking at how to harness Gamma Delta cells to tackle cancers, but we’re also investigating their role in autoimmune conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease,” says Adrian. “The prospect of turning them to be less forgiving of tumor cells or more forgiving of healthy cells is genuinely very exciting.”For the past two decades, it has been dogma that the immune system is made up of two distinct subsystems: the ‘innate’ immune system, which offers us broad protection by detecting when things simply aren’t normal; and the specialised ‘adaptive’ immune system which can discriminate and respond to very specific threats. The new study challenges this view, providing the first direct evidence that a single protein on a single cell type can perform both functions, detecting when things aren’t normal and then mounting a specific response.Equipped with these unprecedented capabilities, Gamma Delta T cells patrol for pathogens or dangerously mutated cells arising in expansive body tissues, such as the skin and the gut. The new research found that the cells use two different checks to make sure they don’t kill a healthy cell: checking if the cell looks dangerous but also whether it is nonetheless functioning normally. For example, if the Gamma Delta T cells see a gut cell that appears slightly mutated, but that is still normal by many other criteria, they will likely leave it alone. Without this type of check, the immune system could unleash uncontrolled attacks on healthy tissue.Related StoriesUsing machine learning algorithm to accurately diagnose breast cancerNanoparticles used to deliver CRISPR gene editing tools into the cellSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyThe findings are the result of intense work investigating gamma delta T cells from the guts of mice and of humans, alongside advanced computational modeling. The interactions happen at such a small scale that they are impossible to observe directly, so Adrian worked closely with Dr Paul Bates who runs the Biomolecular Modelling Laboratory at the Crick.”Adrian’s lab provided data which we fed into computer models, giving us a more detailed picture of what’s going on at the molecular level,” explains Paul. “We used the models to predict the molecular mechanisms by which the Gamma Delta T cells were functioning, and these predictions could then be tested and validated in the lab. It’s a real testament to the power of collaboration and working together under one roof here at the Crick.”The analysis showed that Gamma Delta T cells are highly adaptable and can learn to tackle specific threats such as cancer cells. It also revealed that the signs of ‘normality’ they look for depend on the tissue that they’re in; when the cells sit in the gut, they spare cells behaving like normal gut cells, whereas they seemingly use other scores of normality to make judgment calls about cells in the skin.Professor Karen Vousden, chief scientist at Cancer Research UK, which part-funded the study, said: “This research could have huge implications for the way we understand both how our immune system works, and how we can harness its powerful ability to tackle cancer. Immunotherapy treatments are already showing promise for some types of cancer, but it’s still unclear why some patients don’t respond to treatment and some suffer severe side effects. More research and clinical trials are needed so that we can turn these findings into the latest treatments, allowing more patients to safely benefit from immunotherapies in the future.” Source: read more

Researchers find first direct evidence that cerebellum plays role in cognitive functions

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 16 2018It is known that certain areas of the brain are responsible for certain functions of the body. The cerebellum, a structure found in the back of the skull, is known to be important for the control of movement, while the frontal cortex is responsible for cognitive functions such as short-term memory and decision making. However, as researchers continue to unlock the mystery of how billions of neurons in the brain interact, it is becoming more apparent that it is not that black and white.Dr. Nuo Li, assistant professor of neuroscience and a McNair Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine, and his colleagues have found the first direct evidence that the cerebellum does more than just control muscle activity. It also plays a role in cognitive functions.”We knew that the frontal cortex and the cerebellum are anatomically connected with each other,” Li said. “We also knew that in humans, cerebellar damage has been known to cause memory or planning problems, so the two might be connected.”Li and his colleagues examined activity in the cerebellum during time periods when animals are not moving, but instead are thinking. To do this, the researchers trained mice in a task that required them to make decisions based on short-term memory. Mice were shown a single object in a specific location. After a delay, the animal had to remember where the object was and indicate its location by licking in a left or right direction. The delay represented a moment when the mice had to use short-term memory to recall where the object was before acting out the correct movement.Making moves and memoriesIn previous work, researchers have found memory activity in the frontal cortex during the delay period that predicted what future movement the mice will make. Li and colleagues found that memory activity during the delay period was seen in both the frontal cortex and the cerebellum. Researchers silenced areas of the cerebellum during the delay period, which led to incorrect responses but did not interfere with the movement. At the same time, the memory activity in frontal cortex also was disrupted. This showed that memory activity in frontal cortex was dependent on the cerebellum. They then silenced areas in the frontal cortex, which stopped memory activity in the cerebellum.Related StoriesResearchers measure EEG-based brain responses for non-speech and speech sounds in childrenImplanted device uses microcurrent to exercise heart muscle in cardiomyopathy patientsNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injury”We found that the output of the cerebellum targets the frontal cortex and vice versa. When we disrupt the communication between the two areas of the brain, memory activity is disrupted. Our results show that activity orchestrating a single behavior is coordinated by multiple regions of the brain,” Li said.The cerebellum is known to guide our movement by learning from errors. Li explains that when we learn to shoot a basketball, we initially have lots of missed shots. However, the brain can adjust our shots by adjusting our movements based on errors from the missed shots and eventually produce accurate shots. It is known that the cerebellum is responsible for this motor learning. It combines errors from the missed movements and the movement that was made to produce a more accurate movement.Li’s team currently is pursuing experiments testing this hypothesis that the cerebellum may perform a similar function on brain activity related to thoughts, such as when playing a game of chess. Source: read more

Folate levels decrease significantly during months with higher solar radiation

first_img Source: Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Feb 4 2019Thus, this team of scientists has determined a seasonal risk threshold among patients with folate deficiency, since, according to this study, folate levels decrease significantly in those months when solar radiation is higher.A work performed in the Laboratory of Dermatological Photobiology of UMA, located in the Center for Medical and Health Research (CIMES), in which more than 100,000 patients from hospital units of Malaga were examined for five years.”We have revealed that cycles repeat annually. The percentage of low values increases in summer by almost 3.5 percent in comparison to winter”, explains researcher José Aguilera, who further says that folate levels are lower in men as compared to women, regardless of seasonality.Related Stories’Traffic light’ food labels associated with reduction in calories purchased by hospital employeesRaw meat can act as reservoir for bacteria associated with hospital infectionsAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyIn view of these results, experts recommend that patients with folate values below 4ng/mL include folate-rich food, such as legumes or green vegetables, in their diet in summertime, and even take dietary supplements in case of low deficiency.Folate is essential for cell division and growth. Low levels of folate are related to various conditions, such as megaloblastic anemia, neural tube defects and cardiovascular diseases. It is, therefore, a vitamin (vitamin B9) of vital importance for human beings, because, for example, it helps add iron to anemia or, in the case of newborns, prevent congenital disorders at birth, hence its importance during pregnancy.Laboratory of Dermatological PhotobiologySince 2006, researchers from the University of Malaga have been working to find new trends in photoprotection, towards unprecedented lines that deepen in the sunlight-skin relationship, through the Laboratory of Dermatological Photobiology, which is unique in Spain.Other R&D&I lines include the study on positive effects of vitamin D to prevent certain diseases, such as digestive and cardiovascular diseases, or the development of more efficient and long-lasting sunscreens, which are based on synthetic compounds but inspired by marine algae.UV-DERMA, an app to know how long it takes the skin to burnThe researchers María Victoria de Gálvez and José Aguilera, members of this UMA laboratory, in collaboration with Fundación Piel Sana of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology, have also developed UV-DERMA, a mobile app that estimates the time our skin takes to burn when exposed to the sun.Given its success, with more than 40,000 downloads, they are currently developing a new version translated into all languages so that it can be used around the globe.last_img read more

Saffron may be a promising herbal alternative for treating ADHD

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Feb 21 2019A new short-term pilot study in children and teens 6-17 years old with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has shown saffron to be as effective at controlling symptoms as methylphenidate, the commonly prescribed drug Ritalin. Saffron may be a promising herbal alternative for treating ADHD, particularly for the 30% of patients who do not respond to or cannot tolerate stimulants like methylphenidate, as reported in an article published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.Related StoriesNew therapeutic food boosts key growth-promoting gut microbes in malnourished childrenRevolutionary gene replacement surgery restores vision in patients with retinal degenerationChaos in the house and asthma in children – the connectionThe article entitled “Crocus sativus L. Versus Methylphenidate in Treatment of Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Randomized, Double-Blind Pilot Study” was coauthored by Sara Baziar, MD, Ali Aqamolaei, MD and colleagues from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran. The researchers note that saffron also has anti-depressant and memory-enhancing properties. They compared the effects of Crocus sativus L. to methylphenidate in 54 patients over a 6-week period and showed no significant difference in effectiveness as well as similar frequency of adverse effects.”This is a very interesting study and an intriguing finding. It is worthy of replication and further study to understand the mechanism of action,” says Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology and President of the Child Mind Institute in New York. Source: read more

Multivitamins do not help stave off depression but lifestyle coaching may work

first_img Source:Bot, M., et al. 2019. Effect of Multinutrient Supplementation and Food-Related Behavioral Activation Therapy on Prevention of Major Depressive Disorder Among Overweight or Obese Adults With Subsyndromal Depressive Symptoms. JAMA. Behavioral therapy also did not seem to make a difference, although there was some evidence to suggest it prevented depression if participants attended the recommended number of sessions, which was eight out of 21.This suggests that lifestyle coaching is only successful if participants receive a certain “dose” of therapy and are able to then adjust their dietary behaviors and diet.”There was a suggestion that changing food-related behavior and diet may help to prevent depression, but this requires further investigation,” concludes Watkins. This trial convincingly demonstrates that nutritional supplements do not help to prevent depression.”Professor Ed Watkins, Study Authorcenter_img By Sally Robertson, B.Sc.Mar 6 2019Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)A new study has contradicted the existing understanding that taking daily nutritional supplements may help to prevent depression. The research instead suggests that lifestyle coaching to improve eating behavior and diet may be a more effective approach.FotoHelin | ShutterstockAs recently reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the “MooDFOOD” trial involved more than 1,000 individuals across the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, and Germany.All participants had been identified as at risk for depression but had not experienced any full-blown episodes of depression in the previous six months. All individuals were overweight or obese (BMI of more than 25), a factor that is thought to increase the increased risk of depression.The participants were randomly assigned to one of four regimens. One group received a multivitamin that contained folic acid, omega-3, zinc, selenium and vitamin D, while another group received a placebo.A third group received the multivitamin, as well as behavioral therapy to help improve their diet and a fourth group received the therapy, but a placebo instead of the multivitamin. The therapy involved strategies designed to manage low mood, to reduce snacking behavior and to encourage a Mediterranean-style diet.Over the course of one year, 10% (105) of the participants developed depression. The number of people who became depressed did not differ between any of the groups, indicating that the multivitamin made no difference to depression risk.last_img read more

Study suggests new approach to ameliorating obesityassociated metabolic abnormalities

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 14 2019The search by scientists to find ways to combat obesity continues. Recently, investigators have been exploring whether they can engage the lymphatic system to help regulate obesity-induced inflammation of fat (adipose) tissue and restore systemic metabolic fitness. In a study appearing in he American Journal of Pathology, published by Elsevier, researchers report that augmenting lymphatic vessel formation in obese adipose tissue via vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-D) signaling reduced obesity-associated immune accumulation and improved metabolic responsiveness, suggesting a new approach to ameliorating some obesity-associated metabolic abnormalities.In obesity, adipose tissue expands and becomes dysfunctional, leading to the appearance of a cluster of medical issues known as “the metabolic syndrome,” which includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. The adipose tissue found in obesity exhibits symptoms of chronic inflammation, including hypoxia, immune cell accumulation, and fibrosis, leading to spilling over of pro-inflammatory substances and excess lipids into the circulation. This allows fat to circulate and be deposited in other tissues that are less well-equipped to safely store it.”Adipose tissue inflammation is at the root of the epidemic of obesity’s metabolic syndrome. Reducing inflammation in mice has worked to improve metabolism but has not translated well to humans,” explained lead investigator Joseph M. Rutkowski, PhD, of the Division of Lymphatic Biology, Department of Medical Physiology, at Texas A&M College of Medicine, College Station, TX, USA. “Understanding the mechanisms of adipose inflammation and how to regulate it sheds light on the biology of our current obesity problem. We hypothesized that increasing lymphangiogenesis (formation of lymphatic vessels) in adipose tissue would help to reduce obesity-associated adipose inflammation.”Normally, the primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body via lymphatic vessels. Lymphatic vessels are similar to the circulatory system’s veins and capillaries. The lymphatic vasculature and lymphatic endothelial cells in tissues are essential for maintaining tissue balance through the uptake and transport of peripheral fluid, large molecules, and immune cells. Tissue inflammation is often accompanied by the formation of new lymph vessels, a process known as lymphangiogenesis. Although obesity seems to inhibit lymphangiogenesis and reduce lymphatic function in adipose tissue, the goal of this research was to determine whether artificially enhancing the lymph system in obese adipose tissue can be beneficial.Related StoriesNew anti-obesity drug trial set to launch at Alberta Diabetes InstituteHarnessing target of the brain chemical serotonin to combat obesityNovel program in England’s third largest city helps reduce childhood obesityThe investigators developed a new transgenic mouse model to test their hypothesis. The model allows for activation of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3 (VEGFR-3), a receptor known to regulate lymphangiogenesis, by elevating expression of its ligand VEGF-D from fat cells. Unlike human VEGF-D, mouse VEGF-D does not affect blood vessel formation or function. The investigators used these inducible adipose VEGF-D overexpressing (Adipo-VD) mice fed a chronic high fat diet to identify the impact of increased VEGFR-3 signaling and lymphatic density in obese fat.”We demonstrated that augmenting VEGF-D signaling specifically in adipose tissue induces lymphangiogenesis and improves glucose and lipid homeostasis during obesity,” said Dr. Rutkowski.”The studies showed that despite equivalent weight gain, the Adipo-VD mice demonstrate reduced systemic insulin resistance, liver lipid deposition, and adipose immune accumulation when compared to their littermates. For a long time, we did not think this model worked. Native lymphatics in mouse adipose are quite sparse. It turns out that our VEGF-D expression level was relatively low and lymphangiogenesis in this context takes months. It does align well with the four-month time course of diet-induced obesity that we used. We still have more mechanistic work to do, but the phenotype is exciting,” concluded Dr. Rutkowski.These findings highlight the importance of lymphatic expansion in maintaining tissue homeostasis and identify a potential new target in the amelioration of the metabolic syndrome associated with obesity.Source: read more

Eliminating asthma triggers right at the source to create healthier homes

first_imgRelated StoriesStudy examines differences in genetic risk factors for childhood-onset and adult-onset asthmaGrowing up on farm with animals may half risk of asthma and allergies, suggests studyPrenatal exposure to paternal tobacco smoking linked to high asthma riskChildren’s collaborative project includes a number of partners, including: BreatheDC, a non-profit that fights all forms of lung disease Local Initiatives Support Coalition of DC, the nation’s largest community development support organization The Institute of Public Health Innovation, a non-profit whose work enhances conditions in which people live, work and play Yachad, which preserves affordable housing IMPACT DC, Children’s award-winning pediatric asthma program Child Health Advocacy Institute, based at Children’s National Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health, Children’s primary care practices and Children’s Telemedicine, which delivers health care remotely using technology. The beauty of our innovation is that residents can show us these same problematic locations using their smartphones, facilitating our efforts to target resources for that household. It’s a win for Children’s families because eliminating asthma triggers in the home means our kids will miss fewer school days, improving their lives and overall health.”Ankoor Y. Shah, M.D., MBA, MPH, Medical Director for Children’s IMPACT DC Asthma Clinic Dr. Shah says the project will start in July 2019 with the pilot of virtual home visits starting in early 2020. This proof-of-concept model will hopefully be able to be replicated in other cities across the country.center_img Source:Children’s National Health System Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 24 2019Children’s National is among five awardees sharing $10 million in funding under Fannie Mae’s Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge: Healthy Affordable Housing, a national competition to identify innovative ideas to help children and families enjoy safer homes. Fannie Mae made the funding announcement on May 21, 2019.Children’s funding will underwrite a pilot program to use smartphones to enable virtual home visits, leveraging the skills of Children’s pediatric asthma specialists, health educators and community housing remediation specialists who will video conference with families in the home to identify potential housing asthma triggers.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 12 children and adolescents (6 million) have asthma, and one in six children with asthma visit the emergency department each year. In Washington, D.C., substandard housing can play an outsized role in triggering asthma exacerbations. Asthma-related hospital visits are 12 times higher in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, compared with affluent ZIP codes.Working with community partners Children’s faculty aim to eliminate asthma triggers right at the source, improving children’s well-being and creating healthier homes.Right now during in-home visits, staff look for holes under kitchen sinks and gaps in the walls or flooring where pests and vermin might enter as well as leaks where mold and mildew can bloom. These systematic visits yield detailed notes to best direct resources to remediate those housing woes. The in-person visits however, are labor intensive and require delicate diplomacy to first open doors then to point out potential asthma triggers without coming off as judgmental.last_img read more

Three beagles successfully identify lung cancer by scent shows study

first_imgThe dogs were led into a room with blood serum samples at nose level. Some samples came from patients with non-small cell lung cancer; others were drawn from healthy controls. After thoroughly sniffing a sample, the dogs sat down to indicate a positive finding for cancer or moved on if none was detected.Dr. Quinn and his team are nearing completion of a second iteration of the study. This time the dogs are working to identify lung, breast and colorectal cancer using samples of patients’ breath, collected by the patient breathing into a face mask. Researchers say findings suggest the dogs are as effective detecting cancer using this method.Related StoriesNew study to ease plight of patients with advanced cancerSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerThe next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified. The goal is to develop an over-the-counter screening product, similar to a pregnancy test, in terms of cost, simplicity and availability. Dr. Quinn envisions a device that someone can breathe into and see a color change to indicate a positive or negative finding.Early detection keyLung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide for both women and men, and more than 200,000 people annually in the United States receive a diagnosis of lung cancer. The five-year survival rate for stage IA non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is 92%. That drops to 13% in stage IIIC NSCLC, and after metastasis, the five-year survival rates range from 10% to less than 1%, depending on the stage.Additionally, screening and imaging for lung cancer is costly and not always reliable. Chest X-rays have a high false-negative rate, while CT scans with computer-aided diagnosis have a high false-positive rate. Previous studies indicated that 90% of missed lung cancers occur when using chest X-rays, and CT scans have dif?culty identifying small, central, juxtavascular lung cancers.Dr. Quinn believes his research can lead to better screening and diagnosis solutions, potentially creating a change in cancer detection.”Right now it appears dogs have a better natural ability to screen for cancer than our most advanced technology,” says Dr. Quinn. “Once we figure out what they know and how, we may be able to catch up.” Source:American Osteopathic AssociationJournal reference:Junqueira, H. et al. (2019) Accuracy of Canine Scent Detection of Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer in Blood Serum. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 18 2019Three beagles successfully showed they are capable of identifying lung cancer by scent, a first step in identifying specific biomarkers for the disease. Researchers say the dogs’ abilities may lead to development of effective, safe and inexpensive means for mass cancer screening.After eight weeks of training, the beagles–chosen for their superior olfactory receptor genes–were able to distinguish between blood serum samples taken from patients with malignant lung cancer and healthy controls with 97% accuracy. The double-blind study is published in the July edition of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. We’re using the dogs to sort through the layers of scent until we identify the tell-tale biomarkers. There is still a great deal of work ahead, but we’re making good progress.”Thomas Quinn, DO, Professor, Study Lead Author, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicinelast_img read more

Amazons Alexa wont pass on recordings if you dont set up call

first_img ©2018 USA Today Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. It was every Amazon Echo owner’s nightmare. Alexa, the connected speaker, really, truly, was listening in on your conservations, and behind your back, passed on the recording of a private chit-chat to someone on your Echo contact list. Explore further Citation: Amazon’s Alexa won’t pass on recordings if you don’t set up call features (2018, May 28) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Credit: CC0 Public Domain This actually happened this week, according to Seattle TV station KIRO, which told the story of a Portland woman’s privacy gone amuck.Amazon has tried to counter worries about “always listening” devices by reminding us that the Echo only kicks into action when it hears the wake word Alexa. Ditto for Google and the Google Home connected speaker. The glitch for the Portland family, according to Amazon, is that Alexa heard the wake word, then a series of commands—none of which the family member intentionally made.This also happened to be the week that new privacy rules went into effect in Europe, and our e-mail inboxes were flooded with privacy policy updates form websites, apps and newsletters, outlining exactly how they are now using our information. Even though the rules are only enforceable for European residents, Americans stand to benefit because it’s just too onerous for most tech companies to have different sets of standards.So if for a moment you felt a little better about your personal information in the hands of the big tech companies—along comes an eavesdropping Alexa.If you’re concerned about this scenario, there’s a simple solution. Don’t set up the Echo speaker to make calls, which is what the Portland woman did.The feature lets you make Alexa to Alexa calls via the speaker or app, and call landlines and mobile phone numbers that are in the contacts of your mobile phone.Google has a similar calling feature that also works by setting up calls in the Google Home smartphone app.Most people play music and ask about the weather with their smart speakers, but Bret Kinsella, the publisher of the blog, says making calls is growing in popularity.He polled 1,000 people in January, and found that 41% have tried calling and messaging with their speakers, 29% use it monthly, and 10% daily.”That’s pretty popular, compared to a lot of things,” he says.And for those with the Apple HomePod, the latest of the new connected speakers, yes, you can use the Siri personal assistant to voice command music selections and get questions answered. But you can’t make outgoing calls, but instead transfer calls from an iPhone to the Apple speaker and use it as a speaker phone.Just don’t say Alexa during your call and wake up the Echo speaker. Amazon Echo vs Google Home vs Apple HomePod: Which is right for you?last_img read more

Reports Google wont renew Pentagon contract to use AI

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Reports: Google won’t renew Pentagon contract to use AI (2018, June 2) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Explore further Google worker rebellion against military project grows © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Google won’t renew a contract with the Pentagon that provides the company’s artificially intelligent algorithms to interpret video images and improve the targeting of drone strikes. That’s according to reports in Gizmodo, Buzzfeed, and The New York Times Friday.The reports said Google Cloud business head Diane Greene told employees of the decision not to renew the 18-month deal past the end of 2019, when the current contract ends.Google representatives did not respond to a request for comment.The so-called Project Maven had riled Google employees, including several who quit and thousands of others who signed a petition asking CEO Sundar Pichai to cancel the project and enact a policy renouncing the use of Google technology in warfare.last_img read more

New tools improve farm nutrient and water management

first_imgCredit: FATIMA Explore further EU-funded researchers have developed new mapping tools and services to help farmers better manage the application of nutrients and water to their fields and promote sustainable agriculture. Provided by CORDIS Intensive crop production helps provide a secure supply of affordable food, but this consumes vast amounts of water and pollutes the soil. More sustainable crop management and production methods are urgently needed to continue feeding a growing population without compromising the environment or public health.Sustainable agriculture means optimising the yield and income of farms with a minimum of inputs like irrigation water, nutrients, energy, pesticides and herbicides. The FATIMA project addressed these challenges by developing operational large-scale precision farming tools and creating a dedicated stakeholder community. Precision farming for greater efficiencyResearchers worked with farmers, managers and decision makers in the agribusiness sector, developing a series of maps ranging from the farm to river-basin scale. The project developed precision farming tools using Earth Observation data and wireless sensor networks tailored to local needs and deployed them on the ground. “We created high-resolution maps for determining nutrient and water requirements, so farmers can fine-tune the amount of inputs they actually need to avoid over-fertilisation and save water,” says project coordinator Prof. Alfonso Calera. In arid La Mancha, Spain, for example, partners focused on ensuring efficient water and fertiliser use, while in Marchfeld, Austria a key concern was water quality problems due to intensive agriculture. Thessaly in Greece has been declared a vulnerable region due to groundwater nitrate pollution.An online geographical information system (or webGIS) provides stakeholders with access to the online tools. Comprehensive guides for crop monitoring, management zoning and nitrogen balance can also be downloaded. “The FATIMA webGIS is a platform with a dedicated app, AgriSat, for mobile phone, where SMEs can reach potential customers with new mapping tools, and farmers can find solutions tailored to their needs,” explains Prof. Calera.A further interesting development is the farm-level cost benefit analysis, a complementary tool that helps farmers decide which technology to adopt or service to buy. The tool enables farmers to assess farm profitability on the one hand, and the economic feasibility of a specific FATIMA service on the other. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. How Africa can up its game on water management for agriculture New technologies adoptedThe developed multisensor constellation built by the COPERNICUS satellites Sentinel 2a and 2B, complementary with Landsat 8, offers a unique tool for providing ‘intelligence’ for implementing operational Variable Rate Fertilization. Its main characteristics include high temporal repetitiveness, which makes it possible to follow the vegetation during the critical stage revealing the soil/water/nitrogen interactions. In addition, its high spatial resolution (10 m) is adapted to the spatialised application scale of fertilisers and it has an interesting spectral content for the characterisation of the nitrogenous status of plants. FATIMA also explored farmers’ preferences and willingness to adopt new mapping technologies in the short-term, as well new production methods over the longer term. According to Prof. Calera: “We conducted surveys and focus groups on seven pilot areas and analysed results relating to both short-term and long-term strategies.” This led to the identification of specific conditions deemed essential for FATIMA services to flourish following project completion. “These include successfully demonstrating and validating tools by core users, achieving a critical mass of committed users as well as recognition and support by policy and decision makers,” claims Prof. Calera. Ultimately, precision agriculture – optimising input management according to nutrient and water requirements as championed by FATIMA – is just the first step towards more sustainable agriculture. “In the long term, changes in agricultural practices such as crop rotation, conservation agriculture and transformation to more sustainable production systems are also required,” Prof. Calera points out. Citation: New tools improve farm nutrient and water management (2018, September 7) retrieved 17 July 2019 from read more

Ryanairs Dutchbased cabin crews to strike Tuesday

first_imgRyanair has decided to close its base at Eindhoven Airport Ryanair’s Dutch-based cabin crews Monday announced a last minute 24-hour strike to protest the Irish budget airline’s decision to close its base in the southern city of Eindhoven. Citation: Ryanair’s Dutch-based cabin crews to strike Tuesday (2018, October 22) retrieved 17 July 2019 from Explore further © 2018 AFPcenter_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Pilots sue Ryanair over Dutch airport pullout “Tomorrow (Tuesday) Ryanair’s cabin crews at the Eindhoven airport will strike for 24 hours to protest the sudden closure of the base and the way Ryanair treats its employees,” the Dutch FNV union said in a statement.”The strike involves 90 percent of 98 cabin crew members,” FNV spokeswoman Mariette van Dijk told AFP, adding that 30 employees will hand a petition to the North Brabant provincial government which is a shareholder in Eindhoven’s airport.”This is an unnecessary strike by some of our Dutch cabin crew,” Ryanair said in a statement, adding “all flights from Eindhoven will operate as scheduled.”The strike particularly supports cabin crew members still in a one-year probation period, whom the FNV said will lose their jobs, as well as other crew members who are not prepared to move to other airports in Europe as a result of the base’s closure.The latest strike to hit Ryanair comes as the low-cost operator Monday announced a seven percent dip in first half profits for 2018 after widespread strike action by pilots and cabin crew disrupted operations.On Friday, Ryanair said it had reached agreements with more unions across Europe as it looked to avoid yet more strike action.Ryanair pilots across Europe staged a 24-hour stoppage in September to further demands for better pay and conditions, causing chaos for tens of thousands of passengers.In July, strikes by cockpit and cabin crew disrupted 600 flights in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, affecting 100,000 travellers.A major issue among staff based outside the company’s Ireland base remains the firm’s practice of using Irish legislation in employment contracts.Employees say the status quo creates insecurity for them, blocking access to state benefits in their own countries—including staff in Eindhoven.”Those who work in Eindhoven fall under Dutch law,” said FNV spokeswoman Leen van der List.”This means Ryanair must negotiate with Dutch unions” if they want to close the base at Eindhoven, Van der List said.The Irish airline announced on October 1 it would take all four aircraft from Eindhoven, but said it would try to minimise job losses and offer pilots and cabin crews other places in Europe.last_img read more

Thai retailer Central puts 200 million into ridehailing app Grab

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Thai retailer Central puts $200 million into ride-hailing app Grab (2019, January 31) retrieved 17 July 2019 from Thailand’s biggest shopping mall owner, the Central Group, will pour $200 million into the Singapore ride-hailing and food delivery firm Grab, the companies said Thursday, as they look to reel in customers now buying everything from food to holidays online. Indonesia’s Go-Jek enters Singapore market, challenges Grab The investment means Central, which is also a major hotelier and supermarket chain whose business interests stretch into Europe, will acquire a non-controlling stake in Grab’s Thai entity.Tos Chirathivat, CEO of Central Group and scion of the kingdom’s second richest family with a fortune estimated by Forbes of $21 billion, said the big buy-in will give his company’s stores and hotels access to customers wherever they are.”It (Grab) has built a new platform which consists of food delivery, payment and other services,” he said.”So we can link with it. They can sell or buy products at our malls and get them delivered home.”He did not reveal how much of Grab’s Thai unit he bought with the $200 million. Grab is a market leader in the Southeast Asian ride app industry, having bought out US-based Uber’s regional business last year in return for a stake.Grab CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan said the Central deal brings together Thailand’s “local retail champion” with the “local technology champion”, and would cement the service’s position as Thailand’s “everyday app”.Grab has big ambitions, aiming to hook the region’s consumers on its app and enter joint ventures with major retail players.Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing market is expected to reach $20 billion by 2025, according to research by Google and Temasek.Indonesia’s Go-Jek is also jostling for a larger regional role, launching a trial version of its taxi app in Singapore late last year as part of a $500 million expansion plan.center_img Explore further © 2019 AFP Thailand’s Central Group is pouring $200 million into the Singapore ride-hailing and food delivery firm Grablast_img read more

Germanys Siemens says plans to spin off oil and gas unit

first_img Citation: Germany’s Siemens says plans to spin off oil and gas unit (2019, May 7) retrieved 17 July 2019 from Siemens shares nosedive on overhaul plan, energy woes German industrial conglomerate Siemens said Tuesday it plans to spin off its struggling gas and power unit to prepare it for a potential stock market listing next year. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. The division to be carved out comprises its oil and gas, conventional power generation, power transmission and related services businesses.Siemens’ Gas and Power (GP) unit is to be “given complete independence and entrepreneurial freedom through a carve-out and a subsequent public listing,” Siemens said in a statement.The GP unit with 44,000 employees in 2018 booked sales worth 12.4 billion euros ($13.8 billion) and 377 million euros in profit.But its profitability is declining year on year, due to falling demand for power plant equipment as a result of the global shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.The Munich-based parent company said it plans to give up its majority stake in GP and is preparing for a stock listing by September 2020.The industrial behemoth would increasingly focus on digital industries and smart infrastructure as well as its health and mobility units under its Vision 2020+ strategy.Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser said the goal was “further sharpening Siemens’ focus and making our businesses faster and more flexible”.Key growth areas would include electric mobility infrastructure, distributed energy systems, smart buildings and energy storage, the company said.Siemens AG said it also plans to contribute its majority stake in the renewable energies company SGRE, currently at 59 percent, to GP.However, the parent company plans to “remain a strong anchor shareholder in the new company”.Its stake would be “initially somewhat less than 50 percent and, for the foreseeable future, above the level of a blocking minority holding”.Kaeser said the move will create a player in the energy and electricity sector “with a unique, integrated setup -– an enterprise that encompasses the entire scope of the energy market like no other company”.”Combining our portfolio for conventional power generation with power supply from renewable energies will enable us to fully meet customer demand,” he said.”It will also allow us to provide an optimised and, when necessary, combined range of offerings from a single source.”center_img Siemens wants to increasingly focus on digital industries and smart infrastructure © 2019 AFP Explore furtherlast_img read more

Media group study finds Google makes billions from news

first_img Citation: Media group study finds Google makes billions from news (2019, June 10) retrieved 17 July 2019 from A study sponsored by the News Media Alliance, previously known as the Newspaper Association of America, claims that Google makes billions from content of news organizations without compensating publishers Google looking to help news outlets win subscribers Google took in some $4.7 billion in revenue in 2018 from “crawling and scraping” news websites without paying publishers, according to an industry-sponsored study released Monday which was disputed by the tech giant and media analysts. The study by the News Media Alliance underscores industry arguments about Google and other online giants harming traditional news organizations by dominating the internet news ecosystem and ad revenues generated through it.According to the study, Google has increasingly monetized news content as it works to keep consumers in its ecosystem, and that news searches helps the internet giant gather data from its users to help tailor its other products.The report is expected to be presented this week to a congressional hearing on antitrust abuses by Big Tech firms and to support legislation that would allow news organizations exemptions from antitrust to negotiate digital revenues.Google disputed the findings of the study, as did some media analysts.”These back of the envelope calculations are inaccurate as a number of experts are pointing out,” a Google spokesperson said.”The overwhelming number of news queries do not show ads. The study ignores the value Google provides. Every month Google News and Google Search drive over 10 billion clicks to publishers’ websites, which drive subscriptions and significant ad revenue.”Other analysts also voiced skepticism about the methods and conclusions of the study by the media group previously known as the Newspaper Association of America.Jeff Jarvis, a City University of New York journalism professor, called the study flawed, in part because it relies on “snippets” in search results.”Snippets in search are NOT content,” Jarvis said on Twitter. “They are links TO the publishers. Google does not monetize Google News. When it makes money on news it’s by serving ads ON publishers’ sites.”Temple University professor Aron Pilhofer said the study fails to consider how Google drives users to news websites where publishers can generate revenue.”Even if you accept the methodology (which I do not), I think it’s fair to also account for all the traffic Google is pushing to publisher sites, wouldn’t it? This is just silly,” Pilhofer tweeted.The study comes months after the European Union adopted a hotly contested copyright law that could require Google and other online giants to pay publishers for news content in search results.Many media companies and artists backed the EU move aimed at getting revenue from web platforms. But the law was strongly opposed by internet freedom activists and by Silicon Valley on concerns it could chill the sharing of information.center_img Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2019 AFPlast_img read more

Commercial supersonic aircraft could return to the skies

first_imgDon’t call it a comeback. Credit: Aero Icarus/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA Explore further Beating the boomAs an aircraft flies through the air, it creates pressure disturbance waves that travel at the speed of sound. When the aircraft itself is flying faster than sound, the disturbances are compressed together into a stronger disturbance called a shock wave. Shock wave patterns around supersonic aircraft were recently imaged in NASA experiments. When a supersonic aircraft flies overhead, some of the shock waves may reach the ground. This is the sonic boom, which is experienced as a startling thud. The chevron shapes around the engine’s exhaust nozzles reduce aircraft noise. Credit: John Crowley/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA Flying faster than the speed of sound still sounds futuristic for regular people, more than 15 years after the last commercial supersonic flights ended. The planes that made those journeys, the 14 aircraft collectively known as the Concorde, flew from 1976 to 2003. It traveled three times faster than regular passenger aircraft, but the airlines that flew it couldn’t make a profit on its trips. In addition to technology advances since the Concorde retired, there have also been important changes in commercial air travel patterns. Specifically, there has been a significant increase in the use of commercial business jets and their ownership by wealthy individuals. So, one promising approach to the reintroduction of supersonic commercial aircraft is to develop small business jets. This is the approach being taken by Aerion.Updating the rulesTechnology and market forces are making supersonic aircraft more acceptable and more affordable—but the relevant aviation rules haven’t changed since the Concorde era. In its Reauthorization Act of 2018, the FAA is required to review the regulations for supersonic aircraft on sonic boom and airport noise. Sonic booms can be quite loud. With flight demonstrations scheduled to begin in 2021, success in NASA’s project could remove one important barrier to supersonic flight.Noisy on the ground, tooMy father took me to see the Concorde take off in the early 1970s, and what I remember after all these years is the noise. Nowadays, I recognize that landing and takeoff noise at airports is a second barrier to supersonic aircraft. Airport noise is also regulated in the U.S. by the FAA, and the current rules require that supersonic aircraft meet the same airport noise standards as subsonic aircraft. The Concorde was so loud, however, that it had to be given an exception from those rules.The latest subsonic aircraft use very large jet engines that deliver high fuel efficiency. These engines also greatly reduce airport noise by accelerating a larger volume of air to a lower velocity than smaller engines. The new engines are so quiet that regulators have twice been able to decrease the amount of noise airplanes are allowed to make since Concorde stopped flying. A promotional NASA video shows early views of a supersonic aircraft that makes a much quieter sonic boom than the Concorde did. Those standards are now much harder for supersonic aircraft to meet. That’s because supersonic aircraft can’t use the big new engines, which greatly increase the drag at high speed. That, in turn, requires more fuel to be carried aboard the plane and burned in flight, which is both heavy and expensive. Essentially, in the design of supersonic planes, a compromise has to be found between noise and efficiency.Positive developmentsHowever, some recent innovations for airport noise reduction on subsonic aircraft will also yield reductions for supersonic vehicles in comparison to the Concorde’s 1960s design. These advances include the use of chevrons on jet engine nozzles to reduce jet noise by more effectively mixing the gas from the engine with the external airflow.Also, with the improved speed and accuracy of computer simulations, it’s now easier to explore new noise-reducing airframe designs. NASA captures unprecedented images of supersonic shockwaves As a plane accelerates, it builds up a front of air pressure by pushing air in front of it. When it passes the speed of sound, the pressure trails behind like a boat’s wake, forming a sonic shockwave. Credit: Chabacano/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA Citation: Commercial supersonic aircraft could return to the skies (2019, July 11) retrieved 17 July 2019 from This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. The reason the Concorde was unprofitable was, in fact, a side effect of its speed. When the plane sped up past the speed of sound—about 760 mph—it created shock waves in the air that would hit the ground with a loud and sudden thud: a sonic “boom.” It is so alarming for people on the ground that U.S. federal regulations ban all commercial aircraft from flying faster than the speed of sound over land.Those rules, and the amount of fuel the plane could carry, effectively limited the Concorde to trans-Atlantic flights. Operating the plane was still so expensive that a one-way ticket between London and New York could cost over US$5,000. And the Concorde often flew with half its seats empty.The main benefit of supersonic travel is the reduction in flight time. A three-hour flight across the Atlantic could make a day trip possible from the U.S. to London or Paris, essentially saving one whole work day. As an aerospace engineer studying high-speed air vehicles, I believe that recent advances in technology and new trends in commercial air travel could make supersonic flight economically viable. But regulations will have to change before civilians can zip through the skies faster than sound. A diagram of air flow through a jet engine. Credit: Jeff Dahl/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA Recently, the current U.S. administration signaled that it wants to amend the rules to facilitate supersonic commercial flight. An important first step involves the FAA simplifying the process for testing supersonic aircraft.In my view, the current total ban on any flight over land at supersonic speed is far too restrictive. Aircraft flying at low supersonic speeds do not generate a significant boom. And, the NASA X-59 project may result in supersonic aircraft with much weaker booms. Rather than banning booms entirely, it would be better to set maximum boom levels, to balance the benefits of supersonic flight with the noisy detriments. Commercial flights are regulated in the U.S. by the Federal Aviation Administration. To protect the public from sonic booms, the current FAA regulations ban the flight over land of any commercial aircraft at supersonic speed.However, NASA is working to significantly reduce the sonic boom in its X-59 program. By careful shaping of the aircraft, the goal is to weaken the shock waves or to prevent them from reaching the ground. Provided by The Conversation Aerion is developing a supersonic business jet in collaboration with Boeing and Lockheed Martin. In addition, I believe the current airport-noise rules, requiring supersonic aircraft be no louder than subsonic airplanes, impose an unreasonable burden on supersonic aircraft developers. First, as mentioned earlier, the Concorde provides a precedent for making a special case for supersonic aircraft. Second, for many years after their initial reintroduction, the total number of supersonic aircraft departing any airport will be a small fraction of all traffic. For example, a study conducted for Aerion indicated potential sales of 30 supersonic aircraft a year for 20 years in the small business market. Regulations should accommodate both what supersonic aircraft technology can reasonably deliver and what airport communities will tolerate.Momentum is building through changes in technology and market that may bring back supersonic commercial flight, if regulations keep up. While at first it may be affordable to only a select few, the experience gained in developing and operating these aircraft will inevitably lead to new innovations that drive down ticket prices and open the opportunity to fly faster than the speed of sound to a broader section of society. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Rafale deal Congress leaders meet CAG demand early report

first_imgNDA govt got Rafale jets at nine per cent cheaper rate than UPA deal: Sitharaman COMMENT Delegation submits a memorandum detailing ‘irregularities’ A delegation of senior Congress leaders on Wednesday met the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the Rafale fighter jet deal and asked the auditor to prepare a report on alleged irregularities in it. The Congress delegation handed a memorandum to the CAG and said it expects the truth to prevail after the report on the Rafale deal is made public. “We have given a detailed memorandum along with enclosures on the irregularities and acts of omission and commission by the Government in the fighter jet deal. We expect the CAG will prepare a report soon and present it before Parliament,” senior Congress leader Anand Sharma told reporters after meeting the CAG. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala added that all evidence and facts relating to the Rafale deal have been submitted to the CAG. “We explained to the CAG how Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was removed from the deal to benefit a private player. We hope the CAG will give its report soon. The CAG has assured us that they are already examining all aspects of the deal. We expect that when the report on the deal comes out in public domain, the real scam will come out and the truth shall prevail,” he told reporters. The Congress has stepped up heat on the government over the Rafale deal and is seeking to make it a major poll issue ahead of assembly elections to some key states later this year and the general elections in 2019. Modi govt has endangered national security: Congress corruption & bribery September 19, 2018 A delegation of Congress leaders after meeting the CAG in New Delhi, on September 19, 2018   –  RV Moorthy/The Hindu Published oncenter_img RELATED defence contract SHARE SHARE EMAIL Supreme Court adjourns hearing on PIL to stay Rafale deal to October 10 SHARE COMMENTSlast_img read more

JK records 2936 cases of ceasefire violations by Pakistan in 2018 highest

first_imgJanuary 07, 2019 Pakistan Who is threatening the human rights of the citizens?, asks Jaitley India COMMENT Published on Whither 56-inch chest, asks Cong after soldier slain by Pak troops Maximum BSF casualties along Jammu and Kashmir IB this year Congress slams ‘clueless’ BJP, seeks J&K roadmap SHARE file photo   –  PTI Jammu and Kashmir recorded 2,936 instances of ceasefire violations by Pakistan in 2018—the highest in the past 15 years with an average of eight cases daily—in which 61 people were killed and over 250 injured, officials said on Monday.Shelling and firing by Pakistani troops was “very heavy” in 2018, virtually making the 2003 India-Pakistan border truce “redundant”, they said.“Pakistani troops repeatedly targeted forwards posts and villages along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) to create a fear psychosis among the people,” a senior police officer said. “Pakistani forces have violated the ceasefire 2,936 times in 2018, in which 61 people were killed and 250 injured,” a senior Army official told PTI.The violations continued despite Pakistani troops vowing to maintain peace on the border during more than 20 brigade commander-level and flag meetings with the Indian forces. “Pakistan vows to maintain peace and strengthen border relations, but they do not keep their promises,” the Army official said.The number of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops in 2018 were over three times that of 2017, when 971 cases were reported. In 2017, 31 people—12 civilians and 19 security forces personnel—were killed and 151 suffered injures.Protecting citizensPeople living near the border in Jammu, Kathua, Samba, Rajouri and Poonch districts were severely hit by firing and shelling by Pakistani troops. Fear gripped the border populace due to frequent shelling, which prompted thousands of people to migrate to safer places.The officials said that due to shelling and firing incidents, people had to migrate to safer places three times last year, which affected education and farm activities.To protect border residents in view of increasing ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir, the central government sanctioned Rs 415 crore for the construction of over 14,400 underground bunkers along the LoC and the IB and made efforts to speed up the work last year.Over 300 bunkers have been constructed under the programme in the affected districts and tenders have been floated for more such bunkers, the officials said, adding that over 4,000 bunkers would be constructed this year.Increase in violations Giving details of cases of ceasefire violations in the past decade, the officials said that in 2015, 405 cases of ceasefire violations were reported and 583 such instances were recorded in 2014. There had been a gradual increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistan between 2009 and 2013. The corresponding figures for 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 were 347, 114, 62, 44, and 28.In the previous three years, the numbers of such violations were 77 in 2008, 21 in 2007 and three in 2006, according to official data. For three years – 2004, 2005 and 2006 – there was not a single such violation on the border.The Indian government led by the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee entered into a border ceasefire agreement with Pakistan along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir on November 26, 2003. India shares a 3,323-km-long border with Pakistan, of which 221 km of the IB and 740 km of the LoC fall in Jammu and Kashmir. RELATED SHARE SHARE EMAIL COMMENTSlast_img read more