Apple Watch Series 4 Review This is the one

first_imgComponents and controls have been finessed in cunning ways. The microphone has moved to a new spot, between the Digital Crown and the – now fared-in – side button; in the process, it helps reduce distortion during calls. Two slits on the opposite side accommodate the speaker and the barometer. The speaker itself is an impressive 50-percent louder, which makes a difference when you’re using the Apple Watch for hands-free calls. Hearing callers over the sound of engine and road noise as you drive is much more likely. The new haptics for the Digital Crown are another example of charming subtlety at work. The tiny nudges that tremble your fingertip are minuscule: the faintest pluck of a quill across the strings of the world’s smallest harpsichord. Nonetheless they communicate a physicality that adds depth to the scrolling process.AdChoices广告Despite all that, there’s the reassurance that none of this is change for its own sake. Both sizes of Apple Watch may be new in this fourth generation, but all your existing watch straps and bands will work just the same. If there’s a place where fashion rears its head, it’s in the finishes. Gone is the Apple Watch Edition, and the ceramic model. Instead you get a choice of matte finish aluminum or polished stainless steel, in silver, space gray, or gold. The silicone sports bands remain, along with Velcro sports loops, Milanese loops, and an array of leather, Nike, and Hermes straps that run the gamut from subtle through to Gladiator-style webbing. The best smartwatch displayHowever you affix it to your wrist, one thing is for certain: the new Apple Watch display is mesmerizing. When you tilt your wrist and the rich, saturated OLED panel splashes into life, it’s as though its colors are flooding out to the corners of the cover glass. The old Apple Watch favored black for its UI because it helped mask the edges of the smaller OLED screen with the bezel around it. This Series 4 watch prizes those inky blacks because they make the graphics pop. Apple puts its 30-percent larger panel to good use. On the one hand, there are two new, information-rich watch faces: the circular “Infograph” layout which clusters four complications inside the dial and four at its edges, and the “Modular” layout which has two fewer complications and a digital read-out. I’m all for having more data a glance or tap away, but both feel a little busy to me. When I found I was forcing myself to choose a complication “just to fill the spot” I realized there are times when empty space can be just as valuable. At the other extreme, there are Apple’s new motion watch faces, including fire, water, and vapor. They cycle through different clouds of colorful dust, undulating liquid metal, and blooms of fire, erupting out from the center of the screen and rebounding from its edges. Adding to their charm is the fact that Apple filmed them all for real, building huge watch faces and then setting fire to them or flooding them with liquid. No, you don’t get any of the useful complications – you don’t even get the date – but the sacrifice is worth it. What you still don’t get, even with OLED’s low-power potential and a new chipset inside, is an always-on display. Want to check the time? Tilt your wrist to wake the Apple Watch Series 4, just like all three generations before it. A whole new heartThe bigger touchscreens aren’t the end of the new hardware. Just about everything inside the Apple Watch Series 4 is new, too, from a larger Taptic Engine to a whole new chipset and the sensors that go with it. It starts with the new Apple S4 processor, combined with the new W3 which adds Bluetooth 5.0 to the existing W2. The battery is slightly larger, too. We’re a long way from the early days of the original Apple Watch. Back then, a significantly slower processor along with iPhone-dependent software contributed to a sluggish and often frustrating user experience. Since then, each iteration of both Apple Watch and watchOS has improved performance and responsiveness, but it’s still fair to say that this Series 4 feels like an exponential leap forward. Apps load near-instantaneously. Animations are smooth and stutter-free; there’s none of the frustrating spinning circle that plagued earlier versions. It truly feels like there’s a tiny computer on your arm, not some distant – and struggling – window trying desperately to preview what the iPhone in your pocket is trying to say. As before, there are two versions along with the two sizes and multiple colors. The standard Apple Watch Series 4 has WiFi and GPS; a $100 premium gets you cellular support too, with an onboard LTE radio and eSIM. Most carriers charge around $10 per month on top of your existing plan for Apple Watch service. A new focus on healthApple’s health and fitness tracking has improved with each generation fo Apple Watch and each release of watchOS, and in many ways the Series 4 simply does a better job of managing that. Automatic workout detection is the headline here, spotting if you’ve started exercising – running or briskly walking for around 7-8 minutes, perhaps, or cycling – and offering to track that. Best of all, it conjures up retroactive data for your workout so far.As always, there are the three rings for Move, Exercise, and Stand performance through the day. Apple has added yoga and hiking to the workout app, and there’s more useful information shared while you’re in the midst of a session. If you’re running, for instance, you can now get pace alerts and see if you’re falling behind your usual performance. Water resistance to 50 meters means the Apple Watch Series 4 can be worn when swimming, too. Afterwards, it does its “spit the water out” party trick. A medic for your wristThe Apple Watch had a heart rate sensor from the start, but the Apple Watch Series 4 cranks up the diagnostics both with more sensors and with more intelligent use of them. Previously, you’d get an alert if your heart rate spiked despite not doing any activity. Now, you’ll also get a warning if your heart rate drops for no obvious reason, and later this year it’ll flag arrhythmias, irregular rhythms that can be another indicator for concern. The biggest new trick, though is its ECG, or electrocardiogram, sensor. On the back, and in the center of the Digital Crown, are electrodes that together can read the electrical signals from the heart. After thirty seconds of scanning, the ECG app will tell you whether there are signs of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can be a sign of stroke risk, among other things. Right now, though the FDA has cleared the Apple Watch Series 4 for ECG duties, the actual app hasn’t been released. That, Apple says, will come later in the year. It’s also worth noting that this is the equivalent of a single-lead electrocardiogram: more comprehensive tests that you might have performed at a hospital or health clinic will be able to identify health issues this smartwatch cannot. Still, there’s something impressive about it all the same. In a demonstration of a pre-release version of the app, I saw the Apple Watch spit out a chart showing heart rhythm. Though the Health app on the iPhone you can then export that as a PDF, to send to a doctor or other specialist. Honestly, I’m torn about it all. On the one hand, I suspect we’ll hear quite a few stories after the ECG app update is released, of people unknowingly walking around with heart health issues that they didn’t realize were there until they casually checked on their Apple Watch. The symptoms of atrial fibrillation can easily go unnoticed, after all, especially in the early stages.At the same time, though, I worry about misuse. I’m hardly the biggest hypochondriac around, but I can easily see myself getting caught up in frequently checking my ECG results. I doubt I’ll be alone in that, either. My concern is that people will come to rely solely on what the Apple Watch says – despite Apple’s prominent disclaimers that this is just one aspect of the overall set of diagnostic tools that can identify health problems – and ignore what their body is telling them otherwise. Something I can absolutely get behind, though, is fall detection. The Series 4’s more sensitive gyroscope and accelerometer – together with some clever machine learning – can now spot if you trip or fall over, and offer to contact the emergency services for you. If it believes you’ve fallen but don’t respond, or move, for a minute, it’ll automatically summon help on your behalf. As someone with a grandparent who had numerous falls in her latter years, I think the potential value of fall detection is huge. It’s turned off by default, unless your health profile shows you’re over 65. Even after I turned it on, though, the Apple Watch was clever enough not to mistake my intentional pratfalls for actual accidents. watchOS 5 brings the extrasApple keeps trying to make Watch to Watch communication happen. Walkie-Talkie isn’t as much of a head-scratcher as sending animated messages or your heartbeat to someone else’s wrist, but it still feels gimmicky. Open the app, pick a contact, and after a moment’s connection you get a big, yellow circle. Press that and speak, and your message is sent to your friend. It’s up to you if you say “over” after every message.It works, yes, though I can’t see myself using it much. Part of the problem is that you need to be an Apple Watch owner to use it. Yes, that’s a growing cohort, but I can’t help but wish Apple baked Walkie-Talkie functionality into Messages on the iPhone, or even just released it as a standalone iOS and macOS app. Right now, only a small subset of my frequent contacts support it, and so it’s never the first way to get in touch with them that I think of. As for third-party apps, the Apple Watch Series 4 and watchOS 5 unlock new degrees of independence from your iPhone. Apps now have a selection of notification types to choose between, ranging from high-priority to so-called Quiet Notifications. Dynamic Interactive Notifications effectively allow developers to bake subsets of app functionality into the alerts themselves, meanwhile. For example, a restaurant reservation app could not only remind you of an upcoming table you’ve booked, but allow you to change how many people are attending or the time of the reservation, all from the notification itself. A parking app might flag that your time is about to expire, but allow you to extend it directly from the notification. Developers will be able to add different buttons and controls, and even integrate Apple Pay payments, right into notifications. I think it’s fair to say that we’re headed toward a new age of smartwatch functionality. Apps that do more, in a deeply focused way, and despite their increasing complexity actually allow you to avoid pulling your iPhone out as much as you once might. On the flip side, of course, existing Apple Watch apps for the most part aren’t ready for this brave new world. There’s promise there, but it’ll take time for it to be delivered on. Battery lifeBigger display, more powerful processor, and more sensors… you’d be forgiven for expecting battery life to have taken a hit. Though the battery is slightly larger inside the Apple Watch Series 4, it’s only a very small increase. What’s impressive, then, is how long the wearable will last. Apple’s general guidance is “a full day” of use, though that will obviously vary greatly depending on what you use the smartwatch for, and how often you use power-hungry features like GPS and cellular data. Used primarily for notifications, I made it from morning through to the evening and still had more than 50-percent of the battery remaining. Activating a workout, and thus GPS tracking, however, took a more significant hit on power. Even so, I invariably made it through a full day with juice to spare. It’s Siri’s turn to step upI am, being both naturally reticent and British, reluctant to talk to my wrist, and unfortunately Siri often does nothing to encourage me to step out of my comfort zone. Apple’s assistant has improved since the early days, certainly, but there are still plenty of times when you’re reminded more of the “Artificial” in AI, and sadly less of the “Intelligence.”I can’t be alone in hoping that Siri steps up sometime soon and starts to get more proactive. One of the Apple Watch’s enduring strengths – indeed, one of the strengths of smartwatches in general – is that it acts as a boundary to the time-soak that is your smartphone. A notification comes in, you check it on your wrist, and you either act on it or ignore it. You don’t get distracted by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other app that’s tantalizingly available when your phone is unlocked.The Apple Watch’s ability to filter what makes it to your wrist, though, is little changed from the first generation. You can still choose which apps get to push notifications to the wearable, and you can still configure your email VIP list and have only the messages that drop into that special inbox be flagged. Beyond that, though, you’re on your own.Even just the option of rules would be a big improvement. During the week I may be fine with every email getting announced on my wrist; at the weekend, though, maybe I only want those from key contacts, or people Siri has identified as friends and family rather than work-related. Apple loves to talk about how much on-device machine learning the iPhone can do. It’s about time that extended to making more intelligent use of the screen on my arm. VerdictI find the trajectory of the two main smartwatch platforms fascinating right now. Wear OS, which started out pushing practical functionality and health tracking, is now rushing toward the fashion end of the segment. In contrast, the Apple Watch started out as a fashion statement, but is now focused on health and wellness. The reality, of course, is that all wearables fall somewhere in-between those two extremes. Similarly inescapable is the fact that the Apple Watch Series 4 feels simply more comprehensive, not to mention polished, than any other smartwatch out there. It’s also more expensive than most mainstream smartwatches. You can grumble about that, certainly, or you can stomach the fact that what you’re paying for is a degree of cohesion and integration that no rival can match. In part that’s down to how iOS and watchOS work together; it also benefits from Apple’s tight control over everything from industrial design to processor architecture.That space on your wrist, and the attention you give it, is special. The Apple Watch Series 4 simply does more to earn its place there. Story TimelineApple Watch Series 4 ECG and fall detection detailedApple Watch Series 4 hands-on: Simply mesmerizingApple Watch Series 4 ECG: What you need to know Has there been a learning experience for Apple quite like the Apple Watch? Back when the original model launched in 2015, there was – not unfairly – a sense that Apple itself wasn’t quite sure what exactly it should do. Now, as the Apple Watch Series 4 arrives on wrists, it does so not only with a laser focus, but with the compelling hardware to match. First, the bad news2018’s Apple Watches are more expensive. The Series 4 starts at $399 for the 40 mm and $429 for the 44 mm; if you want cellular, add another $100 on top. In contrast, the Series 3 started at $329 without cellular, and $399 with it. A subtle design evolutionThe design is familiar and yet new. This 44mm version is broader than the model before it, but the reduction in thickness is more important. It may only be 0.7 mm difference, but with it the Apple Watch Series 4 feels less as though it’s sitting atop your wrist, precariously, and more like it’s bedding down on it. Apple Watch Series 4 Gallerylast_img read more

Ford patent details a movie theater on selfdriving wheels

first_imgStory TimelineFord challenges Uber in Kansas City with on-demand bus serviceFord uses optical illusion stickers to hide its car designsFord F-150 drivers allege brake failure, NHTSA investigates Self-driving cars — the thought of relinquishing the wheel in favor of a passive presence in one’s car is a hard pill for some to swallow, but the technology isn’t without its upsides. You’ll get to nap on the ride to work, some argue. Or, for the parents out there, you’ll get to spend those blessed minutes swaddled in utter silence, free to daydream in peace. For those who find silence uncomfortable, Ford has a different idea: self-driving cars with integrated movie projectors. The auto maker was recently awarded a patent detailing a sort of mobile movie theater that would be found within autonomous vehicles. The type of self-driving car detailed within the patent is the less ideal of the two combating for our future — Google and others envisions a future where the human is obsolete, at least when it comes to operating a vehicle.Ford’s patent is less optimistic — or more realistic, depending on your perspective — and describes a mobile movie theater suitable for autonomous vehicles with a manual driving mode. This entertainment system involves a display, a sort of projection screen, that will lower in the front of the vehicle, replacing the windshield’s boring road view with a movie. If the driver needs to or wants to take over operation of the vehicle, this display will disappear and a secondary dash display will turn on instead.Such an arrangement could be reality, at least in the early days of self-driving vehicles. Ford’s CTO had previously shared a perspective in which the auto maker anticipates fully autonomous driving in certain situations, but not in others. If you’re taking a long trip down a straight highway, the car could take control and handle things on its own. A backwoods dirt road filled with brush and potholes may require human operation, though.I hitched a ride in Mercedes’ F 015 self-driving carSOURCE: Forbeslast_img read more

How dare Suzuki deny America this glorious new Jimny

first_imgIt’s been almost fifty years since the first Jimny, a tiny 4WD play on the off-roader category. Since then, Suzuki says, it has sold 2.85m of them across 194 countries and regions. Now it’s back with a new design, plenty of color options, and even some technology.It’s been a good few years since Suzuki offered a new car in the US, though. The company’s American arm declared bankruptcy back in November 2012, ceasing US car sales at the same time. Instead, it would focus on motorcycles, marine products, and ATVs.It was, frankly, no great loss back in 2012. American Suzuki blamed poor exchange rates and low sales – less than 22k cars in the ten months of operations that year, in fact – for the decision, but it’s hard not to see it as a reflection of the woeful lineup at the time. The strongest seller was the aging first-generation Suzuki SX4, a 2.0-liter AWD crossover that was completely replaced in 2013. AdChoices广告As for the Jimny, Suzuki ended sales of that well before its American troubles. It discontinued the car – then in its second generation – at the end of 1995, not least because of dwindling sales and the threat of stricter safety legislation. The third-generation Jimny never made it, officially, to US roads. With the 2019 Jimny, in its fourth generation, there’s no sign of Suzuki diluting the small SUVs off-road credentials. That means a ladder frame, three-link rigid axle suspension, and a part-time, two-speed four wheel drive system. That’ll have a low range transfer gear. All of that will be wrapped up in a design that’s not dissimilar to a Mercedes G-Wagon, only a whole lot smaller. At a time when retro design for off-roaders is being paired with drivetrains typically focusing more on on-road performance, something unashamedly sticking with what works in the mud is undeniably appealing. We’re getting flashbacks, indeed, to Mahindra’s endearing Roxor. Where the Roxor will be sold in the US but not road-legal, the 2019 Jimny will be road-legal but is unlikely to be sold in the US. Two engines will be offered, the regular Jimny with a 1.5-liter inline-four and a Jimny Sierra with a 0.66-liter inline-three, and two transmissions, a four-speed auto or a five-speed stick. Suzuki will throw in a fancier dashboard and some safety basics like forward collision emergency braking, but really the new Jimny is about rugged go-anywhere appeal. Sadly going anywhere doesn’t quite extend to North America. Suzuki gave up on the US market more than half a decade ago, but it’s only now that we’re beginning to regret that decision. You can blame the 2019 Suzuki Jimny for that, the fourth generation of the Japanese SUV and its most appealing yet. last_img read more

iOS 13 beta 3 now available Heres whats new

first_imgStory TimelineiOS 13 SiriKit update might cool tensions between Spotify and AppleiOS 13 Beta update for iPhone bypasses dev restrictioniOS 13 public beta released today plus iPadOS preview It’s subtle, but iPadOS 13 beta 3 shows which app in Split View is actively receiving text input. Watch the pill-shaped indicator at the top. This has been an issue since Split View launched in iOS 9. pic.twitter.com/VkJyOGFMFh— Federico Viticci (@viticci) July 2, 2019 Apple has released iOS 13 beta 3 for developers, giving them a chance to check out the latest changes before the update arrives for everyone later this year. The update is relatively minor, bringing some cosmetic changes compared to the second beta, as well as subtle tweaks that improve the user experience and more. The update is available over-the-air to testers. READ: How to install iOS 13, iPadOS & macOS Catalina – and why you should waitDon’t expect to find anything particularly exciting in the third developer beta. Many of the changes are minor tweaks that bring a bit of clarity, make it easier to access features, and similar small adjustments. For example, the Home app now has a different transition that appears when long-pressing a tile, Apple Arcade has a new teaser image, and a new pop-up lets users know that their device’s cameras don’t support Secure Recording yet.AdChoices广告Developers have noted the existence of a subtle new change to the ‘pill’ animation that makes it clear which Split View window is currently being used. iPhone XS and XS Max device owners are now seeing the FaceTime Attention Correction feature in the third beta — it’s designed to improve eye contact with the device’s camera during video calls.Likewise, users are now seeing an explanation included in the Settings -> Health -> Headphone Audio Levels menu, the latest beta can take full-page screenshots outside of Safari, and the action buttons on the keyboard have been redesigned.Other small changes discovered by developers so far include a new Noise Cancellation option within the Control Center, a big red asterisk in Contacts to distinguish emergency contacts, and new a new app animation in tvOS 13. The latest beta is available to developers now.last_img read more

Weekend Reading What Your Doctor Should Tell You New Stages of Grief

first_img This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Every week Ankita Rao selects interesting reading from around the Web.The Atlantic: Keeping Patients Out Of Hospitals: A Private-Sector Approach To Health ReformDr. Jim Dougher climbs into his white SUV, plugs the address of his next patient into the GPS, and he’s off. The SUV is well stocked: He has a large Tupperware bin in the back full of bandages and wound cleaning supplies; he has a variation on the old-time doctor’s bag with a stethoscope and blood-pressure cuff; and he has a dedicated cellular wifi hotspot and a laptop that can communicate with HealthCare Partner’s electronic medical record…This payment system creates a remarkable alignment of interests: It is irrelevant that Dougher’s home-visit unit would lose massive amounts of money in a traditional fee-for-service system (Adam Wolfberg, 2/13).Mother Jones: 5 Things Your Doctor Should Tell You, But Won’tAs a lifelong hypochondriac, I’ve always been comforted by the Hippocratic oath. What an excellent idea, having doctors pledge to put patients first. So I was less than thrilled to learn that doctors are under increasing pressure—from state legislatures, industry, and other groups—to break that oath by withholding key pieces of information from their patients. “We are very concerned about special interests attempting to influence our practices,” says Valerie Arkoosh, president of the National Physicians Alliance (NPA). “We’ve seen state legislatures overreaching a lot with regard to doctor-patient relationship.” Here are five things that—depending on where you live—your doctor could be keeping from you (Kiera Butler, 2/11).Slate: The Five Stages Of Grief Should Be ChangedWhen Elisabeth Kübler-Ross debuted the five stages of grief in her book On Death and Dying, published in 1969, they were intended for people facing their own deaths. Kübler-Ross later went on to apply these same five stages to the bereaved, to people who had lost a loved one, but upon closer inspection, I’m not sure they work as well. Losing a loved one is not the same as losing your life. Grief thrusts us into an uncertain world where anxiety often reigns supreme. Yet anxiety is the very element missing from Kübler-Ross’ stages (Claire Bidwell Smith, 2/11). Weekend Reading: What Your Doctor Should Tell You, New Stages of Grieflast_img read more

Protests Seek To Attract Attention To Medicares Prosthetics Policy Change

first_img Famous people don’t often get involved with Medicare payment policy, but a Boston Marathon bombing survivor and a former U.S. senator who lost a leg in wartime service have joined an industry campaign to block new requirements for artificial legs and feet. Medicare’s mounting cost for those items in the last 10 years — even as the number of amputees was declining — has prompted scrutiny from government investigators. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/27) Wednesday afternoon’s modest protest was organized to attract outsize attention to concerns by the nation’s amputees — and health practitioners who work with them — that the government might make it more difficult for older and disabled Americans to afford state-of-the-art artificial legs, or any artificial legs at all. Such changes are envisioned in a set of rules proposed by the four regional companies to which Medicare delegates responsibility for the program’s medical device benefits, including artificial limbs. (Goldstein, 8/26) CNN: Amputees Fight Medicare Proposal To Limit Prosthetics This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Protest Seeks To Block Medicare Policy Changes On Prosthetics Payments The Washington Post: Amputees Protest Proposed Medicare Changes For Artificial Limbs center_img Amputee groups and prosthetic makers are rallying against a Medicare proposal they say will limit access to some limbs. Under the new proposal, Medicare would establish more stringent requirements to obtain advanced prosthetics, reduce the role of the prosthetist who creates and maintains prostheses, and eliminate some of the universal codes that all providers use to cover prosthetic care. (Kounang, 8/26) The Associated Press: Amputees Decry Medicare Payment Overhaul For Artificial Feet The changes envisioned by Medicare, the government’s health insurance agency, revise coverage for what are called “definitive prosthetic components.” The proposed rules also require a medical exam by a doctor or health professional other than a prosthetics expert to determine “functionality.” Additionally, the rules mandate participation in a rehabilitation program before amputees can get a “definitive prothesis” and limit Medicare payments for certain adjustments to prosthetics, as well as coverage for certain kinds of prosthetic technology. (Spencer, 8/26) Protests Seek To Attract Attention To Medicare’s Prosthetics Policy Change Amputee groups, practitioners who work with them and prosthetic limb makers are rallying against a Medicare proposal they say will limit access to some artificial limbs.last_img read more

With Wages Stagnant Health Perks Are Often Used By Companies To Recruit

first_img Wages are still stagnant, yet employers have found something else to help attract and retain employees: health-care benefits. A good insurance plan has become a more vital tool than ever for hiring, according to a recent survey from the Society of Human Resources. … Of all the perks, however, health care was by far the most frequently used for employee retention. A full 80 percent of HR professionals in the survey cited health benefits, more than retirement and vacation, as a way to keep talent, up from 58 percent in 2012. (Greenfield, 10/21) With Wages Stagnant, Health Perks Are Often Used By Companies To Recruit And Retain Talent A survey of human resource professionals showed health care insurance was more important than retirement or vacation benefits for employee retention. Meanwhile, workers could save serious money if they took better advantage of employer offerings like gym memberships and health savings accounts. The Washington Post: You Could Lose Hundreds Of Dollars A Year By Ignoring These Employee Benefits This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.center_img Bloomberg: Forget Raises. Employers Lean On Health Benefits To Retain Workers A survey of human resource managers conducted earlier this year by the Society for Human Resource Management found that fewer than 1 in 10 thought their employees were “very knowledgeable” about the benefits available to them. … Since it’s open enrollment season for many companies, now’s a good time to look over what your benefits package provides — and what you might be missing out on. (Moore, 10/21) last_img read more

Valeant Plans To Dispute Negative Report As Woes Drag Down Pharma Market

first_img The Wall Street Journal: Valeant To Hold Conference Call On Monday To Address Critical Report NPR: How Generic Drugs Can Cost Small Pharmacies Big Bucks Valeant Plans To Dispute Negative Report As Woes Drag Down Pharma Market Valeant Pharmaceuticals will hold a press conference Monday to “lay out the facts” regarding a report that criticized the company’s business practices. Secondary loan prices and stocks for drug and biotechnology companies have also been impacted by the spotlight on Valeant. Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. said it plans to hold a conference call at 8 a.m. EDT on Monday to address recent criticism of its business practices that has sent its stock price tumbling this week. Valeant said it would “lay out the facts” regarding allegations brought by short-seller Citron Research in a note on Wednesday. The report fanned concerns about Valeant’s accounting, raising questions about its use of certain pharmacies to supply its drugs and its accounting for the dispensing. (Dulaney, 10/22) Also, more news on prescription drug pricing and the generics market – Health-care stocks were poised for a fall even before they were shaken yesterday by a short seller’s fraud accusation against Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., according to Lori Calvasina, chief U.S. equity strategist at Credit Suisse Group AG. Calvasina recommended last week that investors reduce holdings of drug and biotechnology companies, as well as providers of health-care equipment and services. The groups suffer from “extremely expensive valuations,” the New York-based strategist wrote in an Oct. 15 report. (Wilson, 10/22) Bloomberg: Health Care Stocks In U.S. Seen As Costly Before Valeant Dispute This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. CBS News: Why Spend $750 A Dose For A Drug You Can Get For $1? Pharmacist Narender Dhallan winces as he looks at a computer screen in his drugstore on a recent morning. For the second time in two hours, he has to decide whether to fill a prescription and lose money or send his customer away. This time it’s for a generic antifungal cream that cost him $180 wholesale. The customer’s insurance, however, will pay Dhallan only $60 to fill it. (Kodjak, 10/22) Reuters: Valeant’s Falling Secondary Loan Price Pulls Pharma Companies Down US secondary loan prices for pharmaceutical companies are falling with slumping equity levels as growing political and regulatory pressure on drug pricing threatens the growth model that underpins lending to the sector. Valeant Pharmaceutical Inc’s secondary loan price on its D, E and F term loans fell in volatile trading on Wednesday and continued to fall to 92.25-92.75% of face value on Thursday, according to traders. (Lee, 10/22) Turing Pharmaceutical’s controversial move to boost the price it charges for Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750 has at least one competitor pledging to offer an equivalent compound that treats a rare parasitic disease — for just $1 a dose. (Hennelly, 10/23) last_img read more

Weve Gone From The Farm To The Pharm How The Diabetes Belt

first_img‘We’ve Gone From The Farm To The Pharm’: How The ‘Diabetes Belt’ Is Embracing This Insulin-Maker News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing. CNN Money: Check Out How Much Medicare Spends On Drugs Stat: AbbVie And J&J Reverse Course On A Price Hike In Face Of Criticism Stat: Which Drug Makers’ Medicines Are Racking Up Bigger And Bigger Bills For Medicare And Medicaid? This small town of 20,000 might seem an unlikely place for the world’s largest maker of insulin to build a stockpile of drugs needed to fight a chronic disease affecting 30 million Americans. Yet Novo Nordisk is constructing a $1.8 billion plant here, to make the active pharmaceutical ingredients for an array of diabetes medicines. The largest project in Novo Nordisk’s history, the plant is rising across the street from a building where the Danish company has assembled and packaged its product for the past quarter century. It sits on the edge of a region known as the “diabetes belt” — a wide swath stretching from Louisiana up to West Virginia and over to North Carolina, where people are more likely to have type 2 diabetes. (Blau, 5/15) When Alec Smith turned 26 last May and aged out of his parents’ health insurance, he discovered that he couldn’t afford coverage of his own. Within weeks, he was trying to ration his diabetes medication because he couldn’t afford a $1,300 refill. A month later, the young restaurant manager was dead. An autopsy found he suffered a critical shortage of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar and energy in the body. Now, Smith’s mother is speaking out against the high and rising prices of prescription drugs and calling for legislation to prevent excessive price increases for essential medications. (Olson, 5/10) After a group of doctors raised a public fuss last month about a complicated change in pricing and dosing for a cancer medication, the manufacturers late last week suddenly scrapped plans to greatly increase the cost, according to a statement issued by one of the companies. The about-face is an unusual instance in which a drug maker — in this case, two drug makers — rolled back plans to boost pricing in the face of notable criticism. Typically, pharmaceutical companies try to ride out bad publicity, but the outcry came just as the White House made a push to lower drug prices. (Silverman, 5/14) The Washington Post: After Outcry, Drugmakers Decide Not To Triple The Price Of A Cancer Pill A former Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. executive told a jury how he became concerned that one of his senior directors had a secret financial interest in a mail-order pharmacy that did business with the drug company. Laizer Kornwasser, one the government’s star witnesses in the fraud and money-laundering trial of Gary Tanner and Andrew Davenport, the former head of Philidor Rx Services LLC, took the witness stand Monday in Manhattan federal court. He said Tanner wasn’t following through on his responsibility to find additional mail-order pharmacies with which Valeant could do business, suggesting he wanted to keep all of the business at Philidor. (Larson, 5/14) It’s one of 300 community specialty pharmacies Walgreens has opened in just a few U.S. cities, including Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. There are no rows of toilet paper. No aisles of Maybelline and L’Oreal. …Unlike the company’s larger stores, these pharmacies dispense medications only to people suffering from complicated medical conditions that are hard to manage and costly to treat. Specialty pharmacies have traditionally been the realm of pharmacy benefit managers, the third-party administrators of prescription drug programs for health insurers. (Rice, 5/15) Independent pharmacist Ira Katz has been serving the eclectic community of Little Five Points in Atlanta for 37 years. But it wasn’t until Georgia passed a law last year banning “gag rules” that Katz could legally tell his patients they might save big bucks on their prescriptions if they paid cash or used a lower-priced generic. The gag rule was a clause in his contract with one of the pharmaceutical benefit managers, also known as PBMs, that manage most of our nation’s prescription drug programs. (LaMotte, 5/11) The Star Tribune: Son’s Death Pushes Minn. Mom Into Fight Over Rising Drug Prices  Medicare spending on each dose of Sanofi Genzyme’s Renvela has been ratcheting up by an annual growth rate of 21.6 percent for roughly the last five years. Nearly the same is true for Sanofi’s Lantus, Merck’s Zetia, and Amgen’s Enbrel — Medicare spending on all of them climbed by an annual rate of more than 18 percent between 2012 and 2016. Now the Trump administration is calling out the companies behind those increases as part of an effort to tout its updates to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “drug pricing dashboard” and the data available there. It updated the dashboard Tuesday as part of its broader effort to put forth policies and changes that will help lower drug prices. (Mershon, 5/15) Stat: Azar Calls Out A Celgene Drug For Price Hikes That Are Hurting Medicare center_img The Trump administration may not support importing medicines from Canada, but that’s not stopping lawmakers in Vermont, who endorsed a bill that would make the state the first in the nation to designate wholesalers to buy drugs from across the border. The bill, which was passed last week by both the Vermont House and Senate, is now before Gov. Phil Scott, who has so far not indicated whether he will sign the legislation into law but has until this week to decide. We asked his office for comment and will pass along any reply. (Silverman, 5/15) Stat: Small Town Grapples With Growth Of The World’s Largest Insulin Maker The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spent $174 billion on prescription medications in 2016, or 23% of its total budget, the agency reported Tuesday. That’s up from $109 billion, or 17% of the budget, in 2012. The agency released the data in conjunction with its newly redesigned Drug Spending Dashboard, which contains a wide array of information on drug usage and costs in Medicare and Medicaid for 2016. (Luhby, 5/15) Last week, two drug companies that jointly sell a blood-cancer drug made a rare decision: to not move forward with changes that would have effectively tripled the cost of a lifesaving medicine for some patients. Most patients take three capsules of Imbruvica a day, at an annual price of $148,000 — most of which is picked up by insurance. But just as early evidence began to suggest a lower dose might be effective, Janssen and Pharmacyclics announced they were discontinuing the old capsule and introducing once-a-day tablets in four different dosages. (Johnson, 5/15) In his speech on Monday on ways to combat high drug costs, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was careful not to mention any one company by name when talking about some medicines that Medicare Part D must automatically cover. But it certainly appears that he was pointing a finger at Celgene. (Silverman, 5/15) Pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) — the “middlemen” in drug price negotiations — are under attack, and, for the past 15 years, Mark Merritt has been the point man in charge of defending them. Merritt, who recently underwent open-heart surgery, is stepping down as president and chief executive officer of the trade group Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) at the end of the year, even as the PBM industry is smack in the middle of a drug pricing war involving drug companies, insurers and the Trump administration. (Weixel, 5/15) CNN: Is Your Pharmacist Under A ‘Gag Rule’? The Hill: Defending The ‘Middlemen’ In The Battle On Drug Prices Bloomberg: Ex-Valeant Official Says He Suspected Secret Financial Stake Stat: Vermont Moves Closer To Creating A Wholesaler Program For Importing Drugs From Canada Dallas Morning News: How Some Dallas-Area Walgreens Are Helping Patients Manage Costly Prescriptions  This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

Tesla Model 3 Tops Electric Car Sales Chart In Netherlands In February

first_imgThe Netherlands notes its best January and best February ever for EV sales.As the volume deliveries of Tesla Model 3 in Europe began, Netherlands enjoys a fast expansion of electric car sales.In February, about 2,457 new passenger plug-in electric cars were registered in the country, which is 132% more than a year ago! The market share also improved to 8.2%.80% of the sales were all-electric cars, which drives the market high, despite the fact that premium models (in a new higher tax bracket) are now a rare sight in the stats.After two months, average market share amounted to 7.4%.News from the Netherlands Dutch Plug-In EV Market Doubled In January 2019 Source: EV Sales Blog Plug-in electric car sales in the Netherlands – February 2019 Plug-In Electric Car Market Share In Netherlands Hit 31% In December Source: Electric Vehicle News Tesla shipped hundreds of Model 3 to the Netherlands. With 472 new registrations, Model 3 has become #1 among plug-in electric cars and #15 among all cars sold in the Netherlands in February.Strong results were seen by the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Niro EV too.The models were:Tesla Model 3 – 472Hyundai Kona Electric – 536Kia Niro EV – 319Nissan LEAF – 396Volkswagen e-Golf and BMW i3 – 180 Fastned Fast Charging In The Lens Of Fully Charged: Video Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on March 7, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

EGEB LAs revolutionary record low solar price US company to stop insuring

first_imgIn today’s EGEB:Los Angeles readies a record low solar price (with battery) that could be a game changer.The largest US commercial insurance company is leaving coal.A Virginia offshore wind project starts construction. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1zk7Eb8r-s&list=PL_Qf0A10763mA7Byw9ncZqxjke6Gjz0MtThe post EGEB: LA’s ‘revolutionary’ record low solar price, US company to stop insuring new coal plants, more appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img

Using opioidsparing pain management techniques to better prevent addiction and abuse

first_img ERAS provides an average savings of $880 to $5,560 per patient. ERAS reduces patient length of stay by 3-4 days on average. ERAS reduces 30-day patient readmission rates and costs. ERAS helps patients return to normal activities more quickly. May 10 2018Over 2 million people each year switch to persistent opioid use after surgery, and nearly half of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) is calling on the healthcare community at large to utilize opioid-sparing pain management techniques to better prevent opioid addiction and abuse.”The American opioid crisis is one of the most pressing healthcare issues of our time, and more than ever the healthcare community needs to come together to modernize opioid-prescribing criteria and utilize more effective, evidence-based solutions to pain management practices, to help prevent opioid addiction,” said Bruce Weiner, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and president of the AANA.Related StoriesHealthcare solutions of the future: Boehringer Ingelheim relies on digitalizationSmart phone health monitoring devices will revolutionize healthcareMany healthcare workers often care for patients while sick, study findsOne such approach is Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) – a patient-centered, evidence-based, pain management strategy employed by CRNAs to reduce the need for opioids, improve patient outcomes and reduce cost. Rather than relying on opioids as the primary tool, ERAS uses robust patient communication and opioid-sparing techniques, such as regional anesthesia, peripheral nerve blocks, non-pharmacologic approaches and non-opioid medications to control pain. Recent research also shows: Source:https://www.aana.com/home/aana-updates/2018/05/09/aana-calls-on-healthcare-community-to-use-opioid-sparing-pain-management-to-prevent-addiction-and-abuselast_img read more

Offspring fed with lowprotein diet during pregnancy more likely to develop prostate

first_imgAug 7 2018The offspring of females fed a low-protein diet during pregnancy and lactation are significantly more likely to develop prostate cancer as they age.This is the main finding of a study performed with rats at São Paulo State University’s Bioscience Institute (IBB-UNESP) in Botucatu, Brazil. The results of the study, which was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), have been published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A.”Our previous research showed that intrauterine exposure to a low-protein diet impairs prostate development. Our latest published study proves that this effect observed postnatally increases the incidence of prostate disease when the individuals concerned are older,” said Luis Antonio Justulin Junior, a professor at IBB-UNESP and principal investigator for the study.The model used in Justulin’s laboratory consists of feeding pregnant females a diet with only 6% protein. Laboratory rats are normally fed a diet that contains between 17% and 23% protein.”Data in the literature show 12% to be the minimum protein content needed for rats to carry a pregnancy to term without problems,” Justulin said.The pregnant rats included in the study were divided into three groups. The control group was fed the standard diet with at least 17% protein during pregnancy and a 21-day lactation period. After weaning, the offspring were also fed the standard diet. No cases of prostate cancer were found in these offspring 540 days after birth, when rats were considered old.The second group of females were fed the 6% protein diet only during pregnancy. After giving birth, they were fed the standard diet, as were their weaned offspring. In the assessment performed 540 days after birth, 33% of their male offspring had developed prostate cancer. The third group was fed the low-protein diet throughout pregnancy and lactation, and 50% of their offspring developed prostate cancer.”We performed a histopathological analysis on these animals’ prostates, and in all three groups, we found preneoplastic alterations capable of interfering with glandular function, such as hyperplasia, epithelial atrophy and intraepithelial neoplasia; the latter has the potential to become carcinoma, according to data in the scientific literature,” said the FAPESP-supported researcher. “However, cancer was found only in the animals exposed to the low-protein diet in their intrauterine life.”Hormone imbalanceThe previous study, published in 2017 in General and Comparative Endocrinology, described some of the impairments caused in offspring by a maternal low-protein diet.The analysis performed on the tenth and twentieth days after birth showed that compared with prostates in the offspring of females fed the normal diet, those in the offspring of females fed the low-protein diet were smaller and had fewer differentiated epithelial cells, which is considered a sign of retarded development. The prostate also displayed functional impairment, secreting and storing less prostate fluid.Related StoriesBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerIt is worth recalling that the function of the prostate is to produce the fluid that protects and nourishes sperm in semen, making it more dilute.”Generally speaking, these animals had low birth weight, less developed organs, and altered hormone levels,” Justulin said. “However, around the twenty-first day after birth, we began to see accelerated growth to try to make up for the deficit.”In a recently published study, researchers collected blood from male pups on postnatal days 21 and 540. They found an imbalance between female and male hormone levels between the offspring of mothers fed a low-protein diet and the offspring of the control group.While control males had 15 picograms (pg) of estrogen on PND 21, males born to rats fed the low-protein diet during pregnancy and lactation had 20 pg. On PND 540, the difference was even greater: 14 pg versus 35 pg, respectively.Moreover, on PND 540, increased female hormone levels were associated with a decrease in the level of testosterone, the main male hormone. Control mice had 5 nanograms (ng), while those from the low-protein diet group had only 0.8 ng.According to Justulin, no decrease in testosterone was observed in the low-protein diet group on PND 21 because this is the stage at which rat pups are growing the fastest.”Our prior research showed that pups exposed to an intrauterine low-protein diet were born small but that as young adults they no longer displayed differences compared with controls in terms of size, prostate volume or hormone levels,” said the FAPESP research project coordinator. “In our new study, the differences reappeared as they aged. It’s as if aging were a second insult to the organism, considering that the first was the low-protein diet in the initial stage of development.”Researchers are now testing the hypothesis that exposure to altered hormone levels in old age favors carcinogenesis (tumor formation).”We observed this in the prostate, but other studies show low birth weight induced by maternal undernourishment is correlated with altered insulin levels and increased incidence of metabolic syndrome and heart disease,” Justulin said.The research group at IBB-UNESP is currently investigating sex hormone synthesis pathways with the aim of understanding how a low-protein diet affects the estrogen-testosterone balance. They also want to demonstrate the mechanism through which hormone imbalance can favor the development of prostate cancer.Preliminary results of this research point to dysregulated messenger RNAs and microRNAs in the restricted-diet animals on postnatal day 21.”We found several messenger RNAs and microRNAs that were dysregulated in both pups at 21 days and 540-day-old animals with cancer,” Justulin said. “What’s interesting is that some of these molecules are also altered in human patients with prostate tumors, according to our analysis of public genome databases with the aid of bioinformatics tools.” Source:http://agencia.fapesp.br/low-protein-diet-during-pregnancy-increases-prostate-cancer-risk-in-offspring/28399/last_img read more

Exploding star yields its secrets

first_img Millions of years ago in a nearby galaxy, a giant star blew up. Just a few hours after the light from this supernova reached Earth, astronomers had trained a slew of telescopes at the blast, giving them unprecedented insight into the immediate aftermath of these cosmic explosions. The findings, published today, are providing astrophysicists with new information about how these events cast starstuff into the cosmos, elements that pepper subsequent generations of stars and are essential for the formation of planets—and any lifeforms that may live on them.Astronomers at California’s Palomar Observatory first detected the supernova, dubbed SN 2013fs, in a galaxy about 160 million light-years from Earth on 6 October 2013. Less than 3 hours later, a team led by Ofer Yaron, an astrophysicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, had gleaned follow-up observations in ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths, among others. Analyses of those spectra suggested that the star had exploded no more than 6 hours earlier, making them the earliest such detailed observations of a supernova ever made, the researchers report online today in Nature Physics.The star that produced SN 2013fs was a so-called red supergiant and was probably between 8 and 10 times the mass of our sun and no more than a few million years old before it exploded, Yaron says. That a star that size blew up in a supernova isn’t surprising; current astrophysical models suggest that all such stars do. But the team’s detailed observations did yield a big surprise—the star appeared to be surrounded by a relatively dense shell of gas shed by the star during its last days. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Exploding star yields its secrets Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Adapted from Ofer Yaron Emailcenter_img “The star had substantial mass loss in the last year of its life,” says Derek Fox, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University in University Park who was not involved in the new study. “That’s new.”As radiation spewed forth from the supernova, it lit up the gas surrounding the star and stripped electrons from atoms there. When those electrons recombined with other atoms, they gave off light at specific wavelengths that let the researchers identify the materials in the shell, including oxygen, helium, and nitrogen—atoms that had previously been forged by fusion reactions in the outer layers of the star. Emissions at those wavelengths faded about 20 hours after the explosion, Yaron says.That time span gave the team an idea of the size of the shell: Its outer fringe was about 5 times the distance from the star as Neptune is from our sun. Presuming that the material was previously shed at a speed of about 100 kilometers per second, the findings suggest that the gaseous shroud of material had been emitted from the star during the previous 500 days. As shock waves from the explosion ripped through the shell of gas near the star, the material was heated to temperatures of up to 60,000°C, the team reports. Over the course of 5 days, that shell of material was completely swept away by the supernova’s explosion.The researchers estimate that the shell of gas around the star held about one-thousandth the mass of our sun—which sounds like a small amount but is a little more than the mass of Jupiter and is much more than most scientists presume should have been present. “There’s a good bit of material where it shouldn’t be according to most models of stellar evolution,” says Adam Burrows, an astrophysicist at Princeton University.These data will give astrophysicists new insights into a phase of stellar evolution that previously was murky. That’s because detailed observations of supernovae usually don’t occur before the exploding star destroys evidence of its nearby environment, Yaron says.As current and future surveys of the night sky pick up their observational pace, more and more supernovae will be caught early in the act of exploding, says Norbert Langer, a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Bonn in Germany. That, in turn, will let scientists know whether supernova 2013fs was a statistical fluke or a run-of-the-mill exploding star. Then, astronomers might even have the data needed to spot a supernova before it blows its top. 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 Radiation from an exploding star (depicted as squiggly white lines, detail at right) lit up a relatively dense shell of gas that had been shed by the star in its last days. By Sid PerkinsFeb. 13, 2017 , 11:00 AMlast_img read more

Ancient DNA upends the horse family tree

first_img Horses radically changed human history, revolutionizing how people traveled, farmed, and even made war. Yet every time we think we’ve answered the question of where these animals came from, another study brings us back to square one. Such is the case with an extensive new study of ancient horse DNA, which largely disproves the current theory: that modern horses arose more than 5000 years ago in Kazakhstan. Instead, the new work suggests that modern-day domestic horses come from an as-yet-undiscovered stock. The research also shows that the world’s only remaining wild horses, called Przewalski’s horses, are not truly wild.“This paper radically changes our thinking about the origin of modern horses,” says Molly McCue, a veterinarian and equine geneticist at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in St. Paul, who was not involved with the work. “It’s an exciting and surprising finding.”Until now, many researchers had thought that the Botai culture, an ancient group of hunters and herders that relied on horses for food and possibly transport in what today is northern Kazakhstan, first harnessed horses 5500 years ago. Researchers have discovered horse meat fat and milk fat in Botai pottery, suggesting these people ate horses and kept mares in captivity for milking. Markings on horse teeth indicate that the Botai tethered the horses with bits and either rode or herded them, suggesting some degree of domestication. The site is also home to lots of horse bones, and modern genetic evidence has pointed to the region as the source of domestic horses. Przewalski’s horses are not as wild as researchers once thought. Email By Elizabeth PennisiFeb. 22, 2018 , 2:00 PM Intensive sequencing of horse DNA at this site in Kazakhstan suggests this is not where today’s domestic horses originated. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Alan Outram With this history in mind, paleogeneticist Ludovic Orlando at CNRS, the French national research agency in Toulouse, and the University of Copenhagen decided to analyze the ancient DNA of these horses. “I expected to catch evolution red-handed, when domestication first started,” Orlando recalls.He teamed up with longtime Botai zooarchaeologist Alan Outram from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and together they discovered an ancient corral at the site, another sign of domestication. They collected and later sequenced DNA from 20 Botai horse remains; they did the same for a similar number of horses living in various regions over the past 5000 years. They then compared these sequences to scores of already existing sequences, including Przewalski’s horses, and built a family tree showing which breeds were most closely related. The tree “was really quite a shock,” Orlando says. For one, Przewalski’s horses were in the same part of the tree as the Botai horses. From their relationship, it was clear that these “wild” horses were escaped Botai horses, the team reports today in Science. “We have now found that there are no truly wild horses left” anywhere in the world, Outram says.Another surprise was that all the other horses were on a separate branch of the tree, suggesting they were not Botai descendents as many have long thought. “We are now back to the intriguing question—who were the ancestors of our modern horses, and who were the peoples that were responsible for their early husbandry?” says Emmeline Hill, an equine scientist at University College Dublin who was not involved with the study. This new work, which hints that other horses may be represented in these ancient genomes, shows “that [horse] domestication could have been a process with many phases, experiments, failures, and successes,” says Ernest Bailey, a geneticist at the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center in Lexington.Orlando and his colleagues lay out two possible scenarios to explain their family tree. In one, as Botai horsemen expanded to other parts of Europe and Asia, they bred their herds with so many wild species that almost none of the original Botai DNA remained. As a result, those horses don’t seem related to the Botai, even though they actually are.In the second scenario, the Botai horses didn’t survive, and were replaced by horses domesticated elsewhere, creating at least two centers of horse domestication (as there may have been for dogs, cats, and other animals). Outram suspects that in addition to the Botai horses east of the Ural Mountains, there may have been domesticated horses to the west that won out thanks to migrations, he explains.One major barrier remains to knowing which scenario is right: a dearth of DNA samples from between 4000 and 5000 years ago. So Orlando and his colleagues are collecting more. But another kind of DNA might help them in their work—ancient human DNA that details migration and population patterns from that time. Indeed, they already have some evidence from unpublished studies. But Outram is keeping quiet about that work. “My mouth is zipped for now.”last_img read more

Trio of genes supercharged human brain evolution

first_img By Elizabeth PennisiMay. 31, 2018 , 12:00 PM David Haussler, a bioinformatician at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his colleagues got on the trail of the genes after they discovered that the NOTCH pathway works differently in human and macaque brain organoids—test tube models of the developing brain. NOTCH2NL was missing in the macaque organoid and, later analyses showed, in other nonhuman apes as well. That suggested NOTCH2NL might have played a unique role in human evolution.By comparing NOTCH2NL-related DNA in the genomes of humans and other primates, Haussler’s team reconstructed the genes’ evolutionary history. They concluded that during DNA replication perhaps 14 million years ago, part of an ancestral NOTCH2 gene was copied by mistake. The new “gene” was incomplete and nonfunctional, but about 11 million years later—shortly before human ancestors’ brains began to expand—an additional piece of NOTCH2 got inserted into this copy, making the gene functional. “This event marks the birth of the NOTCH2NL genes we now have in our brains,” says Frank Jacobs, a co–senior author on the paper and an evolutionary genomicist at the University of Amsterdam.Subsequently, that active NOTCH2NL gene was duplicated twice more, yielding three active NOTCH2NL genes in a row at one end of human chromosome 1 and one inactive copy on the other end. Gene copies can be potent evolutionary forces because one copy continues its necessary job, leaving the others free to do something new. 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 Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Three nearly identical genes could help explain how 0.5 liters of gray matter in early human ancestors became the 1.4-liter organ that has made our species so successful and distinctive. The newly identified genes could also help explain how brain development sometimes goes wrong, leading to neurological disorders.The genes, descendants of an ancient developmental gene that multiplied and changed in the course of evolution, add to a growing list of DNA implicated in human brain expansion. But they stand out because so much has been learned about how they work their magic, says James Noonan, an evolutionary genomicist at Yale University. Researchers have shown that this trio boosts the number of potential nerve cells in brain tissue, and one team even pinned down the protein interactions likely responsible. “These are new proteins that are potentially modifying a very important pathway in brain development in a very powerful way,” Noonan adds.Until now, the four genes were thought to be one, NOTCH2NL, itself a spinoff of the NOTCH gene family, which controls the timing of development in everything from fruit flies to whales. But two studies in the 31 May issue of Cell trace a series of genetic accidents in recent evolutionary history that have yielded four very closely related NOTCH2NL genes in humans (see graphic, below). 3 million–4 million years agoChromosome 1 14 million years agoNOTCH2NOTCH2NL Partial duplicationRepairDuplications I. Suzuki et al., Cell 10.1016/j.cell.2018.03.067 (2018) A technique for growing these brain cortical neurons in a lab dish made it possible to track down more genes involved in brain expansion. A boost for the brain In an ape ancestor, duplication of NOTCH2 yielded a nonfunctional NOTCH2NL (gray). Repair and later gene duplications produced multiple working copies. Email Pierre Vanderhaeghen, a developmental neurobiologist at the Free University of Brussels, uncovered the same set of genes when he found a way to screen human fetal brain tissue for duplicated genes. To find out what they do, his team ramped up NOTCH2NL activity in cultured brain tissue. The tissue made more stem cells, they report in the second Cell paper.The finding complements one reported earlier this spring by Wieland Huttner, a neurobiologist at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany. He and his team had decided to focus on NOTCH2NL (which they thought was a single gene) after finding it was highly active in fetal brain cells. When they put a human NOTCH2NL gene into incipient brain tissue from mice embryos, more stem cells developed. That suggests the human gene delays the specialization of those cells so they have a chance to produce many more copies of themselves, the researchers reported in eLife on 21 March.Now, in their Cell paper, Vanderhaeghen and his colleagues describe molecular details of how NOTCH2NL works to boost neuron formation. They found that a NOTCH2NL protein blocks a key step in a signaling pathway that causes stem cells to differentiate and stop dividing. As a result, the cells persist and keep producing progeny, ultimately yielding a larger crop of neurons. “That’s really compelling biological data,” Noonan says. “In other studies of genes involved in human evolution, it’s been very difficult to draw a line from the genetic difference to the phenotype to a biochemical mechanism that’s responsible.”The location of the three active NOTCH2NL genes is also telling, Haussler says. They are smack in the middle of DNA implicated in autism, schizophrenia, and a developmental delay syndrome. Such duplicated DNA is prone to getting copied extra times or losing DNA during replication, and instability is a hallmark of these disorders. To Greg Wray, an evolutionary developmental biologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, this clue to brain diseases is the most compelling new result. “These genes likely play an important role in cortical development, and misregulation leads to disease,” he says.Wray is less convinced that the genes had a unique role in human evolution because the chromosomal region in which they reside is complex and difficult to sequence, and because the evidence for an evolutionary difference in gene function between humans and other species is indirect.But Haussler thinks these genes will prove key players in human brain expansion. “One change didn’t do it alone, but some will be found to be more fundamental than others,” he points out. “NOTCH2NL has a shot at this.” Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Trio of genes supercharged human brain evolution (GRAPHIC) V. ALTOUNIAN/SCIENCE; (DATA) FIDDES ET AL., CELL 173, 1, (2018) Great ape common ancestorAncient humanModern humanChimpGorillalast_img read more

Studies downplay threat that dams pose to primates in Guinea and Indonesia

first_img Email Kalyanee Mam A pair of proposed hydroelectric dams that will encroach on the habitats of critically endangered primates—in Guinea and Indonesia—are receiving fierce criticism from conservation groups, who fault what they call inadequate scientific review of the harmful effects of these big infrastructure projects.The government of Guinea was finalizing plans last week for the construction of a 294-megawatt hydroelectric dam in the country’s Moyen Bafing National Park, which wildlife experts say could lead to the loss of up to 1500 critically endangered western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus), a subspecies whose population has fallen by more than 80% over the past 20 years. Guinea created the national park only this year as a refuge for an estimated 4000 chimpanzees.A dam planned for Sumatra in Indonesia faces similar criticism; constructing the roads, tunnels, and power lines necessary to service the dam would deforest the habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan subspecies (Pongo tapanuliensis), discovered only last year, which has a remaining population of just 800 apes. Environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs)—reports detailing a project’s expected effects on their local ecosystems and human populations—were completed for both dams, but scientists say they underestimate how many primates will be affected. The ESIA for the Guinea dam—commissioned by the World Bank, which is coordinating the project, and the Guinean government—estimates that about 200 to 300 primates will be lost. But the number is closer to 1500, says Rebecca Kormos, a primatologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Primate Specialist Group.The ESIA did not use the most scientifically rigorous method for surveying how many chimpanzees live near the dam, Kormos says. To count populations, most primatologists conduct transect surveys, which involve traversing a habitat for several days in predetermined lines, usually off-trail, counting the number of ape nests, and extrapolating based on a geographic model. The ESIA’s contractor used a method known as reconnaissance or recce surveys, which also involve counting nests but may avoid difficult terrain; recce surveys are usually less expensive and time-consuming than transects. Kormos says the ESIA also did not factor in the subspecies’s natural territoriality and the deaths that will result from infighting when displaced chimpanzees end up on each other’s turf.“The ESIA really isn’t based on the best practices of how to study these primates,” Kormos says. “It ends up really underestimating how devastating this dam will be for these chimpanzees.”The second dam, planned for Sumatra, is opposed by the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers (ALERT), an international group of scientists headed up by Bill Laurance, a professor of biology at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. Laurance says the 510-megawatt project, funded in part by the Bank of China and the Chinese power company Sinohydro, will be “a death blow” to the Tapanuli orangutans but the ESIA mentions only the direct effects of flooding from the dam on a small number of orangutans. “It does not look at secondary, tertiary effects, like roads, power lines, the influx of illegal logging, poaching, and colonization that so often come along with big infrastructure,” he says. Studies conducted by Laurance and other ALERT members have shown that fragmentation of the orangutans’ forested habitat by roads is the greatest threat to their survival. The ESIA was “myopic,” he says, adding, “If you imagine nature dying the death of a thousand cuts, the ESIAs are studying each cut individually.”The Sumatra dam is emblematic of “a whole set of problems” related to ESIAs and land use regulation in developing nations, Laurance says. One problem, he says, is that the project proponents typically pay for the reviews. “It’s widely known among the consultancy groups that carry out the ESIAs [that] if they come down too hard on the corporations, in particular if they recommend project cancellation, that they’ll be quickly black-balled,” he says.Despite local protests and letters written by ALERT to the Indonesian government, forests are already being cleared in preparation for the dam. Last week in Guinea, a 2-day conference was held for government officials and the project’s managing board to discuss the ESIA for that project. A source at the meeting says that the project’s coordinator has asked for more information to be added to the ESIA by the end of September, but it is unclear as to who will carry out the additional studies and whether construction on the dam will begin before the report is expanded.A spokesperson for the World Bank Group said in a statement that the proposed impact assessment developed by it and partners recommends “mitigation measures that ensure protection of people, wildlife, and biodiversity. Once we are satisfied that our recommendations have been adequately considered, we will proceed with the validation of the final ESIA.”*Correction, 17 July, 10:10 a.m.: An earlier version of this story misspelled Bill Laurance’s name. One dam threatens 1500 endangered western chimpanzees in Guinea, like this one in Bossou. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_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 Studies downplay threat that dams pose to primates in Guinea and Indonesia, critics say Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Frankie SchembriJul. 16, 2018 , 4:55 PMlast_img read more

Top stories Voyager 1 probes dark matter lifes explosive origin and monogamys

first_img Top stories: Voyager 1 probes dark matter, life’s explosive origin, and monogamy’s genetic basis An ancient cataclysm may have jump-started life on Earth, according to new evidence. Some 4.47 billion years ago—a mere 60 million years after Earth took shape and 40 million years after the moon formed—a moon-size object sideswiped Earth and exploded into an orbiting cloud of molten iron and other debris. Some scientists are now proposing that after things cooled down, simple organic molecules eventually linked up to form RNA, a molecular player long credited with sparking life.Monogamy may have a telltale signature of gene activityIn the animal world, monogamy has some clear perks. Living in pairs can give animals some stability and certainty in the constant struggle to reproduce and protect their young—which may be why it has evolved independently in various species. Now, an analysis of gene activity within the brains of frogs, rodents, fish, and birds suggests there may be a pattern common to monogamous creatures. Despite very different brain structures and evolutionary histories, these animals all seem to have developed monogamy by turning on and off some of the same sets of genes.Dog breeds really do have distinct personalities—and they’re rooted in DNAAmerican Kennel Club descriptions of dog breeds can read like online dating profiles: The border collie is a workaholic; the German shepherd will put its life on the line for loved ones. Now, in the most comprehensive study of its kind to date, scientists have shown that such distinct breed traits are rooted in a dog’s genes. The findings may shed light on human behaviors as well.U.S. government shutdown starts to take a bite out of scienceThe partial shutdown of the U.S. government, in its third week, halted the work of tens of thousands of scientists. Many have been furloughed without pay, barred from working at home, and prohibited from checking their government email. The shutdown is also creating chaos for university researchers, private contractors, and others who collaborate with idled federal scientists, or depend on affected agencies for funding, facilities, and data. Aging Voyager 1 spacecraft undermines idea that dark matter is tiny black holesHumanity’s most far-flung spacecraft, NASA’s 41-year-old Voyager 1, has poked a hole in a long-shot theory of dark matter. Some theorists have argued the mysterious, unseen stuff, which makes up 85% of the universe’s matter, could consist of countless black holes lingering from the big bang. But Voyager 1, which launched in 1977 and slipped out of the solar system 6 years ago, sees no signs of such hordes, a pair of theoretical physicists reports.How an ancient cataclysm may have jump-started life on Earth Email (left to right): JPL CALTECH/NASA; FRANS LANTING/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC IMAGE COLLECTION; YVA MOMATIUK AND JOHN EASTCOTT/MINDEN PICTURES Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country By Alex FoxJan. 11, 2019 , 1:45 PM Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) 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 Zimbabwelast_img read more

At many river deltas scientists are missing a major source of sea

first_img At many river deltas, scientists are missing a major source of sea level rise Email For coastal communities, the sea level rise propelled by melting ice and warming oceans is bad enough. But people living on the soft, compressible sediments of river deltas have another factor to contend with: sinking land. Scientists have traditionally inferred the sinking from tide gauge readings or measured it directly at GPS stations. But a team of scientists now says these methods significantly underestimate subsidence at many deltas and low-lying coastlines worldwide.In recent years, scientists at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, have shown that in the Mississippi River delta, fluffy, young sediments within a few meters of the surface are compacting rapidly. They estimate the effect more than doubles the region’s rate of sea-level rise to a total of 13 millimeters a year. Tide gauges and GPS stations miss that subsidence because they are anchored to deeper layers, which are less susceptible to compaction.The same mechanism is likely at play in many low-lying coastal areas worldwide, which host some 10% of the global population, the team argues in a paper published this week in Ocean Science. “Tide gauges are not measuring what we need,” says Torbjörn Törnqvist, a geologist at Tulane and co-author on the study. “We need to really rethink how we monitor these areas.” Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) A surface elevation table is used to measure subsidence in a tropical swamp in Indonesia. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img By Paul VoosenJan. 30, 2019 , 12:10 PM SIGIT DENI SASMITO/CIFOR/FLICKR 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 Satellites are the main tools for monitoring the absolute changes in ocean height, which reflect the biggest drivers of sea level rise: melting ice and the expansion of warming water. But for people and ecosystems, the relative impact of rising or falling land is just as important. Some regions are still rebounding thousands of years after ancient ice sheets melted, lifting a colossal weight off Earth’s elastic mantle. Many more are subsiding. “It’s something we’ve been overlooking too long in sea level projections,” says Aimée Slangen, a climate scientist at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research in Yerseke and a lead author of the sea level chapter of the next United Nations climate report.Louisiana, for example, is sinking fast. Although compaction is the primary culprit, the extraction of groundwater, oil, and gas also play a role. Sediment washed down the Mississippi River once compensated for the subsidence, but levees and other engineered structures now shunt it out into the Gulf of Mexico. To monitor the sediment loss, the state over the past few decades has deployed a network of some 400 simple wetland-monitoring instruments, called surface elevation tables.The table, a metal arm that juts out parallel to the swamp’s surface, is anchored to a pole driven deep below. Twice a year, a series of pins are lowered from the table until they just touch the marsh surface—giving a regular measure of how fast the surface is sinking relative to deeper layers. Five years ago, when Törnqvist’s group began to use this network to divine the source of Louisiana’s subsidence, researchers realized the problem is not just sediment loss. Shallow soils, deposited in earlier centuries when the river ran free, are simply compressing. “Tide gauges were not capturing that,” says Molly Keogh, the Tulane graduate student who led the new work.The new paper lays out why. The region’s 131 tide gauges measure the tide in comparison with benchmarks anchored in deep sediments, often tens of meters down—”as close as we get to bedrock in Louisiana,” Keogh says. The region’s 10 GPS stations with known benchmarks were also anchored, on average, 14 meters deep in the mud. To both devices, the zone of the most compaction—a source of half the sea level rise—was invisible. The scenario could be true in other delta regions that also rely on tide gauges, casting doubt on estimates of regional sea level rise, says Mark Schuerch, a physical geographer at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom. “It’s quite innovative and quite exciting—or scary, really.”Figuring out the anchor depths of tide gauges elsewhere in the world will be a herculean task, warns Philip Woodworth, former director of the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level in Liverpool, U.K., who reviewed the paper. Tide gauge records do not typically include the depth of their benchmarks; that knowledge, if it exists, is buried in country bureaucracies.Moreover, the rate of shallow compaction probably varies greatly from wetland to wetland. In some marshes, plants compensate for compaction by capturing new sediment with their roots. And in some regions, such as Bangladesh, compaction occurs more uniformly across shallow and deep layers, says Céline Grall, a marine geologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York. “These assumptions are not true there.”Deploying elevation tables in deltas around the world could resolve those uncertainties, creating a global database, Törnqvist says. The tool is simple, cheap, and effective, and has already been used in more than 30 countries. For an area the size of coastal Louisiana, only 40 would be needed to keep track of subsidence—and determine how fast seas are truly rising. The millions of people living in the world’s deltas need to know the answer, Grall says. “That’s a legacy we should work on.”last_img read more

Zapping elderly brains with electricity improves shortterm memory—for almost an hour

first_img Email Jackie Niam/shutterstock.com 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 (*) To read this sentence, you hold the words in your mind for a few seconds until you reach the period. As you do, neurons in your brain fire in coordinated bursts, generating electrical waves that let you hold information for as long as it is needed. But as we age, these brain waves start to get out of sync, causing short-term memory to falter. A new study finds that jolting specific brain areas with a periodic burst of electricity might reverse the deficit—temporarily, at least.The work makes “a strong case” for the idea that out-of-sync brain waves in specific regions can drive cognitive aging, says Vincent Clark, a neuroscientist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, who was not involved in the research. He adds that the brain stimulation approach in the study may result in a new treatment for age-related deficits in working memory.Working memory is “the sketchpad of the mind,” allowing us to hold information in our minds over a period of seconds. This short-term memory is critical to accomplishing everyday tasks such as planning and counting, says Robert Reinhart, a neuroscientist at Boston University who led the study. Scientists think that when we use this type of memory, millions of neurons in different brain areas communicate through coupled bursts of activity. “Cells that fire together, wire together,” Reinhart says. Zapping elderly brains with electricity improves short-term memory—for almost an hourcenter_img As we age, uncoupled brain waves scramble our short-term memory. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Giorgia GuglielmiApr. 8, 2019 , 11:00 AM But despite its critical role, working memory is a fragile cognitive resource that declines with age, Reinhart says. Previous studies had suggested that reduced working-memory performance in the elderly is linked to uncoupled activity in different brain areas. So Reinhart and his team set out to test whether recoupling brain waves in older adults could boost the brain’s ability to temporarily store information.To do so, the researchers used jolts of weak electrical current to synchronize waves in the prefrontal and temporal cortex—two brain areas critical for cognition—and applied the current to the scalps of 42 healthy people in their 60s and 70s who showed no signs of decline in mental ability. Before their brains were zapped, participants looked at a series of images: an everyday object, followed briefly by a blank screen, and then either an identical or a modified version of the same object. The goal was to spot whether the two images were different.Then the participants took the test again, while their brains were stimulated with a current. After about 25 minutes of applying electricity, participants were on average more accurate at identifying changes in the images than they were before the stimulation. Following stimulation, their performance in the test was indistinguishable from that of a group of 42 people in their 20s. And the waves in the prefrontal and temporal cortex, which had previously been out of sync in most of the participants, started to fire in sync, the researchers report today in Nature Neuroscience. No such effects occurred in a second group of older people who received jolts of current that didn’t synchronize waves in the prefrontal and temporal cortex.By using bursts of current to knock brain waves out of sync, the researchers also modulated the brain chatter in healthy people in their 20s, making them slower and less accurate at spotting differences in the image test.“This is a very nice and clear demonstration of how functional connections underlie memory in younger adults and how alterations … can lead to memory reductions in older adults,” says Cheryl Grady, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest in Toronto, Canada. It’s also the first time that transcranial stimulation has been shown to restore working memory in older people, says Michael O’Sullivan, a neuroscientist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.But whether brain zapping could turbocharge the cognitive abilities of seniors or help improve the memories of people with diseases like Alzheimer’s is still unclear: In the study, the positive effects on working memory lasted for just under an hour—though Reinhart says that’s as far as they recorded in the experiment. The team didn’t see the improvements decline toward the end, so he suspects that the cognitive boost may last for longer. Still, researchers say much more work has to be done to better understand how the stimulation works.Clark is optimistic. “No pill yet developed can produce these sorts of effects safely and reliably,” he says. “Helping people is the ultimate goal of all of our research, and it’s encouraging to see that progress is being made.”last_img read more