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Sun, 15 Sep 2019
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A new understanding of disease - the 'pathobiome'

© Massage Magazine
Cefas and University of Exeter scientists have presented a novel concept describing the complex microbial interactions that lead to disease in plants, animals and humans.

Microbial organisms and viruses cause many diseases of plants and animals.

They can also help protect from disease, for example the complex communities of microbes in the human gut, which are very important for our health.

However, very little is known about these microbes and how they cause and prevent disease.

The pathobiome concept opens a door on this unexplored world of microbial diversity and how it controls all other organisms on the planet.

It will change the way we approach health and disease control in animals, plants and humans.

Traditional approaches to describe infectious disease in plants, animals and in humans are based on the concept that single pathogens are responsible for the signs or symptoms of disease observed in those hosts.

The pathobiome concept explains that in reality, disease occurrence is much more complex.

Today sees the publication of a paper exploring the pathobiome concept, a novel way of seeking to understand diseases of plants and animals, including humans.


MIT engineers have developed the 'blackest black' material to date

Diamond/Blacked out
© R. Capanna, A. Berlato, A. Pinato
A 16.78-carat natural yellow diamond from LJ West Diamonds (left), is coated with a new carbon nanotube-based material that is the blackest material on record (the covered diamond, shown at right). The diamond is the subject of The Redemption of Vanity, a work of art created by MIT Center for Art, Science, and Technology artist-in-residence Diemut Strebe, in collaboration with MIT engineer Brian Wardle and his lab, on view at the New York Stock Exchange.
With apologies to "Spinal Tap," it appears that black can, indeed, get more black.

MIT engineers report today that they have cooked up a material that is 10 times blacker than anything that has previously been reported. The material is made from vertically aligned carbon nanotubes, or CNTs — microscopic filaments of carbon, like a fuzzy forest of tiny trees, that the team grew on a surface of chlorine-etched aluminum foil. The foil captures at least 99.995 percent* of any incoming light, making it the blackest material on record.

The researchers have published their findings today in the journal ACS-Applied Materials and Interfaces. They are also showcasing the cloak-like material as part of a new exhibit today at the New York Stock Exchange, titled "The Redemption of Vanity."


Failed GM mosquito control experiment may have strengthened wild bugs

© Deposit Photos
A trial to control mosquito populations using genetic engineering has gone wrong.
Mosquitoes are more than just a pest - they can be downright dangerous carriers of disease. One of the most innovative ideas to control populations of the bugs has been to release genetically modified male mosquitoes that produce unviable offspring. But unfortunately a test of this in Brazil appears to have failed, with genes from the mutant mosquitoes now mixing with the native population.

The idea sounded solid. Male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were genetically engineered to have a dominant lethal gene. When they mated with wild female mozzies, this gene would drastically cut down the number of offspring they produced, and the few that were born should be too weak to survive long.

Ultimately, this program should cut down the population of mosquitoes in an area - up to 85 percent, in some early tests. This of course means fewer bug-borne diseases, such as dengue, yellow fever, zika, and malaria, in humans. And since the offspring don't live long enough to breed themselves, genes from the engineered bugs should stay neatly out of the gene pool of the wild population. The only visible effect should be the reduction of mosquito populations.

Comment: Yet another example that the biotechnology 'experts' really have no idea what they're doing, and we're all paying the price for their hubris.

See also:

Comet 2

'Behaving like a comet': Astronomers discover enormous exoplanet with wild, slingshot-like orbit

Exoplanet HR 5183-b

Exoplanet HR 5183-b's eccentric orbit has astronomers scratching their heads
Astronomers have discovered a gigantic exoplanet with a truly bizarre and extreme orbit that flings it around its star like a slingshot.

Exoplanet HR 5183-b doesn't have the usual circular orbit that most planets have. Instead, the planet, which has three times the mass of Jupiter, has a long, oval orbit and slingshots around in a manner that is more like a comet, exciting new research from Caltech astronomers has found.

"This planet is unlike the planets in our Solar System, but more than that, it is unlike any other exoplanets we have discovered so far," said study lead author Sarah Blunt.

Comment: Not only that, it means the planets in our solar system may not always have had their current, stable orbits.

They don't realize it but these astronomers have found supporting evidence for Velikovsky's theory that Venus was once a comet on an eccentric orbit around our Sun.

The inverse to their above scenario is also possible: HR 5183-b may be acting like a comet... because it is (or was) a comet, has been 'captured' by that solar system, and will likely make future dangerously close encounters with other planets in that system, the result of which could be to move it into a more stable, circular orbit.


Bone marrow may be the missing piece of the fertility puzzle say researchers

© Stock Adobe
A woman's bone marrow may determine her ability to start and sustain a pregnancy, report Yale researchers in PLOS Biology. The study shows that when an egg is fertilized, stem cells leave the bone marrow and travel via the bloodstream to the uterus, where they help transform the uterine lining for implantation. If the lining fails to go through this essential transformation, the embryo cannot implant, and the body terminates the pregnancy.

"We have always known that two kind of things were necessary for pregnancy," says Dr. Hugh Taylor, senior author and the Anita O'Keeffe Young Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at Yale. "You must have ovaries to make eggs, and you must also have a uterus to receive the embryo. But knowing that bone marrow has a significant role is a paradigm shift."

Previous research has indicated that, in small numbers, bone marrow-derived stem cells contribute to the non-immune environment of the non-pregnant uterus, but it's remained unknown if and how stem cells affect a pregnant uterus. In this study, the researchers were able to prove the physiological relevance of stem cells to pregnancy.

Microscope 1

Johns Hopkins to open new $17 million psychedelic research center for treatment of numerous disorders

Johns Hopkins University recently announced the opening of the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, a facility within John Hopkins Medicine that will be dedicated to studying psychedelics and their potential to be used medicinally.

This research center is the first of its kind in the United States, and the largest of its kind in the entire world. The unprecedented research effort is being made possible thanks to $17 million in donations from private investors. Although, it is important to note that half of those donations were gathered by one person, the best-selling author, and podcaster Tim Ferriss, who also donated $2 million of his own money, in addition to organizing half of the outside investments.

Ferriss was also one of the key investors behind a similar center at Imperial College London, which was said to be the first of its kind in the world when it opened.

Researchers at the new Johns Hopkins facility will be studying psychedelic substances and their effect on the human brain. More specifically, they will be seeking possible treatments for mental health issues like addiction, depression, PTSD, Alzheimer's disease, eating disorders and a variety of other conditions.


A first: Quantum physicists successfully teleport a Qutrit

qubit teleporter?
© unknown
Quantum teleportation has been a term related to qubits for the longest time and recently, researchers have successfully teleported 'qutrits'. The research published on American Physical Society is a major breakthrough that will propel the quantum computation prowess to incredibly faster speeds.

Scientists have been able to teleport qubits, Quantum Bits of information that have binary states - 0 or 1 - but qutrits have three possible states - 0, 1 and 2. Qubits and qutrits have the property of being able to exist in multiple states at the same time, i.e. superposition which allows for amazing applications in quantum computing.

Quantum Teleportation is based on quantum entanglement, through which the properties of a quantum particle can be transferred to a distant particle without physical movement of the particle itself. It is nothing like the 'Warp Speed' or 'Warp Drive' that has been popularized in sci-fi but rather, it is just two interlinked particles revealing the properties of the other particle. Quantum teleportation is possible by using photons which carry the quantum information about the two possible states in case of qubits or three possible states as in qutrits.

Stock Up

Steven Pinker is wrong, international conflict is not declining

© Task & Purpose
Contrary to popular belief, war is not declining, according to a new analysis of the last 200 years of international conflict.

In fact, the belief that war is disappearing has lulled us into a false sense of security, said Bear Braumoeller, professor of political science at The Ohio State University.

"We really don't get how big a threat war is — not by a longshot," Braumoeller said.

"The process of escalation that led to two world wars in the last century are still there. Nothing has changed. And that scares the hell out of me."

Any apparent declines in war initiation or severity can be attributed to random luck — and our luck could run out at any time, Braumoeller said.

Braumoeller is the author of the new book Only the Dead: The Persistence of War in the Modern Age. In the book, Braumoeller challenges the argument of recent scholars who claim war is in decline, most notably Steven Pinker in his 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

"I take a comprehensive look at all the different ways you can think about what it means for war to be in decline. And I find no evidence for a long-term decline in any of them," he said.


Peppered moths and more: Intelligent design takes ownership of evolution icons

© Arjen van't Hof, University of Liverpool
Intelligent design is taking ownership of some of the characters in Jonathan Wells's book Icons of Evolution. Darwinians never had a rightful claim to them.

Peppered Moths

Rare is any article about peppered moths that does not celebrate them as supreme examples of Darwinian evolution by natural selection. An open-access paper in Nature Communications Biology breaks that mold by focusing on a new skill in this species: the ability to "feel" color. Before adult peppered moths can fly into the tops of trees and challenge Darwinism there (unless they are tacked onto the trunks), they have to live as caterpillars. The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology summarizes new findings about camouflage in the larval stage:
It is difficult to distinguish caterpillars of the peppered moth from a twig. The caterpillars not only mimic the form but also the color of a twig. In a new study, researchers of Liverpool University in the UK and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany demonstrate that the caterpillars can sense the twig's color with their skin. Caterpillars that were blindfolded changed the color of their bodies to match their background. When given the choice of which background to rest on, the blindfolded caterpillars still moved to the background that they resembled. The researchers also found that genes that are required for vision were expressed not only in the eyes of the caterpillars but also in their skin. [Emphasis added.]
Blindfolding a caterpillar: now there's a challenge for a rainy day! They did it somehow, and when they tested their subjects on artificially colored twigs, the caterpillars mimicked them beautifully. A photo (above) shows dramatic color differences in these caterpillars, from near white to near black, all matching the artificial twigs they rest on. That's an amazing trick to do blindfolded. Apparently, "genes that are required for vision were expressed not only in the eyes of the caterpillars but also in their skin." This implies that the caterpillars can sense both light and color through the skin. The eye genes were found expressed in every body segment, sometimes more than in the eyes themselves.


A device that can mass-produce human embryoids created by scientist

Embryo-like structures
© Fu Lab, Michigan Engineering
A set of five embryo-like structures in a microfluidic device developed in the lab of Jianping Fu. The top row consists of “immunostaining” images in which key proteins are tagged with dyes to label different cell types, whereas the bottom row shows standard photos taken through a microscope. Parts of the bottom images were blurred to more clearly show a correlation between the rows.
ANN ARBOR — A new method for making stem cell colonies that mimic parts of early human development could help investigate important questions in maternal and child health, such as: What chemicals pose risks to developing embryos, and what causes certain birth defects and multiple miscarriages?

The technique, developed at the University of Michigan, imitates stages in embryo development that occur shortly after implantation in the uterus. This is when the amniotic sac begins to form and when the stem cells that would go on to become the fetus take their first steps toward organization into the body. The embryo-like or "embryoid" structures don't have the potential to develop beyond small colonies of cells.

The system can reliably produce hundreds or thousands of embryo-like structures needed to determine whether a medicine is safe for a pregnant woman to take in very early pregnancy, for instance.

The team terminated the experiments by the end of the fourth day.