Anticipating a stressful day may affect cognition throughout the day

first_imgJul 3 2018There may be some truth to the saying “getting up on the wrong side of the bed,” according to Penn State researchers who say starting your morning by focusing on how stressful your day will be may be harmful to your mindset throughout the day.The researchers found that when participants woke up feeling like the day ahead would be stressful, their working memory — which helps people learn and retain information even when they’re distracted — was lower later in the day. Anticipating something stressful had a great effect on working memory regardless of actual stressful events.Jinshil Hyun, a doctoral student in human development and family studies, said the findings suggest that the stress process begins long before a stressful event occurs.”Humans can think about and anticipate things before they happen, which can help us prepare for and even prevent certain events,” Hyun said. “But this study suggests that this ability can also be harmful to your daily memory function, independent of whether the stressful events actually happen or not.”Martin Sliwinski, director of Penn State’s Center for Healthy Aging, said working memory can affect many aspects of a person’s day, and lower working memory can have a negative impact on individuals’ daily lives, especially among older adults who already experience cognitive decline.”A reduced working memory can make you more likely to make a mistake at work or maybe less able to focus,” Sliwinski said. “Also, looking at this research in the context of healthy aging, there are certain high stakes cognitive errors that older adults can make. Taking the wrong pill or making a mistake while driving can all have catastrophic impacts.”While previous research has examined how stressful events can affect emotion, cognition and physiology, not as much has been done on the effects of anticipating stressful events that haven’t yet happened in the context of everyday life.The researchers recruited 240 racially and economically diverse adults to participate in the study. For two weeks, the participants responded seven times a day to questions prompted from a smartphone app: once in the morning about whether they expected their day to be stressful, five times throughout the day about current stress levels, and once at night about whether they expected the following day to be stressful. The participants also completed a working memory task five times a day.Related StoriesSchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairHyun said that while laboratory studies have the benefit of controlling the participants’ experience during the study, the use of smartphones to collect data as the participants went about their daily lives had benefits, as well.”Having the participants log their stress and cognition as they went about their day let us get a snapshot of how these processes work in the context of real, everyday life,” Hyun said. “We were able to gather data throughout the day over a longer period of time, instead of just a few points in time in a lab.”The researchers found that more stress anticipation in the morning was associated with poorer working memory later in the day. Stress anticipation from the previous evening was not associated with poorer working memory.Sliwinski said the findings — recently published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences — show the importance of a person’s mindset first thing in the morning, before anything stressful has happened yet.”When you wake up in the morning with a certain outlook for the day, in some sense the die is already cast,” Sliwinski said. “If you think your day is going to be stressful, you’re going to feel those effects even if nothing stressful ends up happening. That hadn’t really been shown in the research until now, and it shows the impact of how we think about the world.”The researchers said the results open the door for possible interventions that can help people predict when their cognition may not be optimal.”If you wake up and feel like the day is going to be stressful, maybe your phone can remind you to do some deep breathing relaxation before you start your day,” Sliwinski said. “Or if your cognition is at a place where you might make a mistake, maybe you can get a message that says now might not be the best time to go for a drive.”Sliwinski said they’re working on additional studies that will use wearable sensors to gather even more in-depth data on the effect of stress on participants’ physiological states. Hyun added that she’s also interested in future studies that can help uncover possible psychological or biological mechanisms behind how stress affects cognition. Source:https://news.psu.edu/story/526774/2018/07/03/research/expecting-stressful-day-may-lower-cognitive-abilities-throughoutlast_img read more

Entresto drug can be initiated early and safely in heart failure patients

first_img Source:https://www.novartis.com/news/media-releases/novartis-announces-new-data-show-entresto-sacubitrilvalsartan-can-be-initiated-early-safely-hospitalized-patients-after-acute-heart-failure-episode Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Aug 25 2018Data from the TRANSITION study presented today at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Munich, Germany has shown that Entresto® (sacubitril/valsartan) can be initiated early and safely in a wide range of heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) who have been stabilized after hospitalization due to an acute heart failure episode. Patients involved in the study included those with no prior experience of Entresto or conventional HF therapies, as well as those with prior experience of conventional HF therapies.About half of all heart failure patients have reduced ejection fraction, and optimizing treatment for these patients according to guidelines is critical to reduce the likelihood of another acute episode or dying. However, there is often hesitancy to initiate a new treatment after a hospitalization as these patients are considered ‘vulnerable’ and unable to tolerate changes in their medication.”In the weeks following an episode of acute heart failure, patients are very vulnerable and face a high risk of re-hospitalization and death,” said Prof. Rolf Wachter, University Hospital Leipzig, Germany and study investigator. “The PARADIGM-HF study showed that sacubitril/valsartan reduces heart failure-related hospitalizations, re-hospitalization and death. TRANSITION shows that sacubitril/valsartan can be initiated early and safely in patients shortly after an acute heart failure episode, providing physicians with added confidence to optimize their care with innovative medicines in heart failure treatment.”Related StoriesStroke should be treated 15 minutes earlier to save lives, study suggestsWeightlifting is better for the heart than cardioCancer incidence among children and young adults with congenital heart diseaseIn TRANSITION, the safety and tolerability of Entresto were assessed in HFrEF patients after they have been stabilized following an acute heart failure episode. Patients were randomized to initiate Entresto therapy either in the hospital (pre-discharge) or shortly after leaving the hospital (post-discharge). At 10 weeks, more than 86% of patients were receiving Entresto for 2 weeks or longer without interruption and about half of patients in the study achieved the primary endpoint which was a target dose of 200 mg of Entresto twice daily within 10 weeks in both groups. The number of patients who met the primary and secondary endpoints was similar across both treatment arms. The incidence of adverse events and discontinuations of Entresto due to adverse events was also similar in both the in-hospital and the out-patient setting.”We are encouraged by the findings of TRANSITION which show that Entresto, the new standard of care in heart failure, can be safely initiated in recently hospitalized patients,” said Shreeram Aradhye, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Global Head, Medical Affairs, Novartis Pharmaceuticals. “Heart failure is a serious progressive disease with 83% of patients hospitalized at least once for an acute heart failure episode during the course of their condition. Hospitalization provides an opportunity for physicians to optimize heart failure treatment according to guidelines to reduce the likelihood of hospital readmission and death, reduce the burden of hospitalizations, and improve patient outcomes.”last_img read more

Researchers take major step forward in finding safe and nonaddictive pain killer

first_img Source:https://newsroom.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2018/08/Scientists-Take-Big-Step-Toward-Finding-Non-Addictive-Pain-Killer Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Aug 30 2018With the support of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, scientists at Wake Forest School of Medicine have been working to find a safe, non-addictive pain killer to help fight the current opioid crisis in this country.And they may have done just that, though in an animal model.Known as AT-121, the new chemical compound has dual therapeutic action that suppressed the addictive effects of opioids and produced morphine-like analgesic effects in non-human primates.”In our study, we found AT-121 to be safe and non-addictive, as well as an effective pain medication,” said Mei-Chuan Ko, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pharmacology at the School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.”In addition, this compound also was effective at blocking abuse potential of prescription opioids, much like buprenorphine does for heroin, so we hope it could be used to treat pain and opioid abuse.”The findings are published in the Aug. 29 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.The main objective of this study was to design and test a chemical compound that would work on both the mu opioid receptor, the main component in the most effective prescription pain killers, and the nociceptin receptor, which opposes or blocks the abuse and dependence-related side effects of mu-targeted opioids. Current opioid pain drugs, such as fentanyl and oxycodone, work only on the mu opioid receptor, which also produces unwanted side effects – respiratory depression, abuse potential, increased sensitivity to pain and physical dependence.Related StoriesOpioid overdose deaths on the decline says CDC but the real picture may still be grimBritish boys to receive HPV jabsStudy shows potential culprit behind Lupus”We developed AT-121 that combines both activities in an appropriate balance in one single molecule, which we think is a better pharmaceutical strategy than to have two drugs to be used in combination,” Ko said.In the study, the researchers observed that AT-121 showed the same level of pain relief as an opioid, but at a 100-times lower dose than morphine. At that dose, it also blunted the addictive effects of oxycodone, a commonly abused prescription drug.The bifunctional profile of AT-121 not only gave effective pain relief without abuse potential, it also lacked other opioid side-effects that patients typically struggle with, such as itch, respiratory depression, tolerance and dependence.”Our data shows that targeting the nociceptin opioid receptor not only dialed down the addictive and other side-effects, it provided effective pain relief,” Ko said. “The fact that this data was in nonhuman primates, a closely related species to humans, was also significant because it showed that compounds, such as AT-121, have the translational potential to be a viable opioid alternative or replacement for prescription opioids.”Next steps include conducting additional preclinical studies to collect more safety data, and then if all goes well, applying to the Food and Drug Administration for approval to begin clinical trials in people, Ko said.AT-121 was developed by Nurulain T. Zaveri, Ph.D., a member of the research team at Astraea Therapeutics.last_img read more

Researchers test experimental cancer vaccine on mice with aggressive melanoma

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Sep 7 2018An experimental cancer vaccine that boosts the immune system’s ability to fight cancers could work in tandem with other cancer therapies to fight aggressive tumors, scientists reported recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The researchers demonstrated that adding a molecule called Diprovocim to a vaccine can draw cancer-fighting cells to tumor sites. Their experiments in mice with melanoma suggest these vaccines could increase chances of recovery in cases where a drug therapy alone is not working.”This co-therapy produced a complete response–a curative response–in the treatment of melanoma,” says Scripps Research Professor Dale Boger, PhD, who co-led the study with Nobel laureate Bruce Beutler, MD, of UT Southwestern.Related StoriesSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyLiving with advanced breast cancerNovel vaccine against bee sting allergy successfully testedThe vaccine also prompts the immune system to fight tumor cells should they ever return, a capability that could prevent cancer recurrence. “Just as a vaccine can train the body to fight off external pathogens, this vaccine trains the immune system to go after the tumor,” Boger explains.Developed by Boger and Beutler, Diprovocim works as an “adjuvant,” a molecule added to a vaccine to fire up the body’s immune response. The molecule is easy to synthesize in the lab and easy to modify, which makes it attractive for use in medicine.The new research shows that adding Diprovocim to a vaccine targeting cancer cells can have dramatic results.The researchers tested the vaccine design on mice with a form of notoriously aggressive melanoma. All mice in the experiment were given the anti-cancer therapy anti-PD-L1. The mice were then split into three group: eight received the cancer vaccine, eight received the cancer vaccine plus Diprovocim, and eight received the cancer vaccine plus an alternative adjuvant called alum.The researchers observed a 100 percent survival rate over 54 days in the mice given the cancer vaccine and Diprovocim. This was in contrast to a zero percent survival rate in mice given only the cancer vaccine and a 25 percent survival rate in mice given the cancer vaccine with alum.”It was exciting to see the vaccine working simultaneously with a cancer immunotherapy like anti-PD-L1,” says Boger.Further experiments showed that using Diprovocim as an adjuvant boosts the vaccine’s cancer-fighting potential by stimulating the immune system to make cells called tumor-infiltrating leukocytes.When the scientists tried to re-establish the tumor in these mice, “it wouldn’t take,” Boger says. “The animal is already vaccinated against it.”Boger says it is encouraging to see that the vaccine with Diprovocim does not need to be injected directly into a tumor. Instead, the researchers gave it as an intramuscular injection away from the main tumor site. The vaccination did require two doses given seven days apart.Going forward, the researchers plan to do further pre-clinical testing with this vaccine design and study how it works in combination with other cancer therapies. Source:https://www.scripps.edu/news-and-events/press-room/2018/20180906-melanoma-cancer-vaccine.htmllast_img read more

Worlds heaviest dinosaur just lost tons of weight

first_imgCall it a downsizing of dinosaurian proportions. Last year, scientists described the near-complete fossil of a gigantic species of long-necked sauropod called Dreadnoughtus schrani. Using the dimensions of its leg bones and a formula that projected weight-carrying capacity, they estimated that the massive herbivore tipped the scales at about 59 metric tons, making it the heftiest dinosaur known from a relatively complete specimen. But now, a new analysis casts significant doubt on the previous weight estimate. The new team took a digital model (seen at three angles, above) to determine the weight of the bones and then added 21% more volume to account for flesh and other soft tissue outside of the skeleton. (Modern-day mammals have an average soft tissue volume that is 21% greater than their skeletal volume, the researchers say.) After cutting the dinosaur’s weight to account for lung space, the researchers report today in Biology Letters that Dreadnoughtus weighed a little less than 28 metric tons. But even when researchers boosted the volume of tissue outside the dino’s torso by an unusually large 50% and doubled the size of every other body part, the creature still weighed in at only 38 metric tons. So why did the previous estimate run so high? One possibility, the researchers say, is the technique previously used is based on the weight-carrying capacity of adult bones. The only known specimen of Dreadnoughtus—analyzed in both studies—was an adolescent, whose bones may have been disproportionately large compared with the rest of its body.last_img read more

BARDA broadens pharma funding to fight superbugs

first_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The U.S. government is deepening its effort to entice drug companies back into antibiotic research with a new public-private partnership. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) announced yesterday that it will invest up to $170 million to help pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca move new antibiotic drug candidates toward the market. AstraZeneca has long been an exception to the trend of waning corporate interest in antibiotic research. Discouraged by the scientific challenges of finding novel antibiotic compounds—and by the difficulty of turning a profit in a field dominated by low-cost generics—many companies have fled the field since the early 2000s. AstraZeneca’s announcement this February that it would spin out its early-stage research into a separate company was interpreted by industry analysts as a signal that it, too, was stepping out of the field.But under the new agreement, AstraZeneca will receive an initial $50 million to focus first on a combination drug it has been developing for hard-to-treat gram-negative infections. BARDA then plans to invest up to $120 million more over the next 5 years, as it advises the company on other drug candidates to pursue. Emailcenter_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) As public health experts have sounded the alarm over the threat of increasingly drug-resistant bacteria, BARDA has become a key federal funding mechanism for clinical-stage antibiotic projects, through its Broad Spectrum Antimicrobials (BSA) program, launched in 2010. But until recently, that assistance came in the form of $50 million to $85 million grants to help smaller companies stay afloat through expensive late-stage clinical trials for single drug candidates.Broad funding for a company’s entire drug pipeline is a relatively newer part of BARDA’s strategy. In 2013, the agency made a $200 million agreement with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to fund an entire portfolio of projects, some still in preclinical stages.“It’s all about spreading risk over a number of different molecules versus focusing on one and then if it crashes and burns your contract has crashed and burned and you have to start over,” BSA head Joseph Larsen told ScienceInsider at a briefing to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in Washington, D.C., this past March. “So by definition, that tends to be companies that are larger.” Larsen added that, since the GSK agreement, he has been approached by other firms considering getting back into antibiotics, but struggling to make a business case for the research.Whether other companies can be enticed back into antibiotic research through such partnerships may depend in part on BARDA’s budget next year. An antibiotic resistance initiative announced as part of President Obama’s 2016 budget request would bump funding for the BSA initiative from $79 million to $192 million. Congress is not expected to finalize the 2016 budget until later this year or early next.last_img read more

Its official Youre lost in a directionless universe

first_img An anisotropic universe would leave telltale patterns in the cosmic microwave background (bottom). But the actual CMB (top) shows only random noise and no signs of such patterns. For example, space could be expanding at different speeds along different axes. Such differential expansion would cause the radiation from some directions to stretch to longer wavelengths than in others, and the upshot would be a big bull’s-eye pattern in the CMB. Or, space could be rotating about a particular axis, which would create a spiral pattern in the CMB. Finally, the newborn universe could have been agitated by distortions in space itself known as gravitational waves, which would stretch the whole cosmos in one direction and compress it in a perpendicular direction. That sort of motion would leave more complex spirals in the CMB. In all, the researchers identify five potential patterns or “modes” in the CMB that would signal some sort of special direction in space.Using a supercomputer, Saadeh, Pontzen, and colleagues look for evidence of any such patterns lurking faintly behind random variations in the CMB’s temperature—a process not unlike trying to pick out a weak picture through extreme static on an old-fashioned TV screen. To give their study even more bite, they also look for accompanying patterns in the polarization of the CMB’s microwaves, which Planck also mapped. For three of the five patterns, “polarization data is the killer thing,” Saadeh says.Others had performed similar tests for signs that the universe is spinning, but Saadeh, Pontzen, and colleagues improve the limit on such a signal by an order of magnitude. They also put limits on all other kinds of anisotropy, as they report in a paper in press at Physical Review Letters. “For the first time, we really exclude anisotropy,” Saadeh says. “Before, it was only that it hadn’t been probed.”But just how significant is that advance? That’s hard to judge, Challinor says, because there aren’t compelling alternatives to the standard model of cosmology that predict exactly how an anisotropic universe should be. “The problem is, what do you compare it to?” he asks. Still, he notes, “this assumption is fundamental cosmology” so “it’s very important to check.” 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 Ever peer into the night sky and wonder whether space is really the same in all directions or whether the cosmos might be whirling about like a vast top? Now, one team of cosmologists has used the oldest radiation there is, the afterglow of the big bang, or the cosmic microwave background (CMB), to show that the universe is “isotropic,” or the same no matter which way you look: There is no spin axis or any other special direction in space. In fact, they estimate that there is only a one-in-121,000 chance of a preferred direction—the best evidence yet for an isotropic universe. That finding should provide some comfort for cosmologists, whose standard model of the evolution of the universe rests on an assumption of such uniformity.”It’s a much more comprehensive analysis than in previous cases,” says Anthony Challinor, a cosmologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom who was not involved in the work. “The question of how isotropic is the universe is of fundamental importance.”In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus knocked Earth and humanity from the supposed center of the universe by noting that Earth goes around the sun, not the other way around. That observation gave birth to the Copernican principle, which holds that we have no special place in the infinite, centerless universe. In the early 20th century, with the advent of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity and the observation that the universe is expanding in all directions, that idea evolved into the cosmological principle, which assumes that the universe is the same everywhere and in every direction. In fancier terms, the universe is both homogeneous and isotropic. Email The principle has its limitations. As the existence of stars and galaxies shows, matter is not distributed exactly the same way everywhere. This, they assume, arises because the universe was born as a homogeneous soup of subatomic particles in the big bang. As the universe underwent an exponential growth spurt called inflation, tiny quantum fluctuations in that soup expanded to gargantuan sizes, providing density variations that would seed the galaxies. Yet, the standard model of cosmology rests on the assumption that, on the largest scales, these variations are insignificant, and space is homogeneous and isotropic.But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Theoretically, it’s possible that space could be the same from point to point, but still have special directions—much as a diamond crystal has uniform density, but specific directions in which its atoms line up in rows. There were even some hints of such “anisotropy” in the early 2000s, when measurements from NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) spacecraft suggested that some subtle undulations in the motley CMB appeared to line up along a so-called “axis of evil”—which most researchers discount as a statistical fluke.Now, Daniela Saadeh and Andrew Pontzen, cosmologists at University College London, and colleagues have ruled out special directions with the most stringent test yet. They also use measurements of the CMB, this time taken with the European Space Agency’s Planck spacecraft, which collected data from 2009 to 2013 and provided far more precise CMB maps than WMAP. Instead of looking for curious imbalances in the CMB, they systematically worked the other way around. They considered all the ways that space could have a preferred direction and how such scenarios might imprint themselves on the CMB. Then they searched for those specific signs in the data. Credits: (Top to bottom) ESA and the Planck Collaboration; D. Saadeh et. al., zenodo Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)last_img read more

Scientists luck upon a new way to make a rainbow

first_imgScientists luck upon a new way to make a rainbow Iridescence can also arise when a thin translucent film lies atop a reflective surface, like oil on a puddle. Some light waves reflect off the top of the film and some from the bottom. Depending on the thickness of the film, the angle at which it’s viewed, and the wavelength of the light, the waves will recombine and interfere to either reinforce each other or cancel each other out. Such thin-film interference gives an oily puddle its colorful stripes.Finally, iridescence can arise through diffraction, when light reflects off a more complicated periodic structure, such as the grooves in a compact disk. Again, the light waves rebounding from the grooves can interfere to reinforce or cancel one another, depending on the wavelength of the light and the angle at which it is viewed. Such diffraction explains the brilliant colors of some butterfly wings and humanmade photonic crystals.Now, Lauren Zarzar, a materials chemist at Pennsylvania State University in State College, and colleagues report producing iridescence in a new way. They happened across the effect in early 2017, when they cooked up micron-size spherical droplets containing two types of oil in which the lighter oil formed a lentil-shaped upper layer the researchers hoped to use as a lens. But surprisingly, when illuminated from above, the edges of the lentils glowed with a color that depended on their size and the angle at which they were viewed, the team reports today in Nature.Zarzar says her group certainly wasn’t the first to witness the effect. “People have come up to me and said, ‘Oh, I know exactly what you’re talking about! I’ve seen it, too.’” Yet, a literature search revealed no mention of it. Researchers assumed it must be a refraction or diffraction effect, but those schemes couldn’t fit the data, Zarzar says.Clarity came only with the computer simulations performed by Sara Nagelberg and Mathias Kolle, mechanical engineers and team members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Their analysis showed the iridescence emerges through a new mechanism that blends certain elements of the previously known ones.In the end, the effect can be demonstrated and most easily explained in a much simpler system: water droplets that condense and hang from the underside of the lid of a petri dish. Light waves entering near one edge of a droplet can bounce two or more times off the dome of the droplet before emerging near the other edge—much as light reflects off the back of a raindrop in a rainbow. However, the light waves entering at slightly different distances from the center of the droplet can bounce different numbers of times. And waves bouncing different numbers of times can interfere and reinforce each other, as in diffraction or thin-film interference. As a result, different colors emerge at different angles, which can be controlled by changing the size of the droplet.“We were really racking our brains for quite some time,” Zarzar says. “No other explanation came close to matching the effect.” Chau says, “They did a great job doing detailed experiments and simulations to see how the effect arises.”The new effect could be related to one called a glory that is sometimes seen by airplane passengers flying over clouds. If the sun shines from directly above, the plane’s shadow below will appear surrounded by rainbowlike bullseye. That effect is thought to arise from the interference of light waves reflecting within water droplets in the clouds.Engineers already use thin films and refractive particles to create iridescence in video displays, paints, and decorative wall coverings. With its simplicity and adjustability, the new effect could open ways to color the world. It has one obvious limitation, Chau says: The incident white light has to come from a specific direction, so the effect won’t work in ambient light. Still, “Humans are always looking for new and different ways to produce artificial color,” he says. “I foresee that this will definitely allow for a lot of exploration.” Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email By Adrian ChoFeb. 27, 2019 , 1:05 PMcenter_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Chemists have stumbled across a new way to separate reflected light into the colors of the rainbow—a phenomenon known as iridescence. The surprisingly simple technique, which is something of a hybrid of previously known ones, could have applications both scientific and aesthetic.“It’s really cool,” says Kenneth Chau, an optical engineer at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna, Canada, who was not involved in the work. “I’m surprised I didn’t see it in the lab myself.”In iridescence, an object reflects different colors at different angles, separating white light into its constituent colors. One way to achieve it is through refraction, the bending of light as it passes from one translucent medium to another. For example, a rainbow emerges when light bends as it enters spherical raindrops, bounces off the back of them, and then bends again as it exits the drops. The entire process redirects different colors at slightly different angles, spreading them to create the rainbow.last_img read more

Cabinet Secretary concerned about productivity in the public sector visavis training provided

first_imgShareTweetSharePinFerrol speaking at the opening of the Strategic Planning Week seminarCabinet Secretary, Ambassador Steve Ferrol has voiced his dissatisfaction with the level of increase in performance and productivity within the public sector in relation to the training which is being provided for public officersFerrol was speaking at a Strategic Planning Week seminar, organized by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, which was held on Monday.“It’s  becoming more and more evident that the volume of training programmes attended at the national, regional and international level by officers within a wide cross section within the public service, has not quite measured up to a commensurate level of increase in performance and productivity within the public sector,” he said.According to the Cabinet Secretary, these trainings comprise a host of workshops, seminars, working sessions, attachments and long-term study introducing new techniques and methodologies, “that should make our government operations second to none.”However, Ferrol said when measured by the quality of work, reports, presentations and overall output made as part of the workings of the government systems, many fall short.He went on to say that, “it would be interesting to carry out an exercise this week as part of your programme if some time would be permitted to examine why is this.”He saluted public officers who step out every day to give their best.last_img read more

Health ministry forms committee to consider law for doctors security

first_img Welcoming the move by the centre, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) said it has won the first battle in its struggle against violence.A month after two junior doctors were attacked by the family of a patient at the NRS Medical College and Hospital, leading to a week-long agitation, the Union health ministry has set up a panel to examine the “pros and cons” of bringing a legislation against assault on doctors on duty. Advertising Advertising Post Comment(s) Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Top News By Express Web Desk |New Delhi | Published: July 10, 2019 5:05:59 pm Doctors at several other hospitals across the country also boycotted work, held marches and raised slogans to express solidarity with their protesting colleagues in Kolkata.Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan Harsh Vardhan had supported the demand for a Central law and had said that such crimes should be made non-bailable.He had also written to all states, requesting chief ministers to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence, along with suggesting a model law proposed by the IMA.(With inputs from PTI) The committee, constituted on July 5, comprises of members from the Home Ministry and the Legal Affairs Department. It will also have representatives from the Medical Council of India and doctors’ associations, and medical superintendents of AIIMS and RML Hospital as members.Welcoming the move by the Centre, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) said, “IMA has won the first battle in its struggle against violence. The Union government has constituted an inter-ministerial committee to go into the central legislation against the assault on doctors and hospitals. Congratulations to the entire medical fraternity.”The IMA had launched a four-day nationwide protest last month following the Kolkata incident and wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding enactment of a Central law, saying it should have a provision for a minimum of seven-year jail sentence to violaters. After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach last_img read more

SuperEarth spied in the secondclosest star system from the sun

first_img By Daniel CleryNov. 14, 2018 , 1:40 PM M. Kornmesser/ESO Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The newly discovered planet orbiting dim Barnard’s star (imagined here) is much larger and colder than Earth. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Super-Earth spied in the second-closest star system from the suncenter_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Our corner of the Milky Way is getting rather neighborly. In 2016, astronomers discovered a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our sun, just 4 light-years away. Now, they believe they have found an exoplanet around Barnard’s star, which at 6 light-years away is the second-closest star system. The planet—a chilly world more than three times heavier than Earth—is close enough that scientists could learn about its atmosphere with future giant telescopes. “This is going to be one of the best candidates,” says astronomer Nikku Madhusudhan of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, who was not part of the discovery team.Barnard’s star b, as the new planet is called, was excruciatingly difficult to pin down, and the team is referring to it as a “candidate planet” though it is confident it’s there. Most exoplanets, including the thousands identified by NASA’s recently retired Kepler space telescope, were found using the “transit” technique: looking for a periodic dip in starlight as a planet passes in front. But that method detects only the small fraction of planets that cross their star’s face when viewed from Earth. Despite decades of watching, astronomers haven’t detected any planets transiting Barnard’s star.But astronomers can also look for planets by measuring their gravitational tug on a star. Hundreds of exoplanets have been found by looking for periodic Doppler shifts in the frequency of starlight. In 2015, astronomers saw hints of such shifts in the light from Barnard’s star. “Then we went hard for it,” says astronomer Ignasi Ribas of the Institute of Space Sciences in Barcelona, Spain, who led the new project. His team made observations from two ground-based telescopes in Chile and Spain. They also observed with a spectrograph at Spain’s Calar Alto Observatory and added in archival data spanning 20 years from those and four other instruments, giving them a total of nearly 800 measurements. “It was a community effort,” Ribas says. As they report today in Nature, they found that the star’s light oscillated every 233 days, implying a planet orbiting with a 223-day year.There’s a chance that the oscillations are caused by something that affects the way the star shines in a periodic way, such as star spots. The team has calculated that this is highly unlikely, although still possible. “We’re quite convinced” it is a planet, Ribas says. Madhusudhan isn’t quite so certain: “If confirmed, this will be very good. It shows how hard it is to do this thing.”From this orbital information, the team calculates the planet must weigh at least 3.2 times as much as Earth. That puts Barnard’s star b squarely into a terra incognita between small rocky planets like Earth and larger gas planets like Neptune. The Kepler mission has shown that such intermediate planets are common across the galaxy, but with no examples among our eight home planets, astronomers have few ideas what they are like. Are they rocky super-Earths, or gaseous mini-Neptunes? “We just don’t know. It’s really hard to tell,” Ribas says.Finding out more about Barnard’s star b will likely require telescopes able to detect light from the planet itself. That’s hard to do because, viewed from Earth, the planet is close to the star and swamped by its glare. A few telescopes with coronagraphs—devices for masking a star’s light—have directly imaged a few large planets in wide orbits, but something like Barnard’s star b will require the greater resolution of giant telescopes coming in the next decade, such as Europe’s 39-meter Extremely Large Telescope. Observations from these scopes could reveal the planet’s rotation rate, the composition and thickness of its atmosphere, and whether it has clouds. “This would be a dream. We would learn so much about this planet,” Ribas says.Even if Barnard’s star b is rocky, life would have a hard time taking root on its chilly surface. Although the planet orbits its star much closer than Earth does to the sun, Barnard’s star, a red dwarf, is so dim that its planet gets only 2% of the energy that Earth does. The team estimates surface temperatures of –170°C.Madhusudhan thinks the result is a sure sign that astronomers will soon find other arrivistes to the stellar neighborhood. “I’m willing to guess there are lots like this nearby,” he says. “The question is, how do we detect them?”*Correction, 15 November, 9:50 a.m.: This story has been updated to correct the orbital period. Emaillast_img read more

This fungus has wiped out more species than any other disease

first_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe The infectious disease that has devastated the most biodiversity is a fungal killer of amphibians, researchers report today in Science. Around the world, 90 species are thought to have gone extinct because of the fungus. And at least another 491 species have declined because of it.The culprit with this “unprecedented lethality” is Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a kind of chytrid fungus, whose relatives are harmless fungi found in soil and water. The researchers caution that international trade—the pet trade in particular—has spread the pathogen widely and could continue to do so.The first signs of problems emerged from the rainforests of Central America and Australia in the late 1980s. Colorful harlequin toads and other species were disappearing, even though their habitat remained intact. Bd is highly infectious and deadly, destroying the skin and triggering heart attacks—adding to other biodiversity losses from habitat destruction. Subsequent work has shown that the chytrid fungus came from Asia and spread around the world over the past century, most likely via the wildlife trade. It seems impossible to eradicate the disease because some amphibian species tolerate it, acting as a natural reservoir, and keep spreading the pathogen. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Erik StokstadMar. 28, 2019 , 2:00 PM This fungus has wiped out more species than any other disease Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The extent of the losses wasn’t known, so 41 researchers pulled together official records and scientific papers, and they interviewed other experts around the world. Australia and the Americas have been hit hardest, the team found. The worst losses were in the 1980s, particularly among frogs. Larger amphibians and those with small ranges seem to have suffered the most. In addition to the presumed extinctions, populations of 124 species have been reduced by 90% or more. Only a quarter of species have started to bounce back—unfortunately not the mossy red-eyed frog (pictured). And 39% are still declining.The threat isn’t over. Bd could spread to the few places, such as Madagascar, that appear to have been spared so far. Other problems loom as well. Recently, a sister species of Bd emerged from Asia and is killing salamanders; although only one species in Europe has been hit so far, experiments have shown that many more are vulnerable if it spreads. The researchers call for regulation of the wildlife trade and tighter biosecurity at borders. Jonathan E. Kolby/Honduras Amphibian Rescue & Conservation Center last_img read more

Group Demands Apple Pay Ransom for iCloud Credentials

first_imgThe Turkish Crime Family threat should be taken seriously, said Pierluigi Paganini, a cybersecurity analyst and member of the Cyber Group G7 2017 Summit in Italy.”I consider the threat is credible, even if it is quite impossible to know the exact number of iCloud credentials in the hands of hackers,” he told TechNewsWorld.The group is known in the hacking underground for the sale of stolen databases, Paganini said.The group reportedly has approached several media outlets directly; it told TechNewsWorld that it had been in contact with five.However, it is unlikely that the group’s efforts to stir public pressure against Apple will be effective, noted Mark Nunnikhoven, vice president for cloud research at Trend Micro, in an online post.Apple is too large and has too many resources to give in to public pressure, he pointed out.The group’s demands are similar to a shakedown in the physical world, in which criminals demand monthly payments to “protect” a business, Nunnikhoven noted.”In the digital world, the pressures that make victims pay (e.g. keeping your store in one piece) don’t apply,” Nunnikhoven wrote.”With iCloud accounts, Apple has the ultimate safety valve … they control the infrastructure behind the accounts,” he added. “Which removes most of the pressure points criminals could use.”There is no evidence of state involvement in this cyberthreat, Nunnikhoven told TechNewsWorld.However, there is “mounting evidence that this is a group whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs,” he suggested. “Selling credentials on the underground is rather commonplace. Attempting to extort one of the biggest companies on the planet with poor quality data is quite another.” Correcting the Message Credible Threat The initial reports of a ransom demand of just $75,000 were incorrect, the group said in response to our email query. It actually demanded $100,000 for each of its seven members, plus “extra stuff from Apple that are worth more to us than money,” which it promised Apple it would keep secret.The group also told TechNewsWorld that the only member based in London is Kerem Albayrek, who is facing charges related to listing a hacked Yahoo database for sale. It claimed that its iCloud ransom demands were in part to spread awareness of Albayrek, as well as of Karim Baratov, a Canadian resident charged earlier this month, along with a second hacker and two Russian FSB agents, in the 2014 breach of 500 million Yahoo account holders.The group told TechNewsWorld that it showed Apple scan logs that contain 800 million iCloud accounts, and that Apple claimed the data had come from outside sources.The group said it planned to launch a website that would list iCloud user names, last names, dates of birth and a captcha of their current location from an iCloud app.The site will not disclose passwords initially, the group said, but it would do so “most probably in the future.” Shaking Down Applecenter_img A report in ZDNet appeared to lend credence to some of the hacking group’s claims, however. The group provided 54 credentials to the publication, which were verified as authentic based on a check of the password reset function.Most of the accounts were outdated, but 10 people did confirm to the publication that the obtained passwords were legitimate and that they since had changed them. Those 10 people were living in the UK, and had UK mobile numbers.Trend Micro is urging iCloud users to protect their accounts by using two-factor authentication, and also to use a password manager.A password manager helps users create unique passwords for every account and stores them remotely so that hackers cannot access one or two accounts and thereby gain access to many more.The FBI declined to comment for this story.Apple officials did not respond to our request to comment, and a Yahoo spokesperson was not immediately available. Apple has received a ransom threat from a hacking group claiming to have access to data for up to 800 million iCloud accounts.The hackers, said to be a London-based group called the “Turkish Crime Family,” have threatened to reset passwords and remotely wipe the iPhones of millions of iCloud users if Apple fails to hand over a total of US$700,000. They have given the company an ultimatum to respond by April 7.Apple reportedly has denied that the group succeeded in hacking its systems, maintaining that it obtained the email addresses and passwords from previously compromised third-party services. Apple is working with law enforcement on the threats.The data set in the iCloud hack matches the data found in the 2012 hack of 117 million accounts on LinkedIn, according to some published reports.However, the Turkish Crime Family strongly denied that in a message to TechNewsWorld on Friday. David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.last_img read more

Amazons Secret 1492 Health Team Sets Sail

first_imgCloud Computing and Healthcare One of the goals of Amazon’s 1492 team appears to be ensuring that Amazon develops a foothold in multiple segments of the lucrative healthcare industry. The latest news builds on an earlier announcement that Amazon has been exploring the possibility of selling pharmaceuticals.The 1492 team reportedly has been working on ways to streamline medical records management, so as to make the information available to consumers and doctors more readily. In addition, it reportedly has been considering a plan that could improve U.S. healthcare for those with limited access to a doctor. It could include the development of a new telemedicine platform that would allow patients to have virtual consultations with doctors.Amazon is not entirely new to the medical world, as it already has developed health applications. The next step could be greater connectivity options between its medical devices and other proprietary products, such as its artificial intelligence assistant, Alexa.”Healthcare is the biggest sector in the economy and ripe for innovation,” said Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.”Nobody spends more on healthcare than the U.S.,while many countries have significantly better outcomes for their citizens than the U.S.,” he told TechNewsWorld. A secret Amazon team, dubbed “1492,” has been working on a skunkworks project devoted entirely to healthcare, CNBC reported Thursday. The unit has been developing hardware devices and software applications related to electronic medical records, telemedicine and other health-related issues.The “1492” moniker refers to the year that Christopher Columbus made his voyage to the Americas, but perhaps the Amazon team missed the irony that Columbus actually did not realize he had “discovered” a new continent and thought he was somewhere else.Nonetheless, it’s clear that Amazon’s aim is to cover the bases in the healthcare arena, likely a bid to cash in on the sector’s massive profit potential.The greater U.S. healthcare market experienced double digital growth from 2000 to 2011, with an increase in U.S. revenue from US$1.2 trillion to $2.3 trillion, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That figure likely will grow at an increasing rate as healthcare costs in America continue to skyrocket. Healthy Market Full Coveragecenter_img Amazon is not the only company that has been exploring opportunities in the world of healthcare. Apple, Google and Microsoft each have launched their own initiatives.”It makes sense for all these companies to be investing in AI for healthcare, because along with AI in transportation, AI in healthcare will change society,” said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.With access to all the medical scans, diagnoses and feed information that is available from the major healthcare providers, artificial intelligence would do a better job in some respects than a human, he told TechNewsWorld.”With its massive data centers and AI capabilities, Amazon is well positioned to be a leader in this area, but it needs to get access to the data, which has been the biggest challenge,” added McGregor. “Note that it’s only been within the last decade that the majority of medical information has transitioned to electronic form, so it would have been almost impossible to do before.” With advances in the archiving of digital information and deep learning, the time could be right to leverage AI for healthcare. However, regulations and privacy concerns could be major challenges, at least in the short term.”Unfortunately, many healthcare providers are trying to maintain control of all this data,” said McGregor.”In the U.S., in particular, healthcare providers hide behind HIPAA regulations, which state that you need to keep the patient’s personal information private, not that you can’t share the anonymized information,” he added.Healthcare organizations would have to be persuaded to share their data, even though doing so would leverage a third-party service provider like Amazon. Would the healthcare industry even consider such cooperation?”Up to now, the answer has been no — but it could significantly lower their costs and improve the quality of services provided,” added McGregor.In the long term, “it will take an independent third party like Amazon to maximize the benefits of AI in healthcare,” he suggested.That is why the various players are entering this very controlled market — one that has both potential and hurdles — so cautiously.”We are so early in the digitization of healthcare that nobody is really leading,” said Recon Analytics’ Entner.”There is definitely demand, but everyone needs to buy in for it to work for everyone,” he said. “The reason why everyone is flocking to it is market size, but the obvious fact is that it can be done better, and nobody is doing it remotely right.” Peter Suciu has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2012. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile phones, displays, streaming media, pay TV and autonomous vehicles. He has written and edited for numerous publications and websites, including Newsweek, Wired and FoxNews.com.Email Peter.last_img read more

New Xbox Controller Could Open Whole New World to Gamers With Disabilities

first_imgThe inspiration for the Xbox Adaptive Controller was a 2014 social media post featuring a photo of a custom gaming controller made by Warfighter Engaged, a nonprofit organization that develops gaming controllers for disabled veterans.It caught the attention of a Microsoft engineer, which resulted in a hackathon at Microsoft’s 2015 Ability Summit, where the first prototype of a controller for people with disabilities was developed. Now, three years later, the final product is about ready for the market.Unlike the standard unit that is held in two hands, the XboxAdaptive Controller utilizes a flat yet compact design that allowsit to rest on a table.In the place of small joysticks that typically are controlled with auser’s thumb are two round light-touch-enabled pads that players canuse by rolling their palms on them or pressing with their hands. These offeressentially the same level of precision as the thumb joysticks on anormal controller, but they have an added option of providing an audiblecue for another layer of sensory input.The Xbox Adaptive Controller also features a standard D-pad, an Xbox power button, and a profile button that allows users to shift among several mapping options.Where the Xbox Adaptive Controller offers serious flexibility is inits ability to work with other existing accessibility tools, includingthose that offer air-power input methods or foot pedals. These canconnect to one the 19 3.5mm ports on the back panel of the controller.Each of these devices can be mapped to the unit, and can be modifiedon the fly without even pausing the game. Peter Suciu has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2012. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile phones, displays, streaming media, pay TV and autonomous vehicles. He has written and edited for numerous publications and websites, including Newsweek, Wired and FoxNews.com.Email Peter. Serious Control Panel Specialty Controller Microsoft partnered with several high-profile global organizations dedicated to providing accessibility to those with physical disabilities: The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital, SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged. Microsoft developers also worked directly with gamers who have limited mobility.The Xbox Adaptive Controller will be available later this year for about US$100. To get this product to market actually may have taken some uniqueadaptation — not in anything technical, but rather in the kind of thinking that is typical ofcompanies such as Microsoft.”We have been around 14 years, but we spent some 10 years trying tothink we were helping gamers with disabilities,” said Mark Barlet,founder of AbleGamers.”Now we have spent the last few years trying to convince the marketthat people with disabilities played games, and had to convince thecompanies to put real effort into catering to those withdisabilities,” he told TechNewsWorld.”However, we noted that the management at these companies never sawthe why, because it was only a small portion of the population, so ittook a while to convince the industry that this was an untappedmarket,” Barlet added. “Finally we had people that were passionately roaming the halls for years who were now in a position to make it happen.”The advocacy, fact and reality finally converged three years ago, said Barlet.”We did warn Microsoft that it won’t sell millions of these, but thatthey’ll get these in the hands of everyone who wants them,” he noted.”Why wouldn’t Microsoft want more dedicated gamers in their camp?” The Xbox Adaptive Controller is designed from the ground up to be aunique controller for those with special needs.”Gaming — and especially online games — is an important outlet forpeople with disabilities,” said Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.”They can often interact with others without having their disability play a role in the interaction,” he told TechNewsWorld.”Particularly as we move to technologies like virtual reality, gaming can be one ofthe few ways a disabled person can step away from their disabilities,depending on what they are,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst atthe Enderle Group.”For instance someone without legs or missing an arm or most of theirfingers can still play a video game — if they have the right controller — as well or better than someone who isn’t disabled,” he told TechNewsWorld.”Any physical deformities are hidden behind the game avatar so thedisabled person can, for a short time in game, experience what it islike to be treated for how they do — not how they look,” Enderle said.”Video games distract everyone from reality, and this can often be veryimportant for someone struggling with the unfairness of a disability.So, combined, video games can be incredibly important to someonechallenged by a disability.” Innovative Adaptations Special Advantages As the Xbox Adaptive Controller is designed to allow for greaterflexibility with other input devices, it also could be used forthose who prefer something beyond the normal controllers. In somecases, it could lead to gamers trying to get a potentiallyunfair advantage.”Adaptive controllers could actually provide advantages in gamingbecause they, in theory, better match the controller to the personusing it,” suggested Enderle.”Right now, game controllers are pretty generic but people come in allshapes and sizes,” he pointed out.”In other competitive sports we have, at the highest levels, customtools designed for the individual athlete, but not so much withcomputer gaming yet,” said Enderle. “These adaptive controllers, while initially focused on disabilities, could eventually open up a market for controllers that arespecifically designed for the gamer that uses them.”In most cases, the biggest advantage almost certainly will be openingup the world to those who have struggled just to enjoy the games for fun.Still, “if a controller for people with physical limitations gives someone anedge in a competition, all players will use it,” said Recon Analytics’ Entner.”I have personally played with quite a few players with disabilities,but only found out after quite a while,” he said. “Many relish thatthey are treated like everyone else when they are behind a screen andinteract with everyone unimpaired by the perception of others.” Microsoft on Thursday introduced its new Xbox Adaptive Controller, designed specifically for gamers with disabilities. The new hardware can be used for game play with an Xbox One console or Windows 10 PC, and it offers Bluetooth plug-and-play compatibility.It supports Xbox Wireless Controller features such as buttonremapping, and it connects to external buttons, switches, joysticks and mounts. Microsoft developed the Xbox Adaptive Controller to enable gamers with physicaldisabilities to customize their respective setups.last_img read more

FTC v Qualcomm What Really Is Going On

first_imgWhat I found particularly bizarre was the unique theory offered by the FTC’s lead expert, Carl Shapiro, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Shapiro concluded that Qualcomm’s business model must be illegal, although his view appeared to have no connection to any facts. He offered no research or empirical evidence — just one guy’s ideas about how the world ought to work. More importantly, he made it clear that anyone who disagreed with him — including judges (and I’ll get to this in a moment) — was an idiot.I’ve worked with folks like this in the past and I’m sure you have as well. They are so extremely narcissistic that they don’t accept anything from anyone but themselves. Now this legend in his own mind also was a pivotal expert in the AT&T Time Warner trial, and the judge in that trial went off on how poorly founded Shapiro’s testimony was, and how far from reality his fanciful theory was. Seriously, the judge went on and on with his observations that Shapiro’s comments were so poorly founded as to be less than worthless, before ruling in favor of the merger and against the DoJ.The FTC attorneys’ choice to use this guy must come down to the fact they couldn’t find any other qualified expert who agreed with them, and hoped, which was pretty foolish, that Qualcomm’s attorneys wouldn’t find out about that prior case (Shapiro claimed under oath that he didn’t remember it. There is no way that is true, given how he went after the judge when it was brought up.)Seriously, the guy was a narcissist. Anyone who went after him, like the judge in the AT&T/TM trial did, would be on his immortal mortal enemies list. Even for a normal person, if judge were to tear you or me a new bung hole like that judge did, we’d remember it till the end of days. Shapiro claimed he forgot it in a few months. I doubt any of us are that gullible — but apparently, the FTC was. Does the FTC Now Work for Apple? I use and recommend Arlo cameras highly (their lights are crap, but there’s a ton of other automatic lights you can buy). These cameras allow me to check on my house and pets when I travel, and to make sure the pet sitters are doing the job we pay them for. (We’ve had two pet sitters who were really bad. One almost destroyed our house, and the other just lied about the work she was doing.) We even caught one accidentally letting one of our indoor cats outside (there are a lot of animals that eat cats where I now live), but she got the cat corralled without issue.Over time, these cameras have received software updates allowing them to send more accurate alerts if they see an escaping pet or a person who isn’t supposed to be there. They record video to the cloud, making it nearly impossible to disable their record after the fact, and they are wireless allowing you to put them where you need them without having to call an electrician.Arlo’s latest camera, the Arlo Ultra, adds an LED light, jumps the resolution to 4K HDR (far better if you want to make out a face, as there apparently are lots of hoodie-wearing kids going around breaking car windows at the moment), has enhanced night vision and a far wider 180-degree view, and has active noise cancellation so you can better hear what people are saying. The FTC didn’t seem to come close to meeting its burden of proof that Qualcomm was a monopoly or even had monopoly power to abuse. It also fell short on proving bad behavior, and the damages appeared to have no foundation in fact. The term one of my old law professors used was “throwing crap against the wall,” and I am no more a fan of that strategy than he was.The danger of the FTC getting this wrong is high, because Qualcomm is critical to the U.S. lead in the 5G rollout. If the government cripples Qualcomm, it basically hands the market off to the Chinese and Huawei. If Qualcomm is guilty, that is problematic, but if it was charged wrongfully, given that the U.S. is in a declared trade war with China, that is potentially treasonous.There is also the growing concern that, thanks to budget cutting, our government is an offshoot of big business. The ever-wealthier tail is wagging the ever more poorly funded dog, and even the promise of a lucrative corporate gig has far more potential to corrupt than it ever has before. This little piece, which details how lobbyists legally corrupt government, should give us all a bit more pause.So, and to recap: The FTC didn’t organize its close in a way that would best present the evidence it had; most of the evidence was invalidated; its key expert was impeached; and the closing attorney was the weakest I’ve seen at the podium. It was as if the FTC wanted to make a statement or prove a point that had nothing to do with Qualcomm. I have an idea what that is — but it is too dangerous to share. If this is an elaborate sting, there is only one likely candidate. The FTC’s Murky Case Against Qualcomm Arlo Ultra I’ve been watching antitrust cases actively since the 1980s. I had to study historical antitrust cases going back to Standard Oil and RCA, in order to ensure compliance with a related consent decree When I worked at IBM. Each of the other cases had one thing in common: Both of the companies being charged were massively and obviously monopolies.There were many questions about whether they were behaving badly or really had an adverse impact on competition, but there generally was no doubt they had monopoly power.The current FTC v. Qualcomm case is vastly different, in that the two companies that apparently have been screaming they were damaged are four times and 10 times larger than Qualcomm, and they have a history of anticompetitive behavior.During the closing arguments, I had a ton of wtf moments, as the FTC brought forth incredibly stupid arguments. During the close, it felt as though the FTC attorney hadn’t really prepared, hadn’t organized her evidence into what I would have thought to be an obvious framework, and pretty much just called Qualcomm names with little to back up her claims.This isn’t high school pre-law — this is federal court. The quality of work was more in line with what you might expect to see from an overworked and under-resourced public defender with too many cases.The implication that the FTC effectively was working for Apple was particularly disturbing during a time when I, and others, are increasingly concerned that the U.S. government is being run by big companies through lobbyists.I’ll share my thoughts about the troubling FTC vs. Qualcomm litigation and then close with my product of the week: an impressive update to my go-to home security camera solution, Arlo. The FTC’s position was that Qualcomm, through use of its patent portfolio and licensing, restricted competition by abusing its power as a monopoly. This allegation should have led to a closing argument that clearly delineated three pillars of proof. When I was studying prelaw, I received training from a judge, and I’m still a fan of tight organization regarding how you present your legal arguments and evidence.In this case, the FTC should have established three pillars of proof to show that Qualcomm was acting as a monopoly. If it wasn’t, then it didn’t have the power to commit the crime that was alleged. Second, the FTC should have established that Qualcomm was abusing its monopoly power. Without abuse, there was no crime. Third, the FTC should have shown that Qualcomm damaged the industry, because that is what drives the remedy. Any damage would have to be corrected.There were no obvious pillars of evidence in the FTC’s argument. First, if Qualcomm was acting as a monopoly, then it must have dominated its market. However, the three largest players in the smartphone market — Samsung, Huawei and Apple — generally have not used Qualcomm modems or processors. Samsung and Huawei mostly have made their own, and Apple has bought them from Intel.In fact, if you look at Qualcomm vs. either Intel or Apple, it is comparatively tiny, with just one-fourth the value of Intel and one-tenth the value of Apple. Granted, both companies have been having significant issues, but Qualcomm can’t be blamed for a massive lack of demand for Apple’s products, or for Intel’s inability to solidify a management team.Intel’s issues pretty much start with its having a board that, for the most part, wouldn’t know the difference between a GPU and a CPU. Intel can’t seem to find a new CEO who is both qualified and dumb enough to take the job.Second, the FTC needed to show not only that Qualcomm was a monopoly, but also that it abused its monopoly power. Given that I don’t think it came close to achieving its burden of proof on the question of Qualcomm being a monopoly, the abuse contention immediately became problematic. The FTC argued that Qualcomm illegally tied its patent portfolio to its modem sales, but it presented no evidence that Qualcomm ever cut modem supply to a buyer that didn’t have a patent license.There was a legitimate reason to tie those two things together: Implementing one of Qualcomm’s modems did require the use of Qualcomm’s patents, and a license would have avoided litigation. I found it particularly troubling that the FTC argued that reducing litigation was an example of abuse of power. I’m guessing that was because the commission believed that normal companies — as in non-abusive monopolies — must spend millions on unnecessary litigation in order to operate. Maybe this had something to do with job security, but I sure didn’t get the connection.Virtually all of the witnesses the FTC brought forward who said that Qualcomm forced their companies into signing a contract were countered by witnesses Qualcomm’s attorneys called — employees from the same companies who said those accounts were BS. Each FTC witness was impeached by a coworker, which really made the FTC’s case look fabricated.Third, the issue of damages was telling. During the close, the example the FTC used was that every time Apple requested a concession from Qualcomm, Qualcomm wanted a concession in return. It was as if the FTC existed in some strange parallel universe where only the bigger company can make demands, and the smaller firm can say nothing but “yes sir, can I have another?”It was obviously bullying behavior by Apple, and the FTC seemed to be saying that any company that could resist Apple’s bullying clearly was abusing its power. I seriously thought that the U.S. legal system was starting to look as though it was founded on concepts you’d more likely see in a third-world country, where the laws are whatever the powerful say they are. Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a consultancy that serves the technology industry. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester. Email Rob. The FTC’s Impeachable Expert Wrapping Up There is a lot of apparently illegal behavior going on in the government now. Just look at the impressive number of indictments coming out of the Mueller probe. Further, the amount of self-dealing in congress is frightening.This case, in my mind, is like two bullies (Apple and Intel) that went to a smaller kid who is willing to fight back, and complaining that the smaller kid is a bully because he won’t pass over his lunch money.Go back and look at what I said about Qualcomm pushing back on Apple’s demands. Now add the FTC’s argument that because Qualcomm wouldn’t accept Apple’s demand that every patent be arbitrated individually by a panel — we are talking thousands of patents — Qualcomm was at fault. This really was the FTC complaining that Qualcomm wouldn’t give up its lunch money to a bigger and vastly more powerful firm.Now I’m not sure the FTC rank and file are on board with this, because its legal team seemed to be trying to throw this fight. The fact that they used the impeachable expert, gave one of their least-capable attorneys responsibility for the close (really, she performed like a first-year associate), and made no real attempt to organize their evidence in a hierarchy that would allow the judge to decide more easily in their favor, makes me think there is a rebellion in the FTC and that they want to lose this thing.The Qualcomm close was far from the best I’ve seen — likely because the FTC was so disjointed that it forced a less-organized response — but it was massively better executed than what the FTC did. Compared to the FTC using one of its most junior folks, Qualcomm used one of its most senior, because the company thought the case was that important.Now this may come down to the FTC being inept, but I saw some strong litigators on its team last Friday that should have done the close (both men, and I’ll get to that in a moment), but they weren’t used.Two other reasons are concerning. One is that the FTC attorneys knew Judge Koh would rule in their favor regardless of their case, so they really didn’t have to do the work. The other is that they knew Judge Koh would pick a female attorney over a male attorney and subordinate the evidence and arguments to that choice.The judge came across to me as capable and competent, but I haven’t done the research on her that the FTC likely has so I remain concerned. I’ve seen a lot of judges phone it in, but she wasn’t one of them. (I was actually pretty impressed.) The combination results in an ability to see things like license plates far more easily, and pick up activity that normally would be outside the camera’s viewing angle, without fisheye distortion. You can use the light to scare off intruders, and the new camera has autozoom and tracking, so you immediately can see what caught the camera’s attention.The last generation of cameras sucked when it came to talking through them; the new camera appears to have addressed that problem well. There was a significant jump in price, with a four-camera system costing nearly a grand, and each new camera costing just short of $300, around 30 percent more than the cost of the last generation.Still, if your home is attacked, saving $300 would seem kind of stupid after the fact. Oh, and this new system will work with the old cameras, so you don’t have to replace everything at once (thank god, as I have 12 of the old cameras).Because this new camera from Arlo significantly improves my home security, it is my product of the week.The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.last_img read more

Microsoft Surface Go Earns Strong Marks

first_imgComparisons With the iPad Under the Hood The Surface Go has a 10-inch Corning Gorilla Glass 3 PixelSense display with 1800 x 1200 (217 PPI) resolution, a 3:2 aspect ratio, a 10-point multi-touch screen and ink.It measures 9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches.Connections are 1 USB-C port, 1 Surface Connect port, 1 Surface Type cover port, 1 MicroSDXC card reader, and a 3.5mm, headphone jack.Battery life is rated at up to 9 hours.The Surface Go runs on an Intel Pentium Gold processor.It uses Windows Hello facial sign-in and has TPM 2.0 for enterprise security.It has a 5-MP front-facing camera with 1080 Skype HD video that’s used for facial authentication, and an 8-MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD video, one microphone, and 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium.The Surface Go comes with Microsoft Office 365 Home on a 30-day trial basis.It is IEEE 802.11 a/b/b/n/ac compatible, and uses Bluetooth Wireless 4.1.The Surface Go has an ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer.Its weight starts at 1.15 pounds not including the Type Cover, which is sold separately. The Surface Go comes with a 30-day return policy, 90 days of free tech phone support, 12 months of in-store support and tech assistance, and one free training session.There are two versions: one with 4 GB of RAM and 64-GB eMMC, priced at US$400; and one with 8 GB of RAM and a 128-GB SSD, for $550.Accessories, sold separately, are the Surface keyboard, priced at $100-$130; the Surface Mobile Mouse, which costs $35; and the Surface Pen, priced at $100.”The price is a clear advantage as Microsoft attempts to crack the mid-market with a competent detachable,” noted Eric Smith, director of connected computing at Strategy Analytics.”Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of processing power without significant battery life improvements, cellular chipset, or other advantages Microsoft has been touting for its Always Connected PCs,” he told TechNewsWorld.The entry-level Surface Go “reportedly has performance issues while browsing the Web, which doesn’t compare favorably to most competitors in that price tier,” he said, but added that it could be “a perfect device” for students. The Surface Go is “almost as light as an iPad but can also run most of the Windows apps you need,” wrote Devindra Hardawar for Engadget.It is “an intriguing option as a secondary device,” he said.The Go “is the first Surface that can actually take on the iPad,” Hardawar maintained. “It’s impressively thin and light, while also being a fully fledged Windows PC.”The iPad “is better for entertainment — but if that’s what you want, I’d suggest the large Amazon Kindle is a far more economical choice than either,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.”This Surface Go is far closer to what people seem to want in a small product that’s more focused on productivity than the iPad has yet been able to deliver,” he told TechNewsWorld.”While the iPad is likely to offer the better tablet experience, the Go runs Windows 10 S or 10 Pro, both of which support more traditional PC applications,” observed Lauren Guenveur, senior research analyst for devices and displays at IDC.That means it likely will offer a better PC experience, she told TechNewsWorld.”In addition, with Windows 10 security and encryption features, IT buyers may find the Surface Go appealing for workers that need either more portable or secondary devices,” Guenveur said. Microsoft has positioned the Surface Go as an enterprise device, emphasizing its security features.Microsoft “did see fair success with the Surface 3 in the enterprise, and this would be a timely replacement for those devices,” IDC’s Guenveur said.However, “the modest inner workings could dampen an employee’s ability to use the device as a daily driver, depending on the vertical they work in,” she added.An ARM-based product “is coming under the ‘Always Connected’ effort, which will likely be a stronger enterprise product,” said Enderle, “but it’s waiting for the next-generation Qualcomm processor, the Snapdragon 1000.”Chromebooks and small iPads, “the natural competitor to this offering, haven’t been that popular for work in the enterprise, and I doubt this will be much better,” he noted.”It’s a stronger alternative for education, though, due to price and capability,” Enderle said. “There really isn’t much in the productivity area with this screen size. The exception has been schools and people with extreme requirements for portability, but this latter group hasn’t been well targeted with a product until now.”Education “and perhaps millennials” will be the strongest markets for the Surface Go, he suggested, “though for the latter group, I think the Snapdragon version will be far more attractive long term.” Enterprise Potential center_img The Surface Go earned praise for product quality, with reviewers noting its superiority to other inexpensive PCs in terms of design and finish.”It’s rare to have a device at this price with such a premium feel,” Guenveur remarked.On the downside, the CPU isn’t up to handling large applications such as Photoshop and games, or loading big PDFs or complex Web pages with embedded videos, reviewers noted.Another issue is the paucity of apps in the Windows Store. The Surface Go runs Windows 10 in S mode, which restricts it to using Microsoft’s Edge browser and Microsoft apps.Still, the upgraded version could run eight or 10 lightweight apps simultaneously, together with a dozen Edge browser tabs, noted The Verge’s Dieter Bohn. Early reviews of the Microsoft Surface Go two-in-one, which hit shelves on Thursday, mainly have been positive.”It’s a tiny wonder of a computer — with a few flaws — that can do more than I would have given it credit for before I tried it,” wrote Dieter Bohn for The Verge.The Surface Go “is simply a very small Surface, with everything that entails,” he said. “It’s a little less powerful and probably not the right thing to be your only computer, but as a secondary machine for Windows users, it could have a real place.”The Surface Go is a 2-in-1 laptop that’s “a very, very good one that jumps up to being exceptional when you consider its price versus other devices of the same ilk,” wrote Alex Cranz for Gizmodo.The Surface Go is the device consumers who “want a solid Windows machine that’s primarily for browsing, emailing and word processing need to buy,” she noted. Fit and Finish Win Kudos Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.last_img read more

Researchers find unique patterns of neural communication in the brains of children

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 26 2018Think of the brain as a complex transportation hub, a place where neural traffic heads off in any number of directions to make connections while processing something as simple as a mother’s smile.Now consider the same center in a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). At a time different parts of the brain are supposed to be talking to each other or working together, this traffic–the communication between different regions of the brain–takes unexpected exits and detours for no apparent reason.A team of San Diego State University researchers, studying MRI scans of school-age children’s brains, found just such unique patterns of neural communication involving the amygdala, the area of the brain responsible for processing social information. In children with ASDs, the amygdala connections with other parts of the brain proved to be weaker with some regions –and stronger with others–when compared with typically developing children of the same age.A region of the brain showing marked differences connecting with the amygdala was the occipital cortex, located in the rear of the brain. It is involved in encoding facial expressions, gaze and other facial cues, said SDSU psychologist Inna Fishman, who led research.The findings point to possible brain “markers” for autism spectrum disorders to further characterize the condition in biological and not just behavioral terms. Fishman said such markers could potentially become a tool in identifying autism in children with this developmental disorder, which can impair social communication and interaction.”The patterns of amygdala connections are very unique in autism,” said Fishman. “What we found is not necessarily something I would predict. We measured connections of the amygdala with the entire brain, and the findings with the visual cortex kind of surprised me.”Fishman, co-author Ralph-Axel Müller, along with colleagues contributing to the research, published their results in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.Fishman is founding director of the SDSU Center for Autism, an interdisciplinary group of researchers and clinical scientists from multiple SDSU colleges and departments. Müller is director of SDSU’s Brain Development Imaging Laboratories. The work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.Related StoriesNew curriculum to improve soft skills in schools boosts children’s health and behaviorResearch reveals genetic cause of deadly digestive disease in childrenResearchers identify gene mutations linked to leukemia in children with Down’s syndromeResults were based on brain imaging from 55 children, aged 7 to 17, identified with ASDs and compared with 55 typically developing children of the same age.The functional MRI used in the research measures how brain activity changes over time–in this case, a period of six minutes. It provides a picture of ongoing communication between different brain regions, known as “functional connectivity,” showing how synchronized the amygdala’s activity is with other brain areas.The MRIs revealed weaker connections between the amygdala and the occipital cortex, Fishman said. In addition, the MRIs showed that the expected strengthening of connections between amygdala and the frontal cortex that takes place during adolescence in typically developing youth was entirely absent in the ASD participants.This absence of a continuing brain maturation associated with typical adolescence could contribute to the social communication difficulties experienced by those with ASDs as they reach their teenage years and young adulthood, Fishman said.Fishman emphasized there may be some form of disrupted coordination between the amygdala and other points in the brain, though it’s not yet possible to say whether this causes any of the differences in social functioning seen in children with ASDs.That’s partly because of the age of the children in the study. “Having scanned kids who are 10, 12 or 14 years old, and having found differences at this age doesn’t allow us to make inferences about what might have caused these differences to emerge in the first place,” she said. “By that point, the connections in the brain are formed and already quite established.”As a follow-up, Fishman is studying brain connectivity and organization in toddlers and preschoolers with ASDs, when their autism symptoms first manifest. She hopes to learn more about whether the early behaviors seen in children with ASDs lead to the atypical connection patters or the other way around.Overall, understanding the biology behind ASDs “brings us closer, incrementally” to improved clinical decisions concerning diagnosis or prognosis of ASDs, and possibly to more targeted, tailored interventions focusing on specific brain circuits based on the level of unique brain connections identified in the brain, Fishman said. Source:https://www.sdsu.edu/last_img read more

Knowing people in high and diverse positions may be good or bad

first_img Source:https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2018/11/01/take-a-lot-of-sick-days-who-you-know-and-where-you-live-might-be-partly-to-blame/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 2 2018New research led by Lijun Song, associate professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University, and graduate student Phillip Pettis suggests that knowing people in high and diverse positions may be good or bad for your health. The culprit? Economic inequality.Song studies the relationship between a person’s health and the socioeconomic status of their social contacts–what’s called “accessed” status. The idea is that we all have a personal network–consisting of family, friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances and others–and the status of our social contacts can impact our lives through our relationships with them.She and Pettis analyzed nationally representative data from comprehensive social surveys simultaneously taken in the United States, Taiwan and urban China to see whether a person’s accessed status might impact whether they experienced a health issue in the previous year serious enough to keep them from participating in their daily routines for more than a week.Accessed status can impact our health in interesting ways. Higher-status people tend to be healthier in general–they often are more knowledgeable and conscious about health, have more time and money to invest in a healthy lifestyle, experience less chronic stress and have greater access to medical care, among other positive things. Those are benefits that can extend to their social contacts, too–something called social capital theory.”But we find that accessed status has a dark side, and we want to understand why,” Song said. In two of the three societies she studied–the United States and China–being connected to higher- and diverse-status people was actually associated with more health disruptions, not less. That’s an unexpected finding, and one that’s not well understood.To explain it, Song has proposed a new theory to explain the negative impacts of high accessed socioeconomic status on health, called social cost theory. Its main features include negative social comparison, receipt of detrimental resources and networking costs. An example of negative social comparison might be developing negative psychological feelings, such as anxiety or a sense of failure, and poor health habits, such as smoking, when comparing themselves with those in better-off situations, while an example of a detrimental resource might be unwanted intrusion in their affairs. A networking cost is simply the additional effort, such as time, money and energy, that goes into establishing and maintaining valuable high-status relationships.Related StoriesOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchAXT enhances cellular research product portfolio with solutions from StemBioSysAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapySocial burdens like these may make it harder for a sick person to get the support they need to get better faster.So why does having higher- and diverse-status connections help in some societies and not in others? Economic inequality appears to play a role. Taiwan has relatively low economic inequality, and of the three societies studied, it is the only one that suggests the good outweighs the bad. The United States and China have much higher degrees of economic inequality, and show the reverse.Song said it was important to note that the fact that China and Taiwan have different outcomes is interesting because they are both collectivistic societies, while the United States is an individualistic one. This suggests that future research should be cautious when applying collectivism-individualism models to questions of accessed status and health. Song and Pettis also caution that future longitudinal work is needed to understand the causal direction of and the direct mechanisms behind these effects. Additionally, future larger-scale comparative research is also needed to understand variations across different societies and cultures.last_img read more

FDA approves new drug for treatment of rare autoimmune disorder

first_img Source:https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm627093.htm Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 29 2018The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Firdapse (amifampridine) tablets for the treatment of Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) in adults. LEMS is a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the connection between nerves and muscles and causes weakness and other symptoms in affected patients. This is the first FDA approval of a treatment for LEMS.”There has been a long-standing need for a treatment for this rare disorder,” said Billy Dunn, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Patients with LEMS have significant weakness and fatigue that can often cause great difficulties with daily activites.”Related StoriesHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerStudy: Nearly a quarter of low-risk thyroid cancer patients receive more treatment than necessaryIn people with LEMS, the body’s own immune system attacks the neuromuscular junction (the connection between nerves and muscles) and disrupts the ability of nerve cells to send signals to muscle cells. LEMS may be associated with other autoimmune diseases, but more commonly occurs in patients with cancer such as small cell lung cancer, where its onset precedes or coincides with the diagnosis of cancer. The prevalence of LEMS is estimated to be three per million individuals worldwide.The efficacy of Firdapse was studied in two clinical trials that together included 64 adult patients who received Firdapse or placebo. The studies measured the Quantitative Myasthenia Gravis score (a 13-item physician-rated categorical scale assessing muscle weakness) and the Subject Global Impression (a seven-point scale on which patients rated their overall impression of the effects of the study treatment on their physical well-being). For both measures, the patients receiving Firdapse experienced a greater benefit than those on placebo.The most common side effects experienced by patients in the clinical trials were burning or prickling sensation (paresthesia), upper respiratory tract infection, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, headache, elevated liver enzymes, back pain, hypertension and muscle spasms. Seizures have been observed in patients without a history of seizures. Patients should inform their health care provider immediately if they have signs of hypersensitivity reactions such as rash, hives, itching, fever, swelling or trouble breathing.The FDA granted this application Priority Review and Breakthrough Therapy designations. Firdapse also received Orphan Drug designation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases.The FDA granted the approval of Firdapse to Catalyst Pharmaceuticals, Inc.last_img read more