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Not everyone needs probiotics, suggests study of hunter-gatherer guts

Probiotics
© Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
Gut response. These Hadza women have different gut bacteria than Hadza men, probably because they eat a lot of high-fiber tuberous root vegetables.
After taking an antibiotic or catching an intestinal bug, many of us belt down probiotic drinks to restore the "natural balance" of organisms in our intestines. Probiotics are one of the fastest growing products in the food industry, now added to yogurts, drinks, and baby food. Yet, not everyone needs them to stay healthy. A new study of the gut bacteria of hunter-gatherers in Africa has found that they completely lack a bacterium that is a key ingredient in most probiotic foods and considered healthy. What's more, the Hadza don't suffer from colon cancer, colitis, Crohn's, or other diseases of the colon that are found in humans eating modern diets in Western nations.

The new study is the first to report on the gut bacteria of hunter-gatherers, who hunt and forage for most of their foods, just as our ancestors did before the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Until now, studies of gut bacteria have focused on people who live in industrialized nations, many of whom eat diets high in sugar, salt, and fat. These diets have shifted the type of bacteria in our guts, known as the microbiome. Gut bacteria respond rapidly to changes in their host's diet, and humans who live in rural areas and eat fewer processed foods have more diverse microbiomes. Conversely, researchers also have found an association between less diversity in the microbiome and diseases of the colon, such as Crohn's disease and colon cancer.
Laptop

Will changing your password protect you from Heartbleed?


The bug means hackers can eavesdrop and leave no trace in server logs. The flaw was introduced in OpenSSL in December 2011, and was 'in the wild' until Monday, when a new version fixing the flaw was released
  • Affected sites include Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Tumblr and Netflix
  • These sites have fixed the flaw and users should change their passwords
  • However, this leaves a number of websites still vulnerable to attack
  • Security firms are urging users to only change passwords on sites that have confirmed they are safe
  • Updating passwords on vulnerable sites still leaves details at risk
  • The problem was found in the widely-used OpenSSL software
  • Sites including Amazon.com, Twitter and PayPal were never affected
Tech companies are facing increased pressure to do more to reassure their users about the Heartbleed bug.

Affected sites, including Google and Facebook, have fixed the problem, but its users are complaining they're still being left in the dark as to what it means for their personal data.

Meanwhile, there are still thousands of websites who are yet to fix the problem, or officially announce the fix - leaving their users in limbo.
Syringe

Former Merck doctor: Gardasil will be the biggest scandal in medical history


Dr. Bernard Dalbergue
The former Merck doctor, French Dr. Bernard Dalbergue, was interviewed for the magazine Principe de Santé (Health Principles) in April this year, and in that interview he talks about his experiences in the pharmaceutical industry. After some tough years as a doctor in a hospital, Dr. Bernard Dalbergue quickly became seduced by the convenience of work in the pharmaceutical industry. Less yelling, pain and death. The latest fashion, fancy cars, money and embezzlement became part of his new life instead. Right up until his conscience, after 20 years in the pharmaceutical laboratories, woke him up and he wrote all his experiences in a book.

Le Gardasil sera le plus grand scandale de tous les temps

In the interview Dr. Bernard Dalbergue talks about his surprise at how Marcia Angell, former head of the respected New England Journal of Medicine, left her job because she believed that the pharmaceutical industry manipulated the clinical research and controlled all the information that got to public attention. She, like many others, claimed that scientific studies that on the surface was described as objective and independent, was actually written by the pharmaceutical industry.

Comment: Gardasil: Medical torture and child abuse by Big Pharma

Blue Planet

Scientists discover noctilucent cloud intensity is precursor to changes in global weather patterns

Question

Is Saturn making a new moon?

Saturn New Moon?
© NASA
A 750-mile (1,200-km) -long feature spotted on Saturn’s A ring by Cassini on April 15, 2013.
Congratulations! It's a baby... moon? A bright clump spotted orbiting Saturn at the outermost edge of its A ring may be a brand new moon in the process of being born, according to research recently published in the journal Icarus.

"We have not seen anything like this before," said Carl Murray of Queen Mary University in London, lead author of the paper. "We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right."

In images acquired with Cassini's narrow-angle camera in 2013, a 1,200-kilometer-long, 10-kilometer-wide arc of icy material was observed traveling along the edge of the A ring. The arc is thought to be the result of gravitational perturbations caused by an as-yet unseen embedded object about a kilometer wide - possibly a miniature moon in the process of formation.
Top Secret

Air Force launches Atlas rocket with secret U.S. military satellite

© Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance
An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Thursday to put a classified satellite into orbit for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

The 20-story tall rocket, built by United Launch Alliance, blasted off its seaside launch pad at 1:45 p.m. ET (1745 GMT). United Launch Alliance is a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

No information about the rocket's payload was released. The secretive National Reconnaissance Office designs, builds and operates the nation's fleet of spy satellites.

The rocket was outfitted with a single upper-stage Centaur engine and four strap-on solid rocket motors, all built by Aerojet Rocketdyne. In that configuration, the Atlas 5 can deliver up to about 7,800 pounds (3,500 kg) into an orbit 22,300 miles above Earth, United Launch Alliance documents show.

Launch originally was slated for March 25, but a radar system needed to track the rocket during flight short-circuited, prompting a delay. The Air Force reactivated a spare radar while repairs to the damaged system are under way.
Heart

Artificial blood 'will be manufactured in factories'

Artificial Bllod
© Alamy

Production of blood on an industrial scale could become a reality,
It is the stuff of gothic science fiction: men in white coats in factories of blood and bones.

But the production of blood on an industrial scale could become a reality once a trial is conducted in which artificial blood made from human stem cells is tested in patients for the first time.

It is the latest breakthrough in scientists' efforts to re-engineer the body, which have already resulted in the likes of 3d-printed bones and bionic limbs.

Marc Turner, the principal researcher in the £5 million programme funded by the Wellcome Trust, told The Telegraph that his team had made red blood cells fit for clinical transfusion.

Prof Turner has devised a technique to culture red blood cells from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells - cells that have been taken from humans and 'rewound' into stem cells. Biochemical conditions similar to those in the human body are then recreated to induce the iPS cells to mature into red blood cells - of the rare universal blood type O.

"Although similar research has been conducted elsewhere, this is the first time anybody has manufactured blood to the appropriate quality and safety standards for transfusion into a human being," said Prof Turner.
Attention

Extreme weather in U.S. has driven ten-fold increase in power outages over the last two decades

A new report from Climate Central has found that major power outages have increased ten times over since the early 1980s - and extreme weather is by far the biggest culprit.

The analysis defined a "major power outage" as a loss of electrical power for at least 50,000 people for at least an hour, or where the power supply interruption reached at least 300 megawatts, or where demand exceeded supply by at least 100 megawatts. It found the big upswing in such events occurred in the 2000s. Weather drove 80 percent of all outages between 2003 and 2012, and only three years in that time period saw non-weather related events account for more than 10 percent of all outages.
Magnify

Researchers discover 500 million-year-old fossilized embryos

© University of Missouri
The Cambrian Period is a time when most phyla of marine invertebrates first appeared in the fossil record. Also dubbed the "Cambrian explosion," fossilized records from this time provide glimpses into evolutionary biology when the world's ecosystems rapidly changed and diversified. Most fossils show the organisms' skeletal structure, which may or may not give researchers accurate pictures of these prehistoric organisms. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found rare, fossilized embryos they believe were undiscovered previously. Their methods of study may help with future interpretation of evolutionary history.

"Before the Ediacaran and Cambrian Periods, organisms were unicellular and simple," said James Schiffbauer, assistant professor of geological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. "The Cambrian Period, which occurred between 540 million and 485 million years ago, ushered in the advent of shells. Over time, shells and exoskeletons can be fossilized, giving scientists clues into how organisms existed millions of years ago. This adaptation provided protection and structural integrity for organisms. My work focuses on those harder-to-find, soft-tissue organisms that weren't preserved quite as easily and aren't quite as plentiful."
Robot

Big data is a vague term for a massive phenomenon that has rapidly become an obsession with entrepreneurs, scientists, governments and the media

© Successfulworkplace.com
Big data is a vague term for a massive phenomenon that has rapidly become an obsession with entrepreneurs, scientists, governments and the media

Five years ago, a team of researchers from Google announced a remarkable achievement in one of the world's top scientific journals, Nature. Without needing the results of a single medical check-up, they were nevertheless able to track the spread of influenza across the US. What's more, they could do it more quickly than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Google's tracking had only a day's delay, compared with the week or more it took for the CDC to assemble a picture based on reports from doctors' surgeries. Google was faster because it was tracking the outbreak by finding a correlation between what people searched for online and whether they had flu symptoms.

Not only was "Google Flu Trends" quick, accurate and cheap, it was theory-free. Google's engineers didn't bother to develop a hypothesis about what search terms - "flu symptoms" or "pharmacies near me" - might be correlated with the spread of the disease itself. The Google team just took their top 50 million search terms and let the algorithms do the work.
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