Stay on target Researchers developed a new way to manage the collective movement of nanorobots. (No, not through mind control—though how awesome would that be?)A team from the Chinese University of Hong Kong applied swarm behaviors to small-scale bots, allowing “controlled morphological changes and splitting.”Think of it as the animal kingdom: Ants chain their bodies together to traverse difficult terrain; fish swim in social groups to enhance foraging success; a massive flock of birds helps defend against predators.A mob of teeny robots—fitted with magnetic nanoparticles tuned to a specific field—can cooperate to accomplish tasks.“This new microswarm provides a promising solution for industrial applications such as microfabrication and micromanipulation,” team leader and CUHK professor Li Zhang said in a statement. “It also has a high potential application for in-vivo targeted drug delivery.”The nanorobotic swarm is inspired by animal behaviors, including ant swarms (via Chinese University of Hong Kong)Nanobots, the research suggests, could be programmed to assist surgeons in complex tasks, like passing through tiny spaces in the human body.Zhang & Co. are working with the CUHK medical school to “explore and understand the potential” for using these controllable droids for clinical applications.The full study was published last month in the journal Nature Communications.I wonder where they got the idea for small-scale machines designed to connect together through electromagnetism, forming shapes and perform cooperative tasks…The biggest difference between CUHK’s artificial microswarm and the one Disney depicted in Big Hero 6 is the neurotransmitter—a wearable that links user and robot via thought.This isn’t Zhang’s first miniature robot rodeo, though: The professor in 2013 created magnetic microrobots capable of transporting cells and delivering drugs to specific locations inside the body. The results were featured as a cover story in the journal Advanced Materials.Elon Musk may believe nanotechnology—the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supermolecular scale—is “BS.” But scientists are making great strides in the field of nanorobots, which have been applied to shrinking tumors. Find out more here.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Evan Rachel Wood Just As Disturbed by Humanoid Sophia As Everyone ElseMIT’s Thread-Like Robot Slides Through Blood Vessels In the Brain
Broderick Vaughan, a Leon County gator trapper, told the Naples Daily News that the animal was the third biggest alligator he’s ever captured. Sadly the alligator was hit in the snout by a semi-truck, so it was very stunned and confused when authorities arrived at the scene.Vaughan was able to capture the large alligator, tape its snout shut, and use a hoist machine to load it onto his truck. A couple of days later, the creature had to be euthanized because its skull was crushed by the semi-truck that collided into it.According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, alligators are more aggressive in June because it’s right in the middle of their mating season. Alligator courtship typically starts in April and mating takes place in May or June. During this time, female gators create nests of debris, soil, and vegetation, and deposit an average of 32 to 46 eggs in late June and early July.More on Geek.com:Alligator With Knife Stuck in Its Head Found Swimming in Texas LakeNasty 8-Foot Alligator Takes Bite Out of Police Patrol Car in Louisiana Florida Man Comes Home, Finds Alligator Waiting at Front Door Georgia Man Catches Gigantic 14-Foot AlligatorHunters Catch ‘Monster’ 13-Foot Alligator in Mississippi River A giant, 12-foot alligator was spotted taking a late-night stroll across a busy Florida highway and unfortunately, it received major injuries from its trip.On June 3, the massive creature, which weighed 463 pounds, wandered onto I-10 in Tallahassee, Florida around midnight, CBS Miami reported. The creature caused the Monroe Street exit to be temporarily closed to drivers after it decided to cross the busy interstate. Stay on target read more
The Vancouver City Council has approved an amendment to the sale of a city-owned building and its adjoining property, paving the way for another urban redevelopment project in downtown Vancouver. In a deal worth $5 million to the city’s general fund, the city will sell the two-story Esther Short Building, 610 Esther St., for $3.2 million to West Park Partners LLC, owned by developer David Copenhaver. That sale is set to close Friday.In its Monday action, the City Council gave Copenhaver an additional 90 days to pull together the financing to buy the property west of the building for $1.8 million. The vacant lot is approximately three-quarters of a city block in size and is now used as a surface parking lot next door to the Esther Short Building. Copenhaver plans to remodel the existing building for office space and he has already secured a tenant, he told city officials. He plans to develop the parking lot into a six-story apartment complex with at least two levels of parking, although no formal development plans have been submitted.Copenhaver confirmed by text message on Tuesday his plans to buy the property, but he did not return a request for comment.If built, the apartment building would rise just south of the five-story Esther Short Commons building at 555 W. Eighth St., which includes 160 apartment units and ground-floor retail space fronting Esther and Eighth streets. read more
Now, as he embarks on the next chapter in his interesting partnership with ABRY, we asked him about the similarities and differences in the F+W assignment compared to what he did at Penton.FOLIO:: What are your top priorities at F+W?NUSSBAUM: F+W has a very powerful well of content and data, and the team has done a masterful job of delivering that content in print over the years. Our goals are to be more aggressive in delivering the content and data through multiple channels, particularly using the Web to both build and nurture community and also to make the information more interactive and constant.In the book business, the company has long had a very profitable and successful “terrestrial” business, and that business has continued to perform. Our big opportunity here is to take that content to the Web and build interactive communities around some of the key titles and key franchises, such as writersmarket.com—the company’s charter publication. Also, we want to continue to explore how the Web can help us sell more books. FOLIO:: Describe the current revenue mix among books, clubs, magazines and e-media.NUSSBAUM: About half the revenues are in magazines/online/events, and half are in books. FOLIO:: Where do you want that mix to be?NUSSBAUM: I think that’s a good mix now, but of course, we want the entire pie to grow. The Web piece will likely grow as a percentage of the total on the magazine and events side. But we are also going to be focused on event launches. For example, the annual How Design conference, which consistently experiences sell-out capacity, has given life to two additional conferences to better serve our customers. Both new conferences are well-attended, without sacrificing the success of the how conference. On the book side, revenues will continue to grow, but we think there is a chance for significant growth by adding an e-media component there.FOLIO:: What has the organic rate of growth been over the last three years? Is it acceptable?NUSSBAUM: It’s been pretty good, but there is an opportunity for the growth rate to be excellent. We think there are a myriad of new product ideas that need to be brought to market. Frankly, I took this job because there is such a deep and natural path for new revenue. And if we get organized correctly, focused, and we get the Web infrastructure right, that we’ll see revenues move up powerfully, and margins also enhanced righteously. FOLIO:: What are the company’s flagships? What is its single biggest brand?NUSSBAUM: A few of the company’s flagships include Scuba Diving, Deer & Deer Hunting, Horticulture, Popular Woodworking, Memory Makers, Antique Trader, Adams Media, and North Light Books. Certain franchises have already attained reach across the company—books, magazines, events, e-media—like How magazine or the fine art category, led by the Artist’s Magazine. This is the model we will drive across all areas of the business.From a mass-market perspective, for more than 85 years, Writer’s Digest arguably can be called our most recognizable brand. FOLIO:: Why was making a change in CEOs necessary? In what ways was F+W not performing?NUSSBAUM: David Steward did a great job in bringing the company to its current level. I think David, who is a shareholder, and ABRY both thought that F+W had reached a point in its history where a different management-talent orientation would be beneficial.FOLIO:: You’re an e-media focused executive. This company is not an e-media-oriented company. What will your strategy be?NUSSBAUM: F+W started aggressively building its e-media infrastructure about a year ago. In June 2007 it hired a top-notch talented leader in John Lerner. There is a lot to work with here from a talent perspective. And the current budget calls for a further meaningful investment in people, technology, and services to continue that investment. I wouldn’t have joined the company if ABRY had not committed to investing in e-media. Also, ABRY and I share the belief that the online opportunity at F+W is both significant and the path is clear. The strategy will include building online communities with all that entails—community networking, video, search, data—that can be immediately managed, as well as developing the Web as a channel for product delivery. FOLIO:: You’re also a b-to-b guy. As is David Blansfield. How does that skill translate to consumer enthusiast media, which has different circulation patterns, different e-media dynamics, different cost structures?NUSSBAUM: I see b-to-b and enthusiast media as very similar. We serve highly defined markets. We have very interested and passionate communities. We are very vertical in our approach. If there are differences, it’s that ‘prosumers’ are more willing to pay for information and products that are their passions and hobbies, and thus are more committed to their media offerings and brands. In both sectors, there is a sacred pact between the media brand and its community to provide networking, information, data, and help in deepening the readers’ knowledge about the subject. FOLIO:: With Cygnus and now F+W, ABRY is going with executives from outside the market in terms of experience and expertise. What does that tell us?NUSSBAUM: I don’t think ABRY is going with executives outside the market, I see myself as very much inside the market. FOLIO:: Why this move for you now? You told me at the DeSilva conference last year that you’re bearish on print.NUSSBAUM: Magazines will always have a role in the media mix, as it’s a portable and easy-on-the-eyes medium. However, the big opportunity will be to expand the company’s e-media offerings. And I see that as right in my wheelhouse. Also, the book business here at F+W is exciting to me. I’m excited by all the growth this company has in front of it. FOLIO:: Will you be moving to Cincinnati?NUSSBAUM: No, like at Penton, I’ll be based in New York, but will travel as necessary. FOLIO: Q+A | David Nussbaum It’s been a tumultuous few years for F+W Publications. In August 2005 it was sold from Providence Equity Partners to ABRY Partners—both private-equity firms. Then, within a few months, ABRY sued Providence, claiming that the Cincinnati-based consumer-enthusiast publisher overstated its numbers pre-sale. The suit was settled eventually, with Providence retaining a stake in F+W, but the result was a black eye for all involved.With the acquisition, ABRY brought in consumer-magazine veteran David Steward to run F+W, now a $250 million company, and last April, b-to-b publishing veteran Colin Ungaro to run the magazine division. But that team has flipped in the last month or so—Ungaro leaving his post to David Blansfield, a Penton Media executive, and Steward was succeeded by David Nussbaum earlier this week. Nussbaum was CEO of ABRY-controlled Penton until it was sold in late 2006. Nussbaum’s tenure at Penton was marked by both large-scale downsizing of the managerial ranks and driving e-media growth. read more
Hanley Wood worked with Brightcove to develop the video player, which will soon be integrated on all of the company’s websites. Editors will have a dedicated CMS for video content, which can derive from a host of sources including YouTube and Vimeo, and the company says that sponsored content will be clearly labeled and not packaged as editorial. Reid says engagement metrics indicate the company’s audience is hungry for more video, especially because it is comprised of builders and contractors that can benefit from how-to content.Likewise, video is what many advertisers are seeking, so the video platform will also offer multiple ad buying options including pre-roll, post-roll, leaderboard, medium rectangle, nanosite and persistent footer.Hanley Wood says it will continue to invest in marketing services and will expand its offerings next year, but video could become a cornerstone to its forward-looking strategy. “Really it’s about elevating video to the same level as our text-based content,” Reid says. “Our perspective is that video is the future, and in the future it will be as or more important than our traditional content.” The Hanley Wood Media Network has rolled out a proprietary video player on its ARCHITECT magazine website that enables clients to distribute ad-integrated video content across multiple platforms.”Video is now a core element of a powerful marketing and content strategy,” says CEO, Peter Goldstone, in a release. “This is an exciting innovation to our platforms that enriches the experience for our audience and deepens the engagement for our customers.”The video technology aligns with Hanley Wood’s database and is designed to deliver marketing content to users based on their consumer behavior. “We’re making a huge investment into our audience database,” president of digital, Andy Reid, tells Audience Development. “What this allows us to do is segment our audience in a very detailed way so we can deliver the right content to the right people on the right medium.” read more
(Photo by Molly Rettig/KUAC)Download AudioBrent Sass covered the 150-mile distance from Eagle to Dawson in two runs. He said his team was feeling better in Eagle after starting the race with some stomach issues.“They were sick before the race, the whole week leading up to the race they had the stomach flu,” Sass said. “Then a couple days before the race they had gotten better.”But for the first 300 miles, it took a lot more effort to keep them full and hydrated.“You have to basically hand feed them and soak things differently and go through five different types of snacks before they decide they’re gonna eat one of them,” he said.Hugh Neff is down to 11 dogs after dropping three in Eagle. They were his junior dogs, each two years old or younger.“Two of them this was their first race ever, so I was pretty amazed they made it to Slaven’s and Eagle especially,” Neff said.Now he has a veteran team.The final few mushers came into Eagle Wednesday morning.(Photo by Molly Rettig/KUAC)Luc Tweddell arrived at 6 a.m. The Yukon musher has run the Quest before, but he’s never seen jumble ice this bad.“Looks like picture of the moon, but white,” Tweddell said. “It’s unbelievable.”There’s a trail broken through the jumble, but mushers can still run into ice boulders on the corners or tricky sections of banked ice. Tweddell recalled a section of trail that was slanted sideways, where he could hardly keep his sled upright.“That was just glare ice,” Tweddell said. “And you can see all the markings of a sled that go up and just bang, and you just try to keep your sled like that.”He held his hand at a 30-degree angle.“And then you hit branches and trees,” Tweddell said. “I had my snowshoes tied to my sled, and at one point I heard CHRHCHHRH. I looked and my snowshoes were on the trail.”(Photo by Molly Rettig/KUAC)It was hard to stop, too. The brakes can’t bite into the ice, and the drag mat used to slow down the sled gets clogged with ice.“I dropped a few things,” Tweddell said. “I just didn’t stop. I just carried on.”Luc has two kids who want to run the race one day. The oldest will be old enough to sign up for the Quest in three years.“If it’s conditions like that, I don’t want them to go through that,” he said. “It’s too crazy.”Mushers are done with the jumble ice. After Eagle, they travel on overland trails to Dawson. read more
Map of Europe showing the Iron Curtain and various Cold War political and military pacts across Europe Hungary Germany History communism wall 30 years. Photo: AFPThe Iron Curtain was at first an ideological and then a physical separation of communist Eastern Europe from the West from the 1940s after World War II.THE NAMEThe term “iron curtain” was popularised after it was used by former British prime minister Winston Churchill in a landmark speech at Westminster College in Fulton, the United States, in March 1946.”From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent,” declared Churchill, then leader of the opposition Conservatives.His comments were seen as an opening salvo in the Cold War, which opposed the Soviet Union and the West for more than four decades.The term had been coined earlier. Russian writer Vasily Rozanov, in his 1918 book “The Apocalypse of Our Time”, wrote “an iron curtain is being lowered, creaking and squeaking, at the end of Russian history.”A PHYSICAL FRONTIERThe ideological barrier between Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe and the West gradually became a physical one spanning thousands of kilometres (miles).To stop their citizens from fleeing to the West, the Soviet-dominated Eastern countries began erecting various forms of barriers using barbed wire, ditches and concrete walls.The separations were controlled through alarms, watchtowers, mines and soldiers.Socialist Hungary put up the first section in 1949, building a 260-kilometre (160-mile) barbed wire fence along its border with Austria.BERLIN WALLThe Berlin Wall was the most famous section of the Iron Curtain and became its symbol.In 1952 Soviet-satellite East Germany constructed a 10-metre-wide (39-feet) barbed wire buffer along the entire length of its border with West Germany.However, people were still able to cross over in the divided city of Berlin, with about three million fleeing the East via this route between 1952 and 1961.To stop this important loss of manpower, East Germany in 1961 began constructing a wall within the city.Made of reinforced concrete and wire mesh, the Berlin Wall stretched for 155 kilometres. It had a heavily controlled no-man’s land on the eastern side.ESCAPE ATTEMPTSEastern European citizens were only allowed to visit the West under strict conditions and those who tried to cross over without permission did so at great risk.About 600-700 people died trying to escape East Germany, at least 136 at the Berlin Wall, according to historians.Around 5,000 people made it out, however, often using innovative means.One man crossed via a wire cable shot by bow and arrow from the roof of a building to a relative on the other side.Others escaped by swimming across Berlin’s Spree River, via tunnels, or by hot air balloon.IRON CURTAIN CRUMBLESThe first crack in the Iron Curtain appeared in May 1989 when Hungary decided to start opening its border with Austria.On August 19 the frontier was to be symbolically opened for a few hours for a Pan-European Picnic.More than 600 East Germans holidaying in Hungary at the time took advantage and fled to the West. It was the first massive exodus since the 1961 construction of the Berlin Wall.Soon afterwards Eastern Europe’s communist regimes started to tumble.East Germans began to demonstrate, and on November 9 the regime unexpectedly granted them the right to travel to the West freely.Thousands flocked to the wall, and disoriented border guards opened the checkpoints. Through the night euphoric Berliners celebrated, perched on the wall.Then they used pickaxes to knock out chunks.Within two years the Soviet Union had imploded, the Iron Curtain falling with it. read more
Recently, the Trump White House released a signing statement connected to a federal funding measure, which has advocates for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) more than a little nervous about future funding of these institutions.“My Administration shall treat provisions that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender (e.g… “School Improvement Programs,” and “Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program Account…) in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the laws under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment,” the last paragraph of the statement reads.Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)In other words, Trump may be open to getting rid of a federal program that has been in existence since 1992, that provides money for construction at HBCU, at least that is the fear of those who believe in the mission of these schools, some of which have been educating Americans since just after the end of the Civil War.Subsequent attempts by Trump to clarify his stance on HBCU probably further muddied already tempestuous waters.This is the 21st century political backdrop for a fascinating new documentary by award -winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”I recently saw, “Tell Them We Are Rising” (twice) at the Maryland Film Festival and I had the opportunity to talk to Nelson about his film.“For African-Americans it was always thought, even from the time when we were enslaved, was that if we could get an education then things would change. And so education has always been… had a really outsized role in the Black community,” Nelson said. “We’ve looked at education as a way out and for so many years, HBCUs represented the only way that we could get a higher education and so they’ve been incredibly important, to not only my family but to African Americans all over the country,” added Nelson, whose mother and father both attended HBCU in the 1930’s.Nelson, who directed the Emmy nominated documentary, “The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords (1999),” “Marcus Garvey: Look At Me In The Whirlwind (2000),” and the 2015 documentary, “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” among a phalanx of his films, affirms with his new documentary that HBCU played a pivotal role in the American civil rights movement from its beginning. And Nelson focuses specifically on the role of Charles Hamilton Houston (one of the greatest legal minds of the 20th century and the first dean of the Howard University School of Law), who along with his prized student, Thurgood Marshall, were the prime architects of the legal strategy that fueled, “The Movement.”“The chapter about Charles Hamilton Houston in the film is called, “An Audacious Plan,” and we call it that, because that’s what it was…he comes up with this plan, that he’s not only going to make Howard University Law School, the best law school for African-Americans in the country, at that point (late 1920’s) it was a pretty crappy law school, he’s going to make this a great law school,” Nelson said. “But, he’s also going to educate a cadre of lawyers, who are then going to go and they’re going to overturn the whole idea of segregation as a way of life in the south. Now, this is a crazy idea…but, the fact that he actually instituted it and did it, is just one of the most remarkable chapters in American history,” he added.In 2017, we are reminded in Maryland that its HBCU (The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education v. Maryland Higher Education Commission), are still using the courts as Hamilton and Marshall did in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s, to seek equality, because of historic and systematic underfunding and undermining of academic programs (duplication) of these schools for generations.But, Nelson suggests waiting for the government to fully fund HBCUs may be like waiting for a train that will never arrive and those who believe in the mission of our Black institutions of higher education must act accordingly.“I think that we’re going to be in a battle over the next few years, over almost everything that we know in life, and government support of almost everything. So,HBCUs are just part of that,” Nelson said. “I think that it’s really important that people organize and resist and fight for what they believe in. And that means everybody…it’s going to matter that we all stand up for what we believe in and that includes the survival of HBCUs.”Sean Yoes is a senior contributor for the AFRO and host and executive producer of AFRO First Edition, which airs Monday through Friday 5 p.m.-7 p.m. on WEAA, 88.9. read more
By Michelle Richardson, Special to the AFROEarlier this week, a member of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), was shot and two people were killed during an attempted robbery of a methadone clinic in North Baltimore.Police responded to the Man Alive Methadone Clinic at 2117 Maryland Avenue on July 15, at approximately 7:00am for a report of multiple people shot.According to its website, the Man Alive clinic specializes in substance abuse and mental health disorders.Police have identified Ashanti Pinkney as the suspect in the methadone clinic shooting at 2117 Maryland Avenue this week. (Courtesy Photo)When BPD units arrived on the scene, they encountered an armed man demanding methadone and holding clinic workers and patients hostage. Officers reportedly entered the clinic and tried to de-escalate the situation when the suspect began firing at police, forcing officers to return fire.In the exchange of bullets, BPD Sgt. Billy Shiflett, 51, a 25 -year veteran of the force, was struck in the stomach under his vest. Shiflett was pulled to safety outside of the building by another responding officer, Christopher Miller.Shiflett was transported to Shock Trauma in serious but stable condition and rushed into emergency surgery.Baltimore Police Sgt. Billy Shiflett, 51, a 25 year veteran of the force, was shot under his vest during the robbery attempt. (Courtesy Photo)He is expected to survive.“This was a dangerous situation that could’ve been far worse for our officers, but they showed extreme courage, extreme bravery and professionalism,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said at a news conference outside the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.Harrison said he and members of the U.S. Department of Justice consent decree monitoring team have reviewed the body-worn camera footage from the incident. He said the department is following a recently established policy and will have up to a week to determine whether to release it publicly.On July 16, police identified the deceased suspect as 49-year-old Ashanti Pinkney. Witnesses say Pinkney lived nearby and had a previous altercation with the clinic staff the Friday before.According to online records, Pinkney has an arrest history that includes several drug and theft charges between 1999 and 2008.Police also identified the name of a deceased civilian who died as 52-year-old David Caldwell, 52, of the 500 block of Parksley Avenue in Southeast Baltimore.Caldwell, a phlebotomist, was working inside the clinic when the shooting occurred, according to police. Co-workers said he was well-loved amongst his peers.A 41-year-old woman who was injured in the incident was released from the hospital the evening of the shooting. She was also working inside the clinic when the violence began.Gov. Larry Hogan called the shooting a “senseless act of violence.”“Our hearts are with the victims’ loved ones, and we are grateful for the prompt response by law enforcement,” he said in a statement via Twitter.City Council President Brandon Scott said the shooting shows the continued need to quell gun violence in the city, which is on pace to reach 300 homicides for the fifth year in a row.“This… event highlighted the heroism of Sgt. Shiflett and his fellow officers, while again reminding us of the severe problem of gun violence in our city. It’s imperative that we deal with the flow of illegal guns into our city,” he said.Man Alive Inc., was closed July 16, and patients were redirected to nearby REACH Clinic for treatment, according to a recorded message on the clinic’s phone.Neil Kavanaugh, 51, a patient, said he never expected anything like this to happen because the clinic has armed security.“You come here to get your medication and that’s it,” he said to FOX 45. “It’s just crazy.” read more
Thompson’s plan is to do a full size poster that showcases every alien invader Earth has ever stood against. Starting with the first invasion known to mankind, the 1888 novella about sentient crystals set to take over humanity, Les Xipéhuz by J.H. Rosney and will go all the way to 2016’s Independence Day 2. Every alien species that have dared to step foot on our planet with the intent to take it over, from books to film to comics and Japanese manga, will be plotted out to gaze unstintingly up at all night long.Thompson makes note that this will not include First Contact stories, events where humans attempted to invade other planets, or aliens who came to our home world for congenial visitations. These are your big, bad, hostile take over jerks of the universe – or sometimes the rare case of the Know-It-All aliens who think they are “helping” mankind by turning us into their mindless thralls.Now this isn’t Thompson’s first foray into the illustrative pop culture map series. Back in 2015 he raised over $20,000 to make his Map of Zombies come to life. That one showcased some 350 different types of zombies from literature and popular culture.You can expect the list of alien invaders to be just as big, if not larger than The Map of Zombies, given how many of those pesky bug-eyed monsters like to claim our vast resources for their own.With the Kickstarter already funded, and Thompson having a good track record of coming through on his crowd funding, you might want to get in on his map now to make sure you get a copy at a discounted price. One artist is on a journey to chart the heavens, or at least those who would take over our little slice of it, by creating an illustrated map of alien invaders.Jason B. Thompson is an Eisner-award winning artist and manga aficionado who is well on his crowd-funding way to making his Map of Alien Invaders a reality. As of writing this, the Kickstarter has 25 days to go and is $1,000 past it’s funding goal, so obviously this guy has something special on his hands. read more
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. (Phys.org)—A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in South Korea has found a way to introduce an enzyme into a cell using the CRISPR technique without having to use a bacterial carrier—the result, the group claims, is a possible way to bypass laws meant to outlaw genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from being used in the human food chain. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team outlines their technique and explains why it works. New techniques improve specificity of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tools Journal information: Nature Explore further Citation: CRISPR technique allows for gene splicing without introducing foreign DNA bits (2015, October 23) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-10-crispr-technique-gene-splicing-foreign.html CRISPR is, of course, a means of guiding a gene editing platform to a particular place within a genome using RNA—the idea is to remove parts of a genome that are undesirable or to replace them with parts that are, to produce a plant or animal with desirable characteristics. The traditional approach is to get a protein called Cas9 working in a plant cell and then to use a bacterial agent to carry the result to a desired genome part using RNA strands. The problem with this is that sometimes bits of the bacteria DNA can end up in the final product or the Cas9 itself winding up in the genome of the final plant. While technically speaking these problems do not prevent the resulting plant from behaving as desired, they do cause the plant to be classified as a GMO, which some people have taken exception to—so much so that laws have been passed preventing their use in consumer food products. In this new work, the team has developed a modified CRISPR technique that does not rely on bacterial agents and in fact do not require gene shuttling at all. Instead, they have found a way to assemble Cas9 with RNA outside of a plant and then use solvents to get them inside and to the genome they are meant to modify. The result is a plant that does not get any new DNA. And that, the team suggests, may be enough to keep foods that are grown using the technique from being banned under GMO laws.It is not clear at this time if this new technique or others like it that do not involve the transfer of DNA in developing new plants, will still have their result be deemed as GMOs or not—that will be up to public perception and legislators reacting to them. More information: Je Wook Woo et al. DNA-free genome editing in plants with preassembled CRISPR-Cas9 ribonucleoproteins, Nature Biotechnology (2015). DOI: 10.1038/nbt.3389AbstractEditing plant genomes without introducing foreign DNA into cells may alleviate regulatory concerns related to genetically modified plants. We transfected preassembled complexes of purified Cas9 protein and guide RNA into plant protoplasts of Arabidopsis thaliana, tobacco, lettuce and rice and achieved targeted mutagenesis in regenerated plants at frequencies of up to 46%. The targeted sites contained germline-transmissible small insertions or deletions that are indistinguishable from naturally occurring genetic variation. © 2015 Phys.org A depiction of the double helical structure of DNA. Its four coding units (A, T, C, G) are color-coded in pink, orange, purple and yellow. Credit: NHGRI , Nature Biotechnology read more
Praise, Don’t Tease, And Other Tips To Help Kids With… by NPR News Susie Neilson 8.25.19 7:30am Dale Knuth, now 58, says in childhood her weight was a source of anguish — largely because of how her family treated her. “I had a brother who tormented me constantly,” she says. “If I came home from school and was hungry and ate an apple I’d be called a cow, or a pig, or whatever.” Her parents, she says, did nothing to stop her brother, “except to say, ‘Yeah, you’re getting fat.’ ” She had no physical outlet for her frustration — she wanted to play softball but her mother wouldn’t allow it. Decades later, Knuth is much happier. She has an active life, that includes riding bikes and playing racquetball. Her husband tells her he loves her at any size and always will. But she still thinks about how her life could have turned out without so much shaming in childhood. “Had it not been pointed out at every meal, at every point, had I been given more support to play in sports,” she says, perhaps she could have formed healthier habits, and a more positive relationship with her body. According to Marlene Schwartz, a psychologist and the director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, a child’s immediate family can be a common source of fat-shaming, or commenting negatively on their weight. “I think sometimes parents misguidedly think that if they tease the child, that it will motivate them to try harder to lose weight,” she says. “But there’s virtually no evidence that that works. And in fact, there’s evidence that it causes harm.”For instance, studies have shown that children subjected to weight-based teasing gain more weight than other children. And even less overtly cruel tactics, like advising your child to lose weight or encouraging them to go on a diet, can often backfire, causing lasting physical and psychological harm. A 2016 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics warned parents and doctors against prescribing or discussing weight loss to kids and teens, because such behavior could increase their risk of weight gain and disordered eating. Still, parents can help kids with overweight or obesity eat more healthfully, stay active and maintain positive attitudes about their bodies. Here’s advice about the best ways to communicate with their children about weight and support their health.Don’t tease — and try to put a stop to others’ teasing.It’s worth reiterating: Never, ever make fun of your child for their weight.And parents can go further than that, Schwartz says, by watching what relatives say to their kids. “I think it’s perfectly appropriate if a parent feels like someone in the family is likely to say something upsetting, talk to them ahead of time — say, ‘Look, we know our child is overweight, we’re working on developing healthy habits. Please don’t say anything to him or her about their weight.’ “And if someone does say something, intervene, she suggests. Shift the focus; talk about your kid’s role in an upcoming play, for example, or ask the relative a question about themselves. “You want the child to feel safe around their own family,” she says.Promote positive self image, instead of focusing on weight. Even practical comments focused on your child’s weight can backfire, Schwartz says: “Even ‘gentle prodding’ about weight isn’t a good idea, in my opinion.” Research backs this up: In one 2017 study in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders, researchers found that women who remembered their parents commenting about their weight in childhood reported greater dissatisfaction with their bodies well into adulthood — regardless of their actual BMI.Instead, help your child feel comfortable in their body, no matter the size. For example: “If you’re going clothes shopping with your child, don’t make comments [like], ‘That makes you look slimmer, or that is too tight,’ ” she says. “Focus on finding clothes that the child feels comfortable with, and be generous with your praise when your child finds an outfit.” Don’t put your child on a diet.Is it OK to put your child on a diet? The recent introduction of Kurbo, a weight loss app for children as young as eight by WW (formerly Weight Watchers), has raised this question among parents and health care professionals.Denise Wilfley, Scott Rudolph University professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness at Washington University in St. Louis, doesn’t recommend Kurbo, writing in an email that “it is not an evidence-based program.” In fact, she doesn’t recommend diets for kids at all; instead she suggests evidence-based programs that focus on “modifying the entire family environment to support the child.”Schwartz adds that the concept of a diet for kids tends to be counterproductive because it emphasizes a short-term period of deprivation. “The term ‘putting a kid on a diet’ is problematic, because it implies you are doing something different for a specific period of time, and when you are done the child will go back to his/her regular way of eating,” she said via email. “That is not the point.”Instead, choose, as a family, to eat healthfully year-round.The solution, Wilfley says, is to make your entire household a healthy environment, “where the child is exposed to high quality nutrition and prompts for physical activity.” “It’s OK to have sugar-sweetened beverages and snack foods in the home, but that should be a small proportion compared to fruits, vegetables, lean meats,” she says. But the whole family has to do it — don’t single one child out. She says she’s seen cases where parents will have one lean child whom they allow to have fried foods and sugary drinks, and one with obesity, who they put on a strict diet — “an all health-oriented plan, lots of fruits and vegetables and water, low-fat milk.””We recommend strongly against this approach,” she says. “You can’t have Dad coming in with a burger and fries and expect the child to not feel deprived,” she says. “It’s that deprivation that fuels binge eating.”Focus on behaviors, not body size.You may need to check your own biases, says Wilfley. “Most parents have internalized a culture’s view and negative attitudes about shape and weight; either they themselves have been ashamed of their bodies or they’re worried about [their kids] getting stigmatized,” she says. But reflecting back these negative attitudes will only harm your kid’s self image, and may even promote weight gain. Instead, she says, you need to help them understand that “having [a] wider range of body types is OK.””Shape and weight is largely under genetic control. There’s a lot of genetic variation,” Wilfley says. “So, some kids will [naturally] be leaner than other kids.” And, once you’ve shifted focus away from your child’s size, reward them for healthy behavior. Praise them for playing soccer, or for having a nutritious breakfast. Overall, “focus on creating the healthiest environment for the entire family,” Schwartz says. Many kids with overweight or obesity are interested in getting active and eating healthy. It’s up to you to help them.Model healthy behavior of your own. If you’re a parent, you know your kids often do what they see you do. Wilfley often works with entire families to develop healthy eating and exercise habits. “A parent might eat only one meal a day and model that for their child,” Wilfley says. “We know optimally kids eat three meals a day with one to two planned snacks.” Wilfley advocates parents establish their own regular eating, sleeping and exercise routines so their child can follow suit.Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit NPR. read more
Individuals who smoke may be nearly twice as likely to develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm – a deadly condition of the main artery of the body that often turns out to be a silent killer, researchers have warned.However, the risk of this potentially life-threatening condition can be lowered by quitting, the study said. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the large artery that supplies blood to the belly, pelvis and legs and can lead to severe internal bleeding, if the artery ruptures, which can prove to be very risky for the patient. Also Read – Add new books to your shelf“Our study quantified the lifetime risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm and found that it was far from trivial for smokers,” said lead author Weihong Tang, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota, in the US. “And we quantified the benefit of quitting smoking, which turns out to be substantial,” Tang added.For the study, the team looked at 15,792 people over the age of 45 and found that one in 17 had a lifetime risk of an abdominal aortic. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveAmong those who had quit smoking for three to eight years (recent quitters) still had an approximately 2.6 to 3.5 fold increased risk for both clinical and asymptomatic abdominal aortic aneurysm in the next 15 years compared to never smokers. Their lifetime risk was 6.6 per cent higher than long-term quitters.In addition, being older or having high levels of bad cholesterol also increased the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm, the researchers noted.The study appears in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. read more
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Australia’s peak accommodation body, Tourism Accommodation Australia, welcomed the NSW Government’s commitment to addressing the issues caused by the expansion of new so-called ‘collaborative’ economy, but called for urgent regulation of commercial short-term accommodation operators.The dramatic growth of unregulated short-term accommodation, fuelled by internet booking sites such as Airbnb, had seen the original concept of “room sharing” morph into a channel allowing commercial operators to rent out multiple properties without meeting many of the safety, insurance, taxation, body corporate, strata, council and State regulations imposed on other operators of commercial short-term accommodation.In NSW alone, Airbnb offers 15,000 listings, and recent analysis both in Australia and overseas has determined that between 25 – 35% of ‘hosts’ are operating as commercial non-resident landlords using the sites as a way to circumvent regulations.TAA is calling for the Government to introduce regulations to ensure commercial short-term accommodation operators are subject to similar safety and operational regulations as legitimate operators.“Hotels, motels, serviced apartment, B&B and other legitimate short-term accommodation providers have a strict regulatory framework in place to protect their guests and ensure they operate fairly,” TAA CEO Carol Giuseppi said.“In the past few months we have seen the results of the ‘no care, no responsibility’ attitude towards unregulated short-term accommodation with reports of assaults, property damage and a terrifying drug raid. Overseas, there have also been reports of deaths.“The self-regulatory approach mentioned in the Paper will not provide the protections needed for guests or other property owners in apartment blocks and communities.“The already high rental costs in Sydney are only going to be exacerbated by the unfettered growth of apartments being transformed from long-term rentals to make more money from short-term rentals without meeting the regulations that apply to other legitimate operators.“The reality for many people involved in the so-called ‘collaborative’ economy is that they take rather than give. They contribute virtually nothing to employment, where as hotels and other legitimate operators employ 21,000 people in NSW. They contribute nothing to collaborative tourism promotion. They often avoid paying appropriate taxes and community charges.“TAA has been advocating for a registration-style system that would mean that current unregulated operators would have to be approved before they are able to operate. The new digital platforms would need to be part of the solution from a regulatory perspective, otherwise any framework put in place is doomed to fail.“Once an appropriate framework is put in place, it is up to these digital platforms to make sure that the accommodation they offer to travellers is safe and fit for purpose, and complies with all relevant laws.”Source = Tourism Accommodation Australia read more
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