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Microscope 1

Mitochondrial DNA could be used to predict risk of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths a decade before they happen

© Wire_man/Shutterstock
The mitochondria are the energy-generating organelles in the cell.
Johns Hopkins researchers report that the level, or "copy number," of mitochondrial DNA-genetic information stored not in a cell's nucleus but in the body's energy-creating mitochondria-is a novel and distinct biomarker that is able to predict the risk of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths a decade or more before they happen. In the future, testing blood for this genetic information could not only help physicians more accurately predict a risk for life-threatening cardiac events, but also inform decisions to begin-or avoid-treatment with statins and other drugs.

The two studies, one on cardiovascular disease published in JAMA Cardiology on Oct. 11 and the other focused on sudden cardiac death and published in the European Heart Journal on June 30, revealed that including the mitochondrial DNA copy number improved the accuracy of currently used clinical measures for a patient's risk of a deadly cardiac event. In short, the lower the copy number, the higher the risk.

"We believe the mitochondrial DNA copy number is a novel risk factor for cardiovascular disease, in addition to known predictors like LDL, total cholesterol and blood pressure, and it adds sensitivity and specificity to whether or not you should be taking a statin," says Dan Arking, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine and co-director of the Biological Mechanisms Core of the Older Americans Independence Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Pumpkin 2

Like the mythical monster Hydra: Some plants grow bigger while boosting chemical defenses when clipped

© Julie McMahon
Like a Hydra, some plants grow bigger and boost their chemical defenses after being clipped.
Some plants behave like the mythical monster Hydra: Cut off their heads and they grow back, bigger and better than before. A new study finds that these "overcompensators," as they are called, also augment their defensive chemistry - think plant venom - when they are clipped.

Clipping removes the primary stem and simulates what browsing mammals do when they eat plants in the wild.

The study, reported in the journal Ecology, is the first to find this link and to trace it to three interconnected molecular pathways. The discovery could lead to the development of new methods for boosting plant growth while reducing the need for insecticides, the researchers said.

"You would think that a plant would either produce a lot of defensive chemicals to prevent it from being eaten or that it would put its energy into regrowing after being eaten - but not both, given its limited energy," said graduate student Miles Mesa, who led the research with University of Illinois animal biology professor Ken Paige/. "But we found that the plants that overcompensated - with higher reproductive success after having been damaged - also produced more defensive chemicals in their tissues."

Arrow Up

Puzzling spike in radioactive particles across Europe, baffles scientists

© Daily Star
Increase of ruthenium-106
Radiation monitors have detected radioactive particles in the air across Europe, although the source remains a mystery.

Germany's Office for Radiation Protection reported increased radioactivity in parts of Central and Western Europe over the last week. The heightened levels were detected at several trace measuring stations in Europe, and at six locations in Germany.

The particles are ruthenium-106, an isotope used in cancer radiation therapy for eye tumors and at times in radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) which provide power to satellites. An increase of ruthenium-106 has been detected in the air in Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

While officials say there's no need to panic, they don't know where the material has come from. The elevated radiation levels don't present a threat to human health.

"New analyzes of the source of the radioactive material are likely to indicate a release in the southern Ural," the Office for Radiation Protection said, "but other regions in Southern Russia can not be excluded."

It said that because it's only ruthenium-106 that has been detected, this rules out a nuclear power plant accident.

Similar spikes in radioactive particles have occurred across Europe in the past, but they are rare. In February, trace amounts of radioactive Iodine-131 were detected across parts of Europe. The iodine faded, and the source of the radioactivity wasn't identified, Motherboard reports. France's IRSN institute announced the trace amounts were detected over Norway, Finland, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, France and Spain.

Beaker

Dr. Henry Bauer interview discussing the corruption of science

Kyrie Irving, is an amazing basketball player, who made quite a stir earlier this year regarding the flat earth theory.

Ben Nichols, this is a shout out to you. He came to us with this super conspiracy theory, he said, "The earth is flat."

No, the earth is flat.

Oh here we go.

No the earth is flat.

Now, don't get me wrong, there's no way a bright, Duke University educated guy like Kyrie Irving should fall for something anyone can debunk with the United Airlines timetable and some common sense. But take a minute to understand how he formed his opinion.

Hopefully they'll either back my belief or they'll throw it in the water. I think it's interesting for people to find out on their own.

You've seen pictures of the planet thought right? Like it's a circle?

I've seen a lot of things that have been... and my educational system has said that was real and it turned out to be completely fake. I don't mind, I don't mind going against the grain in terms of my thoughts and what I believe.

And with that, you might begin to understand why today's guest, Dr. Henry Bauer, might cut Kyrie some slack.

The popular view of science has not caught up with the present situation where people should be as skeptical about what official science says as they are about what the experts say about any other aspect of society.

Comment:


Comet 2

The TC4 asteroid, slated to make a close call with Earth, will be used to test early warning systems

© AFP photo/HO
The 2012 TC4 asteroid, seen at the center of this composite photo from the Euopean Space Agency, will pass closer to Earth than the moon.
A house-size asteroid will give Earth a near-miss Thursday, passing harmlessly inside the Moon's orbit while giving experts a rare chance to rehearse for a real-life strike threat.

Dubbed 2012 TC4, the space rock will shave past at an altitude of less than 44,000 kilometres (27,300 miles) -- just above the 36,000-km plane at which hundreds of geosynchronous satellites orbit the Earth.

That represents about an eighth of the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

NASA's Mike Kelley, who leads the exercise to spot, track and intimately probe the transient visitor, insisted there was "no danger. Not even for satellites".

"We've now been observing TC4 for two months, so we have very accurate position information on it, which in turn allows very precise calculations of its orbit," which will not cross that of Earth nor its satellites, he told AFP.

As its name suggests, the object was first spotted five years ago when it called on Earth at about double Thursday's projected distance, before disappearing from view.

It is 15 to 30 metres (50 to 100 feet) wide -- about the size of the meteoroid that exploded in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk in central Russia in 2013 with 30 times the kinetic energy of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.


Galaxy

Scientists have finally found half of the universe's missing matter

© Andrey Kravtsov (The University of Chicago) and Anatoly Klypin (New Mexico State University)
Discoveries seem to back up many of our ideas about how the universe got its large-scale structure.
The missing links between galaxies have finally been found. This is the first detection of the roughly half of the normal matter in our universe - protons, neutrons and electrons - unaccounted for by previous observations of stars, galaxies and other bright objects in space.

You have probably heard about the hunt for dark matter, a mysterious substance thought to permeate the universe, the effects of which we can see through its gravitational pull. But our models of the universe also say there should be about twice as much ordinary matter out there, compared with what we have observed so far.

Two separate teams found the missing matter - made of particles called baryons rather than dark matter - linking galaxies together through filaments of hot, diffuse gas.


"The missing baryon problem is solved," says Hideki Tanimura at the Institute of Space Astrophysics in Orsay, France, leader of one of the groups. The other team was led by Anna de Graaff at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

Because the gas is so tenuous and not quite hot enough for X-ray telescopes to pick up, nobody had been able to see it before.

Ice Cube

Scientists to explore 120,000yo ecosystem uncovered after trillion-ton iceberg broke from Larsen C Ice Shelf

© NASA Global Look Press
Larsen-C Iceshelf, Antarctica. NASA / Global Look Press
The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is due to launch a mission in early 2018 to explore the uncharted ecosystem that remained hidden beneath the Antarctic ice shelf for the past 120,000 years.

BAS researchers want to gauge the response of the marine ecosystem to environmental change after the A68 iceberg, which is four times the size of London, broke away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in mid-July, leaving 5,818 sq km of seabed exposed to the elements for the first time.

Moon

Did you know the Moon once had an atmosphere?

© olcano.oregonstate.edu/NASA
There are many volcanic features on the lunar surface. In fact, the dark lunar maria that you can see when there is a full Moon are massive, generally level deposits of basalt, a volcanic rock. The Gruithuisen Domes (shown by the black arrows in this Apollo 15 picture) are unusual silica-rich volcanoes.
New study finds that not once, but twice, volcanic eruptions left the Moon blanketed by gases for 70 million years.

Three to four billion years ago, the giant volcanic eruptions that created the Man in the Moon also gave the Moon an atmosphere, scientists say.

That's because volcanic eruptions release gases, and a new study, published online in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, calculates that these gases would have accumulated more quickly than they could escape into space, even under the Moon's low gravity.

The exact composition of that ancient atmosphere isn't completely known, but it would have included carbon dioxide, water, hydrogen, and sulfur, says David Kring of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. And there would have been enough of these gases to raise the surface pressure about 50% higher than on present-day Mars, about 1% of Earth's at sea level.

The research was based on prior studies that reanalysed volcanic rocks brought back by Apollo astronauts. These studies had concluded that the magma from which these rocks solidified contained substantially larger quantities of gases than had previously been believed. Kring's brainstorm was to wonder where those gases had gone.

Eggs Fried

GMO - chicken sperm key to creating cancer-fighting eggs

© Reuters
A team of Japanese researchers have genetically-modified chicken sperm with a view to creating a generation of hens that lay cancer-fighting eggs.

The team of scientists from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in the Kansai region of Japan used genome-editing on chicken DNA by introducing genes that produce interferon beta into the precursors of chicken sperm.

Interferon beta is a type of protein used in treatments for a multitude of diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS), certain types of cancer and even hepatitis.

"This is a result that we hope leads to the development of cheap drugs," Professor Hironobu Hojo at Osaka University said, as cited by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Cell Phone

Expert hacker shows how easy it is to hack wireless tech

© Hannah McKay / Reuters
Think your wireless and other technology is safe? Think again. From Blue Tooth to automobile remotes, PCs, and "secure" credit cards, this Hacker shows how nearly every secure system is vulnerable.