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1 501,162 shares, 4 trendiness, 0 words and 0 minutes reading time

Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet Greater than Losses


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2 ☆ 34,872 shares, 1,429 trendiness, 140 words and 2 minutes reading time

Scientists Revive Cells in Brains From Dead Pigs

In a study that raises pro­found ques­tions about the line be­tween life and death, re­searchers have re­stored some cel­lu­lar ac­tiv­ity to brains re­moved from slaugh­tered pigs.

The brains did not re­gain any­thing re­sem­bling con­scious­ness: There were no signs in­di­cat­ing co­or­di­nated elec­tri­cal sig­nal­ing, nec­es­sary for higher func­tions like aware­ness and in­tel­li­gence.

But in an ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment, blood ves­sels in the pigs’ brains be­gan func­tion­ing, flow­ing with a blood sub­sti­tute, and cer­tain brain cells re­gained meta­bolic ac­tiv­ity, even re­spond­ing to drugs. When the re­searchers tested slices of treated brain tis­sue, they dis­cov­ered elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­ity in some neu­rons.

The work is very pre­lim­i­nary and has no im­me­di­ate im­pli­ca­tions for treat­ment of brain in­juries in hu­mans. But the idea that parts of the brain may be re­cov­er­able af­ter death, as con­ven­tion­ally de­fined, con­tra­dicts every­thing med­ical sci­ence be­lieves about the or­gan and poses meta­phys­i­cal rid­dles.


Read the original on www.nytimes.com »

3 ☆ 30,463 shares, 1,633 trendiness, 830 words and 7 minutes reading time

Pig brains partially revived after death

US sci­en­tists have par­tially re­vived pig brains four hours af­ter the an­i­mals were slaugh­tered.

The find­ings could fuel de­bate about the bar­rier be­tween life and death, and pro­vide a new way of re­search­ing dis­eases like Alzheimer’s.

The study showed the death of brain cells could be halted and that some con­nec­tions in the brain were re­stored.

However, there were no sig­nals from the brain that would in­di­cate aware­ness or con­scious­ness.

The sur­prise find­ings chal­lenge the idea that the brain goes into ir­re­versible de­cline within min­utes of the blood sup­ply be­ing cut off.

Thirty-two pig brains were col­lected from an abat­toir.

Four hours later the or­gans were con­nected to a sys­tem made by the team at Yale University.

It rhyth­mi­cally pumped (to mimic the pulse) a spe­cially de­signed liq­uid round the brain, which con­tained a syn­thetic blood to carry oxy­gen and drugs to slow or re­verse the death of brain cells.

The pig brains were given the restora­tive cock­tail for six hours.

The study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Nature, showed a re­duc­tion in brain cell death, the restora­tion of blood ves­sels and some brain ac­tiv­ity.

The re­searchers found work­ing synapses - the con­nec­tions be­tween brain cells that al­low them to com­mu­ni­cate.

The brains also showed a nor­mal re­sponse to med­ica­tion and used up the same amount of oxy­gen as a nor­mal brain.

This was all 10 hours af­ter the pigs were de­cap­i­tated.

Crucially there was no sign of the brain-wide elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­ity in an elec­troen­cephalo­gram (EEG brain scan) that would sig­nal aware­ness or per­cep­tion.

Fundamentally they were still dead brains.

The re­search trans­forms ideas about how the brain dies, which many thought hap­pened quickly and ir­re­versibly with­out a sup­ply of oxy­gen.

Prof Nenad Sestan, a pro­fes­sor of neu­ro­science at Yale University, said: Cell death in the brain oc­curs across a longer time win­dow that we pre­vi­ously thought.

What we are show­ing is the process of cell death is a grad­ual, step­wise process.

And that some of those processes can be ei­ther post­poned, pre­served or even re­versed.”

The pig brains came from the pork in­dus­try; the an­i­mals were not raised in a lab for this ex­per­i­ment.

But the Yale sci­en­tists were so con­cerned the pigs might be­come con­scious that they gave drugs to the dis­em­bod­ied brains to re­duce any brain ac­tiv­ity.

And the team were con­stantly mon­i­tor­ing the brains to see if there was any sign of higher brain func­tions.

In that case they would have used anaes­thetic and ended the ex­per­i­ment.

Ethicists, writ­ing in Nature, say new guide­lines are needed for this field be­cause an­i­mals used for re­search could end up in a grey area - not alive, but not com­pletely dead”.

The im­me­di­ate ben­e­fit of this work will be for sci­en­tists study­ing the brain in dis­eases like Alzheimer’s.

The or­gan is the most com­plex struc­ture in the known uni­verse, but tech­niques such as freez­ing slices of the brain or grow­ing colonies of brain cells in a dish do not let re­searchers ex­plore the full 3D wiring of the brain.

In the long term, sci­en­tists hope to find bet­ter ways of pro­tect­ing the brain af­ter trau­mas such as a stroke or be­ing starved of oxy­gen at birth.

Dr Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, from the Brain Initiative at the US National Institute of Mental Health, said: This line of re­search could lead to a whole new way of study­ing the post-mortem brain.

It also could stim­u­late re­search to de­velop in­ter­ven­tions that pro­mote brain re­cov­ery af­ter loss of brain blood flow.”

However, the re­searchers say it is still far too early for the field to make a dif­fer­ence to pa­tients af­ter in­jury.

Prof Sestan said: We don’t yet have knowl­edge whether we would be able to re­store nor­mal brain func­tion.”

At the mo­ment no, but some ethi­cists say we should have the de­bate now as peo­ple who are brain dead” are a ma­jor source of or­gans for trans­plant.

Prof Dominic Wilkinson, a pro­fes­sor of med­ical ethics and a con­sul­tant neona­tol­o­gist in Oxford, said: Once some­one has been di­ag­nosed as brain dead’ there is cur­rently no way for that per­son to ever re­cover.

The hu­man per­son that they were has gone for­ever.

If, in the fu­ture, it were pos­si­ble to re­store the func­tion of the brain af­ter death, to bring back some­one’s mind and per­son­al­ity, that would, of course, have im­por­tant im­pli­ca­tions for our de­f­i­n­i­tions of death.”

But that is not cur­rently the case.

Prof Tara Spires-Jones, deputy di­rec­tor of the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, said: This study is a long way from pre­serv­ing hu­man brain func­tion af­ter death as por­trayed in the car­toon Futurama where heads were kept alive in a jar.

It is in­stead a tem­po­rary preser­va­tion of some of the more ba­sic cell func­tions in the pig brain, not the preser­va­tion of thought and per­son­al­ity.”

In this ex­per­i­ment the an­swer is a clear no. The brains were ef­fec­tively silent.

But the re­search does ask as many ques­tions as it an­swers:

* How long can the re­searchers keep brains go­ing?

* Would the re­sults be even bet­ter if the re­searchers did not wait four hours be­fore start­ing?

* Also, the team used drugs to sup­press brain ac­tiv­ity - would the de­cap­i­tated brains have been aware if they had­n’t?


Read the original on www.bbc.co.uk »

4 16,711 shares, 289 trendiness, 0 words and 0 minutes reading time

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Read the original on www.bloomberg.com »

5 12,209 shares, 77 trendiness, 740 words and 6 minutes reading time

Sleep myths 'damaging your health'

Widely held myths about sleep are dam­ag­ing our health and our mood, as well as short­en­ing our lives, say re­searchers.

A team at New York University trawled the in­ter­net to find the most com­mon claims about a good night’s kip.

Then, in a study pub­lished in the jour­nal Sleep Health, they matched the claims to the best sci­en­tific ev­i­dence.

They hope that dis­pelling sleep myths will im­prove peo­ple’s phys­i­cal and men­tal health and well-be­ing.

So, how many are you guilty of?

This is the myth that just won’t go away.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher fa­mously had a brief four hours a night. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made sim­i­lar claims, and swap­ping hours in bed for ex­tra time in the of­fice is not un­com­mon in tales of busi­ness or en­tre­pre­neur­ial suc­cess.

Yet the re­searchers said the be­lief that less than five hours’ shut-eye was healthy, was one of the most dam­ag­ing myths to health.

We have ex­ten­sive ev­i­dence to show sleep­ing five hours or less con­sis­tently, in­creases your risk greatly for ad­verse health con­se­quences,” said re­searcher Dr Rebecca Robbins.

These in­cluded car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, such as heart at­tacks and strokes, and shorter life ex­pectancy.

Instead, she rec­om­mends every­one should aim for a con­sis­tent seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

Thatcher: Can peo­ple get by on four hours’ sleep?

The re­lax­ing night­cap is a myth, says the team, whether it’s a glass of wine, a dram of whisky or a bot­tle of beer.

It may help you fall asleep, but it dra­mat­i­cally re­duces the qual­ity of your rest that night,” said Dr Robbins.

It par­tic­u­larly dis­rupts your REM (rapid eye move­ment) stage of sleep, which is im­por­tant for mem­ory and learn­ing.

So yes, you will have slept and may have nod­ded off more eas­ily, but some of the ben­e­fits of sleep are lost.

Alcohol is also a di­uretic, so you may find your­self hav­ing to deal with a full blad­der in the mid­dle of the night too.

Have you ever thought I need to wind down be­fore bed, I’m go­ing to watch some TV”?

Well, the lat­est Brexit twists and turns on the BBC News at Ten might be bad for sleep.

Dr Robbins ar­gues: Often if we’re watch­ing the tele­vi­sion it’s the nightly news… it’s some­thing that’s go­ing to cause you in­som­nia or stress right be­fore bed when we’re try­ing to power down and re­lax.”

And as for Game of Thrones, it’s hard to ar­gue the Red Wedding was re­lax­ing.

The other is­sue with TV - along with smart­phones and tablets - is they pro­duce blue light, which can de­lay the body’s pro­duc­tion of the sleep hor­mone mela­tonin.

Will the light from your phone kill you?

You’ve spent so long try­ing to nod off you’ve man­aged to count all the sheep in New Zealand (that’s about 28 mil­lion).

So what should you do next? The an­swer is not to keep try­ing.

We start to as­so­ci­ate our bed with in­som­nia,” said Dr Robbins.

It does take the healthy sleeper about 15 min­utes to fall asleep, but much longer than that… make sure to get out of bed, change the en­vi­ron­ment and do some­thing that’s mind­less.”

Her tip - go fold some socks.

Who is­n’t guilty of reach­ing for the snooze but­ton on their phone, think­ing that ex­tra six min­utes in bed is go­ing to make all the dif­fer­ence?

But the re­search team says that when the alarm goes off, we should just get up.

Dr Robbins said: Realise you will be a bit groggy - all of us are - but re­sist the temp­ta­tion to snooze.

Your body will go back to sleep, but it will be very light, low-qual­ity sleep.”

Instead the ad­vice is to throw open the cur­tains and ex­pose your­self to as much bright light as pos­si­ble.

Snoring can be harm­less, but it can also be a sign of the dis­or­der sleep ap­noea.

This causes the walls of the throat to re­lax and nar­row dur­ing sleep, and can briefly stop peo­ple breath­ing.

People with the con­di­tion are more likely to de­velop high blood pres­sure, an ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat and have a heart at­tack or a stroke.

One of the warn­ing signs is loud snor­ing.

Dr Robbins con­cludes: Sleep is one of the most im­por­tant things we can all do tonight to im­prove our health, our mood, our well­be­ing and our longevity.”


Read the original on www.bbc.com »

6 7,047 shares, 1 trendiness, 646 words and 8 minutes reading time

Open-plan offices drive down face-to-face interactions and increase use of email

As well as their cost-sav­ing ap­peal, the ra­tio­nale for large open-plan of­fices is that they are ex­pected to act as a cru­cible for hu­man chem­istry, in­creas­ing face-to-face en­coun­ters be­tween col­leagues to the ben­e­fit of cre­ativ­ity and col­lab­o­ra­tion. Unfortunately it’s well-es­tab­lished that most work­ers don’t like them, such is the fun­da­men­tal hu­man need for pri­vacy and con­trol over one’s en­vi­ron­ment. Now a pair of quasi-ex­per­i­men­tal field stud­ies pub­lished in Philo­soph­i­cal Transactions of the Royal Society B suggest that the sup­posed col­lab­o­ra­tive ad­van­tage of open-plan of­fices also does­n’t pass muster.

Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban, at Harvard Business School and Harvard University, re­spec­tively, re­cruited 52 em­ploy­ees at the global head­quar­ters of a Fortune 500 multi­na­tional com­pany that was about to un­dergo a re­design of an en­tire floor, strip­ping out the in­di­vid­ual cu­bi­cles to cre­ate a fully open-plan work­space.

The par­tic­i­pants, whose roles in­cluded sales, tech­nol­ogy and hu­man re­sources, wore a sociometric badge” and mi­cro­phone for three weeks prior to the re­design. Then a cou­ple of months af­ter the of­fice re­fit, they wore the badge and mi­cro­phone again for an­other three weeks.

The blue­tooth-en­abled elec­tronic badges and the mi­cro­phones al­lowed the re­searchers to mon­i­tor the fre­quency of the em­ploy­ees’ face-to-face in­ter­ac­tions. The com­pany also granted ac­cess to their servers so the re­searchers could look for any changes in use of email and in­stant mes­sen­ger.

The re­sults were stark: af­ter the shift to an open-plan of­fice space, the par­tic­i­pants spent 73 per cent less time in face-to-face in­ter­ac­tions, while their use of email and in­stant mes­sen­ger shot up by 67 per cent and 75 per cent re­spec­tively.

A sec­ond study in­volv­ing 100 em­ploy­ees at an­other Fortune 500 com­pany was sim­i­lar but this time the re­searchers mon­i­tored changes to the na­ture of the in­ter­ac­tions be­tween spe­cific pairs of col­leagues be­fore the shift to an open-plan of­fice com­pared with af­ter­wards.

There were 1830 in­ter­act­ing dyads and, of these, 643 re­duced their amount of face-to-face in­ter­ac­tion af­ter the work­space be­came open-plan, com­pared with just 141 show­ing more phys­i­cal in­ter­ac­tion. Overall, face-to-face time de­creased by around 70 per cent across the par­tic­i­pat­ing em­ploy­ees, on av­er­age, with email use in­creas­ing by be­tween 22 per cent and 50 per cent (depending on the es­ti­ma­tion method used).

If you’ve ever sought refuge from the gold-fish bowl of an open-plan of­fice en­vi­ron­ment by co­coon­ing your­self with head­phones, or if you’ve de­cided you’d rather not have that chal­leng­ing con­ver­sa­tion with a col­league in front of a large group of your peers, and opted to email them in­stead, then these find­ings will come as lit­tle sur­prise.

However, while a great deal of re­search has es­tab­lished em­ploy­ees’ neg­a­tive feel­ings about open-plan of­fices, both in terms of lost pri­vacy and ad­verse ef­fects on com­mu­ni­ca­tion, this is the first study to pro­vide an ob­jec­tive mea­sure of the im­pact of an open-plan space on how peo­ple in­ter­act.

The real-life set­ting of this re­search is a ma­jor ad­van­tage but it does of course come at the ex­pense of full ex­per­i­men­tal con­trol and it re­mains a pos­si­bil­ity that other fac­tors, be­sides the of­fice de­sign change, may ex­plain the re­sults. The re­searchers did at­tempt to mit­i­gate this pos­si­bil­ity, such as by al­low­ing time for the em­ploy­ees to set­tle into the new of­fice de­sign be­fore re­sum­ing data col­lec­tion.

While it is pos­si­ble to bring chem­i­cal sub­stances to­gether un­der spe­cific con­di­tions of tem­per­a­ture and pres­sure to form the de­sired com­pound, more fac­tors seem to be at work in achiev­ing a sim­i­lar ef­fect with hu­mans,” the re­searchers said. Until we un­der­stand those fac­tors, we may be sur­prised to find a re­duc­tion in face-to-face col­lab­o­ra­tion at work even as we ar­chi­tect trans­par­ent, open spaces in­tended to in­crease it.”

—The im­pact of the open’ work­space on hu­man col­lab­o­ra­tion


Read the original on digest.bps.org.uk »

7 6,033 shares, 50 trendiness, 755 words and 7 minutes reading time

Mick Mulvaney’s Master Class in Destroying a Bureaucracy From Within

Yet Mulvaney and his deputies pro­vided lit­tle feed­back or di­rec­tion on the pro­pos­als, ac­cord­ing to for­mer Silberman staff mem­bers I spoke with. It was ra­dio si­lence from them on what di­rec­tion they wanted to take,” the for­mer staff mem­ber told me. The process stalled. Payday lenders, who had ex­pected quick ac­tion from Mulvaney, be­gan to panic. Cordray’s abil­ity-to-re­pay rule would go into full ef­fect in August 2019, in a lit­tle more than a year. Mulvaney’s team might come up with a new rule be­fore August, but it might not, and in the mean­time pay­day lenders would have no choice but to re­con­fig­ure their busi­nesses — or shut them down — to pre­pare for the old one. Shaul, the leader of the Community Financial Services Association, told me that he had dif­fi­culty get­ting any sense of where the bu­reau was headed. I was not able to get to see Mulvaney,” Shaul told me. I was hop­ing we could con­vince Mulvaney to re­peal that rule and craft a new rule.” What they needed was cer­tainty, or at min­i­mum some kind of de­lay. As months passed with­out any word, Shaul told me, his mem­bers were in­creas­ingly set on su­ing the agency.

What hap­pened next un­der­scores some of the ab­sur­dity and com­plex­ity of turn­ing an agency in­side out. In early April, Johnson granted Shaul an in­tro­duc­tory meet­ing at the agen­cy’s head­quar­ters. At the last sec­ond, Shaul emailed to say he would be bring­ing Chris Vergonis, one of the as­so­ci­a­tion’s lawyers at Jones Day — and one of the peo­ple who would pre­pare any law­suit against the agency. His pres­ence was po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous for Mulvaney’s team; it could raise ques­tions about whether the bu­reau was im­prop­erly co­or­di­nat­ing with the in­dus­try. According to notes of the meet­ing, taken by a ca­reer bu­reau em­ployee and ob­tained by the con­sumer group Public Citizen, Shaul told Johnson that the as­so­ci­a­tion had in fact been prepar­ing to sue the C. F.P.B. to stop Cordray’s rule but now be­lieved that it would be bet­ter to work with the bu­reau to write a new one. With the Cordray rule loom­ing, Shaul stressed, they would need to move quickly.

A per­son fa­mil­iar with the meet­ing, who asked for anonymity be­cause of the le­gal sen­si­tiv­i­ties in­volved, told me that Shaul and Vergonis kept push­ing for de­tails of the new rule and at one point asked out­right what re­ac­tion the bu­reau would have to a law­suit. According to the staff notes, Johnson replied care­fully, as a good lawyer would; it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate for him to dis­cuss ei­ther the rule or the law­suit, he told them. Shaul gave me a sim­i­lar ac­count. I found them so cau­tious as to pre­clude our hav­ing any real dis­cus­sion,” he told me. We came away from the meet­ing think­ing that we were not go­ing to get many an­swers.” Four days later, the Community Financial Services Association and an­other in­dus­try group filed suit against the bu­reau.

The C. F.P.B.’s re­sponse was atyp­i­cal of a reg­u­la­tory agency. In mid-May, the bu­reau’s lawyers called Vergonis with a pro­posal: They now wanted to in ef­fect join forces with the in­dus­try, by ask­ing a judge to stay both the com­pli­ance date of Cordray’s rule and the law­suit. In a kind of reg­u­la­tory ju­jitsu, the bu­reau would cite Mulvaney’s own de­ci­sion to re­con­sider the Cordray rule as an ex­cuse to stop the clock on the August 2019 im­ple­men­ta­tion. There was just too much fog. The bu­reau’s de­ci­sion to ini­ti­ate rule mak­ing to re­con­sider the pay­day rule cre­ates in­her­ent un­cer­tainty,” the bu­reau lawyers and Vergonis’s team wrote in court pa­pers filed later that month. There is no way to know whether plain­tiffs’ mem­bers will ul­ti­mately need to com­ply with the pay­day rule, a mod­i­fied pay­day rule or no rule at all.”

The bu­reau still had not ex­plained what kind of rule it planned to pro­pose, much less im­ple­ment, and in June, a Texas judge re­jected the re­quest for a stay of the com­pli­ance date. But that October, the C. F.P.B. an­nounced that its new rule would in­deed tar­get the abil­ity-to-re­pay re­quire­ment. Not long af­ter, the judge agreed to grant the stay, in ef­fect de­lay­ing the core of Cordray’s old rule. Inside the bu­reau, ac­cord­ing to two for­mer em­ploy­ees and an in­dus­try lawyer I spoke with, the reg­u­la­tion-writ­ing team lurched into high gear, rush­ing to de­liver what the bu­reau had promised. The in­dus­try had won what it needed most: time.


Read the original on www.nytimes.com »

8 5,966 shares, 248 trendiness, 0 words and 0 minutes reading time

‘When the Glaciers Disappear, Those Species Will Go Extinct’


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9 4,848 shares, 397 trendiness, 0 words and 0 minutes reading time

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10 3,614 shares, 288 trendiness, 402 words and 4 minutes reading time

Samsung's folding phone breaks for reviewers

Earlier this week, Samsung sent out its re­mark­able new fold­ing smart­phone to a num­ber of me­dia out­lets, in­clud­ing the BBC.

Perhaps now it wishes it had­n’t.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Samsung said it had re­ceived a few re­ports” of dam­age to the main dis­play, and would thoroughly in­spect these units in per­son to de­ter­mine the cause of the mat­ter”. But it’s a sig­nif­i­cant set­back to the com­pa­ny’s hopes of wow­ing the world with what, at first glance, was a very im­pres­sive feat of en­gi­neer­ing.

It ap­pears one ex­pla­na­tion for the prob­lems is that some re­view­ers re­moved a film that went over the screen, think­ing it was the typ­i­cal pro­tec­tive layer you find on all new smart­phones to keep the screen in good con­di­tion un­til you buy it.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman re­moved his, as did the highly-re­garded YouTube re­viewer, Marques Brownlee.

Steve Kovach, how­ever, did­n’t re­move the film - and said he still had ma­jor is­sues.

The de­vice the BBC han­dled, in­ci­den­tally, was taken away by Samsung shortly af­ter film­ing was fin­ished, so our team has­n’t had a chance to see these is­sues for our­selves. Our re­viewer Chris Fox said the way the screen folded to­gether - leav­ing a small gap - made him ner­vous about ac­ci­dents that might oc­cur with small ob­jects.

But if the de­vice strug­gles to this de­gree in the hands of sea­soned re­view­ers, the re­turn-rate could be huge, if and when it goes on sale to the wider pub­lic. Remember, this is a $2,000 smart­phone.

The re­view­ers hav­ing prob­lems in­sist there’s been no rough-han­dling of the de­vices.

Whatever hap­pened, it cer­tainly was­n’t be­cause I have treated this phone badly,” wrote Mr Bohn at The Verge.

I’ve done nor­mal phone stuff, like open­ing and clos­ing the hinge and putting it in my pocket. We did stick a tiny piece of mould­ing clay on the back of the phone yes­ter­day to prop it up for a video shoot, which is some­thing we do in every phone video shoot.”

Samsung stole head­lines from its com­peti­tors by get­ting its ap­par­ently con­sumer-ready de­vice out there quicker than any­one, a tech­no­log­i­cal two-fin­gers in the di­rec­tion of Huawei, the Chinese firm breath­ing down Samsung’s neck in the smart­phone game.

But it’s no good be­ing first if you get it wrong - and put out a de­vice that is­n’t quite ready.


Read the original on www.bbc.com »

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